Outgoing Supercars CEO James Warburton told his staff to "get out your passports" after promising to "seal a historic race" in Asia before he leaves the sport at the end of the year, according to James Phelps of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Warburton has been "working on securing a Supercars championship Asian doubleheader in Singapore and Thailand." Warburton, who announced he would be joining APN Outdoor to head up the advertising company, made it his "mission to take Supercars into Asia after a race in Malaysia fell through last year because of a legal wrangle between rival promoters." A Supercars staff member said, "James described Asia as unfinished business." It is understood Warburton already has agreements in place for Supercars to race at the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix "in a support category capacity," and at Hua Hin in Thailand as a stand-alone event. Warburton may also have negotiated a third agreement for Supercars to replace F1 and race as a headline act at Sepang in Malaysia. All three events "will be confirmed pending funding" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 10/17).
Events and Attractions
It is the sporting event "nobody seems to want: Birmingham is the only city proposing to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games," according to Andrew Bounds of the FINANCIAL TIMES. But the U.K.’s second-largest city believes that staging the Games "would highlight Birmingham’s transformation after decades of industrial decline." West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said, "It is an opportunity to show our progress ... to mark the way the region is really bouncing back. We have never had the chance to host something of international renown." Birmingham has been "contending with decline after its carmaking and other manufacturing industries were undercut by overseas competitors." However, the economy of greater Birmingham -- the area covering the city of 1.1 million people and eight outlying boroughs with a further 860,000 -- is "growing fast again." Manufacturing success is symbolized by Jaguar Land Rover, the carmaker now owned by India’s Tata Group, and the area has "diversified into other sectors, such as professional services and technology." While the Commonwealth Games are much smaller than the Olympics, "they are nevertheless a significant sporting event." The 2018 Commonwealth Games, taking place on Australia’s Gold Coast in April, will involve 6,600 athletes, team officials from 70 nations and territories and 18 different sports. Glasgow, which hosted the 2014 Commonwealth Games, spent £543M on the event. Birmingham's bill should be lower as 95% of its venues are already built -- "although some need upgrading" (FT, 10/16).
An "ultra-dynamic" 2018 Tour de France route was announced at the Palais des Congres in Paris, "the highlights of which are a return to the Roubaix cobblestones," a summit finish on Alpe d’Huez and the "shortest stage in recent memory," a 65km "hop" from Bagnères-de-Luchon to the Col de Portet (altitude 2,215m) in the Pyrenees, according to Cary & MacLeary of the London TELEGRAPH. The entire route "comprises barely 3,300km," with organizers declaring they intend to "provide a vision of modern and inspired cycling." The 105th edition of the race, which will be held from July 7-29, will see Chris Froome "attempt to win his fifth Tour crown." To triumph, Froome will have to "contend with the cobblestones of northern France again." It was "approaching the pavé that the Team Sky leader famously crashed twice in foul weather" in '14, fracturing his wrist. A reduced peloton of 176 riders (each team will be allowed eight rather than nine riders next year in an attempt to make it "less easy to control the race") will start in the Vendée region on the west coast of France. Other highlights of the '18 race are a "partly unpaved climb" to the Plateau des Glières on the Le Grand Bornand stage on July 17, a return to Alpe d’Huez on July 19 and a return to the Mende airstrip where Steve Cummings "famously won" for South African team Dimension Data on Mandela Day in '15 (TELEGRAPH, 10/17).
SPICING IT UP: REUTERS' Julien Pretot reported every year since he took over from Jean-Marie Leblanc in '06, Tour de France Dir Christian Prudhomme "has tried to spice up the route with new climbs to make the race more exciting." Prudhomme said, "It will be interesting from a sporting point of view, but also from a historical point of view." The Plateau des Glières "features the national monument of the Resistance as the limestone plateau was used by Maquis group of resistance fighters" during World War II. The site "had been in Prudhomme’s mind for a few years but it was only included very recently" in the '18 Tour, leaving "little time" for race organizer Amaury Sport Organisation to set up the route. Prudhomme: "We have a lot of ideas but they don’t necessarily come to fruition right away" (REUTERS, 10/16). The AP reported Prudhomme said, "A contest between Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin, two riders with similar qualities, wouldn't displease me. It would force one of the two to try something different to surprise the other. We're looking at a new generation that wants to entertain." The race starts on July 7, "a week later than usual because of the World Cup in Russia." The Tour route, "which goes clockwise," features 25 mountain climbs -- ranging from the "relatively difficult" Category 2 to Category 1 and the "daunting" Hors Categorie (beyond classification). Eleven are in the Alps, four in the Massif central region and 10 in the Pyrenees (AP, 10/17). CYCLING NEWS' Daniel Benson reported Froome "looked stunned as Prudhomme unleashed an almost shock-and-awe barrage of stages." Froome: "It’s tough and I wouldn’t expect anything else from the Tour de France organizers, especially the first eight or nine days. It’s going to be very dangerous in the northwest of France, before we hit any of the big mountains. The wind could be a massive factor up there and with the GC [general classification] being so close, we could see the race torn to pieces up there. There’s the inclusion of quite a substantial cobble stage and we could see a lot happening. Then there’s the stage with a gravel section and there’s a lot to get ready for in that sense" (CYCLING NEWS, 10/17).
Sri Lanka Cricket decided to play in Pakistan for the first time since its team bus was attacked in Lahore in '09 after being left "fully satisfied" with "stringent security measures." The two teams will meet in a Twenty20 int'l at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium on Oct. 29 after what SLC described as "a thorough evaluation" (BBC, 10/16).
Next month's leg of the World Cup qualifying tie between the All Whites and Peru in Wellington is "on track for a full house with 25,000 tickets sold in the first day of pre-sale." That included 20,000 tickets being sold in the first hour, "which began at midday Tuesday for those fans signed up to the waitlist," before exceeding the 25,000 mark by 6pm (STUFF, 10/17).
Carlos Takam replaced Kubrat Pulev as the Int'l Boxing Federation mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua's world title at Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Oct. 28. Frenchman Takam, ranked No. 3 by the IBF, has been "on the hunt for a showdown with the champion" and gets his "golden chance at ripping away Joshua's titles" after Pulev suffered a shoulder injury (London TELEGRAPH, 10/16).
The Asian Football Confederation said that Malaysia's rescheduled 2019 Asian Cup qualifying match away to North Korea "could be played at a neutral venue." With the Group B clash postponed three times "due to security concerns and strained diplomatic ties between the nations," the AFC added that a decision would be made "at the end of this week" (ESPN.com, 10/17).
The Pakistan Cricket Board agreed to be a part of the Int'l Cricket Council's World Test and one-day leagues only if the BCCI honors the MOU signed between the two boards in '14 to play bilateral series, according to PCB Chair Najam Sethi. The ICC announced "nine teams would take part in the World Test league scheduled to start after the 2019 World Cup," with each team playing six series on a home-and-away basis across two years (PTI, 10/17).