Monthly Archives: March 2018

Sibling pranks

Learn to ski Slalom

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Para-cycling Track World Championships: GB’s Jody Cundy & Katie Toft win gold

Jody Cundy

“It may be my 14th jersey, but the feeling is just as good pulling this one on as the first. Thank you to everyone who helped me in the process,” said Jody Cundy on Twitter

Jody Cundy and Katie Toft both won gold for Great Britain on the opening day at the Para-cycling Track World Championships in Brazil.

Cundy became world champion for the 14th time by winning the men’s C4 1km time trial to remain unbeaten in world kilometre events since 2006.

The 39-year-old clocked one minute 04.579 seconds to beat Slovakia’s Jozef Metelka by almost three seconds.

Toft claimed gold in the women’s C1 individual pursuit.

She came home in 4:41.945 to seal victory over China’s Li Jieli having overtaken her opponent.

Great Britain clinched five medals in total on the first day in Rio de Janeiro.

Megan Giglia claimed silver in the women’s C3 individual pursuit, losing out on gold to Germany’s Denise Schindler in the final.

Jon-Allan Butterworth and Blaine Hunt secured silver and bronze respectively in the men’s C5 1km time trial.

Crystal Lane-Wright just missed out on the podium on her track return, finishing fourth in the women’s C5 500m time trial.

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Tour of Flanders: Rowe’s start ‘a dream’ seven months after leg break

Luke Rowe

Rowe in action at the Tour of Flanders in 2016, where he finished fifth

Team Sky’s Luke Rowe says it is a “dream come true” to start the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, seven months after breaking his leg.

Rowe broke his leg in 25 places while white-water rafting on his brother’s stag party in Prague in August.

The Welsh rider was expected to miss at least a year but returned to racing at the Abu Dhabi Tour in February.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle, it’s a dream come true just to be on the start line at Flanders,” he said.

“It’s been a pretty grim six or seven months. It’s taken a lot of hard work and I’ve been surrounded by a great group of people to get me back to where I am now.”

Rowe, 28, finished 22nd in the Dwars door Vlaanderen semi-classic on Wednesday in preparation for the Tour of Flanders, one of the five most prestigious one-day races in cycling, known as ‘the monuments’.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live’s Bespoke podcast, he added it would be “the stuff dreams are made of” to win the cobbled 267km race in Belgium, having finished fifth in the 2016 edition.

“Winning Flanders or another monument – that’s what gets me out on the bike on the grim mornings,” he said.

“There are five to 10 guys who are perhaps a level above me and it’s going to be hard to react to them, so potentially I have to race differently to previous years by trying to survive with these guys and waiting for the final.

“My form is good, I rode an aggressive race at Dwars so although 22nd is an underwhelming result, it’s a hard race and that’s given me a bit of confidence.

“I won’t go down without a fight and I’m surrounded by a great team.”

Former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski will lead Team Sky as he seeks his second monument win, following his 2017 Milan-San Remo victory, and a first Flanders title for the British outfit.

Briton Ian Stannard is also in Team Sky’s line up, alongside Michal Golas, Christian Knees, Gianni Moscon and Dylan van Baarle.

The Tour of Flanders is the second monument of the cycling calendar, following Milan San-Remo, which was won by Vincenzo Nibali earlier this month.

Paris-Roubaix will take place on 8 April, with Liege-Bastogne-Liege on 22 April, before Il Lombardia, the last monument of the season, on 13 October.

‘A difficult time for Team Sky’


Rowe (third from left) joined Team Sky in 2012 and made his Tour de France debut three years later

Rowe added it has been a “difficult time” for the team following a report by MPs that said Team Sky had “crossed an ethical line” in using drugs to enhance performance instead of just for medical need.

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has to explain to the UCI – cycling’s world governing body – how he returned double the allowed level of legal asthma drug salbutamol in his urine during his Vuelta a Espana victory in September.

Froome, who is targeting the Giro d’Italia in May, is permitted to race while he presents his case, but UCI president David Lappartient said it would be a “disaster for the image of cycling” if the Briton rode the Tour de France in July with the case still unresolved.

“There has been a lot of negative press but it also makes you realise there is a lot of positive press out there as well and a lot of support from the fans and that really helps as well,” said Rowe.

“I know Chris is trying to get it resolved as soon as possible and the sooner it gets resolved the better. It shouldn’t be long now, hopefully.

“I’ve got to carry on my training and my racing and just be the best I can for these races.”

‘I didn’t know if I’d get back’


Rowe broke his leg in 25 places while on his brother’s stag party

Rowe suffered 25 different fractures to his right leg after jumping into a shallow section of water while rafting.

He had a metal rod inserted during surgery and doctors initially advised him he was facing a lengthy absence, with a chance he would never race again.

“The year out they estimated was the best-case scenario so I’m in a fortunate position where I was able to get the best care and that’s gone a long way to getting back so soon,” he said.

“I didn’t know how I would react to the racing and if could return to the level I was previously at.

“But after the Abu Dhabi Tour I said I wanted to focus on the classics and the team supported that.

“I’m 95-98% of where I was in previous years so I’m possibly missing the top end but, at the same time, I’m fresh and raring to go so that could play in my favour as well.”

You can hear more from Luke Rowe on the Bespoke Weekly podcast, available to download here.

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Shane Perkins: Australian cyclist on switching to Russia and 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Shane Perkins

Perkins was world keirin champion in 2011 and won Olympic bronze in the individual sprint a year later

An Australian going for Olympic gold with Russia. It might seem improbable to outsiders, but for cyclist Shane Perkins this is “living the dream”.

Jettisoned by his home team, he has gone elsewhere in an effort to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

With his Russian passport and citizenship personally signed off last year by the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, Perkins has backing from the top.

“My heart is big enough for two countries,” said the 31-year-old former keirin and team sprint world champion.

His switch to Russia comes as the country looks to recover after a doping scandal that saw their track-and-field athletes banned from the 2016 Olympics.

But despite having no family ties to Russia, Perkins has embraced the nation, is sceptical about claims of previous state-sponsored doping, and is keen to seize an opportunity to extend his career.

“I’m always going to be a proud Australian and now I’m going to be a proud Russian too. I don’t see what’s wrong with that,” he said.


Perkins represented Australia for 13 years before his switch to Russia

‘I’ve found a different way’

So what of those who question the whole business of being able to represent two nations?

Perkins mentions the Olympic spirit, and the fact clean Russian athletes were allowed to compete under a neutral flag at last month’s Winter Olympics.

“It doesn’t matter which country you’re from, it’s bringing people together that love what they do, and bringing that competitiveness to one place. It gives people the opportunity to shine in front of the world,” he said.

“I’m living a dream that I want to go to the Olympics in Tokyo. The fact I get to do it wearing Russian colours, I’m very proud of that. One country wouldn’t allow me to do it and I’ve found another way.

“Just because you’re wearing a certain colour on your jersey shouldn’t change who’s under it. Too many people look at the cover of a book rather than reading it.”


Perkins (left) with Pavel Yakushevskiy and Denis Dmitriev after winning team sprint gold at the World Cup in Chile in December

‘Russia feels like another home’

While there are regular trips to Russia, he remains based in Australia, with his wife Kristine and children Aidan, nine, and seven-year-old Mischa.

“We discussed moving to Moscow but think it’s better for now to base ourselves out of Brisbane and I come into Russia for training camps. I can continue my training in a hot environment,” he said.

“I’m quite excited when I get the opportunity to go over to Russia. It’s always a funny feeling – when I land it feels like another home to me.

“I’ve set myself a goal to start learning the language. It would be good to do an interview in Russian one day, but I’m progressing very slowly.”

He talks of coaching there in the future and even doing something in politics which involves the two countries.

Despite the doping claims, Perkins is confident he will not be sullied.

“I don’t believe it was necessarily state-sponsored doping,” he said. “I think there was some athletes and coaches who made some really stupid decisions and they believed the way to win was to cheat. Those athletes have been punished.

“I’m an athlete and I’m the one who gets to make decisions on where my integrity lies. I believe in fair sport.”


Perkins with his son Aidan after winning Olympic bronze at London 2012

His attitude towards his homeland has not been changed by the cricket ball-tampering scandal which has made headlines in Australia and around the world.

“It hasn’t altered my perception on Australia at all. You would be downright stupid if you thought something like this couldn’t happen anywhere,” said Perkins.

“No-one is immune. People are human and make mistakes, no matter what country you are from. Sometimes as humans we make silly decisions or can be led down the wrong path.

“When I was riding for Australia it was a great honour to put on the green and gold jersey wherever I raced.”

How did the switch come about?

After winning an individual sprint bronze medal for Australia at the 2012 London Olympics, he was not picked for the Rio Games four years later.

“I was mentoring younger riders and funnily enough a couple of those took my place for Rio,” recalled Perkins.

“It was a difficult time and had me wondering ‘what have I done to deserve this?'”

Perkins won the keirin event, beating Britain’s Chris Hoy, at the 2011 World Championships. He was also part of the Australian team that won the team sprint a year later.

But as he considered quitting, an old cycling friend – Russian Denis Dmitriev, with whom he had ridden in the keirin in Japan – came up with the radical alternative of representing Russia.

“He talked me out of retiring. I still have the passion and fire to keep fighting for another Olympics,” he said.

“We got in touch with the Russian Cycling Federation. They were questioning as to why, but were aware of my history and results in the sport and knew there was something I could offer to their riders coming through.”

With the support of the federation and coach Vladimir Khozov, they began the process of seeking citizenship and months of meetings and paperwork followed.


Putin, who got more than 76% of the vote in the recent presidential election, has led Russia since 1999

‘It would be super cool to meet Putin’

In August 2017, the switch was completed thanks to a presidential decree from Putin.

“I’m very lucky that Russia holds sport in such high regard, especially the Olympics. It’s a massive thing for them,” said Perkins.

“The fact they had someone who wanted to become Russian and fly the flag towards Tokyo – we had a common goal. They also needed someone for the keirin event and the sprint to make a strong team.”

Perkins won two titles at the Russian Championships last year and then a silver medal in the keirin at the European Track Championships in October.

“They wanted to make sure there was something left in me. Results have definitely spoken for themselves,” he said.


The news of Russian citizenship for Shane Perkins was posted on the Kremlin website

Putin was recently re-elected by a landslide, with some European observers saying there was a lack of genuine choice in the poll.

The poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Britain has also sparked growing western tensions with Moscow.

But Perkins sees another side to the story, and would welcome a meeting with the president.

“All the stuff in the media about Putin being re-elected, it makes my blood boil a bit, so you could say I’m a passionate Russian as well,” he said.

“I’m obviously grateful that he was supportive of me coming on board. One day it would be super cool to meet him and thank him in person, and shake his hand. It’d be awesome.”


Perkins is hoping to take part in the keirin and team sprint events in Russia

What’s the reaction been?

While several Russian athletes, such as 2000 Olympic pole vault silver medallist Tatiana Grigorieva, have left their motherland and taken up Australian citizenship, a move in the other direction is a rarity.

“The reception, even in Australia, has been actually very positive and quite overwhelming,” said Perkins, who has joined the Russian team Gazprom-Rusvelo.

“People in Australia know my story. I didn’t want to retire and I had this opportunity to continue my career. At the end of the day, we’ve only got one life – I’m just trying to race my bike, enjoy what I’m doing and hopefully inspire a few people.

“People in Russia are very appreciative that despite the things that have gone on with sport, and questions being asked, I think for myself and I’m not just reading media articles.

“Russia is a beautiful country and the people are nice. It is a chance to see another part of the world, and learn their culture.

“If I go to Tokyo and we win a gold medal, that’s obviously going to be a big one for Russia but it’s also going to be big for Australia.”


Perkins still lives in Australia but is open to a move to Russia

Missing the Commonwealths

Having won medals at three Commonwealth Games, Perkins – with his focus now on Russia – will miss the 2018 event when it is staged on Australia’s Gold Coast next month.

“Of course I’ll want to be out there. I rode for Australia for 13 years and I’m a Commonwealth Games gold medallist,” said Perkins, who won individual sprint gold in 2010, along with team sprint bronzes in 2006 and 2014.

“It’s in Queensland, the state I live in. It’s 10 minutes from my house, where it’s being held.

“I’ll try to grab some tickets and see who comes out on top. I’ll cheer on the Aussies and I have some mates from New Zealand, Scotland and England.

“I’m going to watch it with keen eyes but I’ve got no regrets about the decisions I’ve made to chase my Olympic dream.”

Following in father’s footsteps

After shrugging off a persistent back injury, Perkins is looking forward to the European Cycling Championships in Glasgow in August.

He hopes to pick up Olympic qualifying points from World Cup races and compete in the Track World Championships in Poland next year.

The ultimate aim is to make the Olympic keirin and team sprint events in Tokyo, and follow his father Daryl who took part in the Olympics there in 1964.

“Honestly I doubt my father cares who I’m representing. It’s just the fact I’ve got the opportunity to keep doing what I love. He’s proud that I haven’t given up,” he said.

And if he needed any extra motivation, 74-year-old Daryl is recovering after being seriously ill with meningitis earlier this year.

“I know how proud he’s going to be when I do turn up in Tokyo. It will be awesome to have him there supporting me. It’s for him, but I’ve got to do it for myself too,” said Perkins.

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Cavendish forced out of Commonwealth Games

Mark Cavendish

Cavendish was due to compete in the men’s road race on the Gold Coast

Mark Cavendish has withdrawn from the Isle of Man team set to compete at the Commonwealth Games in April.

The 32-year-old had suffered two bad crashes at races in March and will no longer be travelling to Australia.

He said he was “hugely disappointed to have to withdraw”.

Cavendish, a 30-time Tour de France stage winner – the second highest in race history – claimed Commonwealth gold for the Isle of Man at the 2006 Games.

He was due to compete in the men’s road race on the Gold Coast.

“I am immensely proud to represent the Isle of Man and was looking forward to a successful Games with the team,” he added.

“However, unfortunately it’s just come a little too soon in my recovery.”

On 7 March, Cavendish fractured a rib and sustained injuries to his knees, hips, hands on the opening stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy.

On his return, he suffered another fractured rib and ankle damage after crashing heavily into a bollard in the final 10km of the Milan-San Remo on Saturday.

His team – Team Dimension Data – said he had “avoided any serious, long term injury and is now working hard to recover”, adding that he “hopes to be back racing within a matter of weeks rather than months”.

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Johnny’s favourite stores