More on Terengganu coming soon.....
Friday, May 30, 2008
More on Terengganu coming soon.....
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Finally woke up from the dreamland of Manchester United completing the double. Plus the past two stages of the Giro, weren't too apetising for me to jot down. But Stage 14 last night, the first of the really high mountains, an Italian Alpine stage that went over 195km from Verona to Alpe di Pampeago in Val di Fiemme, was when the real protagonists came into the picture.
At the end of the Godforsaken mountain stage, CSF-Navigare had bagged their third stage win of the Giro, through Emanuele Sella who rode solo for almost 50km. Tinkoff's Vasil Kiriyenka, Belarus' most famous sportsman, tried a follow-up attack, but had to be satisfied with second.
What was most important at the end of the night was the picture painted by the general classification. Gabriele Bosisio of LPR added time in the maglia rosa he inherited from the leader over the past eight stages - Giovanni Visconti. But Bosisio is not going to win the Giro.
Just five seconds adrift in the standings is the powerful picture of 2007 Tour de France winner Contador and a bunch of fired up Astana teammates behind him. A minute and two seconds behind in fourth is Saunier Duval's Ricardo Ricco and Serramenti Diquigiovanni have parked two-time winner Gilberto Simoni at a still comfortable one minute and 31 seconds, in eighth. This is how the game is going to be, although Lampre might have something up their sleeves with Marzio Bruseghin, winner of the first time trial of the Giro, at 28s in third.
It is gonna be between those four or five, if LPR's defending champion Danilo di Luca, in fifth at one minute 07, gets it going. Or six, because Rabobank's Denis Menchov is also close. In seventh at 1.18s.
From now to the final stage. This is when stage racing gets me biting my fingernails. But I've named the winner already. It is gonna be Alberto Contador.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
LA-MSS could be the first of the Portuguese teams going down in a doping scandal that is reminiscent of the Spanish Fuentes scandal that pulverised the Liberty Seguros-Wurth, Comunidad Valenciana and a host of other teams in 2006. In the Opreacion Puerto-styled raid, Constantino Zaballa, the team's Spanish rider who'd had links in the Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes scandal, is also reported to be in deep *h*t... again..
And Sir Alex Ferguson shouldn't be celebrating too much, because now we don't want to wait another eight or nine years between our European titles, as was the case with the Cup Winners' Cup and the European Cup in '99 and the one we won in Moscow this morning.
Johanna Terry and Nicole Anelka became our Santas this morning, but we must learn to kill off these small teams when we have the chance to do as as was the case in the earlier part of the first half when the Chelsissies were pinned back. In honesty, it should have been 3-0 at half-time. Maybe we do need a Karim Benzema upfront and a Samir Nasri in midfield to add some punch to a somewhat ageing but still classy engine room.
We knew the title would be ours, but we could do without the drama. 6-5 on penalties, with an ageing Edwin van der Sar the hero against a team of nothing, is something that should give us a wake up call. The Chelsissies are nothing but a team bumped up with lots of Russian roubles, expensive players and a bunch of loudmouth, big-talking fans. But we made them look good in Moscow. Even their equaliser by Francine Lampard was a gift.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Sir Alex Ferguson just sort of figured out his line-up to start the Slaughter of Moscow.
Looks like the great Ryan Giggs is gonna start on the bench, along with Owen Hargreaves and Anderson. But Paul Scholes will get to drive the engine room in a partnership with Michael Carrick. Cristiano Ronaldo on the left flank and Nani on the right, the Chelsissies are gonna taste only what they didn't want to taste. Rooney up front alone should be enough cos the shots will be going in from everywhere, with also Tevez backing him up.
At the back its gonna be pretty much like I said before - Vidic, Ferdinand in the middle, Evra on the left, Brown on the right. And of course the giant van der Sar between the posts. For the Chelsissies' line-up, ask their loudmouth fans.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Two great players will start - Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. Two who've played their lives out at one team. the greatest team of all. The frontline that Abramovich can't buy is gonna read Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo, two soon-to-be-immortalised young players who are born to be with United. You got the great Edwin van der Sar who the Chelsissies, even as their Dogbarks up front, can only dream of beating. The set-for-greatness rock-solid centre of defence of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic won't be broken, even if Patrice Evra and the great Wes Brown chose to muscle their way up (and probably score a goal or two) while keeping the back water-tight. You got the trickery of Nani, then Michael Carrick to also contend with you Chelsissies.
I won't even bother to write a word on your line-up. On Thursday morning, when I have my breakfast, you'll be as forgotten as the waste I flushed down the toilet last Monday.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Rest day in the Giro today and it comes on the back of a string of doubles.
Saunier Duval's Ricardo Ricco had registered his second stage win in the Giro on Saturday. Last night Daniele Bennati (pic) took his second stage win and world champion Paolo Bettini came close two stages in a row, and was denied on the line, first by Ricco on Stage Eight from Rivisondoli to Tivoli, covering 208 km. Ricco's first win was on Stage Two.
Stage Nine last night turned out to be the first real big bunch sprint, albeit through dangerously slim and winding roads leading to the end of the longest stage of the Giro thus far (218km) in San Vicenzo.
There was Milram in the picture, pulling their train for Erik Zabel, High Road was there for Mark Cavensih, Gerolsteiner was there for Robert Forster, Danilo Hondo was led-out by Serramenti Diquigiovanni teammate Rafaele Iliano, albeit to no avail. Tinkoff Credit Systems had shown a slight hint that they were gonna put one exciting young sprinter Nikolai Trusov in the picture, but that too didn't work out. CSF-Group Navigare were not in the picture, but sprinter Tiziano Dall'antonia did do enough damage with his shoulders and arms to stop Cavendish from registering his second win.
But young Cavendish must learn to keep focus and not start venting his frustrations by pointing fingers at Dall'antonia, or any adversary for that matter, 10 metres from the finish line when the bunch is pushing in at break-neck speed!! Watch the finish on TV and you'll see.
Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti holds on to the maglia rosa with a 34s advantage over first chaser Matthias Russ of Gerolsteiner and the main contenders are led by Liquigas' defending champion Danilo di Luca at seven minutes adrift. A chunk of that time, I expect, will be eaten up in the first of the time trials over 34 km from Pesaro to Urbino tomorrow. Although Visconti will have to fare really bad to lose the maglia rosa to one of the main contenders (di Luca, Ricco, Contador, Simoni) tomorrow.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Bosisio took the win, and Quickstep's Italian champion Giovanni Visconti retained the maglia rosa, by very little this time, but the stage has already been set.
But with 14 days to go, you wouldn't yet bet your last dollar on it.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Last night, after Slipstream's David Millar threw his bike over the barricades having a broken chain in the final three kilometres, the 26-year old Russian, in similar fashion to which he won that stage in Seremban a year ago, ditched breakaway partners Johannes Frohlinger, Luis Felipe Laverde and Francisco Perez to register Tinkoff Credit Systems' first ever Grand Tour stage win in Stage Five of the Giro d'Italia - over 203km from Belvedere Marittimo to Contursi Terme.
It was those four, plus Millar who'd made the decisive break and maintained a gap which at a point reached almost six minutes over the main bunch. The final 10 kilometres provided an undulating terrain soaked by what was left of an earlier downpour, which in some sense I think, gave an advantage to the breakaway.
It was the first uphill finish, although the final three kilometres saw a rise of about 3 to 4 percent gradient.
French journalist, and that country's media officer for the Olympic Games, Jean Francois Quenet had indicated that Laverde is used to winning stages under those circumstances, as he watched the race with me. Funny that he was also the one most happy with Brutt's win.
As usual, I'd also made the wrong assumption. I'd thought the bunch would catch up and world champion Paolo Bettini would have won it. Instead, he won the sprint for fifth spot.
It took a defeat to Serena Williams in the quarters of the Sony Ericsson Open, a retirement due to knee injury in the Family Circle Cup and then a first ever defeat to Dinara Safina in the German Open for Justine to decide to pull the plug. The knee was never gonna get better.
Sad day for tennis, but I can't remember when a player ever retired while ranked number one in the world.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
From News of the World..
Hehehe... They're all into the ladyboys these days. First it was Ronaldo refusing to pay, now its the Liverpoodle Steven Gerrard... And in the presence of his wife! Sick buggers.
Here's the News of the World report
By Keith Gladdis
PASSING: Stevie and Alex HANDS, REF! England ace Steven Gerrard tries some man-to-tran marking as he grabs a gender bender's fake boobs.
The Liverpool star made his play for transvestite Martine McClutchbag's twin strikers as he passed "her" outside a gay bar on a night out with wife Alex Curran.
The scene was caught on video as the grinning midfielder glided up to Martine, 24, in her blonde wig and fishnets tights and said "Hi sexy"—before completing his saucy one-two.
The thrilled tranny—who DJs at Liverpool's Pink bar —said: "I was outside having a dance when I saw Stevie coming down the street.
"I'm a Liverpool fan so I was a bit giddy hoping he'd come in the club. As he walked past he reached out and squeezed my inflatable boobs." Gerrard, 27, told her "Pretty in pink, makes the boys wink" before heading off with Alex giggling beside him.
LIFE'S A DRAG: Tranny Martine Martine—real name Matthew Swain—then ran into the club and screamed down the mike: "I s*** you not, Steven Gerrard has just squeezed my t**s."
She added: "I was really made up. Everyone cheered. If him and Alex want to come to Pink they're more than welcome."
Story and pics here http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/1105_gerrard_and_tranny.shtml
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Now, here's the first take on the World Anti-Doping Agency or WADA, more so about their biggest failure - curbing doping practices in sport.
Most blatantly visible of all, if you check out the World Anti-Doping code available in their website http://www.wada-ama.org/ , is the failure of it to effectively catch and punish the cheats.
A significant amount of WADA's budget is spent on fighting legal battles. So, how effective can you say the World Anti-Doping Code is? WADA is good at coming up with lists of banned substances. Their former president Richard William Duncan Pound, or just plain Dick Pound, was famous as a crusader, catching those alleged to be dopers. But what use is there if the Code leaves so many grey areas which those with the clout and finances can exploit, challenge or manipulate? They catch and ban the athlete, but then find themselves running out of cash when the athlete decides to take it all the way in court.
WADA appoints Government Ministers from third world countries to sit in their council. But for what? It isn't like these Ministers, who themselves are ignorant, are going to help in any way. All they do is self-promote, about being part of the crusade. Of course, they can catch the small fries, the athletes from third world countries without the financial muscle to challenge the Code. They sure can't effectively nail the big boys. Or are the big boys innocent in the first place? Let's review the bloody CODE!!!
Here's cyclingnews.com's latest take on the Floyd Landis case:
Landis case costing WADA $1.3 million
The appeal by Floyd Landis to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has so far cost the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) nearly $1.3 million dollars (840,000 euros). Chairman of the WADA Finance Committee, Sir Craig Readie, told AFP that WADA had asked the UCI for financial assistance but none was forthcoming. "WADA could not help but get involved with the Landis case by default," said Readie.
WADA's legal director Oliver Niggli explained that the sheer complexity of the Landis case was the reason for such exorbitant legal costs. "The Landis case involves 400 pages of testimony, 6000 documents and five days of hearing," he said.
Niggli said that of WADA's $25 million annual budget, $1.7 million had been spent in the past 18 months on cycling-related doping cases. In contrast, the average cost of litigation for each WADA case is around $10,000.
Suspended for two years in September 2007, Landis presented his appeal to CAS in late March at a hearing in New York. The CAS ruling is expected to be known in June. According to AFP, Landis is expected to have spent approximately two million dollars on his own defence.
The Operación Puerto case has also cost WADA a lot of money, but Niggli said there was little hope of bringing the case to a close in the near future. "In the Puerto case, the Spanish judge has refused to give us access to the blood bags," he said. "We have spent a lot of money without much progress."
At a meeting of its Executive Committee on Saturday, WADA decided to establish a reserve fund of $1.5 million to finance proceedings against athletes convicted of doping.
Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case
March 12, 2007 - Landis' judgment day nearsOctober 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CASOctober 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis caseThursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CASSaturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issuesFriday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied Sunday, September 16 - Arbitrators close Landis case Sunday, September 2 - Landis decision expected this monthFriday, August 31 - Landis decision due? Thursday, July 12 - Easy money for Landis? Tuesday, July 10 - Landis on book tour Thursday, July 5 - Landis will know verdict Friday Thursday, May 24 - It's science versus as Landis' fate hangs in the balance.
I can't even bring myself to explain. Click the link:
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
What interested me most was the presence of the celebrity blogger Mr. Ahirudin Attan or Rocky, a familiar face, and R. Nadeswaran or Citizen Nades of The Sun, who were among five speakers. The PM's son-in-law Mr. Khairy Jamaluddin had officiated the event earlier. According to rockybru.blogspot.com Khairy had surprised by backing the call for Press freedom in opening the forum.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
If there was any rider who'd have more reason to win this Giro, it would be Alberto Contador and his Astana team who earned a last-minute call-up by organisers RCS, after initially being rejected from all three grand tours. And watch out for this Astana team - they're determined to win every race they enter and have even stated an intention of winning every single-stage of the Dauphine Libere, the traditional warm-up to the Tour de France, although the ASO still remain adamant on leaving the team of the defending Tour de France champion, out of their race. Contador has said in his press release that he's prepared this season just like he'll be racing in the big event.Contador will have a strong team with American Levi Leipheimer and German Andreas Kloden as his main lieutenants. I'd think the main battle for the overall will be between these three teams - LPR, Serramenti Diquigiovanni and Astana.
Other contenders will rise from this following group:
Saunier Duval's Ricardo Ricco, nicknamed the CobraDon't be surprised if any one of these three suddenly come into the picture - Euskaltel-Euskadi's Inigo Landaluze, Liquigas' Franco Pelizotti or Caisse d'Epargne's Jose Rujano.
For a more detailed build-up, look here: http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2008/giro08/?id=favourites
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
edition of the Sports Pro magazine, a new monthly sports financial magazine published in the UK.
Interestingly, the report carries a rather detailed breakdown into the 2008 budgets of all 11 F1 teams, concluding that the depreciation of 1.4 percent in the total budgets of teams alone, from USD$3.139 billion in 2007 to just USD$3.096 billion this year, as projecting F1 into "as uncertain a state as it has ever been".
That's a drop of USD$46 million. Honda, Super Aguri's so-called big brother, has replaced McLaren as the team with the biggest budget, no thanks to the spygate scandal that resulted in the latter being fined USD$100 million. Honda's total budget, for your information is a whalloping USD$422.35 million! That's 13.64% of the overall budget of teams put together. Interestingly too, the magazine's report seemed to reflect on Super Aguri's demise as impending, rather than speculation and described the team's budget for the year (well below USD$100 million) as negligible.
Also, if you'd have thought world champions Ferrari or McLaren would be second and third with Honda occupying the top budget ranking, you'd have been so wrong.
BMW-Sauber's USD$412 million, of which USD$356 million is in cold, hard cash, is second highest, thanks also to national oil company Petronas' ranking as the highest paying non-title sponsor or team owner in the sport with a USD$42 million contribution.
BMW-Sauber's budget is 97.55% of Honda's, with BMW being the biggest contributor with USD$220 million. Even that, only ranks the team owner as the fourth biggest of the 192 sponsors associated with teams in the sport, after Honda (USD$340m), Toyota Motor Corp. (USD$315m) and Red Bull (USD$279m).
Petronas' USD$42 million makes them the 11th biggest sponsor in the sport.
Air Asia's USD$2.75 million deal with the Williams team ranks them joint-60th with sports attire company Fila, who support Honda, and global courier service FedEx, who have their logo on the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Heiki Kovalainen.
My poor favourite team Renault has only the sixth biggest budget in F1 with a measley USD$189.5 million, according to the Sports Pro special report. Super Aguri was not even featured individually in the team-by-team budget analysis.
A significant change F1 had, if I read the report right, was the entrance of India's colourful billionaire Vijay Mallya as team owner. His USD$46 million, channeled via three of his companies - Kingfisher (USD$40m), The Dalmore (USD$3m) and Royal Challenge (USD$3m) saved the former Spyker team from collapse and eventually developed into an Indian national project, aptly renamed the Force India F1 Team.
A similar change, or rather one that mirrors the BMW takeover at Sauber and Honda's buying out of David Richards' BAR team several years ago, is said to be in the pipeline, and McLaren is at the centre of it with Mercedes looking to take over Ron Dennis' 15% stake and the equal amount held by Saudi tycoon Mansour Ojjeh.
The outlook for F1, according to the report, seems bleak as the sport faces an impending financial crisis brought about by an overall mixture of sponsorship downturn and a fluctuating and unstable US dollar.
Which probably substantiates further the sport's powerbrokers' - the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone's - intentions of introducing budget caps, which initally were thought as mere efforts to level the playing field. But those familiar with the Max and Bernie combination, would tend to believe that the sport's future isn't too much in danger. Not as much as that of small-budget teams like Toro Rosso and Mallya's Force India, as Aguri Suzuki may attest to. I believe that soon even the likes of Williams will come under pressure.
In case nobody realised, F1 is already well and truly THE big boys' game. It isn't anymore a game for teams run mainly on passion and desire. It is no longer a game for those without the backing of manufacturers, or teams that aren't owned by manufacturers. Even McLaren is going down, so is Williams. It is inevitable. It isn't good and neither is it bad. It's just happening.
I'd like to note down more on this... soon..
Note - Current exchange rate: USD$1 = RM3.15
Monday, May 5, 2008
Wonder what they were whispering to each other. It had been and turned out to be a really bad season for the team.After finishing fifth in 2006 and sixth last year, this year we were 15th in the championship.
Later, as Fairuz sat in the car in the pit, preparing for the practice session prior to qualifying on Saturday, guess what was on the screen in the pits? Man Utd v West Ham! Of course the Great Devils whacked the Hammers 4-2. And now we know how racing drivers take their minds off shambolic seasons.
But later, when the screen was placed right in front of Fairuz's face, you could just sense that it was serious business.
Seeing that things weren't going so well for A1 Team Malaysia, I crept over to the Team Brazil pits for some time and there was Emerson Fittipaldi (left), the F1 World champion in 1972 and 1974. He's great in more ways than one. He was world champion in the year I was born.
Right now, Emerson is busy polishing the talents of a 16-year old Brazilian teenage sensation Felipe Guimaraes... You should remember that name. This kid is going to drive the A1 Team Brazil car next season... Or so Emerson says...
This next little girl, Rahel Frey, you people better remember. At 19, she's already done rookie sessions for A1 Team Switzerland (and clocked fastest times), finished on the podium in Formula Renault Euroseries and is currently competing in the German F3 Championship. This little girl from Solothurn in Switzerland, everybody, is going to be the first woman F1 driver.
Well, I think highly of Rahel and she looks like a real strong character. Always meaning business. No wonder Malaysian national oil company Petronas is backing her career in F3, much to the dismay of a host of promising drivers from their own country.
It is also interesting that some girls surprise their parents by choosing racing as a career path, while others, more famously, choose just to remain pretty. Like some of those I caught with my little white Nikon Coolpix L2 in Brands Hatch.
The major distractions at Brands Hatch though, were these following beauties. The ones I'd marry and live happily ever after with....
But you know, one of the things I realised over the weekend was that Fairuz, having spent the last decade establishing his racing career in Britain, has a really good fanbase over in Europe, more than he has in Malaysia. All weekend, people were stopping him asking for autographs. Most came with pictures of him in GP2 or the Formula Renault 3.5 World Series.
This grid girl named Tami came looking for Fairuz after the race, seeking autographs on two A1 Team Malaysia posters. "One's for me, the other is for my sort of nephew," she said. Sorry Tami, Fairuz is happily married, with a kid who, most famously, appears in the first ever photograph snapped of him, dressed in a racing suit!!
Like father like son, you may say. And that precedent was set by Tuan Haji Mohd Fauzy Abdul Hamid, Fairuz's motorsport mad father. I shared a few moments in Brands Hatch with Tuan Haji. I must tell you that on many most enjoyable occasions, I've spent hours after Press conferences or interviews, just chatting with Haji Fauzy about racing. This old man can go on for hours talking about his favourite subject!
Here's me with one of Malaysian motorsport's most famous father-and-son combinations after the DNF in the feature race, that happened due to ignition failure just when Fairuz was looking good for a sixth place finish.
You know, as I've written in the New Straits Times long ago when people took my stories a little more seriously, I've always liked these old circuits. Just look at the way they're set up for fans. Try as Hermann Tilke may, he's only distancing the fans from the action. Circuits he designed like Sepang, Bahrain and Shanghai, if they are to be the way of the future, are simply too safe, too faraway, to big. Look at Brands Hatch and Suzuka, or the old defunct Shah Alam Circuit. They're all just comfortably friendly, with action right in your face, not a mile away from where you sit that even the sound feels distanced. Tilke should look at how racing should be for the fans.
In all, it was a nice weekend for the NST's almost forgotten sportswriter (right) and columnist. Yes, Fairuz's column, 'On the Grid with Fairuz Fauzy' appears in the NST sports pages every race day of the F1 World Championship calendar, as it has since the 2006 season.
Thanks to these two guys... A1 Team Malaysia CEO Jack Cunningham (right) and commercial director Owen Leed for making the great trip happen.