Thursday 19 October 2017

In brief: Roche targets road-race glory as UCI asks Spain to sort issues Boks bosses back De Villiers tenure Work to do for 11th-placed Ireland

CYCLING: Nicolas Roche will join compatriots David McCann and national road race champion Matt Brammeier on the Irish team for tomorrow's world road race championship in Melbourne.

The circuit should suit Roche's punchy style, but having delayed his arrival in Australia until Wednesday, the Irishman is unsure of how he will recover from the travelling and his exertions in the Tour of Spain.

"I was tired after the Vuelta," said Roche. "The first week, I was creeping on the bike, just trying to recover, but I was like that after the Tour (de France) as well and was in good form for the Vuelta, so hopefully I will be fine. It's a bit of a lottery though and everything has to be right on the day."

Of the 37 countries starting the race, Ireland have just three riders. "We will have to ride off the back of other teams," said Brammeier of An Post. "There are a lot of big teams who will be heavily marking each other, so maybe we can play off that.

"This is my biggest ever race, by far, and the quality of the field and the distance will make it hard for me to get to the finish, so I will be there to help Nico in the first three-quarters of the race."

Meanwhile, Spain's government should do more to eradicate the country's doping problem in the sport, International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid said.

His comments follow the suspension of a fourth Spanish rider in the past three days. Olympic cross-country cycling medallist Margarita Fullana had been provisionally suspended for testing positive for EPO, and she follows the suspensions handed to Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, Tour of Spain runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera and David Garcia Da Pena.

"The government needs to first of all recognise there is a problem," McQuaid said. "Then they need to sit down with the sport and put a lot of measures in place ... Cycling's an important sport in Spain."

McCloskey eyes win to tackle Khan

BOXING: When unbeaten Paul McCloskey ducks between the ropes in Donegal tonight, he knows he is going into a title fight he must win.

The Derry southpaw defends his European light welterweight title against Scotland's Barry Morrison at the Letterkenny Leisure Centre -- and defeat could ruin his hopes of getting a world title fight next year.

McCloskey is currently listed number four in the World Boxing Council's rankings and he will be aiming to press his claims further for matches against the likes of Britain's Amir Khan and the unbeaten Americans Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander.

"I know a lot about Morrison as we came up through the amateurs together," said McCloskey, who is without a loss in 21 fights.

In the chief supporting bout, Cavan's EU lightweight champion Andy Murray takes on the Dominican Republic's Johnny Nolasco and, again, a home win would be imperative as Murray also eyes a world title shot.

McCloskey v Morrison, Live tonight, RTE 2 @9.30

Boks bosses back De Villiers tenure

RUGBY: Springboks coach Peter de Villiers received a major vote of confidence yesterday after the South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed he will remain in his job.

The under-fire Springbok boss has faced mounting criticism in recent weeks following a dismal 2010 season so far, which has seen the world champions lose five out of 10 Tests.

All those defeats came in the recently concluded Tri Nations where the team, who were defending their title, turned in their worst ever display in the competition's 15-year history.

He met his employers in Johannesburg earlier this week, after which there was no feedback from SARU over his position, and there was another meeting in Durban on Thursday with SARU chief Oregan Hoskins.

"We frankly discussed operational issues and the team performance but I am very upbeat about the outcomes and the way forward," said Hoskins. "I am happy to end all speculation by confirming that the coaching team remains unchanged."

Work to do for 11th-placed Ireland

EVENTING: Despite a great performance from Sam Watson in the dressage phase of the Eventing Championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky yesterday, the Irish team will again be fighting a rear-guard action going into today's cross-country event.

Watson was the second of the three Irish riders in the ring yesterday, and with Horseware Bushman -- which he has partnered throughout his career -- he produced a polished test that earned a great score of 46.0.

And although Captain Geoff Curran and The Jump Jet also put up a good result with 50.2, the Irish total of 155.0, which included Patricia Ryan's 58.8 with Fernhill Clover Mist the previous day, was only good enough to register 11th of 14 teams at the end of the phase.

MLB: Baltimore 10 Detroit 6 (first game), Baltimore 2 Detroit 1 (second game), Florida 1 Pittsburgh 5, NY Mets 2 Washington 1 (10 innings), Cincinnati 3 Milwaukee 4 (11 innings), Atlanta 5 Philadelphia 11, Texas 4 LA Angels 5 (11 innings), Houston 0 Chicago Cubs 2, Chicago White Sox 3 Cleveland 7, Kansas City 7 Tampa Bay 0, Minnesota 3 Toronto 6, St Louis 3 Colorado 0, LA Dodgers 5 Arizona 7, SEATTLE 0 Oakland 9, San Francisco 4 San Diego 6, Boston v NY Yankees (postponed).

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