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Sunday 17 December 2017

Wiggins puts pressure on Froome to win

Bradley Wiggins of Sky Pro Cycling celebrates retaining the yellow jersey and winning during Stage 19 between Bonneval and Chartres, France. Picture: PA Wire
Bradley Wiggins of Sky Pro Cycling celebrates retaining the yellow jersey and winning during Stage 19 between Bonneval and Chartres, France. Picture: PA Wire

THIS year's Tour de France begins in Leeds on Saturday without Bradley Wiggins on Team Sky.

Reigning champion Chris Froome is hoping to become the first since disgraced Lance Armstrong to win back-to-back Tours. Wiggins insists that Froome, his rival team mate, is "a defending champion who is going to be favourite to win it".

But there's a suspicion that Wiggins is being disingenuous, given that Froome goes into the race having had his preparations hampered by a back injury and a chest infection. 

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Following Dublin's 16-point win over Wexford on Sunday, manager Jim Gavin made a point of stressing the collective efforts of the entire Dublin panel. Not even the younger squad members were afforded individual encouragement.

"We've been very pleased with anyone who's come up from the U-21 ranks," he said pointedly. "They're all putting a serious shift in. They're very diligent, very committed to the county. We're pleased with all of them. There's a lot of competition and they're trying their best."

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With Algeria and Nigeria knocked out in the last 16, there remains just three African teams who've ever made it as far as the quarter-finals in the World Cup. Cameroon, 1990. Senegal, 2002. And Ghana, 2010.

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At Wimbledon, no American singles players, women or men, have made it to the last 16 this year. Monday saw the last two make their exit with John Isner losing his third round match to Spain's Feliciano Lopez and Madison Keys forced to withdraw due to thigh strain. The last time there were no Americans in the last 16 was 1911.

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Of the managers capturing the public imagination at the World Cup, the most unlikely one has been Arsene Wenger, who's in Brazil as a spectator and pundit for French television.

The Arsenal boss caused a stir with his athleticism and ball skills when he was spotted enjoying a beach footvolley session with former French and Arsenal stars. But it was an appearance wearing petite Brazilian swimming togs (pictured) that set social media abuzz. And almost deflected attention away from his scouting for new singings.

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