Halep to face Williams in Miami last 16 as she seeks to regain top ranking

Simona Halep during her match against Polona Hercog

Simona Halep moved closer to regaining the world number one ranking by coming from a set down to beat Polona Hercog 5-7 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 at the Miami Open.

The 27-year-old world number three lost her place at the top of the women’s game following Naomi Osaka’s Australian Open victory in January.

But after Osaka’s shock exit in the third round in Miami, Halep can return to the top if she takes the title.

She next faces Venus Williams, who swept past 14th seed Daria Kasatkina.

American seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams beat the 21-year-old Russian 6-3 6-1 in just under 75 minutes on Sunday to reach the fourth round.

At number 43 in the world rankings, three-time Miami Open champion Williams, 38, is ranked 21 places lower than Kasatkina.

Venus Williams

Romanian Halep, the 2018 French Open champion, arrived in Miami having failed to get past the last 16 in Indian Wells and the quarter-finals in Dubai.

She will also go top of the rankings if she reaches the final and loses to anyone other than Czech world number two Petra Kvitova. Kvitova faces France’s Caroline Garcia in the fourth round.

It took her nearly three hours to beat 28-year-old Hercog, the world number 93 from Slovenia.

“She played unbelievable and it was such a tough match,” said Halep. “It was good to play for almost three hours though. I slowly found my rhythm but I always had belief so if I can keep doing this, I will have a good tournament.”

World number one Osaka was beaten by 27th-seeded Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan on Saturday, while Serena Williams was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.

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Valspar Championship: Paul Casey retains title with thrilling win in Florida

Breaking news

Paul Casey became the first man to retain the Valspar Championship after an enthralling final day in Florida.

Casey, 41, led by one overnight but dropped three shots on the opening nine as a pack of players applied pressure.

The Englishman was level with Jason Kokrak at eight under on the 18th hole but the American made bogey, meaning Casey needed par to win.

He found a bunker off the tee but hit the green and two-putted for a first win since taking last year’s title.

More to follow.

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Miami Open: Kyle Edmund beats Milos Raonic to set up John Isner match

Kyle Edmund will face John Isner in the fourth round

British number one Kyle Edmund produced a classy performance to beat Milos Raonic in straight sets and reach the fourth round of the Miami Open.

Edmund, 24, did not face a single break point as Canada’s Raonic struggled with a back injury which needed physio and medication on court in the second set.

In blustery conditions, Edmund’s forehand was key as he took two of his three break points in a 6-4 6-4 win.

He now faces defending American champion John Isner in round four.

Isner overcame Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 7-6(6) on Sunday.

“Isner is a similar match up in that you have to try to get his serve back,” Edmund said after his win over a player ranked eight places above him.

“It’s more just how heavy his serve is and how tough it is to read. I have nothing to lose and have to give my best. I’m feeling good.

“Today it was tricky conditions, blustery and you couldn’t predict anything. To be able to break him once in each set was huge.”

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Matthews back on track after Milan-San Remo

Despite starting Milan-San Remo with just a day and a half of racing in his legs Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) delivered a dogged, if not successful, performance to finish 12th on the Via Roma.

Earlier in the month, the Australian crashed during Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, soldiering on to the finish, but he was forced to abandon Paris-Nice after crashing on the first stage. In fact, Matthews was expected to miss several months of the campaign due his injuries but after another scan of an injured wrist he was given the all-clear on Wednesday to race Milan-San Remo.

He was still in contention on the Poggio – despite his lack of race miles – but when Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) unleashed an attacked that formed the winning move, Matthews was forced onto the back foot. A valiant chase saw him come within a few seconds of the lead group, and although Alaphilippe would continue his incredible run of form, the sight of Matthews almost making the front group would have greatly pleased his team.

“It was pretty crazy, especially after my last race where I had a massive crash,” he told Cyclingnews at the finish. “To come into this race, where it’s so hectic in the last 80 kilometers is pretty scary to be honest. I just tried to turn my mind off, not think about it, and just race.

“When it was such an easy race, the sprinters were hoping that it would be a bunch sprint in the final. A lot of the sprint teams came to the front to slow it down but then Astana put on some pace in order to spice it up a little bit. Then, all the fireworks started after the first half of the Poggio. It was QuickStep who lit it up and then set up Alaphilippe for his big attack.”

At that point, the lack of race miles finally caught up with Matthews and the Australian was forced to ride at his own tempo. Depsite losing ground to the favourites, the 28-year-old was still good enough to drop the pure sprinters and the rest of the trailing peloton. For a rider with just over 600km of racing – including San Remo – in his legs since the start of the year, it was an admirable performance.

“I was a bit pinned at the bottom when they started riding at the bottom and then I came good towards the middle. The plan then was for Tom [Dumoulin] to attack and I just tried to stay as far up to the front as I could but I was totally dead. This was my first race in two weeks, so it was a hard day.

“It’s still nice to be back. When Tom attacked I was on his wheel but I decided to leave a gap to see if he could do something with Alaphilippe and some of the others. I just tried to get over as best I could but I couldn’t get on the descent.”

Matthews would finish just one spot and a few seconds behind his teammate Dumoulin, and given his momentum and form coming into the race the Australian could take a significant degree of optimism from his performance.

“Today was better than I expected. I thought that I was going to be dropped on the Cipressa, so getting over the Poggio with some of the best guys is a positive for sure. We’ll just see where we go from here.”

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Vos powers to her first 2019 Women’s WorldTour win at Trofeo Binda

Former world champion wins sprint from breakaway group of eight as peloton closes to within seconds in tense final

Marianne Vos opened her 2019 account, winning an exciting edition of the Trofeo Binda in Italy on Sunday.

A winner of the race north of Milan on three provious occasions, Vos out-sprinted a small group of seven other riders, with Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) second and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Bigla) third.

The final 10 kilometres had been hugely tense with the eight woman final breakaway escaping over the top of the race’s closing climb, but with Vos present it did not settle, no one wanting to go the line with her.

Attack followed attack, but none were able to make a meaningful gap, while behind them Sunweb led a concerted chase. Riding for 2017 winner, US champion Coryn Rivera, the they used their remaining riders to support her and entered the final kilometre just seven seconds down.

However, Vos had her CCC-Liv team mate, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio with her, and the South African worked hard to successfully hold the chasers off, with the majority of the chasing group finishing less than ten seconds down.

The race in the hills west of Lake Maggiore, used to be known as a climber’s race but in recent years larger groups have crested the final climb, 7.3km from the line, opening the race up.

A clear indication of the development within the women’s sport, the race remains perpetually exciting with a wide range of riders able to affect the result. 

The event also hosts the opening round of the Junior Women’s Nations Cup, which has previously been a happy hunting ground for British riders. This year British junior road champion Amelia Sharpe narrowly missed out on a podium spot, sprinting to fourth place.

How it happened

The 131.1km race started not far from the shores of Lake Maggiore, north of Milan, in the village of Taino and within six kilometres tracks were pinging off the front of the 132 woman bunch.

The speed of the peloton was so high nothing was allowed to go clear though, and the race was set to be one of attrition with the selections being made from behind.

The race consisted of one long opening loop into the tree clad hills, followed by four shorter circuits over the races’s two signature climbs of Casalzuigno and Orino.

On the long loop the short steep climb to Cunardo served to split the race, with a large group of around 60 women emerging. Then, on the ensuing undulations, a group of eight managed to get away, though with 90km still to go they were soon caught and Tayler Wiles (Trek-Segafredo) escaped solo, soon building a lead of 45 seconds.

As the leader passed the finish line for the second of six times, Diana Peñuela (Alé-Cippolini) and Mikayla Harvey (Bigla) attacked the bunch attempting to bridge to Wiles, who by then had only 30 seconds lead. However all they succeeded in doing was dragging the bunch up to the leader, and the race re-formed on the climb to Orino.

Half way up, and with 62km to go, for the second Women’s WorldTour race in succession, Mitchelton-Scott’s Grace Brown attacked the and gained a lead of 45 seconds, she was chased by Bigla’s Leah Thomas, though the latter failed to get on terms.

The next time round Brown crested the climb alone, but with a small advantage and she was eventually caught on the descent.

Each of the successive climbs to Orino whittled the peloton slightly and it was a smaller bunch from which former mountain bike world champion Jolanda Neff (Trek-Segafredo) attacked on the descent.

However, as the race hotted up, she was caught by a group of less than 50 when the race crossed the finish line 10 minutes ahead of the fastest schedule with two 17.8km laps to ride.

The penultimate Orino climb brought more pressure from the leading bunch, but it was on the final ascent that the winner emerged from the chaos of continued attacks.

Result

Trofeo Alfredo Binda Comune di Cittiglio: Tiano to Cittiglio (131.1km)

1. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv in 3-27-07
2. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Bigla
4. Anastasiia Chursina (Rus) BTC City Ljubljana all at same time
5. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM at .01 sec
6. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM
7. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
8. Coryn Rivera (USA) Sunweb
9. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Alé-Cippolini
10. Erica Magnaldi (Ita) WNT Rotor all at same time nbsp;

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Fabio Aru to miss Giro d’Italia after surgery for constricted iliac artery

The Italian faces time off the bike with upcoming surgery

Italian Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) will miss the 2019 Giro d’Italia, facing surgery for a constructed iliac artery in his left leg.

The 2015 Vuelta a España winner had already begun his season, but now must sit out for up to four months.

“From a certain point of view, I can only be relieved to have highlighted the problem; on the other hand, I am angry about the bad luck that has fallen on me for the umpteenth time and that will force me to miss the Giro d’Italia again,” Aru said.

“I will work to try to put an end to this dark period as soon as possible.”

The dark period spanned the past years. Aru sat out the 2017 Giro d’Italia that began on his home island of Sardinia due to a crash in training. Last year, he suffered through the race and abandoned on stage 19. After exams, he said that he is not gluten intolerant, but his body struggles to absorb pasta and carbohydrates.

The Vuelta a España did not go well and that frustration showed when he crashed and cursed the team’s bike sponsor live on television. Then he pulled out of the running for the Italian national team heading to the World Championships.

The numbers in 2019 began to worry him and the Emirates team.

“It is a feeling that I feel when I have to go all-out, while the symptom disappears at a medium pace, so much so that in training I get the basic numbers,” Aru added.

“After the start of the season, Aru again encountered difficulties in getting up to that normal level that he and the team hoped for,” team doctor Jeroen Swart said. “Recently, Fabio developed more specific symptoms related to his left leg: he felt feelings of weakness in the limb after intense training and in race efforts.

“In view of these symptoms, further medical tests have shown a constriction of the iliac artery in his left leg. This relatively rare condition is found in professional cyclists given the position adopted on their bikes and can develop progressively over a period of several years.”

Other riders had the same problem in recent years – including Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First) – and have returned to racing. The upcoming surgery will see Aru miss upcoming races the Volta a Cataluyna, the Giro di Sicilia and his season goal, the Giro d’Italia.

“In the coming days, with a date to be determined based on the availability of the hospital, Aru will undergo angioplasty surgery at the Nuovo Ospedale di Prato, after which he will have to observe an absolute rest period of one month,” said Swart. “For something like this, the return time is estimated at three or four months.”

Aru said, “I thank the team for the closeness shown this year and a half and for working with me to find the solution to the problems that have plagued me. We really hope this is the final chapter.”

He last won in the 2017 Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey. Since joining UAE Team Emirates, his best result has been a fourth place in a Tirreno-Adriatico stage.

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Maybank Championship: Scott Hend wins after thunderstorm delays finish

Scott Hend with the Maybank Championship trophy

A thunderstorm delayed play by 100 minutes with the leaders on the 18th green at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia – before Scott Hend beat Nacho Elvira in a play-off.

Elvira’s backswing was disrupted by a thunder clap as he pitched to the last, and his shot came up 30 feet short.

Play was suspended moments later.

When it resumed, the Spaniard holed for a birdie to join Hend on 15 under, with the Australian missing his putt to win before victory at the first extra hole.

“It was thunder in a bad moment but the gods did give me one back with that putt,” said 32-year-old Elvira, who was the overnight leader going into the final round.

Hend, who had been three shots behind at the start of the day, took the lead after five birdies on the front nine during a five-under-par 67.

The 45-year-old hit two trees on his way to a birdie at the first play-off hole, as he won his third European Tour title.

“Obviously I had a bit of luck on the play-off hole,” said Hend.

“If you don’t have any luck you won’t win. I had the luck today, unfortunately for Nacho. His time will come. He’s going to win. He’s a great player.”

Four time major champion Ernie Els became the first player to record 300 top-10 finishes since the inception of the world rankings in 1986.

The 49-year-old South African carded a final-round 71 to tie for seventh place on 10 under par.

Oliver Fisher finished as the best placed Briton, with the 30-year-old Englishman’s 69 enough for a tie for fifth on 11 under.

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Sunday trading: Save £100 on a set of Giro Empire SLX shoes plus big deals on wheels

It’s Sunday, so it’s time for our latest pick of bargains from the online retailers

For this week’s instalment of Sunday trading we’ve found some seriously good deals on Giro Cycling shoes, including £100 off the excellent Giro Empire SLXs. To honour the Spring classics we’ve also found a deal on the Castelli Gabba jersey, the perfect short-sleeved wet weather top. Finally, because summer is truly only just round the corner we’ve also got a great deal on some deep section Shimano wheels.

The products featured have been chosen because we know they’re good quality and are an excellent offer at the price we’ve included (at the time of writing). Our tech team have unrivalled expertise and years of experience testing new products, so you can trust our recommendations – and we also know what represents a good deal. Where we’ve reviewed the product we’ve included a link to it so you can read more.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Giro Empire SLX were £289, now £188.99

Giro Empire SLX cycling shoes

Giro Empire SLX cycling shoes

Read more: Giro Empire SLX shoe review

The excellent Giro Empire SLX road shoes are currently discounted by a whopping £100 on ProBikeKit. We’re big fans of these shoes as they’re superbly comfortable, with a very supple upper and laces but a stiff carbon sole for putting down the power when it matters.

Buy now: Giro Empire SLX road shoes at ProBikeKit for £188.99

Giro Empire ACC were £259, now from £159

Read more: Giro Empire ACC review

Sticking with the Giro theme, these Giro ACC models are now discounted by up to 32%. They’re subtly different to the SLXs above due to a slightly harder upper and a different carbon sole. They still look amazing though.

Buy now: Giro Empire ACC shoes at Chain Reaction Cycles from £159.99

Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 C60 carbon wheelset was £1600, now £999

These 50mm deep carbon rim braking wheels are specifically designed to increase rigidity, stability and aerodynamics. 16 spokes on the front and 21 on the rear help increase stiffness for maximum ride speed.

Buy now: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 C60 carbon wheelset at Merlin Cycles for £999

Castelli Gabba 3 at Tredz was £170, now £75

Read more: Castelli Gabba jersey review

The Castelli Gabba jersey has long been held up as the bad weather jersey, made famous at the Classic races. Now in its third iteration, the Gabba is constructed from the Windstopper X-Lite fabric with an updated DWR treatment for extra protection.

Buy now: Castelli Gabba 3 jersey at Tredz for £75

Buy now: Powertap P1 power meter pedals for £549.99 from Probikekit

More great deals:

Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 groupset was £1874.99 now £1049.99

Topeak Race rocket minipump was £28.99 now £19

Castelli women’s Pro Mesh sleeveless baselayer was £56 now £30.79

Topeak Aero Wedge saddle pack was from £21.99 now from £13.99

Continental GP5000 tyres pair with free inner tubes were £120 now £84.95

Specialized Body Geometry Sport mitts were £20.99 now £9.99

Shimano Ultegra R6700 10 speed chain was £31.99 now £21.99

Schwalbe G-One Evo Microskin 35mm tyre was £59 now £38.99

Tacx Bushido smart trainer was £549 now £284.99

Vermarck Lotto-Soudal bibshorts were £89.99 now £53.99

Assos Skinfoil sleeveless baselayer was £50 now £29.99

Specialized Echelon 2 helmet was £59.99 now £44.99

Endura Windchill II arm warmers were £25.99 now £20

Shimano SPD-SL cleats were £19.99 now £9.95

Endura Cairn short sleeved jersey was £34.99 now £7

Lazer Magneto M1 cycling glasses were £99.99 now from £37.99

Zipp Service Course bars were £109 now from £57.99

Shimano Ultegra R8000 cassette was £74.99 now from £49.99

Lifeline Pavo 2000 lumen front light was £170 now £69.99

Orange Seal Endurance sealant was £10.99 now £7.99

Specialized Road Comp shoes were £149.99 now £74.99

Don’t forget to look back for more fantastic Sunday Trading deals next week.

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Valspar Championship: Paul Casey, Dustin Johnson and Luke Donald in contention

Casey is seeking to defend the Valspar Championship

England’s Paul Casey will take a one-shot lead over world number one Dustin Johnson into the final round as he bids to defend the Valspar Championship.

Casey, 41, carded a three-under-par 68 in his third-round at the Florida course despite a final-hole bogey.

The dropped shot was punished as Johnson escaped a fairway bunker to birdie the last and reach eight under.

American Jason Kokrak’s hole in one on the 15th helped him sit third on seven under, a shot ahead of Luke Donald.

England’s Donald has made only 10 starts in two seasons because of a back complaint but he made birdie on the last hole to end one under for the day and remain in contention.

The former world number one has not won on the PGA or European Tour since 2012, while Casey has not secured a victory since he ended more than three years without a win at this tournament in 2018.

Elsewhere in the field, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen moved into contention by reaching five under for the tournament after sharing the lowest round of the day with Kokrak on 66.

Casey carded a final round of six under par to win the tournament by a shot from Tiger Woods in 2018; there are currently 19 players within six strokes of his mark of nine under going into Sunday’s final round.

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