Mexico Wins Seven Syros Island Golds at Artistic Swimming World Series

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

The penultimate leg of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series 2018 was highlighted by Mexico’s success this weekend in Syros Island (GRE), which was hosting the ninth of ten meet from June 15-17.

The Mexican team performed its best in Greece and bagged seven gold medals at stake, in the following events: Solo Technical and Solo Free, both the Duet Technical and Free, as well as the Team Technical, Free and Combination.

Soloists Joana Jimenez and Nuria Lidon Diosdado (MEX) claimed gold with 82.9070 and 84.6333 points respectively. France’s Maureen Jenkins secured the Technical routine silver medal with 80.2932, while teammate Eve Planeix took the Free routine gold (74.3000). Greece’s Anna Maria Taxopoulou completed the podium in both events with 79.0238 points for her Technical routine and 82.1000 for the Free.

Nuria Lidon Diosdado Garcia, together with partner Karem Achachi Ramitez repeated her success in both the Duet events. The Mexican pair earned 83.6027 and 85.9667 points for each performance. In the Technical as well as in the Free Duet, France’s Charlotte Tremble / Laura Tremble (81.9575, 85.9667) and Georgia Vasilopoulou / Anna Maria Taopoulou of Greece (78.4383, 84.0333) took silver and bronze.

With respectively 83.9287 (Team Tech), 87.3667 (Team Free) and 86.9667 points (Combination), the Mexican girls added more golds to their tally. Greece, France and Hungary then shared the silver and bronze medals. Team France however took the Highlight gold (84.0000), in front of Uzbekistan.

In the mixed events, very experienced Italian pair Manila Flamini / Giorgio Minisini secured the Duet Technical gold (88.4095), while Russia’s Aleksandr Maltsev and newcomer Mayya Gurbanberdieva were the best in the Duet Free (91.0667). Japan, Italy and Spain then shared the other medals on offer.

You can read detailed reports about the Syros Island meet on FINA website.

The circuit next stops in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from June 29- July 1.

Medallists in Syros Island (GRE)

Solo Technical
1. Joana Jimenez (MEX) 82.9070; 2. Maureen Jenkins (FRA) 80.2932; 3. Anna Maria Taxopoulou (GRE) 79.0238

Solo Free
1. Nuria Lidon Diosdado (MEX) 84.6333; 2. Eve Planeix (FRA) 74.3000; 3. Anna Maria Taxopoulou (GRE) 82.1000

Duet Technical
1. Karem Achachi Ramitez / Nuria Lidon Diosdado Garcia (MEX) 83.6027; 2. Charlotte Tremble / Laura Tremble (FRA) 81.9575; 3. Georgia Vasilopoulou / Anna Maria Taopoulou (GRE) 78.4383

Duet Free
1. Nuria Lidon Diosdado Garcia / Karem Achachi Ramirez (MEX) 87.0333; 2. Charlotte Tremble / Laura Tremble (FRA) 85.9667; 3. Georgia Vasilopoulou / Anna Maria Taxopoulou (GRE) 84.0333

Mixed Duet Technical
1. Manila Flamini / Giorgio Minisini (ITA) 88.4095; 2. Yumi Adachi / Atsushi Abe (JPN) 86.5930; 3. Pau Ribes / Berta Ferreras Sanz (ESP) 81.4541

Mixed Duet Free
1. Mayya Gurbanberdieva / Aleksandr Maltsev (RUS) 91.0667; 2. Manila Flamini / Giorgio Minisini (ITA) 89.5000; 3. Yumi Adachi / Atsushi Abe (JPN) 88.3000

Team Technical
1. MEX 83.9287; 2. GRE 81.9300; 3. FRA 81.4165

Team Free
1. MEX 87.3667; 2. FRA 85.3000; 3. GRE 84.8667

Free Combination
1. MEX 86.9667; 2. GRE 84.5667; 3. HUN 78.6333

1. FRA 84.0000; 2. Uzbekistan 75.6333

2018 FINA Artistic Swimming World Series Calendar:

1 – Paris-Montreuil (FRA): March 9-11

2 – Beijing (CHN): April 20-22
3 – Tokyo (JPN): April 27-30
4 – Samorin (SVK): May 11-13
5 – Budapest (HUN): May 18-20
6 – Madrid (ESP): May 25-27

7 – Surrey BC (CAN): May 31- June 2

8 – Los Angeles (USA): June 7-9
9 – Syros Island (GRE): June 15-17

10 – Tashkent (UZB): June 29-July 1

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with FINA. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact

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Men’s Roster Announced for USA Water Polo Trip to FINA World League Super Final

Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Huntington Beach, CA – June 17 – USA Men’s Senior National Team Head Coach Dejan Udovicic has announced his roster for the upcoming FINA World League Super Final. Coming off a gold medal at 2018 FINA Intercontinental Tournament, Team USA heads to Budapest, Hungary for competition following a week of training in Belgrade, Serbia. Seven Olympians will anchor the Team USA squad including McQuin BaronAlex BowenLuca CupidoBen Hallock, Alex Obert, Alex Roelse and Jesse Smith.

The United States will open play on Monday against Spain at 12:15pm et/9:15am pt before taking on Kazakhstan and Croatia to finish out pool play. All matches will stream LIVE on FINA TV and can be accessed by clicking here. (subscription required).

2018 FINA World League Super Final – USA Men’s National Team Roster

McQuin Baron (North Tustin, CA/USC/NYAC)
Alex Wolf (Huntington Beach, CA/UCLA/Bruin)
Alex Bowen (Santana, CA/Stanford/NYAC)
Luca Cupido (Santa Margherita, Italy/California/Olympic Club)
Hannes Daube (Long Beach, CA/Orange Lutheran HS/North Irvine WPC)
Ben Hallock (Westlake Village, CA/Stanford/LA Premier)
Johnny Hooper (Los Angeles, CA/California/LA Premier)
Max Irving (Long Beach, CA/UCLA/LA Water Polo)
Alex Obert (Loomis, CA/Pacific/NYAC)
Chancellor Ramirez (Pasadena, CA/UCLA/NYAC)
Alex Roelse (Maarssen, Netherlands/UCLA/NYAC)
Jesse Smith (Coronado, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC)
Marko Vavic (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA/USC/Trojan)

Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic
Assistant Coaches: Alex Rodriguez and Gavin Arroyo
Team Manager: Lori Verdegaal

2018 FINA World League Super Final – USA Men’s National Team Schedule

June 18 – vs Spain 12:15pm et/9:15am pt
June 19 – vs Kazakhstan 1:45pm et/10:45am pt
June 20 – vs Croatia 9:15am et/6:15am pt
June 21 – Quarterfinals (TBD)
June 22 – Semfinals (TBD)
June 23 – Finals (TBD)

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with USA Water Polo. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact

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Cycling in Tuscany – an expert guide

Touring by bicycle is an ideal way to explore Chianti country. Gregor Brown of Cycling Weekly recommends an itinerary – and the best places to stop off for authentic food and wine

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Cypress trees lining rolling hills, fresh pasta served with ragu di cinghiale (wild boar stew) and deep red wines flowing – what’s not to love about a cycling tour through Tuscany? Italy, and more precisely Tuscany, is like a trip to Mecca for the cycling, food and wine faithful. Nowhere else can you find such a mix of history, food and – what everyone needs on a holiday – a take-it-easy attitude.

A bicycle tour provides the best way to connect the dots because those two wheels changed the country.

They helped locals to build a nation in the Industrial era. Once known only locally Sangiovese wines spread throughout Italy with the help of the bicycle, then on to Europe and eventually the world.

On the bike, you can stop and put your foot down to smell the warm Tyrrhenian breeze blowing over rows of vines or spot a local to ask: ‘Dov’eun buon trattoria qua vicino?’ (‘Where is there a good restaurant nearby?’)

Getting started

Florence, known as the cradle of the Renaissance, offers a good base with its endless museums and monuments to visit Florence by Bike (www. rents bicycles for those who need them and if you want a guide, contact Riding with Cosimo (

The truly cycle-minded must visit Filofficina ( biciepocafirenze) and its Eroica vintage bikes on the south side of town. Stay there for the day, finding a local bar to tuck into Brunello and porchetta cold cuts.

One popular restaurant in this artisan Oltrarno zone is II Santo Bevitore ( where, judging by the ‘holy drinker’ name, wine-lovers are served well.

Book one or two days ahead to ensure you have a spot. If ribollita – a Tuscan vegetable and bread soup – is not your thing then consider any dish with a lampredotto (tripe) sauce, for those who like adventure, or the famous bistecca Fiorentina (a healthy loin steak, served rare to medium-rare).

From Florence

The rolling hills south of Florence towards Siena flow like a sea of green and golden waves. A challenging hill rewards you with a breathtaking view and descent to another wine valley.

Ride south through lmpruneta. Depending on your abilities, you could either go up through La Panca to Passo de Sugame then down to Greve or through Chiocchio to Greve. In Panzano, you’ll be rewarded with a couple of great restaurants.

If you haven’t indulged in a Fiorentina steak yet, now is your chance at the Officina Della Bistecca ( To start, share a carpaccio di culo and a bottle of II Molino di Grace Chianti Classico.

Back-track down the road to Lamole and turn up to Vignamaggio ( to stay for the night or if the steak gave you extra strength, push on to Radda. From Radda, you can decide to make it a two- or three-day tour.

Given the extra day, you can ride a loop around the Radda countryside. Cycle out towards Badia a Coltibuono (www.coltibuono. com), turning first to descend then climb to Castello di Brolio ( A tour of the castle’s gardens is a must with its wine tasting included.

Around Radda

Ride on to Carlino d’Oro (+39 0577 747 136), a simple and honest Tuscan trattoria with views of the rolling countryside. Pair a plate of tagliatelle and ragu with Brolio wine.

Dessert? The spectacular road down through San Regalo towards Pianella. At the main road, turn right and climb back through Gaiole to reach Radda.

Villa Campomaggio Resort & Spa ( in Radda offers a perfect base for your trip. Its bar serves the best wines from the Val d’Arbia and Val di Pesa to accompany a light dinner.

Travel north on the third day via Castellina and the hilltop town of San Donato in Poggio. Just before San Donato, you can stop at one of the many wineries that offer tastings and have restaurants.

Try Casa Emma (, which is surrounded by Sangiovese and Merlot vines. Then continue through to San – Casciano to reach Florence. Once there take a seat outside a bar and reflect on the day.

Perhaps ask the owner for a dinner recommendation; chances are there is an authentic trattoria nearby.

Gregor Brown is based in Florence, writes for Cycling Weekly and covers major cycling races including the Giro d’ltalia and Tour de France

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‘Unbreakable’ Land’s End – John o’Groats record beaten for first time in 17 years

Michael Broadwith knocks nearly 40 minutes off previous record

Michael Broadwith has become the first rider to set a new Land’s End – John o’Groats record in 17 years as he knocked nearly 40 minutes off the previous mark.

Broadwith completed his ride of the length of Great Britain in a time of 43 hours, 25 minutes and 13 seconds, going 39 minutes and seven seconds off the previous record of Gethin Butler from 2001, which some had seen as unbeatable, covering the 841 miles at an average speed of 19.4mph/31.2kmh.

A new record has only been set 11 times since the Land’s End – John o’Groats record was established in 1886, with Broadwith entering his name into the record books shortly after 3am on Sunday morning having set off from Land’s End at 8am on Friday morning.

40-year-old Broadwith enjoyed a good start through the West Country as he covered the first 230 miles to Gloucester 42 minutes ahead of a schedule that was aimed at breaking the record by just over half an hour.

The smooth progress continued up through the rest of England, with Broadwith maintaining that lead and even finding road-side support from Butler – the man whose record he was trying to beat.

>>> Land’s End to John o’ Groats: How to break an unbreakable cycling record

However bad weather started to hit as Broadwith travelled further north, cresting Shap Fell in Cumbria with the rain starting to fall, and the weather only getting worse as he continued into Scotland and passed the 24 hour point.

As a bonus, and pending verification by the Road Record Association, Broadwith also picked up the 24-hour record with distance of more than 507 miles.

However the cold, distance, and the strain of holding an aerodynamic position for hours on end saw Broadwith require frequent stops for massages on his next as he travelled through the Highlands, eliminating much of the advantage that he had built up earlier in the ride.

Covering much of the northern section of the ride holding his head up with his hands and resting his elbows on his aero bars, Broadwith finally reached John o’Groats on the far north-east of Scotland bang on schedule, to put his name into the record books.

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Doubts drawn on study that forms part of Chris Froome’s asthma drug defence

A study conducted on dogs is a key part of Froome’s defence has had doubts cast over it

Doubts have been raised about the research paper that Chris Froome is using to defend his high reading for an asthma drug in the 2017 Vuelta a España.

Team Sky’s star tested over the allowed limit of asthma drug salbutamol after stage 18 on his way to winning the Vuelta overall in September. A judge should rule later this summer, possibly delivering Froome a ban and stripping his Vuelta a España title.

Froome and Team Sky have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

>>> Everything you need to know about Chris Froome’s salbutamol case

Froome, according to an article in May, is basing part of his defence on a published paper from the Centre for Human Drug Research in Leiden in the Netherlands. It recalibrated his reading from 2000 to 1429 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml), much closer to the “actionable” threshold of 12.

It also said that WADA’s salbutamol test is unsafe given that levels in urine can vary wildly. As many as 15.4 per cent of the tests can could produce false positives and putting the presumption of guilt on the athlete is “completely unacceptable.”

The Daily Mail reported on Monday that the paper “is the subject of intense scrutiny” at the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and that it simply could be a “delaying tactic” so that Froome can race for a fifth Tour de France in July. Also, the article pointed out that the Leiden research was carried out on dogs, not humans.

Another concern could be that one of the paper’s authors Adam Cohen is the editor at the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and could have had a say when deciding to publish the findings. The Daily Mail article also raised the point that author Jules Heuberger argued in 2017 that EPO does not affect an athlete’s performance.

The UCI’s anti-doping lawyers are combing though the pages, around 1500, of submitted documents by Froome and his legal team. The included Leiden paper does not seem to bother WADA when considering its salbutamol testing model.

“I read the article you refer to and no, no concern at all,” WADA’s science director, Dr Olivier Rabin said last month. “Nothing new as their model is based on three well-known studies. We believe the current threshold is solid considering the scientific literature published on salbutamol over the past 20 years.”

Rabin might have also looked at the impact score of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. The article on Monday said that the ranking system for scientific publications lists it at 3.83. As an example, CA-A Cancer Journal For Clinicians has a 131.72 score.

Though some complain, Froome is free to race in the meantime due to the rules on specified or known substances that athletes take. Salbutamol is permitted, just that one cannot exceed a certain threshold.

Froome has already won the Giro d’Italia this season, and will be racing for a historic Giro/Tour double and fifth Tour title next month.

“It’s difficult for ordinary people to understand,” UCI boss David Lappartient said recently. “They say, ‘What are they doing at the UCI? They do not move ahead with the case. Yes but this case is much more complex than others. And perhaps he has more means to demonstrate this complexity precisely, where others might have given up for not being able to carry out more cumbersome procedures.”

Froome explained after his Giro win: “Once the time is right, we will share the information with everyone, and I am sure they will see it from our point of view.”

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Norrie set to face Wawrinka on opening day at Queen's

Cameron Norrie

2018 Fever-Tree Championships on the BBC
Venue: Queen’s Club, London Dates: 18-24 June
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs, the BBC Sport website and app.

British number two Cameron Norrie will play three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka at Queen’s Club on Monday.

Andy Murray, making his comeback after a year out with a hip injury, plays Australian Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday at the Fever-Tree Championships.

Kyle Edmund, who has replaced Murray as British number one, meets American Ryan Harrison the same day.

Twelve-time major champion Novak Djokovic faces Australian qualifier John Millman, also on Tuesday.

Fifteen of the world’s top 30 male players, plus Murray, Djokovic and Wawrinka, are competing in the west London tournament, although 18-time Slam champion Rafael Nadal and world number four Juan Martin del Potro have withdrawn.

You can follow all the action on the BBC across television, radio and online.

Murray, Djokovic but no Nadal – who else is playing?

Queen’s is set to have the strongest line-up in its 128-year history with 15 of the world’s top 30 taking part.

The tournament is seen as an important marker for players in their build-up to Wimbledon, which starts on 2 July.

It is also an ATP 500 event, the third tier of tournaments on the men’s tour below the Grand Slams and Masters, giving them opportunity to earn a significant number of ranking points.

Former Queen’s champions, Croatia’s 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic and reigning ATP World Tour Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov, are among the top-10 players appearing.

Cilic, the top seed, plays 2013 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Fernando Verdasco on Monday.

The first match on Queen’s Centre Court sees highly-rated Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov play veteran Gilles Muller, a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon last year.

Cameron Norrie and Andy Murray

Murray nervous before return

Scot Murray, who has dropped to 157 in the world rankings, has not played competitively since Wimbledon last year and had hip surgery in January.

He admitted he will be nervous when he returns to action at Queen’s where he has won the title a record five times.

“There are a lot of doubts when you’ve not played for a long time,” he said. “I’m expecting to be very nervous when I go back out there.

“Coming back from injury you’re always kind of second guessing yourself. You never know exactly when you’re going to be ready, but I’m looking forward to getting back out there and competing, and hopefully playing well.

“I’ve obviously got lots of great memories from here, from winning the tournament and playing here the first time when I was 18. I’m sure I’ll have the same nerves and stuff as I did all those years ago.”

Djokovic back at Queen’s

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic is playing at the Queen’s Club for the first time in eight years, having suffered injury problems this season.

The former world number one had said he may skip the grass-court season after losing in the French Open quarter-finals to Marco Cecchinato.

But he has now accepted a late wildcard for Queen’s and said it would be “great preparation for Wimbledon”.

The Serb also said he hopes to see Murray, against whom he has played seven Grand Slam finals, return to the top of the game, adding that “tennis misses” him.

Edmund on British ‘buzz’

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The tournament sees Kyle Edmund play the British grass-court events as British number one for the first time, having replaced Murray in March.

“Throughout year we travel so much so it is nice to be home and play in front of a home crowd and get that support. It’s a really buzz,” said Edmund, 23, who reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open in January.

“Attention has picked up,” he added. “You get used to it and learn how to deal with it in your own way, but I get on with it and see it is a good problem.

“Look at Andy who has done it for so many years and is able to get the results like he has. That shows there are ways of doing it that help you.”

Queen’s coverage on BBC TV

All times BST. Matches and coverage times are subject to late changes. The BBC is not responsible for any changes that may be made.

Monday, 18 June

13:15-18:00 – BBC Two

12:00-13:00 & 17:55-19:45 – BBC Red Button

12:00-19:45 – Connected TV & Online

Tuesday, 19 June

13:00-18:00 – BBC Two

12:00-13:00 & 17:15-19:45 – BBC Red Button

12:00-19:45 – Connected TV & Online

Wednesday, 20 June

13:00-18:00 – BBC Two

12:00-13:00 & 17:55-19:45 – BBC Red Button

12:00-19:45 – Connected TV & Online

Thursday, 21 June

13:00-18:00 – BBC Two

12:00-13:15 & 17:45-19:45 – BBC Red Button

12:00-19:45 – Connected TV & Online

Friday, 22 June

13:00-18:00 – BBC Two

12:00-13:15 & 17:55-19:45 – BBC Red Button

12:00-19:45 – Connected TV & Online

Saturday, 23 June

13:00-17:00 – BBC Two

15:00-19:00 – BBC Red Button

13:00-19:00 – Connected TV & Online

Sunday, 24 June

14:30-17:30 – BBC Two

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Alejandro Valverde and Primož Roglič take dominant victories in final Tour de France warm-up races

Valverde and Roglič win Route d’Occitanie and Tour of Slovenia

Away from the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) took victories in two of the smaller Tour de France warm-up races, winning the Route de l’Occitanie and Tour of Slovenia respectively.

Having decided against starting the Tour de Suisse after illness hampered his preparation, Valverde headed to south-west France for the Route de l’Occitanie – previously called the Route du Sud – where he won the race’s only summit finish to propel him to overall victory.

Nacer Bouhanni won the opening stage as he out-sprinted Cofidis team-mate Christophe Laporte (with the two then having a heated discussion after the finishing line), before he was beaten by Clément Venturini (Ag2r La Mondiale) on stage two.

The race was decided on stage three, when Valverde beat Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) and Kenny Elissonde (Team Sky) in dense fog on the summit finish to Les Monts d’Olmes. Valverde then finished second behind Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ) on the final stage to Cazouls-lès-Béziers to wrap up the overall win.

>>> Five things we learned from the Tour de Suisse

At the Tour of Slovenia, victory went to Primož Roglič won the final two stages to win by a handsome margin over Rigobert Uran (EF Education First-Drapac).

Earlier in the race the first two stages were decided by bunch sprints with Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) and Dylan Groenewegen taking the wins, before Uran got the better of Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) and Roglič on a punchy uphill finish.

However Roglič stamped his authority on the race on stage four, when he attacked on the final climb with more than 20km remaining, and then soloed away to finish with a gap of 33 seconds over a chasing group.

The Slovenian then dominated the final 21.5km time trial, winning by 27 seconds ahead of Jan Tratnik (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) to take overall victory by 1-50 ahead of Uran and Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida).

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Five things we learned from the Tour de Suisse

The final analysis from the 2018 Tour de Suisse

Richie Porte is ready for the Tour de France

Richie Porte at the 2018 Tour de Suisse (Sunada)

Richie Porte rode imperiously to win the Tour de Suisse, defending the leader’s jersey with few problems in the mountains and beating virtually all his rivals in the final time trial to win the overall by over one minute.

Better yet, his BMC team offered superb support, putting him into the lead with a dominant opening team time trial, then protecting him in numbers during the key GC stages.

Stefan Küng particularly impressed with his stint in the leader’s jersey and final time trial victory, while Greg Van Avermaet produced a mammoth turn on stage seven’s climb to Arosa to contain Nairo Quintana’s (Movistar) deadly attack.

The performances suggest that both Porte and BMC are ready to mount a challenge for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France next month.

However, it is worth remembering that we have been here before with Porte. Much was expected of him at last year’s Tour after he’d won the Tour de Romandie and finished second at the Critérium du Dauphiné in the run-in, and overall victories at Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya in 2015 established him as a major contender for the Giro d’Italia that year.

On both occasions Porte’s hopes ended in abandonments, as crashes and misfortune prevented the Australian from translating his one-week form onto a three-week Grand Tour. Having honed his form so well at the Tour de Suisse this week, Porte will be desperate not to miss another opportunity.

Nairo Quintana the pick of Movistar’s line-up

Nairo Quintana on the attack at the 2018 Tour de Suisse (Sunada)

Although the line insisted upon by everyone from Movistar is that their form at the Tour will decide which of their three superstars (Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa) will be designated leader at that race, it’s inevitable that their performances in pre-Tour races like this will shape some form of likely hierarchy.

On the basis of the Tour de Suisse, Quintana certainly looks to have secured his place at the top of that hierarchy.

On stage five, Landa attacked on the summit finish to Leukerbad, but tired towards the top and was caught – and spat out of the back – by the group of favourites. By contrast, when Quintana made his big attack two days later, he successfully left everyone in his wake to win the stage and push Porte close for the overall lead.

The difference between the two’s form became further apparent in the final time trial, when Quintana sealing a podium finish, and Landa dropping from seventh overall to 16th with a ride 1-34 slower than his team-mate.

Of course, there remains the matter of where Valverde fits into all this, having continued his excellent season by winning the Route d’Occitanie on Sunday, but Quintana looks all set for a yellow jersey challenge.

There is no clear cut best sprinter in the world at the moment

The final sprint of stage eight of the 2018 Tour de Suisse (Sunada)

There were three sprints at the Tour de Suisse, each producing a winner – Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) on a draggy finish on stage two, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) with a powerful long-range acceleration, and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) in a tight side-to-side tussle with Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors).

The variety of outcomes was indicative of how wide open bunch sprints seem to be at the moment, with little separating a handful of top sprinters, and no single rider emerging as the quickest in the peloton.

Given his success at the last big meet between the world’s top sprinters at last month’s Tour of California, you might have expected Gaviria to dominate, but – although he did well to conquer some hilly terrain on stages two and three – he was beaten into second on all three occasions

All these riders will meet again at the Tour next month, and joined by the likes of the misfiring Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), and the on-form Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott).

On the basis of the Tour de Suisse, perhaps a shift in pattern is imminent, and this will be the first Tour for several years in which sprint stage wins are shared around between multiple riders, rather than one single sprinter dominating?

Jakob Fuglsang is an outside bet for a high Tour placing

Jakob Fuglsang on the final time trial of the 2018 Tour de Suisse (Sunada)

This time last year, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) put in the performance of his career to win the Critérium du Dauphiné, only to fracture his arm while lying in the top five overall at the Tour de France and having to abandon.

We’ll never know how high the Dane could have finished had he not sustained that injury, but his performance at the Tour de Suisse last week suggests that he is approaching the 2018 Tour de France at a similarly high level.

Fuglsang was the only rider able to stay with Porte when the Australian made his attack in pursuit of Quintana on the climb to Arosa during stage seven, then leaped from sixth to second overall with a fine and somewhat uncharacteristic time trial.

It was the best performance yet at the Tour de Suisse from a rider who has in the past finished third and fourth overall at this race, and suggests that he is ready to take on a leadership role for Team Astana at the Tour de France.

Another rider with his eye on the Tour to have been encouraged by their showing in Switzerland last week was Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), who managed fifth overall despite only previously finishing one stage race this season, while Enric Mas (Quick-Step) solidified his status as one of the peloton’s rising star climbers by finishing fourth overall.

Big time gaps highlight the importance of the team time trial

BMC in the opening team time trial of the 2018 Tour de Suisse (Sunada)

Richie Porte might have looked untouchable all week, but he might not actually have won the race were it not for his BMC team’s excellent performance in the team time trial – they put 20 seconds into the nearest challengers Sunweb, and a whole 1-18 into Jakob Fuglsang’s Astana – more than the 1-02 he ultimately lost the race by.

The time gaps highlighted just how crucial team time trials can be, increasing the anticipation for the Tour stage in Cholet next month – especially considering how that team time trial will be twice as long.

It was also interesting to see just how some results diverged between the Tour de Suisse and the Dauphiné. At the Dauphiné, Sky reigned supreme while world champions in the discipline Team Sunweb languished in last place; here, with four of their world champions winning line-up present, Sunweb stormed to second place, over one minute ahead of a weakened Sky team who only managed 14th.

It will be fascinating to see how well specialists like Sky, Sunweb and BMC (as well as Quick-Step Floors and Mitchelton-Scott, who were third and fifth respectively in Switzerland) will shape up at the Tour de France when at full strength – if this stage and that at the Dauphine’s is to go by, the time gaps between them and the smaller teams could be very significant.

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Tech of the week: new wheels from Mavic and Hunt, new off-road bikes from BMC and Canyon and more

Plus new cycling kit from Rapha and Mavic and our Tech of the Month video

New wheels and off-road capable bikes

Mavic has updated its Cosmic Ultimate wheels, making them tubeless ready and adding some rather flashy new features like welded-in carbon spokes that cross the entire diameter of the wheel, via the new all-carbon hubs. It’s also told us why we need tubeless tyres, with a slew of research on their rolling properties.

Mavic Comic Ultimate UST wheels have carbon rims, carbon spokes, carbon hub shells – and a price tag to match

If you need to ask the price… actually, it’s €3500. You could get ten sets of Hunt’s updated 4Seasons Disc tubeless ready wheels for that – we’ve been out riding them and tell you what’s new and what we thought.

Spotted at the Critérium du Dauphiné – the new Trek Madone Disc (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

We’ve asked why the pros haven’t changed to tubeless yet. They are beginning to take to disc brakes though, with a new disc brake Trek Madone and Specialized Venge both spotted in competition last week, along with an updated rim brake Ridley Noah.

Another new bike launched last week was the BMC Roadmachine X. With clearance for 34mm tyres, a single ring groupset and yet more disc brakes, it’s designed to take you off-road as well as on. And Canyon has added two new framesets to its Inflite cyclocross race bike range: one carbon and the other alloy, with six different specs and prices from £1299 up to £4199.

But not everyone is a fan of single rings, with the boss of Aqua Blue Sport launching a Twitter rant after his rider Mark Christian dropped his chain during a break in the Tour de Suisse.

New clothing from Mavic and Rapha

Mavic has been busy on its clothing lines as well as its wheels, with a new aero helmet, new racing shoes and a Shakedry jacket-and-insulated vest combo designed to see you through wet, cold and wet-and-cold conditions.

Mavic kits you out to ride through all weathers

And Rapha has a new women’s capsule collection released to celebrate the Rapha Women’s 100. It’s worn by the Canyon-SRAM team at the Women’s Tour and available to buy too.

While if you like badges to personalise your kit, Café du Cycliste has a new one for The Tumble in Wales, which you can get for free if you buy its clothing and prove on Strava that you’ve completed the climb. We’ve also scouted out five steep and long UK climbs that no race has yet used.

Time to take on The Tumble?

With June upon us, we’ve had our Tech of the Month video with Zipp, Pirelli and an Italian custom carbon bike featured. And now that summer riding weather is here, we’ve given you our pick of summer mitts and told you about new cycling sunscreen brand Pelotan.

And don’t forget to have a look through our pick of this week’s bargains if you’re after new cycling kit.

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2018 Tour de France stage-by-stage guide

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