Giro d’Italia 2017’s toughest climbs: one down, five to go

With the Giro d’Italia well underway, here’s a guide to the major climbs that will shape the race

The Giro d’Italia wouldn’t be the Giro d’Italia without serving up a selection of testing climbing challenges over its three-week course. And the 100th edition of the race includes some of the race’s – and Italy’s – most famous and daunting mountain challenges.

Here, we pick out six of the climbs in order of their appearance that should provide plenty of action as the opening Grand Tour of the 2017 season unfurls.

>>> Giro d’Italia 2017: Latest news and race info


Mount Etna – already complete

Stage four, Tuesday May 9 – race report here
Category: 1
Length: 18km
Average gradient: 6 per cent
Maximum gradient: 12 per cent
Maximum elevation: 1,892 metres

Giro d’Italia 2017, stage 4 profile

Etna, Giro d’Italia 2017 stage four

You may recall that a BBC film crew were caught in an eruption on Mount Etna in March this year, when they were pelted with hot ash and boiling rocks. That’s the same climb that featured in the first mainland stage of the 2017 Giro, creating a thrilling final test for the peloton at the end of stage four.

The climb did indeed prove pivotal. At 18km it was the final test for Jan Polanc, who slipped away with a break group of four in the opening kilometers of the race and was the only one to hold his lead until the finish line.


The climbs still to come

Blockhaus

Stage nine, Sunday May 14
Category: 1
Length: 13.6km
Average gradient: 8.6 per cent
Maximum gradient: 14 per cent
Maximum elevation: 1,648 metres

Giro d’Italia 2017, stage 9 profile

Blockhaus, Giro d’Italia 2017 stage nine

Although there are a collection of unclassified climbs prior to the arrival of the stage nine’s final ascent of Blockhaus, there will be little to prepare the riders for this stern test – possibly the hardest climb of the entire race. The narrow road twists through the wooded landscape on a relentlessly steep incline, reaching 14 per cent in places but more importantly averaging nearly nine per cent.

>>> Giro d’Italia 2017 route: Stage by stage



Oropa

Stage 14, Saturday May 20
Category: 1
Length: 11.75km
Average gradient: 6.2 per cent
Maximum gradient: 13 per cent
Maximum elevation: 1,142 metres

Giro d’Italia 2017, stage 14 profile

Oropa, Giro d’Italia 2017 stage 14

The stage profile looks more like something you’d find in a skate park that in a Grand Tour – albeit on a much, much larger scale. A descent from the start and a relatively flat day has ‘escape group’ written all over it. Equally, the final ascent to Oropa has ‘escape group caught’ written all over it.

The climb’s fluctuating gradient will do little to aid riders in finding a rhythm on the tricky climb, and will therefore favour those who have a more explosive nature (Nairo Quintana) than those who grind it out (Tom Dumoulin).


Stelvio

Stage 16, Tuesday May 23
Category: Cima Coppi (highest point in race)
Length: 21.7km
Average gradient: 7.1 per cent
Maximum gradient: 12 per cent
Maximum elevation: 2,758 metres

Giro d’Italia 2017, stage 16 profile

Stelvio, Giro d’Italia 2017 stage 16

Riders tackling the mighty Stelvio not only feel as though they are climbing into the sky, but must also feel as though they are winding the clock back to winter. Accumulations of snow at the roadsides and cuttingly cold winds are a general feature on the pass, even in mid-May.

Even without the weather factored in, the 21.7km ascent reaching an elevation of 2,758 metres above sea level will have the riders gasping, particularly as they will have already crested the Passo del Mortirolo – recently announced as a climb in honour of the late Michele Scarponi – and the following Umbrail Pass.


Pontives

Stage 18, Thursday May 25
Category: 1
Length: 9.3km
Average gradient: 6.3 per cent
Maximum gradient: 12 per cent
Maximum elevation: 1,103 metres

Giro d’Italia 2017, stage 18 profile

Pontives, Giro d’Italia 2017 stage 18

It’s hard to pick out which of the stage 18’s mountains are the toughest. The stage is billed as the ‘queen’ climbing stage of the 100th edition, and features five categorised climbs in a relentless sawtooth profile across the Dolomites: Passo Pordoi (Cat 1), Passo Valparola (Cat 2), Passo Gardena (Cat 2), Passo Pinei (Cat 3) and Pontives (Cat 1).

The final classified ascent of Pontives is sited four kilometres from the finish line, and will therefore be decisive in the day’s war of attrition. Worst of all for tired legs will be the sting in the climb’s tail, a short section of 12 per cent gradient before the climb’s peak and then a descent across cobbles to the finish.


Monte Grappa

Stage 20, Saturday May 27
Category: 1
Length: 24.15km
Average gradient: 5.4 per cent
Maximum gradient: 11 per cent
Maximum elevation: 1,620 metres

Giro d’Italia 2017, stage 20 profile

Monte Grappa, Giro d’Italia 2017, stage 20

What the Monte Grappa lacks in gradient – an average of 5.4 per cent – it makes up in length at 24.1km. The climb is broken up by two plateaus, which will come as a welcome respite for the riders as they spend around an hour tackling it.

Then it is a plummet down the other side to face the 2017 race’s final big ascent of Foza, the last chance for climbers to make a mark before the decisive final time trial into Madrid the following day.



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Dr Hutch: The London Marathon is quite a lot like cycling in a big bunch

Cyclists take themselves far too seriously to enjoy events like the London Marathon, says the Doc

I ran in the Virgin Money London Marathon in April. I did so because since I gave up riding 100-mile time trials I found that I was simply enjoying life too much.

Since we are cyclists, and the nobility of all our endeavours is subservient to the exact time they took, I shall cut to the chase and admit I missed my target of three hours by 82 seconds.

The shortfall matters little, because there was probably no incentive on earth that could have made me run the last few miles any faster than I did.

“Pain is temporary,” they say. To which I reply, “Yes, but it still hurts.”

>>> Which is best – cycling or running?

For all that, I enjoyed the experience. The London Marathon is, in practice, quite a lot like cycling in a big bunch.

No one points out the traffic islands and kerbs until too late. There are drinks bottles all over the road, like landmines for the luckless.

Strangers’ identities come to depend on their back view. ‘The guy with the asymmetrical calves’ has his running equivalent in ‘the guy with the sweaty neck’ or ‘the guy dressed as a Viking who keeps stopping to drink spectators’ beer and who is nevertheless, 24 miles in, still ahead of me’.

Simply better

Just like a bike race, every so often someone comes roaring past at a speed that is clearly unsustainable, and you nod your wise old head and know that it will only be a matter of time before you see them again, spent and broken, and you’ll be able to cruise right back past them like the pacing master that you are.

And, just like a bike race, you are wrong. They’re just better than you.

But there is a big difference with cycling, which is that outside the elite race, the main purpose of the London Marathon is to celebrate mediocre running, bad running, or even perfectly competent running done while unsuitably dressed, probably as a giant Womble.

>>> Dr Hutch: The error of going running instead of cycling

Most Marathoners (including me) have no business trying to run 26 miles at all, but we went and did it anyway.

Cycling, on the other hand, is very bad at celebrating anything other than the good. We take ourselves awfully, awfully seriously.

It would matter less were it not for how effectively events like the London Marathon drive interest and enthusiasm for their sport. Because it manages to present itself as both very difficult but just about accessible, people line up to do it despite starting out with almost no real interest in running.

When I crossed the line I asked who had won. “Who won what?” came the reply.

It’s not a coincidence that the London Marathon organisation also runs the Prudential RideLondon event — I assume it’s because they already have phone numbers for all those portaloo companies.


Watch now: Stepping up to riding 100 miles


RideLondon is the closest thing to a mass participation marathon that cycling in the UK has, but it often gets dismissed by fully tooled-up riders as a bit too easy because even the long route is ‘only’ 100 miles.

In fact, I even got an email from a column reader just this morning suggesting that a marathon-style challenge for cyclists needs to be at least 200 miles with several thousand metres of climbing — something that would take many ‘fun-riders’ well over 16 hours.

If things like RideLondon are going to do for cycling what marathons did for running, which has been an awful lot, they need to hit that sweet spot of accessible misery for the masses.

Hard, but not impossible. And most of all they need to be celebrated by all of us. And if you really think 100 miles is so straightforward as to be not worth doing, I can put you in touch with a man who has a Womble suit you can borrow.


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Adrianne Crawford – Mat Workout (45 mins) – Level 2/3

What You’ll Need:

Mat, Hand Weights

Work on variations to exercises you already know with this Mat workout by Adrianne Crawford. She changes the tempo, range, and dynamics to certain movements to make you feel traditional exercises in a different way. She also adds Hand Weights at the end of the class to add a little more upper body work.

May 10, 2017

(Log In to track)

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Who Can Fill the Void Left by Maya DiRado?

By David Rieder (Photos Courtesy: Peter H. Bick)

On August 12, Maya DiRado stormed from behind in the Olympic final of the women’s 200 back, passing Katinka Hosszu on the final stroke to snatch away the gold medal.

maya dirado

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

It was DiRado’s third individual medal of the Rio Games, and the swim was her last. Nine months later, American swim fans have every reason to wonder who’s going to fill those shoes. Because so far, the returns have not been so inspiring.

The American women have actually had massive success in the 200 back over the last decade. Before DiRado, Margaret Hoelzer, Elizabeth Beisel and Missy Franklin all won multiple international medals in the event, capped off by Franklin’s gold medal and world record at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Franklin did not qualify for the the 200 back final in Rio, and her attempted return to top form was put on hold by shoulder pain. Having not competed since those Olympics, it’s no guarantee that she even competes at World Championship Trials at the end of June.

In the meantime, only one American has been under 2:10 this year, 15-year-old Regan Smith, who posted a time of 2:09.89 at the Indianapolis Sectionals in March. The next-highest-ranked American is Eva Merrell at 2:10.22, and at the recent Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Atlanta, 200 fly specialist Hali Flickinger finished first in the 200 back

Hard to imagine one of those three is the immediate solution in the 200 back, but this year’s NCAA results do offer a little more promise.

Specifically, there’s Kathleen Baker, who won Olympic silver in the 100 back last year but scratched out of the 200-meter distance at Olympic Trials. Baker won the NCAA title in the 200-yard back this season, and her short course best time of 1:48.33 ranks third all-time.

Behind Baker, there was rapidly-improving Kentucky freshman Asia Seidt, who swam under 1:50 for the first time when she finished third at NCAAs. Meanwhile, Lisa Bratton and Amy Bilquist finished just behind Franklin in the 200 back at Olympic Trials with times in the 2:08-low range, but neither even qualified for the NCAA final in the event.

Bratton has not competed since NCAAs, but after a slight misunderstanding with NBC Sports announcer Rowdy Gaines, she confirmed that she is indeed not retired.

That’s a solid list of names, so it reasons that a couple of them could swim times in the 2:07-range to get to Budapest and maybe even a little quicker, down to medal-contention territory for Budapest. Still, that’s a lot of uncertainty for an event in which the Americans have been really successful for a long time.

But while DiRado’s absence from the 200 back will hurt, she actually had never competed in the event in a major international meet before Rio. In her two World Championships (2013 and 2015), it was the IMs that were her bread-and-butter events.

The prognosis for the Americans in the 200 IM is not so bad, and that’s due in large part to Melanie Margalis, who finished just four tenths behind bronze medalist DiRado in the 200 IM final in Rio. Baker, Ella Eastin and Madisyn Cox all swam lights-out during the college season, so chances are good for the Americans to snedtwo competitive representatives to Budapest.

But the situation is more bleak in the 400 IM, where DiRado is gone, and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Beisel has not raced since Rio. In fact, it’s possible that only two Trials finalists, Cox and Bethany Galat, will even compete for spots on the Worlds team.

katie-ledecky

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The outside-the-box option for the Americans in the event is Katie Ledecky, who earlier this year broke the American record in the 400-yard IM, but Ledecky has insisted that she will keep her focus on the freestyle events in international competition.

So that leaves Eastin as the best hope for the American women in the 400 IM. Eastin who broke Ledecky’s American record in the yards race on her way to an NCAA title in March. Her time of 3:57.57 was quicker than DiRado, Beisel or 2012 Olympic finalist Caitlin Leverenz ever swam during their respective college careers.

Eastin also won a silver medal in the event in December at the Short Course World Championships in Windsor, but she has not yet translated that success to long course. At Olympic Trials, Eastin finished ninth in the 400 IM, four hundredths away from a spot in the final.

That short course-to-long course transition can be difficult, especially in a grueling event like the 400 IM, and for all Eastin has done short course, she has never swum under 4:40 in long course. For some comparison, DiRado won Olympic silver last summer in 4:31.15.

So barring some big breakthrough this summer, it’s unlikely that an American woman will win a World Championships medal in the 400 IM. As is the case in the 200 back, that would break a lengthy streak as either Beisel or DiRado has made the podium in the event at every World Championships since 2011.

Still, even if the Americans take some lumps this year in the 200 back and 400 IM, the team will be better off for those experiences. Two people in each event will get to pick up some valuable international experience—and two more in each event will take on the World University Games in Taiwan.

It’s not unusual for the U.S. to send a thinned-out squad to the World Championships in a post-Olympic year thanks to retirements and long hiatuses. This year, few events will be hit harder than the women’s 200 back and 400 IM.

But with the swimmers who specialize in those events have potential, so don’t be surprised if in three years, those events are weak spots no longer.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Boales Giving All Athletes A Chance With Synchro

Tina Boales poses with some of her Bay Area Synchro swimmers. Photo Courtesy: Tina Boales

By Dax Lowery, Swimming World Contributor

Spider-Man speeds along the side of the pool as the crowd begins to cheer.

“You got this!” someone yells.

Steven Aguirre, aka Spider-Man, stops and squats into position. Soon after his theme song begins, he bounces up and appears to shoot invisible webbing before jumping into the water.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man / Does whatever a spider can

As Steven performs his solo synchronized swimming routine, shooting more webbing in time to the music and propelling his legs into the air, it’s hard to believe what he’s gone through to get to this point.

The 9-year-old was born with myelomeningocele, the most serious and common form of spina bifida. According to his mother, Andrea, it’s rare for children with this condition to even walk. He’s had surgery to connect his appendix to his stomach due to complications from his birth defect, and he has little strength in his thighs.

“For him to be able to compete in this sport means the world to me because it was so hard to find the sport that fit him,” she says. “I remember taking him to swimming lessons – he would feel so sad that he was constantly trying to hide his disability or was made fun of for the way he walked.”

Andrea kept searching for the right sport for Steven, and one day noticed a flier for Bay Area Synchro, a synchronized swimming team that includes athletes with disabilities.

“And that’s where the adventure began,” she says.

Wherever there’s a hang up / You’ll find the Spider-Man

Synchro For Everyone

Some days, Tina Boales feels a little overwhelmed. The retired San Jose police officer is regularly answering emails and making calls; painstakingly filling out forms; giving interviews; preparing for camps, for practice, for an uncertain future.

In addition to coaching her Bay Area Synchro swimmers, she’s also the president of the Synchronized Swimming for Athletes with Disabilities (Synchro-AWD) advocacy organization.

“I’m glad I’m retired because if I wasn’t  …,” she says before going silent. Tina and her husband have financed 80 percent of the team’s equipment, pool time and travel. She’s exhausted her entire retirement savings. She was going to buy a motor home at one point, but “the motor home is less important than seeing athletes from all over the world competing in synchronized swimming at the Paralympic Games.”

Athletes like Steven are who drive her to promote the sport as a way for disabled athletes to be active and compete. In a way, she’s been doing that ever since her daughter took up synchro when she was 9.

Raquel Boales, now 16, was born with Erbs Palsey, a condition that severely limited her mobility and flexibility as a child. Raquel’s left arm was not functional, but after water therapy and a major operation when she was 6, Raquel was able to eventually find success in the water. She’s won multiple medals at several prestigious events through the years, including the Canadian National Championships and the State Games of America.

“My daughter is paralyzed on her left side, she has limited mobility with her left arm, and she’s got cognitive issues that she takes medication for,” Tina says. “But she produces a really good routine.”

Synchro in the Paralympics

One of Tina’s main goals with Synchro-AWD  is to get the sport in the Paralympic Games. To do that, more swimmers and more countries would have to be compete in synchro. She’s been told the process to add the sport takes six to eight years.

Her organization’s efforts have led to nonprofits like hers to promote synchro for athletes with disabilities globally. “We’ve inspired Spain to put on camps and we have inspired Taiwan to develop teams, some with 20 athletes,” she says.

Last year, Tina made a presentation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at a pre-Paralympic sports conference. Synchro officials from Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Japan also discussed the benefits of adding the sport. Afterward, Inspara Brazil, an advocacy organization similar to Synchro-AWD, put on an exhibition during a break between the Rio Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

“It was excellent,” Tina says of the conference. “It went so well that six people from the Paralympic Committee came to our exhibition to observe it. They felt that this is a sport that needs to be recognized as a Paralympic sport, based on what they saw. So they’re encouraging me to give them updates on the grassroots movement.”

Tina says there are now 14 countries who have athletes with disabilities competing in synchro, up from three just two years ago. And she expects 10 to 12 more countries with synchro teams to add disabled athletes in the coming year.

“Tina has done a wonderful job at developing synchro for athletes with disabilities,” says USA Synchro CEO Myriam Glez. “I would love for synchro to be part of the Paralympics. Synchro helps young girls and boys develop their confidence, be creative and express themselves with their bodies.”

During a low moment last year, Tina was ready to quit. She was at a fundraiser and decided to ask a Hall of Fame coach if she thought that synchronized swimming would be added to the Paralympics.

“She honestly believes that on the 40th anniversary of synchronized swimming in the Olympics, we will see the birth of synchronized swimming in the Paralympics,” Tina says with a lift in her voice. “A woman like her, with great vision, gave me the energy to stick with this. She renewed my efforts. I have to keep things in perspective: This is all for the athletes.”

Bay Area ‘Startup’

Tina’s daughter, Raquel, started Bay Area Synchro last year. Everything’s experimental, in part because of the limitations of most of the athletes. The team’s off-season is during the winter because that’s when some of the athletes have surgeries, and she and her mom hold monthly camps because longer commitments to the team are difficult for the swimmers.

“We have to test the waters,” Tina says. “This first year was like a test, like a startup company. But with our goals, the way we’ve structured ourselves, we will be successful. I have no doubt.”

Both Tina and Raquel coach the small team of seven swimmers, six with intellectual and physical disabilities. They also train nondisabled athletes, especially during their summer camps. Tina says her coaches have developed a special training guide, called the SUN (Synchro for Unique Needs) Program, to help facilitate training for their athletes with disabilities. The program has been successful in getting three athletes to compete in a short amount of time.

“We just had a swimmer with a developmental disability join our team on April 1, and she competed at the April 23 Intermediate Championships in Novato, Calif., and placed fourth,” Tina says. “That was phenomenal.”

She says their main goal is to have at least 10 athletes to compete in most of the events – solo, duet, trio and an ‘inclusive’ combo team. For now, her swimmers work out in the pool only on Saturdays, with land drills and other choreography on week days. Bay Area Synchro’s staff of eight volunteer coaches also train the athletes on speaking, presentation, inclusiveness and how to work with other people.

“We’re not just teaching them synchronized swimming – we’re teaching them about life and how to survive in the world,” Tina says. “They get all of that. By the time they are eligible for college, they will be ready just like their nondisabled peers. And most will stay in this sport for life.”

Spider-Man’s comeback

Steven Aguirre got his start in synchro last March, only to be forced to take several months off for surgery.

“It was really hard on Steven, especially since it was summertime and all he wanted to do was swim,” says his mom, Andrea. “I remember calling Tina and asking her if we could come to class at least to watch because he was so committed that he felt he was missing out on so much. Tina was incredibly supportive and always made Steven feel included. They would do deck work for as long as he could handle the pain. He couldn’t get in the water for quite a while, but that did not keep him from practicing.”

Finally, Steven, feeling confident, was ready for his first meet. Before it began he told his mom: “I am going to try and win the gold medal, but I think I would be OK if I only won a bronze medal because I can do things other children can’t.”

Steven’s Spider-Man routine did earn him the bronze in the novice division.

“This meet taught him that he can accomplish anything in life,” Andrea says. “I thank Tina for this amazing organization that my son is a part of, and I really think she can change the lives of so many kids like him.”

For more information on the Synchro AWD organization and its team, Bay Area Synchro, please visit www.synchroswimawd.org.

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Texas police department implements distance measuring radar device to catch close passers

The device will make sure drivers are keeping at least three feet away when passing cyclists

The Houston, Texas Police Department has launched a new enforcement campaign using a C3FT device on their police bicycles to help protect local cyclists.

Developed and engineered by the Austin, Texas based Codaxus LLC, the new device will allow cycling officers the ability to make sure vehicles are keeping the minimum three-feet distance when passing a cyclist.

>>> Every police force should have one of these cycling ‘close pass’ mats to educate drivers

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Police Chief Art Acevedo announced the use of the device as part of the city’s campaign to increase protection of cyclists on the road.

Enforcement of the 2013 law passed by the City Council called the Safe Passing/Vulnerable Road User Ordinance should be easier with the new technology.

The code requires a minimum three-foot distance between the passing vehicle and cyclist as well as a minimum six-foot distance for trucks passing cyclists.

“We will be writing tickets,” Chief Acevedo said to Houston Public Media. “And hopefully, get people to voluntarily comply with the law.”

The penalty for passing to closely will not exceed $500.

Mounting directly to the bike’s handlebars, the $1,400 C3FT is designed to detect, capture and displaying the proximity of passing vehicles.

“It’s basically a radar…that actually measures the distance between the cyclist and a passing vehicle,” Acevedo said when describing the device, “We’ve worked out all the bugs. It’s ready to go and it’s certified for use in court.”

The C3FT uses an ultrasonic detector attached to an adjustable arm in order to measure the passing distances. A buzzer, numerical display and LED lights alert the rider when a passing vehicle reaches the three or six foot distance threshold.

The timing of the announcement coincides with a study being conducted by the local Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, interested in understanding “close calls” for cyclists in Houston by having volunteers record such experiences.

The aim of the study is to further understand the factors that encourage or discourage community members from cycling around the greater Houston area.


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USA Swimming Announces Wetsuits Rule Change, Applies for Open Water Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

With the its Open Water National Championships coming up later this month (May 19-21), USA Swimming has announced adopted a new FINA rule involving the use of wetsuits in open water competition.

According to the new rule, wetsuits are now mandatory when water temperature is below 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and allows wetsuits as an option for any water between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).

The decision to implement the rule came after USA Swimming found that Castaic Lake, slated to host the championships, had been recorded at temperatures within this range. When measured Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., the lake was 64 degrees.

According to a letter sent out to race competitors, Los Angeles County Lifeguards project the water temperature to fall into the range where wetsuits would be optional.

“For the Open Water Nationals 10k, 5k and Open Water Junior Nationals official water temperature will be taken 2 hours prior to the start of the race. Based on the information USA Swimming has received from the Los Angeles County Lifeguards we anticipate that the water temperature will fall between 64.4 and 68 degrees.”

USA Swimming has also shared information regarding where athletes can obtain wetsuits and described what makes a wetsuit legal for competitive use.

“Wetsuits must be between 3mm and 5mm thickness. They need to completely cover the torso, back, shoulders, and knees and shall not extend beyond the neck, wrists, or ankles. The FINA Requirements for Swimwear Approval prohibit the variation/modification or customization of the suit.”

Read the letter sent to competitors by clicking here, and read the full text of the rule change here.

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Canelo outclasses Chavez Jr in one-sided points win, Golovkin next on September 16

07/05/2017 07:37

Two-weight world champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) defeated former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (50-3-1, 32 KOs) in an all-Mexican super middleweight grudge match by a one-sided points decision on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Canelo dominated and outclassed Chavez, and all three judges scored the fight a shutout 120-108.

The 26-year-old Canelo connected with jabs and hard combinations in the early rounds while Chavez, 31, was limited to following him around and throwing one punch at a time.

As the fight progressed, Canelo began punishing Chavez, whose left eye began to swell and close in the seventh round.

For the remainder of the fight, Canelo continued to win the rounds against Chavez, who showed his toughness but had no answers and took a one-sided beating.

After the fight, WBC, WBA, IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin  (37-0, 33 KOs) entered the ring and it was announced that Golovkin and Canelo, the biggest fight in boxing, will meet on September 16, Mexican Independence Day weekend.

“Tonight, I showed I could move, I could box, I showed as a fighter I can do all things,” said Canelo. “I thought I was going to showcase myself as a fighter that could throw punches, but he just wouldn’t do it. I’ve shown I can do lots of things in the ring, anything a fighter brings, I’ve shown I can showcase myself.

“GGG, you are next, my friend. The fight is done,” Alvarez said through a translator. “I’ve never feared anyone, since I was 16 fighting as a professional. When I was born, fear was gone.”

Golovkin said: “I feel very excited.

“I’m ready. Tonight, first congrats to Canelo and his team. Right now, I think everyone is excited for September. Canelo looked very good tonight, and 100 percent he is the biggest challenge of my career. Good luck to Canelo in September.”

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Danny Willett and caddie Jonathan Smart part before Players Championship

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Danny Willett has split with caddie Jonathan Smart just over a year after winning the Masters at Augusta.

The pair have been friends since their teens but had a disagreement during April’s RBC Heritage event, with Willett eventually missing the cut.

Smart felt mistreated and left his role, “effectively sacking” Willett, 29, mid-tournament, according to BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter.

“Things are a bit stale and kind of fizzled out,” Willett told BBC Sport.

“It is a shame. But things happen and change, everything happens for a reason.

“We are still working hard to get the game in shape to get back playing the golf we know we can play.”

Willett did not rule out the prospect of his childhood friend one day returning to his bag but he was forced to use a member of his management team in the second round at the RBC Heritage.

He will use Sam Haywood at this week’s Players Championship in Florida. Haywood was best man at Willett’s wedding and has recently been on the bag of American player David Lipsky.

“Sam knows my game really well,” Willett added. “We’ve played a lot of golf together over the last 10 or 15 years. It’s nice having someone who you can speak frankly with. He knows where my game is and when it’s good. I think it’s going to be good.”

Danny Willett and Jonathan Smart

Smart and Willett memorably embraced in the recorders’ room at last year’s Masters when it became clear the Englishman had won a first major.

But he has not won a tournament since, placing outside the top-25 in the three other majors in 2016 before missing the cut on his return to Augusta in April.

The dip in form has seen him fall 10 places to 21 in the world since the turn of the year.

Analysis – ‘Trying times for Willett’

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter

It’s been a struggle to adjust to the status of a major champion for Willett. Results haven’t been good for a year.

Recently he’s missed three of the last four cuts, so these are trying times.

It came home for me today as I remember this day last year I approached him at his first tournament since winning the Masters. Now, the mood music could not be any different.

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Rory McIlroy signs equipment deal with Taylor Made

Rory McIlroy

Players Championship
Venue: TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida Dates: 11-14 May
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website on Saturday and Sunday

World number two Rory McIlroy has chosen to play with Taylor Made clubs following Nike’s decision to stop making golf equipment.

McIlroy will use Taylor Made for all his equipment, including balls, as he attempts to displace Dustin Johnson as the world’s leading player.

He had spent several months experimenting with different makes.

The 28-year-old is due to play in the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, which starts on Thursday.

“I came to the conclusion that this was the best way forward for me to try and improve, try to win more, try to get back to world number one, try to win more majors,” McIlroy said.

World number one Johnson, Masters champion Sergio Garcia and Olympic champion Justin Rose also use Taylor Made equipment.

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