Jess Varnish: ‘I’m disappointed with the judgement but I have no regrets’

The former track sprinter has released a statement after she lost her employment tribunal against British Cycling

Former track sprinter Jess Varnish said she is “disappointed” to lose her case against British Cycling and UK Sport, but that she already felt she had won by instigating change.

The 28-year-old launched proceedings against British Cycling and UK Sport in an attempt to prove she was an employee of the two bodies.

Varnish had been subjected to discriminatory language at the hands of former technical director Shane Sutton.

She then needed to prove she was employed by British Cycling and UK sport, rather than being self employed, in order to sue the organisations for wrongful dismissal and sexual discrimination.

But the employment tribunal, held in Manchester, concluded on Wednesday (January 16) with Varnish losing the case.

>>> Email sent from testosterone supplier to Dr Richard Freeman obtained by BBC 

In a statement, released on Thursday afternoon (January 17) she said: “I knew at the beginning of the trial, no matter the outcome, that I had already won.

“Since I first spoke out in April 2016 about my experience at British Cycling, significant change has taken place.

“I firmly believe this change happened because the athletes brought to light the culture of fear and lack of investment in athlete welfare that permeated through the British Cycling World Class Performance system.”

Varnish was pulled from British Cycling’s elite programme in April 2016, shortly before she publicly alleged sexual discrimination by Sutton.

Sutton denied the allegations but an internal investigation upheld that he used “inappropriate and discriminatory language” towards Varnish.

The full report has not been published, but it later emerged that only one of nine complaints against Sutton was upheld.

He resigned from his post in 2016 and later took up a role with the Chinese national track squad.

>>> Riders face disqualification, bans and suspension for using tramadol in competition as UCI bans painkiller

At the employment tribunal, both BC and UK Sport claimed that national lottery funding awarded to Olympic athletes – which can be as much as £28,000 tax-free per annum – was similar to a university grant and therefore its athletes were not afforded the same employment rights.

This view was backed by Judge Ross on Wednesday evening. UK Sport said it gave it “confidence that the structure of the relationship between other national governing bodies, their athletes and UK Sport can continue in a similar way, but we will reflect on the concerns that were raised through this case.”

British Cycling said it believed the decision was in the best interests of riders who represent Britain, and that the governing body was a service provider to athletes and not an employer.

Varnish added: “I am disappointed at the judgement, but I have no regrets in going through this process.

“Despite meetings, mediation and attempts at settlement, it was clear that the only way to engage and ensure change occurred within these organisations was a legal challenge. There is no other option open to Athletes.

“It has been a long three years, and it has cost me a lot, but as I said earlier, I have no regrets.

“I hold my head high knowing that I left no stone unturned and always told the truth. In that time, I’ve almost completed my degree in sports & exercise nutrition, set up my own personal training business and am now starting a family. I am excited about the future.”

Varnish said she would be meeting with her legal representatives and would consider appealing the tribunal decision.

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Britain’s Konta loses to Muguruza in 3.12am finish

Johanna Konta

Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online from 19 January.

Britain’s Johanna Konta was knocked out of the Australian Open in a second-round match against Garbine Muguruza which finished at 3:12am local time.

Konta, 27, lost 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 in Melbourne in one of the latest finishes in the tournament’s history.

Spaniard Muguruza, 25, nicked a tight final set in front of about 250 remaining fans on Margaret Court Arena.

“I can’t believe there are people watching us at 3:15am,” the two-time Grand Slam champion said.

The 18th seed took her first match point to win in two hours 42 minutes.

“It was very tough. Johanna played very good, serving incredibly and hitting big shots,” Muguruza said.

Rain and lengthy matches earlier on day four meant Konta and Muguruza did not start until 12:30am.

Muguruza will face Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky in the third round.

More to follow.

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I’ve been physically threatened by Tomic, says Hewitt

Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt

Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt claims he has been threatened “physically” and “blackmailed” by his former team-mate Bernard Tomic.

Hewitt, 37, said he and “close knit family” had received threats directly from the world number 88 over the past “year and a half”.

Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, said he did not take them seriously.

Tomic could not be contacted by BBC Sport for a response.

Former world number one Hewitt was responding to comments made by Tomic after the 26-year-old’s Australian Open first-round loss in Melbourne on Monday.

Tomic claimed there was a “conflict of interests” in Hewitt’s Davis Cup team selections and demanded he was removed from the role. Tomic has not played for his country in the competition since 2016.

Tomic claimed some players were picked for the Davis Cup team – and given Australian Open wildcards – because they were represented by a management company owned by Hewitt.

“This is what we’ve come to expect from Bernie,” Hewitt said after playing in the men’s doubles on Thursday.

“Whatever Grand Slam it is, after a first-round loss he will come out with something.”

Hewitt started mentoring Tomic after retiring as a singles player, but says he has “not had anything to do” with Tomic for a couple of years.

“For me the biggest frustration is I feel like I went out of my way to help Bernie,” Hewitt, who won the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon titles, said.

“Especially when I first came into the role, I spent a lot of time with him one and one, and at a lot of tournaments, tried to get a coaching structure and physical team around him to give him best opportunity.

“He still kept making the wrong mistakes.

“After the abuse I copped from him, I drew a line in the sand and haven’t spoke to him since.

“The threats I’ve received for me and my family, that I’ve had for a year and half now, I don’t think anyone would reach out to him again to a person who speaks like that.”

Asked what sort of threats, he replied: “They were blackmail threats and physical.”

Tomic split with Hewitt’s long-term agent David Drysdale in 2017.

Speaking on Monday Tomic said: “No one likes him any more. He’s doing the wrong thing. We don’t want to play any more because he’s ruined the system.”

Asked if there was a rift between him and Hewitt, he said: “Not really. I’ve always wanted to play Davis Cup. I love Davis Cup. If I don’t play, I don’t play. I’m available. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

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I’ve been physically threatened by Tomic, says Hewitt

Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt

Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt claims he has been threatened “physically” and “blackmailed” by his former team-mate Bernard Tomic.

Hewitt, 37, said he and “close knit family” had received threats directly from the world number 88 over the past “year and a half”.

Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, said he did not take them seriously.

Tomic could not be contacted by BBC Sport for a response.

Former world number one Hewitt was responding to comments made by Tomic after the 26-year-old’s Australian Open first-round loss in Melbourne on Monday.

Tomic claimed there was a “conflict of interests” in Hewitt’s Davis Cup team selections and demanded he was removed from the role. Tomic has not played for his country in the competition since 2016.

Tomic claimed some players were picked for the Davis Cup team – and given Australian Open wildcards – because they were represented by a management company owned by Hewitt.

“This is what we’ve come to expect from Bernie,” Hewitt said after playing in the men’s doubles on Thursday.

“Whatever Grand Slam it is, after a first-round loss he will come out with something.”

Hewitt started mentoring Tomic after retiring as a singles player, but says he has “not had anything to do” with Tomic for a couple of years.

“For me the biggest frustration is I feel like I went out of my way to help Bernie,” Hewitt, who won the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon titles, said.

“Especially when I first came into the role, I spent a lot of time with him one and one, and at a lot of tournaments, tried to get a coaching structure and physical team around him to give him best opportunity.

“He still kept making the wrong mistakes.

“After the abuse I copped from him, I drew a line in the sand and haven’t spoke to him since.

“The threats I’ve received for me and my family, that I’ve had for a year and half now, I don’t think anyone would reach out to him again to a person who speaks like that.”

Asked what sort of threats, he replied: “They were blackmail threats and physical.”

Tomic split with Hewitt’s long-term agent David Drysdale in 2017.

Speaking on Monday Tomic said: “No one likes him any more. He’s doing the wrong thing. We don’t want to play any more because he’s ruined the system.”

Asked if there was a rift between him and Hewitt, he said: “Not really. I’ve always wanted to play Davis Cup. I love Davis Cup. If I don’t play, I don’t play. I’m available. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

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Chris Froome shares first monster ride of 2019 on Strava

The Brit put in a 225km shift with team-mate Salvatore Puccio

It’s that time of the year again – the moment Chris Froome unleashes his superhuman training efforts on the world by posting his rides on Strava.

Last January, Froome opened the year with a massive collection of kilometres, racking up 4,000km in January alone.

At the end of the month, he set out for a six-hour blast from his home just north of Johannesburg and covered a staggering 271km, which he then titled ‘empty the tank’ on Strava.

Froome has now uploaded his first Strava ride of 2019, and it’s another epic effort.

>>> Edvald Boasson Hagen used cycling treadmill for monster six-hour Zwift training ride

This time the Team Sky star set out with Italian team-mate Salvatore Puccio for a 225km blast around the eastern edge of South Africa.

Over the six-hour ride, the Brit averaged 34.5km/h, and hit a max speed of 78.1km/h, with a whopping 6,000 metres of climbing.

Froome appears to have kept data from his power meter firmly under wraps, but Strava estimates he maxxed out at 1,300watts and averaged 298w over the duration.

Surprisingly, Froome didn’t scoop any KoMs out on the ride, but Puccio did managed to top the leaderboard on three segments.

>>> Watch: Top five Strava cheats (video)

Their route covered nine categorised segments, including the R533 Climb -7.26km at seven per cent – and Kowyn’s pass uphill, 8km at six per cent average.

Last January, Froome treated his fans by uploading his January training miles to the social media app for athletes, letting cycling followers see exactly how much training it takes to win Grand Tours.

As you would expect from a man targeting both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France last year, there were some pretty monstrous base miles, with Froome kicking off the year with a 32-hour week in which he rode more than 1,000km.

So far in 2019 he has only uploaded the one ride, titled ‘African Experience for Salva’ – short for Salvatore.

Puccio may not have enjoyed the ride quite as much as Froome, as he posted the ride with the title ‘Killed by Froomey, season is over.’

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Chris Froome shares first monster ride of 2019 on Strava

The Brit put in a 225km shift with team-mate Salvatore Puccio

It’s that time of the year again – the moment Chris Froome unleashes his superhuman training efforts on the world by posting his rides on Strava.

Last January, Froome opened the year with a massive collection of kilometres, racking up 4,000km in January alone.

At the end of the month, he set out for a six-hour blast from his home just north of Johannesburg and covered a staggering 271km, which he then titled ‘empty the tank’ on Strava.

Froome has now uploaded his first Strava ride of 2019, and it’s another epic effort.

>>> Edvald Boasson Hagen used cycling treadmill for monster six-hour Zwift training ride

This time the Team Sky star set out with Italian team-mate Salvatore Puccio for a 225km blast around the eastern edge of South Africa.

Over the six-hour ride, the Brit averaged 34.5km/h, and hit a max speed of 78.1km/h, with a whopping 6,000 metres of climbing.

Froome appears to have kept data from his power meter firmly under wraps, but Strava estimates he maxxed out at 1,300watts and averaged 298w over the duration.

Surprisingly, Froome didn’t scoop any KoMs out on the ride, but Puccio did managed to top the leaderboard on three segments.

>>> Watch: Top five Strava cheats (video)

Their route covered nine categorised segments, including the R533 Climb -7.26km at seven per cent – and Kowyn’s pass uphill, 8km at six per cent average.

Last January, Froome treated his fans by uploading his January training miles to the social media app for athletes, letting cycling followers see exactly how much training it takes to win Grand Tours.

As you would expect from a man targeting both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France last year, there were some pretty monstrous base miles, with Froome kicking off the year with a 32-hour week in which he rode more than 1,000km.

So far in 2019 he has only uploaded the one ride, titled ‘African Experience for Salva’ – short for Salvatore.

Puccio may not have enjoyed the ride quite as much as Froome, as he posted the ride with the title ‘Killed by Froomey, season is over.’

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Terrifying video shows moment Spanish film star mowed down by car while cycling

One of Spain’s best known actors was completing a charity challenge when he was hit from behind

A shocking video shows the moment a famous Spanish film star was hit by a car travelling at full speed while he was cycling.

Dani Rovira, who starred in a hugely popular Spanish film from 2014, was on his way to completing a charity cycling challenge when he and a fellow cyclist were struck from behind.

The footage was captured from a car accompanying the pair as they filmed a documentary to raise aware of a Rett syndrome, a rare neurological disorder.

>>> Motorbike organisation calls for cyclists to wear identification numbers

Rovira, 38, has called for drivers to be more respectful of cyclists after the crash, which happened two years ago.

In the video Rovira, who starred in the 2014 film Spanish Affair, said: “We are still here because it wasn’t our time to go.

“Let’s respect one another on the roads.”

Rovira was riding alongside Martín Giacchetta, a firefighter and personal trainer whose daughter has from Rett syndrome, when the pair were struck by the car from behind.

The driver was distracted by his mobile phone, which he tried to pick up from the floor after it fell inside the car, reports Spanish news outlet ABC.

>>> ‘Passionate’ founder of cycling club dies in van crash while riding

Rovira and Giacchetta were in France when they were hit as they attempted to ride an 11-stage route from Barcelona to Rome where they were due to meet the pope.

Miraculously, neither men suffered injuries but their bikes were damaged.

Rovira told ABC: “We know what happened because it was recorded.

“I was in shock all that day.

“I did not feel afraid – that came to me the next day when I had to get back on the bike.

“That’s when my legs started to shake.”

The video footage shows Rovira and Giacchetta riding along the carriageway with vehicles passing in the outside lanes, when a black vehicle rapidly approaches from behind at speed and hits the pair.

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Australian Open 2019: Serena Williams beats Eugenie Bouchard in second round

Serena Williams

Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online from 19 January.

Serena Williams swatted aside Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets to continue her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

The American 16th seed made a rapid start on her way to a 6-2 6-2 victory over the 2014 Wimbledon finalist.

Not everything went the 37-year-old’s way, but she demonstrated why she is considered the tournament favourite.

Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, ranked 59th, awaits her in the third round.

More to follow.

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Best Castelli deals: Massive discounts on bad weather Castelli kit

The best deals on quality Italian kit that the internet has to offer over the Black Friday period

The Black Friday deals are upon us – and if you’re a fan of Castelli clothing then you’re in luck as there’s plenty of offers floating around on the undeniably excellent quality that comes with the scorpion.

Castelli’s winter kit is known for being a go-to for cyclists looking to stay as warm and dry as possible through the seasons. But it comes with a high price tag – one which helpfully can be knocked down over the pre-Christmas sales.

>>> Best Black Friday bike deals 2018

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.

Castelli Gabba 3 jersey was £150, now £105

Read more: Castelli Gabba review

The Castelli Gabba 3 is a proper bad weather top, being windproof and waterproof. It’s a short sleeve option that’s meant for Spring and to be paired with arm warmers.

Buy now: Castello Gabba 3 at Chain Reaction Cycles for £105

Castelli Sorpasso 2 bib tights were £160, now £100

Castelli Sorpasso II bib tights

These tights are made of Thermoflex material which is good to go down to around 5 degrees and there’s additional protection on the thighs and knees. Included is Castelli’s Progretto X2 chamois which is comfortable for long winter days in the saddle.

Buy now: Castelli Sorpasso 2 bib tights at Merlin for £100

Castelli Perfetto jersey was £180, now £120

Read more: Castelli Perfetto review

The Castelli Perfetto is made using Gore Winstopper X-Lite fabric which is excellently windproof as well as being water resistant. Using this jacket in wet weather we found that it simply sheds water almost as well as an actually rain jacket does. A wide selection of sizes are still available at ProBikeKit

If you’re a size small in Castelli then you’re in luck as the Perfetto is available for £89, which is a total bargain.

Buy now: Castelli Perfetto jersey at ProBikeKit for £120

Castelli Idro 2 jacket was £260, now £182.99

Using Gore’s Shakedry technology, the Castelli Idro 2 jacket is superbly waterproof with the water just beading on the surface. The technology also allows the jacket to be lighter than a lot of hardshell waterproofs, so it perfectly easy to just throw it on in a shower or wear it from the beginning of a ride.

Buy now: Castelli Idro 2 jacket at ProBikeKit for £182.99

Shake if off!

Want the latest kit? Then the Castelli Idro Pro is also on a great discount. It has a slightly different build, using stretchy fabric to help the jacket hug the figure better, thus making it more aero.

Buy now: Castelli Idro Pro jacket at ProBikeKit for £234.99

Castelli Omloop Thermal bib shorts were £125, now £92.99

Read more: Castelli Omloop thermal bib shorts review

A pair of Castelli Omloop thermal bib shorts are the perfect compliment to those mild winter days, especially when paired with some leg warmers. A Thermoflex fabric is used to keep the shorts warm and soft while a Progetto X2 chamois is comfortable to sit on all day long.

Buy now: Castelli Omloop thermal bib shorts at ProBikeKit for £92.99

Castelli Gabba 3 jersey was £150, now £74.99

The Gabba 3 is the wet weather jersey to beat, perfect for the spring or autumn when paired with a pair of arm warmers. It’s made of Gore Windstopper X-Lite fabric which makes it excellently water and wind resistant.

Buy now: Castelli Gabba 3 jersey at ProBikeKit for £74.99 

Save £25 on Castelli Velocissima tights, now £75

The Castelli Velocissima tights use a Thermoflex fabric coupled with a soft fleecy layer for maximum insulation.

Buy now: Castelli Velocissima tights at ProBikeKit for £75

Castelli Superleggera short sleeve jersey was £115, now £59.99

One for next summer, this aero and lightweight jersey is perfect for fast paced rides in the heat. It’s fast wicking thanks to its specially woven fabric and it’s now almost 50% off.

Buy now: Castelli Superleggera jersey at Merlin Cycles for £59

Castelli Aero Lite Jacket, men’s and women’s fit was £175 now from £75

black friday deals cyclist

Castelli Aero Lite Jacket

If you plan to be out riding in all weathers, but still want to work hard and feel fast, then the Aero Lite could be an investment for you – and right now it’s reduced by 50 per cent across a range of sizes.

The Windstopper X-Lite fabric is the same as that used across the Perfetto and Gabba jerseys, offering both protection from the chill as well as a water repellent finish.  There’s a storm flap to keep back wheel spray at bay too.

As the name would suggest, the fit is close and won’t feel like it’s holding you back.

See the men’s version here and the women’s version here at Wiggle.

Castelli Scalda Mens Glove was £55.99 now £39.99

best black friday castelli cycling deals

Good quality winter cycling gloves are essential to staying comfortable over the winter months and the Scalda gloves from Castelli offer a medium insulation with ultra fleece water and windproof fabric.

The stretchy material means your hands aren’t restricted and there are touchscreen inserts at the finger tips.

Buy now at Rutland Cycling from £39.99 in a small to £39.99

Castelli Scudo Womens Glove was £50 now £29.99

best black friday deals castelli

A lightweight pair of gloves with windproofing for cool conditions. The back of the hand is particularly stretchy, for comfort over the bars, and there’s touch screen inserts at the finger tips as well as a synthetic leather palm and silicone grip pattern.

Buy now from Rutland Cycling for £29.99

Castelli Perfetto Light 2 Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey was £135, now £79.99 (or £49.99 if you’re a size small…)

best black friday deals castelli

The Perfetto is a follow on from the highly popular Gabba – and when we tested the long sleeved version we were impressed enough to award it a 9/10. 

Designed to be not quite as hot as the Gabba, the Perfetto uses Nano Light water resistant fabric – the same material that features on the ‘Nano Flex’ tights, but minus the brushed fleece lining. The windsopper front is 25 per cent lighter than that used on the Gabba, too.

This short sleeved version can be paired with arm warmers when it’s cooler, or you can rip them off if you’re riding in warm rain.

See it at Tredz for £79.99 in the Forest Grey colour

Keep checking back for more deals… 

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