Large International Field set for Leg Two of LEN Open Water Cup

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli Insidefoto

The largest-ever fields in the event’s history are gathering in Gravelines for the second stop of the LEN European Open Water Cup. The discipline’s greatest stars will line up for the race, Olympic and World champions – altogether 211 swimmers.

As the highlight race of the French national championships, the 10km events will be held on Thursday (31 May) and the quality will be as high as at any World Champs or Olympic marathons. With 94 women and 117 men taking part, these are going to be the largest ever races in the history of the LEN European Open Water Cup.

France was the top nation in last year’s World Champs in Hungary, amassing four titles in seven races and now all of their world champions, including Marc-Antoine Olivier, Axel Reymond and Aurelie Muller, will battle for the title.

However, a swift challenge from other foreign stars is foreseen, above all the two Dutch Olympic champions Ferry Weertman and Sharon van Rouwendaal will also swim for the glory and to make this event really special, non-European superstars will also show up on the starting pontoon. Since this is an open event, the entries from world champions like Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha and USA’s Ashley Twichell were also accepted.

In cooperation with leading sport TV channel BeinSports, both 10km races will be broadcasted live and can be followed on the LEN website: the men’s race is set to start from 11.00 while the women’s competition kicks at from 15.30.

LEN Open Water Cup – 2018

Leg 1, 25 March – Eilat (ISR)

Leg 2, 31 May – Gravelines (FRA)   

Leg 3, 30 June – Barcelona (ESP)

Leg 4, 28 July – Navia (ESP)

Leg 5, 25 August – Copenhagen (DEN)

Leg 6, 9 September – Bled (SLO)

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with LEN European Aquatics. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact Advertising@SwimmingWorld.com.

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French Open 2018: Novak Djokovic beats Jaume Munar to reach third round

Novak Djokovic

French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Novak Djokovic secured his place in the third round of the French Open with a hard-fought 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-4 win over Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar.

The former world number one, 31, was given a stern workout by 21-year-old Munar despite victory in straight sets.

Djokovic, seeded 20th at Roland Garros, squandered a 5-2 lead in the first set but came through a tie-break.

Munar did not give the Serb any respite in the next two sets although Djokovic’s superiority eventually told.

Djokovic slowly regaining confidence

Djokovic has struggled to rediscover his best form following a return to the court after elbow surgery in January.

This year he has twice lost to players ranked outside the world’s top 100 in ATP tournaments and has not won a Grand Slam since the 2016 French Open.

Munar, ranked 155th in the world, fought back in the first set but the more experienced Djokovic kept his composure to emphatically close out the tie-break 7-1.

Djokovic, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, said his confidence had been knocked since his return and was a little scrappy in the second set.

However, he showed flashes of his best in an entertaining final set to see off a spirited effort from Munar in two hours and 19 minutes.

Djokovic will face 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round after the Spaniard’s 6-4 7-5 6-3 win over Santiago Giraldo of Colombia.

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Giro d’Italia 2019 route: Historic summit finishes planned, Rome finish could be scrapped

Early rumours of the route of the 2019 Giro d’Italia

The Giro d’Italia route will stay closer to home in 2019, with a possible start in the southern city Matera and climbs up Mortirolo, Stelvio and Tre Cime di Lavaredo, but with a Rome finish in doubt.

Team Sky‘s Chris Froome became the first British victor of the Giro when he won on May 27, 2018 at the end of a 101st edition that also made history starting in Jerusalem – becoming the first Grand Tour to begin outside of Europe.

The 2019 Giro d’Italia will not travel so far for its Grande Partenza.

Some mention Marseille, France, as a possible host for the Big Start with the Giro perhaps start where the 2016 Tour de France finished, in the famous Stade Vélodrome. Others say Poland.

>>> What numbers do you need to win the Giro d’Italia? Chris Froome’s power data analysed

Instead, the race should start in the south of Italy in the Basilicata region, which is nestled between toe and heel on the boot of Italy

Matera – the famous sassi or stone city – will be the European Capital of Culture for 2019. The Giro has already visited the city in 2013, when John Degenkolb won in a rainstorm. A Big Start would bring two to three stages with a likely finish in the region’s capital Potenza.

Israel paid around €12-16 million to host the 2018 Giro’s start with the race organiser then putting part of that money into the logistics of hosting such a far-flung start. Staying in Italy would cost less, and Matera is expected to pay around €2 million to host the 2019 Big Start.

Chris Froome dominated the Giro’s famous modern climbs Monte Zoncolan and Colle delle Finestre to win the title in Rome, both of which were only introduced to the race in this millennium. The 2019 Giro, however, will call on some of the iconic climbs from the race’s past.

The route should return to finish at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo – where Vincenzo Nibali celebrated victory in a snowstorm in 2013 and where Eddy Merckx won en route to his first Grand Tour victory in 1968.

It should also include Passo di Mortirolo and the Passo dello Stelvio. When the race first tackled the Stelvio in 1953, Italian great Fausto Coppi dropped race leader Hugo Koblet and took the pink jersey at the top. Weather permitting, at 2758m, it would be the race’s high point and the Cima Coppi.

>>> How much prize money did Chris Froome get for winning the Giro d’Italia?

RCS Sport wanted to see the Giro finish in Rome through to 2021, signing a four-year contract with the capital city to host the finish similar to how Paris welcomes the Tour finishes every year. But after the debacle of the 2018 finish – which saw a rider protest and the GC standings taken just after a handful of kilometres due to an unsafe circuit – they may seek other hosts.

“Rome knew about this for one year and it was only an 11km circuit,” RCS Mediagroup president Urbano Cairo said. “Those potholes should have had already been repaired.”

The city blamed the organiser for not communicating the road problems in advance. The mayor, Virginia Raggi, skipped the podium presentation. “The riders were able to complete the race,” the mayor said. “Let’s stop making problems.”

If the race turns its back on Rome, it may be easier since a long transfer from the third-week Alpine stages would not be needed. The Giro could return to Milan, where it first began and finished in 1909, or as in recent years, it could finish in a smaller city like Verona, Brescia and Trieste.

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Stanislav Pozdnyakov Defeats Alexander Popov for ROC President

Earlier this month, four-time Olympic gold medalist and current International Swimming Hall of Fame member Alexander Popov was nominated to become the president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

On May 29, Popov was defeated in the race by Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the current Vice-President of the Committee. Pozdnyakov is also a four-time Olympic and 10-time World Champion in fencing and won the vote 214-56.

Both men were running to replace current President Alexander Zhukov who decided not to stand for re-election earlier this month.

According to Inside the Games, after playing a big role in the participation of the Olympic Athletes from Russia at this year’s Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Pozdnyakov has already made it clear that one of his top priorities is ensuring a clean slate for Russian athletes headed into Tokyo.

“The Olympic Assembly decided to give me the powers of the president of the Russian Olympic Committee for a four-year term,” Pozdnyakov said. “I realise that we have a very big and serious work to do. We have work to improve the management of sports, to raise the prestige of Russia on the international sports arena.”

Before the election, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on this same goal:

“Today, the Olympic Movement of Russia faces serious and highly responsible tasks,” he said. “The future of sports of higher achievements and its competitiveness largely depend on their competent decisions. It is important to fully ensure the restoration of our positions in the international sports movement, actively participate in the activities of international federations, continue to work on improving the effectiveness of the anti-doping system. And of course, it is necessary to give priority to the formation of a culture of absolute intolerance to this negative phenomenon at all stages of sports training. I want to emphasise that the responsibility for achieving these goals rests with the ROC as the founder of the all-Russian anti-doping organisation. I am confident that together we will overcome all difficulties together and continue developing Russian sports for the benefit of the fatherland and its citizens.”

Other top positions were awarded to Igor Levitin (First Vice President), Gennady Timchenko and Vladimir Kozhin (continuing as Vice Presidents), Vasily Titov and Viacheslav Aminov (Vice Presidents), Vladimir Sengleev (Director General) and Anastasia Davydova (General Secretary).

Inside the Games contributed to this report.

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Chris Froome optimistic about completing historic Giro/Tour double despite ‘brutal’ Giro d’Italia

Team Sky star confident of returning to top form for the Tour

With the pink curtain drawing closed on Chris Froome‘s Giro d’Italia win in Rome on Sunday, thoughts are already turning to the Tour de France, which in Vendée on July 7.

Froome will be racing for a fifth Tour title and a fourth consecutive Grand Tour win on the heels of a Giro d’Italia title taken after a hard campaign through Italy.

However the Tour could prove a Grand Tour too far after Froome’s Italian travails. Before arriving to the meat of the race in Italy’s north, Froome crashed in the Israeli Big Start and hit the deck again in Sicily. He fought back in the final week, which included a massive 80km solo ride to the Jafferau ski station on stage 19.

Froome himself is uncertain what shape he will be in come July, but says that he is hopeful of returning to the Tour in good condition having only top form in the final week of the Giro d’Italia.

“Is it going to cost me in the Tour? That’s a good question and we might not find out until we get to July,” Froome said after donning the pink jersey on the podium near Rome’s Colosseum .

“I am optimistic. Given that I arrived at the Giro not necessarily 100 per cent unlike some of my rivals and that I built into the race. I feel like that I will be able to recover from this. I hope to go into the Tour as well in very competitive shape.”

>>> What numbers do you need to win the Giro d’Italia? Chris Froome’s power data analysed

Cycling counts few warriors who can claim Giro and Tour victories in the same year. The last went by ‘Il Pirata’ – the Italian ‘Pirate’ Marco Pantani who won the double 20 years ago in 1998.

“As we’ve seen in the past, it is a very difficult undertaking. I believe it is possible. It is still a bit early to talk about that,” Froome continued. “I am still in the moment at the Giro, just soaking this up. It is such an amazing feeling and experience so far.”

With the pink party in Rome, which includeded an all-pink Pinarello bike for Froome to ride, thoughts of training for the Tour must have seemed seem hard. Froome, however, has began his training already.

Froome would be coming off an incredible run that includes the 2017 Tour de France and the Vuelta a España titles along with this Giro triumph. He is only the third in history, after Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx, to win three consecutive Grand Tours.

“That was a big part of the motivation for me to come to this year’s Giro was to try to win consecutive Grand Tours in a row,” he added. “There’s no bigger goal for a Grand Tour rider.”


Watch: Tour de France 2018 route guide


The ongoing investigation into Froome’s adverse analytical finding at the 2017 Vuelta a España means that that title is still up in the air. Cycling Weekly understands that race organisers are still holding on to the prize money due to the possibility of Froome being suspended and stripped of the title.

The salbutamol case, together with his spectacular 80km solo ride on stage 19, have caused some to raise eyebrows on social media, but Froome himself says that his ride will stand the test of time and that he is confident about getting a positive outcome from the ongoing investigation.

>>> France vs Froome: Why Chris Froome can expect a more hostile reception at the Tour de France

“That’s something we are dealing with,” Froome continued. “I certainly have got a clear conscious, and like I’ve said, 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.”

The manner of Froome’s Giro win means that his victory will be one for the ages. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) held the jersey for 13 days and won three summit finishes. But Froome took home the trophy by conquering over some of the race’s most famous climbs – Monte Zoncolan and the Colle delle Finestre – and escaping solo in a manner that many compared to Fausto Coppi’s monumental solo attack on stage 17 of the 1949 Giro d’Italia.

“It feels as if this has been the battle of my career. To get off to a less-than-ideal start in Jerusalem. I kept getting knocked down,” Froome added.

“My team said, ‘Wait, this race is brutal. We’re going to get to the last three days and the race can really change.’ It has been an absolutely brutal race for me and everyone else. Everyone was on the limit. I am really happy to have gotten the jersey.”

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French Open 2018: Simona Halep beats Alison Riske to reach second round

Simona Halep

French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

World number one Simona Halep began her bid for a first Grand Slam title with a gutsy fightback in her rain-delayed French Open first-round match.

Halep, last year’s runner-up, lost the first set before recovering to win 2-6 6-1 6-1 against American Alison Riske.

Ukraine’s fourth seed Elina Svitolina reached the third round with a 6-3 6-4 win over Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, seeded eighth, also beat Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena 6-0 6-4.

Halep overcomes slow start

Two-time French Open finalist Halep has spent much of the past seven months as the world’s leading female player, despite never transferring her consistency on tour into lifting one of tennis’ most prestigious prizes.

Halep lost to unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the Roland Garros final last year, one of six defeats in a showpiece over the past year.

But reaching a second final in Paris looked a long way off as she made a woeful start in a match which originally supposed to be played on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Romanian hit 16 unforced errors in a opening set, but then won nine of the next 10 games to take control.

Riske, who is Johanna Konta’s doubles partner, stemmed the tide by claiming the third game of the final set, but only managed to win another 12 points in a final set which Halep won in 28 minutes.

Halep will face Riske’s compatriot Taylor Townsend in the second round.

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What numbers do you need to win the Giro d’Italia? Chris Froome’s power data analysed

We take a look at Chris Froome’s power data from the Giro d’Italia, as revealed by Velon.

Chris Froome‘s victory in the 2018 Giro d’Italia may have been delivered with a long range attack on stage 19 that seemed like something from another era, but that even that move was pre-planned and scientific – as revealed by Dave Brailsford after the stage.

Every second of Froome’s Giro d’Italia power was recorded by Velon, which has now released a few details of his power from key stages including that memorable attack on the Colle delle Finestre.

However earlier in the race Froome had taken an impressive stage win on Monte Zoncolan, attacking four kilometres from the top of this super-steep climb. In the initial 1.3km of his attack, Froome averaged a massive 465 watts for more than six minutes before Simon Yates counter-attacked behind to nearly catch his Team Sky rival by the line.

>>> How much prize money did Chris Froome get for winning the Giro d’Italia?

Unfortunately for Froome he then lost time on the following stage to Sappada, before regaining some time on stage 16’s time trial and finally springing into life with his brilliant attack on stage 19.

Froome’s attack on the Colle delle Finestre with 80km to go saw him average 397 watts for 11-03 as he opened up a 40 second gap on Tom Dumoulin, Thibaut Pinot, Miguel Angel Lopez and Richard Carapaz. Interestingly Dumoulin’s power for the same section was remarkably similar to Froome’s, with the Dutchman averaging 395 watts.

Having crested the climb with a relatively slender advantage, Froome then opened more of a gap on the descent off the Finestre averaging 53.4kmh and hitting a maximum speed of 80kmh as Dumoulin decided to wait for Sebastien Reichenbach to catch up behind.

From there Froome covered the 16.2km climb to Sestriere at 23.2kmh before holding off Dumoulin once again on the final climb of the Jafferau to win the stage and move into the pink jersey.

>>> France vs Froome: Why Chris Froome can expect a more hostile reception at the Tour de France

The penultimate stage saw Froome being able to ride more defensively as he sought to defend a 40-second lead over Dumoulin, and despite not coming under pressure until the final climb still had to put in a few sizeable efforts, including averaging 380 watts for the first eight minutes of the Col Saint Pantaléon which saw him hit a maximum speed of 41kmh on the six per cent climb.

However the race all came down to the final climb to Cervinia where Dumoulin launched numerous attacks to try and put Froome under pressure which Froome was able to match and even launch a few counter-attacks of his own.

In order to cover this move Froome averaged 420 watts for nearly 10 minutes, including two 30-second efforts at 540 watts as he launched a couple of attacks of his own – seriously impressive numbers in any context, let alone at the end of a 214km stage on the penultimate day of a three week Grand Tour.

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SRM and Look link up for new Exakt pedal power meter

Is this everything we’ve been looking for? A new power meter that offers SRM accuracy in a pedal-based system?

Photos: GuidoRubino.com

SRM has been making power meters since 1986 and is often considered to be the gold standard in power measurement, used by many pros to assess their power output because of the system’s accuracy and reliability. But until now, it’s only been available as a crank-based form. Now SRM has worked with Look to bring out a pedal-based power meter, that it says is as accurate as the original.

SRM and Look have put a lot of effort into designing an accurate system and its verification, saying that the output matches almost exactly that of the crank-based SRM system. Key to this was designing a new stainless steel spindle and a pedal body that turns on a needle roller bearing placed directly under the centre of the pedal platform. This, they say, makes the reading independent of where the rider applies force to the pedal surface.

Power meter electronics are fully enclosed within the pedal body and weigh just 25g

The power meter electronics are fully enclosed in the pedal body, with is IPX7 sealed, with dual seals. There’s an internal rechargeable battery with up to 100 hours recording time, with a connector in the pedal spindle allowing you to recharge it.

>>> Power meters: everything you need to know

The antenna is also within the pedal body and there’s Bluetooth LE and ANT+ connectivity. The electronics contribute just 25g to the pedal’s 155g overall weight.

There are four strain gauges in each pedal, as well as magnetic measurement of cadence, sending 200 signals per second to the head unit, which allows analysis of torque curve, for example.

Mechanicals and binding are based on the Look Kéo 2 Max pedal

The mechanical parts of the pedal are similar to the Look Kéo 2 Max, with a spung binding with adjustable release tension rather than the Kéo Blade’s carbon leaf spring. The pedal body is made of carbon fibre with a stainless steel plate. Stack height is 11.9mm and, of course, the pedal is compatible with Look cleats with different degrees of float.

Simple set-up

SRM and Look have an app to accompany the power meter and make set-up simple. It isn’t necessary to tighten the pedals in the cranks to a precise torque value. Set-up is completed by pressing down firmly on each pedal. This is enough to allow calibration of the unit and the companion app tells you how accurately set-up has been completed, via a red-amber-green speedo display.

Set-up just needs to be done once, with the companion app showing whether it’s been done correctly

The Exakt power meter is not subject to drift during rides and Look and SRM say that it’s only necessary to recalibrate after swapping the pedals between bikes.

>>> Cycling training zones: power and heart rate zones explained

The app also lets you see details such as real time power and cadence data, unit and battery status, left-right balance and firmware info. There’s output of normalised power, torque effectiveness, training scores and other measures too.

Field tested by André Greipel

Look and SRM have made use of their extensive pro contacts to test the Exakt system. André Greipel, a Look ambassador, rode the power meter in Milan-San Remo. When he crashed in that race, he broke his collarbone and also the power meter body, although the spindle was intact.

Look and SRM offer a two year warranty on Exakt. They will also offer a paid-for rebuild service for a damaged pedal.

App gives you a lot of stats on power meter status as well as ride outputs; it’s multi-language

All the parts for the Exakt power meter are made and assembled in Europe. Look and SRM say that it’s been designed to be compatible with indoor training platforms including Zwift and with other head units.

The ride

At the launch in Italy, I coupled the Exakt system easily via Bluetooth with a Polar smartwatch to record my outputs on a ride up into the Tuscan hills.

SRM and Look will sell the Exakt power meter through dealers, as a click and collect item through the Exaktpower website and directly from the site.

The new Exakt system is available from July as a single right sided meter for €799, as a dual sided power meter for €1399 or packaged with an SRM PC8 head unit and a heart rate monitor for €2179. The single-sided meter ships with an uninstrumented left pedal, but you will be able to buy a separate left side meter if you do decide to upgrade later.

UK pricing is yet to be announced, but you can now pre-order a unit on the Exakt site ahead of general availability.

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Mark Schubert Responds to Legal Challenge from Ariana Kukors Smith

Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

2009 World Champion, Ariana Kukors Smithcame forward in February and stated that her former coach, Sean Hutchison, began grooming her for a relationship at 13, sexually assaulted her at the age of 16 and continued to have a sexual relationship with her until she was 24.

Earlier this month, Kukors took her allegations to the legal field and filed a civil suit against Hutchison, former National Team Director Mark Schubert, and USA Swimming, moving the accusations into the legal realm with the complaint for damages including sexual abuse of a minor and negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In response to the civil suit, Coach Schubert issued the following statement:

Mark Schubert absolutely denies any wrongdoing.  He is confident that when all the facts are known, the record will show that he never ignored, or turned a blind eye to, the abuse of an athlete.  When Coach Schubert first became aware of the rumors of abuse, he reported them immediately and sought to make sure they were properly investigated.  Coach Schubert had and continues to have no tolerance for anyone who would harm a minor or violate the trust that athletes and their parents place in their coaches. 

Throughout his career, Coach Schubert has always placed what is best for the athletes first and foremost.  It has been the great honor of his professional life to work with terrific young people – not just the Olympic champions and world record holders, but thousands of great kids who have learned about discipline, commitment, and hard work through swimming.  Helping them achieve their goals, no matter how big or small, is why he continues to coach after 46 years.

Swimming World will continue to follow this story as it develops.

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