Wednesday, July 15, 2009

15 July 2009: Versus

Speculation mounts that the new Saints manager (along with the new owner and possibly a new player or two, although that seems less likely given the lack of managerial appointment yet) will be revealed at or immediately before the pre-season friendly against Ajax on Saturday.

Rumours continue to circulate that the man in question is none other than Gordon Strachan, and that the reason there have been far fewer leaks than previous appointments is that the new regime is smaller, tighter and far less prone to give information away. Secondary rumours point to Dennis Wise, and Tony Adams refuses to go away (no jokes here about "going away" and his prison term in 1989 please), and in fact remains the current bookie favourite.

Meantime life outside the Saints bubble continues with the Tour De France and "Versus" (US TV network formally known as OLN) giving not only audio but low-bandwidth video (not sure how that link renders outside the US); alongside that the BBC Sport website are providing Simon Brotherton's live commentary on the final hour or so of the stages and of course they're doing live text commentary too. Very exciting, especially compared to previous years in the UK.

As for the race itself, Mr Lance is going ok - third, eight seconds back - with Contador his team "mate" (like they're friends, right?) two seconds ahead in second place. Alps to come this weekend, which should determine who wins. Of at least as much interest to me is Mark Cavendish, who keeps winning stages but still bizarrely is struggling to get hold of the Green Jersey due to Thor Hushovd's tactical planning and marginally better ability to get over the mountains. Cavendish is comfortably the best sprinter in the field - McDougal tells me it's due to aerodynamics trumping sheer strength at high sprint speeds - so we'll keep an eye on that. As I write this, Cavendish is six points behind so if yesterday's result is repeated (Cavendish first, Hushovd second) then Cav will be just one point behind. But... the Alps still to come... along with the usual British sporting tactic of blowing a great opportunity...

Postscript: Nostalgic YouTube link for those in the UK who remember Stephen Roche, Malcolm Elliot and the Tours of the late 1980s.

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