Haadi & Al Mansoori pedal to victory at Nad Al Sheba tournament

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The annual NAS Ramadan Tournament now enters its final week.

Soufiane Haadi and Mohammed Yousef Ahmed Abdullah Al Mansoori proved to be the strongest in the field of nearly 200 riders when they picked up the top honours in the expat men’s elite and the Emirati men’s elite on the second day of cycling at the third Nad Al Sheba (NAS) Ramadan Sports Tournament.

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The Moroccan cyclist Soufiane Haadi was the fastest on the night as he occupied the top spot with a time of one hour, 30 minutes and 55.37 seconds to leave Rafaa Chtioui of Tunisia in second place (1:30.58.59) while Sky Dive Dubai’s rider from Spain Francisco Mancebo finished in third place in a time of 1:31.27.83.

The race for UAE cyclists was the next to finish with the Al Mansoori brothers from Umm Al Quwaim battling it out till the end.

Eventually, it was Mohammed – four years junior to defending champion Ahmed – who took the glory with a time of 1:34.22.72. Tariq Obaid Murad occupied the second place.

“This was the most perfect race for me,” Mohammed Al Mansoori said. “Victories like this one that come against the best riders from the country can only increase my confidence for the future.”

The elite expat female category was won by Aimee Wright, a regular competitor on the domestic circuit. On a hot and humid evening, the British cyclist finished with a time of 1:51.28.07 leaving New Zealand’s Natasha Leask (1:51.28.62) for second and Deirdre Casey (1:51.28.84) of Ireland in third.

The elite Emirati female category too was a close affair with Fatima Jassim Mohammed Abdullah Ali (2:1106.09) finishing a split second ahead of Reem Eisa Ramadan Abdullah Raei Al Boom.

Meanwhile, the annual NAS Ramadan Sports Tournament now enters its final week of competitions. Next up will be the archery finals in three categories along with the knockout stages of futsal and volleyball competitions.

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Vincenzo Nibali suffers puncture as he loses time in Tour de France

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Setback: Vincenzo Nibali.

Reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali complained of “bad luck” after he lost almost a minute and a half to two of his main rivals for overall victory.

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The 30-year-old Sicilian was caught up in a crash around 50km from the end of the 166km second stage  at a time when Etixx-Quick Step were driving the pace on the front of the peloton as heavy rain and crosswinds caused havoc.

Astana leader Nibali could not get back up to the lead group and lost 1min 28sec on Chris Froome and almost as much to two-time former winner Alberto Contador.

To compound matters he also suffered a puncture 25km from home but managed to fight his way back.

Colombian Nairo Quintana of the ‘fantastic four’ was also caught out and he remains 18sec behind Nibali.

“We were following (the pace-setters) all day. I was behind (a crash) and I didn’t quite understand what was happening,” said Nibali. “I managed to stay on my bike but I lost some ground there and to compound matters I also punctured.

“It was a question of bad luck, not my legs. That’s cycling, you also have to accept these things.”

Quintana also blamed chance on his being caught out.

“With the rain and the crashes we had a bit of bad luck and we lost a bit of time, but we hope to get that back day by day,” said the 25-year-old Colombian. “But we managed to maintain the team and worked with Astana to avoid losing more time.”

Froome was grateful to teammates Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas for keeping him out of the firing line and ensuring that he is now ahead of all his main rivals for the final victory.

He described his Sky team’s performance as “epic” while praising the “phenomenal” Stannard and Thomas.

“It was great to be up there with G (Thomas) and Yogi (Stannard) at the end. They did a great job in keeping me protected,” said Froome. “This is their playground and the classics style of racing is what they were born to do.

“This is a huge advantage for us now. We’re two days down and I couldn’t have hoped for much more at this point in the race.”

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Andre Greipel wins Tour de France second stage in foul conditions

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Greipel celebrates as he crosses the finishing line.

Mark Cavendish’s wait for a 26th Tour de France stage win goes on after Andre Greipel won a stormy second stage to Zeeland on which favourites Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali suffered setbacks.

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The peloton had been fraught with anxiety about what was to come on the North Sea coast of Holland – and their worries proved well-founded.

Howling winds and wet weather battered the riders on the 166-kilometres route from Utrecht, but Greipel came out on top as Cavendish floundered in the finishing straight to come fourth.

Many hoped the 26th win of Cavendish’s Tour career – which would take him within two of Bernard Hinault’s tally, second only to Eddy Merckx’s 34 – would come in Harrogate, his mother’s hometown, in last year’s race. Instead, he finished crumpled on the Tarmac.

Twelve months to the day since that disappointment, Cavendish suffered another despite being well positioned in the final metres after crosswinds and rain tore apart the peloton.

Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) beat Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek) was third to take the race leader’s yellow jersey courtesy of bonus seconds.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) were well positioned to exploit the mishaps of their major rivals for the maillot jaune in Paris in three weeks’ time.

The pair were part of the 26-rider lead group after Quintana (Movistar) was caught behind an early split and defending champion Nibali (Astana) was stuck behind another, along with stage one winner Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing).

Quintana and Nibali conceded more than one minute to Contador and Froome.

Monday’s 159.5km third stage from Antwerp finishes atop the category three Mur de Huy, where some of the contenders for the overall title could stretch their legs but are unlikely to gain much reward as it is only 200m long.

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