Cyclists warned about blocking

BALLARAT – Australian road cycling championships boss John Craven has warned against ”blocking” tactics in the weekend’s bumper races, warning riders face disqualification.
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Technically, the men’s and women’s elite road races at the national titles are individual events and collusion is banned.

But road racing is essentially a team sport and the new Australian GreenEDGE squad will have a massive presence in today’s 102 kilometre race for women and the men’s elite 162km race tomorrow.

There will be much smaller teams outside the men’s GreenEDGE team and the women’s GreenEDGE-AIS squad and riders will clearly form alliances in a bid to combat the new ”super team”.

GreenEDGE will have 16 entries in the men’s elite field of about 150.

GreenEDGE’s presence adds an intriguing new element and Craven predicts the men’s event will be one of the best road races in Australian cycling history.

”It’s the responsibility of the chief commissaire and his deputies to make sure the race is run fairly and with integrity,” race director Craven said.

`”Any unfair tactics, such as blocking, will, I am sure, be dealt with severely.”

Craven said it was practically impossible to stop riders working with each other, regardless of whether they were wearing the same jersey.

”It’s more than a grey area – in a lot of cases, it’s an unidentifiable area,” he said.

But some of Australia’s top commissaires, including chief judge Peter Tomlinson, will be in charge of the weekend’s road races and Craven strongly backed their ability to officiate properly.

The biggest potential concern for Craven is blocking, where riders impede opponents who are trying to chase down a break.

”I have absolute confidence in the commissaire’s panel to deal with any situation as it arises and they will do it with commonsense and integrity,” he said.

New GreenEDGE recruit Alexis Rhodes will defend her national road race title today, two days after winning her fourth national criterium championship.

It was her first race since surgery last July, but she blasted away from the field for an outstanding solo win.

”Obviously there’s a bit of form there,” she said.

”Defending champion, everyone is going to be watching me and I did show my cards on Thursday, which wasn’t really part of the plan.

”The good thing is, while I may or may not win it, I have some pretty good teammates.”

The men’s under-23 122.4km road race will start at 9.30am today, followed by the women’s event from 1.30pm.

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Thief targets cancer charity

Deborah De Williams and dog Molly with Running Pink collection buckets similar to those that were stolen. Picture: SCOTT GELSTONBREAST cancer survivor Deborah De Williams is outraged that a woman has stolen funds raised for people dealing with breast cancer.
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Ms De Williams dispatched 10 donation tins to Launceston businesses late last year to raise funds for her charity, Running Pink.

However, when she went to collect the tins, she found many had already been taken by a woman posing to assist the charity.

Ms De Williams said the woman – described as middle-aged, medium height and with dark hair – had flashed a driver’s licence to shop assistants and pretended she was friends with Ms De Williams before taking off with the tins and money.

It is estimated the four stolen tins contained more than $1500 in total.

“What upsets me the most is that she’s a female taking from other women,” Ms De Williams said.

All funds raised through Running Pink are donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation to assist with its research and survivor programs.

For Ms De Williams, the theft is disheartening as she knows what it’s like to deal with the life-threatening disease after being diagnosed with it in 2006.

She said the funds were vital to help people who had gone through the disease and to assist in research.

“Running Pink is about helping women gain back self-esteem and self-confidence and giving them inspiration to go forward after breast cancer,” she said.

“I’m a survivor so I know what it’s like. It’s something that changes your life. It’s very personal and dramatic. You’re never the same.”

She said it was hurtful that a woman would stoop to such a low level.

“I want to see this woman who has taken the money from the other women and say to her, I hope you never get breast cancer, because it’s a terrible disease that affects your physical and emotional well-being for a very long time.”

Ms De Williams has reported the theft to the police.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Launceston CIB on 6336 3915 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Kade in pole position for All Stars selection

Kade Snowden is the Knights’ top pick so far for the All Stars match. – Picture by Simone De PeakKNIGHTS ‘‘big three’’ Kurt Gidley, Aku Uate and Darius Boyd are unavailable for the NRL All Stars game in February, leaving former NSW and Australian prop Kade Snowden as the club’s most popular player in the final days of preliminary voting.
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Gidley represented the Knights in the first two All Stars games. He was voted in by the public for the inaugural match in 2010 and was one of coach Wayne Bennett’s two selections this year.

Uate was voted in as the Knights’ representative this year and, as a NSW and Australian player and two-time Dally M winger of the year, would have been a runaway pick for the game against the Indigenous All Stars at Skilled Park on February 4 if available.

But the Fijian-born flyer underwent minor surgery on his knee late last month and he and Gidley, who had clean-up operations on his ankle and knee in October which ruled him out of the Four Nations tour, are yet to begin full pre-season training.

Boyd, who like Uate represented Australia in the Four Nations tournament in the United Kingdom last month, was excused from summer conditioning with his new Newcastle teammates until they returned from their Christmas break on January 2.

Gidley suffered a knee injury when tackled by former Knights teammate Cory Paterson in the inaugural All Stars game and missed the first five rounds of the NRL season.

Snowden and former Queensland forward Neville Costigan are leading the Newcastle voting, ahead of Chris Houston, Junior Sa’u, Jarrod Mullen and Wes Naiqama.

Former Knights captain Danny Buderus, who has recently been added to the voting list, could make a late surge this week to challenge Snowden and Costigan as the club’s two forwards.

If there is no change to the current order by midnight Friday, Snowden and Costigan (forwards) and Sa’u and Mullen (backs) will be the four Newcastle players on the final short list of 64.

A Belmont North junior who captained the Knights to an SGBall (under-18) premiership and Jersey Flegg (under-20) grand final, Snowden has rejoined the Knights after spending the past four seasons at Cronulla, from where he represented NSW and Australia.

The 24-year-old former Australian Schoolboys skipper must still prove he has overcome a bulging disc in his neck. If he struggles with contact drills at training next month he may have surgery which could delay his start to next season.

Online stage-one voting at www.nrl南京夜网.au/allstars closes at 11.59pm on Friday, and the top two forwards and backs from each club will form a final short list of 64 players.

Bennett, who took the reins at the Knights three weeks ago and is preparing for his third game as NRL All Stars coach, will then classify them into positions for final selections.

Stage-two voting will be held from December 27 until January 18, allowing the public to choose one player from each club. Those 16 will join New Zealand Test captain Benji Marshall, who will lead the NRL All Stars, interim Australian captain Cameron Smith, and two ‘‘coach’s picks’’ in the final 20-man squad.

The Knights do not have an Indigenous All Stars representative.

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Call for Mubarak to hang

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is facing trial for the death of protesters.CAIRO – Prosecutors have called for Hosni Mubarak to be hanged, saying he bears full responsibility for the killing of protesters during the uprising against him, in a courtroom moment unthinkable only a year ago when Egypt’s longtime leader held unquestioned power.
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The demand for the death penalty at the 83-year-old former president’s trial played to the widespread resentment of Mr Mubarak among Egyptians who hoped that punishment for his oppressive rule would be fruit of the Arab Spring.

Still, some of the activists who helped topple him are sceptical the sentence would ever be carried out, if he is convicted.

A conviction would be followed by a possibly lengthy appeals process that the ailing Mr Mubarak’s lawyer would likely draw out, and Egypt’s new rulers – the military – have the power to veto a death sentence.

Mr Mubarak has been brought to every hearing since his trial began on August 3 on a hospital gurney, wheeled into the courtroom cage where defendants are held, alongside his two sons, former security chief and six top police commanders.

Yesterday, prosecutor Mustafa Khater gave a passionate speech demanding the death penalty for Mr Mubarak, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and four of the police commanders.

They are charged with complicity in the deaths of some 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising that led to Mr Mubarak’s fall on February 11.

“Retribution is the solution. Any fair judge must issue a death sentence for these defendants,” said Mr Khater, one of five prosecutors in the case.

“We feel the spirits of the martyrs flying over this hall of sacred justice, and those who lost their sight by the bullets of the defendants are stumbling around it to reach the judge and demand fair retribution from those who attacked them,” he said.

“The nation and the people are awaiting a word of justice and righteousness.”

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Green turning focus to improved putting

HIT AND MISS: Nathan Green in action during the Australian Masters at Victoria Golf Club.NATHAN Green will reassess his putting style for next year’s US PGA Tour after his form on the greens cost him a chance of winning the Australian Masters on Sunday at the Victoria Golf Club.
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The Toronto touring professional was equal third at nine under par, four shots behind 54-hole leader Geoff Ogilvy and two adrift of eventual winner Ian Poulter, going into the final round.

But eight bogeys on Sunday ruined his winning chances and he finished equal ninth with a five-under total of 279 – 10 shots behind Poulter.

‘‘I still finished top 10 but I felt going into the last round that if I played the way I had been I was a chance, but it depended on what the top guys did and Ian had an unbelievable round,’’ Green said.

‘‘The first two rounds I was doing it pretty cruisy and hitting them solid.

‘‘I had seven or eight three-putts for the week, which isn’t good, but I gave myself opportunities and my attitude was good until the last seven or eight holes when I ran out of steam.’’

It is the high number of three-putts which is Green’s main concern heading into the Christmas break.

This season Green has switched mid-tournament between a normal and cross-handed putting grip, and he did so again at the Masters.

‘‘I putt decent cross-handed, so if I feel a bit nervous I can change and it doesn’t affect me a great deal,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d prefer to putt normal handed, but sometimes it doesn’t feel too solid. I’m going to have a look over the next couple of weeks before I head back to work out what method or what I’m going to use.

‘‘I’ll have to persist with what I’m doing or try something different.’’

The cross-handed grip allows your shoulders to line up square with the target, but has an uncomfortable feel.

Green has always used a short putter but said he was open to trialling a belly putter or a long putter, which Australian Adam Scott has switched to with success.

Today Green will line up at Cypress Lakes for the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic.

His celebrity partner at the annual social charity event will be Channel Nine sports presenter Tim Gilbert.

‘‘It’s a bit of wind down and I’ve only played at one tournament in Australia this year so I haven’t really caught up with many of the people there,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s like a Christmas party for golfers.

‘‘I came through the Jack Newton Junior Golf program, so it’s always something I’m happy to come back for.’’

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