Monday, July 28, 2008

Mon July 28: Tour de France, Beach Soccer, Arena Football, Volleyball and Cricket

So I figured it would be easier to post after this crazy weekend was over rather than write a blog post right in the middle of it. Let's take a look back at what has been a sports weekend that appealed to the fans of these cult sports.

Tour De France Brings In Another Champion From Spain
Spain has had an unbelievable summer in sports this year. After the country's national soccer team captured the European title and Rafael Nadal took down the king of tennis at Wimbledon, Spain has yet another reason to celebrate. Carlos Sastre finally captured his first Tour de France after finishing in the top ten in five of the last six years.

It is the third consecutive year that a Spanish rider won the tour. However, the last two years have been marred with doping controversies. In 2006, Floyd Landis was the apparent winner, but after he was found guilty of doping, Oscar Pereiro was given the title. Last year's Tour was filled with controversies and eventually led to Alberto Contador's win.

This year hasn't seen as many controversies as last year although what was apparent this year was the rigorous testing done by the French Anti-Doping Agency, rather than the governing body of cycling, International Cycling Union. Four riders tested positive for doping this year and an entire cycling team withdrew after one of those riders were expelled from the race.

For Australian Cadel Evans, it was the second straight year that he finished in second place. After finishing in the highest position that any Australian rider has ever accomplished, he was expected to overtake Sastre in Saturday's time trial. While a podium finish in the overall standings of the Tour is an amazing accomplishment in itself, no doubt that Evans has his eyes set on the big prize next year.

What many of these riders have their eyes on now is a medal in Beijing. The men's road race will happen on August 9, the first day of competition, and it will surely be historic as the world's top cyclists race through the streets of Beijing.

Philadelphia Wins Their First Arena Bowl
It was interesting to watch the championship game of the Arena Football League yesterday. Not only did it remind me that the real football season is not far away, but it was a great, high-scoring summer diversion.

Funny to hear the commentators compare the San Jose Sabercats, winners of three ArenaBowl championships since 2002, to the New England Patriots and compare San Jose quarterback Mark Grieb to Tom Brady.

And since San Jose lost, I guess they should compare Philadelphia to the New York Giants. It's Philadelphia's first AFL Championship in franchise history and they did it in thrilling fashion, holding off the Sabercats in the final seconds to win 59-56. It's just the nature of arena football, where multiple touchdowns can be scored in seconds. The Sabercats almost erased a 17-point deficit but came three points short.

So congrats to Bon Jovi and his Philadelphia Soul for winning Arena Bowl XXII. Sometimes I wish I watched more of the Arena Football season.

Brazil Wins Beach Soccer World Cup
Though this was the first year that the Beach Soccer World Cup took place outside of Brazil, it did not end the Brazil's reign on beach soccer championships. The Brazilians won their third straight championship after defeating Italy, 5-3, in the championship game in Marseilles, France.

United States Wins Volleyball World League Title
After upsetting the favored Brazilians in straight sets, the American men looked finally tuned for Beijing after winning the FIVB World League title yesterday. The United States defeated Serbia in four sets (26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22 ) and Brazil fell to fourth place after losing the third-place match to Russia in four sets.

Middlesex Win Thrilling Twenty20 Cup Final
Cricket can get exciting if it comes down to the last bowl. And that's exactly what happened in the Twenty20 Cup final at the Rose Bowl.

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