Today was the day of the second stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, a race held in the area around the Spanish city Valencia. The second stage started in Borriol, a bit north of Valencia, whereas the finish was in Villarreal. The cyclists had to cover a distance of 100 km exact during today's stage.
Yesterday's winner Ruth Winder (CQ Ranking 41) started in the leader's jersey. She managed to stay just ahead of the peloton in yesterday's sprint. The small, but tough climb at the end of the stage, approximately 10 km before the finish, was the main reason for that happening. If that climb wasn't there, then most likely those two seconds that Winder had left at the finish would not have been there anymore.
As today's stage did not have such a climb at such a short distance from the finish, it was very likely that today's race would end up in a mass sprint. The teams with the best sprinters managed to keep the bunch together, and didn't allow any rider to leave the pack throughout the race. Until, awkwardly enough they approached the 10 km mark. Suddenly there was an attack by a lone rider. It turned out to be French cyclist Noémi Abgrall (no CQ Ranking), a young talent of only 19 years old.
Abgrall's lead increased and the teams of the sprinters were getting nervous. What happened yesterday should not happen again today. They should put everything else aside and they had to make sure to catch up on Abgrall. This time they succeeded and with just a few kilometers left, it was now sure that the race would indeed end up in a mass sprint. Finnish rider Lotta Lepistö (CQ Ranking 38) was the fastest ahead of Maria Giulia Confalonieri (CQ 33) and Elena Cecchini (CQ 30), both from Italy.
As there were no differences in time at the finish line Ruth Winder remains the leader in the race, whereas Soraya Paladin (CQ 83) leads the mountain classification. For Lepistö it was the second race win of 2019 and the second win for her new team Trek-Segafredo.
The Judo Grand Slam is taking place in the German city Düsseldorf this week. Today the medals were awarded in three categories already. When someone is talking about judo, then he, or she is also talking about Japan. Athletes from Japan are and will always be among the better competitors in the sport. Funa Tonaki is from Japan, and she is a former world champion under 48 kg. Former, because she won that title in 2017, aged 21. People were expecting her to have a great career and well, being the world champion at that age, she would also be the favorite for the gold medal for the 2020 Summer Olympics in her own country.
However, at the 2018 World Championships she was suddenly beaten by a super talent from Ukraine, Daria Bilodid. That made Bilodid the youngest ever world champion in judo at just 17 years old. That final was the first time they met, meanwhile they have met another two times, and Bilodid won on all three occasions. This must concern not only Tonaki herself, but the entire nation, as an almost certain gold medal may not be that certain anymore.
With Bilodid absent in Düsseldorf it was a great moment for Tonaki to shine, and she did. She went all the way into the final and won the final of the Grand Slam against Kang Yu-jeong from South Korea with ippon, the maximum score. Bronze medals in this category were awarded to Catarina Costa from Portugal, who defeated Laura Martinez Abelanda in their bronze medal contest, as well as to Brazilian judoka Nathalia Brigida, who won her match against Katharina Menz of Germany.
Olympic champion under 52 kg Majlinda Kelmendi from Kosova won her sixth Grand Slam title of her career. In the final in Düsseldorf, she was too strong for Sosorbaram Lkhagvasuren of Mongolia, who is only 17 years old. The first bronze medal was awarded to Odette Giuffrida after she won her bronze medal contest against Yulia Kazarina of Russia. The oher bronze medal was for Chishima Maeda, as she won her contest against Jeong Bok-yeong of South Korea, the silver medallist of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The final category was the under 57 kg class, in which it was back at Japan. Current world champion Tsukasa Yoshida defeated reigning Olympic champion Rafaela Silva. It was Yoshida's seventh gold medal in a Grand Slam event. The first bronze medal match was between Sumiya Dorjsuren (Mongolia) and Anna Borowska (Poland). The Mongolian judoka was the strongest in this contest, which won her the medal. Sarah Leonie Cysique from France was also awarded a bronze medal, as she managed to beat German judoka Theresa Stoll to the disappointment of the home crowd.
In the beginning of January 2019, a day after she won the Nations Cup event on the same track, luger Viktoria Demchenko crashed heavily during the World Cup race in Königssee. She lost the control over her sled and crashed hard on the ice, becoming unconscious. The race was interrupted and she was brought into the hospital with urge. The next day it was reported that everything was fine and that she should be back in competition shortly. She skipped the next World Cup race in Sigulda, but was present during the World Championships, only finishing in 13th place.
In the next race however, another Nations Cup race, this time in Altenberg she did not only participate, but she won the race as well. She then also won a bronze medal during the World Cup event there, as well as another gold medal at the Nations Cup race in Oberhof. The tragic crash was very unfortunate, but it seems like it has not changed her confidence in racing, and it has not taken her that long to get back on track.
Today Demchenko added another win to her tally during the Nations Cup race in Sochi, in her home country. She finished ahead of another Russian, Ekaterina Katnikova, who took the silver medal away from Romanian Raluca Stramaturaru. Stramaturaru on the other hand avoided a completely Russian podium, as she managed to stay just ahead of Olesya Mikhaylenko.
The Hungarian Ladies Open in tennis, or the Budapest Open has reached the quarter finals and in these matches first seed Alison Van Uytvanck lost the first set against Kateryna Kozlova, but still won the match and qualified for the semi finals. Ekaterina Andronova (5th seed) won against 3rd seeded Pauline Parmentier in two easy sets. Anastasia Potapova (unseeded) and Marketa Vondrousova (8th seed) needed three sets, but managed to qualify for the semi finals in the end. Both defeated a Romanian player, Potapova won against Sorana Cirstea, whereas Vondrousova was too good for Irina-Camelia Begu today.
At the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships we now know who are the finalists. Belinda Bencic won the first set against Elina Svitolina easily with 6-2, but couldn't repeat that in the second set. Svitolina won that one with 6-3, after which a final and decisive set had to be played. At 6-6 the match was still not decided after which Bencic showed the better nerves in the tie-break and secured her spot in the final. A similar situation occurred in the other semi final. The exception here was that not the favorite took the first set, but the underdog. Su-Wei Hsieh took ik with 6-3 and Petra Kvitova knew she had to lift up her performance. She was highly motivated and determined in the second and third set, winning them with 6-2 and 6-4 to book her spot in the final.