15 Jan 2020

Today's sports news: what you need to know

4:18 pm on 15 January 2020

Latest - Defending champion Aaron Gate of Cambridge has won the opening stage of the New Zealand Cycle Classic in the Wairarapa.

Aaron Gate has grabbed the tour leader's yellow jersey.

Aaron Gate Photo: James Jubb/Envious Photography

Gate, who in recent times has focused his cycling on the track, won a sprint finish into Masterton at the end of the 122km stage.

The Black Spoke team member finished ahead of Australian Jensen Plowright with another New Zealander Dylan Kennett third.

Gate thanked his teammates for executing a perfect leadout in the final kilometre.

"I know it sounds like a cliche, but I would not have been able to do it without the guys. That clear cut (strategy) was awesome and they did it perfectly for me," he said.

"The boys led it up from the bottom of the corner and I did the last 200m ... job done."

Tomorrow's 121km second stage starts and finishes in Masterton, taking the riders out into the Gladstone region.

Coll beaten, win for King

The New Zealand squash player Paul Coll has been beaten by world number one Ali Farag of Egypt in the quarter-finals of the Tournament of Champions in New York.

Kiwi squash pro Paul Coll.

Paul Coll Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Coll lost the first two games before fighting back against the defending champion only to lose 3-2.

Fifth ranked Coll had only ever defeated Farag once in his career before.

Meanwhile fellow New Zealander Joelle King was forced to come from a game down to beat India's Joshna Chinappa to secure her place in the last eight.

"She beat me the last time we played in San Francisco," said King. "You can either turn into a good motivation or a bad one, so today I just wanted to play good squash. Even my first match here, that's kind of what the theme of the tournament is, to try and get back to my best, maybe even better.

"I'm just happy that mentally I was really strong there and she was hanging in there and it wasn't until the last game that I really got away from her.

King will face Egypt's World No.14 Salma Hany for a place in the semi-finals.

Sox sack Cora

The Boston Red Sox have parted ways with manager Alex Cora in the wake of a sign-stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros, where Cora had been the bench coach, during their World Series-winning 2017 season.

Alex Cora with the Houston Astros

Alex Cora Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Earlier this week the Astros fired both manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow for their roles in the scandal after Major League Baseball imposed one-year bans on each.

In its judgment, the league said Cora had arranged for the installation of a monitor showing centerfield camera shots, giving players the ability to decipher the signs and alert batters.

The Red Sox said it would not be possible for Cora to remain with the team given the league's findings.

In his first season in charge Cora led the Red Sox to the World Series in 2018.

He could still face punishment from MLB stemming from his actions with the Astros and the Red Sox.

Spurs move thru in FA Cup

Tottenham's Hotspur's Argentine midfield duo Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela both scored as Jose Mourinho's side edged past Middlesbrough 2-1 in their FA Cup third-round replay.

Erik Lamela of Tottenham Hotspur.

Erik Lamela Photo: PHOTOSPORT

In eight-times winners Tottenham's first FA Cup tie at their new stadium, Lo Celso slotted them in front after two minutes before Lamela doubled the lead in the 15th minute.

Second-tier Middlesbrough made it an anxious final few minutes for the hosts as George Saville's low shot halved the deficit in the 83rd minute but Tottenham survived for a first win in five games to set up a fourth-round trip to Southampton.

Newcastle United strolled past third-tier Rochdale, winning 4-1 at St James' Park.

Newcastle will face third-tier opponents again in round four in the shape of Oxford United.

Third-tier Shrewsbury Town set up a dream fourth-round tie against Liverpool as they sprang something of a surprise by knocking out Championship club Bristol City 1-0.

Former winners Coventry City, who have fallen on hard times, beat Bristol Rovers 3-0 in their replay to set up a 'home' tie with Birmingham City at Birmingham's St Andrews ground where they are currently tenants.

Second tier Reading won 2-0 at Blackpool.

Tranmere Rovers' replay at home to top-flight Watford was postponed after heavy rain left the pitch waterlogged.


LPGA Tour starts with more money

The LPGA Tour season starts this week, launching a year which will see the world's best women golfers compete for $113 million in prize money -- a record but still a pittance compared to what their male counterparts will play for on the PGA Tour.

CARLSBAD, CA - MARCH 31: Lydia Ko during the fnal round of the Kia Classic at Aviara Golf Club on March 31, 2019  in Carlsbad, California. (Photo by Alan Smith/Icon Sportswire)

Lydia Ko Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

The LPGA purses -- an average of more than $3 million per event over the 33 official-money tournaments -- are nothing to scoff at, even if they are not comparable to the men.

Total prize money on the PGA Tour will be more than $600 million, including bonus money for the season-long FedEx Cup points race.

New Zealander Lydia Ko isn't part of an elite 26-woman field at the Tournament of Champions in Orlando this week.

The field is restricted to winners over the last two years.


Dakar Rally closes up

Defending champion Nasser Al Attiyah slashed Carlos Sainz's Dakar Rally lead to 24 seconds in the car category on Tuesday, while motorcycle riders returned battling their emotions as well as the tough terrain after a fatal crash at the weekend.

Spain's Carlos Sainz Mini John Cooper Works Buggy in Dakar Rally.

Carlos Sainz Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Qatar's Al Attiyah, driving a Toyota, finished second behind French 13 times winner Stephane Peterhansel in the 410km ninth special stage from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh in the Saudi Arabian desert.

Two-times winner Sainz, who had led by more than six minutes at the overnight bivouac, was fifth in his Mini buggy.

Peterhansel thrust himself back into the overall reckoning, now six and a half minutes off the lead after his third stage win of the 2020 event.

Three days remain in the endurance event, being held in the Middle East for the first time.

Chilean Pablo Quintanilla was the motorcycle stage winner after Monday's timed action was cancelled following the death on Sunday of Portuguese veteran Paulo Goncalves.

- Reuters

Pakistan to host more cricket Tests

Bangladesh have agreed to play three Twenty20 internationals, two tests and a one-day international in Pakistan, but with the series split into three to allay security concerns, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said.

Shakib Al Hasan had a leading hand in Bangladesh's latest win.

Shakib Al Hasan had a leading hand in Bangladesh's latest win. Photo: Photosport

Tests against Sri Lanka last month in Rawalpindi and Karachi were Pakistan's first on home soil since a militant attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore in 2009.

Last month, Bangladesh agreed to play T20 matches in Pakistan but said tests would have to be played at a neutral venue because of security concerns.

In the revised arrangement, Bangladesh will play three T20s in Lahore between January 24 and 27, then return to Pakistan for a test match starting on February 7 in Rawalpindi that will be a part of the ICC World Championship.

After the Pakistan Super League concludes in March, Bangladesh will play an ODI in Karachi on April 3, with the second test starting two days later at the same venue.


Top tennis player tested in Grand Slam warmup

World number one tennis player Ash Barty was staring at a second consecutive first-round exit from Australian Open warmup events before grinding out a 4-6 6-3 7-5 win over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Adelaide International.

Ashley Barty celebrates with French Open trophy.

Ash Barty Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Beaten by American Jennifer Brady in her Brisbane International opener last week, the Australian arrived at Memorial Drive looking to build confidence ahead of the season's opening Grand Slam but was quickly on the back foot.

The 23-year-old dropped the opening set to Pavlyuchenkova before winning the second and storming to a 5-2 lead in the third, only to let the Russian claw back to 5-5.

Barty regained her composure, however, and broke Pavlyuchenkova before closing out a the match in steamy conditions.

The Australian will meet the winner of the match between compatriot and qualifier Arina Rodionova and eighth seed Marketa Vondrousova, who lost to Barty in the final of last year's French Open.


Record-breaking night for OKC Thunder guard

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander produced his first career triple-double, finishing with 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 117-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder's second-year guard, hadn't pulled down more than 10 rebounds in any of his first 121 career games.

At age 21 and 185 days, he is the youngest player ever with 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game (topping a mark held by Maurice Stokes since 1956), and he is the youngest with a 20-rebound triple-double (breaking a mark set by Shaquille O'Neal in 1993).

The Thunder with New Zealand's Steven Adams posted their 12th win in 15 games, while the Timberwolves fell for the third time in four games.

WNBA increase pay and improve conditions

The Women's National Basketball Association and its players' union reached a tentative eight-year labour deal that for the first time will see the average annual compensation for players hit six figures.

The agreement, which commences with the 2020 season and runs through 2027, will see players earn an average of $130,000 and allow women to collect a full salary while on maternity leave.

Under the new agreement the WNBA's top players will be able to earn more than $500,000, which more than triples the existing maximum compensation.

Players with children will be provided with two-bedroom apartments as well as comfortable, safe and private place at work for nursing.

The deal includes improvements to travel, which means players will receive premium economy airline tickets and individual hotel rooms for road games.


F1 driver told off for skydiving

Ferrari Formula One driver Charles Leclerc has revealed that he upset the Italian team by skydiving at the end of last season without their permission.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Monegasque, winner of two races in his first season with the sport's most glamorous and successful team, last month posted a picture to his 2.6 million Instagram followers after his first tandem dive.

"What an amazing experience. Jumping alone is next on the list," he said in the caption. The post was dated a day after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The 22-year-old revealed that Ferrari had been less than happy.

"I just told myself that in case it will go wrong I will not be here to be told off. So, yeah, I just went for it, and then they were a little bit upset," he said.

"At the end, I won't do it a second time. It was amazing. But it was just to do it once."

Off-season injuries are not uncommon in Formula One. Former Red Bull driver Mark Webber broke a leg in a cycling accident in Tasmania ahead of the 2008 season.