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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Sport: Totti, Indy, Monty, and Nibali

In the United States of America:  the Indianapolis 500.  The Indianapolis 500 is an automobile race held annually at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana, an enclave suburb of Indianapolis. The event is held over Memorial Day weekend, which is typically the last weekend in May, and annually has the highest attendance of any sporting event in the world. The raceway has a seating capacity of 250,000, and today attendance figures will surge past 300,000.  This year's guests of honor include Vice President Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana.  

The 2017 Indy 500 could live up to last year's 100th running of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, thanks to Formula 1 star, and twice world champion, Fernando Alonso.  He has skipped Monte Carlo this year to  partner with Indycar's Andretti Autosport.  Following impressive speed throughout practice, Alonso secured a fifth-place starting position during last weekend's qualifications.  After a scary scene at the qualifying rounds last week,  with Sebastien Bourdais suffering a broken pelvis and right hip, Sunday's race is still shaping up to be a great one. Bourdais was pacing to take the pole, but after the terrifying wreck, has had to give up his position in Indianapolis this year.  

The first race was run in 1911, and 2017 sees the 101st running of the storied race.  It is part of the "triple crown" of auto racing, one of the other two tiers, the Grand Prix of Monaco, is also run today (see below), the third is the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  500 miles is 200 laps at the course.  3 drivers have won 4 times each, and the team with the most wins overall is Penske, at 16.  

In Monaco:  the Grand Prix of Monaco.  Today a 3.3 kilometer circuit through the streets of Monte Carlo will see the competition of the Grand Prix.  This is the sixth event of the 2017 World competition.  78 rounds are planned in the competition, which equals more than 260,000 kilometers.  

Mercedes-GP arrive in Monaco on a high after Lewis Hamilton’s hard-fought win in Spain to cut Sebastian Vettel’s advantage at the top to six points. The German marque have been the winning team around the tight streets of Monte Carlo the past four years and are bidding to be the first team since McLaren (1988-93) to win the race five times in a row. Hamilton prevailed 12 months ago for his second race win in the principality, the previous one having come in 2008 when he was with McLaren.

Given they are the most successful team in the sport’s history, it is something of a surprise that you have to go back to 2001 for the last time Ferrari won in Monaco, with Michael Schumacher triumphing that day. Sebastian Vettel, despite four world drivers’ titles to his name, has won the race only once, in 2011, but he has been in superb form this season and will be confident that he is well placed to end his team’s drought on Sunday.  Two astounding days of auto racing on the same day... 

In Italy:  The historic hundredth running of the Giro d'Italia wraps up today, with an exciting individual time trial.  It is even more exciting this year, with the top racers all being within a few seconds of each other, and the trial course being long enough to make those differences meaningful.  Dutchman Tom Dumoulin was leading the race until the last few stages, when Colombian Nairo Quintana retook the lead. Yesterday's thrilling win by Frenchman Thibaut Pinot changed the race standings.  Quintana wears the pink leader’s jersey after the last mountain stage, but breathing down his neck are three men: the defending champion, Italian Vincenzo Nibali, Pinot and Dumoulin. Respectively, the trio are 39, 43 and 53 seconds behind Quintana.  Two others are also, in the running, 

Russian Ilnur Zakarin and the Italian Domenico Pozzovivo, who are 1min 15sec and 1min 30sec back.  Today's thrilling final stage may be the closest finish in any Grand Tour in history, 8 seconds being Greg LeMond's Tour de France cushion in 1988.  Dumoulin has been considered a time trial specialist until this year, so the flat 29.3km from the Monza race track to Milan’s Duomo is just his cup of tea.  More than three weeks on the road, however, can change a man, so the finalists, all riding under that fatigue, are unpredictable.  Pay attention for a fine Milan finish! 

In Italian Soccer:  Roma wraps up its season today, which also means the last regularly scheduled game for storied player Totti. Since the administration announced his retirement, Totti has refused to comment, preferring instead to reserve participation in the circus until after the season end.  This last game in the Olympic Stadium for the season, however, has been sold out for weeks, and the silent Totti may find himself in the midst of his own glorification at today's game.   

Then again, he could play a Brett Favre.  When the administration of the Green Bay Packers American Football team unceremoniously forced him into retirement,  after faithful, lifelong service, yet unwilling to end his football playing days, he did the unthinkable and signed with two successive team, playing well for other teams well into his forties.  Perhaps Totti is next to be signed by Real Madrid, or cross-town rivals Lazio.  Probably, though, he will probably valiantly accede to what has been forced upon him and join next year's Roma management team. 


Xersex said...

Thanks for the tribute to Totti!

Today Giro d'Italia ends in Milan, my city!

Xersex said...

Nibali didn't win it!

Gary Jacobsen said...

It's good news for my country (the Netherlands) that one of us won the Giro. Please post some pictures of Tom Dumoulin. He is such a hot guy. And wearing his cycling shorts.