Estonia’s Rein Taaramae has made a promising start to the 2011 Tour de France, finishing the opening stage in eighth position in a time of four hours, 41 minutes and 37 seconds, a mere six seconds behind pre-stage favorite Philippe Gilbert of Belgium who went on to win the stage. It was a tumultuous first day that included a number of accidents, but Taaramae was able to avoid the worst, being one of only 27 riders to avoid being caught up in a mass pile-up a mere nine kilometers from the end of the 191.5 kilometer stage. Taaramae’s position in the race has subsequently dropped back following a disappointing team time trial on Sunday. However, with the opening stages likely to finish in mass sprints, Taaramae will be confident of remaining in contact with race leaders. The Lithuanian pairing of Ramunas Navardauskas and Tomas Vaitkus already find themselves positioned at the rear of the 198 rider field.
Baltic tennis player’s world rankings continue to plummet as they continue to flop in the early rounds of tournaments. Following their first round exits in Wimbledon a fortnight ago, Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis and Anastasija Sevastova, along with Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, would not have enjoyed reading the latest rankings when they were released at the beginning of the week. The rankings read particularly badly for Kanepi, whose bad run of form now sees her drop outside the world’s top 20, going from 17th position to 26th. Sevastova also needs to begin winning, with her latest ranking of 51 seeing her drop out of the top 50 for the first time this season. Gulbis’ ranking has been in a downward spiral for near on six months now and does not look like turning a corner anytime soon as he tumbled a further four rungs down the ladder to 79th – this after beginning the season on the verge of the world top 20. None of the three players are in action this week, while Lithuanian Richard Berankis is still to return following a long layoff from injury.
The man allegedly behind the fixing of Latvia and Estonia’s friendly football matches against Bolivia and Bulgaria, respectively, in February has been nabbed by Hungarian police authorities, according to Bulgarian news Web site, novoinvite.com. The accused, Zoltan Kenessey, is himself a former professional football player with the charges against him alleging he convinced the referee to manipulate the games. Both of the un-televised games ended in suspicious circumstances, with all seven goals across the two games coming from the penalty spot. Following the matches, an international investigation was conducted by Interpol to get to the bottom of the scandal. The sports agency, Singapore based Footy Sport International, also remains under investigation.