Wembley winners Wigan goalscorer Ben Watson and manager Roberto Mart nez celebrate winning the FA Cup.
Photograph: Alex Morton/Action Images A wonderful week for Wigan Athletic, who won their first major trophy, beating Manchester City 1-0 in the FA Cup final thanks to a last-minute headed goal from Ben Watson.
They’ll be spinning on their knees in the streets of Wigan all summer provided the cup winners don’t also get relegated.
Their manager, Roberto Mart nez, is also the bookies’ favourite to replace David Moyes at Everton.
Spare a thought too for Roberto Mancini as rumours from Spain suggest last year’s Premier League champion manager will be sacked and replaced by Manuel Pellegrini, 59, a Chilean who has never won a trophy outside South America.
What could possibly go wrong? Alonso slouches to victory The Spanish Grand Prix: a race where brakes squeal, gears crunch, an entire ecosystem-worth of fossil fuel, balaclava helmets and high-end vol-au-vent fillings is consumed and then Fernando Alonso wins.
Actually, last week’s victory at the Circuit de Catalunya was only Alonso’s second, but don’t tell that to the adoringly triumphalist Spanish crowd that cheered him home ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel, who leads the championship by four points.
Thanks to the current obsession with preserving tyres, it was a slightly dull race once again, essentially a battle to see who can go least slow.
“When I see a car behind I let it past because I don’t want to damage my tyres,” Jenson Button said after trundling home in eighth place, but still retaining reasonable hopes of picking up the Shiniest Tyres rosette.
New Root to Ashes England’s cricketers began their warm-up for the impending endless Ashes summer with an opening skirmish against the touring New Zealand team at Leicester.
Captain Joe Root scored 179 as England Lions had the better of a three-day draw, raising a vague possibility of England’s up-and-coming Yorkshireman passing 1,000 runs before the end of May.
There was more good news for England as Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen both look on target for an early Test return.
Pietersen might yet play for Surrey on 12 June.
The ECB have denied it.
But we have, let’s face it, been here before.
Back on top at tennis Rafael Nadal continued his swagger back towards the peak of men’s tennis with his fifth title of 2013, swatting aside Stanislas Wawrinka in the final of the Madrid Open.
The women’s tournament was won by the enduringly invincible Serena Williams, who beat Maria Sharapova for the 13th time in 15 matches to retain her title, her world No 1 spot, and her characteristic sense of swagger.
Bradley Wiggins is fourth in the Giro d’Italia, 1min and 16sec behind the race leader Vincenzo Nibali.
Photograph: Gian Mattia D’Alberto/AP The final phase of the 2013 Giro d’Italia was always going to take Bradley Wiggins into new territory: new climbs, new roads, new challenges.
That is what Wiggins was looking for when he targeted the second most important stage race of the cycling year, but his attacks of the downhill yips in the last seven days bring an old adage to mind: be careful what you wish for.
It has made enthralling viewing but there has been more novelty than he would have wished.
Defining precisely why a professional cyclist might lose his touch on descents is as difficult as explaining a golfer’s yips or a striker’s sudden inability to find the net.
It happens rarely, most famously in the early 1990s; the double world champion Gianni Bugno suffered from it and only rediscovered his “flow” after being made to listen to Mozart to calm his nerves.
Descending a mountain on a bike looks simple to a television viewer when done well, but anyone who has tried it knows the opposite.
The margins are extremely fine.
It takes only a fractional over-application of the brakes on a rainy corner for disaster to strike.
It is a weakness that can be readily exploited.
One champion who attacked his rivals on descents to great effect was Eddy Merckx.
It is also a weakness that, once exposed, is hard to cure overnight.
Wiggins is an experienced downhiller, with 10 years mountain riding behind him and the ability in “reading” the road that brings.
Assuming his tyres are at the pressure they should be and his bike is of the correct design, two variables come into play; physical fitness which affects reaction time and confidence.
Physically Wiggins insists he is in better shape than last year, and he has avoided disaster in the first week to emerge in fourth place, only 1min 16sec behind the race leader Vincenzo Nibali.
He can still win the Giro, but Tuesday’s first really tough mountain-top stage finish and the stages that follow will give an accurate picture of his physical condition.
Here too the margins are fine, and, on top of the cumulative effects of extra kilometres spent chasing the peloton this week, there are a couple of subtle differences compared to last July.
Wiggins’s trainer, Tim Kerrison, has said that squeezing his preparation for the Giro into two months less than he had for last year’s Tour has not been simple.
In addition, Wiggins opted to miss his last altitude training camp in favour of staying in Majorca with his family.
Also, Wiggins went into the 2012 Tour having won three major races.
The Giro, on the other hand, could be his only chance for a major win this year.
That pressure cannot be underestimated and, compared to last year, Wiggins is without several experienced figures who were close to him.
He built a winning relationship with Sky’s former lead directeur sportif Sean Yates, but he has moved on, so too their road captain at the Tour, Michael Rogers.
The abrasive Shane Sutton, his long-time mentor, is no longer a full-time member of Sky, while Mark Cavendish, who left last year, has also had a galvanising influence in the past.
The principle of aggregating marginal gains has brought much to British Cycling and Sky, but it can also apply in reverse: take away a fraction of a per cent or more here and there and it begins to add up.
Wiggins’s Tour de France win was seamless he did not register a single puncture or crash, but it was a close-run thing.
He was not far from getting caught up in both the major pile-ups at Boulogne and Metz which dictated the tone of the first week.
His verdict on the Boulogne stage, in his memoir My Time, makes interesting reading in the light of what he has been through in recent days.
The stage, he wrote, was “a complete scramble” due to crashes and small roads.
He got cold and he did not manage to eat enough due to the stress.
“I had nothing left when we hit the finale.
Without doubt I would have lost time on the others on the climb to the finish …
luckily I was caught behind a crash.” which meant he was credited automatically with the same time as the winner.
That could sum up several days at the 2013 Giro, so it is not surprising it has not suited Wiggins.
He is a cyclist who likes to be in control, who craves what he terms “open road”, where he can forget outside factors and focus on the physical side.
He found his open road, all of a sudden, in the second half of Saturday’s time trial, and there he shone.
Whether the Italian roads will open for him in the next 10 days is a fascinating sporting conundrum.
Tuesday Stage 4: loses 17sec at the finish in wet, cold conditions Thursday Stage 6: gets stuck behind a crash with 32km to go; he and his team chase for 10 kilometres to regain the peloton Friday Stage 7: crashes with 5km to go and loses 1min 24sec on rivals Nibali and Evans Saturday Stage 8: has an early puncture in the time-trial stage; he still finishes second, but gains only 11sec on Nibali and 29sec on Evans Sunday Stage 9: loses about a minute on a lengthy descent; his team have to chase for some 20km to bring him back to the front of the race
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The winning Audi No1 at the Spa 6 Hours, driven by Andr Lotterer, Beno t Tr luyer and Marcel F ssler.
Photograph: Richard White That Audi are fond of numbers seems indisputable.
Indeed as the dominant force in endurance racing for over a decade, it is that most singular and most superior of digits, the number one the win that has become synonymous with the team.
Students of numerology then, may read ominous signs into their comprehensive victory here at the Spa 6 Hours on Saturday, where not only did the marque take a 1-2-3 podium lock-out but did so with their cars in the order: No1, No2, No3.
Yet even disregarding the more ethereal conclusions, as portents go this one was pretty empirical, one might say, even, by the numbers.
As the second round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) this race at Spa is a standalone challenge but also represents the final competitive outing before the season’s highlight, the Le Mans 24 hours in June.
It is of import then, as the final shakedown ahead of the race, as test bed for Le Mans setups and as the final chance for drivers to take bragging rights and confidence into the big race at La Sarthe.
The win then, for the No1 Audi R18 of Andr Lotterer, Beno t Tr luyer and Marcel F ssler, may equally intrigue the number-crunchers as much as anyone studying the form guide.
They were steered to the flag by the race engineer Leena Gade, who has seen this trio of drivers to victory at Le Mans for the past two years.
With this win she and they, had the best possible preparation for bidding to become only the second squad ever to take a back-to-back hat-trick in the 24, Emanuele Pirro, Frank Biela and Tom Kristensen having done so, in an Audi of course the class of its generation, R8, between 2000 and 2002.
Here at Spa, the win was achieved through adversity as well, something else that will not be lost on rivals as the 24 looms.
Having started from the front row of the grid, Lotterer, in the cockpit for the first stint, lost position going wide at La Source and was forced to fight back against both sister cars and this year’s iteration of the Toyota TS030 making its season debut.
Yet more was to come however, as the No1 car then also sustained a slow puncture during a safety car period that necessitated an early pit stop, putting it out of sync and a minute behind the lead at that point contested by Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Lo c Duval (who won the first WEC round at Silverstone), in the No2 R18 and the new No7 Toyota of Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima and Alex Wurz, running in Le Mans spec.
Disappointing practice times had led to concern over the raw speed of the 2013 TS030 but in race pace it proved a match for its rivals that augurs well for a tough battle at the 24.
Reliability may be the focus for the Japanese squad before then, however, as although the 2012 Toyota of Anthony Davidson,’s bastien Buemi and St phane Sarrazin did finish in fourth it was well off the pace and a lap down, the No7 had to retire in the fourth hour after its hybrid system failed causing the brakes to overheat.
The team will be pleased the new car can match the Audis but will be looking to ensure at least a finish in the 24 after not making the flag last year.
Lotterer and his co-drivers, meanwhile, were putting in quick lap after quick lap and with a set up that offered more during the second stint of used rubber than the No2 Minces, Kristensen and Duval car, reeled them in and went past.
By the end they had a 1min 5sec lead over the No2 and 1:54 on the No3 Audi of Marc Gene, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis, who were running a “long-tail’ low downforce spec R18 in preparation for the 24.
“What a race!” Lotterer said.
“I didn’t have a good start but quickly managed to gain an advantage, but then we lost it again due to the safety car period and the puncture.
After that, it was only full throttle for us.
Marcel and Beno t drove brilliantly.
We recovered the loss.
It was one of the nicest victories because it was a hard-fought one.” The win puts the double Le Mans-winning trio just one point ahead of the McNish partnership in the drivers’ world championship going into Le Mans.
“The car was pretty fast in qualifying and in the race.
Unfortunately, for our driver squad, the result was a bit disappointing,” said McNish.
“We weren’t as quick as we’d been at Silverstone, so we’ve got to analyse where we lost time.” Which means looking at the numbers again, something his team appears to revel in on every level.
The Rebellion Racing Lola of Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost took the leading LMP1 privateer spot; Pecom’s Nicolas Minassian, Lu’s P rez Companc and Pierre Kaffer won in LMP2 and the AF Corse Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella triumphed in a hard-fought battle with Aston Martin in GTE Pro.