This morning, the British cyclist Simon Yates won the Vuelta a Espana grand tour. That event capped off a wonderful summer of sport — in cycling and cricket, at least — for British fans.
Yates majestic victory in the Tour of Spain meant that all three of cycling’s Grand Tours — Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and the Vuelta — were won by British riders in 2018; and that three different riders (Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Simon Yates) accomplished this shows the depth of British cycling these days. Six of the last seven Tours de France have been won by Brits (Wiggins, Froome & Thomas), while Froome and Yates have taken the Spanish title for the last two years. This is a level of dominance at the top by one country that we haven’t seen for a while.
Now, for the fall, we look forward to the World Championships.
Last week also saw the last cricket Test Match to be played in England this year. England played five Tests against India and won the series 4 games to 1. Earlier in the summer a 2-Test series against Pakistan was drawn 1-1. I love our team right now — they are unpredictable and exciting; sometimes they collapse in a heap, sometimes they reach the pinnacles of the sport, but they are finding ways to win. And many of them are young. With the last ball of the last Test, England’s James Anderson took his 564th Test wicket, making him the greatest fast bowler in the history of the game.
In October and November, England tour Sri Lanka, including 3 Tests. In January, England travel to the West Indies to play a full series of 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 3 T20Is. That’ll be a good winter’s viewing.
Sumo has been especially interesting this summer. There are now a number of YouTube channels that feature all the day’s bouts which we can stream while we have breakfast instead of staying up until 2 each morning. That helps. More importantly, the upper ranks of sumo seems to be undergoing a periodic renewal, with older rikishi fading away and bright newcomers (such as Endo, Mitakeoumi, and Abi) moving up the ranks. In fact, the young Mitakeumi won the last tournament in July. But, it has to be said, that was partly because the three yokozuna (or “grand champions”) failed to show up: Kisenasato and Hakuho deliberately sat out, while Kakuryu was injured early on). But the hesitations of the yokozuna have made the tournaments (or basho) a lot more open and interesting.
We are now half-way through the September basho. All three yokozuna showed up, and two of them are currently leading.
I haven’t seen much boxing this year, but I did manage to catch the magnificent World Middleweight title fight last night in which Canelo Alvarez barely beat Gennady Golovkin to take the title. Skilful scientific boxing from both instead of the brawling we often get these days.
Finally, I caught the second half of the rugby game between the All Blacks and South Africa a day or so ago. It was an historic win for the Springboks and, more importantly, allows all us others to believe that the All Blacks are not invincible. It makes the northern hemisphere Test season something to look forward to.