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Tour de France moves mountain stage to end

October 23, 2008|Staff and Wire Reports

If he's looking for a reason to skip the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong now has a big one: Mont Ventoux.

In a break with tradition, the notorious mountain ascent will be featured on the race's next-to-last day in a tradition-busting innovation aimed at keeping the suspense going to the very end.

The seven-time champion was notably absent from Wednesday's unveiling in Paris of the 2009 route. Close friend and team manager Johan Bruyneel did attend and said there's only a "50-50" chance Armstrong will take the Tour start on the Fourth of July.

"For him, the goal of a comeback is not linked to an obsession to win an eighth Tour," Bruyneel said.

This new route for cycling's 106-year-old showcase race will make any victory especially challenging -- even for cyclists such as Armstrong who excel in the mountains.

Ordinarily, the race finishes with a time trial on the next-to-last day, deciding the overall results before what is largely a ceremonial ride into Paris on the last day. Next year, Mont Ventoux will be the 20th of the 21 stages.

After 19 days of racing, the punishing climb on which British rider Tom Simpson died in 1967 promises to test tired legs and minds, and could possibly decide the winner.

SOCCER

Barcelona wins in Champions League

FC Barcelona moved to the verge of a place in the next round of the Champions League with a 5-0 win over FC Basel in Switzerland, and Chelsea and Inter Milan also look set to be there after narrow victories.

Bojan Krkic scored twice for Barcelona and Chelsea captain John Terry scored late to give Chelsea a 1-0 win over AS Roma in London. Inter Milan beat Anorthosis Famagusta, 1-0, in Italy to take control of its group, while PSV Eindhoven, Bordeaux and Sporting Lisbon also won.

Former coach for Poland detained

Poland's former national coach was detained by police in connection with a soccer corruption investigation, a blow to the country co-hosting the 2012 European Championship with Ukraine. Janusz Wojcik was taken into custody at his Warsaw home, national police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said.

Wojcik coached the Polish team that won a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and later led the senior national squad in 1997-99. He was also a member of Poland's parliament in 2005-07.

The Wroclaw prosecutors office began an investigation into possible game-fixing in Polish soccer in 2005.

Federation expels

Mexican team

The Mexican Soccer Federation has expelled a third-division team for alleged ties to drug traffickers.

The federation's national council met late Tuesday night and expelled the Mapaches (Raccoons) of Nueva Italia and their president Fidel Ortega Vargas, two weeks after seven team officials were detained by federal authorities.

The officials were detained at a training facility for Mexico City's America team after a match against another squad. Authorities say America is not involved in the case.

BASEBALL

Mariners hire Zduriencik as GM

The Seattle Mariners hired Milwaukee Brewers special assistant Jack Zduriencik as their general manager.

The 57-year-old Zduriencik replaces Bill Bavasi, who was fired in June, and takes over for interim GM Lee Pelekoudas. Known for his skill in drafting players, Zduriencik worked with Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin.

Zduriencik beat out nine other candidates for the job, including Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng.

ETC.

Blake advances in Swiss tournament

Fourth-seeded James Blake advanced to the second round of the Swiss Indoors in Basel, beating Germany's Nicolas Kiefer, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Fellow American Mardy Fish, seeded eighth, was upset by Feliciano Lopez of Spain, 7-6 (9), 6-4. . . . Julien Benneteau of France upset fifth-seeded Tommy Robredo, 6-2, 6-2, and French wild card Josselin Ouanna defeated Nicolas Lapentti, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, to reach the quarterfinals of the Lyon Grand Prix in France.

Georgia Tech senior guard D'Andre Bell will have season-ending surgery to correct a spinal condition, but he said he hoped to complete his college career in the 2009-10 season. Bell, who started 22 games last season, was diagnosed with a congenital condition known as spinal stenosis. Bell felt numbness in his extremities after he hit his head on a teammate's leg while diving for a ball during a workout on Oct. 10.

St. Louis Blues forward D.J. King will undergo season-ending surgery for a dislocated shoulder. . . . Buffalo Sabres captain Craig Rivet will miss at least two weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery.

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