Sports

It began in a blaze of British hubris. But three weeks later, as the Tour de France heads to the finish line on the Champs Elysees, the Brits have sunk without trace and the race has instead seen a striking renaissance of French cycling. 

By Gideon Rachman
Germany has a habit of winning the World Cup at symbolic moments. Victory in 1954 – captured in the film, The Miracle of Bern – allowed Germans a moment of pride and redemption after defeat and disgrace in 1945. A second victory in 1974 went to a West Germany whose “economic miracle” had, by then, allowed it to regain its status as one of the world’s most advanced nations. Victory in 1990, just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, caught the joy and potential of a soon-to-be united Germany.

By Gideon Rachman
Two national tragedies struck Brazil late last week. In the city of Belo Horizonte, an overpass collapsed, killing two people. The following day, Brazil played Colombia in the quarter final of the World Cup. Brazil won the match – but Neymar, the team’s star and national posterboy, suffered a back injury that will keep him out of the rest of the tournament.

Every World Cup needs a villain, and Uruguay’s Luis Suárez must have been the pre-tournament bookmakers’ favourite to fill the role. Now he has obliged, for the second World Cup running. In 2010 he did it by saving a last-minute Ghanaian shot with his hands. He was sent off, but Ghana missed the subsequent penalty, and Uruguay went on to the semifinal.

On Tuesday the apparent bite he took out of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini provided possibly the first iconic moment of this World Cup. Fifa’s disciplinary committee has yet to give its verdict, but the vast majority of global non-Uruguayan opinion seems to believe it was a bite. Jim Boyle, head of Fifa’s refereeing committee, told British TV: “Once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism.” Once again Suárez’s personal dysfunction is being displayed before the world, and once again he has only his compatriots to defend him. 

Zojoji-temple in Tokyo (Getty)

The most significant International Olympic Committee meeting in a generation takes place this weekend – the committee will choose a host city for 2020 at the weekend amid reservations about all three candidates. Shortly after, it will have to decide on a successor for Jacques Rogge, president of the movement.

Thomas Bach, a German lawyer, is the favourite in the presidential race. But the decision over the 2020 host will be more difficult. Here’s what’s happened in the campaign so far and why the decision will be an uncomfortable one: 

Getty images

They wanted an admission of cheating, an apology and some sense of remorse from Lance Armstrong.

They got that, within the first 90 seconds.

More memorably, they got a glimpse of a silver-tongued egomaniac as he justified his way through a one-and-a-half-hour sit-down with Oprah Winfrey.

The stories that the world’s most famous cyclist was a jerk (Oprah’s words, not mine) have circulated for years. This time, the world saw it first hand instead of reading about him threatening former teammates, cornering people in bars and publicly accusing them of being crazy and vindictive. 

Lance Armstrong. Photo: Getty

By Jennifer Hughes

Remember Greg LeMond? The name of the three-time Tour de France winner doesn’t resonate far outside of cycling now but as of today, he will be the only American to have won the race in US officials’ eyes.

Lance Armstrong’s decision not to contest further doping allegations levelled by anti-doping authorities means they consider him stripped of his record seven Tour titles. Armstrong’s and LeMond’s Tour-winning successor and compatriot, Floyd Landis, has already lost his 2006 win for doping. 

Here’s what we’ve been chatting about today: 

London 2012: The first week of the Olympic games
FT sports writers Matthew Engel and Simon Kuper join Gideon Rachman to provide their mid-term assessment of the London Olympics.