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The 10 best performances of the 2019 road season

We take a look at the performances that left us in awe in 2019.

10. Marianne Vos, La Course

Marianne Vos wins La Course 2019 (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

2019 was the year that Marianne Vos emerged from her relative slumber to return to something like her very best. Perhaps her victories weren’t quite in the swashbuckling manner of her peak years, but she did establish a habit of winning through a mixture of sprints and punchy late accelerations, best epitomised by her devastating acceleration to win La Course.

With 400 metres to go Vos burst out of the peloton, catching Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) – who had moments earlier still seemed capable of surviving – in a flash, then sprinting all the way to the finish line without anyone else getting anywhere near her. She had time to sit up, celebrate, and still finish several seconds ahead of everyone else.

9. Remco Evenepoel, Clásica San Sebastián

Remco Evenepoel at the Clásica San Sebastián 2019 (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

If the peloton had maybe underestimated Remco Evenepoel before the junior sensation made his WorldTour debut at San Sebastián, they certainly won’t anymore after what happened in that race. When he attacked with Toms Skujiņš 20km from the finish, it initially was interpreted as a covering move in service of his more senior team-mates, with little urgency shown by the favourites for the race to chase them down.

Fast forward half an hour, however, and Evenepoel was crossing the line with his arms aloft and not another rider in sight, having used the diesel engine that would see him win the European time trial title a week later and silver at the Worlds a month later to drop Skujiņš and solo to victory.

8. Thomas De Gendt, Tour de France stage eight

Thomas De Gendt wins stage eight of the 2019 Tour de France (Sunada)

Every year the breakaway specialist-par excellence Thomas De Gendt produces at least one of the season’s best rides, and two of his wins from 2019 could easily have made this list. Ultimately we went for his triumph at the Tour de France over the Volta a Catalunya stage he won by over two-and-a-half-minutes due to the unmatched prestige of the race and considerable calibre of the opposition.

De Gendt himself ranks this as one of his very best, perhaps better even than his famous success on the Stelvio seven years ago, and it’s easy to see why. From the moment he slipped into the breakaway at the start of the day to when he crossed the finish line five hours later, he was forced to dig deep, first battling with his breakaway companion Alessandro De Marchi over relentlessly undulating terrain, then holding off a chasing group of stars to seal a typically hardy victory .

7. Annemiek van Vleuten, Giro Rosa stage five

Annemiek van Vleuten on stage five of the 2019 Gior Rosa (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Annemiek van Vleuten wasted no time in making her move on the queen stage of the Giro Rosa in June. After landslides forced a redesigned route that removed the Passo di Gavia, the Dutchwoman was determined to make the very most of the climbing that did remain, and attacked from the very bottom of the revised finishing climb, the Passo Fraele.

She immediately opened up a gap, which got bigger and bigger throughout the climb, and she eventually reached the summit with a huge advantage of nearly three minutes. That such a crushing ride does not even rank as Van Vleuten’s best this year (more on that later) demonstrates just what an exceptional 2019 she had.

6. Mathieu van der Poel, Tour of Flanders

Mathieu van der Poel will not ride the 2019 Paris-Roubaix (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Finishing fourth on debut at the Tour of Flanders, one of the world’s toughest races, is a fine achievement in itself, but that result alone doesn’t tell half the story of what Mathieu van der Poel did that day. At 60km from the finish, the Dutchman had a lapse in concentration while looking to dismount for a mechanical, tumbling over the handlebars and hitting the tarmac hard.

It looked like his race was over there and then, and he spent a considerable amount of time nursing his injuries before remounting. However, he refused to give up, and demonstrated extraordinary resilience to slowly work his way back up the field to eventually rejoin the group of favourites, and sprint for fourth. Without the crash, it’s fair to say that he probably would have won the race by a country mile.

5. Tadej Pogačar, Vuelta a España stage 20

Tadej Pogačar wins stage 20 of the Vuelta a España 2019 (Oscar del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images)

A star was born in 2019 in the form of Tadej Pogačar, and his star-making ride came on the penultimate day of the Vuelta a España. The 20-year-old Slovenian had already wowed everyone on his Grand Tour debut by winning two stages to place fifth overall going into the stage, but he wasn’t done there.

Showing considerable ambition as well as bold endeavour, he caught everyone off guard by attacking with almost 40km still to ride, and somehow – despite having for the first time in his career accumulated three whole weeks of racing in his young legs – managed to distance all the other GC riders to not only win the stage, but leap all the way up to third overall.

4. Julian Alaphilippe, Tour de France stage 14

Geraint Thomas and Julian Alaphilippe on the slopes of the Tourmalet (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Many of Julian Alalphilippe’s performances could have made this list – his late attack to win Milan-San Remo, his untouchable sprint up the Mur de Huy to win Flèche Wallonne, and an unexpected Tour de France time trial victory in a discipline that had been perceived as a weakness.

But the one ride that we think best reflects his combative spirit was his defence of the yellow jersey on the Col du Tourmalet. He had already defied the odds on La Planche des Belles Filles and the aforementioned time trial to retain the overall lead, but going wheel-to-wheel with the peloton’s establishment of climbers on one of the world’s most iconic climbs to finish second behind Thibaut Pinot at the summit was his zenith.

3. Chloe Dygart, World Championships elite women’s time trial

Chloe Dygert at the UCI Road World Championships elite women’s time trial in Yorkshire (Sunada)

Heading into the women’s time trial at the Yorkshire Worlds this year, 22-year-old prodigy Chloe Dygart had been touted as a potential contender on the basis of her exploits on the track and in domestic road time trials. But no-one was prepared for the extent to which she would trounce the field on this blustery day in Harrogate.

The young American produced one of the all-time great performances against the clock, defeating runner-up Anna van der Breggen by 1-33, the biggest ever margin in an individual Worlds time trial, and passing a whole seven different riders who started out on the course before her. Whatever she goes on to achieve in the future, this extraordinary ride will live long in the memory.

2. Mathieu van der Poel, Amstel Gold Race

Mathieu van der Poel wins the 2019 Amstel Gold Race (BELGA / SUNADA)

Prior to Amstel Gold Race, we’d seen enough of cyclocross superstar Mathieu van der Poel to know that he was going to be good on the road. We just didn’t realise he was this good.

In just one race the 24-year-old seemed to rewrite the laws of what was possible in road racing. Received wisdom has it that anyone foolhardy enough to chase down a breakaway on their own without the help of any of the riders around him would find himself too tired to triumph come the finishing sprint.

However, the reverse happened in this case – instead of Van der Poel, who was doing all the pulling, it was the riders clinging onto his wheel who had nothing left at the finish, allowing the Dutchman to pull-off a jaw-dropping victory. It was a performance that whet the appetite for what he might go on to achieve in the future.

1. Annemiek van Vleuten, World Championships elite women’s road race

Annemiek van Vleuten wins the Yorkshire World Championships women’s road race (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Winning from a solo attack 100km from the finish in any circumstances would be enough to make headlines. To do so in the biggest race of the season, with some of the best riders in the world chasing you down on relentlessly challenging terrain, is to put in a performance for the ages.

“All day I thought it was super stupid, what I was doing,” Annemiek van Vleuten admitted after pulling off her remarkable feat in Yorkshire, yet what initially looked at best a decoy move in service of her teammates and at worst an overamibitous folly turned out to be a masterstroke, as Van Vleuten kept going and going to ultimatley win by over two minutes.

Three months on, you still feel that the enormity of her achievement hasn’t quite sunk in, but there will be plenty of time to reflect next season as the Dutchwoman proudly sports the rainbow jersey.

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Australian Open prize pool jumps to $49 million, biggest gains for early rounds

Players losing in the first round of qualifying at the year’s first Grand Slam will take home A$20,000, up by a third from last year, while singles players who exit in the first round of the main draw will earn A$90,000, a jump of 20%.

Before the start of the 2018 Australian Open, Serb champion Novak Djokovic had to distance himself from media reports that he had pushed for a revolt over the way revenues from the four Grand Slams were distributed to help reward a larger group of players.

“We have long been committed to improving the pay and conditions for a deeper pool of international tennis players,” tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement, noting that overall prize money has more than tripled since 2007.

“This year … we pushed to reward players competing early in the tournament in both singles and doubles.”

The 2020 women’s and men’s singles champions will receive smaller increases in prize money, with both winners taking home A$4.12 million, up $20,000.

Players can usually secure a main draw appearance in the tournament, which starts on Jan. 20, by having a ranking in the top 100.

Naomi Osaka of Japan is the reigning women’s singles champion at the Australian Open while Djokovic claimed a record seventh title by defeating great rival Rafa Nadal in the 2019 final.

In a report published last year, an International Review Panel commissioned to address betting-related and other integrity issues said that players in the lowest tiers were susceptible to being corrupted because of the difficulty of making a living, with only 250-350 players earning enough money to break even.

The International Tennis Federation last week announced a series of measures as part of its fight against corruption in the sport’s lower levels.

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Olympic doping ban looms for Russia after WADA panel ruling

World Anti-Doping Agency panel has recommended Russia’s drug-testing authority be declared non-compliant with international rules, potentially paving the way for an Olympic ban

The prospect of Russia being banned from next year’s Tokyo Olympics has loomed closer as a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) panel recommended the country’s drug-testing authority be declared non-compliant with international rules.

In a statement, WADA said Friday its Compliance Review Committee (CRC) had recommended that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) be suspended again when the global anti-doping watchdog’s Executive Committee meets in Paris on December 9.

If WADA chiefs adopt the recommendation, Russia faces severe sanctions including a possible ban from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The CRC issued its recommendation after asking Russia to explain “inconsistencies” in laboratory data handed over by Moscow to WADA investigators in January.

Full disclosure of data from the Moscow laboratory was a key condition of Russia’s controversial reinstatement by WADA in September 2018.

RUSADA had been suspended for nearly three years over revelations of a vast, state-backed doping regime which including a systematic conspiracy to switch tainted samples at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

WADA had previously warned Russia would face the “most stringent sanctions” if any of the data handed over was found to have been tampered with.

In its Friday statement, WADA said the CRC suggested “serious consequences in line with the International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories.”

The United States Anti-Doping Agency, which was sharply critical of WADA’s decision to lift its suspension of reinstate RUSADA, called for a lengthy ban following Friday’s announcement.

“Anything less than a four-year sanction for this critical violation that includes aggravating circumstances following years of denial and deceit would be another injustice in a long line of many for clean athletes,” USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said in emailed comments to AFP.

Friday’s development is the latest twist to a saga which exploded in 2015, when an independent WADA commission investigating allegations of Russian doping said it had found evidence of a vast state-supported conspiracy stretching back years.

A 2016 report by WADA investigator Richard McLaren said more than 1,000 Russian competitors across multiple sports had benefited from the scheme between 2011 and 2015.

In an interview with AFP last month, RUSADA’s chief Yuri Ganus appeared resigned to Russia being handed an Olympic ban, accusing unidentified Moscow authorities of handing over falsified lab data to WADA.

“Russia’s Olympic squad will be prevented from participating fully in the Olympic Games in Tokyo…. I think that this will also happen at the (Winter Olympic) Games in China,” Ganus told AFP.

On Saturday, Ganus said the suspension proposal did not reflect any shortcoming on the part of the agency.

“RUSADA is being issued non-compliance because the compliance decision it was handed in September 2018 was contingent, and to keep it, two demands had to be met. These were met formally but not properly,” Ganus said.

It was not due to “the quality of RUSADA’s work,” he said, adding: “It’s a purely technical decision… conditions were not met whose implementation was not up to us.”

Russia was already banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics, although some 168 athletes were allowed to compete under a neutral “Olympic Athlete From Russia” designation.

Ganus said he expected a range of other penalties too, including restrictions on holding international tournaments in Russia, exclusion of Russians from international sports federations and fines.

Ganus insisted RUSADA officials had not been responsible for falsifying the data, insisting his staff “had nothing to do with the database and its transfer.”

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov later denied the data had been tampered with, stating “nothing was removed” before the cache of information was handed over.

Friday’s announcement by WADA came as World Athletics (formerly IAAF), the governing body for track and field, abruptly halted Russia’s reinstatement process into the sport.

The World Athletics decision was taken after the president of the Russian athletics federation (RUSAF), Dmitry Shlyakhtin, and other senior officials were suspended for “serious breaches” of anti-doping rules.

These charges included provision to an athlete of false explanations and forged documents to explain missed doping tests.

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2019 NFL PREDICTIONS-WEEK 13

Week 13

Thursday, Nov. 28

12:30 p.m. Eastern ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Chicago -4 63%
Detroit 37%
4:30 p.m. ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Buffalo 34%
Dallas -4.5 66%
8:20 p.m. ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
New Orleans -3.5 62%
Atlanta 38%

Sunday, Dec. 1

1 p.m. Eastern ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Cleveland 43%
Pittsburgh -2 57%
1 p.m. ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Green Bay -9 78%
N.Y. Giants 22%
1 p.m. ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
N.Y. Jets -6 70%
Cincinnati 30%
1 p.m.
Philadelphia -6.5 72%
Miami 28%
1 p.m.
San Francisco 33%
Baltimore -5 67%
1 p.m.
Tampa Bay 31%
Jacksonville -5.5 69%
1 p.m.
Tennessee 37%
Indianapolis -3.5 63%
1 p.m.
Washington 20%
Carolina -9.5 80%
4:05 p.m.
L.A. Rams -4.5 66%
Arizona 34%
4:25 p.m.
L.A. Chargers -3 60%
Denver 40%
4:25 p.m.
Oakland 20%
Kansas City -9.5 80%
8:20 p.m.
New England -2.5 60%
Houston 40%

Monday, Dec. 2

8:15 p.m. Eastern ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Minnesota -0.5 53%
Seattle 47%
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Back on track

The last round of the Hungarian national slalom championship took place on the well known Kakucs Ring on 12th October.

This race was also part of the Middle-European zone race. 70 drivers arrived to the chilly morning to have the last fight for the category podium positions, many of them still not yet decided.

 Szabolcs Sződy and Zsolt Sződy also arrived to earn more points.

“After we checked the track it is evident that the race would be a fast one. We like it. The temperature would be a key factor as for it will reach even 20-24 celcius. So many aspects we need to handle” – said the brothers.

This race is important for Zsolt as for he is still in fight for the third position but for Szabolcs his year-end place is already fixed so he can drive without pressure.

Race laps

Szabolcs started first with the 22 start number. “It is a fast track however there are two spots where the rythm broken a little in a slow S curve. But it is manageable.” His first lap was 02:03,323 sec.

Zsolt followed him a little later with the 52 start number. “It was okay, the asphalt will be hotter later with more grip. I am happy with my time, seems really good.” His clock stopped at 1:58,323 sec.

In the second round Szabolcs left the track on one of the curves, which is not that bad as for there is grass next to it but he did not realise that there was a hole there as well. The car shaked and after he felt some vibration on the car. Luckily the car did not damages and he can continue the race but the lap time was definitely slower (02:04,137).

Zsolt was even faster in his lap and delivered one more excellent time with 01:58,096.

The third laps took place in early afternoon with the warmest condition of the day. The 24 celcius was the air and the track temperature was much also. But the tires warmer faster.

“However in the morning we were looking forward to a hotter condition now we can say that is it too much. We lost some grip. As for the track is a fast one the tyres can quickly reach the optimum temperature but also can be overheated during the lap.” – said Szabolcs was not happy with his next time, it was 2:04,283 sec.

Zsolt did struggle with some gripping problem within his lap and slightly losing control in among the last buoys. ” I left the track to the dust and lost time and gripping as well. I hit one buoy and missed the rest resulted 22 sec penalty. This lap will be definitely eliminated from the final result.” – was sad a little Zsolt (Lap time included penalty 2:24,996).

The temperature was optimal on the forth lap. It is definitely appeared on the times as well.

“This was the target time the whole day, I would like to get beyond two minutes, it nearly happen on the last  lap completed” – said Szabolcs after had a lap of 2:00,525 sec.

“I delivered the 1.58 times the whole day, this was also a good 01:58,375. I hope I will be on the podium.” – said Zsolt.

 

Race results:

 

Track racing team reached their best result in this season with today excellent and solid performance of Zsolt, who reached the overall second position in Serie 3 category on the Kakucs Ring. This was the first time second position of Opel. Szabolcs finished at fourth. (hungarian championship points)

  1. Taczman Zsolt Citroen Saxo VTS 00:05:48,268
  2. Sződy Zsolt Opel Tigra 00:05:54,794
  3. Juhász Ádám Citroen Saxo 00:05:57,159
  4. SADOVSKI Milan Citroen Saxo 00:06:00,418 (outside the national championship)
  5. Sződy Szabolcs Opel Tigra 00:06:07,985

  1. overall results, Serie 3 category (between 1400-1600 ccm)
  2. Kaposznyák Mihály Citroen Saxo VTS      58
  3. Ildzsa Dávid Suzuki Ignis                          55
  4. Taczman Zsolt Citroen Saxo VTS               35
  5. Sződy Zsolt Opel Tigra                              34
  6. Sződy Szabolcs Opel Tigra                        27
  7. Juhász Ádám Citroen Saxo VTS                  13
  8. Kovács Viktor Renault Twingo RS               8
  9. Csiszár Alexandra Opel Corsa                       1
  10. Hajdú Eszter BMW                            0

Summary of the day:

“The weather was good however it is the middle of October. It was a fast track with exciting competition.  We did not expect in the morning that we will have a chance for the podium second position, that is a great surprise and nice finish of the season.However we just missed the third place we are not disappointed. Was some chance for it, but finally missed minimum 2 points. It was plan “B” to reach at least another podium today, which completed and it was second place, above all expectation. It was a good race and a good season. Definitely we will analyse the season and based in that prepares for the next season. But right now we have a small celebration with the teammates to close the season.” – said the brothers as not sad.

This was the last race of the season. The yearly summary will come shortly.

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Podium finish again

The 6th race if the Hungarian slalom championship held at Kiskunlacháza, third time this year.
However the track itself was a new one because the championship got another part of the airport service lines than the usual one. The 65 drivers were all excited to the new track.
Semi-new track
 
The pleasant Indian summer weather welcome the cars and the participants.
Sződy brothers were also excited.
“We like it very much. However this is the third race but it seems to be a new event. The Organizers built a totally new track, nothing like that before. It’s fast, it has rythm, fast straight lines bed followed by slow curves and returns. Enjoyable.” – said the brothers.
Race laps
 
Zsolt started with number 38 to the track which was longer this time than usual, 1.8km.
“It went well until the end, where I missed the direction of the last two buoys which resulted significant, 40sec time penalty. Overall it was a good lap, I will correct in the next round.” (02:32,722)
Szabolcs started with 76 number.
“I Have experienced in the first live lap how good the rythm of this track has. It is not easy, important to have short brakes and fast speeding and to be quick at the straight lines and in the curves.
You need to use the gear shifts the speed much more. But it is enjoyable and still room for improvement.” – said Szabolcs after finishing his lap at 01:53,172 sec.
The second lap of Zsolt was without mistake and the brothers time was nearly equal, however they have difference within their driving style but that is surprisingly more appear in other circuits than in this long and fast one.
Lap times: Zsolt 01:51,054, Szabolcs 01:51,306.
The temperature if the asphalt was optimal in this third lap. And the difference between the two brothers were only 0.17 sec., as 1:50:152 (Szabolcs) and 1:49:980 sec (Zsolt). These was clear laps.
Final laps
 
“The last lap will be very exciting because that would decide who will be the third out of us. The harmony is there between the car and the track so it would be decided who can deliver better the last lap.” – talk to us the brothers.
Szabolcs did his best lap of the day. “The temperature of the track dropped but everything else was optimal for me. I did not concentrate better this time but the practice deliver the better result. I am happy with it. When I returned to the depo I got the news that I would finish at third.” (01:49,809)
Zsolt was slower more than a second and that costed the podium for him.
“I do not know why but I was not that good in the fourth lap. There were no mistakes but that was all in this lap. Szabi deserved to be the third, he was good all day.”
Podium ceremony
 
Szody brothers got faster and faster in the second part of the season and managed to get another throphy after Kalocsa in Series 3 category. But this time Szabolcs takes it.
Standings
1. Kaposznyák Mihály, Citroen Saxo VTS        58
2. Ildzsa Dávid, Suzuki Ignis                             55
3. Sződy Zsolt, Opel Tigra                              30
4. Taczman Zsolt, Citroen Saxo VTS                24
4. Sződy Szabolcs, Opel Tigra                       24   
6. Kovács Viktor, Renault Twingo RS                  8
7. Juhász Ádám, Citroen Saxo VTS                    7
8. Csiszár Alexandra, Opel Corsa                       1
9. Hajdú Eszter, BMW                                         0
On the overall standing Zsolt is at third, Szabolcs at fourth position, just one race to go.
Summary of the day
“However it was a replacement race it brought excitement for everyone. Good track, well organised rounds, excellent lines. The podium position for Szabolcs reached only 0.9 sec after three laps, thanks to a combination of precise and fast driving. The car worked well, it was stable and accelerate well and the temperature was optimal for the wheels.
We are deserved today’s result and looking forward to the last race, it comes only two weeks.” – summarised the day the drivers of Track Racing.
The next race will be in 12th of October at the Kakucs Ring. The last round decide the finally overall standing in S3 category end of this season.
Photos: Track Racing
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2019 NFL Predictions-Week 1

Week 1

Thursday, Sept. 5

FINAL ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Green Bay 36% 10
Chicago -4 64% 3

Sunday, Sept. 8

1 p.m. Eastern ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Atlanta 41%
Minnesota -2.5 59%
1 p.m. ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Baltimore -3 61%
Miami 39%
1 p.m. ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Buffalo 45%
N.Y. Jets -1.5 55%
1 p.m.
Kansas City -2.5 58%
Jacksonville 42%
1 p.m.
L.A. Rams -0.5 52%
Carolina 48%
1 p.m.
Tennessee 40%
Cleveland -3 60%
1 p.m.
Washington 23%
Philadelphia -8.5 77%
4:05 p.m.
Cincinnati 25%
Seattle -8 75%
4:05 p.m.
Indianapolis 28%
L.A. Chargers -6.5 72%
4:25 p.m.
Detroit -0.5 51%
Arizona 49%
4:25 p.m.
N.Y. Giants 26%
Dallas -7.5 74%
4:25 p.m.
San Francisco 45%
Tampa Bay -1.5 55%
8:20 p.m.
Pittsburgh 32%
New England -5 68%

Monday, Sept. 9

7:10 p.m. Eastern ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Houston 32%
New Orleans -5 68%
10:20 p.m. ELO POINT SPREAD WIN PROB. SCORE
Denver 49%
Oakland -0.5 51%
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If Vegas Predicts Your NFL Team For Six Wins, You May Be In Luck

We’ve already published our Elo projections, and we think they’re the best we’ve ever produced for the NFL, but there will still be lots of misses to grouse about come January. Forecasting a sport as luck-driven as the NFL is rough that way.

It raises the question: How good are betting markets at predicting team wins? To find out, I got my hands on a tranche of win prediction data stretching back to 1989, courtesy of Sports Odds History, and checked how well Vegas preseason win totals predict actual team wins. While Vegas overall does a good job identifying good and bad teams, it turns out that at the lower end of the range of projected wins, Vegas predictions don’t seem particularly well calibrated — though the confidence intervals at the lower end are large because of the small sample size, so the results aren’t statistically significant.

Projected win totals of six and fewer undersell teams’ prospects by about a win on average, with the exception of teams forecast for five wins.

Win totals don’t change as frequently as the moneyline odds, so we probably shouldn’t take win totals at face value — at least for teams with low projected wins. What does this mean for non-bettors? It should be decent news for the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins — teams that both Elo and Vegas have pegged for six wins in 2019 — since we should be more bullish on their chances than we currently are.

Optimism for these probable cellar dwellers might feel forced. But we should fight the urge toward overconfidence, especially in the face of history. A few of these teams will end up surprising us — in a good way — at the end of the year for reasons inscrutable to us now.

Which NFL teams might beat expectations?

Average actual wins (1989-2018) by Vegas preseason expected wins, and the 2019 teams at each number of expected wins

WINS  
EXPECTED ACTUAL 2019 TEAMS
11.0 10.2 New England
10.5 9.9 Kansas City, L.A. Rams, New Orleans
10.0 8.8 Philadelphia
9.5 9.0 Chicago, Green Bay, L.A. Chargers
9.0 8.5 Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Pittsburgh
8.5 8.9 Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Seattle
8.0 7.4 Jacksonville, San Francisco, Tennessee
7.5 7.6 Carolina
7.0 6.9 Buffalo, Denver, N.Y. Jets
6.5 6.4 Detroit, Tampa Bay
6.0 6.7 Cincinnati, N.Y. Giants, Oakland, Washington
5.0 4.6 Arizona, Miami

SOURCES: SPORTSODDSHISTORY.COM, GREG GUGLIELMO, PINNACLE, BETFAIR, WILLIAM HILL, BET365, BETONLINE

Well … maybe not the Bengals. Not only is Cincinnati saddled with an injured A.J. Green, who appears to be out until around Week 8, the Bengals have an offense that is bereft of top talent at nearly every position. Cincinnati replaced head coach Marvin Lewis after 16 seasons of on-again, off-again contention and turned instead to Zac Taylor, a coach best known for being friends with L.A. Rams wunderkind Sean McVay. The hope must be that Taylor can revitalize the career of quarterback Andy Dalton, who sports a middling career yards per attempt of 7.2 and is one of the few starting quarterbacks who Vegas believes wouldn’t move a line if he were to be replaced in the lineup. The defense doesn’t offer a compelling reason for optimism: The Bengals ranked 28th in defensive Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) last season. Perhaps we should view that as a reason to be bullish on their prospects in 2019 simply due to regression, since defensive performance year to year isn’t terribly stable. If that seems like a bridge too far, magic might be the answer: Taylor may give lip service to the notion that he isn’t trying to be like his mentor McVay, but McVay’s brand of QB sorcery seems like the best hope for the Bengals to crest seven wins this year.

The Giants are more interesting. After a promising preseason performance by first-round pick Daniel Jones, New York fans are clamoring for a change of the guard at quarterback. As big of a reach as many believed Jones to be, I still see him as a better use of first-round draft capital than “generational talent” Saquon Barkley. Hailed as a potential savior and the missing piece for Eli Manning’s final championship push, Barkley helped the Giants improve from a terrible three-win team in 2017 to a merely bad five-win unit in 2018.

The Giants were second-worst in the league on Expected Points Added per play on first-down play-action passes after adding Saquon to the backfield,1 and prospects for a bounceback in play-action efficiency seem bleak. After trading all-world wideout Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns, the Giants lost free agent acquisition Golden Tate to a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs and their expected No. 3 wideout Corey Coleman to a season-ending ACL injury. Their best hope for a productive season may rest in ownership’s willingness to bench Manning for good this time.

The other team to somehow accumulate negative value on first-down play action was Oakland. In what seems to be a pattern for teams at the bottom of the win total forecast, Vegas sees Derek Carr as a quarterback worth just 1 point to the spread. The stats back up that view. Carr’s career yards per attempt is, at 6.7, below league average, and his best season as judged by QBR is an anemic 54.6. His weapons are improved from a year ago, but they are volatile. New Raiders wideout Antonio Brown sat out of practice because he wasn’t allowed to wear a helmet the NFL deems dangerous and is now likely to be suspended for some period of time, and Tyrell Williams is a boom or bust weapon who likes to be targeted deep — something Carr may be reluctant to do given his career average depth of target of just 7.7 yards. Meanwhile “Hard Knocks” captured head coach Jon Gruden disparaging “all the football stats and all the fantasy bullshit” in favor of running backs that will “BOOF” the opposing team in pass protection. Of all the six-win teams, Oakland may be the most unpredictable — and that unpredictability could manifest itself in good ways, as well as bad. Brown’s antics could end with a fashionable and safe new helmet, Carr might be coaxed into throwing the deep ball to a talented field stretcher, and Gruden might use rookie running back Josh Jacobs optimally, leading to wins we simply can’t foresee at this point.

The final team projected for six wins in 2019 is Washington, a team that somehow came to the determination that Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson were better choices than Colin Kaepernick to take over for quarterback Alex Smith when his 2018 season — and perhaps his career — ended with a gruesome leg injury.

In the draft, Washington team president Bruce Allen added Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins in the first round but then failed to surround him with receiving weapons. Jamison Crowder left via free agency, former first-round bust Josh Doctson was released at the end of the preseason and tight end Jordan Reed suffered another concussion heading into Week 1. Their current starting wide receivers are third-round pick Terry McLaurin — also from Ohio State — and Paul Richardson.

The outlook at running back is brighter with the return of Derrius Guice from an ACL tear that derailed his rookie season, but there is little evidence to suggest they will put him in advantageous spots to run the ball. With the ageless, tackle-breaking cyborg Adrian Peterson in 2018, Washington lined up against neutral or stacked boxes on first-and-10 or second and long 174 times, decided they liked the look and ran right into the scrum 72 percent of the time. But if Washington can flip the script on downs tailor-made for passing and eke out some yards where they should come easy, the duo of Guice and Peterson could be enough to protect current starter Case Keenum or rookie Haskins while he learns on the job — and possibly beat the team’s six-win projection.

Check out our latest NFL predictions.

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34th Wizz Air Budapest Half Marathon

The biggest half marathon in Central Europe on the 2nd Sunday of September

Participating in the half marathon is essentially a running sightseeing tour of the beautiful Budapest. The course runs through the heart of Budapest, crosses several bridges and passes the most well-known sites of the city. Admire the view of the Buda Castle from the Danube banks and marvel in the panorama of Pest as well as Europe’s third largest Parliament building!

Run the 21 km individually or with your friends in a team of two or three.

There are over 15.000 participants on all the distances, with more than 10.000 half marathon runners and 1500 teams. However, no need to worry about crowding and overtaking as the start is done in waves so everyone has plenty of space to run.

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In 2018, there were more than 2700 foreign runners, almost 2000 of whom run the half marathon, from 82 countries. Most runners came from Britain, Slovakia and Poland, but there were also participants from Chile, Indonesia, and Singapore, just to name a few.

Along the course there will be refreshments every 4 to 5 kilometers and of course continuous medical supervisionPace runners will help you hit your desired tempo. But having fun is just as important as running so we’ll maintain several musical points along the course for your entertainment.

Each year participants receive a unique, race branded technical T-shirt and finishers are given a gorgeous medal. Designs change every year, here is the medal from 2019:

 

 

Budapest is the perfect destination for a weekend city trip. Budapest is the spa capital with over 100 thermal springs beneath the city that supply the famous baths. After the run, you can rest your leg in the thermal pools of a unique 16th and 17th-century Turkish baths or the neo-baroque Széchenyi bath.

Also unique to Europe are Budapest’s ruin pubs. Located in the city centre, this new function saved countless old, run-down building from demolition. Their atmosphere is unusual, their style is retro and they revive socialist realist interior design. The perfect place to grab a drink the night before or after the race.

And while you are here don’t forget to try out the best of Hungary’s cuisine: a goulash, a stew, a strudel, and a pancake.
If your stomach is sensitive, you may want to leave this for after the race!

Watch this short video about the city and let yourself to be wowed:

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Athletics: Amputee Leeper to miss worlds over eligibility issue

American double amputee Blake Leeper will not be eligible to compete in this month’s world championships while an advisory group determines his eligibility, the IAAF, athletics’ governing body, said on Saturday.

Leeper, who was born without legs below the knees, finished fifth in the 400 metres at the U.S. championships in July which normally would have qualified him for the Americans’ world championships 4 x 400m relay squad.

But the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said on Saturday that the 30-year-old will not be eligible for the Sept. 27-Oct 6 championships in Doha.

“An application has been submitted by Mr Leeper to compete in the 2019 World Championships and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which is under review by an advisory group,” the IAAF said in a statement to Reuters.

“A recommendation from the advisory group will be made later this year so Mr Leeper will not be eligible to compete in this month’s WCHs.”

The advisory group will determine whether Leeper’s prostheses give him an advantage over other competitors and it will be Leeper’s burden to prove they do not, his lawyers said in a statement on Thursday

The attorneys represented South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius, winning a 2008 ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that he could race against able-bodied athletes.

This time, they have objected to the burden of proof being shifted to Leeper, a silver medallist at the 2012 Paralympics.

“The IAAF placing the burden of proof on Mr. Leeper is inconsistent with the precedent of Oscar Pistorius, in which the IAAF had the burden of proof to show that Mr. Pistorius’s prostheses provided him with an overall competitive advantage,” Leeper’s lawyers said.

“[It was] a burden that the IAAF failed to establish which enabled Mr. Pistorius to compete in IAAF events and the 2012 London Olympics.”

Leeper himself also objected. “The IAAF placing the burden on disabled athletes to prove that their prostheses do not provide an overall advantage is wrong and unlawful,” he said in the statement.

The IAAF said on Saturday it would not comment beyond its statement.

“The IAAF competition rules state clearly that mechanical assistance to athletes is not allowed during athletics competitions, unless the athlete can establish on the balance of probabilities that the use of an aid would not provide him with an overall competitive advantage,” the IAAF told Reuters in July.

Leeper was allowed to compete in the U.S. championships on a conditional basis, U.S. officials have said, but the IAAF has declined to recognise his results this year.

“His results will not be ratified, because the athlete has not provided any evidence to IAAF that meets the rule stated above nor have the blades been classified under the new Maximum Allowable Standing Height (MASH) formula,” the IAAF said in July.