Good Week/Bad Week: We take a look at the winners and losers from the last seven days
By Stephen Pass
Last Updated: 29/07/14 1:07pm
So much can change in a week of sporting action and, sure enough, there have been plenty of highs and lows over the past seven days.
It was a week in which Vincenzo Nibali was crowned Tour de France champion Phil Taylor shrugged off troubles from earlier this year to win the World Matchplay darts in Blackpool for a seventh successive year.
But the New Zealand seven’s rugby team suffered a shock Commonwealth Games reverse, while Super League champions Wigan lost at relegated Bradford.
Vincenzo Nibali sealed his place in history as he won the Tour de France on Sunday, crossing the finish line on the Champs-Elysees in the peloton to seal a dominant 7min 52sec victory over Jean-Christophe Peraud.
He became the first Italian winner of the Tour since 1998 and only the sixth rider in history to have won all three Grand Tours, joining Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Alberto Contador.
In his victory speech, the 29-year-old said: “Now that I am here on the top step of the podium, it is more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. I have worked towards this for a very long time. Now I have managed to achieve this goal.”
This year’s Tour will be remembered for a long time to come in this country after millions lined the streets as it triumphantly passed through Yorkshire and then Cambridge to London.
Phil Taylor claimed the World Matchplay title for a 15th time with a comprehensive 18-9 victory over World No 1 Michael van Gerwen in Blackpool.
The Power finished with an average of over 107 to lift the trophy for an astonishing seventh successive year.
Afterwards, the 53-year-old said that the last few months had been "an absolute nightmare" after struggling to find form, with a change of equipment leading to an upturn in his fortunes.
When asked where this ranked in his 15 wins in the event, Taylor told Sky Sports: "It’s my best ever. The last six months has been an absolute nightmare for me. I’ve been coming up here, trying so hard.
"(I wanted) to go up there and give him a game, everything was trying to put him off his normal game because he’s a marvellous player. He’s got years left – I haven’t. He’s World No 1 – the best darts player in the world. I’m trying to get my ranking back."
Lewis Hamilton believes he has raised “the middle finger to adversity” after finishing on the podium in both Germany and Hungary following two qualifying disasters in less than a week.
Having feared he would trail Nico Rosberg by over 20 points during the summer break after a fire engulfed his crippled Mercedes car during qualifying at the Hungaroring, Hamilton will instead embark on his holidays a mere 11 points off the summit after a sterling comeback drive that saw him charge from the pitlane to the podium.
He finished third like he did in Germany, where a thrilling recovery drive from the Briton saw him charge through the field from a 20th start to deliver a vital podium finish.
“As painful as it has been, physically and mentally, in the last two races, to then punch through it and fight through the field is one of the greatest feelings you could have,” a relieved Hamilton admitted to Sky Sports F1. “I’ve enjoyed that.
“These last five races have been a rollercoaster ride, particularly the last two, but I am just very grateful that I was able to get through cleanly - just about at least! - and get some points. The podium is a huge middle finger to adversity!”
The England captain gave an answer to his critics with a determined 95 on Sunday in the third Test with India at the Ageas Bowl.
Cook has been coming under mounting pressure due to his performances with the bat and England’s 10-Test run without a win, but he responded with a morale-boosting total – albeit with the help of a drop from Ravindra Jadeja when on 15.
Although the opener failed to end his now 28-innings wait for a Test ton, Cook will take great confidence from his knock, which drew a standing ovation from the crowd after finally being dismissed by Jadeja.
The innings drew praise from former England skipper and Sky Sports expert Nasser Hussain, who said: “The pressure he has been under for quite a long time - both with his own game and with England losing - is absolutely immense, so it was great mental strength to produce that innings.”
New Zealand sevens
New Zealand’s sevens dominance at the Commonwealth Games was terminated on Sunday as South Africa ended their 30-match unbeaten run, claiming gold with a 17-12 victory in Glasgow.
A capacity crowd at Ibrox devoured an enthralling final as New Zealand – winners of every Commonwealth gold since the sport’s debut in 1998 – were dethroned by an impressive Blitzbokke side.
Seabelo Senata stole the show, scoring his 10th and 11th tries of the Games before Cecil Afrika chalked up the decisive score to help South Africa better their bronze medal from Delhi four years ago and move to the podium summit.
After a world-record 171,000 raucous fans packed into Ibrox for two fine days of action, the crucial medal matches provided more thrilling entertainment, two years before sevens takes its place at the Olympic Games in Rio.
The reigning Super League champions were stunned 16-8 by relegated Bradford at the Provident Stadium, who handed head coach James Lowes his first win since taking charge.
Dom Manfredi crossed twice in a losing cause for the Warriors, but their fifth defeat in West Yorkshire this season means they now trail leaders St Helens by four points with just four rounds of the regular season remaining.
Wigan led after 10 minutes and were in complete control of the contest in the early stages, though that was about as good as it got for Shaune Wane's side as tries from Danny Williams, Joe Arundel and Matty Blythe finally gave the Bulls' beleagured fans something to celebrate, as they had not triumphed since the beginning of June.
A shocked Wigan coach Wane said: "I'm angry and disappointed, but I must commend Bradford. They were the best team and they fully deserved their win. We got what we deserved, absolutely, straight between our eyes.
"We have to be mentally tougher and I know we can perform a lot better than that. That's down to me as head coach - it was far from acceptable but we know that. We turned up with the wrong attitude and got what we deserved."
The QPR striker had been set to seal an £8.5million move to Anfield – and Champions League football - after agreeing personal terms.
The France international, who spent last season on loan at Newcastle, flew on Tuesday to the United States, where Brendan Rodgers' side are on a pre-season tour, to complete the deal.
He had even been offered the number 7 shirt vacated by Luis Suarez – but then the plug was pulled, with some confusion as to why his proposed transfer collapsed.
Whatever the reason, Rodgers is determined to move on, saying: "It's unfortunate for the player - we're obviously disappointed - but there's nothing more to be said. We move onto other targets."
Tyson Fury's fight with Alexander Ustinov in Manchester was called off after the heavyweight's trainer and uncle Hughie Fury fell seriously ill.
It ended an eventful week after Ustinov had stepped in at short notice following original opponent Dereck Chisora's late withdrawal with a broken hand, leaving him unable to defend his European title, while the vacant British heavyweight crown had also been up for grabs.
The unbeaten Fury, who also saw David Haye twice withdrew from scheduled fights against him, originally ruled out a rematch, saying: "Chisora had his opportunity and fluffed it up for whatever reason. Now I want Bermane Stiverne, the WBC champion, because at least I know he will fight.
"I am not going to keep giving someone opportunities when I know they are not going to take them, like with David Haye."
But promoter Frank Warren said he expects to announce a new date for Fury's rematch with Chisora in the coming week.