The week in numbers: w/e 17/7/11

20 – Age of Tom Lewis, an amateur from Welwyn Garden City, who shot a five-under par round of 65 to share the first round lead at the Open Championship with Thomas Björn. It was the lowest total recorded by an amateur in the history of the tournament.

Clarke won the Open at his 20th attempt (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

42 – At 42 years 337 days Darren Clarke won the Open to become the oldest player to win a major championship since Ben Crenshaw at the 1995 Masters (43 years 88 days).

20Clarke‘s first Open win came at his 20th appearance in the tournament. No other golfer had previously won their first Open after their 15th attempt.

184Alex Hales hit a career-best 184 in Nottinghamshire’s County Championship draw with Somerset.

6 – Runs conceded by Durham’s Paul Collingwood as he took five wickets in helping to bowl out Northamptonshire for just 47 in their Twenty20 encounter.

59 – Balls taken by Murray Goodwin to score an unbeaten 100 in Sussex’s 11-run Twenty20 win over Surrey.

5 – Number of North Korean footballers who tested positive for steroids at the Women’s World Cup.

1Japan defeated the USA in a penalty shoot-out to win their first women’s World Cup after twice coming from behind late in normal and extra time to equalise. Aya Miyama equalised in the 81st minute to send the game to extra time, while Homare Sawa scored in the 117th minute to force the climactic shoot-out.

1Samoa stunned Australia 32-23 in Sydney to claim their first ever rugby union test win over the Wallabies. They had lost all four previous meetings by a combined score of 181-26.

The Tour de France in numbers

14 André Greipel became the 14th active rider (and only German) to win a stage at all three Grand Tours as he won stage ten of the Tour de France in Carmaux.

3Mark Cavendish won stage 11 in Lavaur. It is the third consecutive year in which he has won the 11th stage at the Tour.

Sanchez won ten years after Laiseka won at Luz-Ardiden

10Euskaltel-Euskadi‘s Samuel Sánchez claimed his first ever Tour stage – and only his team’s fourth ever – on Luz-Ardiden on stage 12. The victory came ten years after Roberto Laiseka recorded the team’s maiden victory – which came on the same mountain.

2Thor Hushovd became only the second reigning road race world champion in 30 years to win a Tour stage when he was victorious on stage 13 in Lourdes. Óscar Freire also achieved the feat in 2002.

1Jelle Vanendert‘s win at Plateau de Beille was his first of any description in the professional ranks. On the four previous occasions a stage has finished there, the stage winner has gone on to win the Tour. (Vanendert is a relatively lowly 20th.)

19 – In winning stage 15 in Montpellier, Mark Cavendish handed the Isle of Man its 19th Tour stage win, surpassing the totals of both England and Denmark (both 18). All 19 victories have been recorded by Cavendish himself.

4 – It was also Cavendish‘s fourth stage win this year. He became only the second rider ever (after Eddy Merckx) to win four or more stages in four consecutive years at the Tour.

11 – Of the 14 individual stages so far (excluding the team time trial), there have been 11 different winners. Cavendish is the only multiple winner.

8 – Only eight of the 22 competing teams have won stages so far. HTC-Highroad have won four (all Cavendish), Omega Pharma-Lotto (Gilbert, Greipel, Vanendert) and Garmin-Cervélo (Farrar, Hushovd, team time trial) three each.

7 – Days in the yellow jersey (so far) for Thomas Voeckler. In 2004, he spent ten days in yellow.

0 – Stages won by French riders so far, versus six last in total last year. (They have recorded three second places.)

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times and Infostrada.)

My sporting month: July 2011

There is no major football tournament this summer – with all due respect, the European under-21s, under-17s World Cup and Women’s World Cup aren’t close to being on the same scale – but July is nonetheless an action-packed sporting month, with much of the major action taking place here in the UK.

For me, most of the month will be taken up watching 200 men in skin-tight suits with really bad tan-lines pedalling through scenic countryside. Which means, of course, that I kick off my monthly preview of sporting highlights with …

1. Tour de France (2nd-24th)

The world’s biggest cycling race starts its 98th edition tomorrow (Saturday), with a course that celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Tour’s first visit to the Alps. The race will climb the mighty Col du Galibier twice, setting a new record for the highest ever finish in the Tour’s history in the process.

Can Alberto Contador – who is racing pending the outcome of a doping appeal – add a fourth Tour victory to his Giro d’Italia win in May? Or will Andy Schleck, second to the Spaniard in each of the last two years, finally climb the top step of the podium? British interest will be fuelled by sprinter Mark Cavendish – winner of 15 stages in the past three years – and Bradley Wiggins, who claimed victory at the prestigious pre-Tour Critérium du Dauphiné. Cavendish will be eyeing his first sprinters’ green jersey, while Wiggins will be in hot pursuit of Contador and Schleck as they chase the yellow jersey for overall victory.

For Tour de France previews, stage recaps and analysis, click here.

2. Wimbledon finals (2nd & 3rd)

The past fortnight has given us some wonderful tennis and massive upsets, not least the departure of world number one Caroline Wozniacki, defending champion Serena Williams and her sister (and five-time champion) Venus all on the same afternoon. But as soon as it has arrived it is almost over, and the championships draw to a close with what will hopefully be a memorable set of finals on what is forecast to be a hot, sunny weekend.

In the women’s final tomorrow (Saturday), Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitová, a semi-finalist last year, will participate in her first Grand Slam final after beating Victoria Azarenka. She will take on Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, who will be seeking her fourth Grand Slam title, but her first since the Australian Open in 2008.

It’s anyone’s game in the men’s draw, which sees the semi-finals take place today. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, conqueror of Roger Federer, takes on Novak Djokovic, to be followed by Andy Murray against defending champion Rafael Nadal. Each has played some scintillating tennis during the tournament – Djokovic’s match against Marcos Baghdatis last Saturday being one which particularly sticks in the memory – and, whoever wins, it promises a final of the highest quality. And for the rest of the month, expect tennis courts up and down the country to be full to overflowing.

3. British Grand Prix (10th)

If anyone is to mount a serious challenge to Sebastian Vettel‘s apparently serene defence of the Formula 1 drivers’ title, it will have to start at the British Grand Prix. Jenson Button and Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber are both 77 points – more than three race wins – behind, with Lewis Hamilton the only other driver with more than half the German’s current tally of 186 points.

The Red Bull drivers have won the last two races at Silverstone, with Webber coming out on top last year, while Hamilton won in 2008. Button, however, has never finished higher than fourth here. The high-speed nature of the track and the new rule changes – the DRS moveable rear wing and faster-wearing tyres – should ensure some close and spectacular racing no matter what.

4. The Open (14th-17th)

Royal St George’s hosts the world’s oldest golf championship for the first time since 2003 when Ben Curtis lifted the old Claret Jug, with hopes high for a first European victory in three years. European golf is currently in the ascendancy after Rory McIlroy’s astonishing eight-shot triumph at the US Open last month, and with Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, McIlroy and Martin Kaymer occupying the top four spots in the world rankings.

Last year, the unheralded South African Louis Oosthuizen dominated the field at St Andrews, winning by seven shots despite having missed the cut at all but one of his previous attempts at the majors. Since then, he has continued his form, winning the Africa Open in January and tying for ninth at the US Open. Can he repeat last year’s miracle, or will the Americans finally break a winless streak at the majors dating back to Phil Mickelson’s victory at the 2010 Masters?

5. England vs India, First Test (21st-25th)

The recent 1-0 series win over Sri Lanka consolidated England‘s third place in the ICC test rankings, and they will have the opportunity to progress further with a good result against India in the first of a four-test series at Lord‘s. Not only would a series win against easily the top-ranked side in the world be a real statement of intent, it will also give England the chance to overhaul South Africa and claim second spot ahead of their tough winter tours against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Alastair Cook and Ian Bell have each scored two centuries already this summer, while Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann have been in fine form with the ball. England will need to be at their best to defeat India, but this improving side is as good an England team as we have seen for many years.

The week in numbers: w/e 18/7/10

England captain Andrew Strauss (image courtesy of HNM_1977)

250 – Second-wicket partnership by Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott in the third and final one-day international against Bangladesh. It established a new England record as the highest stand for any wicket in ODIs. Strauss scored 154, Trott 110.

2 – Days after the World Cup final before the UEFA Champions League programme started. 17 qualifying matches were played on Tuesday and Wednesday.

13Australia‘s victory in the first Test at Lord’s was their 13th successive win over Pakistan.

63Rory McIlroy‘s first round of 63 at The Open at St Andrews equalled the lowest-ever round at any of golf’s four majors.

7Louis Oosthuizen‘s winning margin as he claimed his first major title at The Open with a 16-under par total of 272.

48,200 – A ball used in the World Cup final was bought by Spanish fans in an online charity auction for $74,000 (equivalent to£48,200).

Cadel Evans

8:07 – Time lost by yellow jersey Cadel Evans on Tuesday’s stage nine at the Tour de France, as he slipped from first to 18th in one day. Evans rode the entire stage with a cracked bone in his elbow, sustained in a crash the previous Sunday.

3 – The yellow jersey changed hands on three consecutive stages in the mountains of the Jura and the Alps. Fabian Cancellara lost it to Sylvain Chavanel on stage seven, who in turn relinquished it to Cadel Evans and then Andy Schleck on stages eight and nine.

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