24-05-2001

By Nick Carey

Yes, sport now, and we'll start with cycling for a change and the Grand Prix du Midi Libre cycling race in France and the fortunes of Czech Jan Svorada. Svorada has got off to a great start in the race, finishing the first stage from Gruissan to St Cyprien, which measures almost 183 kilometres, just four seconds behind stage winner Jerome Bernard of France, in a time of four hours thirty minutes and fifteen seconds.

The news was even better for Svorada in the 197 kilometre second stage, from St Cyprien to Pezenas, in a time of four hours forty three minutes and forty three seconds. This puts Svorada at the top of the overall standings table, which is a great start, but there's still a long way to go.

Hockey now and Jaromir Jagr says he is going to leave the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he has been for eleven seasons, following the team's defeat by New Jersey in the semi-finals of the Stanley Cup. Jagr's contract and that of nineteen other players at the team are due to expire at the end of the season, and Jagr, with a salary of ten million US dollars a year, has become just too expensive for the Penguins. Jagr's form has been off for the past few months, and he says he hopes that when he dons the colours of a different team next season, he'll start playing better and get more enjoyment out of the game. It's not yet known which team Jagr is thinking of transferring to, or whether he has received any offers.

Speaking of offers, speculation still abounds over whether Czech footballer Jan Koller, currently the striker at the Belgian side Anderlecht, will transfer to Fulham, who will be playing in the English Premiere Division next year, or to the German club Borussia Dortmund, who will be competing in the Champions League next season. As there is more glory in the Champions League, it's widely believed that the 6ft 7in giant will probably choose in favour of Dortmund.

Rumours have abounded over the past few weeks over Koller's future, but Dortmund have already agreed on personal terms with him, and have made an improved, but as yet unspecified, offer to Anderlecht for the striker. Earlier this season Dortmund signed up another Czech, midfielder Tomas Rosicky, for a club record price of 25 million marks. The two men are said to want to play together, and, if the price is right, may well get their chance.

And staying with football and Czech national team manager Jozef Chovanec has unveiled his squad for two upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Denmark and Northern Ireland. There are few major changes, other than Chovanec's decision to include Petr Johana, an uncapped defender who plays for Slovan Liberec, in the squad. Chovanec is quoted as saying that Johana's aggressive style could help the team in the upcoming games. The Czechs currently top their qualifying group for the World Cup, but with Bulgaria just one point behind them, there's still a lot to play for.

24-05-2001