F1 drivers step into the unknown on resurfaced Sepang

By Abhishek Takle
| SEPANG, Malaysia

SEPANG, Malaysia Experienced drivers such as Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button have no idea what to expect at the Malaysian Grand Prix as the Sepang circuit has been overhauled for this weekend's race.

The 5.5 km track located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur has been resurfaced, while the gradient of some its 15 corners has also been changed.

The tweaks have been carried out to make the track surface smoother, improve drainage and make the corners flow better.

Liverpool's Klopp says Swansea will provide tough test

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp believes Saturday's opponents Swansea City are a far better team than current form suggests and there will be no complacency as the Merseysiders look to maintain their bright start to the season.

Liverpool are fuelled with confidence and fourth in the table, having beaten Arsenal, Chelsea and champions Leicester City in their opening six games of the campaign.

While it has been a far more testing start for Swansea, who are fourth from bottom with a solitary victory, Klopp believes they could prove a stubborn obstacle at the Liberty Stadium.

Cycling no longer the black sheep, says Tour de France director

By Julien Pretot
| PARIS

PARIS With scandal after scandal rocking the world of sport, cycling is shedding its image as the black sheep because of its changing culture, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme believes.

Long associated with systematic doping, his sport has been spared such close scrutiny during recent affairs that have plagued football, athletics and the International Olympic Committee.

AS Roma denies in talks with China Evergrande over stake sale

ROME The majority shareholder in AS Roma denied on Thursday that he was in talks with China's second-largest property developer, China Evergrande Group, over the sale of a stake in the Italian Serie A soccer club.

"I have never, ever, ever spoken with Evergrande or anyone else in China," James Pallotta, a U.S. investor and president of AS Roma since 2012, told Reuters. "We are not in talks with anyone."

Injured Ramsey forced to sit out Wales' World Cup qualifiers

Aaron Ramsey was left out of Wales' 23-man squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Georgia as the Arsenal midfielder is yet to recover from an hamstring injury he sustained in August, manager Chris Coleman said.

Ramsey, who was initially expected to be back mid-September, is likely to make his return after the international break which ends on Oct. 14.

Wales, who top their qualification group after they beat Moldova 4-0 earlier this month, will travel to take on Austria on Oct. 6 and then return to Cardiff City Stadium to face Georgia on Oct. 9.

Rugby - Lambie returns for Boks in new-look backline

PRETORIA South Africa coach Allister Coetzee made three changes to his backline for the Rugby Championship clash with Australia on Saturday with a new half-back pairing and the return of Pat Lambie at fullback.

Lambie will play his first test since suffering concussion against Ireland in the June internationals and replaces Johan Goosen in the number 15 jersey.

“The selection of Pat at fullback fits into the way we want to play this weekend, together with his experience, calmness and leadership, which will be invaluable,” Coetzee said on Thursday.

Motor racing - Sauber’s Ericsson fit to race after Thai chicken accident

By Abhishek Takle
| SEPANG, Malaysia

SEPANG, Malaysia Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was left wondering why the chicken crossed the road after falling foul of one while training in Thailand last week.

But he says his accident will not stop him taking part in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Swede and his trainer were cycling in Thailand after the Singapore Grand Prix when they quite literally ran into the bird.

Real Madrid ready to fight back to winning ways

MADRID Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is not pressing the panic button despite a third straight draw for his team ahead of Sunday's home game against Eibar.

The La Liga leaders failed to beat Villarreal and Las Palmas and then drew 2-2 at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Real twice led against Borussia but were pegged back.

Zidane told his club's website what he felt Real were missing. "Perhaps another goal," he said. "When you lead by just the odd goal these things can happen to you.

Winterburn backs Wenger for England, says he will stay at Arsenal

By Martyn Herman
| LONDON

LONDON Arsene Wenger would be the perfect choice to revive England's flagging fortunes, according to Nigel Winterburn -- although the former Arsenal defender hopes it never happens.

Odds on the Frenchman taking charge of the national team have shortened drastically since Sam Allardyce's 67-day reign ended on Tuesday.

Wenger has been Arsenal manager for 20 years but his contract is up at the end of the season.

Banana thrown onto pitch during Rostov's Champions League match with PSV

MOSCOW A banana was thrown onto the pitch in Rostov-on-Don in an apparent racist gesture during Rostov's Champions League Group D clash with PSV Eindhoven, Russian media reported, an incident that could prove damaging for the Russian side.

The fruit was seen on television being tossed onto the pitch of the Olimp 2 stadium in the 23rd minute of Wednesday evening's game and lay near the Rostov penalty area. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.

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