Briton Thomas wins Tour de France opening stage

first_img… Chris Froome lays down early markerBy Martyn HermanDUESSELDORF, Germany-(Reuters)-Reigning champion Chris Froome wasted no time flexing his muscles at the Tour de France as he powered to sixth place in a treacherous opening time trial won superbly by Team Sky colleague Geraint Thomas on Saturday.Heavy rain turned what, on paper, had looked like a regulation 14-km circuit alongside the Rhine river into an incident-packed Grand Depart that could have major consequences in the three-week battle for the yellow jersey.While it was a great start for Team Sky, with Thomas, three-times champion Froome, Vasil Kiryienka and Michal Kwiatkowski all in the top eight of the 198 riders to start, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde’s Tour is already over after a sickening crash.Several riders continued after crashing on the greasy roads but there was no getting up for Valverde, third overall in 2015, after he careered into crowd barriers after skidding off before being taken to hospital with leg injuries.It was heart-breaking for Valverde and also a huge blow for team mate Nairo Quintana who would have been counting on Valverde’s experience in the mountain stages to come to have a real chance of halting Froome’s bid for a hat-trick.Welshman Thomas, riding his eighth Tour de France, looked completely at home in the puddles as he became the eighth Briton to wear the yellow jersey — making up for the disappointment of crashing out of the Giro d’Italia as team leader.He displayed brilliant bike-handling to cross the finish line alongside the sprawling Messe Duesseldorf exhibition complex in 16 minutes 04 seconds.He was five seconds ahead of BMC’s Swiss rider Stefan Kueng, who was two seconds ahead of Kiryienka in third.Froome, the last rider out, was 12 seconds slower than Thomas, but significantly quicker than all his main General Classification (GC) rivals — 35 seconds ahead of Australian Richie Porte, 36 seconds ahead of Quintana and 42 ahead of Spain’s twice former winner Alberto Contador.French hopefuls Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet were also off the pace after conservative rides.HISTORIC DAYThomas said it had been an historic day for Welsh sport after Sam Warburton captained the British and Irish Lions to victory over rugby giants the New Zealand All Blacks.“That inspired me to be honest,” he said. “I didn’t believe I would hang on, felt sure Tony (Martin) or someone would beat my time. This is amazing for me after what happened at the Giro and massive for the team. The jersey is a huge bonus.“I took the first corner pretty quick and then Nico (Portal, Sky sports director] said, ‘Take it easy’. I didn’t take any big risks. I tried to savour it.”Martin’s hopes of marking the first German Grand Depart since Berlin in 1987 with victory were dashed as he came fourth.Froome said he was happy for his team mate and delighted with an incident-free day.“Really happy with that start and amazing to see Geraint in the yellow jersey,” he said.While BMC’s Porte will be concerned to be already playing catch-up before the real battles begin, he said at least he had not suffered the same fate as Valverde.“It wasn’t a day to take risks,” Froome’s former team mate said. “It was just a matter of keeping it rubber side down. I saw my team mate (Nicolas Roche) bin it and I was petrified to be honest. It was such a slippery course.”It was a sentiment shared by Bardet (AG2R) who finished second behind Froome at last year’s Tour.“I didn’t take any risks. I finished in one piece. There’s still a long way to go,” he said.last_img read more

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DDL Chairman calls for more attention to manufacturing sector

first_img…says local exporters must lift standardsWith Guyana’s Balance of Payment position showing a US$69.5 million deficit last year, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) Chairman Komal Samaroo on Thursday made a charge for more emphasis to be placed on developing the manufacturing and export sector.DDL Chairman Komal SamarooSamaroo was at the time addressing persons gathered for the launch of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s business magazine. The business executive warned that, with the global market as competitive as it is, more needs to be done to lift local standards.He noted that to do this, high levels of technical competence and discipline are needed; but, he said, there are challenges even with these lofty goals. Here he was referring to the bureaucracy some manufacturers must deal with when transacting their business.“In today’s world, the advance in the digital and artificial technology is transforming all aspects of business,” he related. “It is important that our education system in Guyana be revamped to produce people who are fully equipped with the skillsets to manage businesses in the Technical Age.“Even today, about a quarter of the US economy consists of manufacturing of physical goods. When you add the distribution and sales to retail outlets, you are talking closer to three quarters of the US economy,” he disclosed.Samaroo pointed to statistics that a quarter of the US economy is made up of manufacturing physical goods. This, he said, coupled with distribution and sales to retail outlets, means the superpower economy is built largely around manufacturing.“We have to export to international and regional markets. The international market is very competitive, complex and constantly changing. If one is to be successful, one has to be equipped with the market data to respond to those changes,” he cautioned.“Our production system must meet international levels at all times, and this requires a high level of technical competence and discipline in management of manufacturing companies,” Samaroo related.Balance of paymentsTo record a deficit in the Balance of Payments, Guyana would have had to spend more on imports, among other things, that it derived from exports. And indeed, the 2017 macroeconomic report speaks to below projected merchandise export earnings.According to the report, Guyana’s overall balance of payments in the 2017 fiscal year showed a deficit of US$69.5 million. This is a hike when compared to US$53.3 million the previous year. A breakdown of the figures shows disparities.On the one hand, the Current Account shows a deficit of US$287.4 million for the year 2017. But in the previous fiscal year, the report notes, this was just US$12.4 million. The report admits that this is because of a negative balance on the merchandise trade account.“The further weakening was due to the negative balance on the merchandise trade account. Merchandise exports were slightly lower than projected, mainly on account of lower export earnings of gold and other exports in the last two months of the year,” the report states.When Finance Minister Winston Jordan presented the 2018 budget last year, he had announced that merchandise imports were estimated to grow by 9.6 per cent. This had been attributed to increased imports of mining machinery, chemicals, fuel and lubricants. According to the report, imports exceeded the Government’s projections.“Imports were slightly more than the US$1.59 billion projected at the time of the presentation of the 2018 budget. As a result, the merchandise trade deficit of US$196.2 million was considerably higher than the projected deficit of US$147.2 million.“Notwithstanding, the deficit on the services account was lower than estimated… the improvement in the services account more than offsets the weaker balances on both the non-factor services and unrequited transfers accounts,” the report states. (Jarryl Bryan)last_img read more

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