Q & A: Passing peloton's photo-finish

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The Independent Online
Q. How do so many cyclists in the Tour de France manage to finish stages with the same time?

A. With so many riders finishing stages together, it would be impossible for timekeepers to give them all separate times. Therefore, in the road-race stages, timings are always to the full second, and when riders cross the line in a group - even if it is 120 strong - they are given the same time unless the photo-finish camera shows a gap of more than a full second. - Peter Burgess, Norwich

Q. Is there an example of an Italian player who has played club football away from Italy with any degree of success?

A. Carlo Sartori (born Italy, 10 February 1948) moved to England at an early age and signed for Manchester United as an apprentice in July 1963. His first- team appearances for them were limited (38 games and four goals) between 1968 and 1971. He was given a free transfer in 1973 when he joined the Italian club Bologna.

It is interesting to note that no Italian international team has included a foreign-based player in their 84-year history. Perhaps the most famous player born outside the country was Raimondo Orsi (born Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2 December 1901), who joined Juventus from Independiente in 1929, winning five consecutive Italian Championships between 1931 and 1935. He played 35 games for Italy between 1929 and 1935. He scored 13 goals, including one in the 1934 World Cup final, which saw Italy defeat Czechoslovakia. - Brian Mellowship, London SE12

Q. I believe in the early 1970s ITV as responsible for a long-throw-in competition, which Ian Hutchinson on. If such a competition took place today, who would win?

A. Throws have been measured on the training pitch by Shoot masgazine. The longest was by Andy Legg of Notts County at around 46 metres, but in competition at Wembley he reached 40.5m. Even so, this is an unofficial world record. I would not be surprised if readers, who saw England Under-18 Schoolboys at Gillingham and Norwich, write in about their experience. In both matches David Challinor (Cheshire Schools) projected throw- ins to the far post causing consternation. Surely a 'world record' awaits him? - David Willacy, St Albans

Q. What is the least number of league appearances made by a footballer before his full international debut?

A. Although there were many amateur pre-war England internationals who never played a League game, I doubt if any post-war England internationals were capped after as few League games as Gary Charles (Nottingham Forest, now Derby County). Charles played twice during the tour of the Far East in the summer of 1991 (against New Zealand and Malaysia), having played only 20 League games. Even then only 12 were with Forest, the other eight while on loan to Leicester City. Charles has never been near the England team since. - Ed Glinert, Marple Bridge, Cheshire

Q. What is the highest number of match points a Wimbledon champion has saved against them?

A. A total of 11 Wimbledon singles' champions have faced match points on their way to winning the title, among them such legends as Bill Tilden, Henri Cochet, Suzanne Lenglen and Helen Wills Moody. It has not happened since 1960, though, when Neale Fraser won after saving five match points in his quarter-final against Earl Bucholz. In recent years, several doubles champions have come back from the dead, most memorably John McEnroe and Michael Stich in 1992, when they were twice championship point down in the final set against Grabb and Reneberg, before winning 19-17 on the third Monday of the tournament. - Jon Kennaugh, Wirral


Q. Sportsnight with Coleman in April 1990 featured the Kop Choir final. Choirs from Liverpool, Newport United, Tottenham Hotspur, Rotherham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton were involved. Which choir won and how was it judged? - Norman Bartlam, Woodgate Valley, Birmingham

Q. Now there is no speedway team in London, could you tell me when, and against whom, the last meetings were held at New Cross, West Ham, and Harringay? - G Foulkes, Bournemouth.

Q. In the UK, football must enjoy the most publications in sport. How do other sports compare with this? - Kevin Maguire, Batley, West Yorkshire

Q. In the World Cup, the best four teams that finish in the third places in the groups play in the second round. How is it worked out which second- round ties these teams play in? - Iain Sharp, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

Q. What was the origin of the chequered flag and when was it first used in motor racing? - David O'Hagan, Bearsted, Kent

Q. I have found no evidence that the late Brian Johnston, or indeed any other cricket commentator stated on radio that 'The batsman's Holding, the bowler's Willey'. Is the story apocryphal or not? - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

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