ANNECY, France -- From a lack of funds to poor local support to the resignation of its bid leader, Annecy has faced a mountain of problems in its quest for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Despite all the renewed bid efforts over the last 12 months, the lakeside town in the heart of the French Alps remains an underdog ahead of the International Olympic Committee vote on July 6 in Durban, South Africa. "We are in a far better situation now and we definitely can win this contest," bid leader Charles Beigbeder said in an interview with The Associated Press. "What really matters is the ability to bounce back and to go beyond the problems. We improved our lobbying and the bid funding. This race is not over." Engaged in a three-way contest with Munich and Pyeongchang, South Korea, Annecy has considered the outsider from the start of the campaign. Following Paris crushing failure in the race for the 2012 Olympics, French sporting officials decided that a bid for the 2018 Winter Games was a requirement to have a chance to win the 2020 or 2024 Summer Games. That led to speculation that Annecy wasnt a serious contender itself, an impression underlined when the French candidate only narrowly made the list of three finalists last year after the IOC criticized the bids spread-out venues. The IOC warning -- a "black eye," according to influential French IOC member Jean-Claude Killy -- prompted Annecy officials to revamp their plans with a more centralized project around two main hubs, Annecy and Chamonix. That setback cost considerable time at a crucial moment when officials should have started promoting their bid internationally instead of rethinking the whole project. "I would have liked to join the bid a few months earlier," said Beigbeder, who replaced Edgar Grospiron as the bid chief after the former Olympic moguls skiing gold medallist resigned last December. "I would have been able to take part to the bid presentations we did for the associations of national Olympic committees. But lets stop talking about the past. The bid has been revamped and is now considered an excellent project." In its report evaluating the renewed bid plan in May, the IOC cited the "relatively spread out" layout of the four Olympic villages, saying it would pose "operational and transport challenges" for national Olympic committees. "That reflects the fact that our bid is in the heart of the mountains," Beigbeder said. "But with our four Olympic villages and two main hubs, 80 per cent of the athletes journeys will last less than 10 minutes." If Annecy gets the Olympics, its total Games spending will be US$5.2 billion -- $1.85 billion earmarked for the organizing committees budget, and $3.4 billion on infrastructure. Despite strong government backing for the bid, Annecy has the smallest budget compared to its two rivals. The lack of money led Grospiron to resign and Beigbeder was given the task of finding more private money. In April, he secured six new sponsorship deals with private French companies for an extra three million euros, a few days after Herve Madore resigned as deputy director in another blow for the bid. "Im not the only one responsible for this, its a collective work," Beigbeder said. "Finding new financial means was necessary. We now have a meaningful and sufficient budget." Another potential issue for the French bid is the lack of support from Annecy residents. A recent opinion poll showed that half of the residents of the lakeside town are opposed to the project. According to the results, only 49 per cent of Annecy residents are favourable to the bid. But Beigbeder said a recent survey commissioned by bid officials not only in the town of Annecy but also in the Savoie and Haute Savoie regions suggested that 67 per cent of people supported it, a figure rising to 78 per cent among young people. Annecys strongest asset is the environmental side of the project, which aims at staging "authentic" and "green" Games in the heart of the Alps, and then making the region a hub for outdoor sports in Europe after the Olympics. In its evaluation report, the IOC praised Annecys vision of being a "catalyst and a model for sustainable development in the mountain region." "I think they understand our vision and the concept of environmental legacy," Beigbeder said. "This is a magical location, and our generous ambition will allow the IOC to accomplish its ultimate mission, which is to inspire the whole world." Annecy is making its first Olympic bid, although France has staged the Winter Games three times -- Chamonix 1924, Grenoble 1968 and Albertville 1992. All competitions would take place within a 33-kilometre radius. Annecy and Chamonix, which are less than an hour apart, would be linked by a rail line created for the Olympics. Annecy would host the skating events and curling, while the opening ceremony would take place on the shores of the towns lake. The snowboard and freestyle ski events would take place in the upper part of the town and the neighbouring resorts of La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand would stage the cross-country events. Alpine skiing and the hockey tournament would be held in Chamonix. Bobsled, luge and skeleton would be staged in the ski resort of La Plagne. A total of 5,100 beds will be available in the Olympic villages, with about 600 more beds available in La Plagne. Cheap NFL Jerseys
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. "We have to make this place a living hell for [opponents] to come play here," the Raptors general manager pleaded. So far its been anything but. "We have far more focus on the road than we do at home and that is a concern," coach Dwane Casey said after his team dropped to 4-8 at the ACC, losing another heartbreaker, 104-102 to the Bobcats in overtime Wednesday.ST. LOUIS -- Kyle Lohse leads the St. Louis Cardinals with 13 victories after silencing the Milwaukee Brewers runaway express. Hell be ready for his next start, whenever that is. Lohse threw six scoreless innings on eight days rest and the Cardinals got home runs from Jon Jay and Matt Holliday in the third, slicing into the Brewers formidable NL Central lead with a 4-2 victory Tuesday night. "I think I said about a month ago when I started getting moved around and skipped, Id take the ball when Tony (La Russa) says its my turn and go as long as I can until he says thats enough," Lohse said. "I try not to worry about all the other stuff, because then youre going to be distracted. I try not to get upset." The Brewers thought wind blowing in from centre robbed them of three homers against Lohse. But they didnt get upset, either. "The elements played their part," said Nyjer Morgan, who had three hits. "Its all good. well come back tomorrow and bring it to them." Lohse (13-8) gave up four hits, struck out six and walked three. He was pushed back two days behind Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook after giving up four runs in five innings in a win against Pittsburgh in his last start. "I dont think he enjoyed it and was upset because he got bumped," manager La Russa said. "But the difficulty today was that he was pitching against a good team and he did great." La Russa left shortly after the game to catch a Santana concert. Yovanni Gallardo (15-10) gave up three runs in six innings, and has allowed six home runs in 10 2-3 innings over his last two starts, both losses to the Cardinals. He gave up only three his previous seven starts combined. Gallardo dropped to 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA for his career against the Cardinals, the lone victory on May 7 in St. Louis when he took a no-hitter into the eighth of a 4-0 victory. "Good or bad, you dont look at those things," Gallardo said. "Every games a different game, every starts a different start. Youve just got to go out there and give your team a chance to win." Jonathan Lucroy had an RBI double in the eighth for the Brewers, who lead the Central by 9 1/2 games with 19 to play after their four-game winning streak was snapped. Corey Hart extended his hitting streak to 18 games for Milwaukee, which is a major-league best 40-16 since July 6 -- with six of the losses against the Cardinals. Hart flied out twice to the warning track in centre and Ryan Braun also flied out to the track in centre in the fifth, all against Lohse.dddddddddddd "Oh yeah, we would have had a lot of runs if we were in our ballpark," Roenicke said. "Braunie really crushed his, but then again Holliday hammered his ball, too. The elements sometimes work against you." Jason Motte allowed three hits and Prince Fielders RBI single in the ninth before earning his third save in six chances in a September shot at closing. The run ended a streak of 21 consecutive scoreless appearances for Motte, and also was the first earned run he allowed in 34 appearances since June 24. Fernando Salas, who has 23 saves in 28 chances, got the first two outs in the seventh. "Im sorry its over, but kind of glad," Motte said. "I dont have to worry about you guys coming up and asking me about it every day." Lance Berkman, who struck out three times against Gallardo the last meeting, gave the Cardinals the lead with an RBI in the first -- also his 100th career RBI against the Brewers. Jay hit his 10th homer with one out in the third and Holliday hit his 22nd just inside the right-field foul pole with two outs. "The home run to Jay, that ball is far in off the plate. I threw the pitch where I wanted to and he turned on it," Gallardo said. On Hollidays homer: "That ball was up. He goes that way pretty good and put a pretty good swing on it." The Cardinals had three straight singles off Kameron Loe with one out the seventh with Jay getting the RBI before Albert Pujols hit into his major-league leading 26th double play. The Cardinals lead the majors with 151 -- 15 shy of the major league record held by the 1958 Cardinals. NOTES: Zack Greinke (14-5) opposes Chris Carpenter (8-9) in the finale of a three-game series. Carpenter is 5-6 with a 5.05 ERA in 14 career starts against Milwaukee and is 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA in three starts this year. ... Pujols has one more double play ball than Bostons Adrian Gonzalez. Holliday and Yadier Molina are in a three-way tie for second in the NL along with Atlantas Alex Gonzalez. The double play all was Pujols first in 28 games. ... Lohse beat the Brewers for the first time in four decisions at home. ... Hart doubled to lead off the game and singled to start the ninth and is batting .359 (28-for-78) with five homers and nine RBIs. ... Brewers rookie Taylor Green is 4-for-4 as a pinch hitter after singling in the eighth. ' ' '