Top 10 Aus sport moments of 2011

THE Australian sporting public suffered the highs and lows this year - from Cadel Evans' Tour de France triumph to the Australian cricket team's slide from world beaters.

And now you can take a look back at the Australian sport stories which made all the headlines. 

1. Evans wins Tour de France

2. Stosur wins US Open

3. Queenslander, Queenslander, Queenslander

4. Fall of Australian cricket

5. Stoner wins as world mourns Simoncelli

6. Photo finish wins Melbourne Cup

7. Ricky Nixon's Dulthie-gate

8. Wallabies fail at the World Cup

9. So close for Socceroos

10. The return of Kewell and Emerton

Evans wins Tour de France

Cadel Evans rode into the record books not once, but twice - first Australian and oldest rider since WWII - when he cruised along the Champs Elysees wearing the Tour de France leader's yellow jersey.

Along the way he dodged calamitous crashes, scaled one of the highest peaks in Europe and over came the combined, and considerable, might of the Schleck brothers and reigning champion Alberto Contador.

No sooner had Evans raised his hands in triumph, then scribes began to place his achievement in Australia's sporting history.

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Stosur wins US Open

For years Sam Stosur had been known only for her successful doubles career, but in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, she showed what she could do all by herself.

Against the heavily favoured Serena Williams and with little support to spur her on, Stosur spent the next two sets clinically disposing of the out-of-sorts Williams.

The 6-2, 6-3 result introduced Stosur to the world and made her Australia's first women's grand slam winner in 31 years.

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Queenslander, Queenslander, Queenslander

The Queensland Reds, Queensland Firebirds, Brisbane Roar and Queensland State of Origin squad - heaven help the sporting world if they were ever to combine.

In a stellar year north of the border, nothing could stop the never-ending march of Queensland teams.

The Firebirds went undefeated, the Reds brought back expansive rugby, the Roar claimed a 65-year unbeaten record and the Maroons heaped more misery on NSW and sent their inspirational leader - Darren Lockyer - out a champion.

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The fall of Australian cricket

The golden age of Australian cricket is over - it began at the Gabba against the English and ended in Hobart against the Black Caps.

The Ashes were swept away for the second time in a row, Ricky Ponting resigned the captaincy, scores of 47 all out were not unheard of and, the most shameful, the Kiwis won here, on Australian soil.

There is hope, but expect more pain before the world trembles again.

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Stoner wins as world mourns Simoncelli

Chuck an Aussie on a Repsol Honda and watch him go!

The Australian-Japanese combination worked wonders for Mick Doohan in the nineties and despite the 12 year gap, repeated the effort with Casey Stoner.

The 2007 world champion breezed his way to this year's world championship, claiming the title by 90 points with two races to spare.

Sadly, Stoner's achievements were overshadowed by the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli - the likeable Italian losing his life after crashing early in the Malaysian GP.

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Photo finish wins Melbourne Cup

There's a photo finish and then there's the 2011 Melbourne Cup.

The race that stops a nation had the nation stopped for a few minutes longer than usual as officials tried to separate international runners Dunaden and Red Cadeaux .

To the naked eye there was no clear winner, Red Cadeaux had chased down Dunaden with no track left to run.

But after an eternity, Dunaden was given the honours, a shaving of a nostril hair caught frame-by frame was all that stood between first and second.

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Ricky Nixon's Dulthie-gate

Here's a quick sporting test. Hands up if you've never heard of Ricky Nixon? Oh how the AFL wished it never had!

Before a ball had even been bounced in the new season, player manager Ricky Nixon was plastered on every headline, broadcast and television screen.

Why? Nixon was caught in an alleged relationship with Kim Duthie, a 17-year-old who had previously lied about being involved with some of Nixon's clients.

The saga had everything; photos of Nixon in his underwear, rehab sessions, media stings outside hotels, and of course, the never ending question of who was telling the truth.

Dulthie eventually admitted to falsifying the story, but Nixon has yet to explain his late night undie-romp in her hotel room.

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Wallabies fail at the World Cup

The Queensland Reds had drawn up the game-plan, the Tri-Nations victory had built the platform, but somewhere along the way, Robbie Deans' Wallabies made a mess of the Australian public's World Cup expectations.

Injuries to key personnel didn't help, but from the opening match it didn't appear as if the Wallabies would be a force to be reckoned with.

The loss to the Irish confirmed the suspicions, and despite a nail-biting victory over the Springboks, the All Blacks exposed the Wallabies as the third-rank side it was.

Even third seemed hollow.

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So close for Socceroos

New coach, new philosophy and new confidence.

Gone was the pragmatic Pim Verbeek, replaced by the unknown Holger Osieck, and here was the German's chance to lay down his mark.

The last time the Australians played at the continent's major championship, they were uninspired and were lucky to make the quarter finals.

But despite dominating the final, the Socceroos learnt a valubale lesson: always take your chances. Japan won 1-0 late in the match.  

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The return of Kewell and Emerton

What Brisbane Roar did on the field, the Football Federation of Australia desperately hoped Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton could emulate off it.

With the league still aglow from one of the most gripping grand finals in modern history, two of the countries greatest stars announced they would return to Australia and ply their trade in the A-League.

After much rumour, Kewell opted to join the Melbourne Victory while Emerton returned to his roots and Sydney FC.

Only time will tell if their decision will be a boon or bust for both their careers and the code in this country.

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