Monday, September 19, 2016

It's Yer What the Hell There's Still Racing and Stuff After the Vuelta? Update!

Yes, as we slowly wake up from our post-Vuelta stupor, and the world's best athletes continue to recover from their garbage-bag TUE hangovers, the world of cycling charges ahead, so what're you missing? Buckets!

Sprint Train Sounding Louder/Everyone Jump Upon the Sprint Train: this week, the Classics boys, so long dormant, come out to play again, this time at the beloved Eneco Tour, where Can'tTellTheTwoLottosApart's Dylan Groenewegen snagged the first sprint stage in a chaotic--read "universally choked"--lead-out, and Nacer Bouhanni, who came in second ahead of new Eurochamp stars-man Peter Sagan, celebrated his podium spot by gratuitously punching two random members of the public and the guy who hands the winner the hot-off-the-presses leader's jersey. We're proud of you too, Nacer--you're behaving less Cavishly every day!

To Gasp, Perchance to GC: and, in "seriously,-we're-not-doping news", the controversy continues over the commie-conspiracy "Fancy Bear" athlete Therapeutic Use Exemption leak, which revealed an astonishing 74 separate TUEs for Chris Froome alone at this year's Tour de France, including totally coincidentally performance-enhancing meds for such common pro-cyclist maladies as asthma, high cholesterol, influenza, the common cold, arthritis, gout, heartworm, rabies, saddlesores, toenail fungus, and a particularly nasty case of dandruff. Geez, you really *can't* win a Grand Tour nowadays unless you're damn near dead! Over on Planet Bull!@#$, immortal Tour de France champ/unendingly self-promoting autobiographer Brad Wiggins justified getting over the Great Britain peloton's "total taboo" against using needles in order to receive a deep-tissue drug injection by saying, "I was on so much other !@#$, they coulda jabbed me with that thing they used to eviscerate Mel Gibson in "Braveheart" and I wouldn't'a felt it." Thanks for the clarification, Brad!

Move It or Lose It: finally, the smokin' hot end-of-season transfer market speeds on, as Alberto Contador explained his long-anticipated shift to Trek (bringing along like the only 2 teammates who didn't stab 'im in the back this season) by opining that, while the collapse of his team surely played some role in his wing-spreading, "there's only so many times even a diplomatic guy like me can say he's "grateful" to be Oleg Tinkov's b!@#$." In other team news, new-but-bangin' squad Dimension Data was briefly in danger of losing its coveted World Tour license for lack of points, at least until Mark Cavendish met privately with UCI prez Brian Cookson for tea, reportedly smashing a crumpet into dust with his bare fist and telling Cookson over the clotted cream that "this'll be your !@#$ing face, you !@#$ing !@#%!", after which Cookson announced "an accounting error" at an afternoon press conference and granted DiData its license back after all. Welcome back Dimension Data--and smooth save there Mark!

Well, until Tom Boonen takes an Eneco stage (shut up! will too! go to hell!), that oughta hold us, at least til some other dimwit breaks with the proud history of team d--nutritional guidance by getting popped for some sketchy "internet supplement" and ruins the fun for the rest of the riders. Allez Toooooooooooooooooooooom!


Monday, September 12, 2016

It's Yer 2016 Ultra-Coveted Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! #LV2016

Still reeling from the official end of Grand Tour season? Unrelentingly morose since that !@#$wit King of the Freakshow Froome shot a poison dart right into our darling Vuelta? Well morose around no more, dear reader(s), 'cause it's time for the incredibly prestigeless 2016 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! Prizes for our mortified (and thankfully oblivious) winners: eternal Internets glory, a custom-embroidered racejunkie cycling cap, a hideous trophy-like tchotchke, and, in lieu of a magnum of champagne, you come on over thisaway and I'll treat you to a regular at Dunkin' Donuts. So roll out the red carpet, don your finest cycling socks, and let's get this awards show on the road!

Guy I Want to Smack Every Time He Opens His Lying Doping Weasel Mouth Award: "Nairo did a nice job today." "Boy, was that climb tough." "Merry Christmas!" Yep, no matter how outwardly polite he is--and despite the fact that I was raised to be a delicate lady--I swear I want to slap Chris Froome upside the head with a lead bidon every !@#damn time he speaks from today til his inevitable Armstrongian downfall, which, to go by previous UCI track records, will probably occur about the time the Big Bang reverses and the universe collapses back in on itself. Dammit! Chris Froome, accept your prize--if you dare!

What the !@##king !@#$! GC-Screwing Dumbass Award: all right, race organizers--normally I'd give you a pass on anything because you're the noble Vuelta a Espana, but what the *hell* were you thinking starting off with a remotely-longer-'n-5-kilometer team time trial that decimated the !@#damn GC on the FIRST DAY and left Alberto Contador almost a minute back before he even had time to get his chamois on straight? Take your award, and shove it!

Crash o' the Race (Oh, for !@#$'s *Sake*! Edition): Lotto-Numbnut, whoever you were, come on up in tearful quivering misery and accept your life o' notoriety, because after taking down the luckless Alberto Contador in an excruciating crash that left him fully held together with gauze pads and tape for reasons no mechanical, road surface, or basic familiarity with a bicycle could explain, this is frankly the last award you're ever gonna get. Save the daydreaming for the off-season, you eejit, or get the hell off the road and let the GC contenders alone!

Crash o' the Race (*What* Did I Just Tell You Not to Do? Edition): yep, *another* steel bollard thoughtfully placed smack in the middle of the road by some unaccountably embittered urban planner, *another* utter failure by the race bosses to place the smallest shred of marking upon it, *another* innocent rider down and Taaramae'd home in an ambulance. Bollocks, uh, I mean, bollard!

Crash o' the Race (The Entire Planet Sucks! Edition): after battling through the mountains at darn near double the age of some of his competitors, with a hot shower and a cold beer in Madrid virtually within view, our dear Samuel Sanchez caught a bad corner and dislocated his shoulder in a horrid--and horridly demoralizing--time-trial take-out. And he *still* came in 12th on GC after he winced across the line--get well Samu you bad-!@#!

Get Your Motor Runnin'/Heavy Metal Thunder Prize: Chris Froome. La Covadonga. As the bone-crushing fatigue of supremacy in the Tour de France, a bronze medal in the Olympics, and an 8-month performance peak finally hammers home--as if!--Froome's 'energy reserves,' led by a really zippy lemon-poppy scone at breakfast, kick in right on cue, and he tick-tocks up the mountain and onto the podium with the perfect regularity of a Postal Service drone. Damn, that "marginal gains" hocus-pocus really *does* work!

Oh, Snap! Rest Day Press Conference Excellence in Insults Award: he's been soooo nice to his miserable !@#$ team, and so typically complimentary of his usual opponents, that you'd scarce believe it. But even our doe-eyed hero Contador couldn't resist confirming to an inquiring wiseacre that no, he *didn't* want to ride like Froome does making out with his power meter for 2,000 kilometers. Take that, you horrid Sky spider-metronome!

Bestest Bestest Sprinter Award: what the !@#$ are you people talking about, this is the freakin' Vuelta a Espana fer chrissakes! Any of you poor bastards who made it over the Aubisque without having to be airlifted by helicopter gets a prize. Step on up--if you've got any legs left!

Punk-!@# Move of the Race: yes, this is indeed a shocker: for approximately the 96th consecutive Racejunkie Awards (jeez, I've been writing this drivel a long time), it's everybody's best bud Alejandro Valverde, saved from picking up the prize for nutwhacking his own team leader by this time actually bothering to hose someone else, to wit, apparently reassuring fellow countryman (and we all saw how much *that* mattered with Purito Rodriguez) Alberto Contador that they'd kick in a few wholly unneeded calories to chase down no-threat-to-Nairo cheerful stealth-weapon Esteban Chaves when he took off on a daring--and thanks to Movistar, unanswerable--late-Vuelta move to seal the podium *and* yet another reason for that tool Oleg Tinkov to bitch about him. Jaysus, Valverde, you're like a slavering spandex pit bull, throw yer budsd a *bone* whydontcha when you say you will!

Attack o' the Race: and, correspondingly, this is for wee adorable Esteban Chaves, cannily taking advantage of Alberto's still-healing body--and a peloton full of ennui--to attack from way out with Madrid in view and bag third place on the final podium. Aw, it's like being piranha'd on the ankle by a snarling Bichon Frise--it's just so cute you *can't* be mad at it!

Domestique o' the Vuelta: wah, Valverde for Nairo, wah. We all know if that if the Green Bullet hadn't choked so spectacularly on GC he'd've 'helped' Quintana by accidentally feeding his main--and all his replacement--bikes into a woodchipper. But who *could* be relied on, no matter what the challenge, terrain, or wincing blow to his own chances for stage victory? *That's* it, dog-loyal Tinkoff's (I know, right?) Daniele Bennati, working diligently for Contador from the first pedalstroke of the disastrous team time trial to the last depressing ceremonial schlep to the finish line in Madrid. Class, thy name is Benna-Jet!

Sleeping Beauty Award (And Lazy-!@# Prince Award, to Boot): *who* decided to catch up on their beauty sleep with a silent screw-you by meandering in a cool 60 minutes past the time cut, and *who* collapsed like a hurricane-swept house o'cards rather'n anger the whinging toddlers and kick out, well, the equivalent of the entire women's peloton, to avoid cringing embarrassment the next day when like 2 guys'd be left to show up to race? Uh-huh, like 90 clowns who smugly sought safety in numbers (and totally coincidentally, saved a ton of energy for the remaining mountains ahead), and the completely whipped race organizers. Congratulations--you oughta be ashamed of yourselves!

Grace Under Pressure Award: your team is nowhere to be found, except that one assclown who sent a congratulatory tweet out to one of your opponents. Your lackadaisical emperor team boss is still chasing Peter Sagan's holy shadow. And how do you respond to this total !@#$shit? Yeah, you sweetly thank the engineer of your complete miserable crap season and depressing 2016 fruitless downfall for their unending warmth and continued support. Oleg Tinkov, you owe Alberto Contador a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge reward for not completely losing it and going all Vinokourov on your sorry !@#!

Finally, the Corollary "You Suck, Oleg!" Award: it's one thing to be a bit short on reserves after you've targeted the Tour, to unfortunate effect. It's a whole 'nother animal to set 'em snarling on each other carcasses while they're desperately camera-whoring for new contracts at the gaudiest show on the calendar and merely send their wraith-remnants to halfheartedly schlep around at a Grand Tour you clearly don't care about. Forget Contador, the whole damn Vuelta deserves better than the likes of you buddy!

Well, now that the hair gel has melted, the trophies are handed out, and the few who've bothered to remain this long have collapsed into the warm remnants of their gourmet meals, it's time to pack it up on this edition of the Vuelta a Espana and head for home. Next stop, Lombardia--and Contador'll be there, beeyotches!


Sunday, September 04, 2016

It's Yer Holy Crap What Just Happened Out There Vuelta a Espana Roundup! #LV2016

Yes, we're fully two weeks into what is usually the least ridiculous of the Grand Tours, the smashing Vuelta a Espana, and what've we picked up so far, scholars? Damn chaos, I say! Anyway, the current hoo-ha:

1. Today, where like 90 guys deliberately finished about an hour outside the time cut by pulling over for a cool drink, a massage, and a dip in the local hotel pool, is presumably a friendly "!@#$ you!" to the sadistic organizers of the last two stages, which ironclad rule, as the peloton correctly predicted, UCI would be too spineless to enforce. S!@#$w off, UCI, or next time we're going on a 4-hour guided walking tour of the nice village we're passing by, too!

2. Usually, Grand Tour riders are strong in their youth, but gain tactical sense and lose, well, stupid as they age. Froome, of course, is in total reverse. What the heck was he thinking today? I mean, I get--maybe--condescending to Contador and covering your own implausibly miraculous performance by letting him take a little time back today. But Quintana? Jaysus, *how* can this amateur have won three Tours? Oh, wait, I know...

3. It's perfectly normal to peak, as, say, Valverde and Froome have, for 8 straight months of the season including all of the GTs, most of the Classics, the Olympics, and all the short "training" stage races in between, as long as you have one bad day. Must be that no-one in cycling--save, perhaps, Postal/Discovery--ever knew how to train, eat, sleep, or ride until this year. Whew, bullet dodged on the doping front UCI, you can go off and scan another top pro's ride for a motor you're never gonna find there!

4. Contador. If you were Froome, you'd've made up some bull!@#$ excuse to drop out 6 stages ago. Chapeau!

5. Tomorrow is a sprint stage. Given that giant Dutch riders have lately been known to take 86% gradient mountain stages the last season, anyone else banking on Esteban Chaves for the win?

6. Surprised to see Oleg Tinkov there shaking his fist for Contador--or was that giving him the finger? Sagan finally lose patience and kick you out of his entourage now that he's got a shiny new contract, did he?

7. What the hell, LL Cool Sanchez, you couldn't have told Vino to stuff his bizarro pointless orders to put the hammer down in the chase and let your ol' we-still-miss-shut-up-I-don't-care-what-they-were-forcefed-Liberty Seguros buddy snag back a few extra seconds on the Pasty Spawn of Satan's Soulless Beancounter? You *trying* for the Alejandro Valverde Hosing Your Teammate Lifetime Shameful Achievement Award? Send that unholy Astana/Sky alliance back to the flaming underworld from which it came!

8. DO NOT !@#$ UP THIS TIME TRIAL NAIRO. DO NOT !@#$ IT UP!

9. Didja see Greipel took a win today? Look out World Championships, he's comin' right at you!

Well, that's my solid analysis--and if you're thinking that Sky'll figure out a marginal gain for Froome between now and the next mountain stage that'll completely blow the race back apart, well, wouldn't that be an un-surprise. Til then, hang in there Alberto, you got essentially a rest day coming up tomorrow--just stay outta the sprinters' way, and don't let that petty asshat Valverde pip you for seconds while you're the only sensible one avoiding the 3k-to-go feeding frenzy!

And here, the sweet replay:



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's Yer Vuelta a Espana Rest-Day Week-or-So In Preview (Yeah, You Read Right)!

Look, we all know what happened so far: some Lotto dumb-!@# brought down the completely luckless Alberto Contador and screwed his whole race after his own team botched it already in the team time trial, Quintana found his second wind up the mountains yesterday as he was pursued by his own teammate Valverde, and Froome--well, his unseemly mating with his bike computer continues to play out disturbingly on live TV. So what've we got in store the next handful o' stages? Here, Yer Vuelta a Espana Next Little Wunk o' Stages in Preview:

Stage 11 (Wednesday): yep, in the words of the immortal Spinal Tap, this one goes to eleven as we hit the deal-breaking stage of the Pena Cabarga. Contador run over by herd of crazed stampeding cattle, breaks both femurs, 3 ribs, one occipital bone, and a pinky, takes second on stage behind Chris "the Living Dead" Froome. Don't sweat it Nairo, you've got plenty of time to grab an extra minute back before he slaughters you in the time trial!

Stage 12 (Thursday): We're in the Basque country with the smashing hordes of Euskaltel fans, who gives a !@#$ about the race? Contador and his bike completed smothered by rampaging swarm of killer bees, beats Chaves to the line by three minutes. Aupa Alberto!

Stage 13 (Friday): Longest stage of the Vuelta! Contador whacks into 50-foot bronze statue right in the middle of the road unmarked by apologetic race organizers, overtakes breakaway and inevitable winner Philippe Gilbert within 50 meters of the line, admits that with his entire body in giant plaster cast that winning the Vuelta in a week will be "complicated." What, your loyal domestiques won't just carry you to Madrid?

Stage 14 (Saturday): It's the Queen stage, and the GC-destroying haul up the legendary Aubisque! Contador beset by plague of locusts, gains 54 seconds on Froome as Sky captain mistakenly calls up Google Maps instead of his power meter, misdirected back to start of Stage 1. Eyes on the road, you joyless android!

Stage 16 (Sunday): Countdown! It's a Cat 3, 2, 1 to the finale up Los Sarrios. Contador caught up in draft from TV helicopter, flung back 30 kilometers, sets record time to finish line to just pip Valverde. Nice try Alejandro!

All right, that gets us to week 3, just in time for a flat stage in which some GC assclown fighting for 2 bonus seconds causes a 90-man pileup just outside the 3k mark. Good luck Alberto--if you can even make it that far with this stupid curse you've been fighting!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Let's Play Dodgeball: It's Yer Vuelta a Espana Week 1 In Review! #LV2016

Yes folks, it's high time to play that humiliating playground-game-o'-goonish-bullies everywhere--dodgeball, where some over-Red Bull'd bastard pitches a hard piece of sports equipment squarely at your defenseless 98-pound-weakling nerd-noggin, with the clear intent to hurt as much as possible, to the sadistic cheers of your 'roid-raged peaked-in-high-school 9th-grade coach, Vuelta edition! So what've you missed, cowering beneath the collapsible bleachers while praying nobody noticed you? This!

1. It's fine to exhaust your captain and set him back almost a minute on GC on the opening day making 'im domestique his domestiques on the opening day team time trial. !@#$, why not just have 'im hand his bike over next time one of his lesser teammates gets a flat on the final climb of the queen stage, can't screw him over any worse!

2. Not only did some thoughtless asshat neglect to put a big orange barrier and a person frantically waving a flag around a huge pointless steel "bollard" in the middle of the road, completely taking the very nice Steven Kruijswijk--and hat tip to organizers, noticing this !@#$ *afterwards* is not a particularly helpful response to someone who's just been whacked with a heavy pole in the "lumbar-sacral vertebrae"--but *now* poor we love Rein Taaramae's been knocked out of the Vuelta (and his very fine bike utterly splintered) by a numbnut Cofidis team car! Is this some sort of twisted pervert game of bicyclist Whack-a-Mole? You're not taking a !@#$in' roadtrip with your inbred buddies on a deserted red-dirt country byway at 4 in the morning to buy a six-pack of Bud Light fer chrissakes, you're in a *bike race* in the middle of the day--like, for your *living*--you eejits! I stand by my original solution--cattle prods, or one of those "electric fence" dog collars I think've been banned in some countries: one nice high-voltage jolt, and *that'll* keep you a safe distance away next time! Oh, for the innocent times of yore when some lumbering loser in a fright wig and hi-viz man-thong merely caused you to swerve off a mountainside by blasting a fog-horn in yer ear...and race organizers, *don't* start getting any offensive ideas from the fan base!

3. Valverde, man. I warned you dear little Nairo!

4. Sky, man. If it weren't for unfortunate attrition by saddle-sore and disgusting stomach problems (get well soon guys!), there'd be no hope. At least now if all the teams gang up and act in perfect concert maybe like one guy from another team's still got a distant chance at a podium!

5. What the !@#$ Astana, Samuel Sanchez stops to heed the call of the wild solo for *ten* seconds the entire race and *that's* when you put the hammer down? Well he's still in sixth you low-rent punks! Fabian, I don't care if you're *not* in the race--aren't you supposed to be policing this !@#$?

6. Looky looky looky at twee little Chaves!

7. Y'know, at this point, I don't even know if the stupidly scoured-up Alberto Contador is gonna start tomorrow--tho' since half the races this past year or two he's been whipping around with 80% of his body in splints, I'd be rather surprised if he didn't--but if this season's Grand Tours, and the truly vomitous lack of support he's gotten from his gilded wingnut team boss, aren't enough to make him question his life, his career choice, his entire belief system regarding the nature and order of the universe, and whether he just oughta go over to Oleg's house tie up his guards go into his living room where he's enjoying a peaceful lemonade and smack 'im square in the mouth in a fit of unseemly violent small-cyclist pique, I don't know what will. And frankly, if the discreet Samu *also* says you've ridden like a moron and needlessly whacked someone else down, you *know* you oughta just slink back to your team bus and burrow in amongst the dirty reeking yesterday's team kit like the hapless twerp you are. But even *if* Contador's lucky enough to make it to the finale in Madrid, Froome's *still* likely to snap his !@# with a wet towel and give him the world's worst chamois-wedgie while screeching "neener neener!" over his exhausted carcass, right as some other dimwit hits the brakes like they're about to t-bone a moose and takes him out again just in time for Froome to zip up the red jersey in triumph. On second thought--might as well go home and cool out playing video games til 2017 Alberto--even with Trek stacking half its deck with Classics up-and-comers, you sure as hell can't do worse than these clowns!

8. On a non-Vuelta-related note (I know, faithful reader(s), but it's just one, I promise), so now, on top of our star sprinter Nacer Bouhanni's penchant for self-destructive bar brawls, his baby brother is inciting fisticuffs with spindly outclassed unsuspecting fellow cyclists? Nice example you're setting there Rocky Balboa!

9. Finally, you've all been very patient. But don't worry lovely ex-carrots, your terrain is coming up fast. The GC's already pretty well set anyway, right?--might as well grab your own chances!

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Yer "Alberto Contador's Already Completely !#$%ed" Vuelta a Espana Roundup! #LV2016

Thank You Oleg, May I Have Another: yep, it's just 3 days into the smashing Vuelta a Espana--a race particularly suited to Alberto Contador's characteristics--and he's already a nearly-insurmountable 1:18 or so back. And *why* is he so far back, and *why* is that 1 minute and change already so potentially insurmountable? That's right, the lead-weight C-Team that Sagan-fawning "I'm *so* done with this cycling !@#$" Oleg "Alberto Who?" Tinkov saddled Alberto with, so much so that the freakin' GC captain had to gut himself of a week's worth of energy just trying to save his own domestiques' !@#es in the team time trial, when they should've been going all Captain America on the evil peloton trying to preserve *Alberto's* chances. Damn, Oleg, why don't you just designate Contador to lead out Bennati in the sprints so he can drain himself, declare his job done, and drop outta the Vuelta before they start hitting any *other* climbs? Alternately, you might've just whacked 'im in the kneecaps with a heavy-duty bike pump and at least've given 'im a dignified excuse to bail out on this humilating !@#$show before he wastes two and a half more weeks of his life on this planet! 'Nother factor: Sky, of course, is juiced up like a--uh,at near 100%, as is totally natural immediately following an all-out blisteringly successful effort in the Tour de France, and, as any guy who just smashed said Tour and taken a bronze medal in the Rio road race would reasonably be, Chris Froome (insert disgusting lougie-hocking sound effect here) is fresh as a just-plucked daisy to Contador's painfully mortal band of helpless wannabes. Oh Alberto, if anyone can save this, we know you can, and to be sure there's an awful lot of road left--the problem is, it's covered in Froome, and Valverde looks freakishly unstoppable as usual, to boot! But maybe Alejandro'll be too busy marking his own team leader Nairo to pay any attention to you when you get your legs back and take a flyer off the GC group--we can always hope his own greed'll overtake his team-friendly common-sense, can't we?

Tomorrow's Stage 4: a coupla Cat 3s early on, a buncha lumps, and a mildly sloping Cat 2 finish--Philippe Gilbert, if you were pissed off and bored because no-one rode on the Day 2 sprint stage, maybe on this one you'll goad someone into action!

PS Look Alberto, it's the red jersey! You remember what it feels like to wear this repeatedly, right? I think I can, I think I can, I *think* I can...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rio Whaaaaat? It's Yer Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Tres: the 'Nother Guys, and Roundup Stuff! #LV2016

We've got the course down. We've got the GC. What *don't* we have? Damn right, everybody *else* who's going hell-bent for leather for sunburnt glory, and all the last minute news, unfounded gossip, and prurient speculation you need (well, probably don't need) to know! Ergo:

The Missing: Who's *not* here? Tragically, not Froome, but even more tragically, these guys: Sky's Mikel Landa with a "hip injury", which can only mean one of two things: (1) he's got a hip injury, or (2) those !@#$ers at Sky have corrupted 'im. It better be option (1), Brailsford you goon! Also out: defending 2015 campeon Fabio Aru, and last year's bizarro-world revelation Tom Dumoulin, who, frankly, has no business in Vuelta terrain anyway, except maybe lounging in a folding chair by the roadside with a crisp glass of rose' and a nice luncheon with the other fans cheering the *riders* on. Worst of all, Purito--WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

The Sprinters: all right, you hard-core Vuelta freaks, quit laughin'! Yes, despite the wholesale bail-out of those sprinters with better sense, there *are* a few at this race, at least until Cavondonga sends them whimpering home like a kid who just got a bagful o' broccoli and Brussels sprouts for trick-or-treat on Halloween. Tyler Farrar (Dimension Data), who, late word has it, has even more epic hair this year than Marcel Kittel. (bite me! we still love him!). Reigning Spanish road race champ JJ Rojas (Movistar). Master o' Suavity Benna-Jet (Tinkoff). Uh...other guys! Oh, poor dears, at least they've thrown a *few* stages in there for you...just pretend all those mountains are--nope, I got nuthin', it's all an uphill death march and you're gonna be feelin' it!

The Stage Hunters: look, unless Froome's teammates chew their shoes off the pedals to free themselves from the trap they're in, they ain't getting let out for a stage win unless and until Froome *says* they can. And frankly, he won't. Sorry boys--it's "Vive la Revolucion" and you overthrow your captain, or you're hosed! Guys who actually have a chance: for the breaks and roleurs, Philippe Gilbert (BMC). LL Cool Sanchez (Astana). Michal Kwiatkowski, Peter Kennaugh--oops, they're Sky, they're doomed! Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), who's usually pegged for GC but is begging off in favor of Samuel Sanchez and hoping for a breakaway stage win instead (can you imagine, say, Cav and his huge ego doing that for someone else)? Andrew Talansky, and yes, I know you all want him for the overall. And did I mention I just plain like Rein Taaramae whether you seriously think he's gonna bag a win or not? For the truly climbiest, besides the GC contenders we covered already: Darwin Atapuma (BMC). Damn, they've got a bangin' squad this year! Pierre Rolland (Cannondale). We love ex-Euskaltel's Igor Anton (Dimension Data). Markel Irizar from Trek, an ex-Carrot--natch!(and we still love you Haimar Zubeldia!) Everyone at Caja Rural. And of course, the canny s.o.b. Michele Scarponi (Astana) who, having buried himself (and parked his bony !@# on the side of the road for 15 hours to help his leader) for his team at the last Grand Tour, and with no other road captain at the Vuelta to speak of, will surely have more than a few rocket-fueled cracks at the summit. Last but not least: by this year's results, whatever 6-foot-8 hulking Dutch weightlifter they stick in at the last minute to absolutely obliterate 2017 Paris-Roubaix champ Nairo Quintana. How do you say "Red Jersey" in Dutch again?

The Forecast: yeah, it's boring and I'm a ween. But it *matters*, first off because the poor Belgians're gonna spontaneously combust once they hit the unfiltered sun and heat of the Basque mountains, and second, 'cause it can determine the race. Sadly, the forecast for tomorrow's team time trial is lovely, meaning it's too late to back out of it now, suckers!

Roundup Stuff!: finally, as the cycling portion of the Rio Olympics winds down, let's take a moment to celebrate Peter Sagan's if not win, at least highly entertaining continuous-wheelie ride in the mountain bike competition, as well as his shiny new medals in the kierin, team pursuit, omnium, BMX, and the men's and women's road race even though he wasn't actually riding 'em. Nice work there Saganator! Meantime, Mark Cavendish profusely apologized for "not whacking into that bloody wanker hard en--uh, that accident!" And, for those of you just itchin' for early news of the Worlds, please be advised that giant and deceptively friendly German Andre Greipel has already informed his nation that's he not !@#damn going there to share team captaincy, which, I presume, is German for "wash my shorts and carry my chamois cream, Kittel you wuss!" Ah, our beloved cycling--now, get out your Basque flags, don't you dare ever root for Alejandro Valverde, and Alberto, it's time to stick it to that !@#hat Oleg Tinkov and take on the top podium spot in the Vuelta!