Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's Yer 2014 Pro Cycling Year In Review! #cycling

Yep, as 2014 draws to its chaotic close, and as the umpteenth playback of "Santa Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and mugs of spiked egg-nog cloud our brains, it's time to reflect on the good, the bad, and the plain butt-ugly of our beloved--and, as always, it's given us a truck-load of all three! So, without further ado:

January: Samuel Sanchez threatens to retire. Who gives a crap what else happened all month? Anyhoo, Gerrans wins 3rd Tour Down Under, Sky mesh skinsuits immolate Froomey, leave pile of ashes as Sky's GC contender for Tour de France; Viagra's the hot new doping product, cue the cheesy 70s pornstaches!

February: Patrick "Who?" Sinkewitz gets 8-year ban for failing to be as cute as Dave Zabriskie--uh, butt-kiss CAS; Valverde off to skeevily fantastic start at Ruta del Sol; doping benefits last waaaaay longer than the drugs themselves, Astana throws 3-day EPO-fueled "training camp", Iglinsky brothers accidentally set world land-speed record on rusty Big Wheels; women get 1/21th of a Tour de France, hailed as greatest improvement in women's cycling since they stopped making Marianne Vos compete in pantaloons. Next year they can wear helmets instead of sunbonnets!

March: Contador wins at Tirreno, Sky's mechanic generously offers to "fix his bike for him" in July; Peter Sagan disappoints as Kristoff takes Sanremo; John Degenkolb wins bloody Gent-Wevelgem as Tyler Farrar of course takes down Greipel, who immediately pounds him into the ground like a tent peg; Wiggo generously promises to "help" Froome by, uh--!@#$, he never actually *does* anything for him in 2014, does he?

April: It's the Classics, Beeyotches! Peter Sagan is crushing disappointment in every single race, receives 4.3 million euro raise; Fabs takes Flanders; Stijn Devolder crashes record-setting 367 times in single race, stuck back together with duct tape, Hammer Gel, and spit; Contador pulls controversial wheel-suck on Valverde at Tour of the Basque country, shrugs to press "like *that* little freak can complain?"; numbnut loses mystery pills on course, later determined to be "not half so bad as that !@#$ Sky is taking"; Niki Terpstra takes Paris-Roubaix as Tom Boonen superdomestiques 'im to the win. Oh *c'mon*, Tommeke, you've only got like another year or two to take this again!

May: It's the fabulous Giro d'Italia, baby! Race organizers go on grappa bender over being dissed by big stars for Tour de France prep, podium babes knocked out flat from fumes; Uran grabs maglia rosa as other GC contenders talk smack; Nairo Quintana takes advantage of crap weather on Stelvio as rest of frozen peloton demands mommies blankies before descent; Quintana wins race, gets lost in upholstery of Giro throne, doesn't resurface 'til August; Boonen slams everyone else at Tour of Belgium, gets giant keg of co--beer. Did I mention it's the fabulous Giro d'Italia, baby?!

June: Oh yeah, it's the road to the Tour! Crack Spanish authorities throw doper out of Gran Fondo, pronounce somehow miss THE ENTIRE REST OF THEIR RIDERS FOR !@#$'S SAKE; Froome caught on camera huffing on inhaler on climb during Dauphine, "new" UCI totally cool with it; Vincenzo "the Shark" Nibali chews through press corps in gory feeding frenzy when they refuse to mention him along with Froomey and Contador as Tour de France GC contenders.

July: Listen up, publicity whores, it's the Tour de France! Cav crashes out six centimeters into start of race, still doesn't keep Sagan from sucking; Froome, Contador crash out, press *still* ignores Vincenzo Nibali, Alexander Vinokourov shoots long-range missiles into press tent as Oleg Tinkov "encourages" remaining troops to unusual series of victories; Luke Durbridge beats crap outta Movistar soigneur, awarded lucrative pro-boxing contract; French actually *don't* suck, Bernard Hinault revived with smelling salts; shut the !@#$ up, we love Purito Rodriguez was just giving someone else a chance this year!

August: Jens Voigt announces retirement! All the heavens weep, flowers wilt, milk turns sour and oceans turn to giant fetid puddles of suck; Jonathan Tiernan-Locke claims bio-passport bust due to being "so wasted last night, man!", fellow frat-brother hurls on UCI prez Cookson at press conference; Contador, Froome announce they'll ride the Vuelta on broken everythings, Purito spotted in local library doing anonymous Google search on "how much Xanax do you have to sneak into a bidon for it to work"; it's the smashing Vuelta a Espana, baby!

September: did I mention it's the smashing Vuelta a Espana, baby? Contador crushes Froome in mountains as Dutch mistake Froome's flailing for windmill, use him to grind grain; Brad Wiggins takes men's TT, redeems crap season, whines into pretty much retirement; Pauline Ferrand-Prevot wins women's Worlds road race as big-name stars sit up 5k before the line, decide to go out for a beer instead; Michal Kwiatkowski takes men's championship in upset as Valverde dumps bucket of tacks over Breschel, Gerrans; Oleg Tinkov challenges 2015 Tour de France GC contenders to do Giro/Tour double with Alberto, but decides to do Giro/Tour/Vuelta triple himself BECAUSE ALL OF YOU ARE PATHETIC WORM WEAKLINGS! I ALREADY WORE DOWN THE PYRENEES INTO VALLEYS RIDING THEM SO MUCH YOU VERMIN! ALBERTO WILL BE MY SOIGNEUR !@#$# NEXT YEAR! YOU...

October: WHY THE HELL DOESN'T SAMUEL SANCHEZ HAVE A CONTRACT !@#DAMMIT?; Dan Martin takes Lombardia over still-frighteningly-surging robot Valverde; despondent injured Andy Schleck retires, no-one has heart to tell the poor guy they all thought he--wait, even *I'm* not mean enough to rag on 'im; 46 Astana riders, team-bus drivers, and towel boys test positive for drugs, Vino looks up from tapping air out of syringe to say it's all a total coincidence; Froome threatens to bow out of Tour de France if organizers don't let him plan every stage, 2015 Tour now has 16 days of time trials. Sucks to be you next July, Alberto!

November: Sick !@#$ UCI president Brian Cookson suggests shortening the Giro & Vuelta because they're not already overshadowed by the gaudy slutfest of the Tour de France ENOUGH, you wanker; Vuelta organizer tosses in 40k flat time trial to bribe Froomey, agrees to provide boy to run beside him fanning him with palm leaf during hot-weather mountain stages; roadside fan-favorite Didi "the Devil" Senft retires, actual Lord of Hell replaces him with Alexander Vinokourov; Andy Schleck awarded 2010 Tour de France, still didn't win it. And where the !@#$ is Samuel Sanchez' new contract?!

December: Time for Team Camps! Oleg Tinkov harnesses Tinkoff-Saxo boys to gear-loaded sled like Huskies, forces them to haul him across frozen Siberian tundra on foot on diet of dog food; Astana gives up the charade, holds training camp in Michele Ferrari's living room; Europcar denied WorldTour license for minor budget shortfall, Thomas "the Grimace" Voeckler's face really *does* freeze like that, just like his mamma said it would; Cookson vows to crush Astana in zero-tolerance show of force, renews WorldTour license, buys all the boys seaside summer homes and tattoos Vino's name on his !@# with a big red heart around it. Ouch, *that*'ll teach 'em! Nope, still no Samu contract...

Well, by my count, these clowns still got 12 days to add all kindsa hijinks to the list. So let's hope they hold it together, and meantime, onwards to 2015--next up, the 2014 Annual Racejunkie Awards, and Yer 2015 Year in Preview!

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's A Merry Festivus Gift List for the Peloton! #cycling

Oh, sure, they may get on our nerves now and then by, y'know, recklessly causing someone else to crash at the line like a punk-!@#, or replacing their entire bloodstreams with doping products, but they also still thrill us every day for months on end with blistering attacks, excruciating climbs, daring descents and nail-biter sprints for the line. And dag nabit, we still love them no matter what. So, in the magnanimous spirit of the holidays, and with the presumption that every single one of 'em deserves to be on the Nice list, here's my Merry Festivus Wish List for the Peloton!

1. Peter Sagan: A major, serious Classics win. Because (1) Oleg Tinkov'll hurt him if he don't and (2) Tom Boonen's gonna take the rest of 'em anyway!

2. We Love Samuel Sanchez: A contract! A freakin' contract! Why won't someone worthwhile give him one? Aiiiiggggghhhhhhhh!

3. Alberto Contador: the Tour de France. Oh, come on, like he wouldn'a won it last year if he hadn't snapped his tibia!

4. Chris Froome: a lifetime supply of high-SPF sunscreen. Still sympathetically wincing from that mesh-skinsuit fiasco over here!

5. Fabian Cancellara: a squad that can halfway match and support his incredible talent. Even Spartacus can't do *everything*!

6. Marianne Vos: a *full*, three week Tour de France route. And a Giro. And a Vuelta. And a damn raise!

7. Marcel Kittel: after the year he had--and more importantly, the smashing hair he has--what more could he actually want for?

8. Dr. Michele Ferrari: Immunity. Now yap, you weasel!

9. Tyler Farrar: one of those gyroscope thingies like in a Segway that keeps you from falling over. 'Cause goodness knows the poor guy couldn't stay upright otherwise this year!

10. Alexander Vinokourov: y'know, I was *gonna* wish him this cool invincible superhero Teflon force-field that can repel and destroy all threats, but apparently he's already got one. How else could he still be getting away with all this !@#$?

11. Brian Cookson of UCI: a spine, which is a lot nicer'n what I could've said. Really, you gave Astana a WorldTour license over Europcar? The hell with the letter of the rules--how the heck does that advance their *spirit*?!

12. Mark Cavendish: The green jersey at next year's Tour. And a coupla stage wins. A poor reward for his crap crash-out at the Tour de France--and just when he was getting his mojo back!

13. Michal Kwiatkowski: a major stage win. At a *real* race, not some petty-!@# zero-rated nowheresville. Reverse the Curse!

14. Alejandro Valverde: the WorldTour championship again. Just to piss people off!

15. Purito Rodriguez: the Vuelta. Come on Purito. I know you're riding the Tour and I believe you can do it. But it's like asking for a pony and getting a rocking-horse: let's aim for something Santa can really pull out for you this year!

16. Oleg Tinkov: I NEED NOTHING! I WILL BUY YOUR ENTIRE 2015 RIDER ROSTER! I WILL PURCHASE THE ALPE D'HUEZ AND TURN IT INTO MY PERSONAL DRIVEWAY! I AM KING OF THE UNIVERSE! I...

17. And Finally, My Dear Reader(s): May your favorite rider sign your out-thrust cap, may your peloton crush stay ever upright, may that sneaky little bastard you know is guilty hate get his comeuppance, and may all your days on the bike or just watching others race on it be fair. Merry Everything to everyone--and may all your most expensive spouse-aggravating frame and component dreams come true!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Call for a Bull!#$% Moratorium In Cycling

Look, everyone has the right to defend themselves, and oughta be completely exonerated unless proven scumwadly. But some of this !@#$ going on is just downright insulting, and we fans, whose denial, naivete, and dumb acceptance the sponsors count on to justify your salaries, deserve better. Ergo, I propose (and hereby impose, since heck knows UCI won't do it), the following guidelines for dealing with doping allegations:

1. Anyone who claims they met with [insert notorious doping doctor here] merely for "training advice" is summarily banned for life. Plus thwapped.

2. Anyone who goes off the radar for their "altitude training" will be presumed to have doped at sea level.

3. Next guy busted for using a party drug recreationally will be given a free pass. If he's not snorting a line at the start of Paris-Roubaix, who gives a !@#$?

4. The entire women's peloton will, effective immediately, be given a raise sufficient to afford Dr. Ferrari's premium goods and services. Not that they can use it for that.

5. Anyone who dopes and *still* sucks will be placed in stocks in the local piazza so people can throw rotten vegetables at them. *That* level of incompetence as a pro cyclist is just embarrassing.

6. Anyone working for or having previously been associated with Alexander Vinokourov, Lance Armstrong, Michele Ferrari or Eufemiano Fuentes is presumed a lying guilty sack of crap.

7. All asshats claiming they "only doped once" are presumed to have doped every single day of their professional careers.

8. All riders who are stupid enough to get popped, and who get to ride again post-ban, are forbidden from criticizing the doping of other cyclists still smart enough to get away with it.

9. The following riders we love are innocent of everything: Iban Mayo, Roberto Heras, Jan Ullrich, Bobby Julich, and anyone from Euskaltel-Euskadi ever. One, because justice must be tempered with mercy, and two, because I am irrationally biased towards them, so you can all stuff it. Frankly, I'd've even included that crazy s.o.b. Vino, but if he was actually both dumb and careless enough to get his squad into this mess, he's lost me.

Well, I think we can now proceed with confidence that the cringe-worthy spewing we've been hearing lately from these idiots will now cease. On to the champagne for Astana's renewed WorldTour license!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Yeah I'm Sorry/I Can't Afford a Ferrari/But That Don't Mean I Can't Get You There #cycling

I Guess He's Xbox/And I'm More Atari/But the Way You Play Your Game Ain't Fair: yes, just as Team Astana's still reeling from--what is it, 50?--of their assorted losers testing poz this year for banned substances, Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the narcs personally saw nefarious life-banned dop--uh, "training"--doc Michele Ferrari meeting with a pile of Astana's riders right outside their team hotel. *Jaysus*, Vino, you reckless cheapskate, you couldn'a' reserved 'em a freakin' conference room with a *door* on it for !@#$'s sake? The good news--press-beloved starlet/reigning Tour de France champ Vincenzo Nibali wasn't one of 'em. Well, great, so maybe he won't have any *domestiques* left for this year's race, but you don't actually need *them* to win the Tour, right? Dr. Ferrari, meanwhile, denounced the report as all-caps "MEDIA BULL!@#$" (but not being a delicate lady like myself, he actually spelled it out), saying (1) he was only in that town once in 1994 to try the famous waffles, and (2) by "to try the waffles," he does *not* mean "to try the product before I feed it to my clients." Thanks for the clarification, Michele! Oh, like it's gonna affect their prospects anyway--but *Jaysus*, Vino! Though if we love dear Purito says Astana oughta be able to ride, who are any of us to complain...

In Which My Entire Conception of the Universe Goes to Hell: meantime, we love Samuel "Holy Crap He's Always Gonna Be An Olympic Gold Medalist!" Sanchez sez he's open to the possibility of the Grand Tours being cut a bit, because it's "inhuman" to expect anyone to be able to ride all three at a high level. Well I don't !@#dammit, so guys can skip the stupid Tour if they want to ride the superior Giro or Vuelta! Oh, Samu, next you're gonna say they should take the cobbles outta Paris-Roubaix...okay, I'm clearly wrong about everything on the planet, now can someone give Samu a freakin' contract already?!

Lawsuit Alert!: finally, in the latest legal wrangling between Lance Armstrong and the US narcs, the---aiiiiigggggghhhhhhhh! Make it stop, I can't take it anymore! Aaaaaaaiiiiiiighhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The First Rule of Fight Club Is, Don't #$% With Bouhanni In a Sprint

Watch Out, Mark Cavendish!: Oh, so you go in for a little argy-bargy at the line, maybe a shove like Cav or a head-butt like Robbie McEwen do you? Maybe even a Rui Costa post-race wheel whang, a little assault'n'battery? Well get your dukes up, you mewling wussies, because boxing is 2014 sprint revelation Nacer Bouhanni's true "passion," and not only is he training in the off-season with an eye towards a post-cycling pugilistic career, one can sensibly imply that he'll !@#$in' knock your lights out if you come within 4 feet of his wheel in the last 2 kilometers of a race. Just try screwing with *his* line, Roberto Ferrari, if you want an impromptu and highly unflattering nose job! I don't know, man, Sagan and Farrar are so nice I can see 'em going down like a ton of bricks, and Kittel'd maybe hit the deck with a sucker punch while he's moussing his hair, but Greipel you could actually break your hand on and Cav is one scrappy little bastard. First bout: Tour of Qatar, see you there, baby, and bring the Band-Aids!

Tinkoff Goes Stealth: and, in a subtle attempt to evade the nar--uh, jazz up its team-kit sales to the insatiable wannabe masses--Oleg Tinkov's debuted a smokin' blue-camo training-camp team kit for the boys to romp in. Oh, who *gives* a crap--the only team kit that ever mattered is the orange and black--bring back Euskaltel, !@#dammit!

Tour de Force: finally, it's all in for terrifying pasty wraith/prior champ Chris Froome at the Tour de France this year, so Nibali, you're gonna really have to bring your A-game if the boy manages to stay upright and not go up in flames from exposure to the sunlight. Lucky for you Froomey Contador's got a built-in excuse if he's tired out winning the Giro--at least, you better *hope* Oleg lets him get tired next year!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Schleck! Kreuziger! Ullrich!: It's Yer Naughty Naughty Doping Roundup

Roman Empire: there's still hope for your lovable superdomestique, Alberto Contador: Roman Kreuziger, popped (then sorta exonerated) for a bio-passport violation after recovering like a freak for a stage win at the 2012 Giro, has released his blood values on his very own website to claim (1) he never tested poz (though not that he didn't, well, do it) (2) he was being treated for a thyroid condition and (3) Brian Cookson can suck it. Wah, wah, Tyler Hamilton inhaled his own twin back in the day, cry me a river Roman! Of course, I *do* actually like the guy, and hope his values show he did indeed manipulate them incredibly, incredibly careful--uh, that he didn't do nothin'--so Alberto, maybe you'll have him back by your side soon anyway!

Like Kickin' a Puppy, Man: and, in an almost too-depressing honor, poor retired Andy Schleck was finally awarded the official 2010 Tour de France trophy, which selfish clen-snorting meanie Alberto "8 Seconds" Contador shamelessly stole from baby Schleck and never gave back. Aw, this doesn't fix *anything*--can't he stop crying in his O.J. over Chaingate *now* and hopefully find something else to replace his cycling career?

The Jan Speaks: finally, you sorta gotta sympathize with the Armstrong era's most intermittently brilliant and entirely unpredictable engine big Jan Ullrich, who, finally telling all after his struggle with and recovery from post-fall-from-grace depression, opines that while he was in fact doping, he wasn't exactly *cheating*, which, considering that T-Mobile as a Grand-Tour-contender-backing-entity didn't seem to have quite the tic-tic-tic quality of the Stepford Discoverybots, is perhaps not completely untrue. Oh, shut up, he said he was really really wrong anyway, what more you do want, the kind of unbearable hypocrite "no one should dope now that I'm clean and have to compete against 'em" wallowing that made David Millar so excruciatingly whack-'im-upside-the-head annoying? At least you were always fun to watch Jan--considering the slimeballs before you now enjoying the lucrative limelight, isn't it about time we let *him* come back for at least a commentator gig or something?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ten Things I'm Thankful for This Thanksgiving (And One I'm Darned Well Not) #cycling

Woot woot! Time for we Americans to gorge ourselves on turkey and stuffing, bloat off the couch for the occasional big football-game cheer, oppress workers by lining up to buy stuff on Thanksgiving at CrapMart instead of letting 'em spend the day with their families, and, best of all, consider all the things we're truly thankful for this year. Luckily, our beloved cycling's chock-full of 'em, so here's my Top Ten Things I'm Thankful For This Year (And One I'm Darned Well Not)!

1. The Giro d'Italia. Sorry, Tour de France--*this* is the essence of three-week stage racing. Steep, mountainous, unpredictable, unpretentious, beautiful. Grazie tutti!

2. Chris Froome. He's so *cute* when he badgers the Tour de France organizers into changing the route for him!

3. and 4. Alexander Vinokourov and Oleg Tinkov. They're a two-fer, because I love them for the same twisted, sick-!@#$ reasons. Win or die, beeyotches!

5. Alberto Contador. Oh, sure, he's maybe made some wholly innocent mistakes in the past--heck, what trusting, naive soul hasn't? And maybe he's lost a *little* of his pell-mell mojo on the highest sharpest passes. But he's one cagey s.o.b., and he remains just plain fun to watch. And he's got a score to settle come July, to boot!

6. Marianne Vos. Simply one of the greatest cyclists in history. Road, mountain, 'cross, probably even unicycle--there's nothing she can't ride, there's nothing she hasn't already won, and there's hardly anyone outside this amazing sport who even knows who she is. *Tell* me how much that dope-snorting miscreant Valverde gets paid in comparison again?

7. Paris-Freakin'-Roubaix. If there's any race on earth that separates the hard men from--well, other hard men, 'cause anyone who makes it through the mud, cold, slop, and rocks remotely bodily intact can't really be argued with--this glorious monument is it. All Hail Tom Boonen!

8. The Vuelta a Espana. Steep and smashing in its own right, with the added bonus of actually scientifically baking the poor b@stards who manage to survive to the mountaintops every damn day for three weeks. Forget "food" and "water"--*sunscreen*, people!

9. Purito Rodriguez. The quintessential underdog. I *love* underdogs. And dear Purito--ever so close, ever so often, not quite yet, but dag nabit he's gonna take the top spot this year--is their patron. There's no need to fear--Underdog is here!

10. My Dear Reader(s). Without you, tifosi-dom blows, and me, I'm just howling into the abyss. Wait, I am?--but I haven't told you about Alejandro Valverde's latest implosion yet!

And One I'm Distinctly Not:

1. Where the !@#$ is we love Samuel Sanchez's 2015 contract already? Chris Horner is like 100 years older and he just signed a deal for !@#$'s sake! You *suck*, BMC!

Well, them's mine, and I'm sure there's buckets I've missed. But I really am thankful to you for reading and for your feedback--let's hope for an even more bangin' year to come!