Saturday, September 20, 2014

Oh No We Love Thor Hushovd's Really Retiring! #thankyouthor

Yep, I've been in deep denial, both over the actual end to his career and his damn-well-looked-like-the-end-of-his-career-for-all-the-luck-he's-had-at-BMC for former holy crap he's the World Champion we love Thor Hushovd, but our big lug's turn in the peloton is officially over, so I thought I'd list just a few of his accomplishments here:

1978: Thor Hushovd is born in Grimstad, Norway. At age two, receives 52-cm road bike for birthday, but it's 2 cm too small for him.

1998: New pro Thor wins baby Paris-Roubaix. Watch out already, future Classics wannabes. After winning U-23 time trial championships, though, career in discipline derailed as he squashes every ultra-light time trial bike his sponsors try to make for him.

2001: And he's off! Thor takes first major win in Tour de Normandie and shares team time trial stage-winning victory in Tour de France.

2002: Stage wins ain't just for group rides, honey: Thor grabs first individual Tour de France win ever. Way to go big guy!

2004: Thor takes first of 4 Norwegian national road champ victories, another stage win at the Tour, and his second stage at the Dauphine.

2006: At Tour de France, some dipwad waving a lethal machete of a stupid plastic promotional item at the barriers hits Thor with a slasher-movie gore-gash to the arm; Thor still finishes 9th on the day and later takes his second stage win of the Tour. For next year, races with heavy protective "Popemobile" plexiglass shield around bicycle. And how many stages at the Dauphine has he grabbed now?

2007: Thor gets a stage in the Giro, wrapping up the Grand-Tour trifecta.

2009: The Thunder God takes the green jersey at the Tour de France. Eat that, Cavendish!

2010: Yeah, he's the World Road Champion! How do you like *them* stripes, beeyotches?

2011: Third time's the charm: three stage wins *and* a half-dozen days in the Tour de France maillot jaune. Boy looks good in gold, dontcha think?

2012: unidentified virus and BMC contract-o-doom take out his entire season. Oh go to hell, he's still better'n 99% of the riders on earth!

2013: Shut up! He's still sick but he wins the Norwegian national champs for the 4th time and takes overall in the bitchin' new Artic Tour of Norway, and a whole buncha 'nother stuff. You rock Thor!

2014: Thor announces retirement; Norway better be planning a giant bangin' sculpture for this guy somewhere. You got quite a palmares there, Thor--and who else in the peloton is ever gonna have such a bitchin' name again?

Next up for our hero: as you can see here, a pro contract with Team Godzilla in the controversial new sport of gila monster racing.

Thanks for many exciting years of racing, and good luck with your new gig ya big lug!

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's the 2014 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! #LaVuelta

Do you find yourself standing on an empty mountainside for 6 hours at a time waving your national flag at nothing? Running along right next to unsuspecting cyclists in your community screaming "Venga! Venga!" at the top of your lungs? Standing on a box, shaking a big green bottle, and spraying champagne on the people around you? Then you, like me, are suffering from Severe Vuelta a Espana Withdrawal Syndrome! The cure: we're gonna celebrate the good, the bad, and the just plain disgusting with the highly coveted and sometimes shameful 2014 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards!

Fake-Out of 2014: I'm not riding it. Gee, I wish I could ride it. Okay, I'm riding it, but just to recover, not to win. Well, maybe I'll ride it for a stage victory. Oh yeah, I'm riding to win the whole damn shebang, baby! Alberto Contador on his post-Tour tibia-busted best form in years. Geez, if snappin' a *leg* can't keep this guy down, what can?

Woot Woot of the Time Trial: holy crap did you see that, we love Samuel Sanchez moved up to 7th in the overall! Woot woot!

Punk-!@# Move of the Race: Alejandro Valverde, being all "I'm here just to help little Nairo," then leaving his poor tired wee butt down the mountain and attacking for the stage win. Well, any further backstabbing was neutralized by the cruel hand of fate, anyway!

How Much Am I Paying This Yawner Next Year? Award: Aw, Peter Sagan. Mustered *just* enough motivation for a single third place, then bailed in drowsy ignominy. But that's okay, because he was just "helping out his teammates" and "training for the Worlds." Oleg, you better get this high-priced bauble of yours a hell of a tactical mentor for next year!

Crash o' the Race (Oh, !@#$! Oh !@#$ Oh !@#$ GC Edition): 2014 Giro champion Nairo Quintana, futzing with his shoe on a treacherous downhill curve and doing a terrifying endo over his handlebars and right into the roadside barrier. Thank goodness he wasn't more seriously hurt--but that was the race for him. Now rest and heal up that shoulder, Nairo, and I'm sure you'll be ready to take on the Tour de France GC next year!

Crash o' the Race (Oh !@#$ Oh !@#$ Oh !@#$ Domestique Edition): poor Dario Cataldo's horrible skid into the pavement and also a tree. Amazingly, he was able to get up and continue on the day, whether he perhaps should've been allowed to, or not--and again, thank goodness he was ultimately okay, stay safe out there you guys!

Revelation of Vuelta 21014: sure, Astana baby Fabio Aru bagged two stages and fifth place after coming in a surprising 3rd in the Giro--but some "Pim Ligthart" in the breakaway every damn day? Who the hell *is* this guy?

Sissy-Boy Slap Fight Prize (Dumb!@# Edition): Rovny and Brambilla, flailing at each other on a descent like a coupla whiny windmills--in front of the race organizers, no less! Forget lack of sportsmanship--they oughta've been expelled just for stupidity. Do you *really* think it *helped* Contador to have one of his domestiques get kicked outta the race?

Sissy-Boy Slap Fight Prize (George Foreman Edition): Damn, Purito--who knew that someone so tiny could pack such a powerful left hook? Boys, *this* is a how a *real* pro does it--in the pack, and away from the cameras!

Corollary Tweet o' the Vuelta Award: Sky diplomat Peter Kennaugh, defending his teammate Philip Deignan's honor (and insulting Purito's weak "I touched him accidentally" excuse) with an emphatic "What a lying prick, take responsibility for your actions coward!" Now *that*'s the kind of honesty you want to hear at the boring rest-day press conferences...

Cry-Baby Hissy-Fit Prize: Nacer Bouhanni, you picked the wrong line, & John Degenkolb beat your !@# fair and square. Gesticulate all you want, but suck it *up*, honey!

Good Thing Cav Stayed Home Award: no, Kittel and Cav weren't there this year, and for some, there'll always be a bit of "what if" about the sprints. But John Degenkolb was one on-form hell of a competitor no matter who else was around him--so maybe watch out for this more'n you think!

Dyfunctional Family Award: Valverde, Purito, and Alberto bitching about none of the others collaborating to drop Froomey instead of, y'know, collaborating to drop Froomey, all the while Chris was chugging up the climbs away from them in week two. Valverde, I hope you're content with third place this year!

Memorial Carrot Statuette: no, they weren't there as a team anymore (waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!)--but from Nieve to Samu, the huge pile of former Euskies in this year's Vuelta certainly did their old team proud. Bring back Euskaltel! Bring back Euskaltel! Bring back--no, I mean it, really people!

Fade Into You Prize: Cadel Evans' loooooong, slooooow slide into this Grand Tour good night. But you're still the 2011 and forever a Tour de France champion, and you're even sticking around for your home tour next year--thank you for a smashing career to the most dogged foul-weather hardman of the peloton!

Watch and Learn Award: the great Guardia Civil, which liberally applied guys the approximate size of a box truck to toss back the eejits crowding the riders on the mountain finishes like empty chip bags into a garbage bin. Tour de France--you might want to consult with these guys for next year!

And Finally, the Fan !@#$head Award: yeah, yeah, there were the usual screaming miscreants touching the riders like talismans and shoving cameras in their faces, but, for the win, it's that total numbnuts--and the innocent minor with whom he appeared to act in tandem--running next to Chris Froome waving little pine branches in their hands on the final mountain stage of the Vuelta. For !@#$'s *sake*, stupidity like that could bring the guy down on the tarmac like a ton (okay, an ounce, but still!) of bricks and crash out his whole career, much less just the freakin' race. Insta-penalty of a year of the affected rider's salary for such clowns, I say--so you jack!@#es *better* hope you don't take out one of Oleg "Moneybags" Tinkov's guys next time!

Well, them's my prizes--winners, you can take a bow (or hang your head in shame) as the reigning champs til next year!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Smack! Even With a Broken Leg, Beeyotches! Contador (Surely Unintentionally) Rubs It In #LaVuelta

*Such* a Great Effort, Purito!: okay, it perhaps wasn't the most gentlemanly gesture after Froome's textbook-perfect tactics and repeated attacks, but I'll chalk up to relatively youthful enthusiasm, adrenaline rush, and judgment-impairing pain meds that Alberto Contador appeared to make a gently bite-me-doubters gesture towards his trainwrecked knee and leg as he hit the line. Must've just been motioning to the nice tape job his physio did this morning! Anyway, Contador is one tough little beast, chapeau to Froome (and how dear are cyclist's little sunglass reverse raccoon eyes?), and Purito, that was a wise and bangin' move to try to shake Valverde while he was distracted hoping to pop Froome even if you couldn't sustain it. But 4th at the Vuelta is nothing to be gloomy at--and I guarantee you Sky 'n' Tinkoff're gonna glue Alberto & Froomey's wheels to the French freakin' tarmac to keep 'em upright and in contention at next year's Tour, so a little off-season training tweaks, and the 2015 Vuelta will still be yours!

Next up: the last-day grab-for-glory time trial, the incredibly prestigious 2014 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards recapping the all the disgrace and thrills o' the race--then it's on to the Worlds, honey, and let's hope Fabs didn't blow it entirely bailing out of the time trial for the road race!

Here, your hot-off-the-presses recap--and great job by the Guardia Civil pounding back the overenthusiastic if sincere miscreants endangering Alberto 'n' Froomey at the top of the climb!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Three Is a Magic Number (Unless You're at No. 4) #LaVuelta

He's Got Leeeeeeeeeegs/He Knows How to Use Them: Okay, more like the power meter he's always glommed onto like that disgusting gooey face-sucker from "Alien", but still Chris Froome's legs are a considerable part of it too, and dang, Alberto, even if you *were* right sticking it on Valverde to do the work chasing Froomey down (instead of just marking each other and choking), 13 seconds still counts and if he can distance you again on Saturday that *does* leave you like one extremely crap day or mechanical away from at least a damn close call at the final time trial short as it is! Don't give up dear Purito, these two may just eat their own young yet!

My Bloody Valentine: and, another great win by jailbait Italian talent Fabio Aru, particularly as its exquisite timing distracts the cycling press and unnervingly erratic mastermind Alexander Vinokourov from the sleazy unpleasantness of Valentin Iglinsky's just-affirmed synthetic EPO test bust. @#$%, Iglinsky, you're on !@#$in' *Astana*, if you're gonna dope at least take advantage of the in-house expertise from someone who knows how to use that !@#$ right! Damn kids today, *no* respect for their elders *whatsoever*...

Auguri Pippo!: finally, a belated "Buon Compleanno" to 33-year-old stud-pup birthday boy Pippo Pozzato, who's now officially at the age when Lampre's team boss is gonna give him a serious beat-down if he doesn't get his head back in the game and start coughing up some serious results by next Classics. May all your wishes come true Pippo--especially the ones about, y'know, continued gainful employment!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

It's Yer Vuelta a Espana Rest-Day Dos Roundup! #LaVuelta

Yes, a lot's certainly happened in our dear Vuelta since the first rest day, hasn't it? And we've still got a week of this glorious freakshow left to go! So before we get week 3 of this party started, let's review:

1. Somewhere--and it pains me deeply to say this--Purito Rodriguez is hunched over an espresso muttering to himself, "!@#$! Those guys were supposed to be at the Tour!"

2. I don't think it's fair to suggest Alberto Contador, Purito, and Alejandro Valverde shoulda collaborated to drop Froome because they're all countrymen. They shoulda done it 'cause he's gonna knock one of the three of 'em off the podium!

3. Okay, Valverde's performances creep everybody out. So Alberto "Broken Leg" Contador and Chris "Flails Like He's Been Tasered" Froome's don't?

4. Froome--lift your damn head up, you're glued to that damn power meter like some robot! Oh the other hand, it *does* appear to be working...

5. Sorry, but scrawny cyclists in shiny little spandex outfits are just *never* gonna look tough, no matter how hard they slap at each other. Two Girl Scouts drunk at a bar, now *that's* a fistfight!

6. While we're at it, the first rule of Fight Club is: don't do it in front of the cameras, dumb!@#!

7. Purito didn't "punch [Philipe Deignan] full in the face"--he "accidentally touched him." With a balled-up fist. To the face. At high velocity. So *that* explains half the peloton riding around with split lips all the time, all that accidental touching! Socks to the mouth, slap-fights, wheel-whangs...oh, how I miss the gentility of the Robbie "Head-Butt" McEwen days!

8. Damn, Pozzato. Either go back to posting daily lurid selfies or liven up a stage already--you can't not do *either*, for heck's sake!

9. Shut up. Samu's just reserving his energy for the final mountain stage. Bite me!

10. That was a nice little ride there the other day by Fabian Cancellara. But I still want Tommeke to stomp him at Worlds!

11. If I were Brambilla or Rovny, and Purito *doesn't* get kicked outta the race if he actually pulled this !@#$--well, let's just say, Purito, you might want to keep your guard up next time you ride with these guys!

12. I think the boys are all trying just a liiiiiiiittle too hard for the daily "Most Combative" prize. What's next, siccing a freakin' pit bull on each other?

13. Don't !@#$ with this guy. I mean, would *you* !@#$ with this guy? Hell, he might even scare his boss Oleg!

Well, them's my words o' wisdom (oh cut me some slack you wisenheimers!). If I missed anything I shoulda gotten, speak up or forever hold your breath 'til Contador makes it through the time trial!

Monday, September 08, 2014

It's a Battle Royale at the Vuelta a Espana! (Oh, Yeah, and the GC Boys Go At It, Too) #LaVuelta

Sissy Slap-Fight Alert!: yeah, yeah, there was that big-!@# battle in the mountains the last three days between GC contenders Contador, Froome, Valverde and Purito--but for my money, the *real* fight of the day was happening out in Domestiqueville, where, for reasons still unknown, Omega Pharma-Quickstep's Gianluca Brambilla and Tinkoff-Saxo's Ivan Rovny came to blows right on the bike, and, ill-advisedly, right under the noses of the prissy joyless race commissaires, who clearly have some ridiculously antiquated notions about 'sportsmanship' and promptly kicked the two pugilists outta the race. The four-wheeled melee apparently began when Rovny grabbed hold of Brambilla's bib shorts and administered an "atomic wedgie", upon which Brambilla retaliated with the dreaded "wet willy." Reached by telephone at his hotel room, where he was still being held on time-out by his Tinkoff-Saxo squad, Rovny whined, "but he was LOOKING at meeeeeeeeee!" Here, the smackdown, and the justly outraged reaction to his ejection by Brambilla: Now Gianluca, I don't care *what* kind of apology you posted on that "Twitter" thing, you march *right* on over to Ivan's house in person and apologize!

Next up: yer rest-day roundup. And for the GC contenders--keep your damn hands to yourselves!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Now *That's* Bike Doping!; And, Attack of the Flailing Undead Zombie #LaVuelta

Magic Bicycle Ride: well, if Ryder Hesjedal's incredible surge and heartbreaking pass-by of holy-crap-he's-nailed-it-Oliver Zaugg for Vuelta the win today didn't convince you that that wily fake-benevolent Canadian wasn't already bike-doping exactly as he's been accused of, nothing will, but you're still a paranoiac eejit, because that was one drained (and Giro-winning!) tank that collapsed over the finish line today. Whoa moly I hope Zaugg found some kinda hidey-hole from Oleg Tinkov back at the hotel this evening! And don't lie to me you dissemblers--you were absolutely *delighted* to see Alejandro Valverde dropped in the final kilometer today, though that rather does tend to discredit the widespread assumption that he's got a discreet little IV port permanently implanted in his !@#. Even a natural powerhouse like Alejandro can have a slightly off-day I suppose--though it was a far cry from the one-day stage-long catastrophic race-wrecking implosion we can expect from him at every Grand Tour! Meantime, *so* lovely to see Purito covering Alberto Contador's every move, clearly Samuel Sanchez is just holding back for tomorrow and Monday so you can all just stuff it, and jeez louise it was a surprise to Chris "The Walking Dead" staggering back up to and even past the GC contenders after having been dispatched to the underworld already near the start of the final climb. Dang those things are tenacious--haven't you ever seen the video for "Thriller" Alberto, the monsters *always* throw you for a loop just when you think you're safe!

Worlds o' Hurt: in other news, a dispirited Peter Sagan pulled out of the Vuelta entirely today, presumably to prepare for the Worlds in friendlier, less-vertical pastures, though his Cannondale team director sounds majorly freakin' grim about even that prospect. Word to the wise, big guy: now is *not* the time to start drowning your sorrows in a pint of ice cream! And even the great Fabian Cancellara, perhaps totally flamboozled by Tony Martin's incredible domination this year, is pulling out of the Worlds time trial to focus on the road championships. I love you Fabian, but I still hope that an increasingly happy-go-lucky--hell, he's apparently even lost his fear of the sprints--Tom Boonen takes it over you!

Eat This Bouhanni!: yes, he's been riding very well and is a lovely bike rider, but consider how far fewer'n'far between the women's opportunities for sprints are, much less wins, as they haven't even a 3-week Grand Tour to their name yet--but there's the grandissima Giorgia Bronzini, bagging her third--third!--win at the Tour d'Ardeche today. No video that I could find yet, but here's an illuminating "day in the life o' Wiggle-Honda" from yesterday--enjoy!

Well, on to tomorrow's lumpy then whoa-is-that-a-mountain-or-what stage to Lagos de Covadonga--I'm sure even the mountain goats won't *quite* be adoring that final 17.5% gradient push to the line!