Monday, January 26, 2015

Chris Horner's Been !#$%^ed!: A Call For a Special New Cycling Team

All right, I call bull!@#$: that the winner of the 2013 freakin' Vuelta a Espana couldn't pull a WorldTour or Pro Continental gig was crap enough, but that his new squad doesn't even get a wild-card invitation to the Amgen EPO Tour of California is !@#$in' ridiculous. Who the hell and how hard could you possibly have to butt-kiss to get into that (admittedly very fine) race?! So as usual, we've gotta step in to fix the situation, and here it is: a call for a new WorldTour, all-events-invited cycling squad, Team Desiccated Old Guys! The criteria:

(1) You're 35 plus;

(2) you can still open a can of whup-!@# on half the peloton, hereby defined as, crash-out DNFs excepted, you are (a) a top-15 finisher, if designated team leader; (b) making the time cut, if a nut-busting top lieutenant or lead-out; or (c) in the top 75%, if you're a bidon-schlepping domestique monkey; and

(3) Jaysus, !@#$in' Davide Rebellin still gets to race, so why can't you?!

By my reckoning, this means: Horner's got a coupla more seasons; Jens has got another decade; Marianne Vos will be riding for 45 years after she's eligible to collect whatever the heck her country's version of Social Security; and that freak Valverde'll be in team kit 'til the actual geological end of time. Well, having solved this catastrophe, all we need now is a sponsor. Why not that crazy s.o.b. Tinkov, he'll be pulling ludicrous feats of physical exertion 'til well into the 23rd century?--now Horner, get back on your bike, back in the game, and enjoy the Tour of California!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Crikey, Cadel! A Farewell Career-in-Review

Look, I'll admit I thought of Cadel Evans for some years as rather a wheel-sucker. But then I realized I was a nit, and it must've just been his famous tenacity--because later in the game, he finally did start attacking, often under the worst possible conditions, and when he did, it was beautiful. So in honor of his final WorldTour race, and a certain place of honor in the history books, here's a brief retirement farewell Career In Review:

Cadel the Whippersnapper: far from beginning as a pampered roadie princess, Cadel started out as a mountain biker, which likely explains his bangin' later performance on crap road conditions that make yer average slick-dweller run whimpering to the team bus as fast as his wraithlike legs can carry him. Two time mountain bike world cup champ back in the day, with a couple of top-ten Olympic finishes as bookends, and tests show he's some sort of oxygen-absorbing genetic freak to boot. Really, his nickname was "the Lung"?

2000: Cadel gets some training tutelage from later-controversial Dr. Michele Ferrari. Oh, don't shoot the messenger for Chrissakes, by all accounts it was (1) actually training advice and (2) a one-off!

2001: Cadel joins Saeco and bags the Tour of Austria--nails it again in 2004. His fine road palmares begins!

2002: Cadel starts working with revered Italian roadie god Aldo Sassi. 1st stage at the Tour Down Under, a stage at the Settimana Ciclistica, and a top-15 and a day in the maglia rosa in the glorious Giro--woo-hoo!

2006: Top 10 in the Tour de France, Cadel also smacks both Alejandro Valverde and baby prodigy Alberto Contador in the Tour of Romandie. Not bad considering the !@#$ Valverde was apparently on in that dark Operacion Puerto year!

2007: a time trial win at the Tour de France and 2nd overall to Alberto. Holy crap, this guy is really serious!

2008: Scandalous dopeland Astana--and Contador--are out of the Tour, but it's dear little Sastre who takes the overall as Cadel takes 2nd after one disastrous crack. But 4 days in the maillot jaune ain't nothing to apologize for Cadel! And what's not to love about a guy who threatens to cut the head off anyone who steps on his dog after a particularly crap day on the bike, and sells t-shirts with the slogan on his own website to boot?

2009: A horrible Tour sez he's counted out for good, but a very fine Vuelta and a day in gold sez otherwise. Plus, his place in history is sealed--it's the Worlds, beeyotches!

2010: Maglia rosa, points classification, and a truly epic--truly--win on stage 10 on a miserable mudfest over Alexander Vinokourov. This cements it--I mean literally, he looked like he was covered in cement! Also holds the maillot jaune with a fractured elbow in July, though his overall Tour's a disaster. No race for crybabies--right on Cadel!

2011: Yeah, almost everyone thought he was out, after his nauseating see-saw in the GC the past few years--but he won his Tour de France, Australia's first too and the oldest winner in the modern era. First of many for the Aussies, too, judging by the boys he inspired after him!

2012: Another tough July at the office, with repeat bonks, a struggle with illness or exhaustion--and still a top-10 finish that would be the crown of most riders' careers. We still believe in you Cadel!

2013-2014: Will you cut the guy a little slack? He's a !@#$damn World Champ and Tour de France winner for !@#$'s sake!

2015: Twilight my !@#--the man just pulled off a podium spot in his home race and the last--besides his namesake one--of his career. A fine sendoff to one of the grittiest men ever to stick it through in the peloton--congratulations and thank you Cadel!



Friday, January 23, 2015

BMC Doesn't Bite It Anymore! Carnage at the Tour Down Under! Landis for the Quote o' the Year!

Woot Woot Samu!: okay, The Squad Whose Team Kit Shall Not Be Showcased is officially out of the doghouse--as dear tweeps leapt to inform me, BMC's come back to their once-addled senses and re-signed we love Samuel Sanchez for another season. I hope you made them pay for their waffling Samu! Anyway, our ex-Euskaltel Holy Crap He's Still An Olympic Gold Medalist And Did You See That Tour de France King of the Mountains Jersey climber will be back at the Grand Tours where he belongs, and for my money, a guy who can bag a top-ten result when he's theoretically there just to mentor the whippersnappers is a bitchin' grab indeed. Woot woot--now help Cadel get one last stage win and be nice to Philippe Gilbert and you are *really* gonna redeem yourselves, BMC!

The Bone Collector: in the suckier side of pro cycling, the early-season body count's already piling up at the Tour Down Under after a crash near the line yesterday, with sternums, ribs, hands and wrists fractured, considerable road rash incurred, and, for Kenny Dehaes, a nasty mangling finger-catch in his own wheel taking him outta the race. !@#$, first some clown sucker-punches 'im last year, now this misfortune--can't the finish-line gods cut this poor boy some slack already? Get better soon everybody--and remember, the season's just beginning, so I'm sure you'll be back in one piece in plenty of time to enjoy the rest of it!

Landis on LeMond: meanwhile, disgraced ex-Tour winner Floyd Landis has laid into Greg LeMond for supporting Lance's lifetime ban while also palling around with doping-era suspect miscreants like Hinault and Indurain, and, in the early preemptive win for the 2015 Racejunkie Awards Quote o' the Year, blamed such favoritism and hypocrisy (along with, y'know, such fine team doctors as Rabobank's, and briefly Sky's, Geert Leinders) for legit sponsors fleeing the sport so that now it's being bankrolled "primarily by bored wealthy men who need a reason to give their wives about why they spend so much time with young leg-shaving men in tight pants." Really, it wasn't headlines like "PHONAK SPONSORS GIANT DOPE FIENDS" or "DISCOVERY--OUR GUYS HEART PEDs" that did it? Geez, Landis, you already had to keep outta France so they wouldn't prosecute your !@#, now you gotta stay a half-step ahead of easily irritated bored wealthy men like Tinkov talking smack like that too? Yep, takes a brave man to speak out--but it might explain a *little* bit why more discreet gents like, say, Van de Velde are still gettin' some love from the sport!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cav Takes the Low Road! Ex-Doperama Wild Cards at the Giro! Yep, This Is the Cycling We Know and Love

And It's Mark Cavendish for the Cheap-Shot!: Don't like a journalist's perfectly reasonable question as to the current state of cleanliness of the sport--not even about your own? Well, here's yer perfectly reasonable response: don't answer, *and* suggest that his spouse is bangin' someone else. Keepin' it classy, Cav! Fortunately, before actual blows were exchanged as to the journo's wife's virtue, karma caught up with the graceless rider as he immediately lost his first sprint of the season at the Tour de San Luis to someone, Fernando Gaviria, he'd never heard of. Did you see Mr. Kittel's race yesterday, Mr. Cavendish? Hey, who you calling a !@#$% ?! Here, via Veloropa, the friendly exchange, and world champ Michal Kwiatkowski's impressively contained reaction:

Giro d'Holy Moly How'd These Clowns Get In Here?: y'know, I fully support the smooth reintegration of genuinely remorseful former dopers and vicious vengeful cornered badgers, like Lance Armstrong, back into the peloton. Especially when it's at the expense of an up-and-coming squad of as-yet-unbesmirched climbers who already lit up one Grand Tour to spectacular, and groundbreaking, effect. And of course, nobody can take issue with the Giro d'Italia organizers wanting to support the smaller, if not historically perfectly clean, squads of Italian cycling. So why the big mean unsportsmanlike hoo-ha over a wild card like CCC Sprandi, home of 43-year-old uber-offender Davide "Gee, I Guess All That Crap Acts as Preservatives, Too" Rebellin and Stefan "I Guess It Did Look Bad to Beat Cancellara In Two Consecutive Time Trials" Schumacher getting to ride in the show? Okay, *maaaaaaybe* Nairo Quintana shouldn't've so openly dissed the beautiful Giro in favor of the overhyped Tour de France this year...but geez, punish his whole freakin' country for it whydontcha?

Pozzato Watch! finally, good news for rakish, if lately resultsless, Lampre king Pippo Pozzato: he's worked hard all winter, he's tons skinnier, and therefore, he's ready and rarin' for a back-to-winning 2015. *Pictures*, Pippo, pictures--it's not like you've been shy posting 'em all in the past!

P.S. Go Cadeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel--and we love the Tour Down Under!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Phil! Paul! Holy Crap It's We Love Robbie McEwen! The Road Season Finally Kicks Off #cycling

Yep, Still Rocks: sure, part of the reason we love legendary sprint god Robbie "the Pocket Rocket" McEwen is his pronounced tendency to actually physically rip the face of any unfortunate s.o.b. who !@#$ed with him, but we will take him being back as a commentator instead since we have to, and to all you Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen haters ticked over some minor detail like being a complete perpetual Lance Armstrong apologist and occasionally lately misnaming a rider who surely wasn't really so important anyway, stuff it, 'cause with the dulcet tones of Phil and Paul and Robbie to shout out the Aussies for the Tour Down Under's preview race, the 2015 road season is officially underway! First blood: Marcel Kittel, over Juan Jose "Can You Believe a Sprinter Who Can Come In Second to Kittel Got His Start at Freakin' Euskaltel?!" Lobato, though I note that chief smackdown rival Cav is *not* on hand, so Cavendish loyalists, not to worry just yet! On the women's side: Melissa Hoskins takes the day while Italian teammate Scandolara holds the GC. Forza ragazza--but watch out, Bronzini was already fifth in the sprint!

Boonen's Year Starts Off Right: and, congratulations to casa Boonen, as he and his companion Lore are now proud parents of wee twins Jacqueline and Valentine. Aside from, y'know, the life-changing experience of being a parent and all, what a great psychological boost to the start of the year for Tommeke--if his body doesn't now collapse from the impending total lack of sleep!

Gratuitous Fabian Cancellara FanBoy (and Girl) Swoonfest: meantime, as the heat-loving hardmen get ready for action in Australia, Trek stud-pup Fabian Cancellara, fresh off deciding to bail on his hour record attempt, is training in balmy Mallorca with Frank Schleck and co. Look--sheep--yeah, I figure none of you'd've noticed the background!

All right, on to the Tour Down Under--yeah, yeah, I get that Richie Porte's supposed to win the thing, but here's rooting one last time for retiring former Tour de France champ/ex World Road Champ/general gritty bad-!@# Cadel!

The Diss of Being Nibali: finally, yet another Tour de France GC contender, Nairo Quintana, has weighed in who he expects to be his biggest rival in July--yep, last year's crash-out Alberto Contador. Y'know, it's about the umpteenth interview with these guys, and not *one* of 'em's picked Nibali as the number-one dude to fear. If you were Nibali, wouldn't *you* be getting awfully pissed off by now?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Which the Hell One is Cav? It's a 2015 New-Team-Kit-O-Rama!

None More Black: look, there are certain eternal truths in this world: that Jens is a god, that Vino is a darling dangerous nutjob, and that AG2R's outfits're gonna always, always--despite the fact that brown is a lovely color--be butt-ugly. But sponsors 'n' team kits do change, and with black apparently being the new black this year, how the hell can you tell 'em apart so you know you're rooting for Cav not Kittel? Here!

Quick Step: Black, but with some lovely trademark blue to stand out. Lookin' sharp there, Manx Missile!

Giant-Alpecin: now I'm pretty sure "Alpecin" is some kinda gnarly dandruff shampoo, but surprisingly, they don't have snowflakes on their jerseys. What they do have: yep, black. The allegedly distinguishing feature: a coupla white stripes with a little red. Mark Cavendish, you better hope you don't see these guys in front of you!

Trek: uh-huh, black black black black black. All-business pinstripes on the bottom, and a let's-party white'n'red on the top. They may be down a Schleck, but they're back to business, and ready to get wild on the podium!

Lotto: if ya can't see Greipel because he's the size of Mount Everest, you still oughta be able to pick 'im out in the thundering herd stomp at line: the guy's gonna be a six-foot bumblebee. Black, yet so much more glaring!

Cannondale-Garmin: jaysus, still more black! Still, Vaughters being a rakish, argyle kinda guy, and Cannondale still harkening to the Liquigas of its past, they've still snuck that in with subtle lines of neon green. Tres chic!

Astana: god love Vinokourov, he's got 20 guys testing poz for dope a day and he *still* can't resist the urge to have his boys blindingly obvious targets for the narcs. Blue as Vino's eyes, with a little gold for his hair to boot. Good luck out there guys--just hope no-one's lookin' too closely!

Tinkoff-Saxo: sure, they went all camo stealth-mode for their training camps, but now Oleg wants the rest of the GC contenders to see the pain a-comin'. And Sagan, how dreamy!

Katusha: Purito IS SO A PODIUM CONTENDER! And you are SO GONNA NOTICE HIM PASSING YOU VALVERDE YOU S.O.B.! Red as the Vuelta jersey Rodriguez'll be taking on the final day. Go Puritooooooooooooooooo!

Movistar: alone among the garish braggadocio of the Grand Tour tough guys, wee Nairo Quintana and his demonic frenemy Alejandro Valverde are tick-tick-ticking up on you in subtle navy with a hint of green. See who snagged the center "power" spot in the photo?

BMC: screw you, you still haven't given we love Samuel Sanchez a contract--wallow in anonymity, or change your nasty ways!

Well, them's the biggies. Alberto, you know we'll be seeing you on top in Paris!

Monday, January 05, 2015

It's Yer 2015 Pro Cycling Year in Preview! (Yeah, You Read Right)

Well, the past has been covered, the gifts've been given, the awards accepted, and the resolutions made--now, it's time for the infallible predictions of the 2015 Year in Preview!

January: Time for new team kits! Astana emblazons front of jersey with giant Brian Cookson portrait; Tinkoff-Saxo replicates maillot jaune for entire squad, in case there's any doubt who's just gonna win it anyway; Sky ditches disastrous 2014 mesh skinsuit, goes for straight-on naked; cold-loving Belgian hardmen accidentally melt into tarmac at Tour Down Under; overcaffeinated Jens Voigt accidentally DSes Tour of California, Giro, Tour de France, Vuelta, and men's world championships several months before they actually occur.

February: The Tour of Qatar rolls out! Sagan wheelies over finish line, relegated from first-place finish in sprint; Mark Cavendish accidentally cuts into Roberto Ferrari's line with a chainsaw; Marcel Kittel spontaneously combusts when hair gel reaches critical 458 degrees Fahrenheit in blazing sun; Samuel Sanchez announces late 2015 contract with WHERE THE !@#$ IS SAMUEL SANCHEZ' NEW CONTRACT !@#DAMMIT?!

March: Woo hoo--it's the Classics! Fabian Cancellara falsely accused of "bike doping" when exhaust fumes from "cool new bidon" make lead group choke to death; Boonen wins Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne over Moreno Hofland for second consecutive year with last-moment "bike throw" into Hofland's head; Andre Greipel ensures sprinter's race at Milano-Sanremo by personally stretching the Poggio out flat with bare hands.

April: It's the Hell o' the North! ASO enforces rule against riding alongside cobbles by digging trenches on both sides filled with hissing deadly pit vipers; Boonen domestiques Niki Terpstra to win, again, by carrying him on piggyback through Arenberg Forest; Philippe Gilbert sweeps Aredennes Classics by whanging BMC directeur sportif over head with spoke wrench until he lets him break his contract, ride solo.

May: Yep, Grand Tour season begins--it's the beautiful Giro d'Italia, baby! Oleg Tinkoff entices Froome, Nibali, Quintana to ride Giro-Tour-Vuelta triple by threatening to break their legs off if they don't; collapsing glacier slices top off Stelvio, sending it plummeting onto peloton, race organizers deride riders as "pack of wussies" for not digging out from under 2.5 million metric tons of granite as Nairo Quintana takes stage saying he thought it "was just a pebble kicked up by the Orica-Greenedge team car." Guess who wins again!

June: Pre-Tour prep time! Sky to race organizer's house to completely revise course to Froomey's specifications; Tinkoff-Saxo to Tenerife for high-altitude training, robotic implants; Cav caught slipping Kittel 100,000 euros to "run down to the corner and get me a decent espresso."

July: What else--le Tour! Contador, Froome so busy marking each other they accidentally pedal backwards into coastal Portugal, out of contention; Valverde wins first Tour de France by "supporting" team captain Nairo Quintana by personally caring for Nairo's bicycle every night, replacing derailleur lube with Krazy Glue; Oleg Tinkov hitches Peter Sagan to Roman chariot, wins green jersey by using big spiky metal things on chariot wheels to shred the spokes of other riders. Victory is mine!

August: It's fabulous Vuelta a Espana, baby! Purito Rodriguez attacks for 31 straight days, realizes the race was actually already over during the last 10; Contador denied Tour-Vuelta double when poked in eye by randomly flailing Froome elbow; still-disappointed Orange Army fans kidnap all non-Basque riders, reconstituted "Euskaltel-Euskadi" squad wins all classifications.

September: Contract season! 16 Astana riders test positive for banned substances, Vinokourov forced to sign untainted squad of untried tricycle fans from local Kazakh nursery school; Quintana at Movistar through 2016 "so long as that greedy bastard Valverde don't stab me in the back"; Marianne Vos renews gig til 2048, wins F1 World Championship by record margin, explaining, "I thought all those race cars I passed were just some kind of fancy new fatbike."

October: World Championships time! Michal Kwiatkowski fails to defend men's road title when mistaken for Polish team towel boy, hounded away from start line; Pauline Ferrand-Prevot defends women's gold after other contenders decide to chill in their national team busses with beer and some nachos instead of riding and waiting for the last kilometer to blow it; Pippo Pozzato misses Il Lombardia due to hand injury sustained in tanning-salon imbroglio.

November: Vacation time! Pros collectively "go play video games" over at Lance Armstrong's house since they're now forbidden from consorting with Michele Ferrari; entire Astana squad disappears for 4 weeks, Brian Cookson chuckles "those scalawags!"; Froome eats single pea at dinner, doubles weight, Sky terminates next year's contract.

December: WorldTour licenses announced! Vino buys UCI prez Brian Cookson Buckingham Palace, Queen of England forced to live in nearby Motel 6; Cookson concedes Astana's been "very naughty" but rents Iglinsky brothers palatial Monaco summer homes to wait out doping bans; Thomas Voeckler snags ProTour license from Cofidis by impaling it with his prehensile lizard tongue; Alejandro Valverde proclaims himself "the greatest Spanish rider to ever get away with taking all this !@#$". Merry Christmas, suckers!

So, onwards to 2015--and don't say I didn't warn you!