Monday, November 23, 2015

It's Yer Racejunkie 10 Cycling Things I'm Thankful for This Thanksgiving (And Two I'm Not)

Yes, as we here in the States celebrate the Native Americans generously saving a small band of imperialist invading ascetic fanatics from starvation by gorging ourselves into pumpkin-pie comas, arguing politics with long-lost relatives, and watching a bunch of giant walking steroids pound each other into a dedicated grass field til serious bodily injury is inflicted and the remaining carcass standing gets a "touchdown," it's also time to consider what we're, y'know, truly thankful for this year. So, since this is about our beloved sport, here's my 2015 10 Cycling Things I'm Thankful For This Thanksgiving (And Two I'm Freakin' Well Not)!

1. The Giro d'Italia. No matter what happens, what a beautiful, moving, perfect race. Il Grande Giro, indeed--and it can be yours next year, wee Landa!

2. The Women's World Tour. Finally! *Now* can we pay these bad-@#$es enough to drop their backup jobs as 3 a.m. Slurpee wranglers at the local 7-11?

3. MTN-Qhubeka. Great cause, great team, great heart. Really, they've been around for just *how* many months, and already they've snagged their first Tour de France polka-dot jersey?

4. Mikel Landa. What a breakout year for our young superclimber mountain goat ex-Carrot, right? Shut up shut up shut up don't disillusion me you soulless cynics!

5. Thanksgiving Dinner. This is too either cycling related. Because if god help me that poor starving waif Chris Froome ever comes to my doorstep, I'll be able to feed the scrawny thing enough turkey, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce to bring him from being a two-dimensional stick figure into the real three-dimensional planet actual corporeal human cyclists inhabit. C'mon, just *one* more bite of sweet potatoes with marshmallows, I promise it won't hurt you!

7. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. Road, mountain, cross--holy crap, this young rider is already an all-star all-terrain hellraiser. Now when Marianne Vos is finally back on form, *that'll* be some damn fireworks going off!

8. Puritooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! And the Vuelta. Which is his next year. Aw, bite me!

9. Alexander Vinokourov. Yeah, stuff it! In an age of prissy "justice" this and "clean sport" that, isn't there *something* (albeit "something !@#$ed up") about a guy whose team can garner a record-breaking 36,000 positives in a single season and *still* scam their way into keeping their World Tour license?

10. Last (But Not Least) My Loyal Reader(s). You educate, you enlighten, and you don't hesitate to tell me when I'm full of it. Is it really 9 years since you've put up with this !@#$ already? Dang, you all deserve a medal or something!

And Two--No, Three--I'm Freakin' Well Not:

1. !@#$in' *hell*, Oleg, why the !@#$ didn't you buy Alberto Contador more backup, sure the man's a legend but you want him to win the !@#$in' Tour de France against those Sky androids or not?

2. Where the hell is we love ex-Euskie Igor Anton's new contract dammit? The man had a bangin' season for heck's sake! He's a super superdomestique, he's a short-stage-race phenom! Some of the marginal clowns we got as pack fodder for 2016 and *this* is who ends up jacked? Aiiiiggggghhhhh!

3. NBC. There I finally am, able to watch the Giro, the Tour, the Vuelta, and even the Classics for heck's sake on Universal Sports right here in the US--and a welcome respite from the "Bass Fishin' Beer Swillin' and Tale-Tellin' Channel" it sure is--and what happens? That's right, you soulless corporate mercenary goons *buy* the damn thing, *shut it down*, and now we're gonna get like one two-hour Tour recap every Saturday a !@#damn year after it happens and forget Paris-Roubaix altogether, I'll be watching some !@#$ pig-Latin underground pirate feed that'll wipe out the rest of my !@#$in' computer with a death virus before I even get through the vile porno ads to the crap two-pixel-per-screen !@#$in' picture! You *suck*, NBC!

Well folks, them's mine, and I truly am thankful for all (well, most) of it. Now eat well, enjoy the football--no, not that one, the *other* one--and then let's get psyched for our annual Christmas list!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Dr. Cav! Froomey! Marianne! Tommy D!: Yer Cycling Gossip Roundup

Taking the Lead: yep, it's all a-gonna change for newly honored Doctor of Science/I've heard tell he's also a cyclist Mark Cavendish: his new squad Delta Dimension's confirmed that their superstar signing ain't gonna get the lead-out train he's used to from now on. And let's be honest here, Cav *loves* himself a lead-out! Why the hosing? Well, because cycling's purportedly just *changed*--instead of 5k of 8 guys hammering til they yack to set up their man for the last 200m, it's now a much tighter time frame, so here's a coupla dudes to help you out the last kilometer or so and you're on your own for the rest, pal! Oh, this sucks--how I *do* still miss Fassa Bortolo's beautiful blue train, and now they're *all* headed for the trash heap o' history! Still, giant bonus: Cav's gonna have *far* fewer teammates to accidentally mistake for a rival and plow into the barriers like a punk-!@# at the line. Yay for silver linings!

The Waaaaiii-ting is the Hardest Part: and, what's our outraged unjustly-suspected Tour champ Chris Froome finally gonna do, after months and months of delayi--uh, thoughtfully considering? That's right, release his long-promised physiological data to shut up the haters, right square in the pages of the fine men's fashion-n'-cocktail rag Esquire magazine. Well, if f!@#$in' *Esquire* guarantees it, it's *gotta* be true--especially with a six-month lead-out to manip--uh, double-spell-check--the data! What would *really* help, frankly, is if Esquire can explain physiologically how anyone whose wings flap around on the bike like a rabid drunken fruit bat can possibly not spin himself off a mountaintop, much less triumph on the likes of Mont Ventoux, but I'm guessing that's not the data the beastly Froome detractors are gonna be looking for. Anyhoo, 'til then, the boy's wisely hiding out in Rio checkin' out the Olympic roads course--so don't worry Alberto, not only is he clean as a whistle, but he's not even *thinking* about the Tour next year!

Talk Dirt to Me: meantime, all-terrain goddess Marianne Vos, who's spent a miserable 2015 on the sidelines with overwork injuries, is now finally back on the bike--in moderation--and looking forward to some type of form sometime in 2016. And while she waits and works on that, she's scored a nice side gig as well, announcing cyclocross races 'til she herself is allowed back to play in the dirt. Forza grandissima Marianne--I can't imagine you taking too long to get back up to your formidable speed!

"D" is for Dumbass: finally, congrats to clean-team Garmin stalwart Tommy Danielson, who not only got a *great* score on his last test for synthetic testosterone, but got his grade *doubly* affirmed this week on his B-sample. It's so *nice* to see our dedicated students doing so well on their homework--tho' apparently *someone's* been quite the slacker in his masking-agent class!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tejay vs. Richie! Nairo vs. Valverde! Skybots v. Contador! The 2016 Tour de France Shapes Up

Worlds are Colliding!: yep, before the ink even dries on Team Tinkoff's endless parade of shirtless Saganator studmuffin training camp photos--and Alberto, don't say we didn't warn you to get the hell outta there before fickle Oleg's man-crush faded--there's already warfare at the Tour de France, and this time it's at BMC: in what's likely to be July's best entertainment, BMC's boss has decided it'll be a great idea to let incoming Froome-whacking Skybaby Richie "Motorhome" Porte cheerfully share team leadership duties with stalwart existing GT leader Tejay "What the !@#$ Are You *Doing* To Me, Ochowicz?" Van Garderen. Hey, no reason Porte's epic meltdown at last year's Giro doesn't deserve as much credit as your incredibly gritty performance at last year's Tour de France! Still, BMC assures us they're best buds, and will figure it out like total gentlemen at the Tour. Uhhh...I don't know if you missed, say, the entire last season where Porte was treating unchallenged team domination and general pampering as his birthright, but I think you're overestimating your new hire "Mr. Sportsmanship" here!

Shooting Star: in contrast, the wise folks over at Movistar--who've spent the nascent off-season packing their roster with top-flight domestique helpmates--have already decided to at least tire out ever-podium Alejandro Valverde at the Giro d'Italia, presumably leaving him knocked out enough not to challenge Nairo Quintana's supremacy at the Tour but hopefully not so knocked out that he can't help Nairo beat down Froome and Contador there. I bow to your superior tactics, o Movistar! Still, Valverde's never missed a chance to take a chance, whether it's at someone else's expense or not, so maybe keeping a close on eye on 'im wouldn't be *too* ill-advised, wee Quintana--just ask Purito Rodriguez!

Like American Football, But With One Guy on the Other Team: and, congrats in advance to the perpetually irritating Team Sky, who, in light of Porte's imminent transfer, took the obvious opportunity to buy up half of we still love Euskaltel to support that flailing bat-winged skeletor freak Froome, while, as noted, Oleg Tinkov decided to help his now-abandoned Giro-Tour double golden boy Contador by...yeah, getting new world champ Peter Sagan some backup for the Classics. Jaysus, Oleg, Contador's the greatest GT rider of his generation, but even he needs *some* ammo to help him *sometime* during the race. Oh, Alberto, to jack you out of yellow just to put Sagan in green near breaks my fair-play-lovin' heart...anyway, you've still got the winter to maybe talk that backstabbing sneak Valverde into some sort of beneficial alliance come next July!

Friday, October 09, 2015

Sucker-Punches! !$%holes! Team-Buying Hijinks! Yep, That's Our Dear Late-Season Road Cycling

Cyclist On a Hot Tin Roof: well, it's sure hot in more ways'n one over at the steaming Abu Dhabi Tour, where some curbside argy-bargy between Federico Zurlo and Paul Voss in pursuit of an intermediate sprint led to the offended Voss allegedly punching Zurlo smack in the ribs and his subsequent expulsion from the race by outraged officials. Now, dope all you want, but ungentlemanly fisticuffs, *that* we cannot tolerate! I say, let 'em face off in a post-stage wheel-spoke duel, fair and square, the last man standing gets to ride next day--hey, who *says* sprint stages are boring?

Water World: in other Abu Dhabi news, you gotta give it to Vincenzo Nibali being a cheerful water-bottle-carrier for his sprint-lovin' teammates today (as did Sagan, who still came in second). Well, get used to it Nibs--I hope you don't mind Vinokourov making you do it when he's backing whippersnapper Aru 100% at the Tour!

No Porte in a Storm: so, just as BMC tries to figure out how it's gonna integrate the Grand Tour ambitions of new signing/ex-Froome lieutenant Richie Porte with those of existing GT stalwart/tenacious brave guy Tejay Van Garderen, Porte's helpfully solved *that* mystery--he's "not coming from Team Sky to BMC just to ride the Giro." Screw you Porte you disrespectful asshat, you don't deserve the perfect Giro anyway in a rat-hole bed-bugged pup tent much less a luxury motorhome, go for the Tour so Sky *and* and* Tejay can kick your !@# into 2017 instead!

All I Want for Christmas Is a World Tour Team: meantime, Bjarne Riis and Fernando "Almost Saved Euskaltel" Alonso are now both linked to a reported bid to buy Oleg Tinkov outta his interest in Team Tinkoff-Saxo, which, now that he's left Alberto with virtually no domestique support for the Tour de France, seems like an awful lot of dough to pay only to find one of yer big stars utterly hosed off the podium later in the year. You do get new World Champ the Saganator though--and he's so cuuuuuuuuute in those stripes!

Practical Magic: finally, big points to new USA Cycling prez Derek-Bouchard-Hall, sayin' *nobody* with a doping past gets to coach USA riders from here on out. Uh, you *do* realize this basically leaves you with the food-truck vendors from the local weekend crit to choose from, right? Not that that should enter into your calculations or nothin'--but luckily, most of the likely candidates already made out with quiiiite sweet gigs after their Postal days anyway!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It's Yer 2015 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! #LV2015

Still struck with a pang of sorrow when you see some schmo on the street in a red t-shirt? Watch an ad for a Spanish telecommunications company and think angrily, "Valverde, you little !@#$%$#"? Find yourself running after the carelessly-discarded spit-covered gel packets of passing roadies like you've just been tossed the Holy Grail? Then you're in severe Vuelta a Espana withdrawal, honey, and we've got the cure--the incredibly prestigious, factually dubious, and beastily biased 2015 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! Prizes for the lucky winners, if they're ever desperate enough claim them--a custom-embroidered racejunkie cap and I *promise* I'll find some neat little high-school-jock statuette somewhere in a thrift shop. So here, this year's noble (and disgraceful) awardees:

Punk-!@# Move of the Race (Rider): Yay! We're popping champagne and chillin' our bone-exhausted legs 'til the sprinters can fight for last-chance glory in the final 2k of the entire 3 week race. Until we love Purito Rodriguez has a routine mechanical and that low-rent punk Alejandro Valverde attacks 'im to take the intermediate sprint and Purito's already-won green jersey. Well he's still got white *and* second on GC, you graceless jackass--and you better watch out for him at the Worlds!

Punk-!@# Move of the Race (Spectator): To the shirtless beer-gutted cig-smoking jerk who actually tried to steal Ben King's jillion-dollar Cannondale during a post-crash tangle in the peloton: it's not like anyone wouldn't've noticed you as slightly anomalous tootling on it, eejit! To the invisible dirtbag who took off with his Garmin, which he might've wanted to use to, y'know, figure out if he's about to blow up in the middle of a professional bike race: you're certainly more discreet than that other guy, but still a disgusting jack!@#. What the !@#$ is *wrong* with people?

Beach Blanket Bungle Award: I know! Let's run a Grand Tour opening team time trial right through a fast-blowing traction-hosing sand dune! No *way* the freaked-out GC riders'll crash out on *that*! Uh, on second thought--can you just toss some tacks down on the road next year, I think they'd have better odds with those things!

Crash o' the Race (GC-Screwing): the great, tenacious Tejay Van Garderen, sorely busted and out in a wicked Stage 8 pile-up and still by far not the worst off of the mercifully-healing-at-last boys to hit the deck. Get well soon, the lot of you--Tejay, we're looking for more great things from you next Grand Tour you ride!

Crash o' the Race (Totally !@#$ing Inexcusable): yep, it's a two-fer! Despite the conventional wisdom that one is there to escort the riders, not kill them, some moto-bound moron apparently--for I believe literally the umpteenth time this season--didn't get the memo. What are you *doing*, UCI, issuing hunting licenses to these guys before each Grand Tour? For !@#$'s *sake* already!

The Freaks Come Out at Night (Well, During the Day Award): if you pegged Tom Dumoulin as a high-mountain-goat-for-the-ages before the queen stage of this race, you're either a butt-naked liar, or the only cheesy late-night-infomercial fortune-telling hotline on the planet that actually freakin' works. Next year, Purito takes Paris-Roubaix--watch out, Fabs and Boonen!

Crazy Eights Statuette: all right, the Vuelta's always a bit of a wildcard, but even by its weird standards, *eight*--8 out of 21!--first-time Grand Tour stage winners this race alone is pretty damn impressive. Esteban Chaves (solo, he's won a ttt I think), Bert-Jan Lindeman, Jasper Stuyven, Kristian Sbaragli, Nelson Oliveira, Danny van Poppel, Alexis Gougeard, Caleb Ewan--this 8-headed prize is for all of you!

Sticky Bottle Award: hey, let's be honest--everyone drafts a wee bit from the team cars wending one's way back from a flat, or holds on to a fresh bottle o' refreshment a few seconds longer than strictly necessary at the start of a nasty climb. But having your team director shoot you out of a cannon to the front of the freakin' pack is a whole 'nother level o' naughty entirely. Nice work, Team Astana--hope Nibs enjoyed the rest of the race from his living-room couch!

Corollary Dumb!@# Life Lesson Award: while we're rewarding your catastrophic stupidity--much less lack of sportsmanship--let's give you this to boot. *Don't* pull this crap in front of the cameras--at least wait til the motos are busy rammin' someone else before you make your move!

Bye Bye Bushwhacker Prize: first, lemme say that as an ex-Euskaltel rider, anything and everything Mikel Landa does is beyond reproach, especially when his team bosses held him back--to no good end, even--at the Giro. But it sure was entertaining watching him piss Vinokourov off 'til Mikel finally caved for Aru's sake on the penultimate stage--Mikel, I can't wait to see what you do over at Sky!

Raving Oligarch Verbal Twitter Assault Golden Keyboard Award: you're all spineless pathetic wussies because none of you had the nuts to face Alberto Contador at the Giro. Astana are a pack of cheating scumbags (okay, maybe you can't really fault the man for that). Froome's a simpering crybaby (to his credit, he did apologize when he saw Chris broke his foot). I WILL TAKE YOU DOWN ASO FOR DAMAGING MY GOLDEN BOY PETER LIKE A STEROID-STUFFED PRO WRESTLER ON A 98-POUND WEAKLING! Oleg Tinkov, you sure beat the dullards in the team-boss world all hollow. And you still found the time to berate a million other schmucks as well!

No Guts No Glory Award o' the Race: Ruben Plaza's amazing 100 kilometer solo attack from his own breakaway to take the win. *That* is how it's done, you amateurs!

Just Plain Guts Award: Tom Dumoulin--I gotta admit, this one is--by far, no contest--for you. With virtually no team support (in legs, if not intent), you clenched the red jersey so tightly that only days of coordinated attacks by damn near everyone and from the only GC contender *not* already gob-smacked from the Tour de France could wrench it away from you at last. You are hors categorie, Tom--take a bow, *and* a nice, well-earned nap!

Finally, Yer 4.3 Million-Euro-Man Insult to Injury Prize: okay, it was a bit, well, intemperate of Peter Sagan to swear like a sailor and kick the crap out of a medical support van and his own bicycle, scaring a helpful--and innocent!--medical support person when he got whacked over and substantially de-skinned by a race moto. But really, *fining* him on top of that, when he wouldn't have had to react in the first place but for some eejit thinking *he* was the more important party in the race? Geez, UCI, make 'im send the asshats *flowers* next time whydontcha?!

Well folks, that was the Vuelta that was--Purito, I *know* you can do it, you still got another chance next year!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

My Fantasy Oleg Tinkov/Tinkoff-Saxo/Peter Sagan Open Letter to UCI #LV2015

Dear UCI/!@#$ you you incompetent !@#holes! Do you *know* how much this !@#$ has cost us?,

This letter is to respectfully request that you remind drivers of race motos, neutral service cars, and other vehicles to drive with the utmost care and concern for the cyclists while assisting in UCI races/to try not to !@#$in' kill our riders. As you may recall, there have recently been several serious incidents involving racers and support vehicles/Do the words "impaled on a huge nest of barbed wire" "broken clavicle" "blew my Tour de France stage win" or "piles of blood streaming all over the road" ring any bells?

While these cars and motos perform a crucial function in helping the riders and in bringing the intricate beauty of the sport to fans worldwide/are a constant !@#damn obstacle that cause more problems than they solve, athlete safety is of course the primary concern/we wouldn't want to inconvenience some tool with a clipboard by having an actual rider attack and interrupt his peaceful reverie. Therefore, we humbly suggest that thorough training as to the particular challenges of driving in an active race scenario would be very helpful in achieving this important goal/Where the hell did you pluck these imbeciles, outta the freakin' clown cars at the local circus? Further, careful driving will ensure a more harmonious relationship between the riders, the teams, and the race organizers/I will take a !@#$ing crowbar to your skulls if you ever damage so much as a nut hair on Peter Sagan ever again.

Of course, in these difficult economic times, we understand that the financial and logistical challenges attendant in such an effort will be considerable/we are going to sue you and your families until you are living in the streets scrounging for scraps like dogs if you don't come up with the dough anyway. To that end, we are willing to offer that the teams jointly contribute a small, set percentage of our annual budgets to driver's ed classes/we will refrain from sinking your feet into cement and accidentally knocking you off a boat dock so be grateful you're getting that much out of us.

We thank you for your consideration of these serious issues, and look forward to working together to make our sport a safer, more enjoyable experience for all/You'll be served with legal papers tomorrow, you bastards!

Best Regards/Rot in hell, scumbags,

Oleg Tinkoff
Peter Sagan

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

It's Yer Ultra-Compact (for racejunkie) Vuelta a Espana Rest Day Roundup 'n' Mountain-Hell Preview! #LV2015

Whew, that went by quick, especially if yer a moto driver runnin' like the wind ahead of a fire-spittin' Tinkov! So what'd'ja miss, and what're we in for tomorrow (today, whatever) as the race *really* gets underway? This!

Stage 1: Surfin' safari! Riders enjoy GC-neutralized party in the dunes as enraged Nibali blames sand up his hoo-ha for lackluster team Astana performance. It only gets better from here, Vincenzo!

Stage 2: Rocket man: in an extraordinary display of common sense, 2014 Tour de France champ Nibali is ejected from the race after Alexander Vinokourov launches him to the finish line from a trebuchet. Jaysus, didn't they teach you in cheat school to pull that !@#$ when the cameras are somewhere *else*?

Stage 3: The prodigal son returns! Bouncing back from a disastrous Classics season, Peter Sagan finally takes first--that's even better than second!--in a sprint. Guess who's Oleg's little favorite *now*, Alberto?

Stage 4: Cue the Boris Karloff music, honey--Valverde creeps us all out again with his first win o' the race. You got like *one* day to pull this guy back before you end up being his water-bottle beeyotch, Nairo!

Stage 5: He's off--Orica-Greenedge's young Caleb Ewan bags his first Grand Tour victory over John Degenkolb. Didja notice Greenedge was already wiping the floor with everyone so far this race?

Stage 6: Remember when Orica rammed its team bus under the finish-line banner at the Tour de France, causing hours of chaos and an eternity's worth of humiliation on YouTube? Well ram this, haters, because it's wee Esteban Chaves' *second* stage of the race, *and* he's back in red. How do you say "woot woot!" in Spanish again?

Stage 7: Dutch treat! A nice win for Lotto's Jan Lindeman, and, even more satisfying, Fabio Aru put the hurt on the infernally annoying Chris Froome as Tinkov breathes a sigh of relief that Sky hasn't totally humiliated him with a Grand Tour back-to-back win just yet. Take *that* Landa, who's team leader now?

Stage 8: Carnage, and there's no dressing this one up, so speedy recovery and sincere best wishes to all involved. Best off of the day, with just a pile o' skin 'n' shorts ripped off and a DNS the next morning--Peter Sagan, fined 300 euros for kicking the crap out of a medical support van and his own bike after being knocked off it by an eejit moto. And just when his curse seemed to be lifting!

Stage 9: Puritooooooooooooo! No, he didn't win, but again, Chris Froome didn't, and, as some small comfort for Rodriguez fans, at least a deceptively cooked Tom Dumoulin came back from the dead and took the win. Hey, isn't this guy like two feet too tall for a climber?

Stage 10: Calm before the storm! The sprinters get one last chance to play before the mountains really kick in, and while most of 'em have already either crashed or bailed out already, Rojas and even Degenkolb were caught out short by a smashing surge from we love MTN-Qhubeka's Sbaragli. So nice to see the unexpected grab the day!

Rest Day: I don't know what-all's been involved for the riders, except maybe staying locked in their hotel rooms studying the Stage 11 race profile and sobbing uncontrollably. What gears do you need for "totally !@#$ed", again?

Stage 11: you've seen the pic, you've read the previews, you've heard the screams from the team bus--it's 6 peaks o' Cat-1 and Hors Categorie agony, and with almost everybody still at least professing to be whacked out from the Tour, a comparatively well-rested Aru might yet have the legs to take some GC time on this one--if Mikel Landa, who had a surprisingly crap stage 9, has either the legs or the mindset to protect him. Oh, dammit, that freak Froomey's gonna get this, right? Dammit!

Well, riders, the GC officially starts now--first one who cracks gets a pony for a consolation prize!