Wednesday, May 09, 2018

It's Yer Holy Crap It's Time for the Mountains Giro d'Italia Roundup!

Okay, one prologue, a couple boring sprints, an ugly transfer day, and two bumpy wake-up calls later, we're finally back and well-entrenched on Italian soil, so to those just tuning in now (and those just waking up), welcome to the smashing 101st Giro d'Italia! So what've we learned, and what's a-comin'? This!

1. Shut up, Froome. Jaysus!

2. Elia Viviani is doing his team, and country, proud. See what happens when all the other top sprinters skip the race in favor of that stupid Amgen EPO Tour o' California or to hold back for the gaudy Tour de France?

3. As usual, the prologue !@#$ed the GC on Day 1. Word time trial champ--and freakishly inexplicable high-peaks whiz kid--Dumo slaughtered the field, with (to be fair, this sucked--I want him to get his !@# kicked staying upright) Froome bashed up from a recon ride and dropping 37 seconds (up to 55 now with him too nervous to use his mot--uh, mojo), flyweight Pinot at 34' on the day, piccolo Chaves at 47, perpetual almost Fabio Aru at 57, and Lopez at 1:14, so it's gonna be a looooooong ride back to the podium for most of 'em. Hell, since apparently being 2 feet taller and 80 kilos heavier won't do the trick, maybe Dumoulin'll have another--nope, I'm sure they've got his digestive system under control this time, you're all just hosed!

4. !@#$IN' HELL ASTANA, CAN YOU *TRY* NOT TO RUN OVER THE INNOCENT RACE MARSHAL/ROAD FURNITURE FLAG ALERT GUYS? Oh, that was the Tour de Yorkshire. !@#$IN' HELL ASTANA, CAN YOU NOT PULL THIS STUPID !@#$ AT THE GIRO OR ANYWHERE ELSE EVER AGAIN YOU EEJITS?!

5. Ya gotta love Riccardo Ricco'. After hiding behind the skirts of first his own girlfriend, *then* his own grandma when he got popped, he's finally decided to stick his hand up like that annoying kid in science class who can't bear to be ignored for two seconds with his new book "Heart of the Weasel"--uh, "Cobra", with the apparent revelation that while he'd definitely still dope today, as one must, he'd probably not be so parsimonious as to refuse to pony up serious dough for medical assistance instead of what he did last time, which was to stick his blood bag in his dorm fridge next to the mold-mangled remains of a two-week-old burrito and the disconcertingly off-smelling mayonnaise. Y'know twerp--everyone *still* likes Rasmussen better, so !@#$ off! David Millar, though, you might beat in a yearbook popularity contest, so I suppose that's something old boy!

5. Stage hunters, enjoy this while it lasts--'cause starting tomorrow, the time-screwed mountaineers are gonna jostle you for anything left that they think they can get. Aruuuuuuuuuuuuu--well, maybe you'd better hold off for a superhuman effort in week 3!

6. Ale Petacchi, who was notoriously busted for asthmatic-rhino levels of inhaler juice a ways back, was waxing poetic on his Twitter about his gorgeous 2004 Giro victories. Okay, he got a *little* wheezy in his day, but am I the *only* one who still loves and misses Fassa Bortolo's beautiful blue train from the long-past eons when sprinters still *came* to the mountain-monster Giro with joy?

7. Outside the bellissime roads of Sicily, meantime, Nacer Bouhanni has apparently gotten into a "violent" altercation with his Cofidis DS on team bus which, given cyclists' usual ineptitude at the manly art of the bar brawl, usually consists of nothing more'n taking a wild swing in someone's general direction with an empty bidon or, God forbid, attempting to give one's rival a "noogie", but with a trained pugilist on the downslide like Bouhanni could actually mean a pretty decent sucker-punch to the noggin. !@#dammit Bouhanni, hold it together--if you blow yer chance at the Tour team, who's gonna be there to body-check that horrid little punk Moscon?

Well, tomorrow the fearsome Mt. Etna beckons. Now *what's* that !@#$ you have to wrap all yer discreet motorized assistance with so it doesn't get molten by lava?

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

It's Yer Giro d'Italia in Preview, Part Due: The GC Contenders!

Look, let's face it--to my eternal enmity, and what should be the World Tour's eternal chagrin, ain't nobody sending their "A-Teams" to the beautiful Giro this--or lately, any--year, opting instead for the garish golden circus, and inevitably maillot-jaune-disgracing doping scandal, of the Tour. You *suck*, cycling! Anyhoo, the squads are contractually bound to send *somebody*, so here they are, and with any luck, the actual winner won't be *too* much of an embarrassment. Any anyway, it's the Giro--*nothing* will mar its beauty dammit, or else! So, in no particular order except the person who pisses me off the most first, the GC:

1. Chris Froome. First--shut up, Froome. Second, you're only riding this for (1) the 1.5 million euros you're getting, you overpriced ho and (2) so you've still got a Grand Tour victory this year on the (extremely) off chance the UCI shows some nuts and doesn't allow you to defile the Tour de France, which *itself* is such an insult to the perfect Giro that you don't deserve to ride it at all, you contemptible alien stick figure. Still, we're stuck with you *and* your hideous ungainly riding style. The hell with your recon of the route: can we just lock this monstrosity into a screening room with 360 degree displays of Contador, Pantani and Heras climbing so he can at least learn some grace?

2. Tom Dumoulin: Amazingly, Tom "Andre the Giant" Dumoulin has managed to turn himself into a 5-foot-2-inch, 120-lb climbing specialist, and while the whole cycling world--the sick freaks--'ll mostly be tuning in with a toxic mix of prurience, fascination, and dread to see if a graphic replay of last year's notorious Ass-Gate returns, I'll be watching wondering why I wasted my time on a stupid law degree rather'n some advanced physics crown that could enable me to figure out how his still-newish climbing ability is possible within the known or theoretical physical structure of the universe. Nonetheless, Dumo's riding, his stubble is carefully curated for maximum photo op, and he just insulted Froome today, so in my book, he's got a good possibility to win against the Evil Twig, tho' of course the winner should actually be Italian. So Forza Dumo!

3. Thibaut Pinot. Ah, Thibaut. So close, but yet so !@#$ed. The q is can he overcome his team and apparently mandatory ill-timed bad luck, illness or injury. The asnswer is, there's no shame in a podium, kid! Heck, why not be happy with a coupla stages or a lovely KOM jersey, to boot?

4. Miguel Angel Lopez. If this were the Tour, we wouldn't be having this conversation, talented as he is. But this ain't and we are. The mountains are a done deal--but can he survive the rest of the course?

5. Mikel Landa. WHAT THE !@#$ ARE YOU DOING MIKEL I TOLD YOU TO WIN THE GIRO TO GAIN UNQUESTIONED CAPTAINCY AND STREET CRED BEFORE GOING FOR THE TOUR! Now you'll just waste half of July shaking Nairo *and* that crafty little !@#$ Valverde off your wheel, not focusing on your external enemies. WHAT THE !@#$?

6. Fabio Aru: Let's be honest, the Next Great Italian Hope has seemed a little, well, melancholy at never having quite yet lived up to his potential. But you may surprise us, little flyweight--on a good day, you're still a panting, awkward, tenacious pleasure to watch, and if you can get your confidence up, your legs, I truly believe, can follow. Vai vai vai vai vai--and don't let the belittling press get you down!

7. Simon Yates: C'mon man. No matter how perfectly he sets this up, he's gonna collapsed like a 10-story house-o'-cards whacked by a bazooka. Yap, yap, Yates fans--I'm prepared to eat my words, but fairly certain that I won't have to!

8. Esteban Chaves: go to hell, can too either! So what if he can't do any of the other kinds of stages? No one cares about those in the Giro anyways!

Ok, barring catastrophe--or embodying it--there's yer GC. Tomorrow last but not least, yer sprinty-rolly-stagey guys!

Monday, April 30, 2018

It's Yer Giro d'Italia in Preview, Part Uno: The Course!

Right, half of you aren't watching the Giro this year due to the Israel start, and half of you aren't watching because watching Chris Froome is like watching one of those vomitous nature-survival shows when a GIANT GANGLY HAIRY--uh, HAIRLESS SPIDER FILLS THE SCREEN, except for three straight weeks, not one mere second of abject terror. But for me, it's *still* the Giro dammit, so for the remaining half of us who'll watch it, what can we expect? *This*, baby--now let the fight for the maglia rosa begin!

The Individual Time Trials: screw that opening team trial crap where they give the GC contenders with weak teams a catastrophically insurmountable gap on the first day--this year, the GC boys get to lose all that time aaaaaaaaall on their own, honey! Day 1: 9.7k of bendy, lumpy confusion with a surprise steep finale--not enough to help the climbers, but just enough to !@#$ 'em up. Stage 16: 34.2k o' Whoa Moly I Just Lost the Podium, including crash-inducing paving stones, roundabouts, and roads juuuust about wide enough to squeak a bike through. But don't worry, that's nothing compared to the coupla 90 degree bends right before the finish line--if you make it there in one piece!

The Sprint Stages: Honestly, who gives a !@#$? This is the *Giro*, dag nabit, not some Tour de France green-jersey orgasmofest, and damn near everyone who's not Italian and *can* sprint is riding the !@#$in' Amgen EPO Tour of California instead anyway as soon as they get a crap TUE from Liewe Westra's gullible doctor. Still, they put 'em in there, on stages 2, 3, 7, 12, 13, and sorta at the end 17 (plus the ultimate day in Rome). Elia Viviani, they're yours to lose--and if you do that in front of yer home crowd, take cover!

The Rollers: Neo-pro jailbait looking to justify yer puny salary by flashing your sponsor's logo for 6 fruitless hours o' headwind agony? Slightly on yer way down, and hoping you'll be let back up again? Or just the sort of unicorn breakaway specialist who can actually pull a Gilbert from 50k out without anybody noticing? Well--with the caveat that the Giro's "rolling stages" are "rolling stages" like gasping yer way up Mount Everest is a "nice little meander in the park"--stages 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11 are for you. DON'T--STOP I--I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU KEEP LOOKING UNDER YER ARMPIT 50 METERS FROM THE LINE I'M GONNA HAVE TO COME OUT THERE AND KICK YOUR !@# BEFORE YOU EVEN GET CAUGHT AT THE LINE!

The Mountains: The hiiiills are aliiiiive...with the sound of "Oh, !@#$!" Yep folks, this is what you've come here for, and this is what the darling Giro, for all its management-based flaws, is here to give you. First, stage 6 welcomes us literally to hell with a 164k stage to the fiery slopes of the fearsome Mt. Etna, with the first assface taking a prolonged drag from a car (you remember they've got those newfangled "cameras" now, right?) getting ceremonially sacrificed to the volcano's lavalicious bowels. Then, the GC can knock back a coupla cold ones and chill absolutely worry-free til stage 14, when we we hit, after a coupla shortish-but-exceedingly-steep little nippers, the GC-smashing crags of the mighty Zoncolan. Ready for a rest? Well, welcome to stage 15 and the Dolomites! After an initial schlep up Passo dello Mauria and a relatively flat run to Cortina d'Ampezzo, you jog right up Passo Tre Croci en route to your worst.date.ever. with two more passes before a 10k right-uphill leg-snapper finale. Whew! But if you bonked badly on one of these puppers, never fear--the overall actually gets decided, if you haven't irredeemably !@#$ed it up already, on stage 18--where a nearly entirely flat profile lulls you to sleep before blasting you awake with a vertical airhorn starting at kilometer 170-- stage 19's brutal haul up the Colle del Lys, Colle delle Finestre, and--if you've still got any gas in your mot--uh, legs--theoretically the last summit finish of the entire Giro from the base at Bardonecchia. Finally, the two remaining survivors within, oh, 90 minutes of the leader's jersey enjoy the penultimate day's Queen Stage, with Col Tsecore's 12%-gradient sting, the relatively relaxing Col St. Pantaleon and--last but not least--the looooooooooong 19k drag up Cervinia. But even with that Skybot disgrace and unlikely Biggest Climber on Earth Dumoulin in attendance, and Movistar leaving its biggest guns to go all Donner Party on themselves at the Tour, there's still room for intrigue. Perhaps Nibali, encapsulating national pride with a high-peaks victory? And Chaves you sneaky little sprite, it's time to show the fangs beneath that smile and spit Froome out the back where he belongs!

The Finale: And, lest you were hoping for a careening high-stakes crashfest through the heart of some peaceful piazza, the organizers, in their respectful wisdom, are running the triumphal sprint in Rome through 13 laps in the actual Colosseum instead. Or, y'know, a ten-loop circuit with pave, whatever. THAT'S RIGHT BEYOTCHES, I'M A GLADIATOR--now if some !@#$witted fan doesn't knock me off my bike into the barriers with a !@#damn selfie stick in the last 20 meters, the glory is *mine*!

Well, that's the race course. Next up: The GC Contender! Wait, there's more than one you say? Did that little !@#$ get popped for good this time or something? Guess they gotta put up a coupla names just for show...anyway, see ya next post!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

It's Yer Off-to-the-Races Early Season Cycling Roundup!

Sowing the Seeds of Love/the Seeds of Love: Yep, it's quite clear the big squads are sending their A-game to the Gir--hah, that won't happen! to the Tour, dummy!--especially Team Movistar, which seems hell-bent on (1) sending Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, and Mikel Landa together and (2) ergo, self-destruction, with Movistar's formidable domestique lineup assigned to mountain suppor--uh, to break up the inevitable fisticuffs and prevent Valverde from slashing Quintana & Landa's brake cables with a pen-knife. Oh my goodness, cue the hippies bell-bottoms and flower-chains, we've got a love-in over here!

Dope-a-Dope: and, welcome to our first major doping scandal of 2018, as an impressive dozen riders from the recent Vuelta a Costa Rica--including the winner--got popped en masse for EPO and CERA. You cheap-!@# dimwits, don't you know you're supposed to pony up $100,000 for a *motor* nowadays? In other dope(ing) news, rumors continue to swirl around the horridly sickly Chris Froome's poz from truly warehouse-filling levels of salbutamol, including that he'll be subject to a retroactive 2-month off-sesason ban, that new UCI chief David L'Appartient will literally slap his wrist and sternly call him a "bad boy," or that the Giro organizers will throw him a ticker-tape parade and preemptively award him the final maglia rosa in Roma before the first stage even sets off. Harsh, man!

Pretty Is as Pretty Does: meantime, kudos to the race organizers (and graphic designers) over at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne for their dashing 2018 promo poster portrayal of the rakish Peter Sagan as Emperor Napoleon, which is (1) not unlikely that he actually *will* rule the world someday and (2) a big step up from other official pro race posters of recent years featuring, for example, a giant blow-up photo of a woman's vajayjay and the words "WOW, DOES P***Y SELL RACES!" in 900-point bold-face all-caps. Progress!

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana?: finally, it's a warm welcome (back) to the peloton to two smashing Basque squads, Euskadi-Murias and Fundacion Euskadi, who, in the approximately two races that've been ridden so far, have nonetheless managed to amass higher placing than, say, Cof--I mean, cough! cough!--has done in the last 10 years. Be patient, new little carrots--the victories are on their way!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

It's Yer 2018 Pro Cycling Year in Preview (Yeah, You Read Right)!

Hung over from a hard night of partying to welcome in 2018 (or drown out the memory of 2017)? Well snap out of it! That's right, fans (and curious riders) it's officially a new year, and a new cycling season--so with the powers invested in me by Nostradamus, Baby New Year, and a good shot o' maple bourbon, let's get to it!

January: Back to team camps! FDJ to Biarritz for manscaping, champagne cocktails; Astana to daring raid at high-tech Kazakh prison to free Vinokourov after busted for buying Liege off inevitable winner Kolobnev; Movistar to Pamplona for off-season running of the bulls to determine Tour de France team leadership by stomping. Run, Mikel, run!; Richie Porte loses Tour Down Under on final stage when Chris Froome suffers bilharzia asthma attack leprosy hemorrhoids toenail fungus record-breaking tapeworm and perimenopause in final kilometer.

February: Now we're *really* getting going! Dubai Tour riders evaporate into those "sea monkey" things from the back of comic books at 96k mark of first stage, race halted as team docs attempt to reconstitute cyclists with water cannons; total media blackout of women's cycling for 2018 season as UCI too cheap to buy TV coverage, uses carrier pigeon to announce results, bird eaten by opportunistic hawk. !@#dammit!

March: Classics Season! Longo Borghini takes 2nd consecutive women's Strade Bianche after chewing, spitting out 100k of gravel to precise dimensions optimal for her current bike setup; Carlos Betancur repeats 2014 Paris-Nice glory victory after--aw, no he doesn't, he misses the start line on stage 2 due to rendezvous with 12-pack of Dunkin Donuts; Pozzato triumphs in final Milano-San Remo when blinds rest of peloton with gleaming beauty of new chest tats.

April: The scrawny little hard men come out to play! Philippe Gilbert loses Tour of Flanders after 2nd 55k solo breakaway when Alejandro Valverde spins past him at finish line 15 minutes after waking up, taking shower, making himself pancakes, and wandering down to the start line to sign autographs for fans; Valverde completes total sweep of Ardennes after--oh, who the !@#$ knows *what* that guy is on!; Van Avermaet realizes he's blown the entire Classics for 2018 when mistakenly sucked Fabian Cancellara's wheel on daily Starbucks run.

May: It's Il Grande Giro, baby! Giro pays Froome undisclosed sum to ride, Froome blows it all on new weight-loss PED, disappears into thin air; final week cancelled after defending champ Dumoulin takes 7-day refuge in roadside port-o-pot to "powder his nose"; !@#dammit Mikel why aren't you riding this I *told* you to bag one of these before going for the Tour in 2019!

June: Pre-Tour de France race prep time! Froome to accelerated PhD prgram in mechanical engineering, avers "just looking to tune up the ol' espresso maker, mate"; entire Team Sky to altitude training in undisclosed South American mountain location accessible only by llama, donkey, and Jiffy Bag; Bouhanni improves power-to-weight ratio by repeatedly punching resident peloton !@#hole Gianni Moscon.

July: What else? It's the Giant Yellow Freakshow, baby! Chris Froome's frame sawed in half by enraged Movistar team boss, motor shown to new UCI boss L'Appartient, who waives Fitbit at it and proclaims "that's some mighty nice brake cables you got there!"; Mark Cavendish relegated, removed from race for being a "whiny crybaby little !@#$"; 3 week women's Tour de France goes forward after Marianne Vos repeatedly runs new prototype studded anti-flat road tires over race organizers' face. Equality is sweet!

August: it's the fabulous Vuelta, baby! Vincezo Nibali disqualified on first day when slaughters field, found tethered to Elon Musk SpaceX rocket by near-invisible fishing line; entire peloton swallowed by melting tar in high mountains, mistaken for "really skinny wooly mammoths" when unearthed 15,000 years from now; Alberto Contador--aw, whaddaya *mean* he's retired?!

September: More Vuelta, honey! New Euskadi team takes 20 stages, points/mountain/combo jerseys, and team classification, politely arrive at start line one hour late on stage 2 to allow someone else to win *something*; 9 random strangers mistakenly replace Euskadi riders on stage 18 when team bosses can't tell own cyclists from screaming fanatics in full team kit--next year, try just selling the general public some t-shirts instead!

October: World Championships time! Men's and women's pelotons reduced to 15 apiece after worried national team captains tie up own domestiques reasoning, "after that Chantal Blaak !@#! you can't trust a !@#damn one of 'em"; Esteban Chaves takes men's time trial because "!@#$ it, none of the rules apply any more, who cares if I weigh 6 grams going into a 20 kph headwind the whole way?"

November: Giro route revealed by race organizer reading crumpled cocktail napkin from Froome's pocket titled "What I Want You to Put in the 2019 Giro"; Froome banned for 3 days in off-season for--argy-bargy in a 2004 juniors amateur race? What the !@#k is *wrong* with you, UCI!

December: Team kits revealed! AG2R gives up on trying to make kit look nice, replaces entire design with "poop emoji"; Movistar switches up navy blue theme with full-body pic of Nair--no, Mik--no, Valverde's face; Wiggins quits rowing career, announces he'll be competing in 2020 Summer Olympics in weightlifting, reveals new, all-natural not-chemically-enhanced bod:

Well, folks, it's on to an exciting 2018. Now you know--so don't come b*tching to me about it when it happens!

It's Yer 2018 New Year's Resolutions for the Peloton!

All right, you miscreants. You know what you did. And now, in this season of self-reflection, redemption, and renewal, it's time to ponder our previous misdeeds, and set out a plan for a sparklin' New Year. So here's what you're resolving--and I mean it, pal!

1. Chris Froome: I resolve to be gracious when I'm forced to hand over my Vuelta a Espana to Vincenzo Nibali. Hah, like that's ever gonna happen--suckers!

2. Vincenzo Nibali: I resolve to be gracious when Froome is forced to hand over his Vuelta a Espana to me. And then when I'm forced to hand mine over to Ilnur Zakarin after I'm busted for previously undiscovered footage of me taking a tow from my team car from the start line in Nimes to the final meter in Madrid. Hah, like that's ever gonna happen--suckers!

3. Richie Porte: I resolve to never, ever, trust any ungrateful, backstabbing piece of !@#$ ex-colleague to do the right thing by me ever, ever again. Of course, that still won't make me win the Tour. Dammit!

4. Alberto Contador: Who, me? I'm going off to play with my dog. Enjoy this year's !@#$-show, you chumps!

5. Tom Dumoulin: I vow to come up with a plausible reason why a 6-foot-10, 800-pound time trialist has suddenly become one of the best climbers in all of Grand Tour history. And not to eat "Bob's Giant Box o' Explosive Fiber" for breakfast the day before a big race. Ever again!

6. Mikel Landa: I will domestique nicely for Nairo Quintana. I will domestique nicely for Nairo Quintana. I will domestique nicely for Nairo Quin--WATCH OUT, MOTHER!@#$ER, I'M COMING FOR YOU YOU LITTLE !@!$! Aw, busted already...

7. Alejandro Valverde: I will domestique nicely for Nairo Quin--oh, screw that, you know I'm just gonna steamroll over him *and* that upstart little twerp Landa both from day one of the season!

8. Nairo Quintana: I will be humble and appreciative in recognition of Mikel and Alejandro's unquestioning and faithful service during the Tour de France. Oh, no, was that a water bottle I just accidentally rolled back down to the bottom of Alpe d'Huez? FETCH, B*TCH!

9. Gianni Moscon: I resolve to not call that !@#$%ing !@##$$ a !@#$ing !@#$%%. !@#$%ing !@#$%$. What?

10. Peter Sagan: I resolve to bash that Tour-wrecking little bastid Cavendish into the barriers so hard he'll end up with a Specialized banner sticking out of his !@# *and* his ear for 30 yards on either end. DQ me for *this*, you sniveling eejits!

11. Mark Cavendish: I vow to stay the hell outta Peter Sagan's way. But only really because I can't actually keep up with 'im.

12. Nacer Bouhanni: Right, like *I* was the problem in 2017?!

13. Women's Cycling Union: We vow to finally get a women's Tour de France, true Monuments, full and contemporaneous TV coverage on a real-not-pirate channel, and a minimum wage from the cheap misogynistic pigs who run this sport. After our lousy 3 a.m. shift at Wal-Mart is over so we can pay for gas to the start line. Paper or plastic, ma'am?

14. UCI: we vow to *really* crack down on motor doping. Hey, Team Sky, you guys use motors? No? Great, champagne's on us!

15. Roadside Fans: we promise not to shove a camera into Marcel Kittel's face in a frenetic sprint, run buck-naked into the line of a struggling (yeah, like that'll ever happen) Chris Froome, or call the start of a fox hunt with 280 slavering beagles and a cavalry's worth of amped-up horses right into the middle of a careering peloton. But boy, do we still reserve the right to throw a bottle of steaming "beer" onto any rider we don't like!

16. FDJ: come on, man. We gotta resolve to win *something* in 2018, right?

Well, riders, teams, and fans, you all know what you gotta do. Now do it--or you'll be right back here in the doghouse next January 31st!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

It's Yer Incredibly Prestigious 2017 Racejunkie Awards!

Yeah, let those hoity-toity celebs toast each other at their televised Oscar soirees with golden trophies hand-stitched couture gowns goody bags dripping with diamonds and snowballs of blow while they try to dodge the grotesque attentions of some even richer guy who looks like Jabba the Hutt--we here in the world of cycling have our *own* awards, thank you, and damned if they're not better! Prizes, for anyone so desperate as to actually pick theirs up (no, really, I promise, just ask!): a dashing custom-embroidered racejunkie cycling cap; a passel of spiffy racejunkie stickers to deface your bike, your car, or your face; and whatever trophy-looking tchtochke I can dredge up at the local second-hand store. So jot down yer speeches, plaster on that fake smile for when the camera hits you when you lose, and let's get this soiree rollin'!

Delusional Tweet of the Year: okay, we've got *lots* of competition here, including from me, but pro Phil Gaimon's "I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to go [for the Giro-Tour double]. Good luck Froome" absolutely takes the cak--well, the Kool-Aid. Delusional, but also so sweet!

Suck Retirement of 2017: Look, I bawled like a baby over Tom Boonen. And I hereby state that I stand unequivocally by everything--*everything*--I've said about Alberto Contador in this execrable e-rag the last ten years. But in an era where--totally coincidentally as a style choice I'm sure--Froome rides with all the pizzazz and humanity of an electric clock, Alberto was always a one-man attack-o-rama. Knock him off his bike (eejits!), cram a month's worth of pollen up his nose during the worst of allergy season, whack him with a stomach virus, you could *always* count on Berto, the second he had a drop of gas in the tank, to liven up the race. Even better: when he finally lost his !@#$ and unloaded on crazed ex-team boss Oleg Tinkov. We'll miss you, ya wee thing!

Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Well, Maybe This One) Prize: speaking of whom, Alberto Contador's smashing farewell victory at the Vuelta on the legendary Angliru. Now pick up your prize Alberto--that is, if even you've got your legs back yet!

Heartbreak of 2017: Oh, Samu!

Cyclist Slap Fight o' the Year: now, normally Bouhanni's delivered a fine sucker-punch to a rival for, y'know, existing in the same planet, but this year, kudos to Astana's Andriy Grivko who settled a little argy-bargy in a sprint finish at the Dubai Tour with a vicious right hook to Quick Step speedster Marcel Kittel's eye socket, leaving Marcel, who merely viewed the jockeying towards the line as ordinary, with a long bloody cut on the eyebrow as a result. Quoth the apologetic Grivko, as he headed off into his ban, "!@$% you you !@%ing !@##$%"!

Total Useless Piece o' Crap o' the Year: UCI. Let's be real, those clowns couldn't find a motor if you lifted the hood of an F1 car and jammed 'em head-first into the carburetor. But if you're a Colombian popping 10-year-old CERA outta Riccardo Ricco's refrigerator or a Master's racer in !@#-end of Nowheresville who took a hippie-store fish-oil supplement, ya might as well slap on the ol' handcuffs now, punk. Clean sport all 'round, hooray!

Superdomestique o' the Year: Mikel Landa. I mean, not like the most *willing* superdomestique, but clearly the highest quality o' the lot. Cause enough anarchy at Movistar in 2018, Mikel, and hopefully we won't have to see you up for this category in 2018!

Love, Love, Love Award: Nairo Quintana's warmest welcome to new teammate Mikel Landa. IT'S MY TOUR YOU PIECE OF !@#$--it's great to have you on the squad, now lick my feet you worker-bee dirtbag!

Crash o' the Year (Game Changer): Okay, Alejandro Valverde wiping out horribly on an inexplicably slick and crappy Stage 1 Tour de France opener *really* sucked. But !@#dammit, can Alberto Contador get a freakin' break? The boy's like a human domino. His Tour *and* his Vuelta both over before they really began. We're so sorry Alberto--we knew you could've beat that spindly wretch and his team of androids without 'em!

Crash o' the Year (Fan !@#$wit Edition): So, he may not be exactly a household name. But Austrian racer Marco Haller had pretty good reason to go ballistic on the stupid fan who wrecked his--hell, and a half a dozen other countries'--World Championship hopes by carelessly hooking 'im with a fluttering jacket and piling a ton of guys to the tarmac. Now, I may not be able to understand German--but I'm pretty sure he wasn't saying "Danke!" there!

Crash o' the Year (Totally Freakin' Avoidable): All right, race organizers have been to know to occasionally, y'know, not block off a noticeable piece of road furniture here and there. But a !@#$in' *automobile*? Yep, that's the gift the Tour of Britain left for Orica's Michael Hepburn, as he took a sweeping left-hander into the unexpected vehicle's back windshield, leaving him, surprisingly, among the least bloody of the pile o' resulting human debris. What the hell, are you clowns trying for a new Slalom jersey category in road races this year? STOP LEAVING !@## IN THE ROAD!

Get Yer Motor Runnin'/Head Out on the Highway Statuette: So who's got the moto--uh, mojo--that just won't quit after a brutal day's mountain stage? Yep, it's this incredible ride from presumptively exhausted Froome superdomestique Wout Poels, jetting away from the competition on a 28% gradient with, notably, no discernable involvement from his actual legs. Damn, I wanna hire his mecha--uh, barista!

Like the NFL, But Cycling: You wanna ~!@# with Tony Martin during the World Road Race Championships time trial? Not when the Norwegian police catch you running behind 'im you don't! Spectacular tackle by the cops. New England Patriots, I know you're gonna win the Superbowl and all--but ya might win it faster hiring these guys to do your dirty work!

Complete !@#hole of 2017: Y'know, I'd really just like to give this to Chris Froome on principle, but to be fair to Froomey--shut up, I can so be either!--this one's an absolute lock by racist !@#$face Gianni Moscon, who attacked innocent Kevin Reza with a racial slur, slugged him, then "apologized" by bitching about the mean press coverage he deservedly incurred. Bonus Team !@#$wit Award: Team Sky, which promptly "punished" Moscon by giving him an internal "Young Rider" award. Now *that's* deterrence, you Keystone Kops!

Karma's a B*tch, B*tch Prize: Chris Froome. Remember how you basically told your team captain Brad Wiggins to !@#$ off while you pedaled away, and nearly tanked his Tour in search of your own glory? Yeah, well you don't get to complain about what the clearly superior Landa so openly wanted to do to you. Didn't like it so much from this side of the col, didja jerkface?

The (Lost) Age of Innocence Award: so Richie Porte generously helps now-non-teammate Chris Froome to Grand Tour victory, and expects Captain Praying Mantis to return the favor. So fair, so trusting--but I bet you ain't gonna do *that* again!

The Last Gasp of American Exceptionalism Prize: yeah, I know. Shut up. But thank goodness for amazing Ronde champion Coryn Rivera--and what a *year* for this incredible star!

Race Organizer Bone-throwing Inadequacy Award: the women's peloton has never been stronger. The crowds have never been bigger. Even both puny minutes of TV coverage you've been sticking on the !@#end of Nowhere Channel have managed to garner great ratings. So what do we, and more importantly, the deserving peloton, get in recognition? WOW, A ONE-DAY TOUR DE FRANCE! Well bleach my bloomers and snap my bra strap, WHAT AN HONOR! Wait, now I have to stick around afterwards and wrangle the boys' teams' dirty laundry? Thanks, ASO--even better!

Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away With(out) Me Award: Philippe Gilbert's daringly huge--and smashingly successful--53 kilometer breakaway to steal the retiring Tom Boonen's potentially 5th victory at Paris-Roubaix. Fire *me*, Quick Step? Take *that*, !@#holes!

Enjoy Your Retirement, Please! No, I Mean It! Statuette: He was a cyclist. Then he was a knight. Then he wrote a book so you'd pay attention to him. Then he complained to every microphone he could find about how no one would leave him alone. Then he wrote another book so you'd leave him alone some more. Then, he decided to become a *rower*. Brad Wiggins--enjoy your dotage in peace, please--for the rest of our sakes!

Jaysus Someone Shut Up That Whinging Crybaby Award: hey, Cav. We know it's tough having gone from winning every race you rode in while you berated fellow riders for their pathetic victories in only "!@#$ races" to being out-supermodeled by Peter Sagan, but jaysus, can you quit bitching about him not causing you crash at the Tour de France? He got kicked out for no reason and you *still* didn't win the green jersey, so what's yer prob for chrissakes?

Dark Horse Award: Smashing new road race champ Chantal Blaak. Oh, c'mon, like you saw her in World Champion Stripes when all she was supposed to do was wait for her exhausted team leader--hell, even *she* didn't see herself there til she got there!

And Finally, Yer Punk-!@# Move o' the Year: hoo-boy, have we got a bunch to pick from this year! Usually, this one goes straight to Alejandro Valverde for some egregious act of treacherous backstabbing, but for 2017 we got hot competition from (a) a racist jack!@#; (b) (the same) reckless-to-the-point-o'-terrifying-injury-causing jack!@#; and (3) a whinging crybaby over being called out for being a jack!@#. Congratulations, Moscon--you just keep on "winning"!

Well riders'n'fans, them's my 2017 awards show, so in honor or in shame, come up to claim yer prizes with your arms raised in triumph--and to those of you who know what you did, let's *hope* I don't have to give you another prize next year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It's Yer 2017 Merry Festivus Gift List for the Peloton!

Y'know, as cycling fans, I feel we often take for granted the fine, upstanding members of the peloton upon whom our endless twitter rants, thoughtful blog posts, and many wasted hours of our lives that we'll never get back rely. So in this season of love and giving, let's take a few minutes to show our gratitude towards these hardworking denizens of the road, whatever they celebrate and in whatever Dante's circle of hell a few of 'em likely celebrate it in, by granting them their surely most heartfelt--or at least most sorely needed--desires:

1. Chris Froome: A year of good health. Seriously, ever since this poor boy went from perfectly healthy pack-fodder donkey to multiple Grand-Tour-winning thoroughbred, he's been absolutely plagued with incredibly catastrophic health problems--from bilharzia to asthma to severe menstrual cramps to Creepy Cyclist Overprominent Limb Vein Syndrome--which miraculously only seem to improve his performance, but anyway, the sad sickly thing just can't catch a break (though he catches damn near everything else). Get well soon, Froomey--!@#$, maybe then you'll win even *more* Grand Tours next season!

2. Alberto Contador: Froome's Tour. C'mon, like he didn't already deserve the damn thing anyway?

3. Mikel Landa: Let's face it, getting outta Team Craphole, he's already gotten a pretty sweet visit from Santa this season. But here's what he needs next--the Giro. That's right, the *Giro*. Yes, you can prove it on the road bushwhacking your own teammates at the Tour, but do you *see* how in a race where every watt counts and the other teams aren't blowing them that is going to be a hugely self-destructive waste of energy? Honor the fabulous Giro first, and get the Grand Tour win you need to send Nairo to the compost pile without a fight for it!

4. Alejandro Valverde: What do you even get a guy who at age 200 has, and still wins, damn near everything? More formaldehyde, or whatever Egyptian-mummy preservative-!@#$ he's huffing!

5. Gianni Moscon: Class. Not *a* class, but *some* class. Though he could use *a* class as well, to be sure--here's yer diploma, now either show us what you've learned and act like a civilized person, or shut yer yap!

6. Nairo Quintana: A suit of shining armor. Between Valverde coming at 'im with a Viking sword and Landa trying to hit 'im with an intercontinental missile, the poor little twerp's gonna need it!

7. Tom Dumoulin: A pink jersey? Naaaah. Give that boy a giant pink bottle o' Pepto-Bismol, and keep 'im stocked for chrissakes!

8. British Cycling: A ticket. To the 21st century. Don't be scared, you retrogrades--you're not gonna instantly shrivel your enormous gonads being in the same sport with the womenfolk!

9. UCI cycling: The world's biggest telescope. 'Cause clearly that iPad !@#$ ain't working, but if this thing can see billions of years back to the Big Bang to the very origins of our universe, it oughta at least help you see into a bicycle!

10. Daniel Teklehaimanot: He was in every break that, well, broke, he worked like a maniac, and was one of the most exciting young talents of the year to watch in action. And that !@#$wit Moscon gets a gig? Jaysus--get that young man a contract!

11. Andre Greipel: let's be honest, despite his total superiority over every other human being on the planet, our lovable lug hit a bit of a rough patch this year. So to our dear Gorilla, I say go screw Sagan and let's go for the big one for Andre: I wish you the green jersey big guy, and a pile o' sprint victories at the Tour to boot!

12. Mark Cavendish: a nice box of Kleenex. FFS, will you stop crying about that crash with Peter Sagan at the Tour you caused already?

13. Team Sky: a scaffold. Cause it's only a matter of time before that whooooooooole deck of cards comes tumbling down, honey!

14. Chantal Blaak: Captaincy! *You* can bring up the water bottles to *my* World Champion-striped !@#, you peons!

15. The New Euskadi Team: Your very first Vuelta a Espana mountain-top win. Now bring on the World Tour funding for our Nuevo Carrots!

16. Vincenzo Nibali: Okay, he's popped. You *know* that Vuelta's got yer name on it, honey. Sure, it's a hollow victory--but sure as hell beats a hollow loss, amirite?

17. And Last But Not Least, Both My Dear Readers: May Alberto return to the peloton, Mikel officially kick everyone's !@#, and your Saganator post cute videos of him baking cookies *every* *darn* *day* (oh, and riding, too). Now let's raise the Festivus pole, light the lights, trim the trees, get our groove on for the Solstice, and raise a glass to dreams coming true, the lot of you!