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!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It's Yer Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Tres: the Climbers, the Sprinters, and Late Hot Gossip! #LV2015 #lavuelta

Woo-hoo, the beautiful Vuelta's finally upon us, and now that we've covered the Course and the General Classification Contenders, it's time for--and yes, it's still both bitchin' and handy to know--the 'Nother Stuff! The score:

The Climbers: if they can't climb, they ain't GC. And if they can't climb, and still ain't GC, they're working for the man who is. But if they bust hard, do well, and sufficiently exhaust the overall competition setting a barf-inducing page in the mountains--or if their team leader irredeemably tanks, or if there really isn't one--they may be rewarded with the go-ahead for a stage win. Natch, they're mostly on Sky, Movistar, or Astana, and we love ex-Euskaltel to boot. Too many to count, including the free-rangers without a GC hope, but Mikel Landa for Nibali and Aru--who's been thoroughly warned, as he was at the Giro, not to !@#$ with the designated leader(s). Mikel Nieve for that spidery freak Froome. Newly-rejoining-the-World-Tour-for-2016 Amets Txurruka for Caja Rural. We love Samuel Sanchez and Darwin Atapuma for whatever's left of Tejay after his valiant fight at the Tour de France. Fran Ventoso for Alejandro, uh, Nairo over at Movistar. Dani Moreno for he can so either win it you haters Purito. And geez, pretty much everyone on Team Colombia, when you look at it. Either way, they're all firecrackers to watch, and most of 'em have hometown pride to fill. Goooooooooooo ex-Carrots!

The Sprinters: let's be honest, the steep'n'gory Vuelta's no place for pampered princes like Cav, Kittel, or for that matter, the hulking Greipel. But I'll also be fair (for once)--there's a few, and any of 'em what can make it outta the first week alive has more'n earned his keep for the team. On tap: Nacer Bouhanni; Angel Vicioso; JJ Rojas from Movistar; Gerro and Ewan at Greenedge with trusty Docker to show the way; Bennati. Good luck, you sprinters'll need it to survive those pesky mountains in between!

The 'Nother Guys: yes, yes, the Saganator, who better come up with a pile o' stage wins if he knows what's good for him, and he doesn't think "good" is Oleg Tinkov kicking his !@#$. But other gents in the race: LL Cool Sanchez (yeah, yeah, checkered past, throw half the field out then!), Sylvain Chavanel, Talansky, John Degenkolb, and--no, don't worry, Fabs fans, I didn't forget him--our tough-as-nails Spartacus, with Frank Schleck no less. And holy crap, what is the entire Classics planet o' Belgium doing here?

And Last But Not Least, the Controversy: well, apparently the entire field--much less their terrified leadership--is enraged that there's some dirt roads to enjoy, slow down, crash out, and puncture our GC faves in the team time trial. Oh, what's a little stretch of "that totally !@#$ed me off the podium!" between friends? Meantime, still irked by the Simoni-Cunego or Wiggo-Froome disasters (hell, I don't give about the Wiggo situation, but man, that Cunego still gets on my last nerve!)? Well, pass the popcorn for the disdainful Vinokourov's raw survival-of-the-fittest Nibali-Aru deathmatch and the subtler Valverde-Quintana stealth-mode backstab! Me, I'm a sucker for underdogs, so I guess it's Nibs and brilliant-but-sort-of-defenseless Quintana for me. But only after Purito has *stomped* them!

Okay, time to get out my Once-Eroski and Euskaltel caps and start screamin for Samu and Purito. Oh, and Happy 80th Birthday to this phenomenal race--Vive la Vueltaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Monday, August 17, 2015

It's Your Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Dos: the GC Contenders! #LV2015 #lavuelta

Oh yeah, it's only a few short days 'til the fabulous Vuelta, honey, and now that we've previewed the excruciating course, it's time for General Classification contenders that'll be takin' it on! And while the Tour is one nasty prologue for the flaming-hot, steeper'n hell painfest like the Vuelta, with pretty well all these guys similarly gobsmacked, that oughtn't be such a huge factor this year. Yer heroes:


2. Chris Froo--ack! yaaaack! gaaccccckkkkk! arrrrghhhh!--me (Sky): yep, he won the freakin' Tour de France, beeyotches, with a freakishly mountain-goat contingent o' Classics riders to pace 'im, and now the smug little !@%# is back to show that, though the Giro-Tour double was arrogant and reckless as well as downright embarrassing, the Tour-Vuelta double is, for any real rider, a piece o' cake. So sorry you're not there for me to stomp on again, Alberto--I'll be sure to wave to you from the final podium in Madrid!

3. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC): Dang, he rode well and bravely at the Tour de France, didn't he? But whether his body can handle the stress 'n' strain of a 3-week two-fer, at the heights at which his impressive talent is capable, is a whole 'nother question. Still, he's got Samu. Stay strong, Tejay, and hopefully you can show 'em all in week 3!

4. Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru (Astana): Oh, the pain of having to "share" team leadership at the Vuelta! Say what you will about Nibs, but even after his Tour de France GC hopes were obliterated, the man kept stubbornly riding as hard as he could--pure and unadulterated grinta. As for Aru, yeah, you rode a *really* nice Giro with ex-Carrot Mikel Landa's monster aid--but remember your place, rugrat, your time is coming soon anyhow!

5. Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): Oh, the pain of having to "share" team leadership at the Vuelta! But at least with Movistar it's because Nairo--and miraculously, even the dependably self-destructive Valverde--completely kicked !@#. So lay off Nairo if he falters, which he won't--the poor wee thing is probably *tired* for heck's sake!

6. Purito Rodriguez (Katusha): As the GC plans of the "fabulous five" imploded around him, Purito kept his cool, and took *two* smashing stage win at the Tour. But for my money, and despite his nearly Hornerish advanced age, the starkly beautiful Vuelta is the race for him, and now is his time. Shut up, go to hell, will so too either!

Yes, there's others. And the Vuelta being the Vuelta, I'm sure I'll be proved mortifyingly wrong. But even the GC contenders ain't all the action for this phenomenal race--next up in preview: the climbers, the sprinters, and all the other stuff to see!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

It's Yer Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Uno!: The Course! #lavuelta

Mourn the Giro, forget the Tour--it's time for the fabulous Vuelta a Espana! And before we get on to who's riding it and what their chances are--because frankly, at least one of the GC contenders seriously makes me want to just yak--we better know what the corsa itself is gonna throw at 'em. Ergo, let's go--the Course!

The Kick-Off: well, we gotta shake the nerves outta the lets and get the red jersey on *somebody*, and how better to do it than a short, 7.4k superflat coastal team time trial? Barring catastrophe--there, that ought curse things--some lucky guy'll inadvertently get the crowning moment of his career, and even the worst of the GC contenders, though suffering some psychological humiliation, won't be *too* freaked out by their time losses. Just stay the hell upright, Purito, and I am a happy fan!

The Individual Time Trial: happily for most of these guys, there's only one of 'em, a mildly lumpy, 38.7k Stage 17 hot off the rest day. Still, as the Vuelta don't hesitate to remind us, for the wee-est, the least-aero, and the generally unlucky, even a few seconds lost or won can count. Don't lose heart here Puritooooooooooooooooooooooo!

The Hills: if ain't mountains, it's probably "hills", which by Vuelta standards is still most people's on-the-rivet definition o' "agony". The intermediate pain starts almost right off the blocks on Stage 2, followed by the merciless run of stages 6 through 10 before the rest day of September 1st. Phew, that's a relief to get those out of the w--what, there's still *more* of this !@#$ on stages 18 and 19? "Rest" my !@#!

The Sprints: Okay, like I give a crap, but there *are* six, for those big galoots stupid--or at least masochistic--enough to ride this carousel. Stages 3 thru 5, 12 and 13, and natch, the sponsor-slutfest two-K-thrilla ending to a ceremonial GC day for the last fast man standing (or weeping, whatever) in Madrid. Aupa to anyone who's made it this far with some gas left in the tank--you're truly a sprinter like no other!

Last But Not Least (Hell, More Like the Most) Mountains: La Vuelta ain't no simpy sprinter's race, honey--it's the !@#damn Vuelta, and despite this glorious race getting *no* respect, only the climbers will survive. On tap: 5 truly high mountain stages, beginning with a post-rest-day Stage 11 Andorran slaughterfest, billed as the toughest ever to feature in the Vuelta--and let's be honest, a buncha guys'll pick up gnarly, race-ending "stomach viruses" on the rest day just to avoid it, and there's *absolutely* no shame in that. Six! sadistic mountain passes, including one hors category climb (thoughtfully placed mid-course), 4 cat-1 climbs including the finish, and a lone cat-2 climb as a consolation prize. And that's not all! After two teaser flat stages, it's full-uphill-gas for the next 3 days on Stages 14-16, with an uphill finish at the hors categorie Alto Campo, next day a gentle cat-1 finale at Alto de Sostres--and yeah, it's still freakin' "alto", at the Vuelta it's always "alto!", and a *seven*-mountain deathmarch to the HC Ermita de Alba before what's left of the shredded carcasses of the peloton get to drift into merciful sleep for the final rest day--before, of course, they're woken up by their sadistic DSes that morning for an "easy" 3-hour spin to keep fresh. The finale: if it isn't already painfully set in stone, it comes down to who can triumph--or who just doesn't catastrophically crack--on penultimate Stage 20, with 4 Cat-1s to enjoy including two tries at Puerto de la Mocuera before a coy downhill and mood-killing uphill nip of a last k to Cercedilla. Congratulations to the final red jersey--just enjoy the bubbly tomorrow, and offer thanks to the Vuelta gods it's over!

Well, them's the corsa. Next up--the poor GC bastids who'll be riding it!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Confused About the Whole Tommy D Mess? My Fantasy Jonathan Vaughters Press Conference Explains It All!

JV: Good morning. I'm here today to explain why I'm reneging on my sacred vow to discontinue my 'clean team' if some jerk on it tested positive for drugs/I am so proud to continue to support the most morally superior team in the peloton, Cannondale-Garmin. First, I'd like to say that I must've been an idiot to think that any one of Lance's teammates who got a bull!@#$ 6-month off-season suspension for years of destructive cheating and omerta had any incentive not to pull that crap again/the positive test of that wholly unauthorized freak and outlier Tommy Danielson was a complete and utter shock to all of us. Next, I'd like to remind you that we have one of the most rigorous internal anti-doping testing programs on the face of planet Earth/if those clowns at UCI could actually detect doping this year there's no excuse whatsoever for any half-!@#ed kid with a mail-order chemistry set not to have found it.

As to why I am choosing to let this team continue in the face of such a disappointing occurrence/such an unadulterated hypocrite not to keep my word when it counts, all I can say is that, upon further reflection, it would be genuinely unfair to destroy the livelihoods of dozens of innocent riders, soigneurs, team chefs, and staff members/I genuinely thought I would never in a million years be held to such a ridiculous promise. For my riders, I can only offer my deepest apologies for this unexpected incident happening on my watch/my most pathetic begging because if fan-friendly cash-cow nice guys like Dombrowski bail on me my career is !@#$ing f!@#$ed. I also urge you, and all cyclists, not to order any nutritional supplements off the internet, no matter how seemingly reliable/to just blame yer next positive on some obscure relative's coke-dusted candies right now for how stupid you'll look. Finally, I affirm to all you today that our team remains committed to the highest standards of sportsmanship/compared to some of the other squads, we are the *least* of this sport's continued problems.

Thank you for joining me here today/screw you for rejoicing in my downfall you lazy ignorant poseur know-nothing armchair Monday-morning quarterbacks. I look forward to joining you in the continued fight against this foul disease that taints our beloved sport/you guys getting the hell off my back and going back to bitching about Froomey. Have a great day/bite me!