Sunday, August 27, 2006

La Vuelta, Baby! And How Do I Not Love UCI, Dos

Woo-hoo for new maillot d'oro we love Thor Hushovd, who took second in today's bunch sprint over Robbie "We're Still Annoyed With You For Head-Butting O'Grady Last Year" McEwen as Paolo Bettini of all people snapped off McEwen's wheel for the surprise win. Not bad considering it was a pure sprinter's finish, and I think he's much more suited to the rolling terrain at this year's Worlds which he is supposedly here to prepare for anyway. Vai Paolo! Still, Hushovd takes gold after a slugfest with Maggy Backstedt over the intermediate sprint points, so between 'em both, I'm damned happy. Poor Petacchi though is still recovering unfortunately from his busted kneecap and did in fact let Zabel out to play, but the latter finished only an uncharacteristic 10th. Next sprint, Erik! Sastre unluckily punctured but luckily within 3k of the line, so he's counted in with the bunch and 7 seconds down with most of the rest of CSC. Go Sastre!

UCI Yapfest: Pat "Guilty Til Proven Innocent" McQuaid has generously pointed out that Ullrich's facing a lifetime ban; a new name has popped up in the Operacion Puerto report but he won't say who; and he's going to commission an "in-depth" audit to figure out what makes an individual rider (apparently, "a team" is not a category--wouldn't want to make the management all itchy I suppose) dope. I'm glad we're not paying tax dollars to finance this crap. Speaking of Ullrich (and when is anyone not?), Dr. Franke is glorifying himself yet again over an affidvait Ullrich supposed swore to saying he doesn't know Fuentes and ergo never paid Fuentes 35k euro for doping products. (A racer? Lying about doping? Can you believe it? Thank goodness Dr. Franke is here to deflower us all on that point!) Isn't that precisely the sort of comment that Jan's injunction against Franke was supposed to quash? Get on the stick and collect his monster fine, legal team! (Heck, after Ullrich's manager threw away Jan's severance package the other day, the poor boy could probably use it.) Meanwhile, does anyone else think it's a wee bit incongruous that Ullrich's been removed from the ProTour rankings, presumably because he's no longer employed by a ProTour team, while Basso, who similarly has never tested positive, is still on them? Not to condone doping of course (though I'm not in love with the skanky preemptive career assassination by the various leak-happy authorities, either)--it just seems a bit unfair.

Tomorrow, the Vuelta's longest stage, and a rolling finish--rather Bettini-ish one would think except for today's neat trick, no?

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