Friday, August 11, 2006

The Riding Wounded, and Ego Trouble

In great news, Credit Agricole's fine young climber/US cycling's next-generation hope Saul Raisin, who almost died after a crash earlier in the season and pulled himself back from a coma, was not only on the rollers already recently but hit the road the other day with his dad on a 90-minute training ride--phenomenal. Didn't CA wear bracelets or a patch on their jerseys for him during the Tour--quite a bit of inspiring airplay for the at-home Raisin with Hushovd on a tear! Meanwhile, in an unlucky two-fer with an incident earlier in the season, Liberty/Wurth/Astana's Alberto Contador crashed again (this time heading back to the team bus after a stage at Burgos), got back to his hotel, then lost consciousness. Can this poor promising boy *not* get a head injury after every crash? Sidelined sprint-king/ongoing-Italian-pinup-boy Alessandro Petacchi is nominally back on his cracked knee, though he cut it short at Castelfiardo, ahead of the Vuelta. And sick-or-stellar Oscar Friere has been experiencing dizzy spells (inconvenient to say the least in a sport that depends on balance) and headaches for an undetermined reason since the Tour, but is still hopeful for the Vuelta and the World's (where he always seems to recover from whatever disastrous career-threatening ailment that's dogging him), and took the Vattenfall classic anyway. If this boy weren't a world-class athlete, I imagine he'd be a sniveling lump huddling on the couch watching too much Spanish Dr. Phil waiting to heal between catastrophes--hell, I would!

I see that Pereiro's heading to the Vuelta, and with Tour triumphantly in hand (almost) seems not so sure anymore that he wants to play occasional stage-winner/superdomestique to returning team leader Alejandro Valverde--they will help each other depending on who's stronger. Run that one by Alejandro yet, Oscar? And I note that saintly UCI won't be turning over Ullrich's blood to the Spanish cops for tests, because they keep them solely for research purposes, not to collude with the cops--in which case, ya think they might lay off with the press leaks, pre-due process rider sell-outs and self-righteous anti-doping grandstanding a bit? Allez!

Bite me, Euskaltel-Euskadi!: I normally have nothing but praise and fondness for these intrepid Basque climbing gods and their fine team management (and particularly admire the guts, if not yet the success, of their quite surprising new attack strategy on the flats), but apparently they're offering poor wonderboy Iban Mayo, whose ignominious tank in the Tour wouldn't have been half so prominent if the Spanish TV vulture bike camera hadn't been jammed up his nose while he was trying to climb, an extension on his contract--for less than he's making this year. He's kicking #$% at the Tour of Burgos, so you suck Euskaltel! And he might go to Saunier Duval instead? What the hell is he going to get to do there?! Hold out for more cash, Iban!

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