Sunday, August 06, 2006

We Love Jens! (Due)

And Erik and Levi and Fabian, for that matter. CSC continues its post-Tour tear with dog-reliable strongman Jens Voigt grabbing the Tour of Germany lead (though not the stage) from never-winning-but-always-triumphing sprint king Erik Zabel, who despite finishing second or third in each and every sprint in each and every race for the last two years or so has the benefit of enough (if slightly worn) power and superior tactical sense to sneak every possible point along the way to have previously had the lead. Meanwhile, after a shades-of-this-year's-Giro labor strike by the riders to protest the inclusion of an hors category climb in sleet and ice (babies--the TdG organizers say they won't let them pull that crap tomorrow; if they're going to cut down the speed of the peloton with all this no-doping nonsense they might as well increase the TV ratings with some spectacular career-threatening crashes I suppose), no-excuses-straight-shooter Levi redeemed his early intentional-or-unintentional tank in the opening tt to power up the mountains and handsomely take the stage, now less than 20 seconds back in the overall and in good shape for the GC two-peat if he doesn't crack, as is his occasional immediate post-victory curse, in the next day's run at the mountains. It's nice, since Gerolsteiner let him go, that they will perhaps in a day or two regret the ease of their giveaway at least a tiny bit.

And hooray for Fabian! Despite the unfortunate apparent lapse with Giro god/man-candy-in-limbo Ivan Basso, Bjarne's cultlike boot-camp mentality continues to pay off as the Tour-deprived Cancellara neatly snags the overall in Denmark. A great way to prove himself, though he certainly doesn't need to, and CSC as well.

In a cave-in nod to the current mainstream press feeding frenzy, I would like to take this opportunity to gently beg these ignorant clods to please stop the painful orgy of self-love by saying how any idiot would have known that the ride to Morzine was solely acheived by evil doping, particularly when they seem to have so swiftly forgotten how they waxed so rapturously about this glorious proof that the power and determination of the human spirit can transform even the frailty of human flesh into startling victory only a few short days ago. Can someone, anyone, please explain to these nits that, while he may have indeed won the stage by say a few minutes out of sheer will and ultra-careful hydration and feeding(and maybe a testosterone patch), the only reason he got 8 entire minutes back was because T-Mobile, Caisse-d-Epargnes and CSC, in their quickly-rejiggered decisions to focus on only each other for GC threats after the spectacular crack of the day before, made a calculated (if in retrospect ill-considered) choice to let him slingshot off the front without a challenge until it was far too late to reel him back? Either let someone write the sports columns who's cared about cycling since they busted their last Big Wheel, or yap about some sport like golf that you do know about already!

And boy, T-Mobile really *is* in a snit at poor Jan-defender Andreas Kloden. Kloden's now complaining that the team unfairly denied him a de facto podium-victory lap in front of the hometown fans by leaving him out of the two-man tt at Buhl. So the question now is, who is the disgruntled free-agent Tour threat going to bail to? If he'd prefer to stay local, rather than bailing for a foreign squad, perhaps Gerolsteiner would like a proven grand tour GC contender, if heir-apparent hardworker Georg Totchsnig doesn't work out...with Leipheimer gone, I imagine they've got at least some of the cash!

Even worse, in all this mess the last few days, I believe I utterly forgot to mention what a pleasure it is to see that the excellent late-(re)bloomer Bobby Julich's back in action after his cringe-inducing tt crash. Welcome back!

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