Friday, September 01, 2006

Bite Me, Pro Tour!

Halls of Justice: So in return for exercising the due process rights he's been provided, Tyler Hamilton is getting another 2-year extension of his ProTour ban, over the same old (in fact, even older) doping accusations. Apparently, if you're a self-righteous Oprah-confessional chest-thumper like David Millar, who gutsily copped to doping charges only after being directly caught with a bucketful of scrimy syringes in his own hotel room and issued a whiny mea culpa and saintly redemption song thereafter, you get a ticker-tape parade down the Champs-Elysees, and if you have lesser proof against you and protest (even if your protest is frankly probably crap) according to the rules you're given to follow which are after all voluntarily set by the authorities accusing you, you're burned at the stake for the egregious act of as-of-right self-defense. Bite me, ProTour!

Black Hole Forming: T-Mobile continues its implosion of cosmic proportions with its apparent failure to make a contract offer to the very fine Stefan Wesemann, though it's redeemed itself a bit by its uncommonly intelligent retention of Patrik Sinkewitz (who already had a contract through 2007 I believe anyway) and the surprise move of reliable vet Jacob Piil from the House that Riis Built (which is gaining promising youngster Matthew Goss) to T-Mobile. Which is good news for the German squad, because if they keep trash-talking and hemorraghing guys like Kloden and Kessler while other teams maintain their peculiar attachments to their Grant Tour GC contenders and stage winners, they'll only have about two lesser fading backup domestiques (noble a calling as even that is) to choose from for 2007 and to carry up the water bottles to their nonexistent team leadership. Keep up the good work guys!

On the flip side of teambuilding, Astana "Beg Beloki's Forgiveness, Dammit"'s apparently snagged 2x Giro god/impeccable descender Paolo Savoldelli from Discovery, making me tangentially wonder how seriously Discovery's going to take the Giro next year despite Il Falco's rather wheezy rocky ride this year, and continuing, with the recent additions of Kloden and Kessler, to build one of the strongest on-paper teams in the ProTour for this coming year (assuming they can either pry a license out of Saiz' fruitless deathgrip or take on Phonak's).

More Contract News, Of Course: Perdiguero is recovering from his snit enough apparently to be looking for a new gig after all, and Gibo Simoni, shut out in the Giro to Ivan "Non E Uomo" Basso, is done with the road for the season and playing on his mountain bike the rest of the year. Don't bust anything you'll need on the road for 2007, Gilberto!

Legion of Doom: Frank "Tom Boonen" Vandenbroucke is headed to Acqua e Sapone--with Stefano Garzelli? he's hardly fit to breathe the same air!; and fellow disgraced doper/Kelme sellout-or-savior Jesus Manzano is assisting yet further investigation into a German doc accused of working with Fuentes. Hell hath no fury like a doper scorned, particularly when he knows the names of other dopers who haven't been!

At Last, the Vuelta, Baby: Danilo DiLuca finally freed himself from the sobbing remonstrances of a slew of crushed Italian tifosi in the Giro to definitively announce his return to form with a gorgeous stage win and maillot d'oro capture at the top of la Covatilla over impressive Discovery jailbait/relentless wheel-sitter Janez Brajkovic, which almost made me forget the look of suffering on poor (yet still valiant 4th-place finisher) Carlos Sastre's face, and that I'm thinking that if Oscar Pereiro doesn't get some snap in his legs soon, he won't even be able to wage a mutually self-destructive leadership war with cucumber-cool Alejandro Valverde, which would certainly benefit the team overall (and the Tour's not such a bad consolation prize, Oscar, so you might let this one go this year anyway). Still, DiLuca with his eyes on the Worlds is not looking towards GC contention. Rats!

Meanwhile, a rather sad (as sad as I get over him anyway) goodbye to a bonking Robbie McEwen, who finished outside the time limit, leaving Fast Freddy Rodriguez whom we love for the sprints. So the amazing we love Thor Hushovd had one less contender in the extremely tight sprint which he finally took the day before yesterday having already worn gold without one, but I note that even in recovery Alessandro Petacchi placed an impressive 4th, reminding one how he can rip the face off pretty much anyone in the bunch when he's actually in health. Welcome back Petacchi! And, I'm hoping that Iban Mayo's Tour-regurgitating crack in the mountains the other day is but a flat-and-heat-induced anomaly before a smashing performance in the mountains ahead, particularly since Haimar Zubeldia's already looking great, and I dearly want Mayo to be able to slug it out hard with Valverde and Sastre for GC. Venga, Mayo!

Finally, I note without the slightest trace of snarkiness that 2005 second-place finisher Denis Menchov is so in the tank so early that his directeur sportif has already given up on him (in which poor tired Michael Rasmussen perhaps can be cut some slack to rest), and I can't help but feel total satisfaction to see "HERAS" written in huge letters in fresh white paint all over the road this year. Free Roberto!

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