Thursday, September 14, 2006

In Vino Veritas

Explosive: just when I thought the stages couldn't get any more exciting, they do--and on a mere roller, no less. Sastre's CSC boys, in a rare miscalculation, chose to blow apart the field on the bottom of the last climb, safely enough shepherding Sastre along but despite leaving Valverde unprotected and Vino with Kaschechkin well up the road in a deteriorating break still couldn't shake them at all, keeping the GC status quo and in fact endangering Sastre substantially as Valverde showed no signs of stress whatsoever. But then--Vinokorouv! He blasts out of the tiring podium trio leaving the other two completely unable to respond, bridges the gap to helpmate Kashechkin, screams down the descent at 80km an hour, makes it up to Tommy Danielson, and lets the hardworking all-day breaker Tommy take his first Grand Tour stage at the line, his own maillot d'oro, in an incredible time make up of over 1:50, on his back. I swear this boy is bar none the best attacker in the business. Meanwhile, Valverde takes off in pursuit and actually rides quite smashingly down the descent (with a couple of wheel-sitters clearly making him insane by refusing to help til too late), which leaves Sastre far behind and scrambling desperately to catch up even enough to keep his podium spot--which he somehow does at the last possible minute, crossing the line with Valverde (no thanks to the TV coverage for not showing us how)--after I finished hyperventilating, I had time to sit back and take it all in. Fantastic!

La Ley: The cops raided Jan Ullrich's home (enjoying that honeymoon Jan?) as well as manager Wolfgang Strohband and good pal Rudy Pevenage, plus several others, in connection with contract fraud for cheating the sponsors by doping--holy crap, they take breach of contract seriously in Germany! And "cheating" the sponsors? Let's face it--only getting caught "cheats" the sponsors, not the doping itself. And even that can be ameliorated to a significant extent by a press package full of earnest/shocked/saddened/repelled good-corporate-citizen condemnation, headshaking, and pledges of prompt and righteous housecleaning. Every undeserved dope-fueled breakaway, every leechlike lock on a leader's wheel, every sprint to the line, every time trial vicotry and every riser shot with the podium babes in a garish neon spandex team kit is money in the bank for these sponsors. And no offense, but the way T-Mobile's contract negotiations are going at the moment, there's not going to be a hell of a lot of reasons for the tifosi to be looking for their shiny pink logo-plastered uniforms next year anyway.

Meantime, two ex US national junior men's team riders have, after a judge rejected the defendants' motion to dismiss, settled their claim that they were unknowingly injected with steroids up to 3x/day in 1990 when their team coaches told em it was simply vitamins and cortisone, which shots allegedly caused serious enough health problems (lung infections, etc.) to end their nascent elite cycling careers. Of course, despite the judge's determination that there was enough to go forward on at least some of the suit, these allegations couldn't possibly be true, because as WADA's Dick "Dick" Pound can tell you, management is never responsible for doping because it can always be blamed instead on the inevitable aberrant renegade cheating amoral drug freak acting in total isolation from any other influence from anyone anywhere anytime ever and completely against the sincere wishes of the sponsors, the management, the doctors, and the teammates whose jobs and profits all depend on it. Why anyone would ever believe a rider on that issue is beyond me!

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