Monday, September 25, 2006

Law Is a Many Splendored Thing

But First, a Worlds Wrap-Up: Women's Time Trial: Quite the nailbiter and an apple-pie patriot's dream of a two-fer as US queen Kristin Armstrong takes the win over Swiss Ironwoman Karen Thurig despite an ordinarily devastating chain pop on the final climb, while 37-year-old rheumatologist Christine Thorburn grabs the bronze. Holy crap, can you imagine if guys like Bettini had to race while holding down a real job? Get those riders some rippin' podium babes and buckets more cash for what they have to do! Women's Road Title: out of a break of 15, Dutch teen Marianne Vos in a surprise takes the sprint with time to spare over German Trixi Worrack and Great Britain champ Nicole Cooke. What is it about the women in GB that they're completely kicking @## relative to the men? Top US finisher: Amber Neben, at a highly respectable 12th. Meanwhile, over at the U-23 road race, boy-genius 2005 German national champ Gerald Ciolek (unencumbered by 3 Austrians, busted for dope or for missing the morning's surprise quiz) takes the race, a nice trophy along with his 2-year contract with T-Mobile (possibly the only sensible move they've made in ages.) Finally, over at the big boys' road race, massive accolades to top US finisher Freddy Rodriguez, who still managed to finish 15th despite a bum knee, a tough enough accomplishment when you're in one piece. Poor Bernhard Kohl, though, seemed not unreasonably exasperated at tanking after 7 laps when his team was forced to chase to down the 14-minute breakaway (nice to see US domestic pro Tyler Farrar in the group) to no ultimate national benefit; Boonen bonked from thrist and still pulled off 9th with kind words for Quick Step teammate Paolo; and, in one of the few times I've ever been glad to see the perennial Erik Zabel lose a race, he was apparently one wheel away from retiring had he taken the worldss over Bettini, but now will stick it out through 2008. Whew--losing Eki was quite enough for one season,I think! And, on a side note, I see the Devil was out with trident and cape careening besides the riders (at the women's race too), along with his spiffy new van--for some reason, always a heartening vision in too-much-information tight red satin.

Bureaucracy is Beautiful: Now, while it's sadly true that my foreign language skills range somewhere due south of pig Latin--frankly, I could never even master that--it seems to me that the Italian sports press is reporting that, in high contrast to the simpering-lap-dog-of-management approach of WADA's Dick Pound, the ProTour has actually approved doping sanctions for the teams: as of Jan 1, a team gets suspended for 8 days for two doping positives or two anomalous readings in the last 12 months; 4 weeks if 3 doping cases in 2 years; and 4 violations gets your ProTour license revoked. If I'm even halfway reading that right (again, I caution, a dubious prospect), well, finally! Though I can't imagine why they'd do such a thing really, given Dick's totally plausible theory that teams are never remotely responsible for the actions of their riders...

Speaking of tools, no class from Kelme whistleblower/perpetual whiner Jesus Manzano, who in addition to snarking about some anonymous drug-scarfing footballer playing with Fuentes also took the pointless (and completely spineless) opportunity to slag the perforce defenseless and still much-missed great, if tragically flawed, Marco Pantani. Given the endless tributes to Pantani by loyal tifosi along the roads of even this year's Giro, I hope for Manzano's sake (sort of) that he's not planning to visit Italy anytime soon, as I imagine his welcome would be less than warm. Skank! In a similar mode, I see Brad Wiggins was crying about how Landis totally destroyed his love of the sport and the Tour, and it's all a big farce anyway so he only cares about the Olympic record from here on out. Am I on crack here, or is Floyd Landis not the first guy to ever bring the Tour--or the Olympics for that matter, you hypocrite--into disrepute? If that's all it takes kill your love of the timeless roads that Coppi and Indurain and Hinault once rode, unclip and let one of the million unpaid unheralded amateur cyclists who'd kill for the opportunity you're complaining about take your bike you ungrateful jerk!

Oops: An Italian federation official says there's no concrete evidence against Basso, and he can't see him getting prosecuted on the colossally insufficent evidence of the mere mention of his name in some phone call. McQuaid, of course, is quite ticked, and no matter what outrageous nonsense the Italians are spouting UCI is still gonna decide if there's enough to go the Court of Arbitration of Sport and, I imagine, they are ego-bound to do so whether there's anything above the miniscule on Basso or not. Christ, Saiz still hasn't been completely untangled from Astana after being caught with a briefcase full o' vials and cash, and you clowns kicked Ivan out of the Tour preemptively for that twink evidence? Whether he actually did anything or not (and I take no position on that), what the hell are you thinking? Ah, the sweet smell of impending litigation!

And, in more legal hijinks, UCI is considering demanding DNA samples and other performance benchmark tests from the riders; Swiss cycling authorities and UCI are busy productively wanking over the proper notarization of documents instead of analyzing them; and a German prosecutor is investigating whether Ullrich lied under oath in connection with his injunction against tiresome gadfly Dr. Werner Franke. Jan's career is already in the tank, give it a rest already (and I say "tank" notwithstanding Discovery's purported interest in Ullrich--because hiring Lance's bridesmaid, however brilliant and frankly more versatile he is, still isn't gonna make him into the bride.)

Contract Season: finally, Michael Barry says goodbye to Discovery to head over to (gulp) lucky T-Mobile; US domestic cycling takes a blow but Bjarne Riis continues his winning streak as sprinter JJ Haedo leaves Toyota United for CSC; and potential ProTour squad Unibet has their eyes on a purportedly unhappy Thomas Dekker at Rabobank. All of which stil begs the question, where in the world is Axel Merckx? Allez Axel!

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