Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Worlds, Natch

You Monstrously Suck, WCSN!: In three, count 'em three, weeks of watching streaming web video of the Vuelta every day on another site, despite the occasional technical glitch and utter lack of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, I *never* had to read the damn stage results *before* I watched the stage in the evening I had waited so patiently for all day instead of following my true desire, to screw around at work and watch it there live instead. Today, by contrast, not only was I rewarded by both distracting and irrelevant badminton coverage, which to me is a sport along the lines of Olympic 4-square, but just above the on-demand click which I must apparently use to access the video was helpfully splattered the winner of the TT in large letters. Bite me you clowns, what the hell am I paying you for? I can get perfectly dandy written coverage on any number of other sites for free for &#$%'s sake!

Right, the Rest of the Worlds: having concluded my thoughtful media critique, and being too pissed to discuss the time trial except to note that we love Dave Zabriskie was an excellent if heartbreaking second and the excellent Fabian Cancellara completely obliterated the rest of the downcast field by 90 seconds even over Dave, I say let's take a look at the men's road race field, and who to watch or not, before it's utterly moot. It's 265.2 km of rolling badassness, and we'll see whose legs are likely to hold up:

Aussies: Cadel Evans, McEwen, Simon Gerrans, Stewie O'Grady. Among the teammates, Cadel's eh late season and O'Grady's versatility could still hold up in the hills over flat-loving McEwen. Notable Absence: Allan "charge him or exonerate him already you career-tanking mudslingers!" Puerto casualty Davis.

Austria: not the U-23 team, as one scalawag was already busted for EPO and 2 others tried to sneak out of the tests, that's for sure! Among the big boys: Haselbacher, Bernhards Kohl and Eisel, Georg Totschnig. Notable Absence: they're in pretty good shape really, dontcha think?

Belgium: Big Tom Boonen, Stijn Devolder (tired from the tt), Nick Nuyens. Again, not Boonen's sort of layout, but he's been well on the mend from his midseason. Notable Absence: poor Marc Wauters ended his fine career with a lousy crash and busted collarbone. Get well soon!

Canada: Ryder Hesjedal.

Denmark: Lars Bak, Jakob Piil, Nicki Sorenson who I really admired in the Vuelta.

France: Sylvain Chavenel, Thomas Voeckler, Sylvain Calzati, Tour shocker Cyril Dessel.

Germany: we love Erik Zabel, Robert Forster, Gerolsteiner 2-year-k signatory Stefan Schumacher, Fabian Wegmann, Sinkewitz, Kloden. Notable Absences: can they have a team this strong and still be missing anybody? Yep: yet-another-reason-T-Mobile-blew-next-season Matthias Kessler, sacked-out Jens Voigt, and that guy who won the Tour a ways back. I really wouldn't count out Schumacher.

Italy: the other powerhouse on my top 2 list: Davide Rebellin, Matteo Tossato, Filippo (yep, it's Liquigas next year!) Pozzato, Danilo DiLuca, Bruseghin, Luca (say hi to the cops! that was really crappy of the authorities to make him schlep home then back to Austria for his home invasion on the eve of the Worlds) Paolini, presumptive podium finisher/canny strategist Paolo Bettini. Notable Absences: late-blooming boxer Petacchi, oh Ivan!

Kazakhstan: everyone who scared the hell out of the rest of the peloton all season. Notable Absences: right, it was everyone else from Liberty Seguros who got busted!

Netherlands: Boogerd, Brams Tankink and de Groot, Karsten Kroon, I already know van Heeswijk's result in the TT--thanks again CSN!

Norway: we love Thor Hushovd but it's not his terrain, Kurt-Asle Arvesen from we love CSC.

Russia: Ivanov, Petrov, poor Denis Menchov, who despite his 2005 Vuelta jersey cruelly ripped off Roberto Heras' clearly deserving if EPO-soaked back has had such a crappy Tour and Vuelta I genuinely hope does well.

Spain: Inigo Cuesta, Vuelta fighter Jose Gomez Marchante, Valverde of course who I'm liking for top 3, Ventoso, Triki, Sastre (I thought he was out?), Flecha. Notable Absences: Beloki and every other rider on Liberty Seguros, oft-injured intermittent genius Oscar Freire, Pereiro, oh Iban!

Switzerland: Stefan Wesemann, Martin Elmiger, Aurelien Clerc, Zberg. Notable Absence: Cancellara, from my pre-tt predictions, because I was #%^&&% out of them. Dammit!

US: attack fiend Chris Horner, who I would love to see take it after his hard if thwarted work in the Vuelta and stellar late-career renaissance, Fast Freddy, Christian VandeVelde, Trenti. Notable Absence: you-know-who, Levi, big George Hincapie. Go Horner!

Likely winner: what the hell do I know? The Herminator's predicting a bunch sprint and if not any idiot could pick my likelies above. And this time I'm catching it live, gosh darn it!

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