Saturday, October 28, 2006


This Team Will Self-Destruct in 3 Seconds: So the reconstituted and largely emasculated T-Mobile has held a bonding camp in a fruitless effort to build a more'n-stage-winning team. Y'know, instead of making s'mores for the boys and telling ghost stories by the tents at night, they've might not've b!@#$%-slapped everyone who remotely supported Jan Ullrich, who even if a filthy disgraced garbage-can'o'doping-products served them rather well, and kept Kloden and Kessler instead of boot-imprinting their @#$$@$ out the door. Even better, they've kicked solid sprinter Olaf Pollack off the team (who incidentally did not hesitate to slag we love Erik Zabel for not mentoring him enough--screw you Olaf!). But hey, why focus on purchasing and retaining actual talent when you can sing Kum-Ba-Yah by the banks of the Danube in hopes of pulling off a Grand Tour that way? Nice work, nimrods!

Thanks Floyd!: In the wake of the Tour debacle, Phonak riders continue to get deep-sixed to startup ProTour wannabees and continental or even US squads. Latest: 01-03 Postie/maillot jaune winner Victor Hugo Pena heads to Unibet; sprint ace Robbie Hunter to Barloworld; Ryder Hesjedal to Health Net/Maxxis; Nicolas Jalabert to Agritubel. Man, is there anyone from Phonak besides Axel Merckx who's ended up in a halfway comparable team for next year? Particular given that Landis actually appears to have some level of (US, anyway) support and a half-decent argument for exoneration, you suck Phonak for abandoning these guys! No, they weren't the strongest team in the peloton, but did do all right for you, and after all, you hired 'em. Could you perhaps have given them some assistance in finding new gigs for the future beyond "don't let the door hit you in the @#$ on the way out"?

Spanish Officially Clear Their Riders, For Now: Having destroyed the seasons and possibly the careers of riders such as we love Joseba Beloki and every other Spaniard from Liberty Seguros, the Spanish Cycling Federation has just affirmatively, if perhaps temporarily, shut their investigation and cleared all their local boys to ride even with their own ProTour squads. An added bonus: leak-happy witchhunters UCI, smacked again. I know I oughta support 'em and all, because they're all for clean sport so long as they can take out their personal vendettas on the implicated without any concrete proof or the bothersome necessities of due process and the like, but am I the only one who's really enjoying this?

Meantime, a pissed-off and largely overlooked Oscar Sevilla is threatening war with T-Mobile over breach of contract, and while we're at it, if anyone's listening, he wants to get a new job. Fortunately, with the ProTour teams on an anti-even-remotely-suspected-doper rampage and their reaction to the Spanish cycling federation's rider exonerations still unclear, Sevilla'd consider a continental squad, but with even Ullrich's chances looking dicey despite Wolfie's best efforts to pimp him, even that looks dubious frankly. Speaking of whom, Ullrich, who lacks the good fortune to either be Spanish or just as darned dreamy as Ivan Basso, has apparently conceded ProTour defeat entirely, with Austrian team Volksbank saying they were approached, he's got an anonymous private bankroller for his contract so they needn't even cough up much dough, but oops!--Jan's gotta clear himself with UCI first. Well, with the Spaniards and Ivan Basso maddeningly outside the reach of UCI's bloodsucking tentacles for now, and the pool of household-name targets thereby severely limited, and UCI insane with desire to recapture some shred of ego-stroking efficacy, good luck with that one Jan!

Uni's Big Bet: Finally, rumors are a-swirling that ProTour desperate hopeful Unibet dearly wants brilliant Kazakh upstart Andrei Kashechkin. Sure, it'd mean team leadership, and sure, your life is maybe hell right now with that tool Manolo Saiz refusing to let go of his unjustifiable grip on your throat, but Andrei, you'd have to be freakin' nuts! You are an unbeatable combination with Vinokorouv. He is still teaching you things you need to know. And, unlike the nasty way he bushwhacked his own team leader in a prior Tour, Vinokorouv proved fair and square at the Vuelta that he is willing both to respect and reward you for a job well done. Hell, let's even leave aside the fact that Unibet could still use at least a year to shake out the kinks of sudden ProTour adjustment. Give it a year Andrei!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Riders Up!

Paranoid Landis Conspiracy Theory, Part 1: so in the latest, not entirely implausible explanation for that he did it, and how, that I've heard, testosterone patches are rife in the peloton, and if you look, you can frequently find these sweat-stained babies scattered like smelly confetti all along the route at races before an eyecatching testosterone ratio kicks in (and, as one who nearly passed out at the TdF coverage of guys letting it rip at the roadside, I'm seriously hoping these don't become the latest in sought-after souvenirs). Discreet disposal? In a pack of 80 riders, not a problem. But here's the idea: Landis doesn't anticipate the length and breadth of his solo breakaway up Morzine. By the time he does, the cameras are glommed right on him to stay--too late for the roadside tossout. It's stuck on far longer than he anticipated, and whammo--positive test! I have no idea if this could've happened, as I suppose that even in the spotlight he might've persuaded the cameras to switch over to the chase for a moment while he removed the patch under the guise of discreetly adjusting the works, then crammed it into his glove or jersey pocket or something. But it's entertaining to consider nonetheless. Ah, the perils of cheating successfully!

Ivana New Team: It's official! Following the recommendation by CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee, the Italian cycling fede has officially dropped--or at least shelved--Op Puerto-related doping allegations again Ivan Basso. He's free to race, and unless and until the Spaniards get their acts together, it's highly unlikely to be reopened. Right on Massimo Martelli, and Ivan, give that lawyer a colossal raise!

Jan-demonium: While everyone tries to figure out the implications of the Spanish court's "you're not under investigation" letter to Jan (and others), the state of the Swiss witchhunt and his manager's contradictory claims of who he's trying to sell Jan's drug-ridden carcass to, the Austrian cycling federation, just days ago slobbering after Jan like hounds on fox, has firmly distanced itself from poor Ullrich, saying their leader was really only commenting on the legalities of granting him a license, and there's certainly no invite for him to move to Austria and apply. Move your boy fast, Wolfgang, you're running out of countries at this point! Cuz if you think say Italy, which has no sentimental attachment to the angel-faced German, is gonna grant him a Bassoesque free ride, I think you're way off base. Perhaps Spain, with its snail-paced justice system, can buy you enough time to sneak into the Tour from somewhere else?

Whooooo Are You? What's clear, however, is that Ullrich and pretty much everyone else worth watching from the Op Puerto scandal has about a snowcone's chance in hell of signing with a ProTour squad this year. Yep, the teams agreed to require DNA samples for all new riders in 2007 (now there's a hell of a grandfather clause!), and is "encouraging" the rider's association to okay UCI taking DNA samples from all the boys, like no matter what the riders agree to their lawyers (1) are gonna let that happen or (2) will ever acknowledge the validity of any DNA match anytime anywhere ever. And, they've all agreed (not in writing, I imagine so they really oughtn't stick with it once they come up with some half-@#$%# excuse) that they won't sign contracts with implicated--not even convicted or positive-tested--dopers. So any poor bastard implicated by his guinea pig's name on a known lying scumbag's record book is gonna be banned from the ProTour until his legal claim's resolved about the same time his dessicated body is being bundled off to a nursing home? I call bull!@#%, ProTour!

Meanwhile, Manolo Saiz, despite some petty earlier incident in which he just totally coincidentally happened to be snacking in a cafe with the male riders' personal gyno, a hematologist, bags of human blood and tens of thousands of euros, continues to maintain his deathgrip on Active Bay's ProTour license, leaving Astana's ProTour status unclear as well as the minor issue of who owns Alexander Vinokorouv. Well, worse comes to worst, Astana's at least got Andreas Kloden! Jesus H. Christ, Manolo, you already killed off the careers of half the Spaniards in the peloton and screwed Vino out the of Tour this year, can you give at least one poor boy a break instead of continuing to feed your control-freak ego and your overstuffed pockets off the misery of others? Do you really think there's any chance the Tour's gonna let you put a team together for 07 even if you get your ProTour license branded on your ass, much less keep it in a courtroom battle? Let it go already!

Total F@#!ing Hypocrisy

It's On!: So looking at the 2007 Tour de France route, can we all agree once and for all that the rabid antidoping fervor of WADA, UCI, the ProTour and the race organizers is complete and total bullshit? Stages 7 through 9 are Alps mountain stages. Stages 14-16 slaughter the riders in the Pyrenees. Stage 7: 197km and the Col de la Colombiere. Stage 8: 165 km and 4 long, hard SOBs. Stage 9: 161km and the Col d'Iseran followed by slogs up the Telegraphe and a finish up the Galibier. From here on out, it only gets steeper. Stage 14: 197 km and the Plateau de Beille. Stage 15: 196 km, 4 more badasses before the 7.8% gradient Col de Peyresourde. And thank God there's a rest day, cause it's Stage 16 with 218 freakin' km with a finish up Col d'Aubisque. 21 hors category, Cat 1 and Cat 2 climbs. 2 days to gasp for air in your stuffy hotel room.

You total f@#$ing hypocrites! If you guys really don't want doping, why the hell are you are doing this? Because in a mountain stage it's all moneymaking ratings obliteration, and in a sprint stage, it only shakes out in the last kilometer, so what advertiser-targets (except me) are interested in watching that crap for 6 hours? Look, it's true that these guys are doing on asphalt and doctor-calibrated nutritional intake what the riders used to do on crap dirt roads, a slug of wine, and the occasional cigarette. But now, with so much sponsor and TV money at stake, the organisers don't just want it done. They want it done with drama, with leg-crushing attacks up the Alps and reckless descents down the Pryrenees, field-splitting camera-friendly breakaways on impossible cols, gossipworthy personal rivalries between a media-manageable gropu of select movie-star superhumans, and if they gotta have sprints, breathtakingly dangerous rain-slicked slugfests at top speed to the line. Well, you got it race organizers, and it costs. There's a limit to how much Red Bull these guys can consume before the juice runs out. What the hell do you expect them to do?!

Of course it'll be an exciting Tour, and of course we'll watch. But I'm disgusted. You don't want racers not doping, you want them not getting caught. Shut the hell up with the empty rhetoric already, and accept the consequences of what you've chosen to create. You want integrity from the racers? Lay off the pressure to whore themselves to your and your sponsors' ridiculous expectations, and lead the way!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tour de France, and More de France

Not What He Meant *At All*: Floyd Landis on sticking with Phonak as a newbie in the wake of the '04 Tyler Hamilton debacle: "I was given the option to terminate my contract and leave right then...But I thought that if I stay when they have a problem, then maybe they'll give me a chance WHEN it comes out that I have a problem" (emphasis added in total exasperation.) Oh Floyd. So near and yet so far. Please, I'm on my knees here, I implore you to follow my crack legal advice and for your own sake and the love of all that is holy, SHUT UP!

Still a Bridesmaid: Yep, it's the official glam-filled announcement of the 2007 Tour de France route tomorrow, and boy is ex-Landis pal/2006 second banana Oscar Pereiro pissed! Amid reports that the Tour organizers are going to ignore their own rules in a total diss to Pereiro and leave the official winner's spot of the 2006 Tour vacant instead of removing disgraced convict Landis outright, and keep heir apparent Pereiro second instead of officially announcing him as rightful victor of the Tour, Pereiro snarled that he won't race the Tour in 07 if Landis can't clear his name and he's not given the maillot jaune for the history books instead. Right on Oscar! (And I say that even in deep mourning for that fact that if Landis isn't vindicated, and Pereiro's not given first, we love Carlos Sastre stays off the podium.)

I gotta say, I'm actually pretty caught here. First, Floyd hasn't lost his case yet, and I think we can all (the ass-kissing UCI and WADA apologists excepting) concede that the lab's run by a pack of talentless illiterate hacks utterly lacking in even algae-level intellect and technical ability. And Landis deserves the benefit of innocent til proven guilty. However, the initial results sure didn't look good for him, and is rather craptastic for Pereiro that due to the drag-out pace of legal proceedings he's not gonna be prounounced winner of the 06 Tour til some eons after his earthly body has fossilized into some far future generation's archaeology dig. On the other hand, Roberto Heras' legal appeals are still ongoing, and he got formally stripped of his 05 Vuelta quite promptly in favor of apparent one-hit-wonder/obliterated 06 uber-choker Denis Menchov. Sure, it's perhaps irrelevant, but is it fair that we still love Heras gets immediately sacked of his Grand Tour while Landis still flits around wearing even a stained maillot jaune? Anyhow, how to solve this great moral dilemma then? Why, by spinelessly jacking both Pereiro and Landis--good work, Tour de France! On the other hand, what else can you expect from a group of whining bitter spoilsports who managed to hold an entire 06 announcement fest without even mentioning the guy who won it the last 7 times? Meantime, most of the rest of the riders are boycotting the grand fete anyway, with so far only Oscar, David "Clean Sport" Millar, Simoni, Fothen, and some very fine boys form Euskaltel scheduled to attend. Allez--if there's anyone left to ride the Tour next year!

Snap!: In yet another petty (if really very satisfying) smack to UCI, the ASO has refused to invite UCI prez PatMcQuaid to the TdF presentation tomorrow, and, what's more, won't be meeting with UCI and drug talks, sending Pat into yet another paroxysm of vicious press wankery. And, in apparent obliviousness to his history of public verbal warfare with "Dick" Pound, and the likelihood of bad blood therefrom, Pat's currently begging WADA to intervene in UCI's dispute with the Spanish courts over the latter's quashing (if temporary) of the Operacion Puerto docs for use in disciplinary proceedings, and the most public of UCI's many humiliations by Italy's subsequent (if temporary) exoneration of dirty pinup Ivan Basso. Keep trying, Pat!

Free Ride: Meantime, in other Paris news, the ProTour teams are meeting to consider, among other things, mandatory DNA testing of all the Op Puerto riders. Which is actually great, if only because if they're gonna halfassedly limit the field that's gotta take the test, there's enough top riders not actually implicated in the scandal to guarantee a non-tested batch of superdomestiques free to dope themselves to the gills in order to successfully drag even their forcibly clean team leaders up and over the Alps at top speed. Thanks for the loophole ProTour!

Podium Babe Confidential: Finally, a big "you suck!" to the race organizers for forbidding podium babes from flirting with the spandex-clad winning riders (though I imagine the Eau d'Six Hours in the Saddle, particularly with a rider's arms raised in victory, might naturally impede the urge to flirt) and actually apparently firing the podium babe who George Hincapie later married because George passed her a note. Why the hell is she being punished instead of George, and what dateless limp-weinered misogynist perv wrote these backwards medieval blame-the-slut rules? Free (and give actual names to) the Podium Babes!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


CYA: Despite media reports, Ivan Basso's own optimistic musings, and the feeding frenzy of a thousand over-optimistic tifosi, both Milram and Discovery are now completely denying that they've had any talks whatsoever with the easy-on-the-eyes innocent and certainly aren't going to hire him for their teams given the oily Op Puerto slick o'disgrace. What's more, the UCI is still gonna drag his sorry comely @#$ to arbitration whether he did anything or not. Excuse me, but am I the only who noticed that USPostal/Discovery stuck with Lance "Bucket 'o' (alleged) Drugs" Armstrong through 7 Tours and constant sore-loser French press rumor wanking? Perhaps, after all, "the importance of clean sport" is merely another word for "nice try, you saps!" Luckily, however, Basso pal/CSC vet/'92 gold medalist Giovanni Lombardi is retiring this year and is working diligently with Basso to find him a good team. Hell, maybe Barloworld's not looking so ignoiminious after all!

Get OUT!: Meantime, Tyler Hamilton is poised to join new Italian/Russian continental team Tinkoff (along with TdF stage winner Salvatore Commesso and drug hound Danilo Hondo), though depending on the press reaction I suppose this could all be tanked by the official team roster announcement tomorrow. Of course, UCI's Pat "Dick" McQuaid still sez it will use the ProTour ethics code to keep him off of the ProTour teams, though he concedes that whether he likes it or not Tyler is free to ride for Continental teams. However, he did take care to bitchily point out that as 35-year-old Tyler is ready for the glue factory in cyclist years, the standardsless continental teams could spend their money better elsewhere, and are surely doomed to failure for betting on the old, the doped, and the dessicated. You still look like a petty crying ass, Pat!

Anyway, in my opinion, this is all just great! If every hoser busted by the UCI can go straight to the Continental teams instead, the ProTour will go from being merely the crack adminstrative annoyance full of hypocritical mamangement windbags that it is, to the talentless backwater it has so much potential to be. Relax-Gam, Barloworld, and maybe the reconstituted Comunidad Valenciana can pack theior teams with the best talent that performance-enhancing drugs can buy. Or we could usher in a whole new era of classy and profitable sponsorships, like Jan Ullrich's Crack Whore squad or Manolo Saiz's Team Bloodwork'n'Briefcase headed by Ivan Basso, or Tyler's Pea in the Pod Team Knockup. Who even needs the bother of masking agents and pregnancy hormones now? Of course, I suppose CSC can still compete with Julich and Voigt for the classics and stage wins and Sastre for the podium spots, and Astana can power on with the invincible Vinokorouv, but as for the rest of the ProTour (and particularly T-Mobile, good luck getting the Devil to even run past your team leaders dragging their butts up the climbs at the back of the autobus!

You Suck, Spanish Federation!: Of course, unlike Italy, which has called it quits on pursuing "Barillo is Not My Dog" Basso, the Spaniards still haven't decided whether to pursue sanctions against the Op Puerto riders still inexplicably nesting in Spain. Unlike Clear 'Em Italy, Spanish cycling is for some reason waiting to see if the investigators can finalize a decision in the upcoming weeks, which makes it increasingly likely that we love Joseba Beloki is likely to see the peloton again only from the side of the road as a hundred-year-old spectator, and as an added bonus is apparently starting to pressure riders on coughing up the goods on the broader blood-doping ring. Free Joseba!

The Hills are Alive, With the Sound of "Ullrich": So Germany abruptly kneecapped Jan's aspirations for a German riding license, but fortunately the Austrians, having an excess of respect for bureaucratic due process and no concern for a rider's actual guilt, swear they will immediately issue Jan a license the second he moves there. Auf weidersehn, Switzerland! Fortunately for Jan, the Association of Professional Cyclists are growing bizarrely weary of the assassination-by-innuendo tactics and arbitrary mood swings of the anti-doping hounds, and are demanding some sort of consistency and fairness to the process. Good luck riders!

Going to the Chapel: Finally, belated congratulations to Andreas Kloden on his wedding, which was apparently attended by filthy liar Ullrich without even the slightest backlash by Astana, and God knows Vinokorouv's got reason enough to pull a T-Mobile on Kloden for his friendship after what happened to his Tour this season. And look T-Mobile--they didn't even have to destroy the whole freakin' team over it! Right on, Astana!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The Elusive Basselope: So, in the wake of the CSC debacle and the purported interest of Milram and Discovery (the latter of which in particular I'm rather surprised isn't more gun-shy even with Lance's mentorship of the teen-dream wunderkind especially given Lance's constant tiresome need to slap around the latest sore-loser French mudslinger to profit off a book full of old-news doping allegations), Basso now says he's seriously considering a home with continental team Barloworld, which Basso claims "in three years" could be as strong as CSC. What?! First, I imagine (no offense to Barloworld), that it's all a nice way of saying "I'm afraid there might not be a ProTour team willing to squander their racing license on me if Fuentes pimps me to the Spaniards in exchange for a deal." Second, not if they don't get a ProTour license and enough sponsor dough to outspend every other sap organization trolling for enough talent to play with the big boys! 3 years, after all, brings Giro winner Ivan to 31, certainly leaving him with a couple of top-level seasons for the Grand Tours barring disaster, but given his fairly youthful ascendancy, as far as I can tell completely squandering the strongest years of his career over the dubious prospect that Barloworld can even sneak into the Tour de France on a wildcard. Don't do it unless you're forced to do it, Ivan!

So Much for the Swiss Family Ullrich: So Jan says he won't renew his Swiss racing license because, with the Swiss cycling federation's "press campaign" against him with "contradictory statements," he can "no longer trust them." I imagine that's rather mutual Jan! Oddly enough, this comes after the Swiss already said there's not enough evidence to nail him in the Op Puerto affair (Jan, send the Spanish court that quashed the documents some flowers!), though to be sure they didn't rule out going after him later either. Still, Jan gamely claims his career's not over--riiiiggggghhhht!--and that he may seek his new license in Germany, like they're gonna be less out for blood (literally) than the Swiss, with the constant abuse Jan takes in the German sports press for failing to kick Lance's nuts the last seven years and humiliating the entire country despite what any moron would consider an impressive career particularly for an after-hours good time party boy (and which of course has already started pounding Jan like a tough of meat over this latest ploy).

Anyway, faithful manager Wolfgang Strohband (who, let's recall, almost tossed out Jan's monster T-Mobile severance package with his ill-advised comments) assures us, there's been contact with several ProTour teams already. You're kidding me, right? Bjarne Riis drops Ivan Basso like a hot potato on far sketchier evidence, Lavenu's still whining about the dope-fueled burden of Francisco "the Money Pit" Mancebo, everyone cleared from Liberty Seguros is still a jobless leper, the grossly hypocritical team managers have all declared war on the Op Puerto riders, and we're supposed to believe someone's got both the endless spare cash it takes to bankroll even a black hole of a star and the lack of the sense to take in a costly probable dope fiend who's likely to be kicked out of the next Grand Tour they'd have to bust their @#$$# to build and train a team around? Hey, I hear CSC might be in the market for a new leader...

Y'know, as an aside, I don't particularly believe in Jan Ullrich as far as I can throw him (and trust me, I'm a wuss), but I still like him in all his careless fallible glory, and I'm glad I got a chance to watch him in action in person at the Giro. When he's on form--whatever he takes, I mean whatever it takes, to get there--he really is a powerhouse of a sight to see. So will the antidoping Dobermans forgive me if I'd still actually rather see Ullrich on the road that some whistle-clean flatlining domestique at the back of the autobus? If you're really gone, I'll miss you Jan!

Iban a New Gig: yep, this is old news, but it's official! We love Iban Mayo announces a 2 year deal with Saunier Duval, Mayo sez for less money than Euskaltel was actually offering him, but that he'll be happier at SD and have a better chance of reaching his potential. Meantwhile, DS Joxean Motxin weighed in on Mayo's '07 goals by basically writing him off as an overall Grand Tour contender and saying his his best results, like in the Tour de France, will come if he's "not obsessed," there are other races, and he must fight for obtainable objectives. We still believe in you Iban! But the thought of who I'll root for in the Basque high passes when he's slugging it out with Sanchez and Zubeldia with the beloved Euskaltel fanatics in orange screaming their heads off, while a foregone conclusion, still bums me out. I'm throwing my allegiance to SD on this one!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

CSC-Ya Later

It's Over!: In a fairly friendly press release, Bjarne "The Waffle" Riis finally announced the mutual parting of the ways between CSC and Ivan Basso. Aw, rats! Basso, of course, was diplomatic and respectful--which thank God I'm under no obligation to be--focusing on his future and his faith that staying on his bike after his last-second ditch from the Tour in Strasbourg has kept him ready for the challenges ahead. First, am I the only law geek who wants to look at that deal, and see how much they had to pay Basso for tanking his contract on unproven allegations? Drinks are on Ivan, I suspect! Second, you suck Riis! First you whine that he's wrecked your rep and send him down the river with a cool "I've got no control over him." Then you defend his honor and attack the cruelty of a system that preemptively crushed the careers of stellar riders without concrete evidence. Then, you pull a Pat McQuaid on him again. Could you have made up your mind before you gave us all a migraine and threw a likely wrench into the career of whatever poor innocent SOB Basso's going to boot out of their expected team leadership in a late-season coup (and it better not be Levi Leipheimer)? Finally, while I'm happy for the potential CSC focus on Sastre and the Vuelta, is Riis really going to bet the sponsor's dough on the least publicly-known of the three Grand Tours, or are you going to make him work for baby golden boy Schleck or someone else in France and grossly overuse him as he experienced this season?

Fallout: Discovery's Dirk Demol, of course, immediately leapt into hypertechnical nondenial mode, claiming that "nothing concrete" has been presented to Basso, which to me sounds like the slobbering courier's only just been released from his chain to spring over to Basso's lawyer's office with the drool-covered contract in his teeth. And of course, I'd utterly forgotten that Basso used to be with Fassa Bortolo, which leaves his purported interest from mostly-successor Milram making more sense, but still begs the question of exactly who the hell is going to take him to the next Grand Tour win he can surely grab otherwise--what, Petacchi's going to drag his @$$ up the Alps? Meantime, sourpuss implode-athon T-Mobile's already snarking that the other teams which might have an interest in Basso of course have no ethics, which may in fact be a less grievous insult to cycling than the wholesale self-destruction of a brilliant and balanced powerhouse and unjustifiable screwing of serious talent which the team engaged in by jacking around Kloden and Kessler in a hyperventilating fit of anti-Ullrich fervor. You made your bed, T-Mobile, quit crying excuses about why your 2007 season's already crap!

Oh Johan. Don't do this to poor Levi!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll (Well, Drugs Anyway)

Ouch!: So ex-Postie/Credit Agricole rider/now TIAA-CREF management Jonathan Vaughters had quite the lively email exchange with confessed doper/ongoing thorn in Lance's side Frankie Andreu in 2005, in which Vaughters apparently claimed he could explain "how Lance fools everybody" and "with everything Floyd told me, I know the method exactly." Not only that, but if you want to know why a huge lump of Posties ignominiously cracked en masse the day after the Dauphine stage of the 2005 Tour, look no further than their blood, which was removed for doping leaving the boys a bit short on a rolling stage even a sprinter could handle. In fact, he claims, Floyd even said he had photos of doped blood being transported by moto, presumably to avoid the hard-to-explain inconvenience of some antidoping spoilsport finding it in the team bus fridge next to the Gatorade. Vaughters, however, gamely backtracked under questioning by the media, and apologetically claimed he was just passing along gossip he'd heard totally indirectly from someone else. What is this, the high-school girls' bathroom? However, Vaughters at least exonerated fellow Credit Agricole rider Christophe Moreau, which makes it at least one clean guy we know of in the peoloton. Right on Christophe!

Hmm...:so Basso, in the midst of discussing the Riis estrangement in diplomatic if perhaps distinctly lovelorn terms, did address the question of why he wouldn't take a DNA test after vowing to prove his innocence by any means possible, wisely blaming it on his lawyer and keeping himself the helpless good guy by saying the attorney's not opposed in principle, but with all the confusion around the Op Puerto investigation, he can't trust the state of conservation of the blood bags seized by the officials. Good work Ivan! See that Floyd? Blood samples bad. Me good. That's it, get it? On the other hand, given the tsunami of sympathetic mail flooding the cycling press, perhaps I'm entirely wrong and Landis is doing the right thing after all. Oh, no I'm not, and like hell he is! We've all accepted from past skirmishes that the lab guys are a pack of circus clowns in white coats; the only question that matters to the fans though is did you actually, really do it or not, and proper procedure is a technicality that most nonlawyers don't give a rat's @#$ about. I stand by my plea, be quiet Floyd!

Back to Basso, I'm still dearly hoping that if Ivan and Bjarne don't kiss and make up, which will completely suck for CSC though it'll put more focus on we love Sastre I imagine cause no way is Riis gonna hire Ullrich if Basso's crap case is scaring him off, Basso doesn't go to Discovery where I'm convinced he would certainly, if unintentionally (that doesn't include you Bruyneel!), screw poor Levi, who after all's got a lot less time to play with than Basso, though to be fair to Basso I'm not sure (if the other rumors are true) what a still sprint-heavy Milram can do for him in the high passes and he'd clearly be better off for Grand Tour purposes with Johan & Co. Anyhow, if Basso's closing the door on DNA samples, good luck to ProTour team organization manager Roger Legeay, who's calling for DNA testing of all the Op Puerto riders before they can return to the peloton. Let's be honest here before we do the right thing, which it would be--you sure you want to knock that many heavy-hitting sponsor-pleasing cash cows off the podium Roger?

D'oh-pe!:And, speaking of Jan Ullrich, after the latest round of rumors of too many visits to Madrid, two bags of blood labeled 'Jan', signed photos for Fuentes, DNA swabs, doping payments new docs and a heightened Swiss investigation, Jan, the Swiss, and pretty much everyone else on the plaet are engaged in a massive hoo-ha of denials obfuscations and am-not-eithers, which leaves virtually nothing regarding the Swiss proceedings except that...nah, Jan's been smacked around enough already, I'll just leave it there. Good luck Jan!

Race Roundup

Are We There Yet?: Well, this is a week late, but anyway, it was a surprising if slow-moving 100th anniversary Paris-Tours, as a huge chunk of the peloton--including likely top finishers Erik Zabel and Tom Boonen--threw a collective tantrum after realizing that their failure to join the rest of the bunch in chasing an early break had actual consequences and whiningly bailed out en masse at the feed zone. Presumably, they were all sent packing in tears off to their team buses with their big sponsor stuffed animals for naptime after they were finished with cookies and juice. Anyhoo, the few survivors set off in halfhearted lumpen pursuit after later break obscure Frenchman FDJ's Frederic Guesdon, we love CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Cristian Moreni, Kevin Van Impe, and Enrico Gasparetto. Finally, with the break too blase to organize itself for victory, and the peloton finally hitting what appeared to be dizzying speeds of 15 mph in pursuit, Guesdon takes off, Arvesen eventually goes for the wheel, Van Impe might've but was jacked by a slow-hissing rear leak right when the race organizers had sent the support cars back on the bogus theory that the peloton was interested in taking some sort of action, Guesdon (who rightfully deserved the win for being the only guy all day to take any real initiative)and Arvesen suddenly engaged in such egregious tactical dithering that your average three year old on a Big Wheel could've taken em without even a Kool Aid sugar high, the peloton inexplicably stopped virtually dead rather'n take advantage and chase em down, and Guesdon took off again as Arvesen ill-timedly looked back to the limping non-threats in the bunch and handily, and justly, took the win, with we love both O'Grady and Hushovd first in the group. France is having quite the year at last coming out of Lance's shadow, no? Right on FDJ!

Tearjerker: And, at the Giro di Lombardia, a sobbing Paolo Bettini saluted the heavens as he crossed the line after a typically spectacular world's-reminiscent Bettini, while smacking around a promising Gerolsteiner threesome of Fabian Wegmann, Davide Rebellin, and Georg Totschnig, also blew apart the rest of his fellow breakaways (Sammy Sanchez, Danilo Di Luca, Frank Schleck and Cristian Moreni among them) on the Ghisallo, screams down a hair-raising (and arm-scraping) descent down the Civiglio where he leaves everyone but Wegmann far in the dust and viewers in a heart attack as he veers into guardrails and sheer stone drop-offs, then charges up the San Fermo, with a miserably suffering but tenacious Wegmann forced to slug it out fruitlessly with a surging Sanchez for second. Ticked as I am over the Iban Mayo contract debacle, I gotta concede that Euskaltel-Euskadi's hit the jackpot with this boy. Anyhow, no podium for Bettini nonetheless as the ProTour teams boycotted in in solidarity against the race organizers' diss of Valverde's official receipt of the ProTour trophy, which he got anyway in a later gala, but easily the most emotional race win I've ever seen, and a well-deserved end to an incredible and tragic season for Bettini. Vai Paolo!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Dammit!: So it's no Giro di Lombardia for newly-cleared Ivan Basso, per an unfruitful talk with Bjarne Riis, who apparently didn't want any threat to (justly) rising star Frank Schleck on the course or at the line. Well then, that's it--if Riis is throwing his weight behind Schleck instead of jumping to slag the press and antidoping hounds for screwing Basso and CSC and shoving Basso back into the peloton for the last chance he'll have this season, it's over between Basso and Riis entirely. Basso, of course, was gracious in deference to Bjarne's divine right of team leadership, but since I'm not obligated to be either diplomatic or fair, go to hell Bjarne! If Basso really is guilty--and I ain't saying he's not--why don't you have the stones to head to court and try break his contract for it? And if he's innocent, why aren't you kneecapping the overeager slandering bloodhounds who just jacked you Basso and CSC out of a Tour podium (at least) and cast a noxious cloud of drug-fueled doubt over your spanking-new Giro? Not to detract from your unquestioned brilliance, and the fact that CSC is clearly currently the best team on the planet with a truly high-class, not just winning, lineup due entirely to you, but if you won't grow a spine about Ivan Basso you suck Riis!

Dream, Dream, Dree-aaam: I find it almost dear that Andreas Kloden, who presumably really wants a Tour de France win but insists on continued devotion to merely another Tour podium spot, remains confident that he, Vinokorouv and Kashechkin will be "handled equally" by Astana next year at the Tour. Now, I don't know if I'm the only one who's noticed the golden triumvirate of (1) Astana's ruling Kazakh sponsorship; (2) Vinokorouv's total domination of the formation and structuring of the team; and (3) Vino's tendency to bushwhack his actual team leader, much less his equals (though he's fair, to be fair, to others), but...good luck with that in 07, Andreas!

Swiss Family Ullrich: So, the docs are all in (but for a few from Germany and Spain) and properly notarized to warm the hearts of anal-retentive paper-pushers everywhere, and the Swiss are now all set to go Neanderthal on poor Jan Ullrich in a way the Italians never even considered for fellow babe Ivan Basso. Given that neither boy has tested positive in any race test (except for Jan right a hundred years ago?), this seems exceedingly unfair and crappy, but then, one's been implicated primarily by a renegade gyno and a bag with his dog's name on it, and the other is a reckless party boy with a rep for lazy early-season training, 10 years of rumors and non-Lanceness to combat, and a penchant for disco drugs. We're still pulling for you Jan! After all, has anyone been so @#$-slapped in the press and by the fans for the grievous failure of winning the Tour de France and endless time trials and classics?

Except, that is, for poor Tom Boonen this year, who I rather think deserves a moratorium on references to his "troubled" "disappointing" or "lame" season. Sure, he tanked in the Tour, if you're gonna berate the sort of loser who gets to wear the maillot jaune, and like lots of the really big boys, he could've had a better worlds. But he did win a few other races this season that I heard off, so knock it off already everbody!

Man, I *hate* defending guys who win all the time, instead of my underdogs (the overdogs)? Anyway, free Joseba!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

12 Angry Men

It's Up! Yep, against all sane (that is, my) advice, Floyd Landis has posted a handsome powerpoint, a spirited attack, and 300-odd pages of material on his personal website, most of which seems to point out the French are really, really crappy recordkeepers--which is certainly a sin against bureaucracy--but not point out why Landis is actually innocent--which would certainly be the relevant sin against Landis. *What* have I been telling you for months about the appearance of nitpicky lawyerly weaselling, Floyd? Aaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!

It's Out!: Yep, in the wake of the Spanish court's order that the national cycling federations not use any Operacion Puerto documents against riders until its own investigation is complete--which regarding the boy at hand were pretty lame anyway I gather--the Italian Olympic Committee did indeed formally recommend that the (not necessarily unjustified) witchhunt against dreamy-eyed man-candy Ivan Basso be dropped. And, as expected, pending talks with Bjarne Riis, the happy babe magnet may indeed ride this weekend. Right on Ivan's lawyer! Of course, the bloodied but unbowed bottom feeders over at UCI still say they're gonna drag his sorry @$$ into arbitration anyway, but then, with the fat new paychecks he's sure to reap in hand (either from CSC or someone else), hey, he can afford to spread the wealth to his paid minions. Go Ivan!

Yawn: In other impotent crybaby news, FDJ's Marc Madiot doesn't want any of the Op Puerto riders back in the peloton at all, particularly Basso and Ullrich. As for Jan, "one will quickly forget about him, as one has quickly forgotten Armstrong." Right, because if Paris-Tours hadn't been just this weekend, we'd all be remembering FDJ lately for...uhhhh...As for both the dirty dopers, Madiot's disgusted any team would negotiate with them, as, after all, "how do you sell this to the sponsors?" Well, how about you'll make millions of euros selling endless newspaper photos pimping the pearly-toothed visages of a shirtless-posing Basso or a curly-haired Ullrich in prominent team kit to swooning women and men alike on several continents?

Justice, Shalt Thou Pursue: Rabble-rousing Belgian senator Jean-Marie Dedecker's been kicked to the curb by his own party no less for "damaging their reputation"--not over his cycling crusade apparently, but then again, if you're a "Top 3 Beligan Cyclist" so subtly slandered by this guy, who cares?

Let's be clear, I'm not trying to be an apologist for any of these guys, most of whom probably are guilty of doping, and I feel more than sympathetic to any poor clean SOB in the peloton who's getting cheated. But with Boss Hogg and Roscoe P. Coltrane running the investigations, how sympathetic are we supposed to be to the arbitrary moronothon of a process that's going after these guys anyway? If you have the evidence, present it fairly. If you haven't, then condemn the system's technological flaws and the underhanded doctors who tell riders how to beat them all right, but don't convict whatever riders you've got a grudge against for possibly beating you with a bunch of snarky innuendo. For one thing, you're usurping my job. So put up or shut up already, you whiners!

Not About Dope: Finally, major belated props to Greg Lemond, who in a recent local apperance was more than generous to all who sought his time and general reflected glory. Between that, his amazing contributions to cycling (American in particular), and his relentlessly pleasing ability to tick off Lance Armstrong, what more could one want in a living legend?

Are Too! Am Not! Are Too! Am Not! Are ...

Disco Fever: Well, Johan Bruyneel is vigoriously putting the kibosh on persistent rumors that it's going for Jan Ullrich to lead the team ("Am not!"), and also that he's in hot pursuit of Giro pinup/Lance sorta-protege Ivan Basso ("Am...uh,is that my mother calling? I gotta go into dinner now!") Which would certainly leave the Giro and the Vuelta for Basso if he wanted 'em both, but would more likely leave...what? Levi Leipheimer completely screwed into accepting the consolation prize of a stage win opportunity (like Basso would give away a mountain stage) in the Tour instead of the team leadership he signed up for? Basso agreeing to work for someone else at the peak of his power and after he was completely jacked out of the last ride into Paris (ha!)? Poor Levi!

In half-@#$edly translated intercontinental gossip, it seems to me (and again, with my pidgin Italian, I caution that I could actually be talking about the latest Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction) that Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that CONI, the Italian olympic honchos, are actually gonna cough up a decision today on Basso instead of later in the month as expected, and if, as expected, the case is adjudged utter crap on the basis of a few phone calls a fax and some dog slander, Basso could actually be cleared to ride the Giro di Lombardia this weekend. But for whom, you ask, now or in the future? Well, Riis has still got him at the moment, of course, but with Basso allegedly in a perhaps understandable (if perhaps factually unjustified--not to accuse Ivan of anything, particularly because he's got a dmaned good lawyer--I'm just sayin') snit at Bjarne, not for long I imagine! Anyhow, vai Ivan, and bite me and everyone whose career you tanked this season UCI!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Legal Strategy 101, *Again*

Dope-ing: Floyd, let us review, shall we? In yet another egregious departure from my crack (at least, free), legal advice, you have apparently decided to outline your offense/defense for the upcoming public arbitration well ahead of time on your website this week. Floyd, I quite possibly believe you are innocent--I certainly believe that the Dr. Do-nothings at the lab botched the job as usual--but for everyone's sake and particularly your own, shut the hell up already! I know you want to say that the samples were mislabeled and the wrong number improperly corrected with white-out instead of a cross-out and all this other procedural crap, and you want to post 300 pages of documents too. But the only one of these things that makes you look actually innocent, as opposed to just goddamned lucky that the lab's incompetent and clearly has an axe to grind against any poor bastard it can find to soothe its bruised ego is the allegation about only one of four testosterone/epitestosterone benchmarks showing a problem, when all 4 have to show a problem for a positive test. 1 out of 4 sounds like a mistake, plain and simple. Leave it there. Trust me, a surfeit of scientifically illiterate boneheads like myself rifling through 300 pages of incomprehensibly sophisticated scientific jargon looking for paranoid conspiracy theories, Floyd, is the last freakin' thing you need. The rest of the stuff you're saying, frankly, sounds like Typical Lawyerly Weaselling. So put the benchmark failures issue out there in the most moron-friendly terms possible if you must--and again, really, you mustn't--but otherwise, please, for your own good, Floyd, SHUT UP.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Right On!: A brace of the disgraced-and-uncharged Liberty Seguros boys, among them we love Joseba Beloki, Izidro Nozal,Aitor & Unai Osa, Allan Davis, and Jorg Jaksche, have finally hit the bricks to the courthouse and accused the Spanish cycling federation of "spreading information incorrectly, which violated their rights of personal data protection." An odd claim to be sure, at least by US pitbull standards, but it's a start. Free Joseba!

Ugh: Perpetual weeping penitent St. David Millar is back in court again, as the French courts have been a bit leisurely in tidying up the 2003 Cofidis affair; and, though he just took the Brits' 4000m track pursuit in fine fashion, still won't get to go to the Olympics as the British Olympic Committee has some inexplicable rule about even dopers who really, really publicly feel really, really bad about it not getting to ride for gold medals. Am I the only one who'd almost rather see a baldly lying current doper than some smarmy mea culpa-spouting smurf racing at this point?

Hmmm: So CSC's aggressive new antidoping program has apparently gotten a bit delayed due to some bogging down in pesky details in less than fruitful talks between a Danish antidoping specialist and Bjarne Riis. I think I'll stop right there, particularly as, to be fair for once, they've got plenty of time before the next round of serious testing starts up with the 2007 season. Looking foward to it! Meantime, coy Belgian Senator Jean-Marie Dedecker has coughed up the name of a freelance soigneur to the national cycling federation, but not the public--pickin' on guys without the euros to hire a Boonen-worthy legal goon squad, are we?

Roadtrip!: The cycling museum of the Madonna del Ghisallo, pope-stamped the patron saint of cicliste in the 1940s and reasonably located at the foot of the fear Ghisallo climb near Lake Como, has been newly expanded and reopens to the tifosi on Oct. 15. Anyone up for Italy?

Contract Dramedy: Crap sport AG2R's Lavenu's still blaming Francisco Mancebo's cash-eating contract for its inability to give a contract extension offer to sprinter Alexandre Usov. Am I on dope here too, or shouldn't he be wanking at the team-hired nits who presumably drafting this document for AG2R (innocent til proven guilty, indeed!)rathern' the rider who sensibly signed it? Take it up with the lawyers, Lavenu!; Phonak's Jean "See No Evil" Lelangue has an offer from old boss Tour de France organizer, ASO, but apparently wants to stay in the peloton (no wonder) and is considering ProTour hopeful Unibet. Any riders you want to rescue from Continental team obscurity due to Phonak's self-destruction, perhaps?; and Toyota United's Tony Cruz' headed home to Disovery. Anyone else feel that, fine as some of the lineup a huge number of loyal Lance lieutenants who are great talents in their own rights are being entirely unjustly smacked out the door suddenly for the egregious crime of Not Becoming Lance in the wake of his retirement?; and, last but certainly not least, Saunier Duval denies signing we love Iban Mayo, but admits interest, while Mayo confirms a counter-offer to Eusakltel still for less than he's been making this year on the humble admission that despite his results in Burgos and the Clasica San Sebastian his record this season fairly merits it (we still believe Iban!), no word on the veracity of Cofidis' alleged interest (don't do it !), and Gerolsteiner pretty bitchily denies an offer to Mayo with a cold "totally ridiculous" and he "will most probably never appear on the roster of Team Gerolsteiner." Geez, couldn't you've just said, "no, it's not accurate"? Kick a man while he's down, why dontcha!

You Say Goodbye/And I Say Hello: a bummin' goodbye to 37 year old Estonian Credit Agricole's Jan Kirsipuu, for whom I admit bias because of his excellent name, retiring after this weekend's Paris-Tours with 4 stages in the Tour de France and 6 days in the maillot jaune under his gloves. Nice work Kirsipuu! However, 38 year old ex world champ Laurent Brochard has signed on for one more Bouyges Telekom. Meantime, Liquigas has finalized its pretty intimdiating 2007 lineup, with newbies Leonardo Bertagnoli and Baby Giro winner Daniele Cataldo, plus previously-set Triki, Pozzato, and Guido Trenti, with DiLuca, big Maggy Backstedt, and Luca Paolini all still in the fold as well. We love Triki!

TV News: Bizarrely enough, given that OLN has in recent years decimated its classics and even Grand Tour coverage in light of cycling's ratings obliteration by the likes of such captivating video alternatives as bass-fishing and Bambi-shooting shows, NBC is going to air the new "US Open Cycling Championships" next year. They're genuinely hoping that whacking "US Open" on the name will link it in Americans' dimwit minds to big important sporting events with big important athletes. So why don't these wily marketing pimps just slap on a graphic so people will watch teh "US Open Vuelta a Espana" or the "US Open Paris-Roubaix" and bring some real bike races back to TV? In TV news not being shown in this country, Sunday's Paris-Tours is gonna be 254.5 km of wind-drive sprint madness. Zabel got it last year; Daniele Bennati wants to avenge his second place this year; and O'Grady and Boonen are going for it along with Uros Murn and Fabrizi Guidi in Phonak's Last Stand. Allez Erik!

Riposa in Pace: Finally, world champ Paolo Bettini has decided to race this weekend in memory of his brother Sauro Bettini, killed in a car accident, a particular reason to hope Paolo takes anything he races. Plus, good work to Quick Step for offering to stay out of the Coppa Sabatini in the wake of Paolo's loss and to the race itself for its moment of silence in his brother's memory. Vai Paolo!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Judge Dredd: UCI, deeply annoyed at the Swiss federation's likely grant of a 2007 race license to Jan Ullrich over some whiny technicality like lack of actual evidence against the besmirched babelicious dopester, is loudly proclaiming via impotent avenging angel Pat McQuaid that it'll take Jan to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if the Swiss don't act. For what? A lunch date, you babies? Spit out the evidence if you've got it, otherwise take the defeat like men and quit crying already! In other doping news, Bjarne Riis is apparently overcoming his strong moral objections to even a whiff of scandal near his team and striking a more conciliatory tone towards likely-soon-to-be-exonerated cash cow Ivan Basso. Sure as hell beats a Basso breach-of-contract lawsuit, as his lawyer's so far batting a thousand. And hey, if some feckless opportunist like Fuentes allegedly names a doped-up blood sample after your dog, and your two-year-old categorically states that the dog's name is something else entirely, well, what more do people want? Meantime, Floyd Landis, soon to be back on the stationary bike with his new rollerball hip, insists his innocence will be soon be proven (as I dearly hope it is) and in fact plans to be the first in the peloton to take his arbitration hearing public. Take that, you leak-happy incompetent petty bureaucrats! And, to Landis' credit, he's limited his press-smacking to UCI and WADA for trying his case in the press (ironically), specifically giving the lone-holdouts professionals at USADA credit for following the rules. Good sportmanship there, Floyd!

Astanashing: noble reformer Walter Godefroot says that, at least as long as Ullrich's accused of doping, no way is Jan gonna be on the Astana list of high-end recruits (no surprise given powerhouse team organizer Vino's unfortunate experience at the Tour this year); what's more, T-Mobile is absolutely talking trash in suggesting that Andreas Kloden is coming on to be some lame stunted superdomestique to Vinokorouv--rather, they're gonna aim a triple threat of Vino Kascheckin and Kloden on all cylinders right at the entire Tour Podium. Of course, on a practical note, we've all seen at T-Mobile and by Vino no less what happens when not everyone signs on with the game plan, but anyway, now what're you gonna do about us at the Tour next year, T-Mobile? Well, there', uh...

True Baby-Blue Continental: what is it, beyond merely the Phonak-implosion talent glut, that's leading to the wholesale blowout of the major talents in the ProTour peloton to the (very fine, to be sure) Continental teams this year? Are there really enough wild cards around to justify all these guys not being guaranteed (their teams, anyway) a spot in the Grand Tours? Stefano Garzelli, Jose Acevedo, about 10 others I must've written about already, now Phonak's Alexandre Moos (for Andy Rihs' new USA cyclocross/mtb/road combo team, no less) and Patrick McCarty...what gives? Am I the only one who's gonna miss this guys? Free Stefano!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Wide World of Wrongdoing

The Ick Factor, Due: poor Jan Ullrich, already in the doldrums I suspect with the recent loss of some high-paying sponsors, now figures in the most gack-inducing rumors since the Hamilton pregnancy-hormone allegations, namely the hottest new masking product on the market: a detergent enzyme, amusingly enough a stain remover, that brings one's EPO level down to zero, a tip-off as some ought to be naturally occurring, with more than 10 over-clean samples so far at the Swiss antidoping federation checks alone. The unappealingness: apparently, you dip your fingers in the powder, manhandle the works and the issuance therefrom, and voila! clean as a whistle (the sample, that is.) Aw, yick! Jan, have you *no* dignity?

Meantime, in yet another career-tanking screwup from the circus clowns at UCI, Phonak's Santi Botero has been cleared of any wrongdoing by Colombian cycling authorities for his Operacion Puerto links, interestingly enough after admitting contact with the fine Dr. Fuentes but only, of course, for his health. Where this leaves Botero in the wake of Phonak's collapse, current sponsor paranoia and the recent devolution of equal talents to continental teams is anyone's guess, though I imagine T-Mobile's most unlikely. And, in bigger fish, the Italian federation says it needs more time, one presumes to either clear Basso entirely, bolster themselves against the inevitable road rage from bogeyman UCI, or to get a jump on the monster litigation which is sure to follow either way against any poor SOB the CAS allows him to sue. Basso's attorney has also said he's not currently under investigation in Spain. I must say, much as I hate to see lawyerly skill triumph over actual justice, and the circumstantial evidence against Basso sure doesn't look optimal, I am developing quite a collegial soft spot for Basso's most excellent attorney, if not his actual client--lessons some other scandal-infested riders' hired guns might do well, if not do good, to emulate. Perhaps it's really more my visceral disgust with UCI's voracious incompetence than any professional admiration kicking in, given my own relentless legal-martyr impulses, but either way, allez Basso's counsel!

Anyhow, segueing to race news, the Basso decision, assuming it's "do nothing," will likely kick-start dormant chats between Ivan and CSC king Bjarne Riis on his future, though I imagine someone out there is willing to risk the taint to put a proven Giro-winner back on the podium in glaring sponsor garb. And race organizers are dearly hoping that Basso will be racing in the upcoming non-UCI two-man tt at Trofeo Citta di Borgomeanero, which already has the formidable matchups of Bettini/Tosatto, Cancellara/Basso or Peron, Tour marvel Sergeui Gonchar/Eddy Mazzoleni, Luca Paolini/Stefano Zanini plus Vuelta challenger Danilo DiLuca signed on, despite UCI's likely, and predictable, rabid foaming over suspending any of the scandal-free pros who might participate with the filth-clad Basso. Give it a rest, UCI, and try to focus on actually catching someone, already!

In other race news, Euskaltel up-and-comer/indispensable World's launcher/Vuelta stage winner and top ten finisher Sammy Sanchez took his first classics win in a rainy Zuri Metzgete in an uphill charge over #2 Stewie O'Grady #3 Davide Rebellin new world tt champ Cancellara and a bummed out Michael Boogerd. That oughta be money in the bank for (the amply deserving) Sanchez, particularly with Euskaltel hell-bent on cheapskating poor Iban Mayo! Speaking of whom, Saunier Duval's denying the latest reports that they've signed an unhappy Mayo, who is reportedly looking to recreate his Lance-challenging dream year at a new team, though he's still apparently got til Oct 11 to accept Euskaltel's dope-slap of a deal. Well, with Sanchez and 2-year re-signer Haimar Zubeldia on a tear, and we love Iban in a seemingly permanent semi-funk, can you really blame Euskaltel? Why yes, not being bound by journalistic objectivity, we sure can! I note though, that if being nestled in with the climbing gods in orange isn't enough to make Iban live up to his potential, perhaps an internship with peerless Italian mountaineer Gilberto Simoni would do the trick. We still believe, Iban! And, speaking of Spaniards we like, Valverde's now got the ProTour jersey comfortably in hand ahead of his run to the Giro di Lombardia, with Sanchez vaulting into 2nd over Cadel and, with the spat with the Grand Tour organizers out of the way, I think the boy deserves a podium, a party, and photo op with the babes at last. Cough it up already!

While we're on contracts, disgraced and demoted alleged dope fiend Danilo Hondo's off to a new Italian continental team; CSC's extended with Inigo Cuesta, Gustov, and Ljungvist; and several young Comunidad Valenciana refugees (no word on the oldsters) may have a new home with a reformed team under a new group of Spanish sponsors; and, despite a rumored deal with ProTour hopeful Unibet, Phonak's Lelangue is looking for a new gig. Hmmm. Doping disasters...Tour de France win. Doping disasters...Tour de France win. I'm sure someone'll take the chance!

Bionic Men: poor Floyd Landis' hip resurfacing went well, and with luck (and a team, and a smacked-down UCI in his post-New Year's hearing), he'll be back in time to race and on form next year. And, about the only guy today who hasn't been busted in a doping scandal, amazing Credit Agricole youngster/new US inspirational figure Saul Raisin is back schlepping up the cols already with the sole limit that, due to ongoing brain injury issues, he can't race for fear of crashing for another 12-18 months. Venga Saul!

Interbike Me: last but not least, my on-the-ground intrepid reporter at Interbike tried out some sweet road rides in the desert, passed a bread basket to and had a chat with phenomenal voice of cycling we love Sir Phil Liggett (quite politely declined the former, was most amiable in the latter), met Dauphine king Levi, Vuelta/Tour standout Thor and esteemed talent Fast Freddy, gained nutritional wisdom from George Hincapie and Jason McCartney, saw a natty Greg LeMond, a rather more casual but always lovable Bob Roll, and a suavely unbuttoned Mario "the Chest" Cipollini on a panel, met the artist of the very fine "mike the bike" (no promotional connection here I swear, though I'm open to offers), brought back buckets of "Clean Sport" and "Dopers Suck" gear for the pure of heart and bod everywhere(my enthusiasm for which is only slight selfishly diluted by the lurid entertainment value of the pleasingly slutty ongoing scandals); and tossed back countless cold ones with the only mildly debauched cycling industry, all to the betterment of this beautiful sport I'm sure. How does one scam a way into this thing, exactly?