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!

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