Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Belgian Waffles

Close, but No Cigar: Within days after Belgian newspapers run a giant wad of disparaging stories about Quick Step head/virulent anti-doping Basso-slappin' team-crusader Patrick Lefevere under the ambiguous headline, "LEFEVERE: 30 YEARS OF DOPING", alleging, largely via a convicted killer cyclist and a current non-killer QS rider, that not only did Lefevere himself imbibe as a rider but that he and the QS/Mapei team doc intentionally ran a teamwide doping program up to and including the present day, a rabid Lefevere sensibly announced his intention to sue...yep, the Belgian senator who last year broadly accused "3 top Belgian cyclists" of doping in a completely unrelated case. What? Anyhoo, Lefevere quickly re-tuned his relevance radar, and also threatened to sue into a crying mass of yellow-journalism jelly the actual newspaper, the writers, the editors, the criminal pervert ex-rider, presumably the current anonymous rider, and every else who besmirched his virtue except when they were talking about the minor incident or two in which he may possibly have sought some chemical enhancement while in the saddle a hundred years ago which doesn't even count because everyone knows Quick Step and he in particular are relentlessly clean anyway.

This, of course, seemed to be news to the beloved Lion of Flanders, who rather sheepishly bailed out of his current agreement with Quick Step on the grounds that he shamefully had sought, in the very twilight of his career, to boost his final results as a pro with things that may not have been totally approved for use at the start line. Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, and that the "repent and be ye saved!" evangelism of the antidoping Dobermans is a pack of lying @#%%, Belgian police promptly called for an investigation, not of Lefevere apparently, but certainly, now that he's passed from current peloton cash cow to adored if irrelevant legend, of Johan Museeuw himself. Ummm, am I the only one thinking they're missing the point here?

Ever-amiable Tom Boonen, meanwhile, loyally (and literally) called bull@#$% on the allegations, particularly since, I imagine, he deems it decidedly detrimental for some masked current teammate to claim that higher-level QS riders, of whom he may reasonably be deemed one by even lesser rumormongers than myself, enjoy the privilege of an especially strategic doping regimen with the added bonus of substantial contributions to the team doc's tip jar. We love rider advocate/world champ Paolo Bettini, by contrast, merely regretted the revelations by Museeuw, whether for their actual content or simple yip-yappin' lack of discretion unclear to me at least. And our friends at UCI and WADA? Why, outraged, of course, that anyone would leak such vile unsubstantiated rumors about a *team* without even any proof. Am I the only one who finds this sudden solemn invocation of the sanctity of due process and the slow but necessary course of justice completely nauseating coming from these sponsor-snuggling self-promoting trolls who think nothing of carelessly calling for the wholesale career destruction of, among countless others, proven GT winners and contenders who haven't even tested positive for a minor excess of espresso much less anything else and guys implciated solely on the basis of nicknames attributed to family pets and the egregious crime of staying at the same hotels as every other rider? Ugh! I don't know which of the players in this whole sordid drama disgusts me more at this point...oh yes I do!

Midnight (Blue) Train to Georgia (well, Qatar, anyway...):...as Tom Boonen recovered from his slightly wobbly form of late last season to take the stage 2 sprint from Petacchi's revamped blue train, which in a rare misjudgment apparently popped too early. Between Boonen's unjust dope-slapping at the hands of the Belgian press last season, and Petacchi's unfortunate hand-crunching team-bus boxing match just as his poor cracked knee was mending, I honestly don't know who to choose as a favorite here, except that I hope later in the season the consistently underrated (and perhaps undersupported) Thor Hushovd takes 'em both. Allez Thor!

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