Thursday, January 11, 2007

Doggone It!

Yet Another Woof: Well, whatever the hell is or isn't going on with Alejandro Valverde and notoriously paranoid punishers-o'-the-innocent T-Mobile may not be going on anymore, after reports that clear-til-now Valverde's now implicated in the Operacion Puerto scandal, thanks to relentless recordkeeping of the esteemed Dr. Fuentes and his broad if indiscreet determination to name every single rider he's got a deal with after their poor slandered dogs. Anyone else wondering why 'Piti' suddenly started using Dr. Fuentes as his vet? I'm sure it was just to protect his health. Good boy, Piti!

On the Same Rider: the emerging allegations, though, have done nothing to stop T-Mobile and Illes-Balears from sniping at each other over the Valverde contract dispute, with Illes-Balears accusing T-Mobile of not only a total lack of ethics for trying to poach a rider with a valid contract by appealing to his natural base greed with giant buckets of euros, but also of a total lack of results that such an obscene bank account would reasonably lead one to expect. Right on, Illes-Balears!

Jan Ullrich Contract Watch: Nope, nuthin'. But our diligently training antihero is still negotiating allegedly with a couple of ProTour teams and a handful of Continentals, including the aforementioned Acqua e Sapone. I call bull#$%, Jan! If a ProTour team is taking the risk--no matter how lame the offer, no matter how willing they are to CSC your a$$ at the first sign of trouble--why the hell aren't you signing *now* for God's sake? Sure, there's been a truly impressive (or horrifying) exodus of top-line talent to Continental squads this year, so you won't be without support, but do you really want to have to worry about wild-carding into every race you really want to win? Meantime, you owe a giant butt-kissing thanks to Erik Zabel, who despite gently suggesting that you drove him off his beloved T-Mobile, kindly opined that you and everyone else implicated in OP by crap rumours and unsubstantiated innuendo be allowed to resume your "rightful place in the peloton" immediately. Take all the friends you can get at this point, pal, and send that man a case of wine or something!

Ouch: Speaking of Jan--or more to the point--riders who are being treated way better despite the exact same nasty rumors a-floating, Teen People-friendly pinup Ivan Basso has scored a sweet 1.5 mil endorsement with Nike, with the added possibility of his own signature gear should he pull off the '07 Tour. With Basso and his dog cleared of any wrongdoing, and everyone seemingly reluctant to tar cycling's most comely cash cow with anything, I imagine nascent Tour aspirants everywhere will soon be swooning about in Nike Basso jerseys. Look, I love Basso--but, unbe-freaking-lievable. Poor Jan!

World Cycling Smackdown: Ticked at the Grand Tours' desire not to be enslaved to the pack of sponsor-ho'd prima donnas that constitute the ProTour, UCI has decided to whine straight to the European Commission over, essentially, accusations that the GTs are racketeering by trying to control who gets in their races and how. Now, not to discount the long and uncheckered history of the two-year-old ProTour, which everyone from the riders to the press to the guys who stuff the musettes was slamming as needless incompetent bureaucratic crap until, um...well, I haven't seen it stop yet, have you? But does anyone else feel that the Tour de France, the Giro, and the Vuelta have acquired, maybe, just enough history and legitimacy over, say, the last 100 years to outweigh the waa-ing and baa-ing of teams that change sponsors, fire their team management, and self-destruct with doping scandals every ten minutes? Allez Grand Tours!

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