Thursday, March 29, 2007


Prince of Slides: well, I never thought I'd have to feel sorry for sprint king/Cipollini-in-waiting Alessandro Petacchi, at least not this decade, but, as he himself dispiritedly predicted, he bailed mid-stage in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, a day after the race organizers already had to stretch the time limit in the team time trial to keep him alive, from the "psychophysical" stress still plaguing him from his spectacular tank in Milano-Sanremo. Could it be, then, that it's not just the shaky recovery from his smashed kneecap and resulting leg-strength power imbalance, nor just his embarrassing, if nicely healed, broken hand from its rage-induced team-bus meeting, but also the combined effects of the smack-talking by surging next-generation Daniele Bennati, the grim assessments of Cipo and lead out/elder master Erik Zabel, and the growing onslaught of press and fan abuse over his sudden decline and potential irrelevance have finally been getting to the poor boy? If that's the case, I'm inclined to say let's lay off him a bit and see if his funk rises ahead of next-target Gent-Wevelgem in April, but also that, if for whatever reason he hasn't the goods at this (hopefully brief) moment, he really oughta bite the ego bullet and let setting sun we love Erik Zabel, who proved last season he's still got game, out to play. Allez Erik, and Ale, snap out of it!

Vuelta a Castilla e Coppi e Settimana y Bartali: speaking of the week's two big races, I note briefly that Saunier Duval youngster/Vuelta a Espana stage winner Francisco Ventoso's taken two stages in the Vuelta a Castilla, Alberto Contador took a hotly-contested stage and the leader's jersey on team orders over Koldo Gil, and over at Coppi e Bartali, Ivan Basso dope-slapped any doubts about his recovery by taking about 6th in the time trial, two spots over a sleek Levi Leipheimer. Y'know, I'm sure it's just dedicated training, capitalizing on poor SOB Bjarne Riis' nurturance, the off-season wind-tunnel tweaking and Discovery's egregiously deep pockets in finding the perfect position and all, but again, does anyone else get a slightly disconcerting Roberto Heras flashback contemplating Basso's sudden power in the time trial? Brrrrrrrr!

Joseba Beloki Contract Watch: No, but !@#$%^$ Michele Scarponi from Liberty Seguros !@#$%%$ took a stage in Coppi e Bartali riding for &*(%$! Acqua e Sapone. !@$%#!@!

The Wounded: Happily, Tom Boonen's bum back has apparently been alleviated by a bike switch, enough to have him take a day's race in Belgium over a Robbie "the Ego" McEwen still sore from his crash in Milano. T-Mobile, meantime, whose management bungling seems to be exceeded only by its even worse luck this season, has possibly lost the entire spring of previous Gent champ Andreas Klier to a broken cheekbone and concussion sustained in a deeply uncomfortable hook-up with a tractor. Finally, leg-snapped Milano casualty David Kopp may see road time before season's end, if not by much, and Caisse d'Epargne's Jose Joaquin Rojas is eager to take his thrice-fractured spine over the cobbles at Hell of the North. Is it me, or is this the most disastrously, and early, accident-prone peloton in years?

Alors, Some Tours: the humdinger route for the 07 Deutschland Tour is out, and the question is, will anyone besides defending god Jens Voigt be allowed to hit the pavement? T-Mobile, desperate for wins, doesn't want anyone from Op Puerto in the race at all, which takes out about 1/3 of the peloton right there, and whines it may even boycott the race if any one of 'em shows; by contrast, the antidoping hawks over at the Tour itself have suddenly snaked out of their tough-guy refusal to let Basso and compatriots in, now claiming it's up to UCI to take action. A little nervous you'll throw a party and no-one'll come, boys? Weasels! Meantime, the Dauphine is set to take on the fearsome Mont Ventoux, with we love Levi Leipheimer defending (don't screw him on support just to save Basso's butt in the Tour, Bruyneel!), with Vino, Valverde, Pereiro, and Schleck all out for glory. We love Levi!

Dopers, and the Dopus Ex-Dopers Who Condemn Them: I see Johan Museeuw's endless old-news trial for buying dope from his vet has been delayed again, sure to set off the righteous alarm bells of tireless (and Lord, is he also tiresome) self-promoter St. David Millar, raging that the "buck stops with management" (now there's a revelation) to control the riders' baser instincts and hire the virtuous ones, like him, and more, the whole industry ought to model itself and its regimens o' purity on clean queens T-Mobile. Well, once the teams see how well T-Mobile's been doing this year, why *wouldn't* they jump on that bandwagon? Nit!

No comments: