Friday, March 02, 2007

Last Tango in Brussels

Countdown to Paris: With Patrice Clerc's nasty threat to the teams that if you don't show up for Paris-Nice, don't even bother trying to show up for the Tour de France, UCI's persistent brass-knuckling of any ProTour team who grumbles about riding any race that matters, the riders utterly flummoxed not knowing what the hell they're supposed to ride and how the hell to plan their form for the season, and Paris-Nice but 10 days away and counting, the ProTour teams association hastily met in Brussels and frantically, and quite diplomatically, urged the Grand Tour organizers and UCI to attend a "last-chance" meeting on Monday to save pro cycling, without even formally taking a position as to who they're going to blame if the whole thing falls apart and the livelihoods of their soigneurs, mechanics, masseuses, doctors, management, and riders are blown to bits by the gross stupidity and narcissistic testosterone-studded blustering of Pat "Dick" McQuaid, I mean, by the confluence of many different factors all of which are equally responsible for this disaster. Now, I gotta say I am almost entirely on the side of the Grand Tour organizers here, if only because I have a deep-seated problem with the most beautiful and historic races on the planet being held hostage by a passel of transient petty dictatorial bureaucrats. But really, motivation-by-fat-paycheck aside, these boys do like to race--can anyone watching Jens Voigt spring off the front of the main field the second Bjarne snaps the chain off his collar really doubt it?--so can any of these raging egomaniacs please cut the strutting long enough to free the poor riders from their ridiculous limbo?!

Benna-Jet: In actual racing, the Volta a Comunidad Valenciana is smokin' along, with Daniele Bennati taking 2 sprints even over a resurgent Alessandro Petacchi (and proving that his one-stage triumph-by-mechanical-problem was no aberration), with one more showdown to go. More, ex-Liberty Seguros jailbait Alberto Contador took a giant climbing stage over Alejandro Valverde, leaving Valverde the leader's jersey ahead of the last sprint stage tomorrow but showing himself as the serious future threat he seems to be. Y'know, one can say a lot of unflattering things about Manolo Saiz, and given my complete if not entirely rational bias towards we love Roberto Heras I certainly have and absolutely will, but between snagging and molding both Contador and Luis Leon Sanchez, I must concede he's got a hell of an eye for, and way with, incipient talent. Right on Alberto!

No comments: