Friday, March 23, 2007


Bettini, Tiny Problem: well, the bodies continue to pile up ahead of Milano-SanRemo, as world champ Paolo Bettini's 'mild discomfort' from his crashouts at Tirreno turns out to be in fact a fractured rib, which presumably means, if he's still in, as I imagine he will be, he'll end up supporting sprintalicious Belgian man-candy Tom Boonen, himself thwapped alternately with an aching back and a cold. Over at Milram, the managers are already bemoaning the expected tank of we love Erik Zabel due a sore throat, and, in a demoralizing smack to the only healthy guy left in the peloton (and a pretty decent rider, I've heard), helpfully pointing out that aged-goods Alessandro Petacchi's form is inexplicably crap despite what was clearly a completely meritless aberrational run of early-season wins, as he certainly did "nothing" at Tirreno. Mario "the Chest" Cipollini, meanwhile, encouragingly echoed the sentiment that "something's wrong there" with the creaky old boy, putting his money on emerging talent/ego trip Daniele Bennati, and, perhaps, a resurgent we love Oscar Friere. Which seems reasonable, since besides Pozzato who wouldn't mind redoing his 06 win, the only other two sprint-capable boys left alive, Thor Hushovd and Baden Cooke, are now out with the ubiquitous gack-inducing intestinal bug felling the rest of the riders and a painful back, respectively. God, between the psychological abuse being suddenly heaped on poor Petacchi and the mass peloton implosion-of-the-body, is there going to be anyone left in one piece at the start line?

RCS and UCI Down by the Schoolyard: yep, the playground battle between the Grand Tours and UCI continues, this time by email, as the Giro organizers spam a pack of journalists that Tirreno and other RCS races oughtn't be considered part of the skeezbag ProTour, and UCI (never one to let legal niceties like, say, justice and due process, much less contract technicalities, get in the way of its own warfare til this point), whine back that, per the emergency agreement hammered out between all parties, while the Grand Tours needn't be bound by any ProTour obligations, UCI needn't remove the races from their calendars, either. So there! Meanwhile, ASO continues to take out its emotional issues with UCI on defenseless saps Unibet, denying them a start at the beloved Hell of the North despite the latter's desperate agreement to name their team after their bikes and wear entirely different Halloween-colored jerseys at every French start line they hit. You're still entirely right to noogie UCI into submission, ASO--but can't you just concentrate on pleasing the crowds by humiliating Pat "Dick" McQuaid at this point and leave the poor quivering directeur sportifs at Unibet alone?

Yellow-Belly: so I see St. David Millar, fresh from his admittedly very fine ride at Paris-Nice, is going for the general classification at the Tour of Georgia as his next big goal on his holy road to dope-free recovery. Aside from generally loving George Hincapie, this is just another reason to hope he--or anyone! Jesus Manzano, anyone!--takes out Millar at the line by a mortifying margin. I'm sorry, sort of, to be such a lousy sport here, but until Millar quits making out with his own reflection like some ghastly spandex-clad Narcissus, I swear I'm pretty well set to actively root against him--hopefully, though at this point not even necessarily, for someone who's also (declared himself, anyway) clean. Allez George!

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