Saturday, March 10, 2007

Operacion Pointless

De Nada: Sure they doped. Lots. But suitcases of euros, EPO-boosted blood, mystery race-day skin patches, congratulatory phone calls and medical proceedings so unusual that the patients preferred to be code-named by their family pets weren't enough at the time to get you nailed criminally in Spain so long as the riders' health wasn't actually harmed, so Operacion Puerto, it seems, is closed. Natch, the prosecutors are planning to appeal, and none of this kept Pat "Dick" McQuaid from rushing to reassure the momentarily relieved riders that he's still gonna fry them personally, and there's also nothing stopping the Swiss and Germans, now in possession of the allegedly incriminating documentation, from remaining both irked and litigious. Then again, so are the riders' attorneys, so I see lots of additional futile bloodshed ahead on all sides. Meantime, the 2006 Tour was decimated for no (*&^$#@ reason, and we love Joseba Beloki, Jorg Jaksche, and two entire Spanish squads, not to mention the magnificently flawed Jan Ullrich, were completely destroyed for all history in the process for no reason. Nice work, !@#$%^%$$!

Paris-No-More-Mr.-Nice-Guy: well, a French court has formally rejected Unibet's last-minute bid to force ASO to admit them at the Paris-Nice startline tomorrow, while, in yet another excruciating knee in the nuts to these innocent pawns, their pastel-clad ProTour wildcard compatriots Astana get to gear up for the Prologue and a lively week on the roads. Damn, UCI, I know this one's more on ASO's head, but couldn't you have done better by these guys? Notwithstanding this debacle, I'm dearly hoping more Americans will be seduced into this beautiful sport by the presence of a truly stellar US lineup, including short-stage-race genius Levi Leipheimer, time trial god Dave Zabriskie, everyone's favorite bulldog Chris Horner, and, of course, 2005 champ we love Bobby Julich. Allez Bobby!

Vuelta a Holy Crap It's Windy!: After a wind-whipped smackdown of Euskaltel-Euskadi mountain munchkins at the Vuelta a Murcia also took poor we love Carlos Sastre out of the race entirely with a twisted back and bashed-up hip, Thursday's stage was wisely cancelled because the wind at the top of the day's Cat 1 climb was presumably going to twirl the lighter boys off the mountain like so many Wicked Witches on their bikes in a cyclone. Luckily, the festivities resumed Friday, with Graeme Brown, who's really on quite a tear this season already, taking the sprint over Unibet's Baden Cooke (like the poor bastards over there really need any more bad luck), and jack-of-all-races/Caisse d'Epargne king Alejandro Valverde taking the stage, and the leader's jersey, ahead of tomorrow's finale. Venga Valverde!

No comments: