Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Hell of the West

Live (well, the morning after) From the Sea Otter Classic: so it was a muddy, freezing, pouring wreck of a Sea Otter, with the vendors standing inches-deep in filth and slop dashing to get their merch off the ground, the women's circuit race cancelled midway from the deluge and the men's circuit utterly phoning it on the track with the exception of the two leaders, presumably, or at least hopefully, 'cause the track (usually beseiged by race cars) was still wet oily and treacherous. Celebrity sightings: mountain goddess Shonny Vanlandingham, by whose august presence I was entirely too bamfoozled to go up and speak, and downhill king Brian Lopes, who emerged from slaughtering his competitor looking as refreshed and relaxed as if he'd just gotten up from a nice nap. All in all, a drenched and filthy wallop o' fun--see you next year!

Joseba Beloki Contract Watch: holy crap, he might be signing with Vinokorouv over at Astana for a year and go play at the Vuelta? Take that, Saiz, you wretch! (Oh right, and Tinkoff continues its bid to become the Festina of the New Millenium by taking on alleged dope fiend/recently dumped Jorg Jaksche.) Somebody sign Roberto Heras when his sentence is up in August, and I'm in heaven. Oh, Jan....

The Tour de France (2006): apparently conceding that the French lab monkeys screwed up so irretrievably in both the procedural chain of custody and practical results on the Floyd Landis epi/testosterone ratio that they've completely lost any chance of stripping him of the Tour, and aiming it seems to help the French hand the '06 Tour over to Pereiro before the next one hits the road, USADA of all people is asking to re-test the B samples for the days Landis actually tested clean in in the seeming hope they'll belatedly be able to nail him for something. What unmitigated bull!@##, USADA! First, you're missing the point. The lab @#$!%* up. If you can't nail him and he gets to keep the Tour, too bad. Isn't it consolation enough that even if he's actually innocent, you've completely wrecked his name for all time? (And hopefully for Landis, it's consolation enough that no less a luminary than Paul Sherwen believes you.) Second, even if you *are* able to nail him for these samples, it's meaningless. The A samples already tested clean, and you're gonna look like a pack of lying desperate emasculated weasels if you try to claim the B ones are dirty. God, USADA, have you really no more shame than, say, Pat "Dick" McQuaid from UCI? Anyhow, Landis' teams got right on the problem, demanding that if the testing takes place at all (and that ought to be the first thing they address), they want it done by a smarter US lab, which protests it has the talent to figure things out, but not the equipment. Hmmm...the French have the equipment, but choke on every sample they touch; the US has the ability, but not the means to get it done. Put them together, and I think we've almost got a whole lab here folks!

Carnage Update: with half the peloton taken out at Ghent with broken bones on the Kemmelberg, and the other half a la Thor Hushovd absolutely gobsmacked by the disgusting and long-lived stomach bug plaguing the group, it's unclear who's actually able to get out of bed enough to stagger to the Paris-Roubaix sign-in, but it's not been much different over at Vuelta a Pais Vasco, with a mass tangle taking out a good portion of the Spanish contingent and, collectively, leaving about 2 guys left for the remainder of the pre-Giro, pre-Tour prep. On the other hand, we love ex-Discovery/now Liquigas' Triki Beltran took a stage, so who really cares? Right on Triki!

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