Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Pound of Fleche

The Wild, Wild West(ern Europe): so poor hijacked Unibet, barred from both Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Fleche-Wallone (neither rejections boding well for the Tour de France, of course) have joined forces with their actual (yet still mysteriously blameless by the team) culprit-pimps UCI to sue ASO over their exclusion from these beloved Classics and force their place at the start-line on Wednesday. Why, oh, why, Unibet, do you continue to fail to see the light over whose fault this problem actually is? The Grand Tour organizers made it clear they loathed anyone else who was gonna even try to grab the last two-ProTour-licenses-too-many, yet you bought one anyway, sweetly trusting UCI to value the obscene wad of cash you paid them and actually fight to protect you. Well, you were right on the first count at least--I'm sure UCI did appreciate the money before they sold you out in Brussels to smooth the road to Paris-Nice! And while ASO's conduct might be, well, more sporting, last I checked petty towel-snapping of an easy target wasn't a clear criminal or civil offense. God, can all these unbearable toddlers just bury the hatchet they keep jamming into each others' backs and let the defenseless pawn riders in red (or question-mark green, whichever) get their bikes out of the garage to liven up the peloton with the rest of 'em?

And Landis Causes Global Warming, Too: wasting no effort to avoid responsibility for their own incompetence, and spinelessly blame a target who's got far more important battles to fight these days, I see that the organizers of the late-season Zuri-Metzgete have now blasted Floyd Landis of all people as the absolute reason for the cancellation of their event for 2007. Why? His nefarious conduct discouraged the shocked sponsor, who had apparently never heard of doping in the peloton before, and if that's really the case, had also apparently never heard of the freakin' peloton before. Since it seems that one or two other races with corporate sponsors are still on for this season despite the boy's dragging the sport into disrepute--say, the Giro, the Tour, the Vuelta, and all the Classics--explain to me again why Landis is the obvious boogeyman in this case?

Jorg of the Jungle: not satisfied with signing with endless-well-o'-funds Team Tinkoff while we love Joseba Beloki's still stuck at home cracking open a cold one in front of the TV, new hire Jorg Jaksche has yet again slammed everyone in his path for the disaster that is the year's worth of failed doping affairs, snarling that "someone has to pay" for what's been done and that cyclists, once revered as honest humble sportsmen (when exactly was that again?) have now been reduced to the status of "beggars." While we're at it, it's clear from rumors in the peloton that Jan Ullrich is totally innocent, and moreover, it's downright unjust to peg Tinkoff as Home of the Dope Fiends just because of him, Hamilton, and Hondo at the start gate, particularly as Gerolsteiner (don't ask me what his grudge is with them, over every other presumptively disingenous team claiming purity) and its riders all have something to be ashamed of, so everyone should just shut their yaps and let him ride in peace. Um, I'm completely sympathetic to the fact that you and everyone else in Liberty Seguros were cement-shoed into a river without concrete evidence against you, but could you kindly not wah-wah about being treated with contempt 10 seconds after you've just signed a pretty handsome contract while some riders with equally admirable palmares in your exact same situation remain unemployed?

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