Friday, April 20, 2007

Tour de 5 or 6 Guys

Operacion Decimate the Tour: So Mr. Prudhomme, organizer of our beloved (if perhaps recently controversial) Tour de France, has laid down the law, sort of, for the teams, informing them that he doesn't want any of the riders implicated in Op Puerto in the race, especially in light of recent info that some of those ninety-odd blood bags actually belonged to at least one well-known boy just retired from the peloton. Ummm...did Prudhomme think to count how many quality riders were actually implicated in Op Puerto? The way I figure it, if he's really gonna stick to this, that puts Valverde Sastre and Kloden on the podium (not necessarily in that order), depending on whether he considers Vinokorouv as tainted by Op Puerto both by his association with Lord of the Doping Rings Manolo Saiz (*cough* Beloki! *cough*) and his apparent presence in Fuentes' very own wallet, or conveniently decides that doesn't really count. Looking forward to that rationalization, pal!

Now, this is not to say Prudhomme's actually downright forbidden the filthy shameful presence of all these riders--but he did talk to Johan Bruyneel about it, thoughtfully giving him Lance and Ivan plenty of lead time to sue the bike shorts off everybody who tries to bar babelicious pinup talent Basso from the start line. And fortunately, Prudhomme's also still got plenty of time to decide how seriously he Supports Drug-Free Sport, as if he's really gonna ban everyone implicated but not convicted in Op Puerto, in fairness he also oughta take out the Quick Step boys recently busted in the Belgian press for their own escapades, as well as everyone else hit by recent scandal--and while we're at it, exactly what freakish percentage of the peloton has totally necessary Therapeutic Use Exemptions for oxygen-carrying asthma meds?--so by my reckoning we're pretty much going to have our podium finishers and maybe a couple of backup domestiques from Cofidis on hand, which really doesn't seem like a big enough group to get us through the Prologue, much less three leg-crushing weeks in the Alps and Pyrenees. Hell, why not just cancel the whole thing now and go straight to the wrap party in Paris instead?

Everyone Else is a Wuss: Sure, you've blasted up some serious cols with a broken collarbone, bounced back after being hit by a tractor during a training ride, and hopped right back on track after some ditzbag fan's wandering tot has taken you out with a plastic bag entangling your handlebars--but have you ever charged to victory over some of the best riders in the country with the specter and strain of imminent cervical surgery hanging over your head? Not unless you're Erica Allar, you haven't, but if you are, you've beaten the fearsome road warrior Tina Pic in the ride of your life at the Central Georgia Cycle for the Cure. No money, no support, no glory--all guts. Right on sister, and wishing you a speedy recovery!

Shameless Patriotic Rah-Rah Moment: while we're on the Tour de Georgia (or thereabouts), and still reeling from the mortifying 29 minute breakaway the other day (anyone testing these guys?) that took out nearly everyone from GC contention except a couple of guys from Discovery and a passel of Euro-scorned domestic squad riders, I thought I'd mention that we love Levi Leipheimer handsomely won, and we also love back on form Dave Zabriskie very nicely smoked everyone else but him in, the Tour de Georgia time trial above a field of such fine (if irksome) specialists as St. David Millar. Yeeeeeeee-haaaaaaah, watch out Tour de France time trialists!

Recon Missions: hooray! the Giro d'Italia is but weeks away, so soon-to-be-road-retiree Simoni, tow-headed boy wonder Damiano Cunego, and crash-plagued/OP implicated Basso have all been testing out the Zoncolan and Tre Crime di Lavaredo ahead of the race, with generally positive reviews for the climbs they'll be grimacing in misery on, and I imagine a few things yet to settle between Gibo "Basso Non E Uomo" Simoni and Ivan "It's Not My Fault I'm Better Than You" Basso from last year. Since Basso'll still probably shove his way onto the start line at the Tour no matter what Prudhomme throws at him, and Cunego's got about a hundred years left before his career tanks, I'm rooting for Simoni on this one. Vai, Il Trentino!

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