Friday, June 15, 2007

The Quick and the Dead

The Hunt for Red October: yep, as everyone now knows, 10/24/08 is the date of Ivan Basso's return to the peloton, at least to some crap Continental squad that can't do him justice 'til he's too creaky and bloated to be a serious ProTour threat, despite lawyer Massimo Martelli's impassioned plea that, between losing his Tour with CSC and his subsequent contract with Discovery, the boy's already served 7 months of his sentence anyway, upon which Basso was duly given credit for 236 days served--pretty sweet, but not enough. Oh Massimo. Even you, in your brilliance, could only do so much. Hell, even Einstein couldn't solve *all* the mysteries of the universe! Anyway, the reason for the supermax penalty, according to the Italian cycling fed? Classic snake oil--Basso promised to take down everyone with him in exchange for a deal, and only turned over some inconsequential half-assed hanger-on Fuentes courier instead. Right, that's exactly who they were looking for, you weaselly nit! That, and his regoddamndiculous "I smoked, but I didn't inhale" defense couldn't have helped either. Sorry Ivan--as fellow pretty-boy strongman Jan Ullrich can tell you, pouting your comely lips for the cameras can only get you so far--and you still got a hell of a lot farther than Jan did!

As for the Basso tifosi loyalists, still clinging to the sheer walls of the Dolomites in the hope their hero will ride by once more with the clearly inferior and equally culpable Simoni gasping on his wheel? Well, skimming Gazzetta dello Sport's comments pages, it looks about 10-to-1 strongly in favor of beating the crap out of anyone who dares to question his rightful supremacy and demanding his immediate return to the road, with so far only one lone, heartbroken "biggest fan" meekly conceding, "giusto." You need money, Ivan? I think you've got a "Fairness Fund" for the taking right here! Still and all, besides being obliged to rather admire Ivan for his (public) grace and humility in defeat, I've gotta say, his knee-jerk defenders have a point that he's not the only Italian who oughta be taking the fall for this filth-ridden crackhouse of a sport, and for my money, the whole leadership's arbitrary scattershot approach to crime and punishment is total bull!@#$. I mean, Francisco freakin' Mancebo might get to ride the !@#$%&* Tour, but Basso and Ullrich do not?

Sue 'em all, Iban!!: Meantime, I'm delighted to note that as quickly as he was named, we love-and-fully-expect-to-take-another-mountain-stage-in-the-Tour this year Iban Mayo was officially cleared of doping related to his fluctuating testosterone levels at the Giro, and, in a double shocker, thereby proving that (1) in a rare situation with a rider they don't have a petty vicious schoolyard vendetta against (cough! Landis! cough!), UCI can actually show some fairness and (2) we now have incontrovertible proof that at least one cyclist in the pro peloton isn't doping (yeah, I know, you cynics, at least not with testosterone). Now crush those slandering scumsucking hack newspaper bastards Iban, and if you need an English-speaking lawyer, you know who to call!

The Puerto-nic Plague: yes, after a three-hour bloodbath of a meeting, and with the UCI blessedly clearly determined not to read the incriminating Op Puerto documents for cash-cow riders' names ahead of the Tour, the ProTour teams have disingenuously pledged to take down the "under investigation" among them, if for no other reason than to desperately contain the spate of sponsorship bailouts that are leaving the Directeur Sportifs' wallets feeling, well, threatened, with righteous crusader Patrick "Do As I Say, Not As I Do" Lefevere leading the charge against the two sap domestiques that'll actually end up getting kicked out ahead of the start line in London. I'm welling up with the beauty of this scam, truly! Meantime, anyone else notice the rising tide of key Op Puerto (and other scandal)-linked riders suddenly coming down with vague-yet-body-crushing intestinal ailments right before the final rosters, and any riders under suspicion, are announced for the Tour?

Oprah's Book Club: speaking (somewhere in here) of Floyd Landis, keep an eye out for an appearance near you, as Floyd hits the circuit in support of his new tome/revenue source, which apparently rather apologizes for the Therapeutic Use Exemption he snagged for a desperately-needed cortisone shot to his agonized and deteriorating hip socket. Floyd, I don't know what you did and didn't do on Morzine, though I'm inclined to think you didn't do anything. But to even think you need to justify taking a hit for that hip when something like 80% of your compatriots are claiming some kind of total @#$%!(* inability to breathe in and out? Whatever toll the rest of this mess has taken on you, cut yourself some slack already!

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