Saturday, July 14, 2007

Brokeback Peloton

Body Count: is it me, or is this year's Tour a hell of a lot twitchier than most? First, Discovery loses sprint hope Tomas Vaitkus in a thumb-crushing tipover. Then, riders start flying through the windshields of nimrod brake-slamming team cars--to exceedingly unpleasant effect--like lightstruck deer on a dark country road. Now, Astana's implosion switches from the Vino-Kloden rivalry to mere survival of the fittest, as the luckless Andreas busts his tailbone yet again and gets to look forward to two butt-pounding weeks in the saddle, while Vinokorouv rips most of the skin off the right side of his body and is stitched up like Frankenstein. Meantime, collarbones and elbows are snapping, the sprinters are a swollen bloody mess--let's face it, when Oscar Freire is the healthiest of the bunch, you know they're hosed--and even we love Iban Mayo went down, sending the entire Saunier Duval army scrambling to the rescue (a courtesy definitely *not* extended by Astana to Kloden, thanks Vino!). Now, even Popo's careening off into the madding crowds, taking poor Cancellara with him, and bodies are hitting the tarmac at the feed zones. At this rate, is there even going to be anyone left to schlep up the mountains?

Alternative Doping Practitioner: and, in doping news (and when isn't there any? Oh, right, when UCI needs bodies at the start line and ignores the Op Puerto file for the Tour), Matthias Kessler's been fired by Mr. Clean's Astana squad after his absurdly high testosterone levels were confirmed by B sample. The cause? His alternative medicine guy must've totally accidentally slipped him totally accidentally contaminated capsules of otherwise innocent Chinese herbs, at least in the sense that he trustingly avoided reading the ingredient list. Um, you're a top domestique at a top squad making a sick amount of euros every year with full knowledge of exactly what crap you're not allowed to take, and you randomly ingest a pack of mystery pills without smacking your alternative medicine guy into ingredient-obedience? Nice try Matthias, and no thanks for leaving Kloden defenseless in the mountains you twerp! And, in more crap news for Astana, Eddy Mazzoleni is unwisely telling the Italian prosecutors to blow during the Oil-for-Drugs inquest, while at least Danilo Di Luca has the sense to show up and politely comply fully by telling them he had nothing to do with it and all those phone calls and video tapes with his voice and face on 'em are a mere misunderstanding. Kessler. Mazzoleni. Godefroot. Half the team roster from Liberty Seguros and T-Mobile. Hey, I'm convinced of Alexander Vinokorouv's commitment to purity!

Pointless Jersey: and, I note that the useless clowns at ASO are stripping we love Erik Zabel of his 1996 green jersey because of his confessed week o' EPO sin back in the day. I'm sure it won't be much of a problem to find the proper awardee, you oily idiots, because I'm sure every other goddamn sprinter in contention was perfectly clean. What exactly is the point of this when you hypocrites can't even be bothered to flush out this year's peloton ahead of this year's Tour?

Utterly Wrong Prediction: finally, I think Vino and Kloden are just damn stupid if they choose today to squabble over who's the man for the mountains, Levi Cadel and Sastre just need to finish comfortably up there to warn off the wolves, it would be great to see Moreau take it but he's got time, and therefore, Valverde, who unaccountably needed resentful second-banana Pereiro to bring him back up the pack the other day, is really the only one with something to prove to his naysayers at this point. But as always, I've got my own preference, even if I'm actually predicting Valverde. Allez Iban!

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