Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hell Hath No Fury/Like a Dane Scorned

The Bjarne is Burning: so endless doper Bjarne Riis, of all people, is hilariously taking out Team Rabobank for allowing Rasmussen to compete in the Tour amid reports he was weaselling about his whereabouts during the pre-race runup: "when they pick a rider for the Tour de France it must be because they trust him...They should have left Michael at home if [the warnings] were serious enough." Um, am I the only one who just snorted a double espresso out my nose--leaving aside the fact that you copped to snarfing EPO from '93-'98 and taking your own Tour under the influence, Ivan Basso was implicated in Op Puerto like 10 minutes into the scandal, where the hell were you 'til the Tour organizers forced him out of the race? Anyhoo, CSC of course has backed Bjarne, noting with pride that he's responsible for launching the team's rigorous anti-doping program, which, I must admit, has paid off rather well for about the only team in the peloton not to accidentally gack up a positive test this season. Still a little jealous over losing your Prince Charming right before the Tour de France last year, are we? Meantime, on the other side of the coin, 1988 Tour winner Pedro Delgado is blasting the Grand Tours for focusing on the fight against doping above all else, conceding (because he has to, I suppose) that while it's important and all, all this pesky testing and yapping is making the sponsors twitchy, and anyway, "I do not believe it is the high-priority thing in this sport." Sure, his position's morally reprehensible, but surely we can all give him points at least for his rare and refreshing honesty?

Duck, Duck--Goosed!: And, in the race to the Vuelta, we love Sastre takes a blow as Nicki Sorensen's out with a mysteriously unexplained "unfortunate accident" resulting in 3 broken bones in his foot (what? he pulled a Petacchi and attacked an innocent team bus? what's the big deal, spit it out!), leaving them still with a pretty strong roster for a group which knocked itself out at the Tour, including Christian VandeVelde, Inigo Cuesta, Chris Anker Sorensen and Karsten Kroon. Still, much as I love CSC despite Bjarne's total hosing of Bobby Julich, I can't say they've got an edge over or really even quite approach Euskaltel, which is pulling out all the stops in their home stomping grounds with Zubeldia Landaluze Hernandez and Anton to back up Sammy Sanchez, and, in Haimar Zubeldia's case at least, likely to make a podium run in his own right. And the sprinters? Well, Alessandro Petacchi, back on form and still ticked at being jacked out of the Tour over some inconsequential asthma-med overdose, is absolutely raring to go, which must be annoying as hell to Robbie "the Ego" McEwen, who undiplomatically declared that he is not either "voluntarily" focusing on a Belgian campaign over the Vuelta, and while we're at it, Predictor's ridiculous to not only screw him but to head to Spain without a sprinter, as for once, they've got more than one stage in this course to play in. Man, tell us how you really feel Robbie!

Assorted Flotsam Contract Watch: finally, with Unibet, Discovery and presumably Astana down for the count, the market's been flooded with high-value rejects along with the usual switcheroos, and there's still no word on Levi Leipheimer yet, beyond rumors that he's being courted as second banana to Cadel over at Predictor (not again--you don't deserve this Levi!), Tommy Danielson's fate remains unknown with his gross-but-healing intestinal ailment jacking his chances for results right when he's needed them (though I hope someone'll give due credit for his last year's handsome Vuelta stage), Tyler Farrar's been booted from Cofidis (and Cofidis, that boy is the *least* of your problems), and Andreas Kloden's busy politely denying the obvious assumption that he's bailing on Astana for almost anybody, noting he's still under contract for another year. Hey, why wouldn't a multiple Tour de France podium holder mind being kicked out of every Grand Tour on earth for the foreseeable future?

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