Sunday, August 12, 2007

On The Road

Oh Right, This is Pro *Cycling*: not a pro doping tourney, and I'm astonished to learn that, despite the nonexistent US TV cycling coverage (or, what the hell am I paying you people for goddammit?), there's some smashing actual cycling going on over at a star-studded Tour of Germany as the Germans finally get their chance to come out and play, where despite Jan Ullrich's ostentatious and admittedly dispiriting absence (fine, I have no soul, he's a drug-scarfing tool, yap yap yap), we love Jens Voigt has taken a fine hold on the leader's jersey thanks to some careful planning and CSC's gorgeous time trial win over lame duck Discovery, and we still love ageless workhorse Erik Zabel nips the sprint over the very fine Brad McGee. Allez Erik, and of course Jens, particularly since the latter is apparently the reason that we love Bobby Julich agreed to stay on for one more year despite that vicious troll Bjarne Riis' heartless (and ultimately pointless) Tour de France diss!

Portuguese (On A) Roll: while we're on the topic of actual racers actually racing, major points and massive gratitude to cable TV Portuguese network ATP, for, unlike OLN/Vs. or, covering the Tour of Anything, and giving me something to watch this morning besides golf, which is entertaining only in the same sense that it's diverting to drive knitting needles into one's own eyeballs sans anaesthetic. Even more spectacular is that, despite the fact that I don't know a word of Portugese, their commentators are still clearly more articulate than allegedly-English-speaking nimrod Al Trautwig, as I managed to gather that the boy from Fuenteventura-Canarias was descending both rapidly and skillfully, Lampre had blown its tactical advantage, and the peloton was likely to reel the leader in, while all I can ever get out of The Trautwig is that Thor Hushovd is going to take it, even if it's actually a mountain stage we're watching that day. Woo-hoo ATP!

Freebird!: oh, our little flock from Lake Discovery is already flying away, with Stijn Devolder seemingly to Rabobank and Matt White to DS at Slipstream. Meantime, no word yet on baby podium king (*cough* Rasmussen was screwed! *cough*) Alberto Contador, though glum jobless almost-promoted-apparently Discovery DS Dirk Demol notes that the poor child sap is competing fruitlessly in an already glutted market, same as he. Thanks, Captain Optimism! Over at Astana--or rather, not--Andreas Kloden continues his downward spiral, bailing on the pointless cheerleading team training camp, discussing "alternative options" with team management, and huddling in private with his personal trainer getting ready for the Worlds. Hey, T-Mobile just decided to keep up its sponsorship despite a season's worth of disgusting revelations--surely they wouldn't mind taking you back now, would they?

The Italian Job: and, I see that the Italian prosecutors, seemingly frustrated at having successfully nailed enormously popular man-candy Ivan Basso for not doping but failing to nail Leonardo Piepoli and Alessandro Petacchi for doing it, have sworn to take the latter boy at least to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ten years from now may or may not come down with a totally irrelevant decision ages after Petacchi has decamped to DS for an Italian squad, or, like Mario "the Chest" Cipollini" before him, merely unbuttoned his shirt for any available camera and offered a few charming comments between fan swarms. They did manage to get Cristian Moreni at least, though come to think of it, as he's already 34, it's largely pointless anyway, and it's not like when one confesses and refuses an entirely pointless B-sample that you deserve a hell of a lot of credit. Good luck trying to put the hammer down on Petacchi, guys! Speaking of Italians we love far more, Gilberto Simoni is apparently leaving Saunier Duval to his anointed successor Ricardo Ricco, and hitting the pavement for one more year over at Selle Italia, leaving open at least the possibility that our beloved loose cannon will not only take one last Giro stage win, but anyone who's ever irked him down with him in a bursting dam of pent-up gall. Vai Gibo!

Comin' Down the Mountain: and finally, congrats to Floyd Landis for coming in second in Leadville despite a craptastically ill-timed flat tire and the distinct disadvantage of being likely grossly preoccupied by such trivialities as, say, the loss of his '06 Tour de France and de facto end of his career. Welcome back Floyd, and couldn't you simps over at Vs. have managed half an hour of coverage without enraging the rawhide-whip-wielding rodeo crowd?

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