Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Levi Leipheimer Is Hosed

Hit the Road, Jack: yep, the rumor mill's officially churning with the speculation that we love Levi Leipheimer, fresh off his time trial win at the Toura Missoura and the fact that but for an unfortunate 8-second time penalty and helping out Alberto Contador the boy might quite possibly have won the Tour de France or at least snatched second place from Cadel, is headed to Astana with Johan Bruyneel and, presumably, the buffeted-but-still-standing Contador (who, to his credit, is more than willing to play domestique to his elders when called upon.) But don't do it Levi--he's sure as hell not going to be playing superdomestique to you in the Tour next year! What exactly are you going to be allowed to do over at Astana, with Bruyneel--brilliant as he is--having nut-kicked you twice last season, first with the Ivan Basso debacle and then with our little Liberty Seguros wunderkind? Will you be happy enough with the occasional time trial stage, or perhaps being allowed off the leash at the Tour of Germany? Or are you going to have to go up with a second-string support roster to the Giro or the Vuelta, both of whom field native teams at the peak of their powers? Sure, he can't blast off like Contador on a steep pass--but he has a tenacious steady Cadel quality without the constant wheel-sucking, and a sizzling time trial when the conditions are right, both key to Grand Tour survival. You don't deserve this Levi--aw, *rats*!

Flower Wilting: and, poor we-still-love-Iban-Mayo-so-shut-the-hell-up seems on the precipice of a self-destructo Vandenbroucke spiral, lamenting yesterday that "the wait is despairing," he still doesn't know the result of his EPO B-sample even though it's already in, and since "every day you think today's the day" but it isn't, he has "passed the time very badly" through this exhausting "slap in the face." Hold it together Iban--even Vandenbroucke, after all, is back on the bike!

All the Worlds' a Stage, and Valverde, Perhaps Not a Player: so, according to the folks over at Gazzetta dello Sport, the sore-loser goons over at UCI have struck a fabulous blow using the exact same evidence that's been around for a year from Op Puerto, *again*, proclaiming they now see a clear link between Valverde, the dog/code name "Piti", the number 18, and a wunk of Eufemiano Fuentes' blood bags. The new rallying cry: turn over your DNA, or else! Anyone else think that's going to have to involve either tying the boy to a chair or whacking him with a big enough stun-gun dart to take down a charging rhino before he'll agree to stay still enough for anyone to jab a Q-Tip in his mouth? The Spaniards, naturally, responded this threat by filing lawsuits in both Switzerland (home of UCI) and the Court of Arbitration for sport, dissing rumors they'll pull out of the Worlds by making clear their intent to stick Valverde right into 'em. Keep trying though UCI! Meantime, ASO's Patrice Clerc has taken the opportunity to pile even more abuse on UCI about the Rasmussen, and also Patrik Sinkewitz, debacles, and while we're at it, the ProTour's a disaster being rammed down their throats, UCI is a pack of power-grabbing nefarious autocratic incompetents, the sport's entirely in the shape it's in because of these morons, and there's barely any point in talking to such blockheads. I'm feeling better and better about the upcoming anti-doping summit every day, aren't you?

What the Worlds Needs Now, Is Love, Sweet Love: and what it's got, instead, is some damn sweet teams, as the Italians come in with Bettini and Di Luca blazing and Davide Rebellin Pozzato Ballan Nibali and Bruseghin--but not sprinter-emergent Bennati--on formidable backup, and the Spaniards pull revelation-of-the-Vuelta we love Oscar Freire out of their hat, with Valverde (maaaaaybe), Sastre, Sammy Sanchez, Triki, and Juan Antonio Flecha to set the pace. The Americans, too, are in decent shape with Hincapie Julich and Vande Velde, with Zabriskie and McCartney pulling double duty on the road race and time trial for the boys, and Kristin Armstrong Amber Neben and the !@#-kickin' Tina Pic for the women. My money's on Freire, then Bettini, then Di Luca, with Valverde as the wildcard, but then, I'm almost always wrong, and when it comes to Freire and Bettini, I'm grossly biased. Allez allez Oscar!

Aaaarrrrrggghhhh!: finally, a big "you bite!" to the planners of this year's Vuelta, not only for forcing me to concede that Denis Menchov who's still not worthy of winning Roberto Heras' 2005 Vuelta is unfortunately exceedingly worthy of winning this one, and, worse, disappointing the usually-amiable we love Carlos Sastre, who's finally had to lam into the organizers for not making the mountains hard enough, and actually making him wish for a Tour de France-style mountain stage, as if the ones in the Vuelta don't usually blow them out of the water in sheer bonecrushing audacity. Oh Vuelta, what have you done?!

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