Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Vuelta Skelter

Soldiers of (Mis)Fortune: holy crap, I abandon my keyboard to play nice with the in-laws for a few days and my whole beautiful Vuelta goes to hell in a bike basket! First, Next Great American Stage Hope/ever-luckless Tom "Thank God I Just Signed with Slipstream" Danielson's out with a day-1 busted collarbone, sprint-winner/Petacchi-smacker Daniele Bennati is banged up and possibly utterly screwed for the Worlds, and Damiano Cunego, Oscar Pereiro and, far worse, Sammy-Sanchez-really-needs-him-for-the-GC Haimar Zubeldia are ripped all to hell. Nice start, boys! I swear, season start to finish, this is the most uncoordinated peloton in years--clearly, all that dope they're snorting despite the narcs putting the hammer down ain't designed to help their balance. On the plus side, Freire and Bettini gave us stage wins, tho' I see that according to gazzetta dello sport Freire went nuts on Bettini the day of the latter's take, angrily accusing Bettini of cutting him off while an innocent Paolo said it was just a little deviation from his line and it really wasn't his fault in any case. Oh, who cares anyway--they're both clearly on form for the Worlds at least!

And Lance Armstrong's Heart Grew *Three* Sizes That Day: so, a new study's out finding that Tour de France cyclist's hearts are 20 to 40% bigger than normal ones (tho' it's not yet clear if they tend to start that way, and these guys are preexisting freaks of nature, or if they solely get that way through the riders' astonishing aerobic feats), and that, while they do indeed shrink by a quarter after the boys retire, they still remain larger'n normal, which certainly explains, at least to the extent that the ego is located therein, a few riders' monstrous sense of self importance. Ironically, for reasons it's beyond my lame ability to understand, the doctors note that drugs like EPO could potentially *erase* the "natural advantage" the big-hearted cyclists receive, in effect acting like anti-performance agents. Someone in the peloton's feeling pretty silly right now I imagine..."I Doped for Ten Years and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" souvenirs, anyone?

Team Implosion Contract Watch: nope, Levi Leipheimer still hasn't signed, but as the new US National champion (woo-hoo!) his odds are certainly improving if he doesn't let it inflate his asking price too much this late in the season, but even better, Saul Raisin was back on the bike in the national time trial after his near death experience, and good sports Credit Agricole are apparently still keeping the light on for him. Right on Raisin! Meantime, Danilo Di Luca continues to be linked to Lampre, which chances look even better now that the Italian prosecutors have apparently gotten the grim clarification that Di Luca's blood was really not, in contrast to the earlier reports they'd received so cheerfully, being toted around in Thermoses by his handlers. Keep trying though guys!

We Still Love Roberto Heras Contract Watch: yes, I'm a disgusting hypocrite. Next question! Anyhow, he's rumored to be in talks with Fuerteventura-Canarias for 2008, which means that while it's hardly gonna help the team's much-desired chances for a ProTour license from the raging morality kings over at UCI (and I sure ain't gonna tell them that), he does have a chance of riding the beautiful Vuelta yet again next year if the to-be-tainted-crew snags a wildcard, tho' whether or not he can win at the advanced age of 34 next year after 2 years' ducking for cover is beyond me; then again, I think a lot of that really depends on how many of his toughest competitors (sorry, I don't count Menchov among them) are not gonna be barred by their own doping problems from participating again with him. Either way, venga Roberto!

Work it Girl/Give a Twirl!: finally, points to Velonews for its more comprehensive bitchy-rider-comments section in its latest edition, but most of all for abandoning gritty shots of riders in gasping agony for their hunkalicious cover photo of Tom Boonen and, on the inside, a Tour de What I Earn Compared to Some Low Rent Domestique of the Belgian babe magnet's yellow Lambourghini and associated trappings of studly success. Please boys, get back to the point here--you're not going to tart up Ivan Basso in a Cosmopolitan-magazine-Burt-Reynolds-come-hither pose next issue, are you?

No comments: