Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sic 'Em, Paolo!

The Bicycle Thief: yes, in the breathlessly-covered Heist of the Century, perhaps the most wily fanatical tifosi in known cycling history snuck past the guardian cameras and slobbering hounds of the Quick Step storage Alcatraz and made off with 150k euro worth of exceedingly sweet bikes, including, most outrageously, Paolo Bettini's latest World Champion ride, leading to a massive and hasty operation not only to recover the stolen goods (unsuccessful so far) but also to replace and retune half-decent rides for the boys ahead of the weekend's races, leading an understandably protective Bettini to nuzzle in for the night with his brand-new Specialized in the far safer fortress of his hotel room. First, give your mechanics a raise--after yesterday's crush, they surely earned it! Second, aside from the atrocity of separating a guy like Bettini from the embodiment of the most spectacular screw-you to UCI ever, and the sad fact that whatever these thieving schmoes are charging on the black market for their prizes poor saps like me will without question be utterly unable to afford them (for the sole purpose of immediately returning them to their rightful owners, of course), is the certainty that some monstrously lumpen wannabe moolah-saturated poseur is right this very horrid second preening about their mansion grounds actually riding the thing, indelibly polluting every single part from the saddle to the derailleur with his (or her) weaselly selfish bloated undeserving bottomdwelling carcass. Repent, repent and return Paolo's ride, I say!

Disgraced Doper Appearance Watch: and, I see Jan Ullrich's back on the bike, continuing his rides for disabled children along with a stellar cast of other German talents, and nicely fending off questions about when he's finally gonna name some names in favor of focusing on the cause. Okay, we all figure Jan was stoked on, say, a Phonak scale along with everyone else on his team throughout his phenomenal career, and no-one expects an ex-racer (ouch! still hurts just to say it) to stay exactly on fighting form. Still and all, was it necessary for the press to publish the Least Flattering Photo Of An Athlete of All Time making him look like a forlorn schnitzel-stuffed double-chinned couch potato on a day when the poor scapegoated boy was at least trying to do some good--why kick a man when he's down for heck's sake, particularly when there's pretty clearly still a few boys left in the paying peloton who are just as clean as he is?

Everybody Limbo: meantime, Michael "Pat "Dick" McQuaid Stole My Tour, Particularly When You Look at Who Was Allowed to Finish It" Rasmussen remains exceedingly polite given his uncertain status, noting that he is currently in entirely amiable discussions with the fine and noble folks at UCI over his future--if I were him, I'd "discuss" a giant lawsuit on their !@#$$, but that's just me I suppose--and kindly holding back on signing a new contract so that he needn't cause a fuss for his prospective new squad in case he shouldn't be allowed to ride next year. Hell, why should a guy be allowed to make a living, especially when UCI can definitively show that they were completely unable to nail a possibly horribly guilty rider yet *again*--fine work UCI! Speaking of whom, I see the entire ProTour remains in chaos, as UCI finally grants the Grand Tour organizers freedom from its nefarious clutches, which has paradoxically raised the concern that, should the teams feel overstretched or lack contenders for any given race including a huge number of prestigious classics, they needn't show up for those, either, leaving the organizers with the sudden unpleasant realization that the ratings of their beloved cash-cows might be somewhat negatively affected if all they're left with is a field of half-!@#$#d moonlighters who lack the swooning fan base of, say, a dreamy Tom Boonen. Can none of these nimrods get their egos in check enough to create a workable system after 100-odd years of racing?

Finally, a Plea: Two straight years of DQd or should've-been-DQd scandal-plagued podiums. Then, a course this year that, while lively enough on paper, in practical terms clearly decided the winner by the start of the second week and left the smashing Spaniards and Basques with scarcely a decisive speedbump to climb after that. Now, not only did the resulting TV ratings prove to be the crappiest ever, and a recent Eurosport poll shows that folks'd rather watch the 1K Tour Of My Local Parking Lot than the Vuelta, but a grueling 800-stage Tour of America is unveiled that is not only an open invitation to colossal doping (like these boys need any help) but also cuts right into the race's long-held time slot, thereby likely taking half the non-Spanish squads out of the Vuelta. What did this gorgeous race ever do to any of you people besides giving everyone a freakin' break from tiresome 24/7 Lance Armstrong coverage--back off and lay off the Vuelta already goddammit!

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