Yes, it's almost time for the Year in Review, and while I'd hoped to blow it off til after the holidays, I see all the anal-retentive overachievers have already beat me to it, and as I don't want to be accused of cribbing off anybody, in addition to a brief news recap, I humbly present my picks of the best, worst, and distinctly most irksome of 2007:
Meeeeeem-ories, All Alone in the Mooon-liiight:
--January: Quick Step accused by current rider of years of systemic doping up to and including present day and current "major riders;" Belgian police immediately commence investigation of...um, Johan Museeuw? --February: Ullrich forced to officially retire as Basso rides on in comely glory; Levi takes Tour of California, but Basso flutters eyelashes, gets all Discovery publicity. You suck Bruyneel! --March: Bjarne Riis cops to doping in surprise of the year (that he'd cop to it, that is); Op Puerto closed; Classics marred by grisly crashes; Marianne Vos wails at Fleche. --April: Oops, Birillo *is* his dog--Basso "resigns" from Discovery; Simoni talks smack; O'Grady brilliantly takes Roubaix. --May: Simoni gives me his final Giro stage; DiLuca wins with some awfully funny hormone levels; Unibet screwed out of Tour; Landis monkey trial begins, manager exploits LeMond's childhood abuse and naturally hits rehab; Petacchi finally stops sucking. --June: Jaksche sings, to no reward; UCI won't act on Op Puerto file til after Tour, so it has some riders in it, but demands idiot virginity pledge, which works just great; Riis keeps we love Bobby Julich out of Tour; Vino promises not to screw over Kloden. Yeah, that one stuck, you !@#$%&*! --July: what else? Levi takes time trial; Rasmussen's Tour stolen; baby Soler smokes the mountains as baby Contador's handed the whole show; Iban Mayo hosed to unseemly delight of witchhunting skank McQuaid; Vino, of course screws over Kloden. --August: LeMond speaks, a *lot*; Disco dead for good--or is it?
--September: Sammy Sanchez rocks the end of the Vuelta; whatsisface takes it; Bettini and Valverde stick it to Pat "Dick" McQuaid, but DiLuca stays at home; Marta Bastianelli takes the cake; Floyd Landis completely !@#$%^*--surprise! --October: Landis appeals, Pereiro gets maillot jaune anyway, Tour officially a farce for 2 straight years in a row. Allez Floyd! --November: Discovery becomes Astana, Levi marches to his doom; Iban's B samples attempt travel world record; Rabobank knew all about Rasmussen's whereabouts; DiLuca out of Liquigas; T-Mobile's finally had enough; "Dick" Pound sez goodbye--aw, heck!--December: Giro, Vuelta announced, Tour still apparently only race on the entire freakin' planet worth mentioning; Rasmussen confesses pain; Vino sez goodbye. Well, that's about that folks, though we've still got two weeks left for some matchless disaster to top the year to date. Hell, I'm optimistic, aren't you?
And Now, Some Awards:
Domestique o' the Year: Shameless St. Millar Defender, this one's for you. Previously thought to be unable to see through his constant pathetic poor-me wah-wah-I'm-so-sorry-for-(getting caught)-doping veil o'tears, self-aggrandizing media-savvy crybaby David Millar nonetheless managed to dry his eyes enough to smash himself to pieces blazing a path day after day for his team leader at the Tour in terrain he had no business even riding in, if only til Vino tested poz over at Astana and David mind-bogglingly started ostentatiously bawling for the cameras *again*. See you next year at Slipstream, Millar--so long as I can keep the volume down low enough not to *hear* you next season!
Underrated Rider of 2007: Levi Leipheimer. Tour de California. Time trial at the Tour de France. 3d on the podium. National champ. Is there anything this smashing, humble boy can't do, except whore himself to the press and keep Johan Bruyneel from jacking him over?
La-la-la-la-la-I-Can't-Hear-You Award: ooof! we love Iban Mayo so go to hell's resurgent Tour de France and consequent doping poz. But then it wasn't. But then tough noogies pal it's going to come up positive anyway, dammit, if those talentless monkeys at Chatenay-Malabry have to be locked in a rat-infested dungeon to test his goddamn Z sample 'til the cows come home! La-la-la-la-la....
Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist of the Year: natch, slur-slinging total wingnut Pat "Dick" McQuaid, who unerringly saw in every German, Belgian, and Kazahk doping poz and systemic-team-doping scandal the nefarious cheating hands of the Italians and Spaniards. I *thought* "Kaschechkin" sounded suspiciously Roman...
Skankball Hypocrite Hosing of 2007: hands down, poor Andreas Kloden, who blew his own chances at the Tour at the services of yet another train-wreck of a master only to see his sacrifice completely gone to waste at the hands (and syringe) of a lying selfish egomaniacal blood-doping Narcissus. You suck, Vinokorouv!
Punk-Ass Move of the Year: no doubt, Machiavelli's right-hand man Johan Bruyneel, for luring Levi Leipheimer home to Discovery with the seductive promise of Tour de France team leadership, only to ditch him like yesterday's beer-goggled last-call hookup for the pretty wiles of the comely, brilliant, and clearly lying Ivan Basso, and, after a brief return to Levi's forgiving arms, dumping his ass yet *again* for Lance Armstrong's backup chosen successor, equally charming baby savant--and Liberty Seguros refugee for Chrissake--Alberto Contador. Damn, Levi, you're way too good to put up with this crap--will you *never* learn? Oh wait, you just signed with Astana...aiiigggghhhhh!
Abomination of the Season: You blow, UCI! Yep, Michael Rasmussen's stolen Tour. Sure, he totally accidentally bailed on a few measly out-of-competition doping controls--not that UCI, in retrospect, was actually performing any, as it wholly sensibly opined that riders are best tested for Tour de France doping in December--but given the 800 Op Puerto-linked riders that UCI not only allowed to start, but ride straight through til an actual poz, was it really fair to yank the poor Chicken out of the maillot jaune before he even lost it on his own merits in the time trial?
I'll Have Whatever They're Having Award: T-Mobile, of course, for having no idea whatsoever that any of their riders were doing anything wrong at all the last ten years, as the sponsors and managers swear to high heaven they made the team docs promise that they were only injecting half the team with decaf Clif Shots before and after every stage of every race anytime anywhere ever. Hey, I'll buy that...oooh, look, I can see all the individual molecules in the universe!
Riders o' the Year: Is there anyone Marianne Vos can't crush like a cockroach, or any mountain Maurizio Soler (sorry Sanchez, you were a close second) can't conquer? Venga venga, and see you at the races next year!
Team o' the Year: this was a toughie, especially as I'm a total Euskaltel apologist, but I'm going with CSC. Bjarne, your complete hosing of Dave Zabriskie and Bobby Julich made me yack. And yet, you backed dear little Sastre with guns blazing at the Tour, and we love Stewie O'Grady took Paris-Roubaix. Free Julich, and you may have a shot again next year!
Total Poindexter Website Prize: to the fabulous geniuses over at trustbutverify, who not only are perhaps the most impassioned defenders of Floyd Landis' virtue beyond only the boy himself, but actually seem to understand the detailed scientific arguments they put out that the rest of us (well, me) are too stupid to even coherently summarize. Floyd, you better be innocent, or you owe these folks a *major* freakin' apology!
Agonizing Peloton Loss of 2007: just as he finished up his little ban over some trifling misunderstanding at the '05 Vuelta, sorely-missed climber o' the gods Roberto Heras sez he can't get the deal he wants from the cash-strapped Continental squads and basically announces he's out of here. Yes, I'm exactly the sort of repugnant hypocrite I relentlessly excoriate on a daily basis--wah, wah, wah!
Doping Excuse of the Year: the ol' "in flagrante delicto" defense, courtesy of Predictor-Lotto testosterone poz Bjorn "Dirk Diggler" Leukemans. You can't make this stuff up folks, though it's entirely likely that he did.
Finally, Bull!@#$ Call of 2007: need it be said that if this were a real courtroom and not a grotesque farcical imitation of a crap episode of "Ally McBeal," Floyd Landis would be riding off into the sunset with a truly obscene cash-cow of a ProTour contract as we speak even if he'd slapped an exogenous testosterone patch right on the works in front of a camera-happy news crew? How the hell do you even sleep at night, McQuaid?!
All right, you Landis-lambasters and Heras-haters (that is to say, both my faithful readers), I'm sure there's more but I'm going to bed. What'd I get wrong?