Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year! (And New Resolutions, Too)

Okay, I won't keep 'em, if looking back at last year's list o' doomed aspirations is any guide. But I will probably feel mildly crappy about it, which may be motivation enough to restrain, even if temporarily, my baser instincts. So, in the interests of some sorely-needed self-improvement, and for love of this repugnant glorious wreck of a sport, here goes:

1. I will welcome Ivan Basso back with open arms. The man has paid his dues for something he entirely credibly claims he never even actually did in the first place, and that's good enough for me. In fact, I'll welcome him back even more if he gets into a sissy-boy verbal slapfight with Gilberto Simoni at the Giro for old times' sake. On a related note, if Simoni leaves him in the dust on at least one stage in the Dolomites, I'll build a shrine to Gibo in my office.

2. I will give Lance Armstrong 24 hours after the start of the Tour to prove he will work for Alberto Contador's GC victory before I excoriate him for being an !@#$%&!.

3. I will not post that photo of Tom Boonen in his gladiator outfit again. It's not his fault he's a Belgian babe magnet. If he's caught outside a nightclub or in his Ferrari with white, um, baby powder caked on his nose, though, I will post that.

4. I won't be mean to Bjarne Riis, who is after all a Tour de France winner and one of the best DSes in history--besides having, even better, backed Frank Schleck--and Photoshop a picture of his head on a turkey again. I'll wait til February 2nd, and Photoshop his face onto a groundhog instead.

5. I'll be nice nice nice to Alberto Contador, who has truly earned his place in history despite his sordid (allegedly!) past at Liberty Seguros, his Tour win on Michael Rasmussen's crap last-minute ejection, and his total (if politely done) co-hosing of Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden. But I'll be even nicer if Samuel Sanchez whomps him in at least one stage.

6. Okaaaaaay, it's been like two years, I'll stop whining about the absence of we-still-love-so-bite-it-buddy Jan Ullrich and Roberto Heras from the peloton. I will, however, whine extravagantly about the loss of Paolo Bettini Bobby Julich and Iban "I Can't Believe Even That Twerp Jaksche Scored a New Gig Instead of Me" Mayo. Dammit!

7. I won't assume that any rider who beats the one I'm rooting for up an epic climb, particularly in the Vuelta or Giro, is a worthless scumsucking dopesnarfing IV-jabbin' skank. Except you know you are, you dirty bastard. Right, Sella?

8. In lieu of promising not to endlessly abuse the upcoming winner of the 2009 Doping Excuse o' the Year Award--which I can tell right now I'm gonna do anyway, resolution or not--I'll provide the cheat-weasel in question free (if somewhat dubious) legal advice as a reward for sheer ingenuity. Inhaled your body double lately? Busted in flagrante delicto? Cocktail spiked with a totally coincidentally fun recreational drug by some nefarious nonexistent enemy hell bent on taking you down for no reason? Bring it on, baby!

Last but not least, it is with a deep and abiding sense of "Aw, rats!" that I bid a fond "ciao" to the all-knowing lords-o'-Landis analysis at trustbutverify, who, after 2 years of dedicated and immaculate parsing of every chromatowhatsis, Idon'tknowwhatthehellRMSmeanses, cheap blog dope-slap, and tedious legal detail that justifies Shakespeare's loathing of the lot of us, have finally, with the appeals all done and the boy back in the game over at OUCH, decided to call it a day and simply let their archives live on as the definitive source for all things Floyd. Thanks to all and sundry at trustbut, and I'll try to cover his actual return to racing at least passably from here on out!

All right, any cycling resolutions I missed, or got any of your own you're willing to have to stick to? Spit 'em out!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rock Slide: News from the Front Lines

Honest!: so I’ve perhaps had my, well, issues with Rock Racing, but nonetheless it truly does appear that the recent rumors circulating in the cycling press with regard to the state o’(in)stability over at Michael Ball’s pet project have, if anything, vastly underestimated the problem. To wit:

Ever wonder what you’d do if your boss called, told you the company you just joined was hemorrhaging dough, professed he was trying to scrounge up the cash from his own pocket, and generously offered to honor your contract at a crap percentage of what it says you’ll get paid? Right, well, he bailed, and luckily snared a last-minute gig somewhere else before the solvent squads finalized their rosters. Great, that’s one boy saved!

Remember that scene in “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” when Cindy Lou Who busted “Santa” stuffing her Christmas tree up the chimney and our archvillain promised he was just borrowing it for a little tinkering before bringing it back? It’s like that, but with Santa asking for the contracts back for a slight modification in the wake of the team’s recent reclassification, the riders trustingly sending ‘em on, and at the end of this show, Santa never actually feels bad about it and returns ‘em, and he won’t respond to slews of desperate terrified time-sensitive e-mails, either. Um, leaving aside the strong likelihood that some of the boys’ wily managers have actually heard of those newfangled “copy machines,” Michael, couldn’t you have at least had the spine to break the agreements to their faces and retained *some* of your dwindling dignity?

Last but not least, a few key items have apparently gone missing as well: the team’s got no mechanics, no bikes, and, thanks to UCI telling Rudy Pevenage to blow when it came to his app for a director’s license, no DS. Nothin’ a little trip to the sports equipment aisle at the local Wal-Mart can’t cure!

I gotta say, I know there is limited sympathy around these parts for those who have either actually or allegedly done the dirty deed (doping, that is) but have failed to work up a full-scale wah-wah for the swooning media hordes—and let’s face it, that’s a pretty impressive slice of the pie here—but I really feel sorry for all the riders, whose chances of obtaining a contract at this point with anything stronger than your local gang of sixth-grade bike hooligans terrorizing the good folks buying a Slurpee at 7-Eleven are now somewhere handsomely south of zero, and whose training, seasons, and careers have been tanked through no fault of their own. On the plus side, you the consumer ought to really, really be able to get a good fire-sale deal on those overpriced-if-sartorially-bitchin’ $200 flaming-skull acid-green jerseys. See, good things *do* come to those who wait!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Wishes (and Champagne Dreams)

So now that I'm emerging from my post-Giro-route-announcement rage that the organizers of this gorgeous race have designed its centennial corsa rosa, thanks to the bull!@#$ inclusion of an endless time trial, around a freakin' American who never cared enough to ride it anyway--or maybe for Ivan Basso as well, if one generously assumes that his disconcertingly Schumacherish improvement in the discipline in 2006 was a natural result of his evolution as an athlete instead of, say, an unnatural evolution prompted by whatever he solely "attempted" to imbibe 'til the narcs caught up with him in Op Puerto--it seems to me that some of these boys could use a plea to Santa Claus, or a jolly gift-giver of any appropriate persuasion, for presents this year. Ergo, on behalf of those in the biz too humble and selfless to ask for anything themselves, and in the spirit of charity and kindness that defines the season, I gently beg whomever's in charge for the following:

1. Not to be a massive geek, but remember in "The Matrix" how Neo's mouth fused together in a creepy amorphous blob the second he claimed his right to a lawyer when he was being interrogated? Right, so the next time some chump tests poz and the cameras and mics start rolling on irrelevant cyclist commentary, David Millar could really, really use the same thing. Thanks, Santa!

2. So the virtuous anti-dopers over at UCI and WADA swear on all that's holy that if doping-implicated cyclists pony up and spill some names, mercy, and a warm embrace back into the peloton where their repented souls deserve to be, shall be theirs. And what does obedient cheating sap Jorg Jaksche get (besides my undying enmity for implicating Andreas "Haven't I Been Hosed *Enough* This Year?" Kloden) for buying this crap? Right, a major ban, permanent exile from the simultaneously pissed and terrified ProTour squads, and a rockin' reward of one dollar a year from Team Obscure'n'Powerless. So for Pat "Dick" McQuaid and Dick "Dick" Pound, a charitable donation of one year of their salaries to the guilty-and-so-very-truly-sorry-about-it boys they suckered. Heck, it won't compare to what, say, Liquigas can shell out, but sure beats selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door, right?

3. Okay, he's clearly got a brain. A heart? Aw, I'm sure he does. Courage? Well, if chutzpah counts, the guy's an embarrassment of riches. But humility? Oh, *that* he could really use a dose of from the Wonderful Wizard. And he's gonna need it, if he really means this !@#$%*& about being a happy little domestique for Alberto Contador at the Tour. Try it, Lance--you'll like it!

4. So close, but yet so far; so clearly capable, yet year-after-year, so ruthlessly yanked out of the end-game blitz of flowers, statuary, podium babes, screaming crowds and champagne. For Klodi and Levi, just *one* of 'em, *any* of 'em--haven't they *earned* their Giro or Vuelta or Grand Boucle already?

5. I don't care if you think he ought to be roasted like chestnuts over an open fire at Christmastime. In fact, I don't even particularly care if you think he's actually innocent (okay, I do, it's not your fault I'm still too heartbroken over Iban to hope). But what I do think is that considering who's still left in the international peloton, Floyd Landis--gifted as he is this upcoming season with one of the best US squads out there--more than deserves his crack at a serious European road race after two years' disgrace. Come on--like *no* scrawny little big-mouthed weasel from somewhere else is gonna test positive at next year's Tour?

6. If you can read and write, accurate sample labeling--even following the instructions for the A and B tests themselves--is a snap. "Hooked on Phonics" for everyone at Chatenay-Malabry Labs!

7. He's big. He's pretty. He's certainly likable. And when he's not being banned for being a party-boy Paris Hilton idiot, he's one of the most smashing sprinters of his, or anyone's, generation. Common sense for Tom Boonen's stocking, pronto!

8. Sure, there's nothing better than finding a Ken-doll ripoff of some Disney-musical he-starlet or, far better in my view, Rock-em-Sock-em Robots under the tree, but some years, we just need cold, hard cash. How *else* is our dear Euskaltel-Euskadi going to keep its deathgrip on Grand-Tour-winning talent just as it reaches its peak? Samu' in '09! And '10! And...

9. The dough these ProTour twits spent on just the whining weaseling likes of Ricco' and Kohl could sustain the entire women's peloton for 10 years. Raises, raises all 'round--ya can't buy a Ferrari with accolades, you cheapskates!

10. Finally, not to be selfish, but we pay out the nose for cycling coverage our own countries are too lame to air, freeze our works off on mountaintops waiting for a road race to pass in a sport that no-one else on our continent even knows exists, and, perhaps worst of all, invest otherwise handy brain cells in useless garbage like this. Please, please, can't we have *one* season without some shameful disgusting dope scandal smacking us upside the head?

Well, I'm sure I'm missing plenty of wheelborne wisenheimers who ought to get just coal in their stockings, but being that I'm supposed to be all chipper and magnanimous this time of year, I'll just wish upon a star they don't do anything to embarrass themselves, or the sport, or us faithful if pathetic tifosi, again. Merry Everything, everyone!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2009: The Year in Preview

Yeah, You Read Right: okay folks, we all know what happened in the alternately nauseating and transcendently beautiful season o' 2008, so with apologies to Nostradamus, and anyone else with a modicum of common sense, fair play, accuracy, and tact, it seems to me it's high time to take on the 2009 Year in Preview:

January: finishing up the team camps! Garmin-Chipotle boys forcibly removed to day spa and waxed; Quick Step PR head honcho takes riders club-hopping, whacks Boonen upside head with Oxford English Dictionary every time he reaches for nose candy in "negative reinforcement" exercise; team Astana breaks out the calisthenics drills by kneeling repeatedly in front of Armstrong as latter reclines upon golden dais.

February: It's the Tour of California, baby! Brilliant reformed US road champ Tyler Hamilton takes queen stage *and* lands on GQ's Best Dressed List for bitchin' though egregiously overpriced flaming-skull team kit; Levi Leipheimer snags the GC, the only win he'll be allowed all season; Floyd Landis declared poz for testosterone on Stage 3 even though he doesn't actually race or get tested, righteous UCI bans for life. Aw, heck!

March: It's the start o' the Classics! Mark Cavendish takes 14th straight bunch sprint of season, exceeds speed of light, disappears into thin air; Cunego takes Milano-Sanremo, pelted with rotten fruit by Italians still pissed he didn't ride last year's Giro; O'Grady wins Paris-Nice in full-body cast from Stage 1 crash; Marianne Vos procures cutting-edge though wholly unnecessary Internet weight-loss supplement, shrinks into gnat, accidentally inhaled by panting teammates on training ride.

April: Whaddaya mean, the Tour de Georgia's been cancelled?! Big George, Floyd (defying ban), Levi and Tyler(s) grab their best teammates, commandeer the roads, call out the fans, and get the party started. Landis takes Brasstown Bald--yeeeee-haaaaaah!

May: It's the Giro d'Italia, baby! Italian narcs wisely decline to dope-test anyone; Gilberto Simoni takes the overall when Franco Pellizotti, distracted by gorgeous visage of own flowing blonde locks in race-moto mirror, forgets to domestique Ivan Basso; Armstrong mistakenly rides in France for 3 weeks, as he's never quite figured out where that obscure "Italy" place is anyway.

June: Time for pre-Tour doping controls! American squads test clean, promptly barred from race; Bwee-guh Telekom, Cofidis riders unfortunately unavailable due to being on space flight, granted automatic podium spot in Paris; Danilo DiLuca OD's on masking agent, turns into sparkle-ballgowned Disney princess, immediately swept off feet by asthma-med-intoxicated Alessandro Petacchi.

July: What else? Armstrong "domestiques" for Contador by accidentally tossing musette into his wheel at 60 kph, tho' boy takes maillot jaune despite lack of training caused by 10-week pre-race bubble bath; repeat podium finisher/omnipresent GC threat Andreas Kloden assigned to hand-wash team's laundry; Valverde, caught out taking leisurely glass of wine from fan-club spectators during decisive move of the race, chokes *again*. Back in the US, Kristin Armstrong takes national championship while fast asleep at home in bed.

August: Time for post-Tour doping scandals! Armstrong poz for bread-and-water, lurid accusatory French book released to lavish praise by whining disappointed ASO and immediate injunction by Lance's legal team. In unrelated news, Tom Boonen parties hearty again, as no-one in Belgium gives a !@#$ if he's kicked out of the who-cares-noone-watches-it-anyway Vuelta.

September: Not like anyone would know, but it's the Vuelta, baby! Samu', on form to beat the best in the business, takes maillot d'oro without breaking a sweat when only he, a couple other guys from Euskaltel, and delusional Classics specialist Valverde bother to show up.

October: Time for the World Championships! Babelicious pinup Ivan Basso takes the boy's ride, accidentally gilded by jubilant crowd like that chick in "Goldfinger," permanently installed by sheepish tifosi on marble pedestal in Piazza San Marco; Nicole Cooke takes the women's, triples salary to record-breaking 5,000 euros/year.

November: Late-season contract hijinks! Liquigas signs Ricco', Schumacher, Sella, Piepoli, Kohl, and Beltran; Rock would've retaliated by hiring Frank Schleck, but internal Code of Ethics forbids hiring any racer who's actually been cleared.

December: Team camps again! CSC's latest incarnation buried alive in "Kill Bill" punch-your-way-out-of-that-coffin-training, most of roster survives; Milram to sponsor's dairy farm for hard labor, bewildered milch cows stampede fragile cyclist bodies, delaying season; Spanish squads retreat to secret location; Lampre boys improve gear-shifting dexterity by spending 12 hour days with Bedazzlers amping up already-pretty pink-and-turquoise team kits.

Well, cycling fans, that--and the usual cesspool of smack-talk, doping scandals, and rabid bloodthirsty crap monkey trials by incompetent officials--ought to keep us blissfully occupied 'til a potentially even more shameful and disgusting 2010. Now let's all paint our national flags on our overhangin' stomachs, tick off the riders by screaming two inches from their faces and glommin' our hands onto 'em on the mountainsides, and practice yelling, allez allez!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The 2008 Racejunkie Awards

Well folks, another delightful, disgusting, sordid, exciting, gack-inducing, and beautiful year has nearabout drawn to a close, and while there's still another three weeks to up-end even this season's rack-up of hideous scandal, it's that time o' year, and without further ado, I humbly award the following:

Charity Begins At Home Award: Tyler. Santiago. In fact, damn near everyone of a certain age who's romanced an IV line, popped on a patch, or snuggled a syringe. And now, even notoriously blabbermouthed Jan Ullrich procurer Rudy Pevenage. For reasons surely totally unrelated to an insatiable personal need for constant attention like some preening overgrown toddler, Rock Racing's Michael Ball's loving redemption of some of the most notorious, and wholly coincidentally, famous once-dirty names in the biz has made this shameless publicity slut into a bona-fide Mother Theresa of the peloton. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, honey--and hey, is that a camera over there? Come back, I'm over here! Look, I'm signing Richard Virenque!

The Karma,Baby Award o' 2008: I just could't decide which was more delicious: Saunier Duval's boys throwing smack-talking crybaby Riccardo Ricco' to the narco-wolves after he !@#$%-slapped 'em for being maglia-rosa-losing suckmaster weaklings in his Giro, or Patrick Lefevere jacking over we love Paolo Bettini over at Quick Step only to have cheapo (in wallet and character) replacement Stefan Schumacher promptly test poz for dope. See, good really *does* always triumph over evil!

Celebrity Rehab o' the Year: oh Ivan. Two short years ago, you were flashing your wares in gazzetta dello sport, pouting charmingly for every camera you could find, and treating every lower life form on earth with the cool scorn they so clearly deserved from cycling's Next Great Hope. Then, even those long-lashed dreamboat eyes couldn't save you from your spectacular Op Puerto-driven self-destruct. And now, two short years later and with your best seasons still in your legs, you've been reborn, older-and-wiser graduate of a feckless youth, UCI's new anti-doping ambassador, humble patriarch of a beautiful famiily, endless benefactor of worthy children's charities, and, not accidentally, lime-green owner of a smashing cash-cow of a contract from one of the most powerful teams in the world. Give this man's PR team a bronze monument in the Dolomites!

Enviable Coup Award of 2008: on a related note, who *wouldn't* ditch the universally-loathed ProTour and its stupid rule about not hiring dopers for four years when you could perpetrate the scam-of-the-century by snatching Basso out from under your insanely frustrated jealous and naively moral big-league competitors a full two years early? Chutzpah, thy name is Liquigas!

Jesse James Lives Again: he drives drunk, snorts coke, cavorts with certifiable jailbait, crashes his car twice a week like clockwork, and routinely squanders the most formidable talent in the peloton for the hedonistic pursuit of ephemeral pleasures. Yet everyone (me included) still loves amiable aw-shucks leather-skirt-wearing outlaw big Tom Boonen, especially his ever-exasperated yet all-forgiving Mike Brady of a best-dad-ever over at Quick Step. We all *wish* we could live such a charmed life, Tommeke--just time your stupidity a bit more sensibly and don't deprive us of your presence in Tour next year, all right?

Defender of the Faith Award: to flying deliverer-o'-heavenly-justice Bernard Hinault, landing like a ton of bricks on the heinous ignoramus protester of some petty stupid cause like world peace, an end to human suffering or farm tariffs who dared to defile the sacred podium ceremony at the Grand Boucle. Get your priorities straight, you peasant chump, and you can eat cake from your hospital bed for all I care!

All Talk, No Action Prize: yes, it's actually-really-smashing-Classics-rider Alejandro Valverde, who has managed to reward his fans, his endless hype, the dope-rumor-ignoring Spanish officials, and his own constant predictions with yet another season sans the Grand Tour win that we're so relentlessly promised and denied each year. Embrace your true nature, Alejandro, and the hell with promises you can't keep--who wouldn't be proud of your existing palmares anyway? Subsidiary Deathgrip o' Futility Award to UCI and WADA for fruitlessly swearing every Tour, Olympics, Classic and Worlds they're gonna bring him down, and blowing it--damn, would you concede your mortifying defeat and give it *up* already, you *lost*!

Crap Verdict of 2008: I love you, Iban, but this one's for Floyd Landis, whom even the brilliant underappreciated loyalists at trustbutverify and a crack legal team couldn't save from the scumly vendetta-driven selectively-prosecuting due-process-abusing lowlife press-yapping hypocrites over at UCI, WADA, and the Most Incompetent Chimp-Staffed Lab On Earth. Hell, even if you think he *did* do it, this was a freakin' travesty. And am I the only one going absolutely insane thinking of who's still zipping around happily in the high-paid Grand Tour-racing Classics-taking ProTour while poor Landis only just managed to scrape up a deal with an artificial-hip manufacturer? Oh well, at least he'll be racing domestically where we can see him...

Unsung Verdict o' the Year: finally, a team gets held responsible for *something*, as disgraced rightful 2007 Tour de France winner Michael Rasmussen wins hundreds of thousands of euros in a breach-of-contact action against enabling team Rabobank for righteously firing him even though, as the court found, they knew damn well that Rasmussen was lying about his whereabouts when he completely accidentally was nowhere in sight during surprise pre-race doping controls for the Tour. Gee, if a *rider* does something illicit, he gets roasted like a marshmallow at a bonfire, but when a *team*'s implicated in any kind of wrongdoing, even Pat "Dick" McQuaid and Dick "Dick" Pound fall so silent you can hear the crickets chirping--cowardly sponsor-appeasing money-grubbing double standard, much?

Wuss-Baby Sissy-Boy Move o' the Year: Oh, Riccardo. You're busted for doping, and what do you do? Right, run hiding behind the skirts of first your sister, then your fiance, then your mamma, and let 'em protect you from the Big Bad Media and assorted other neighborhood bullies til finally, like a naughty child caught red-handed with a forbidden ice-cream smeared all over your face, you were jerked kicking and screaming from beneath their petticoats to face the obvious. That's an 18-month time-out for you, you bad, bad, boy!

Crash-o'the-Year (Cringeworthy): Oscar Pereiro's excruciating body-snapping airborne switchback traverse at the Tour. All that work for Valverde, for nothin'!
Crash-o'the-Year (Moronic): if there's anything more fulfilling for a cyclist than to work like mad for six hours only to be taken out within sight of the line by some meandering idiot on an oblivious stroll through the course right as the peloton comes through, I've yet to hear of it. I mean, a *dog* I can understand, but for a spectator to be this dimwitted?
Crash-o'the-Year (Spectacular): yep, it's a three-fer for the Tour, as young breakaway artist John-Lee Augustyn slightly misjudges a curve and pitches about 18,000 feet head-over-heels down the Alps before, remarkably unhurt and impressively tenacious, he scrambles back up the rockslidey slope on his tractionless bike shoes and gets back to business on his bike without a second's pause. Sure, he might review the laws of physics a bit when it comes to zipping around a turn at a zillion kph, but anyone else see a great future for this kid?

La-La-La-I-Can't-Hear-You-Doping-Poz-Award: Piepoli? Yawn. Kohl? Cry me a river, baby. Ricco'? Nobody could stand him anyway. Frank Schleck? Okay, that one hurt. But Triki? Triki!? Aiiiggggghhhhhh!

Doping Excuse of 2008: let's face it, nothing's ever gonna come close to Bjorn "I Did It All for the Nookie" Leukemans' in flagrante delicto defense of 2007. But this year, though it breaks my heart, we love Marta "Does My Butt Look Big in This Chamois?" Bastianelli's banned supplement poz comes close. Heck, why be World Champion for the second year in a row in one of the hardest, most beautiful, and most prestigious sports in the world when you could fit just a little more hotly into those already-miniscule blue jeans?

The Why, Why, Why Award of 2008: Lance. You are degrading the perfect and beautiful Giro by acting like you've ever given a toss about it 'til you got a little scared that a surprisingly resistant baby legend-ascendant Contador might take you out at the Tour, and insulting all of us by proclaiming your sudden selfless happiness to domestique for any first-year neo-pro who earns it when, frankly, in your own career you showed your gratitude for the role they play by barely ever letting any of your own willingly-subservient worker bees off the leash long enough to reward 'em with a thank-you-now-go-take-the-stage-win 'til they were damn near too old to be carried up a mountainside in an ambulance, much less personally ride the thing. Your legacy as the Greatest Tour de France rider in History is--justly--secure. Your noble dedication to cancer awareness and eradication is unquestioned and hugely successful. And your celebrity-snogging Matthew McConaghey-palling place in People magazine is permanent. Why, Lance, why, why, why?

And Finally, the Best Attack of the Year: he had to do it, he did do it, and even the tireless grinding and quietly amazing Cadel Evans couldn't answer it. Carlos Sastre on the Alpe d'Huez. Isn't nice to have *something* pure to celebrate in this stunning ever-tainted soul-singing trainwreck of a sport? Woo-hoo!

Well, that's about it for this year folks, and I'm sure there's a bucket o' stuff I either missed, or flat-out blew. So have at, and here's to a thrilling (if intermittently loathesome) 2008!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Step Away From the Wii, You Blockhead; An Update; And, the Bull!@#$ Quote of 2008

Shaun White You Ain't: yep, in the first (and surely the most moronic) accident of the nascent season, Brit sprint wunderkind Mark Cavendish damn near took himself out snowboarding on his Nintendo Wii, yanking his hamstring but fortunately not so badly he still can't hit his first objective of the year. Jeez, first we gotta worry about Paolo Bettini taking himself out in his flying machine, then we haveta cringe hoping a coke-stoked party-hearty Boonen doesn't weld himself to a telephone pole in his Lamborghini, now we gotta sweat you idiots playing video games in the safety of your own family rooms? For the kind of dough you doofuses (doofi?) get paid to stay upright on a freakin' bicycle, just...sit quietly in an armchair or something during the offseason, willya? Here, have a nice cup of tea. No, careful, it's hot--put it down! Down! Now stay...stay...good boy Cav!

The King of Wishful Thinking: meantime, as a glum Bernhard Kohl whines that half the peloton's on CERA so it's crap that he's gone down for two years especially since he at least named every name beside his actual doping doctor's, disgraced Tour de France time-trial marvel Stefan Schumacher's on the legal warpath, objecting that his samples weren't tested in accordance with the rules, threatening to sue the French narcs for defamation, and firmly proclaiming he was never even on the juice in the first place. Hmmm...well-taken anger at grotesque procedural irregularities, protestations of actual innocence, a slanderous incompetent pack of lab chimps and gloating self-serving hypocrite officials swooning over their own saintly reflections in the mirror...well, we all saw how far that got Floyd and Iban, Schumi--might as well just save the dough, slink off into obscurity, and pray some half-assed under-funded wish-they-were-even-Continental squad wants your doomed tainted carcass two years from now!

Sweet Dreams!: and, as those poor saps at least have time to become resigned to their fates, Pat "Dick" McQuaid is busily striking fear into the rest of the boys, affirming that a whole wunk of 'em have serious problems with their biological passports and are about to join their brethren and sistren in the seventh circle of hell as the cheating skankmasters of 2008. All right, doping's very, very naughty, wah, wah, wah--but oughtn't the punishment be much harsher for sheer stupidity for anyone who hadn't the obvious good sense to jack up their blood values *before* they submitted to the program?

The Curse of "the Next Lance Armstrong": finally, congrats and crossed fingers for perpetual Great Grand Tour Hope Tommy Danielson, coming back from the crushing weight of ridiculous expectations and taking the argyle leadership at the 2009 Giro and Tour. Come on Tommy, we've seen you demolish a descent like a winged Savoldelli on Red Bull...just keep your cool, leave the rest of the pressure to Zabriskie & co., and redemption may yet be yours!

The Return of the King: and double finally, no, I'm not talking about freakin' Armstrong, I'm talking about we love two-time world champ/recently-retired-thanks-to-that-cheapskate-assclown-Lefevere Paolo Bettini, who after days of can-we-please-not-completely-crush-me-spiritually-if-this-is-bull!@#$ rumors is really back, this time in the role of manager to the new Fuji squad, risen from the ashes of the Ricco'-wrecked Saunier Duval and, perhaps, taking on all or even a bit of the smashing Stefano Garzelli's Acqua e Sapone as well. Sure, it massively blows that Il Grillo's not actually returning to the saddle where he so clearly belongs--but I'll take what I can get, woo-hoo!

We've Got Ourselves A Winner!: and, really truly finally, after weeks of pretending like he gives a rat's !@#$ about the Giro or any other cyclist but himself, Lance has now announced he *is* gonna ride the Tour de France, and thus gifts us with, in an early triumph for this year's Racejunkie Awards, the Bull!@#$ Quote of 2008: "I'm committed to riding for the best guy." Anyone else feel a body-wracking coughing fit coming on? Pack up the maillot jaune, put away those matching shoe covers, and call off the special yellow paint job, Contador--you're Lance's boy now!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Three Cyclists, One Team, and One Head Honcho I'm Thankful For

1. Holy crap dear little Carlos Sastre is the reigning Tour de France champ this year!

2. Holy crap Samu Sanchez is the reigning Olympic champ for the next four years!

3. Nicole Cooke. In a year when the Brits absolutely pulverized every rival on the road and in the velodrome, she pretty well whomped on even her own superlative countrymen and -women. Woo-hoo!

4. Garmin-Chipotle. Who knew that a team could be so unaerodynamically furry and yet so fast?

5. Johan Bruyneel. In screwing over the spectacular threesome of Contador, Kloden, and Leipheimer for 2009, he's managed to beat even Bjarne Riis' record for Greatest Number of Internal Team Hosings In a Single Season. Allez, allez!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Vast French-Wing Conspiracy

Courage Under Fire: so Lance's paralyzing fear of the notoriously violent skinhead French cycling hooligans has now plastered even the non-cycling press, with one dear football-fanatic colleague sprinting into my office yesterday to break the news and expressing deep and sincere concern that our fragile saintly hero is about to be taken out by a blizzard of pelted broken Champagne bottles and kicked to death by a crazed mob of jack-booted ultranationalist baguette-chomping Tour-obsessed bike thugs should he dare to show up in France and ride up one of those big mountain things. Y'know, let's cut the bull!@@#$, shall we? Leaving aside the distinct possibility that your impressive ego simply demands that ASO debase itself by begging you to come to their party like a desperate-to-score frat-house senior to a buzzed 'n' lonely freshman, you're just plain afraid that Contador's gonna beat your !@#--or worse, clearly earn the right to beat you on the road in front of everybody, and thus humiliate you even worse--so you maybe want a face-saving out. Hey, I can respect that--if only you'd cop to it. But as it stands, you sound not like the best Tour de France rider in history, which you are, but a, well, sissy. Because realistically, all the French fans are gonna do to you is complain how one of their own boys hasn't won their home Tour in like 100 years, and that you obviously doped to do it (not like it helped Virenque, but I digress). And all the French press and race organizers are gonna do to you is complain how one of their own boys hasn't won their home Tour in like 100 years, and that you obviously doped to do it. Damn, Lance, isn't that what you've got that slobbering overeager pack of legal attack Dobies perpetually on the payroll for? Suck it up and ride the thing, or don't, already! Of course, if you're still feeling vulnerable for no valid reason, you might try these guys--no armored bike shorts, unfortunately, but a nice Calvin Klein jacket at least for your evenings out after a long day in the saddle...

(Michael) Balls of Fury: and, I see that mere days after ex-Ullrich uber-enabler Rudy Pevenage successfully convinced the German narcs that while the Janster did meet repeatedly with Dr. Eufemiano "Gyno to the Male Stars" Fuentes, it was simply to discuss training techniques, the Patron Saint of Ex-Dopers over at Rock Racing has taken Rudy on as Directeur Sportif, which means not only that there's no reason this disgusting publicity ho can't hire Roberto Heras while he's at it, but that while the boys on the squad may not get much help with say a broken collarbone or strained hamstring from the team doc next season, they're sure as hell covered when they start having problems with their menstrual cycles. I'm sure they're resting easier tonight, Michael!

Dear Miss Manners: first, Bjarne, you hose we love Dave Zabriskie. Then, you jack the peerless Bobby Julich. And now, apparently, you've even gone and insulted dear little Carlos Sastre, whom you apparently decided not to call and congratulate after he bagged you a podium finish in the Vuelta after he'd already brought the team the Tour de France you were expecting Ivan Basso to get for you. What's left in the repertoire of acting like a coarse pig to those who least deserve it--dissing Jens? stealing candy from your own baby?--y'know, there's still much to adore about the brilliant CSC (say it ain't so, Frank!) and their disconcertingly talented head honcho, but somebody get this man an etiquette coach, pronto!

Who-the-Hell's-Gonna-Domestique-for-Floyd-Landis-Watch: nothin', and even freakin' Patrik "Compared To Yours My Palmares Blows" Sinkewitz has snagged a gig with some Czech outfit while Floyd languishes unsupported. Dammit!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies/

Tell Me Lies: so Johan "How Can I Hose Andreas Kloden? Let Me Count the Ways" Bruyneel has weighed in on the season ahead, and in addition to the revelation that Contador's lame victories at all 3 Grand Tours haven't been enough to keep his hand off the snooze button, our Machiavellian genius has actually had the astonishing chutzpah to suggest with a straight face that whatever Lance's plans may be and with buckets o' podium contenders to pick from, Johan personally is gonna back the strongest rider in any race to the fullest. Um, tell me again how you're gonna get Lance The Golden Celebrity-Snogging Media-Suckin' Hero to domestique for, say, Levi Leipheimer, even if the our humble time-trialling genius is clearly podium-bound as usual? Yeah, didn't think so--and isn't building up an all-star team of subservient !@#$$%es the reason you just hired Popovych? Aiiiggggghhh!--why, Klodi and Levi, why didn't you head for the hills when you had your chance?!

Glorified G: speaking of Grand Tours, none other than we love Gilberto "Basso Non E' Uomo" Simoni is already pondering next year's Giro d'Italia, expressing delight at the formidable Rebellin's addition to Team Diquigiovanni, healthy concern at but also the desire for the Italians to humiliate Armstrong on his return, and a contemptuous shrug at the prospects of "man for the Classics" (and he's damn right, at that) Cunego. As for old friend St. Ivan of Varese, whose last rendezvous together, if I recall correctly, consisted of Simoni accusing Basso of being a doping honorless stage-buying cheat-pimp and Basso flexing his shirtless self in the pages of Gazzetta dello Sport in riposte? He does "not even consider him," which, with all due respect to the peerless Gibo, he's probably gonna have to when our dreamy-eyed princeling (1) comes pretty close to slaughtering damn near everyone in the overall and (2) is irksomely rewarded with a blitzkrieg of tossed roses and panties from squealing fans and swooning journalists alike everytime he hocks a lougie while poor Simoni is left woefully unappreciated on the sidelines. Chin up, Simoni--you were still right to call bull!@#$ on him in '06, and you *know* who won that mountain time trial last year whether that dissembling dirtbag Sella apologizes or not!

Spin City: meantime, over in la-la land, Riccardo Ricco', according to his dad, is training hard for his imminent return to racing, sticking to a strict diet in anticipation of his next stint in jail and, for those who may be taking a little trip to Italy anytime soon and looking for a nice gym while on the road, continuing to teach spinning classes (10 euros extra for a confidential tip session and small plain-brown-wrappered package on "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Winning a Tour de France Stage But Were Afraid to Ingest.") Oh, poor little Ricco'--take some lessons on pouting those lips and sobbing those eyes out for the cameras from the big boys, and *then* we'll talk about your prospects for 2010!

Woo-hoo, Samu!: and miraculously, our beautiful dope-smacked September-race-o'-perpetually-dissed-perfection is finally gonna get its due this year, as Samuel "Holy Crap He's the Olympic Gold Medalist!" Sanchez is, despite some heartbreaking reluctance and his smashing 6th-place finish at the Tour, making his primary goal this year the maglia d'oro at the Vuelta. Only wrench in the works: Pat "Dick" McQuaid's whining threat to extend blood-doping skankmaster Alexander Vinokourouv's ban to two years after Vino reneged on his promise to retire and the Kazakh sport minister cheerfully promised to have him back on Astana just in time to lead the squad into comical ego-driven implosion at the Grand Boucle, notwithstanding Vino's latest protestations of obvious innocence, which, of course, will bring our resident erratic mobile psycho back to the peloton just in time to jack over the Vuelta. But oh, Samu--he's got lucrative options elsewhere, he's got a clear shot at the podium at the Tour, he *still* sticks with our beloved brave broke-!@# Euskaltel-Euskadi--what's *not* to love about this man? Aupa Sanchez!

Legal Shout-Out o' the Week: finally, having sadly accepted years back that even Ivan Basso's smashing lawyer Massimo Martelli has his limits working with damaged goods, I've now got a new ween-crush on Jan Ullrich's legal team, who, having watched their client endure a loooooooong lecture from the local judge on the evils and exact definition of perjury, somehow managed to coach the boy both to a 500,000 euro win in his breach-of-contract suit with Team Coast and keep the boy out of the big house, as Jan quite precisely testified that he never took then-banned performance-enhancing substances during the moments he was riding on his bicycle with Coast at the start of 2003. Well, that's the sort of beautiful barn-burning weaselry to make a lovelorn litigator's heart thump! Just do yourself a colossal favor though, Jan, and avoid ever having to testify under oath about your untainted spree at T-Mobile--hot pink you may wear handsomely, but prison stripes, perhaps not so much!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Victory Is Mine!

Okay, It's Actually Il Grillo's: well, it's a smashingly badass end to a glorious career for the indomitable Paolo Bettini, who took the final race of his paid professional life at the Six Days of Milan after a vicious earlier crash that left his helmet cracked like a walnut and him trussed up like a pig on a barbecue til he was released from hospital to contemplate a crappy unbecoming end to a good 10 years of total brilliance. The tifosi, of course, are swooning even beyond their universal panty-tossing collapse at any sight of man-candy supreme Ivan "I'm Reformed Now! I Swear It! Give Me That Baby To Kiss!" Basso, and if that isn't a reason to love Italy even beyond the perfect food, impeccable collective palmares, and incredible ability of its favored riders to evade serious penalty for doping violations, I don't know what is. Woo-hoo Paolo, thank you for a career that'll go down in history--and come back, somehow in some role, soon! Perhaps, as history might indicate, on American Idol:

When It's Time to Change: so if pounding your unworthy competition into the tarmac, slurpin' on buckets-o'-starlets, and accepting endless No-Other-Cyclist-Exists-On-Earth accolades from the besotted sports press gets old, what's an even better way to annoy, embarrass, and generally kneecap your nemeses? That's right, Lance Armstrong's taken to impugning his naysayers' neglible talents, having already reminded Linus Gerdemann he's unworthy to scrub his chamois and now responding to old pal Filippo Simeoni's continued insistence that Lance is a vindictive all-doping tool who unjustifiably threatened him with grievous bodily harm and cruelly tanked his career by pointing out that if the reigning Italian national champion can't find a job or win any other damn race in Europe since Armstrong last reeled him back in at the Tour, it sure as hell ain't the *real* cyclist's fault. Nice! Anyone else having flashbacks to that nausea-inducing reality deathmatch between Greg Brady and Danny Bonaduce? I can't, I must, I can't, I...

Hera(s)tic: okay, let's get this out of the way, shall we? I'm a repugnant pro-doping Roberto Heras-missing hypocrite whose willful blindness and unquestioning desire to give him and Jan Ullrich a pass for damn near anything short of puppy-kicking is the sort of disgusting honest-guy-damning amorality that's wholly responsible for wrecking the sport, except that luckily for the more virtuous among you and the century-old tradition of cycling, I'm even more inconsequential than a sinus-stuffed overburdened messenger's flu-time snot-rocket. But our dear Roberto is in serious emotional pain for lack of a respected team to take him on despite a heartfelt 20,000 kilometers of training since his as-if-he's-the-freakin'-only-one-that-bastard-Saiz-was-stuffing-full-of-drugs-like-a-doomed-Thanksgiving-turkey ban expired, and I feel compelled to plea, WTF is *wrong* with you teams? Oscar Sevilla and half of Phonak are zipping about the Tour of Wherever Michael Ball Can Get the Most Fawning Ego-Stoking Publicity at Rock Racing, Basso had an entire team withdraw from the ProTour (and any credibility) just to score his dirty tainted !@#, the Italians likely saved half your rosters by refusing to retest any of the surely-entirely-unaided racers at the Giro, Valv--um, Valvoline is a really fine automotive product, and Heras and Beloki can't even get gigs as two-bit domestique !@#$%es for some total-crap nowheresville slugs-on-wheels much less a *real* friggin' squad? Dammit!

How Much Are Those Donuts In the Window?: finally, speaking again of scumbuckets I love, Jan Ullrich's manager has now formally refuted rumors his boy is going to return to the peloton to join the rest of his dope-fiend generation (not you Lance! not you!), saying he's got no intention of riding ever again. Aw, rats! I know he should never ride again amongst the noble, and a whole new, honest, and utterly innocent era has dawned. I know he heinously stole dozens of victories from virtually every other rider he raced with, as the entire lot of his serious nearest competition was absolutely riding unenhanced. But come on, you sainted purists--like you'd really rather watch some autobus-dwelling lumpmaster ride clean than have Jan around to abuse for his bloating off-season weight gain then deride him for his inevitable tanks then cast aspersions on his unpredictable triumphs? As if!

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself

...That, and the Terrifying French Cycling Hooligans: so as Lance gets all aero again for some serious reckoning with his bike positioning, he's still a' wafflin' on riding the 2009 Tour de France he so forcefully proclaimed his intent to win just a few short weeks ago, and the reason he's citing is, surprisingly enough, not the serious possibility that Contador's gonna whup his !@# next July, but cold-blooded fear of the French cycling authorities, media, and above all, fans. Why? Well, you're not "protected" at all as a cyclist (and to be fair, it *is* pretty mindboggling that you can shove a rider struggling for GC contention up a climb by his rear end without getting much more'n an irritated brush-off, as opposed to, say, getting summarily sacked and bludgeoned by a truckload of bodygoons as you would if you tried to pull that !@@# at an NBA game), "so if they hate you and you're on the roads and they want you, they can get you." Oddly enough, he then went on to insult the very folks he's so afraid of, deriding the French cycling mentality that believes not showing pain or emotion is wrong and "panache" is some show-pony drama queen who's "swinging all over his bike and looks like he's about to fall off" when, as he helpfully points out to Those-Who-Are-Already-Mortified-They-Haven't-Won-Their-Own-Grand-Tour-Since-Like-1918, he's "never found that to be an effective way to try to win." Well, that oughta bring out the love there, Lance! Leaving that aside, let's review the actual threat here from the French fans--what, they're gonna try to whine and moan you to death when you go by as they bang back pate' and champagne in their roadside beach chairs waiting in humiliation for their bonking hometown faves to drag up the slopes of Mont Ventoux? Quelle horreur!

Mea Culpa--Not!: and, I see that after (as bill hue so kindly posted) Lance Armstrong dismissed Linus Gerdemann as a buzzing-gnat-nobody-of-no-wins compared to the legendary greats of his own era when the boy expressed some disappointment at riders of a certain all-doping vintage returning to the peloton this year, Linus bounced back from this "oh, snap!" reminder of his own inferiority by strong-arming cyclingnews into "clarifying" his position: he doesn't think Miguel Indurain Sean Kelly and those guys were cheating super-human drug-stoked cyborgs, he just thinks *Lance* was. Feeling better now, Lance--or are ya just gonna hire a posse of legal thugs to thwap a lawsuit on his !@#?

Faster Than a Speeding Boonen: meantime, it's a sigh of relief for Tom Boonen, as--just days after some hair testing revealed the unstartling news that he was snarfing coke on quite a frequent basis before his little pre-Tour dustup, to the reassuring shrugs of Patrick "As Long As You Don't Get Busted for EPO, You Can Snort the Entire Nation of Columbia up Your Nose for All I Care" Lefevere--his own vehicle was in a near-miss with another car on the way to the airport and, fortunately, our boy was uninjured. Y'know, between this and your penchant for racking up speeding tickets on your Lamborghini collection, you really oughta be more careful on the roads, Tom--forget what could happen to your sprinting legs, look what happened to poor Luke Skywalker's career after he busted up *his* pretty face in a car crash!

Let's !@#$%-Slap the Vuelta for Christmas: finally, yet another fine rider has decided to ditch the Vuelta this year in favor of using the Giro to prep for the Tour, and yes, it's we love defending Tour Champ wee little Carlos Sastre, though at least, however suckmaster, this does make sense. Goddammit, can't *anyone* ever ride the thing without implying they'd rather get an anvil dropped on their heads from eight stories up than have to endure adoration fame and glory from winning one of the most challenging and beautiful races on earth? Aiiiggghhhh!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

!@#$^% Quick Step, You !@#$%!

That's Right, It's All Patrick "Cheap-Ass" Lefevere's Fault: as you've no doubt heard by now, grossly-dissed-and-forced-into-retirement tactical-lord-o'-the-peloton we love Paolo Bettini had a vicious wipeout in the Six Days of Milan today, snapping his helmet in half, surely giving poor mate Joan Llaneras a nasty flashback, and sending the boy to hospital collared up like a dog to the collective freakout of the outraged tifosi. Fortunately, our sturdy hero was discharged to his hotel this afternoon, where, proclaiming he doesn't want to end his career this way, he's going to suck it up, lick his wounds, and see how he feels in the morning. Of course, he wouldn't be goddamn ending his career in the first place if that shortsighted pennypinching dirtbag hadn't blown Paolo's entirely reasonable asking price on Bernhard Kohl (ha ha!) and a whole 'nother passel of who-gives-a-rat's-hairy-butt-abouts, but who am I to blame someone totally irrelevant for an incident he had absolutely nothing to do with, that entirely culpable skankmaster? Get well soon Paolo, and make the rest of those boys eat your dust!

You Still Blow, Bjarne!: meantime, we-already-miss Bobby Julich, having both grace and class (neither of which I have, nor, fortunately, need pursue in this regard), has apparently forgiven Saxo Bank-Whateverthehell high honcho Bjarne Riis for screwing him out of his last Tour de France by agreeing to be Rider Development Manager for the jailbait of the squad in lieu of the usual DS gig for at least the season to come, and reports himself to be quite happy with the new development. You better finally give this boy the respect he deserves, Bjarne--after this season's colossal jackover, wouldn't even you concede it's long overdue?

Rebel, Rebellin: so as Milram snaps up damn near every German not busted for doping at Gerolsteiner, one newly-unemployed badass is apparently inking a deal with we love Gilberto "Basso Non E' Uomo" Simoni's Team Diquigiovanni: yes, it's ragin' agin' ever-threat Davide Rebellin, aiming for the Ardennes Classics and looking to pile the hurt on the babes-in-arms of the peloton for one more year. Still, Rebellin's newly-cleared Viagra-hoarding pal Andrea "Too Much Is Never Enough" Moletta is glum, opining that despite the fact there was nothing nefarious going on with his dad gadding about after him with a fridge full of syringes and enough happy pills to fuel a Playboy Mansion full of dessicated octogenarians, even wee little teams with an expensive star or two can't afford to take such a PR risk as he is now. Ah, the perils of keeping poor company--anyway, forza Davide, and here's hoping you beat the crap out of the competition for Gibo in the Giro so he can redeem himself from that stage-stealing EPO-snarfing scum-weasel Emmanuele Sella's bull!@#$ "win" in the mountain time trial last year!

Who Can It Be Now?: back in the US, no word yet on who else's gonna be filling the roster over at Floyd Landis team OUCH, though given the rumors swirling over at Tuttobici that ex-doper-heaven Rock Racing might actually scam an invite to the Giro next year (then again, considering the down'n'dirty ProTour squads that are invited to the Grand Tours year after year of disgusting scandals, p'rhaps it's not so very odd), it'd seem rather unfair at best to leave Floyd and his boys at home in May if he can pull off a half-decent pack o' competitive domestique signings. C'mon, even if you're gonna say he *did* do it (and I still can't), they can't be any worse than most of the Italians riding for GC next year, right?

Tunnel of Love: finally, welcome back to Lance Armstrong, triumphantly taking the individual time trial and kicking prime 40-to-49-year-old amateur !@# (a formidable force, to be sure) by 'round about 2 minutes over at the vaunted Tour of Gruene. Next up? Our megalomaniacal charmer is headed for some quality wind tunnel time with amiable new teammate Alberto Contador, the latter presumably using his testing to figure out the most efficient way to impale Armstrong with his new Trek aero helmet should the old bag try to !@#$ with his Tour next year. My, ought that to be a lively exercise in teamwork should Lance try to muscle on in!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm Shocked, Shocked! (And Now, Some News We've All Been Waiting For)

Trick or Treat!: nope, no word yet on which T-Mobile boy yapped to the German narcs that the docs handpicked for the squad by the team leaders were handing out pre-race EPO to riders during the 2003-2004 season like Sweet-Tarts to sugar-shocked miscreants in Batman costumes, though one thing you *can* be sure of--and how comforting is such certainty in an uncertain world!--is that no-one in any team hierarchy'll ever be held responsible for anything if they should personally walk down a team time trial lineup jabbing needles into rumps for the assembled press corps. How very jolly it must be, UCI and WADA, to live in a happy, sun-dappled world where the flowers are always in bloom, the birds are always singing, the rainbows always a-glimmering, and each of 8000 doping pozes from a single team in a single season is caused by a rogue individual rider acting completely at odds with the desires of the DSes, the managers, and the sponsors! Um, not to quibble with the infallible Pat "Dick" McQuaid or nuthin', but *how* much PCP do you have to take to believe this !@#$?

Ivan the Terrible: well, "Ivan the Impending Likely Badass," anyway, as one certainly can't help but feel that if the comely boy's already taking third in a one-day race his first day back against the even dog-tired likes of Cunego, Lance Armstrong is in for a serious beating by his handpicked ex-Chosen One at the 100th Giro d'Italia. I mean, if Basso can race this well clean at a one-day gig--and of course, on-line Mapei snoop software and all, that's a big freakin' if--can you imagine how he's gonna perform in front of swooning rosepetal-strewing hometown tifosi at the 100th Giro d'Italia he's so well suited for next May? You might not have really saved yourself so much dignity over Contador smacking you out of your Tour, Lance, if you're just gonna get your !@# whupped in the Giro! C'mon, don't be such a baby, there's no shame in being Alberto's bottle-boy...frees up Andreas Kloden anyhow!

'E's Not Dead! 'E's Restin'!: yep, thankfully, as most of the rest of the peloton has headed off on holiday, returned to the comfort of their homes to make babies in the off-season, or sneaked off to some skank to cancel their CERA order in favor of the recently-cleared autologous blood doping, recent retiree (you *suck*, Lefevere!) we love Paolo Bettini is still on the bike, riding to a respectable result in a recent six-day, headed off for next weekend's ride in Milan, and, even better, reportedly in talks with Gazzetta dello Sport to broadcast the action at next spring's Giro live from the back of a motorbike. Oh, Paolo, like some bonking domestique from the squadra azzura wouldn't bail on his DS, hop off his ride, and lend you his bike if you asked him nicely...allez allez il Grillo!

Sing It, Sister!: and, a colossal shout-out to Shameless St. Millar Defender for her countrywoman/reigning Olympic track goddess Victoria Pendleton calling bull!@#$ on the Olympics for not giving the women enough track events, and making a bold 'n' bitchin' pitch for more cycling in 2012. Now if those of us stateside could only persuade Vs. to ditch the 24/7 coverage of guys in chaps and 10-gallon hats tormenting bulls by cinching ropes around their nuts and, worse, making 'em confront rodeo clowns, in favor of a little more action from the peloton...

Landis of the Free: finally, Floyd Landis, who no matter what you think about his actual guilt or innocence clearly isn't half the skank of 3/4 of the boys still sliming about in the peloton and is damn near back from his two year ban, has just announced his new gig, named, appropriately enough after both his excruciating rendezvous with a new hip and the Most Ludicrous Monkey Trial in History built on the flawless work of the Most Incompetent Lab Chimps on Earth, OUCH. Okay, I still miss Iban Mayo more, and wish Floyd were back on a Bassoesque-level squad, but I'm happy enough to see our boy race wherever he is--cheers, trustbutverify!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

God Save the King

The Emperor's New Clothes: so dreamy reformed attempted delinquent Ivan Basso's new web site is online at last, and holy moly, is this the most smashing sophisticated propaganda campaign in cycling history, I mean, has this boy got me sincerely convinced he's one miracle away from well-earned sainthood, as the page starts off with truly charming pics of the Most Adorable Family On Earth, invites you to sign on to his no-holds-barred-test-my-blood-you-doubting-vulture-meanies Mapei training page, sets up a wholly worthy and touching children's charity link, gives you the Teen Beat dish (he's a simple guy who loves to chill with his friends! His favorite food is pizza!), and writes a long and loving tribute to his wife for standing by him in his journey from heaven to hell and back (and because I trust him, I won't say he must've *seriously* been in the doghouse to put this one together, in addition to being genuinely grateful and all). Best of all, if even this didn't hook you, o vicious doubting cynics, click on "Personale", look to the right of the screen, and yes, you can still revel in a major rotating man-candy GQ photo montage that reminds you just how very, very smokin' this humble family man still is. Oh right, he also rides a bike from time to time. Geez, Ricco', you're really gonna have to step it up if you even remotely want anyone to give a rat's !@# when you come back--a buncha crappy Polaroids of you on your website smirking as you cross the finish line in triumph can't possibly compete with this pedaling Adonis!

The Tour de Contador: and, as everyone now knows and has minutely scrutinized, the 2009 Tour de France is out, with a disappointingly naturally-achievable 3 mountaintop finishes, the return of the beloved team time trial, a we-love-Carlos Sastre-friendly lack of individual miles in the discipline, and, most bitchin', a nail-biter of a penultimate day up Mont Ventoux which, while it won't allow any of the favorites to break away unwatched, will provide the cringe-inducing possibility of a spectacular GC-crushing crack among the most tired, dented, or unsupported among them (hi Cadel!). Sure, Lance won't be riding because he's afraid (1) Contador'll bushwhack him and (2) he'll taint his legacy and is now concentrating on screwing over my beautiful Giro instead--but with Valverde now rejecting his emerging status as a Classics god and proclaiming yet again his intention to disgust everyone by choking at, that is, delight everyone by winning the, Tour, can anyone doubt that finally after years of discord this often-tiresome three-week publicity stunt'll be a show worth watching, and not just for the repulsive National Enquirer scandalfest?

The Rider Formerly Known as Little Prince: okay, at his age he's not *so* very long in the tooth as to have to ditch the nickname, but thinking of the Giro next year I must say I'm almost tempted to root for Damiano Cunego, finally pulling out of his 4-year post-victory slump (shades of we-still-miss-so-bite-me Iban Mayo!) with a gorgeous threepeat in the Giro di Lombardia and, most admirably from my perspective, firmly brushing off suggestions that he's the New Paolo Bettini which, in addition to being blasphemy punishable by eternal immolation in roaring hellfire, it's a goddamn good thing he did 'cause my head's gonna explode if some numbnut journalist even thinks about repeating that stupidity again. Forza Damiano, as long as you remember where you stand in relation to (y'know, below) Il Grillo!

The CSCity of Brotherly Love: finally, so long as we're talking family loyalty here, big points to precocious soon-to-be Grand Tour winner Andy Schleck for waxing poetic on the new Tour route, particularly how he looks forward to sharing team leadership with big brother Frank next year. Say it ain't so one more time, Frank (or at least that that bastard Bjarne made you do it), and I swear, all is forgiven!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

!@#% Armstrong !@#$%$#@ !@#$!

Cause and Effect: so poor Andreas Kloden is officially screwed *again* for an entire upcoming season and, of course, it's all Lance Armstrong's fault. Here's why. Schumi wins two time trials at the Tour de France, and gets busted for doping. Bernhard Kohl is third on the podium and king of the mountains at the Tour de France, and gets busted for doping. Therefore, the Tour of Germany announces it's shutting down for 2009. This means that Andreas Kloden, who rocks at the TdG, can't even ride it, much less be allowed to ride to win it by that ruthless tool Bruyneel. His upcoming season, ergo, is complete crap. It's complete crap because, having signed with Astana, Klodi was first forced to be Contador's minion for the 2007 Tour, kept out of it entirely in 2008 because of Contador's ex-Liberty Seguros teammate Vino's poz in 2007, then was forced to be Contador's !@#$% this year in the Vuelta. And next year, when he might've had half a chance of racing for himself, Contador--having kissed and made up with fickle suitor Bruyneel--is naturally taking the Tour, Levi and now Haimar Zubeldia (and don't even get me started on how screwed *he* is)'re gonna get the Vuelta, and while Klodi might otherwise at least have been given the Giro, that egomaniacal selfish sinkhole Lance Armstrong has now decided he's afraid of looking like a colossal wussbag if Contador crushes him in July, so he's prevailed upon Johan to hand him Italy instead, which leaves Kloden with no races of his own at all to ride and the rather dubious consolation prize of getting whacked upside the head with a 2 x 4 by his team leader every time he gets in the saddle and made to skulk off back to the team car every ten seconds to be a subservient underutilized errand-running waterboy. !@#$#$% Armstrong you !@##$!

I Think I'm Turning Japanese/I Really Think So: yes, to the delight--and total hypocrite unadulterated forgiveness from the same folks jabbing pitchforks and blazing torches at fellow cheat-skank countryman Riccardo Ricco', I might add, though I assume the difference is the simple fact that our dreamboat only *tried* to dope--of swooning Italian tifosi of every persuasion (save a few tiresome zero-tolerance purists who'd better stay under the radar if they don't want the !@## beaten out of 'em by his rabid defenders), Ivan Basso is back for the Japan Cup, wheeling suavely into his press conference in full Liquigas kit and ready to start from "kilometer one" to earn his place in the peloton and the faith of his fans anew, though considering rumored plans to erect a humungous golden temple to Basso in his hometown with an eternal flame tended by fifty vestal virgins, I rather imagine that even if he should hook up to an IV right in front of Pat "Dick" McQuaid, their faith is unlikely to be shaken so long as he just keep batting those lovely eyelashes of his. And, lest anyone doubt he's been reborn, his largely-dormant web page assures us it's gonna debut its all-new season in a mere 5 days 1 hour 50 minutes and 28 seconds, though if you click on the tiny print for his blog next to his wee-but-still-pouty photo, you can already get pics of him posing with his spankin' new bicycle. You're exceedingly thrilling to watch, Ivan, but even that unbearably wanky Simoni was right-on calling you an "extraterrestri"--we'll see how you do now that you've been brought so rudely back to earth!

The Densest !@#damn Thing I've Ever Heard Of: no, not everything UCI and WADA have ever done, though that comes close, but this one's for the crybabies over at German TV, apparently dead set on depriving an entire nation of cycling heavyweights of the Tour de France, all because Bernard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher have brought the entire sport into disrepute with the only two doping positives this sport has seen since the invention of television. Leaving aside the fact that Kohl's actually freakin' Austrian, you guys kept the klieg lights on for the entirety of T-Mobile's dirty doping existence and you're seriously gonna say with straight faces that *that* boy is your moral dealbreaker? What the hell have you guys been taking the last 10 years? Don't tell me you've been partying with Jan Ullrich again...

Chat Stuey: finally, a big shout-out to the Aussie contingent for their boy O'Grady's smashing win at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, capping off a self-sacrificing season with a little well-deserved glory of his own and not only warmly complimenting every past and future Australian rider in cycling history (and there's a lot to fawn over, to be sure) but, even better, declaring himself ready to take the fearsome Hell of the North once again next year. Finally feeling all better, are we?--
Go get 'em Stuey--let them eat pave'!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kohl-d As Ice

The Curse of Cadel Evans: yes, unlikely '08 Tour King of the Mountains Bernhard Kohl is the latest chump who's positive for CERA, but for my money it's really crap news for stolid ever-the-bridesmaid Cadel Evans, as his new ticket to the top of the podium after Popovych pulled a three-week bonk on him this past July is already on his way to having his spankin' new contract with Silence-Lotto "annulled" and leaving our hardworking if dull hero without the support he needs in the high passes yet again. Damn, like the KOM race wasn't lame enough this year without Mauricio Soler, now the clown who managed to beat the weak-!@# competition couldn't even pull it off without stuffing himself full of drugs? Pathetic. At least with Rasmussen on the juice up there we'd still have had a race worth watching! Anyone else thinking Bernhard's only honest accomplishment is in making Hans-Michael Holczer quit cycling in shame and disgust today, rather a shame perhaps given all he's done for the smashing Rebellin? Anyhoo, all is not lost for the canny boys who dosed themselves sensibly enough to avoid detection but are now too afraid to try it again, as luckily, one of the high honchos of the Tour de France has himself announced recently that when it comes to autologous blood doping, there ain't a test on the horizon to tease proof of it out. Now that oughta lead to a surfeit of happy peloton skankballs for next season!

Team Weaver: speaking of minor peccadilloes, I see cyclingnews is reporting that quasi-repentant Simoni-dissing crybaby wanker Riccardo Ricco' was turned on to Danilo DiLuca's adulthood pediatrician Carlo Santuccione (who apparently didn't learn in his neonatal rounds that CERA is in fact detectable when injected a week ahead of time) by none other than a former Saunier Duval team director. But as T-Mobile and (please please please please don't let this be true) CSC have taught us, and as we've all been so heartily reassured by the fine folks at WADA and UCI, we all know this must just be a freak anomaly rather than any indication of the existence of systemic team doping practices....

Presenting the 100th Giro d'Italia, I Mean, the !@#$ing Lance Armstrong Show: finally, as even the non-cycling sports press has reported by now, a rapturous Giro d'Italia and Lance himself have announced his attention to take on the corsa rosa, and I gotta ask, what the hell are they thinking? Whether he's in it merely for a training ride for the Tour or to give himself an out if Contador kicks his !@# two months later (because the idea that Lance's insatiable ego'll let him actually *work* for the child is, frankly, ludicrous), he's utterly defiling one of the most beautiful races on earth by suddenly claiming his eternal love for and career-long desire to win a race that during his actual career he tossed off to his Italian and lesser domestiques like someone else's snot-filled Kleenex. And the tifosi? A pretty decent handful looking forward to his return, if only to watch their beloved innocent fairy prince Ivan Basso kick dirty doping Armstrong off a precipice in the Dolomites (and come to think of it, perhaps that's worth the price of a ticket to Italy after all), the hardhearted beancounters delirious at the amount of dough the Armstrong publicity machine is gonna bring into their hometowns, and the rest gone absolutely Postal at the idea that the 100th Giro d'Italia is gonna basically ignore the Italians on their own turf on their own anniversary in favor of some overhyped American Tour de France slut. Guess which view I favor?

Look at this. Look at Hampsten on the Gavia in 1988, and listen to his account of the day and tell me this ungrateful bull!@#$ing Tour-whore Armstrong deserves to ride this race. Aiiiggggggghhhhh!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

10 Steps to a Pure Peloton

A Modest Zero-Tolerance Anti-Doping Proposal to Clean Up Cycling Once and for All (Or, Biological Passport My !@#!): all right folks, with the sport effectively cleaned up first after Festina, then after Op Puerto, and now with the new UCI biological passport that's but an invite for sophisticated pre-season blood value tweaking, it's clear the current protocols ain't working, and drastic measures are needed if we're truly to tidy up our beloved cesspool of a sport ahead of certain riders' triumphant return. Therefore, I humbly propose:

1. Look, we all know these filthy little !@#$s have been cheating from the winner of the very first Tour de France in 1903 through now. Ergo, all dead guys will be forthwith exhumed and subject to body-defiling testing for the advanced substances of the day. Thought you got away with it, didn't ya?

2. All live guys, regardless of age, will be ordered back on the bike to climb the Plateau de Beille. Everyone who makes it into the top third of the field will be presumed to have doped and have their title stripped. Everyone who makes it into the middle third of the field will be slapped silly for sucking so badly that even doping couldn't help 'em, and skipped over for the title anyway. Everyone in the bottom third will get a ceremonial lap around the Champs-Elysees, a kiss from a podium babe of appropriate vintage, and their name in the history books, unless they actually expire from the combined strain of effort and advanced years, in which case they can enjoy their moral and physical victories posthumously.

3. Lance Armstrong's pediatrician shall be ordered to turn over all urine samples from his elementary school annual physicals for analysis by the unbiased and untrained sports journalists at L'Equipe. All samples not so preserved will be presumed intentionally destroyed and deemed positive for banned substances. We know you've been doping since you were in training wheels, you arrogant little !@#$!

4. Anyone who ever worked for Johan Bruyneel, Patrick Lefevere, Bjarne Riis, or Hans-Michael Holczer is guilty. Off with their heads!

5. Alessandro Petacchi, Ivan Basso, and Damiano Cunego are presumed innocent and will never be tested again. They're sooooooooooooo cuuuuuuuuuuuuute!

6. All Spaniards are guilty and immediately banned from the peloton, except Carlos Sastre, whom we love, and Alejandro Valverde, who we all know never once--Alejandro! Put down that needle dammit and get over here to the microphone! Alejandro!

7. All stage winners are guilty and shall be summarily flogged upon ascent to the podium for their photo ops. Enough with the happy champagne-spraying bull!@#$!

8. All out of competition drug use, including Listerine, dandruff shampoo, and Chapstick, is banned. Don't tell me that crap doesn't enhance performance, you lying dissembling scumbucket!

9. All out of competition coke use, though, is A-OK. Come on, everybody loves Tom Boonen, right?

10. Any non-Italian who wins a Giro is guilty. Any non-Frenchman who wins a Tour de France (and let's face it, those numbers don't look good) is guilty. Any non-Spaniard who wins a Vuelta is guilty. Any non-Belgian who wins a Classic is guilty. Any Belgian who wins a race in warm, sunny weather is guilty, and any Spaniard who wins a race in cold, rainy weather is guilty. Riders so busted shall be locked in a room with the French press corps, fans, sponsors, team directors, and governing bodies and regaled with stories about the unjust fall of the native cycling empire until literally whined to death.

Well folks, I'm confident that with these new rules in place we're gonna have an impeccably clean 2009. Now let's go party--drinks on you-know-who!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Devil With the Blue Kit, Blue Kit, Blue Kit

Devil With the Blue Kit On: yes, as you've no doubt heard, Alexander "I Heart Homologous Blood Doping" Vinokourov has announced his intention to get back to the peloton next season, specifically with Team Astana and at the Tour de France, which while it might distinctly displease Mr. Clean Lance Armstrong, ought to (1) be pretty much up to the Kazakhs who still treat the boy like a rock star, gave him a wholly wussmeister one-year ban in the first place, and, as Vino modestly pointed out, created the entire team for him, and (2) give Vino and his old Liberty Seguros teammate Alberto Contador a good chance to discuss how the hell, won the Tour de France last year, that's it! UCI, of course, has voiced some opposition to the idea, with Pat "Dick" McQuaid threatening to extend his ban a full additional year, which would get our decaying thirtysomething back on the bike just in time, natch, for the 2009 Vuelta. Can we all *please* just stop !@#$ing with my beautiful Vuelta and let the filth-packed Grand Boucle wallow in its own swill for once?

Let's Talk About Schlecks!: meantime, the freak show that is the I'm-still-in-mourning-so-stuff-it-buddy Frank Schleck debacle continues apace, with Bjarne "Oh, Baby, Is That !@#$ Good!" Riis expressing his surprise and disappointment at Frank's wholly believable excuse that he thought he was wiring 7000 euro to a pack of mystery do-gooder physiotherapists who planned to advise him on nice routes for training rides by telephone, though how you can cram all that plastic tubing an IV port and a bucket o' platelets, I mean a paper map, through even an old-fashioned land line truly eludes me. Um, not to point out that Riis' boys are starting to get busted more often than Tom Boonen gets caught with a straw in his nose, or to suspect that Bjarne is less than sincere about his commitment to anyone but him blowing the sponsor's budget on unauthorized substances, but with first Basso, now Frank, is anyone else starting to getting a distinctly T-Mobilian vibe from this squad?

Nacho Libre: and, with only our beloved dexters over at trustbutverify able to coherently summarize what the hell is actually happening, I see poor Floyd Landis is taking on the forces of evil at the CAS in federal district court this time, and not to be a downer here or anything, but jeez, Floyd, haven't you been reading the news lately?--under the new WADA rules this sort of outrageous protestation of innocence could get you rolled in nacho chips melted cheez-wiz jalapenos and chili, topped with sour cream, smothered in loathesome American lite beer and served to a couch full of ravenous rabid football fans during the Superbowl halftime show! Honor, shmonor--save yourself, man!

I'm Not Dead Yet!: Finally, for those of you who still care about the sport for the actual racing, and as everyone from Aussie badass Oeneone Wood to Erik Zabel crosses their last finish line, we love tenacious trash-talker Gilberto Simoni still stomps onwards, this time riding in not only the Giri d' Emilia, Piemonte and Lombardia in the coming weeks, but also more mountain bike races as well, tho' how he's going to keep up when Team Diquigiovanni's bike budget has been slashed and the boys all have to share one bike per race is beyond me:

And remember, it's only because I love you both that I didn't post that photo of him with his !@# hangin' out wearing nothin' but bike shoes again!

And, a Newsflash: yep, at least two of the doping cheating amped-up CERA-fueled dirt-weasels from the Tour de France negatives retests are busted: Riccardo Ricco's filthy little mentor Pieopoli (no surprise) and none other than winner of this year's two Tour time trials Stefan Schumacher, late of Gerolsteiner, and, since one imagines the team he just signed on with for a grotesque windfall of euros for the next two years is gonna toss him off the nearest precipice, late of Quick Step as well. Schumi, you twit--if you'd just stuck to the party drugs like the charming Boonen, you'd still be employed come January!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

His Name Was Ricco'/He Wore A Diamond

He Was Escorted to His Chair/He Saw His IV Hangin' There: yep, after even the narcs only asked for a 20-month ban, CONI has whacked our little twerp Riccardo with a full 2 years, valuing the doping violation at a mere 18 months but adding on another 6 for Ricco's use of Danilo DiLuca's childhood (and unusually recent) doc Carlos "Oil for Drugs" Santuccione--and this *after* the boy sang and gave the feds his dealer. Ricco', needless to say, is pissed that he 'fessed up for nothing, leading his lawyers to scream their heads off about an imminent appeal to CAS (good luck with that!) to reverse this cruel injustice, tho' even Ricco', perhaps tired of being told he should be glad he's not in prison by the same morally outraged tifosi who're swooning over Ivan "I Smoked, But I Didn't Inhale" Basso's return this month because he's just so very, very pretty, concedes that it's "fair" he does *some* time. This 2 year ban, of course, is particularly ironic, given WADA's new flexy rules saying if you play the ratfink, you'll get mercy, and if you don't, or if you god forbid get one of the highly statistically likely false positives and have the gall to object to it, you'll be roasted like a weiner at a Boy Scout campfire. Yeah, lookin' at how Riccardo got rewarded--and how for depriving his compatriots of a useful dope source he'll be even more loathed in the peloton than he already was, which is frankly tough to beat--I can see that's one hell of a payoff! Maybe you can keep yourself occupied suing Santuccione for !@#$ing up your microdosing, Ricco', 'til your ban is up? Anyhow, see you at the Vuelta in 2010!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving: meantime, the ever-generous French antidoping authorities have offered Lance Armstrong a lovely gift: let the same incompetent lab chimps that !@#$ed over Floyd Landis and couldn't find a lab short of Mars to come up with a poz on Iban Mayo's umpteenth sample retest your urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France, prove L'Equipe wrong once and for all, and we'll welcome you back to the Tour with open arms. Heck, we'll even allow you to test it at a different lab run by higher-order primates if you want! This way, as Pierre Bordry so kindly promises, you can smack down your naysayers once and for all and prove you've never cheated during your brilliant career. Even better, Lance, the statute of limitations has long since passed, so even if you do come out looking like the cheating lying drugsucking skankbag we all know and dearly hope you are because we're still mortified a French rider hasn't won the Tour since about 1915, you can't actually get punished for it anyway--so what's a little potential public humiliation and a total destruction of your legacy, you scaredy-cat? Sadly, Lance has put a kibosh on the idea, tanking Bordry's humble hopes of open redemption but still fortunately guaranteeing he remains in the constant spotlight his astonishing ego demands while everyone makes a gratifying fuss over him in the headlines.Damn Lance, you shoulda gone with Viagra instead of that EPO !@#$--after all, as one commenter here has helpfully noted, it does really help mountain climbers, and coincidentally could also help you keep up with all those rock stars actresses and socialites you keep snackin' on!

He Walked In Through the Out Door/Out Door: speaking of the spandex spawn o' satan, I see Johan Bruyneel is opining that not only will Contador and Armstrong get along famously at the 2009 Tour (at least if you consider "getting along" to mean not personally impaling each other with broadswords), but that Lance--always known for his generosity to his teammates and subservience to their ambitions--will of course be delighted to work for Alberto should our neophyte prove the strongest rider next year. *Where* can you get the happy pills that Bruyneel is on again? Anyway, lest stardust assurances of blissful team-bus communes don't convince the boy to shave his head don saffron robes and start handing out daisies to strangers in airports, Johan cheerfully reminded the press corps that Contador's got a two-year contract with no out clause, and no matter what the hell anyone wants to pay him, he'll goddamn yank his scrawny little kneecaps off at the socket if he even *thinks* about screwing Johan over. *Now* we're talking motivation, Mr. Sunshine!

Wire, Wire, Pants on Fire: and, a short hop away by train, Frank Schleck faced his own inquisitors today, earnestly denying doping but apparently still not coming up with a coherent reason for why he wired Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes a modest, if still sweet, 7000 euros in 2006. Don't worry CSC, as the alleged "Friend of Birillo," I'm sure he was just fronting a little cash to help stoke up Ivan Basso's dog for those exhausting frisbee sessions in the local park...please Frank, convince me the cops are wrong on this and leave me *one* freakin' rider I don't have to roll my eyes at!

Enter Sandman: finally, Op Puerto was finally put to sleep last night without a single conviction, thanks to exuberantly lax pre-2006 Spanish doping laws that allowed riders to, well, I won't say Valverde themselves as the boy can still probably pay for a pretty good attorney and all, but at least Heras themselves into speeding bullets so long as it didn't actually kill or noticeably maim 'em at the time. Sure, someone can still try to reopen the thing, but is anyone else thinking that somehow the notoriously transparent Spanish cycling authorities are gonna manage to crush anyone who tries to bring it back up? Lookin' forward to the carnage to come!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Vola, Vola, Vola Paolo!: Okay, it had to happen sooner or later, but if Patrick "30 YEARS OF DOPING" Lefevere hadn't been such a soulless europinching miserable tool, we love and will sorely, sorely miss Paolo Bettini wouldn't be saying that tomorrow is his last race on earth--yes, the peerless master of tactics, capturer of Classics and endless Grand Tour stages, and generous supporter of wholly lesser creatures than himself has decided to retire. Dammit--right when I was ready to start selling off lesser organs on the black market to finance one last view of him at the Giro next year! Needless to say, the tifosi over at gazzetta dello sport have erupted into all-caps trauma and fury, and not a few indications of general malevolence to every stupid inscrutable team that failed to hire their (our) hero. Grazie, grazie mille, il nostro Grillo, per la sua forza di volonta' e' corpo per molti anni--and you *suck* you greedy miserly selfish unappreciative dirtbag Lefevere!

Young Frankenschleck: yes, as a German newspaper reported 'way back in July (and then linking him with Bjarne "Doping Bad (Except for Me)" Riis on a little field trip to a medical team)Frank Schleck has indeed been nailed by the narcs, this time with the specific allegation that the boy wired a tidy 7,000 euro from a Swiss bank account to Gyno-to-the-Male-Stars Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. Still and all, a glum Pat "Dick" McQuaid has conceded he's got to let Frank start tomorrow, managing to toss another bitter whining slap to endlessly wily quarry "Piti" Valverde since he can't get who he's actually after at the moment. Leaving aside the fact that at Fuentes' reputed rates 7,000 euro isn't enough to buy you propulsion up a mildly steep driveway much less a freakin' mountaintop, Frank, and as such seems an awfully trivial thing for which to tank your career and bitchin' Tour legacy, and also ignoring my own personal aggravation at my repeat stupidity that someone I admired was apparently on the juice *again*, I could've *told* you not to take financial advice from Jan Ullrich!

Not So Fast, Sucker: so as Armstrong gets ready to jack over we love Levi Leipheimer at the Amgen EPO Tour of California, and even makes some noise about checkin' out the Giro, which I imagine can only be because Contador sez he's not gonna take any crap at the Tour and in which I hope the Italians viciously take him out because he doesn't deserve to even survive a glorious race which he so obviously considers an also-ran, our fine friends at UCI have now stepped in with a big caveat: if Armstrong thinks he's gonna bedazzle the Aussies at the Tour Down Under, he's gonna have to wait to find out, as UCI's now desperately trying to knock him out on a time-limit technicality for participating in pre-race anti-doping protocols. Y'know, Pat "Dick" McQuaid, you *just* managed to make yourselves look slightly less obnoxious by calling detente with the Grand Tours; given that the mainstream sports press is all set to personally cast Lance in bronze and park him on the steps of the Capitol, do you *really* want to look like more of a petty pack of whining toddlers by tormenting him that way? Have some dignity for once, and revel in the impotence that is yours!

Understatement of the Year Award: y'know, as Contador reiterates his readiness to bail should Johan Bruyneel renege on his promise to let baby Contador ride in the front seat at next year's Tour, you gotta give our wee rising-overlord-o'-the-peloton some credit for having a sense of humor, as in pondering the dynamics of a possible (tho' highly unlikely) joint Contador-Armstrong Astana run at the Tour, Alberto surmises, "I don't see him as doing well in the role of domestique." So *that's* how you say "Lance is a monstrous raging black hole of a life-sucking ego utterly incapable of ceding power to anyone"--give that boy a gold star for diplomacy!

Just Another Manic Monday: and, it's gonna be a nervous few days for at least a small percentage of the doping saps at the Tour who breathed a sigh of relief watching that twerp Ricco' get busted instead of them, as on Monday the vampires start testing blood samples for CERA whose riders, naturally, had come up clean on the urine tests. Round up the usual suspects, boys--you already know who's left that you wanna fry, so why bother with any pretense of objectivity and test 'em at all?

Emergency!: closer to home, heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to TBV over at Landis-source-o'-the'gods trustbutverify, whacked quite hard by some inattentive clueless cyclist-crushin' assclown of a car while on a training ride, hospitalized with a bucket o'fractures and, fortunately, reporting this morning that despite being seriously dented he's gonna be okay. Get well and back on the bike where you belong soon, TBV, and let me know if you need a hand suing that hoser's !@#!

Erik the Hot Pink (and Baby Blue): 12 stages in the Grand Boucle. Valiant 6x green jersey champ. Smoked Milano-Sanremo 4 times. Three badass 2006 & 2007 victories in the Vuelta a Espana, and, even more remarkably, 3 wins this year even as he was kept busy as a humble lead-out for the designated lords of his squad. And only once in 1996, in one of the filthiest, darkest eras of this sewerdwelling spectacular sport, did our boy use EPO to try to get there. Yes, as if Paolo Bettini's horrid retirement weren't enough for one week, indefatigable sprint king Erik Zabel's finally calling it quits. Ergo, in tribute, I humbly mooch the following off someone(s) else:

Sorry folks, I looked for slinkmeister photos of these boys, but neither one of 'em saw fit to pose in a gladiator outfit or for a soft-porn calendar. Thanks for the memories Paolo and Erik!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The First Wives' Club

Tried and True: wow, is Johan Bruyneel quite the trendsetter, as he officially ditches his flashy young mistress Contador for his wrinkly ol' bag first wife Armstrong, despite his bull!@#$ promises to his naive protege to the contrary and the fact that Armstrong's value as an actual cyclist is only going to decrease while Alberto's is on the upswing. One might question the wisdom of presiding over the festivities as Lance's ravenous narcissistic adoration cravings train-wreck his sporting legacy, but big points to Johan for loyalty! I wouldn't worry about our pretty new spandex king-o'-the-world too much though--aside from the fact that he's apparently rethinking yesterday's vow to head for the hills if Armstrong tries to muscle in, he'll inevitably move on to even more besotted, deep-pocketed squads, who'll no doubt lavish him with gifts so generous it'll make Tom Boonen's Ferrari collection look like a rustpit full o' Pintos in exchange for the not-overly-onerous duties of establishing himself as a legend in the sport with his next half-dozen Grand Tour wins and only a minimum of tedious love-ins with the sponsor high honchos. If Contador does leave, though, it's hard to imagine who he's going to get to domestique for him next year, after he nastily threw his selfless nursemaid Leipheimer under the team bus by denying that Levi ever helped him win the Vuelta in the first place and--horrors!--charging that Levi might even have won the whole thing in his own right if the time trial had been 20 kilometers longer, the treacherous servant bastard. Damn, Levi, at least if you stick around Astana to be dope-slapped by Lance next season, you only gotta put up with this prima-donna crap for one more year! Can we all just cut the Teen Beat heartthrob !@#$ now on how sweet and dreamy and gentle and generous and fairy-princess rainbow-sparkly Alberto is, and concede that--once-in-a-generation brilliant or not, and he's certainly that--he's clearly been learning a lot more from Lance "the Ego" Armstrong's example than just race tactics of late? Get *out* of there Levi and Klodi, Bruyneel can't pay you enough to deal with *either* of these soul-sucking remoras!

The Fourth Estate: meantime, from CNN to the New York Times, the non-cycling American sports press is simply rapturous over Lance's return, particularly, one imagines, since with the Great American Hero and his Great American Story (and I don't demean either one) to glom on again, they're now utterly free to cover cycling with a guaranteed cash-cow in hand without having to trouble themselves to learn (much less explain) such arcane and inscrutable terms as "sprint," "seat post," and "time trial." Don't let these nits dumb you down, dear newbies (leave that to the rest of us)--there is so much more to know and love even about this tainted filthy debacle of a sport than this one famous socialite-slurpin' camera ho!

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: finally, in actual race news, the dandy Worlds is underway, with Amber Neben scorching the field in the time trial and Judith Arndt--who I'm presuming, despite the fact that the Italians are apparently favored, is gonna lead the badass German squad to a gold in the road race--snagging the bronze. As for the gentlemen? Dropping like flies before they even get their boarding passes, sadly, as now we love Stuey O'Grady becomes the latest to bail out from fatigue, tho' the Spaniards remain largely intact even without the presence of Sastre to challenge (if fruitlessly) the smashing squadra azzurra. So you got four boys for the price of one to replace Bettini, Lefevere?--enjoy, as (win or lose the podium) your reject gets ready to kick Belgian !@#!