Territorial Pissings: well, it looks like the Amgen EPO Tour of California's won this round, as Michael Ball's predictably egomaniacal press-conference blustering--accompanied by Floyd Landis lawyer Maurice Suh, no less--about the horrors of excluding Op-Puerto implicated Tyler Hamilton, Santi Botero and Oscar Sevilla from the race, when he knew damn well it would piss off the race organizers to even bring it up the day before but would, totally coincidentally I'm sure, generate enormous publicity--yields in the end to AEG, letting in its 'original' five, including last-minute change to Mario "the Chest" Cipollini from Kayle "John Doe" Leogrande (already a deliberate poke in the eye), rather'n pull Rock from the race entirely, a decision apparently made after a chatty and ultimately fruitless bike ride between Ball and the head of the race. Oh well, Ball, you got your picture all over the news--not to discount the honorable yapping about giving poor mistaken underdogs a second chance and all, but wasn't that really your point?
The Ick Factor: Floyd, I deeply admire your own willingness to endanger yourself by supporting such innocent victims as Hamilton & co. And I strongly believe that every one, even that tiresome self-promoting screw-you preener Michael Ball, deserves the best legal advice possible ('cause let's face it, with some of the boys on his team, he's gonna need it). And not that you have or should have any control over what Maurice Suh does on his own time, since after all he ought to be lauded for taking on, well, perhaps less sympathetic clients than yourself. But can it really help your case to have your very own lawyer up there at yesterday's press conference whispering sweet counsel in Ball's ear for the entire cycling disciplinary planet to see mere weeks before the same guy presents your defense at your CAS appeal? Not that it would have any effect on the fine objective folks who'll be deciding both your place in history and your immediate fate--but, aaaaiiigggghhh!
Free Levi!: finally, uber-diplomat Levi Leipheimer is still expressing his misery over Astana's exclusion from the Tour in the politest manner humanly possible, delicately introducing his LetLeviRide e-petition and gently encouraging folks to help ASO see the light. Me, I have no such sense of decorum, so I'm perfectly content to call out ASO as being the most self-destructive self-serving whining bitter arbitrary tools on earth for smacking around Astana, especially considering the unreformed skankmaster squads still allowed in their noble race. Free Levi!
All right, enough of this ridiculous sideshow. Leipheimer, Julich, Hincapie, Zabriskie, Bettini, Boonen, Freire--what a smashing crew we've got for the actual race--allez allez Levi!