Monday, February 04, 2008

Every Time Basso Bats His Eyelashes, An Angel Gets His Wings

...Or Perhaps a Devil Gets Its Twitching Tail, Instead: amid rumors that certain bedazzled authorities are considering knocking three months of Ivan Basso's "attempted doping" sentence in order to let him race the Worlds in his hometown of Varese (to which report Gilberto Simoni naturally went bull!@#$, snarling "I do not agree with this is we who are paying for his errors"), and Danilo DiLuca's open courting of Basso for future teammateship despite the former's newly-stated desire to take the Tour, Gazzetta dello Sport also posts a smashing interview with our humble talent-packed saintly man-candy. The upshot: He will return to the peloton in 2009 and not before. He has no reason to expect that the tifosi will ever feel the same way about him again. He is the last person to talk about the state of cycling, preferring to stay quiet, work, and serve his penalty. He confessed his guilt for the sake of his young daughter Domitilla, who turned his blood to ice as he realized how it affected her and also his forgiving wife. He has not yet chosen a team, but will probably decide at the beginning of March, and already has an idea of what riders he wants to work with. And he has trained on an unmarked bike in the jersey of his beloved charity Intervita to remain anonymous, but will gladly tell of his work for them. Workin' on the link and a better translation folks!

I must say, I find myself truly caught on this one. Has Basso--who to be honest is gorgeous to watching on a bike, smooth and self-contained--really ditched the traditional business-like European approach to doping for genuine regret at the damage he's done not only to this beautiful sport but also to his own integrity, as opposed to merely his own career and Ferrari fund? Or is this simply the same savvy, focused Basso who so cooly brushed aside the tifosi's out-thrust pens at the '06 Giro in favor of a full-on press corps seduction as the more gregarious Jan Ullrich and even some of the more retiring CSC boys amiably autographed anything that was desperately shoved at them? The tifosi, it appears from the comments page, have largely chosen the former, embracing his soul-stricken remorse and eagerly awaiting his triumphant return to the peloton, particularly if it's in the immediate company of DiLuca. Should we be heartless cynics on this point, or accept his deathbed conversion as true regret? The naive idealist and eye-rolling pragmatist in me are at war!

Oh Heras. If only you'd ditched your customary reticence, cried your penitence for everything Manolo Saiz "attempted" to pump you full of, put in some charity miles for the tots, and even better gone back to quietly sucking in your time trial training results, you could have a nicely-paying gig riding or even just DSing for a Spanish continental squad right now. Tears, dammit, where were the tears (and the half-@#$ed admissions to boot?)!

One Day You Are In, the Next Day, You Are Out: so ASO/Tour director Christian Prudhomme is speaking out to Velonews, and the topic du jour is "you clowns better not give me another doping scandal this year, or I'll personally light the pyre they're building for you in Hell." What's interesting, though, is that he professes to have no problem whatsoever with baby Contador, who after all has been implicated in Op Puerto along with several other Liberty Seguros teammates, which I assume means he either genuinely thinks the allegations against Contador are true crap, or deep in his heart of hearts--and perhaps not wrongly, at that--he's giving the boy a pass for all those "mystery skin patches" for his sheer youth and powerlessness under the relentless control-freak manhandling of Manolo Saiz. And since Prudhomme's also saying no individual riders will be excluded--either he thinks your whole team is honorable enough to be in, or not--this, in all fairness, should actually favor Astana, as, with the exception of a few harmless leftover Kazakh domestiques and, perhaps more problematically from Prudhomme's perspective, the ever-jacked Andreas Kloden, it really is a completely different squad with not only a different philosophy (if you accept the proposition that all Johan's Postal refugees only went bad *after* they left the nest), but a completely different cult of personality from that of insular rock-star Vinokorouv as well. However, the ASO king *has* in the past expressed his discomfort with Valverde coming out to play, which leaves open the distinctly lousy possibility that guys like hapless victim-o'-circumstance Oscar Pereiro and the exceedingly fine Luis Leon Sanchez at the endlessly talented Caisse d'Epargne will be left out of the big show as well. And what of Rabobank, now that Max van Heeswijk said of course the riders knew ahead of the Tour de France that Rasmussen wasn't where he said he'd be--can anyone really believe now that team management was (or should have been) as egregiously oblivious as they've continued to claim? If so, crap luck for poor disillusioned Menchov--but you better not "settle" for contesting the beautiful Vuelta as a lame consolation prize, you ungrateful Tour-whoring twerp!

Welcome Back, Horner: finally, thanks again to Velonews for their dandy chat with we love Chris Horner, rightly confident in his worth and abilities as usual but, unlike say half the sprinters, able to talk straight without being an arrogant !@# about it. He's been happy with each of his team-hops, is blown away that Lotto decided to let him go, delighted with his new gig at Astana as he's old enough to put the brakes on too much training and while not guaranteed a Tour slot, his salary and program sure make him think it's heading that way, and, best of all, is gonna aim for Pais Vasco, support Levi in CA, and really, really try to take Amstel Gold, Fleche-Wallone, or Liege. Allez Chris, and thank heaven there's some halfway pleasant news out there for once!


Cycling Fan said...

I know you usually do not get comments but heck, we're apoplectic and speechless after reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

i must congratulate you on your use of the word 'dandy' it is a favoutrite of mine, furthermore i think this has been one of your more coherent posts recently, just so you know

Anonymous said...

About Contador, Prudhomme cannot say "I think he is guilty", that
would tarnish last TDF.