Alms! Alms for the Poor!: so just as I was about to blast cycling.tv yet *again* for massive technical screwups that randomly jerked the video and/or audio coverage of the opening stage of the Tour of California to first a sporadic then finally a near-continuous halt--causing me to miss Dave Zabriskie's inaugural 2008 time trial debut to my extreme irritation, dammit--I came to a startling realization: it's not their fault. Why? Yep, despite charging desperate pathetic tifosi like myself 100 freakin' bucks this season to watch the Vuelta (and I'll be damn glad to pay it, like a sap, since US coverage utterly blows), it's clear the poor things are broke! There I am, fruitlessly checking in again and again in the diminishing hope they'll fix the prob, when what should pop on the screen but a reminder that their Norton AntiVirus protection has expired! And did cycling.tv take this inexpensive chance to protect themselves from such nefarious threats to website integrity? No! An arrow discreetly crawled across the screen and clicked on "Remind Me Later." Surely, nothing but the most dire financial straits could cause their tech lords to ignore that essential mantra, "Viruses Bad." Thus, in sympathy for their obvious destitution, I humbly begin my First Annual Racejunkie Telethon for Cycling.tv. Now, I don't know where to send donations, tho' I'm sure the network could be of help in that area. And I'm desperately in need of has-been talent to hype our piteous appeals for aid, so if someone could kindly get me in touch with the reps for some of our more beloved ex-dopers for example, that'd be a big boost to the cause. But a cherished if occasionally, well, broadcast-challenged member of the cycling community needs our aid--Help Cycling.tv Renew Its AntiVirus Protection today!
The Return of the King: speaking of the Tour of California (and putting aside the question, what the hell is going on with Dave Zabriskie?! in the hope that he's merely pacing his form for an attack on the Grand Tours later this season), the Italian press is all a-swoon over the return of Lion King Mario Cipollini, charging in an extremely respectable 44th (for a sprinter, no less) after 3 years out of the saddle to the all-caps adulation of the gazzetta tifosi, despite lingering snarks that, legend o' the bike tho' he is, he's really only doing it to pay off those pesky gazillions recently assessed in back taxes. Then again, who really cares--hell, 100,000 euros to ride your bike sure as hell beats 20 years at the overnight shift at the 7-11, don't it?
Necessity is the Mother of Invention: and, with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes' lab long dismantled, and glum cyclists everywhere in a hasty scramble for their next hit of completely legal vitamin injections, the Viennese authorities are putting the heat again on a local blood-doping lab, alleged home of such Mafia Nation names as loyal ex-Levi lieutenant Georg Totschnig, Michael "Can My Crappy Year Get Any Worse?" Rasmussen, Michael Boogerd, Peter Weening and, not least, 2008 Tour de France GC aspirant Denis "Give Heras Back His Vuelta If You're Just As Big a Skank, You Skank!" Menchov. Well, that's about 5 seconds' worth of press coverage to give the Spaniards a breather--oops, time's up you-know-who, it's back to Op Puerto again!
Oh, Snap!: finally, I see that Rock Racing has taken its sweet revenge on the Tour of California, tarting up its excluded stars Hamilton Sevilla and Botero in even more garish barbed-wire-and-skull team kit than the boys in the race--and even more frightening, having them walk around in public like this amongst the innocent defenseless crowd--in a showdown-by-spandex guaranteed to leave the Amgen race organizers quivering in their prissy little Gucci loafers. Next up: Riccardo Ricco's Saunier Duval encrusts its feed-zone musettes with Swarovski crystals at the Giro in an attempt to intimidate LPR's DiLuca and Savoldelli ahead of the Dolomites. Oh, God, the pressure!