Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Let's Go!

Off to the Races: so the season's plans are on for the two Italian World Champions, with Paolo Bettini having already shed the extra kilos he packed on during his winter hibernation and starting out at the upcoming GP Etruschi (and still breaking my heart with his apparent plan to skip the lovely Giro) along with Petacchi, Napolitano & Cunego (but not Petacchi-dissing nemesis Daniele Bennati, already ominously hampered by a knee problem), and fellow road god Marta Bastianelli aiming, like Bettini, both for the Olympics and to defend her title at the Worlds in Varese. Swoon. Can the Italians even *get* any better than they are right now? Forza Il Grillo and Marta!

Dangerous Liaisons: as the Splenda-sweetly humble Ivan Basso now enjoys the beginning of a welcome-back from a cautious peloton, poor Bjorn Leukemans by contrast laments he's been distinctly frozen out of the in-crowd, saying that not only is Lotto utterly ignoring his pleas for his job back should his upcoming appeal in Belgium clear him of his inadvertent testosterone ingestion at the hands of his dopus team doctor, but that dear friends like Nick Nuyens won't even deign to talk to him at all anymore. (Wah, wah, Iban Mayo's similarly !@#$ed, and his B sample didn't even come up poz, you baby!) Oh Bjorn. Perhaps if you'd only continued to lay the blame on your interactions with your lady friend, the commiserating male-bonding sympathy factor of all your amorous colleagues might've saved you! Crap, if the infighting between the UCI, WADA, the teams and the race organizers doesn't take down the sport, the paranoiac "sell out thy fellows/speak up for no-one" mentality of the riders eventually will...

Woe Is Me (And Garzelli)!: meantime, poor Stefano Garzelli is both outraged and heartbroken over Acqua e Sapone's inexcusable boot from the Giro, telling Tuttobici how he had just returned from a grueling 5 1/2 hour training ride when he called his agent and learned that his team had been cruelly excluded from what, as he nears 35 years old, is highly likely to be his last farewell to the race. In fact, he was so distraught that he almost quit cycling entirely on hearing the news, but--and damned good for the rest of us it is--decided to suck it up and keep training for Tirreno at least if nothing else. As he justifiably cried, "Give me back my Giro!" Free Garzelli and A&S already--like they love the Giro any less than freakin' Tinkoff? And, as the race organizers continue to roll out their team choices, the teams panic over who's going to be left out of the "monument" races as well as the Grand Tours, Contador prepares for life beyond the Tour de France, UCI gadfly Pat "Dick" McQuaid proclaims that Astana should absolutely be in the Giro (damn, Pat, do you want to kill their chances off entirely? stay out of it you nit!), and Giro organizer RCS kindly clarifies that it wasn't the old Astana's doping problems but the new Astana's lack of emotional commitment to the race that's keeping the boys off the corsa rosa, Johan Bruyneel's gamely pointed out that there's still time to convince RCS otherwise, though it'd really be pretty skanky if Johan used his 8000 Tour victories to muscle out a squad of, say, innocent Continental boys already thrilled beyond measure by the previously unexpected chance to take on the gorgeous fearsome Giro. !@#$, if appreciation of the races is gonna be the driving issue, this season is gonna flat-out blow. Sure, the Classics'll still be packed with ProTour squads who loudly claim their burning desire for the prestigious additions to their palmares (palmareses?), but my beautiful Vuelta--fortunate as it will be to retain the rabid orange-clad fanatics and peerless climbing masters of my beloved Euskaltel and an impressive passel of Spanish Continental squads--will be *completely* decimated. Empty, I tells ya, empty as a Bud Light keg after a frat party!

Peanuts and Cracker Jacks: finally, in baseball-yet-still-instructive-for-cycling news, I see that Roger Clemens' former trainer, in the face of stout denials of wrongdoing by his famous client, now sez he has "corroborative physical evidence" for the delectation of Congress that proves Clemens in fact did imbibe performance-enhancing drugs. Now, in light of various allegations by outraged or merely book-pimping cyclist associates that have recently come to light, it seems to me that here is a valuable teachable moment for the riders: if you don't want to get caught--and of course, you oughta be, you soulless amoral stage-stealers--for heck's sake, *don't* enlist the help of, or share the existence or details of your stupid scheme with, some low-ranking minion who not only is gonna inevitably end up taking the fall for whatever sleazeball tactics you use to pad your legacy, but gets paid so little for the privilege of being your scapegoat that there's no incentive whatsoever for that person not to immediately sell your disgusting lurid story to the highest (or in the case of cycling authorities, most threatening) bidder. Didn't you dopes learn *any* practical survival skills in Scumbag Cyclist Cheating 101?

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