Monday, March 10, 2008

Sturm und Drang

Sturm: well, it's a crappy start for the cyclists but a smashing one for the fans (specifically, me) at Paris-Nice, as, after the teams actually put their held-back riders back into the start list in surprisingly cohesive defiance of UCI, we love ever-underrated Thor Hushovd snags the prologue under then-improving but still miserable rain and wind at Paris-Nice. And, while after today's even more disgusting conditions the weather's apparently forecast to improve, I fully expect further carnage, if not on the actual tarmac then over at UCI headquarters, as Pat "Dick" McQuaid must be searching desperately for some way to soothe his humiliation over the teams' winning last-minute throwdown over the race and presumably is about to take aim yet again at whatever poor random bastard strikes his nasty fancy. Come to think of it though, is there *anyone* left in the peloton that this guy hasn't irrationally targeted yet? Well, everybody seems to like...forget it, I better stop right there!

Drang: and, speaking of lousy conditions, Jan Ullrich's apparently been offered a near-irresistable deal by the voracious German prosecutors, who have kindly suggested they might be willing to drop their terrifying contract-fraud investigation if he'll only confess to being a client of Dr. Fuentes and pony up a piddling fine of 1 million euros. Um, leaving aside the distinct unlikelihood that T-Mobile had no idea what if anything their discarded cash-cow was doing, get back on that bike at those charity events and start mugging for the cameras, Jan--with a little luck and, say, a half-assed non-admission, you might yet be able to pull a Basso on this one and if not return to the actual ranks, at least get a nice new gig as a manager!

Old Friends: or maybe not so much these days for ex-teammates Patrik Sinkewitz and Andreas Kloden, as former T-Mobile poz Sinkewitz deals to suck up his ban and avoid jail time but be back on the market by mid-summer in exchange for pimping we-still-love-the-incredibly-luckless-and-besides-he's-innocent-til-proven-guilty (and let's face it, even if he is, he ain't much guiltier'n anyone else) Kloden and fellow ex-Vino flotsam Matthias Kessler to the narcs. Unsurprisingly, Klodi has taken issue with Patrik's accusation, to the positive if slightly cautious support of Astana (who, in a cautionary note, offered the same in an earlier incarnation to professed innocent Ivan Basso before tossing him out the window of the team car like a cigarette butt), continuing a fruitless season of endless victimhood as Klodi helplessly watches his prep for his key target races the entire season slip away. Surely, in any case, the boy was as clean as anyone else at T-Mobile, which clearly proves question please!

These Dreams: as poor Stefano Garzelli resigns himself (albeit at the top of his lungs) to watching Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo (not to mention the Giro) on TV this year, and the CONI prosecutors remain hell-bent on smacking Danilo DiLuca and half the other Italian cyclists who matter out of the Corsa Rosa, Mario Cipollini has nonetheless given us a tantalizing glimpse into the future of Italian cycling: he dreams of having Ivan Basso and emergent sprint god Daniele Bennati on Rock Racing next year. Now, if it were anyone else, I'd say Bennati ought to choose his future teammates more carefully, at least if he wants to keep riding the races he's looking to win. But really, if the annoying St. David Millar's constant preening contrition can win such sympathy, can anyone doubt that Basso's smashing (if wholly inadvertent I'm sure) PR rehab (in combination with Mario's own personal extreme chicness, per the photo) will score Rock wildcards for any damn race they want?

Go Ask Tammy: as the rest of the peloton seeks the latest in IV innovations to improve their performance, some folks are apparently still forced to rely on the cheap stuff, as fed prosecutors claim "overwhelming" proof Olympian Tammy Thomas perjured herself during the BALCO investigation when she denied using steroids. The evidence? Her dealer apparently kept a high-end LeMond that Thomas traded for drugs when she was down on cash. Prosecutors will also rely on "body changes" purportedly resulting from the steroids, including Peter Brady vocal troubles and that she had to shave a full beard, which sure means I'll never bitch about shaving my legs again. Y'know, putting aside the perfect irony that she exchanged one of Landis-affair cleanster witness' Greg LeMond's bikes for doping products, I know women cyclists are paid absolute squat, but I think I'm in sympathy with many gear-obsessed amateurs when I say to Tammy, "you traded your !@#$&^% *bike* for a couple lousy cheap-@#$ syringes of easily detectable drugs?" At least give it (the bike, not the drugs) to some hard-up humble road freak who really deserves it instead of some skankball alleyway dope-pusher for heck's sake!

Tick, Tock: finally, loathe as I am to kick a peacefully sleeping animal in an uncomfortable area, I cannot help but wonder, where the hell is Iban Mayo's CAS ruling on how completely grotesquely the vindictive cornered rabid snarling raccoons at UCI have chewed him to pieces by ignoring their own rules on B-sample results, I mean, on his perfectly objectively fact-driven prosecution goddammit?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love your blog rj, but a little correction, Basso resinged from Disco, he asked for that himself...
He was not thrown out like a cigarette butt...

Keep up the good work!