Thursday, May 29, 2008

Simply Irresistible

Might As Well Face It/They're Addicted to Drugs: yep, another boy whacked out of the Giro by tragic medical problems turns out to have been felled by some unusual blood values instead, and as Milram first suspends then outright sacks Igor Astarloa before today's stage even gets far off the blocks, our sensible hero has already consulted with legal counsel and is threatening to sue. I'm telling you Thor, Milram's going south with their current crew, now's the time to upgrade your lead-out train from Credit Agricole since Julian Dean's hit the bricks and the team'll pay anything to earn some redemption!

Talk Dirty to Me: meantime, over at the Giro, Riccardo Ricco' continues to show the same discretion and reserve as a fistfighting transvestite prostitute on the Jerry Springer show with the press corps, leading even equable Boy Scout wunderkind Contador to scornfully point out that it's the experience that counts, and that it's therefore we love Gilberto Simoni, not his tantruming braggart rugrat of an ex-protege, he fears the next two days in the mountains. Damn straight, Prince Alberto! The tifosi over at Gazzetta dello Sport, however, remain suspicious amidst their gallant compliments and general resignation to another Spaniard taking their race, calling bull!@#$ on our beach boy's claim to have spent the week prior to the Giro relaxing on the white sands of the spiaggia, unless, of course, said beach is neatly paved, has an 18% gradient, and our maglia rosa was reposing on a sweet titanium road bike with a water bottle instead of a nice thirsty towel with a pina colada instead. As to the remaining Italian GC threats, they remain cool to speculation that they'll form an alliance to take out Contador tomorrow, with Di Luca humbly hoping to show well for himself, Simoni calmly predicting it'll simply be leg-against-leg, and Levi Leipheimer correctly supposing they'd rather eat their own young than work together and at this point they're merely fighting for podium scraps. Either way, forza Gilberto--until that arrogant nit you mentored learns to verbally smack around the rest of the peloton with half your deadly grace, I can't bring myself to root for him!

Arf, arf, arf!: and, congrats (spoiler!) to our favorite slobbering attack dog Jens, who, cheering himself up after a rare outburst of temper in which he slammed a few compatriots for weasellingly drafting off the team cars at the time trial, faked out the break today by mourning his fatigue to a couple of his mates, thus leaving them uninterested in responding to his sudden attack til it was too late to usefully react, impressing even wily tactician Paolo Bettini and leaving him to truly mourn the last chance he had of taking a stage at this year's Giro. Vai Paolo, there's still the Olympics and the Worlds, and time to cause damage between!

Tick, Tock: finally, I hesitate to curse both we love Iban Mayo and poor hosed Floyd Landis, but doesn't anyone else think, CAS aspirational dates-o'-doom aside, it would be awfully nice if even one of them found out whether he was ever gonna ride a bike again in competition before the rest of their generation is cheering on the Grand Tours from the rocking chairs in their "active elder" communities? Free Iban dammit--after all, it's not like there's no-one else to go after!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

See No Evil

Or Any Good Either, Apparently: not to start out cranky, folks, but am I on a boatload of crack or did no one watch the same freakin' time trial I did yesterday? As I saw it, we love insult-king-of-the-peloton Gilberto Simoni not only absolutely wailed on saps like Di Luca still-didn't-deserve-Heras'-Vuelta Menchov and even narcissistic twerp ex-protege Ricco', but actually took five seconds on Prince Alberto, yet all I see in the post-race coverage--including willfully-blinded apologists-for-all-Italians gazzetta dello sport and tuttobici, no less--is Ricco's headed for second, yap, Contador's maglia rosa is wrapped up, yap, poor Danilo, yap. C'mon, people, the boy's just aging, not wrapped in linen and stuffed in a sarcophagus already for !@#$'s sake, plus he made half the GC contenders look like helpless grinding toddlers on defective Big Wheels--where is the love for Gibo already?

Speaking of Love: congrats to revelation-of-the-Dolomites Emanuele Sella, who in addition to crushing everyone but Pellizotti yesterday and taking two of the nastiest days in the race outright apparently promised his girlfriend they'd get married if he took a stage in the Tour, which not only means they're getting married in few weeks' time but that presumably because of the two-fer (and Sella's likely overstuffed bank account next season) they're off to a lovely honeymoon as well. Meantime, back to the time trial itself, was anyone else absolutely kneecapped by we love Jens Vogt's amazing performance in terrain even he had no chance of excelling in? See what happens when he gets bored--right on Jens, you've still got a chance for a stage win the next two days! Of course, I can't help but hope poor cursed Paolo Bettini gets one of 'em, particularly as, while I relax in the wilds of California, my wee nephews keep shouting his name at the top of their incredibly powerful lungs asking when the World Champ is going to win one. Patience, my little tifosi--he'll come around!

Take That, Ivan!: finally, I see Franco Pellizotti's continuing his campaign to dope-slap Basso (and his adoring 2009 team management) into utter submission, taking the time trial and generally beating up most of the rest of the field in his desperate attempt to keep St. Ivan of Varese crushed under his cleats when he dares show up in training camp come January to challenge Pellizotti's hard-earned supremacy. Y'know, if only he'd stop preening the feathers on his glowing new angels wings for five minutes, I'd actually rather root for him to have a smashing comeback, but I can't help but sympathize with Franco that just as he gets rid of Di Luca due to some pesky alleged tape recordings discussing doping injections he's gotta get it together to obliterate some other shmoe he never even anticipated. Speaking of angels, could David Millar kindly whine a little less about yesterday's mountain time trial--yes, we *know* it didn't give you an ideal forum for weeping about how repentant you are for your tragic doping bust and how obviously triumphant you can be without using the good stuff, but can you just let the climbers have their day? Much appreciated!

Free Roberto!: holy moly, speak of the devil, or at least the devil who prefers discretion to grossly calculated martyrdom and publicity-whore wah-wahing, as Tuttobici reports via a Spanish website that The Only Guy Who's Doped The Last Few Years Besides Jan Ullrich, evil renegade Roberto Heras, may return to the Vuelta with Karpin Galicia in the unlikely event the race organizers will let someone who had his title stripped from him two years ago--and worse, is too old for a few more years of camera-friendly Teen Beat-pretty repentance like Ivan Basso (or, some might suggest, former teammate/Manolo "Mystery Skin Patch" Saiz-nurtured Contador, if some didn't want his legal team on his or her !@#)--back in the race. let him in only to choke after two solid years off the saddle would be heartbreaking; on the other hand, it would be deeply satisfying to watch him smack Menchov around in the mountains again if he's been sneaking in some significant saddle time on the sly...decisions, decisions!

Okay, two flat/rolling stages and then it's time for Simoni to make his rivals weep again. Forza Gibo--and in bocca al lupo the next two days Paolo and Jens!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Sunday in Sell(a)

Killer Queen: so as Ricco failed to successfully pound "the beach boy and the Kraut" into submission as promised the last two days, he did at least show he still had the wherewithal to put some pain into rival Contador even after athsma-whacked tugboat Leonardo Piepoli crashed out with a snapped collarbone, just enough for a charmingly modest Contador to peg him for his main rival but not enough to prevent him from knife-twistingly having to watch The Next Indurain pull on the maglia rosa after today's stage. Thankfully, Simoni survived and even fought back after an earlier series of excruciating cracks, leaving the smug smack talk ("I can still be in pink tomorrow")to his former protege and merely venturing that "at least now we know who's in the game." Our baby genius, meantime, refuses to acknowledge his emerging supremacy in any of but the most vague terms, professing he could lose the maglia rosa tomorrow and not be disappointed. Holy moly, this Mother Theresa of the peloton could give St. Ivan of Varese a run for his money in the martyrdom corsa rosa,if only he, like Basso, had the evil lapse to attempt to dope! Then again, he *did* start out his career on Liberty Seguros...oh, shut the hell up, I'm sure as the rest of his besotted sighing unquestioning fan club that the kid is clean as a first winter snowfall on the prairie, but like it never occurred to you either in the darkest corners of your miserable black hearts!

The Tifosi: and, the tifosi reactions--never understated to begin with--are in, full of admiration of Sella's smashing two-fer, endless tributes to the general superiority of Marco Pantani to all other riders(irrelevant as to the current GC, but strangely touching in the same sense it is when tanked-up sentimental Red Sox fans bellow "Yankees Suck!" from the bleachers even when we're actually playing the As at that moment), buckets o' tributes to Gibo, and, while on the whole gracious to Contador, not a few fans distinctly outraged that some Op Puerto-linked Spanish guy is blushing in the maglia rosa when certain Italians who oughta be there and certainly aren't any dirtier than Captain Innocent are barred from their own freakin' race. Me, I'm still reeling from the ignominious crack of we still Andreas Kloden, who if he hadn't exhausted himself dragging around that bushwhacking blood-doping tool Vinokorouv last season would certainly have retained enough strength not to fall apart in the Dolomites. Go for a stage win, Klodi--if you're out of GC, why not pile on the hurt for at least one day in the sun?

Now Click Your Heels Three Times and Say: there's no mountain time trial like Simoni's...there's no mountain time trial like Simoni's...there's no mountain time trial like Simoni's...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Climb Every Mountain...

...Kick Ricco's !@#: okay, as usual I'm fruitlessly rooting for the guys who'll inevitably blow, but I cannot help but sincerely hope that, as any remaining weaklings get spit out the back of the peloton like gummy two-wheeled loogies, aged-like-a-fine-cheese-we-love-smack-talkin'-2x-Giro-god-supreme-Oscar-the-grouch-whiner Gilberto Simoni, having mentored Riccardo Ricco' to such clearly smashing effect last season at Saunier Duval (though as Ivan "Basso Non E' Uomo" Basso can tell you, the obnoxious youngster quite lacks Gibo's suave way with an insult), utterly kicks the boy's arrogant ungrateful scrawny !@# in the mountains, particularly the Marmolada. Of course, I'd settle nearly as happily for Gibo humiliating Di Luca, but as Ricco' has by far the stronger team (especially with Leonardo "Salbutamol" Piepoli on hand), that just seems unsportsmanlike. (Gaaaaaassssp--is that the base of the Fedaia? I feel an asthma attack coming on! Totally legitimately, of course.) Meantime, I'd just as dearly love to see everybody's perpetual !@#$$% Andreas Kloden take it, since if he's no friend to the Italian peloton as a whole he's at least fond of the cuisine, but since I presume he'll be horsewhipped into serving Contador (who, breaking ranks with his usual equanimity, finally snarked back at Ricco' for his beach-beer-'n'-doping-implications by saying he's not afraid of him, but does fear Simoni, which naturally earns him massive points in my eyes), one can also reasonably assume he's totally hosed as usual. Forza Gilberto and Klodi!

Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy: and it's too damn bad there's barely been any in Italy this month, as the grimly impressive Giro body count continues to mount and it becomes ever harder to find a rider in or out of the field who doesn't have a fractured wrist or elbow or a gory chunk torn out of his team kit. It's tough to pity anyone wearing the maglia rosa in the most beautiful race on earth (outside perhaps the Vuelta, natch), but was I the only one grimacing the last few days when poor dented Visconti limped so gingerly about the podium? Please, weather gods, let this Giro be won by honest (hah!), leg-to-leg combat--not the crash-driven vagaries of good luck and bad landings!

Mo'Letta Blues: and, the denials are flying fast and thick today, with Andrea's angry dad swearing there's no Viagra tablets anywhere (a dispute one could foreseeably resolve by taking one and, well, waiting), the mystery liquids with Andrea's name on 'em were mineral water, and the syringes were for his personal use, one imagines because it takes a massive injection of performance-enhancing drugs to control the raging beast that is a two-horsepower Italian minicar. Andrea himself seems more than irked, denying he's done anything wrong or was going to, but unless Dad's willing to take the hit for the Viagra, he's gonna have quite the trouble I believe pinning that one on Grandma...oh, just own it Andrea, and go with the "podium babes" defense--everyone'll understand if you're a bit tired after 6 hours a day in the bike saddle!

Tour de Give It Back to Rightful Owner Rasmussen Dammit!: so I see Michael "I Was !@#$%^!" Rasmussen finally headed to court to demand the millions of euros the spineless hypocrite pimp-weasels over at Rabobank wussed him out of, as they (and UCI, who also deserve to be sued, those punks) knew full well the Chicken wasn't where he told UCI'd be during his accidentally missed pre-race doping controls and still happily let him flash his garish Rabobank outfit and maillot jaune all over the Tour de France 'til ASO discovered the deceit and ignominiously tossed the team out of the race. I understand if he'd actually *lied* to you, Rabobank--but you took advantage, you got busted, cut the crap with the wah-wah-I'm-so-remorseful St. David Millar profit-driven crocodile tears already!

Update Quote O' The Day: "I was the first to attack. We were a bunch of sheep today, not a pack of lions." ---Who else? Vai Gibo!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Umm...They're Doping to Accomplish *What* Exactly?

I Guess Those Creepy Bob Dole Ads Paid Off: as Gerolsteiner pulls Andrea Molleta from the Giro and then suspends him from the team as his dad is busted by the narcs in a doping raid, details begin to emerge about exactly what was found in the car: a unaffiliated amateur DS, a fridge, a passel of syringes containing a mystery liquid hidden in toothpaste tubes, and a pile of 80-odd tablets of Viagra. Now, this might *seem* to be a bit much for one rider, but it is a three week race after all, and fortunately as we know, systemic team doping is yesterday's news, so Gerolsteiner--unlike, say, Rabobank at last year's Tour--appears to be remaining comfortably in the warm embrace of the shiny clean peloton. Whew! Okay, it dilates the blood vessels, I get it...or are the race-tired Gerolsteiner boys merely looking to violate the hands-off rules regarding the podium babes?

Vai Gilberto!: and, as the gazzetta dello sport tifosi whack foreigner Klodi hard upside the head for daring to criticize even-they-admit-he's-rather-a-wank Riccardo Ricco', and the bodies continue to pound into the tarmac on wet roads as Paolo Bettini still searches desperately for his first win o' the season which he likely won't get (but then, I never count him out) in today's flat sprint finish, congrats to hardworking Simoni domestique Alessandro Bertolini and for Gibo letting him off the leash for a well-earned stage win, wisely conserving his own energy while DiLuca and Ricco' poked at each other half the day up the hillsides like quarrelling little brothers in the family minivan backseat. Forza Simoni!

Missing the Point: finally, as UCI continues to persecute riders it has only the most shoddily-handled monstrously crap cases against, it apparently managed yet another truly impressive screwup: by failing to answer some outstanding questions about blood-doping Vinokorouv lieutenant Andrei Kashechkin, the hands-tied Kazakh federation has cleared the boy to race effective immediately. Nice work, UCI--thank heavens we've got you there protecting the sport from cheating lying skanks! Meantime, trustbutverify reports that the low-key Floyd Landis has been out and about on the roads supporting charity, and that the boy can feel charitable towards anyone (except perhaps charitably like running over Pat "Dick" McQuaid with his bike at 35 miles an hour) is testament to his generosity and self-restraint. If he gathers eight thousand cameras around starts bawling and hugs every forlorn big-eyed tot in sight, Pat, can he get a new ProTour contract and a nice spokesman gig with UCI too?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What Is So Rare As A Day In June?

A Freakin' Ruling on the Iban Mayo Case, Before the Poor Sod Keels Over: as usual, our beloved defenders-o'-truth-and-justice over at trustbutverify are hot off the presses, this time with the report that, contrary to earlier rumors that had an actual verdict due on the 21st, only we love Iban Mayo's hearing was on today and an actual judgment as to whether no-one's ever gonna hire him again anyway no matter what CAS decides is due "sometime in June." Y'know, tempted as I am to hope that his inevitable jack-over gets egregiously delayed, considering how badly the boy hits the skids when he gets compliments like "you're the next Lance Armstrong," can these clods kindly not keep his fragile psyche in suspense for too long while he waits to be told the considerably less warm-n'-fuzzy "your career is over"? Aiiigggghhhhh!

Woo-hoo Klodi!: oh right, and that other guy, as stalwart baby Contador takes a handsome second in the key individual time time with a fractured elbow, yap, this brilliant youngster is gonna win 8 million Grand Tours and make Miguel Indurain look like a Cheeto-stuffed wind-sucking autobus-bound couch slug barely able to bloat off his Barcalounger for another beer, much less to victory, yap. But more importantly, woo-hoo Klodi! Just when I feared that all this "Klodi's gonna take it" talk was gonna freak out our reticent hero into truly Iban Mayo levels of admiration-driven incapacitation, Andreas blasts through to a thoroughly impressive third, which means that if Johan Bruyneel has a soul, he oughta hand over team leadership to Klodi and let him domestique Contador in the equally beautiful if even more more wrongfully scorned Vuelta instead. And was anyone else *so proud* of we love Gilberto Simoni, who I'd frankly assumed would just get irretrievably whacked in the first part of today's course, and with his 10th place is now well within a minute's time of Ricco' and Di Luca on GC? Forza Gibo, you fabulous crank--and don't count on spraying that champagne in Milan too soon, Danilo, especially if your lowly worker bee Savoldelli (still smashing despite his craptacular mechanical failure) has anything to say about it!

The Sissy-boy Slap-Fights Heat Up: meantime, the vicious verbal smackdowns that are the hallmark of any good Giro d'Italia are flaming along, this time with Andreas Kloden telling folks how he really feels about his compatriots, namely that Ricco', a talky little jerk, "isn't a champion," Patrik Sinkewitz' accusation that Kloden doped at T-Mobile is total crap, Ricco' and Rebellin don't have as many doping controls as he does, and as to CSF Navigare, late of Priamo's stage win, let's not even talk about *them* (tho' I imagine now CSF's pissed-off legal team is gonna make you talk, or pay), and while we're at it, Germany in its entirety can blow, because it's outrageous how the press coddled that weasel Ivan Basso while wringing Jan Ullrich's neck instead. Andreas does, however, like Italian food, and admires Di Luca, which oughta keep the tifosi at bay at least long enough for him to dash to the team bus before someone tries to defend their heroes and kick his !@#...good luck and stay safe, Klodi!

Thunder God Is Right, Baby!: so not only did we-love-and-everyone-underestimates Thor Hushovd take his second win of the season at the Volta a Cataluna prologue, but he's now taken his third win by snagging the day's sprint. Bennati, Cavendish, Robbie, Forster, Zabel--keep lookin' under your arms buddies, he's gonna zip off your wheels and whiz by your shiny spandex rumps at the Tour!

99 and 44/100% Pure: finally, one cannot help but note with utter shock and horror that Portuguese Continental squad LA-MSS, lately the home of such fine Op Puerto-linked dope hounds as Constantino Zaballo and Angel Vicioso, was raided just today by the local narcs on suspicion of "widespread" illegitimate hijinks. And after T-Mobile, Liberty Seguros and Astana (old Astana! old Astana! please don't sue me Johan!) had all restored my faith in this sport, I had honestly thought systemic team doping was just a long-gone relic of the dirty cheating amoral scumsucking '90s! Oh, my trusting heart's been broken yet again....

Darn Near Contemporaneous Update: wow, are Astana's lawyers on the ball, as before the ink was even dry on this post CSF's pit bulls swore legal vengeance on the loose-lipped Andreas and Klodi's already wisely apologized for being "misunderstood". That'll teach you to wank to the press again!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Snort in Haste, Repent at Leisure

Unless You're Leonardo Piepoli: yep, looks like right after Petacchi went "on vacation," he was actually sacked, I mean "mutually separated", just like Johan Bruyneel "mutally separated" pouty-lipped poster boy Ivan Basso's tainted dirty !@# off the team bus at 200 miles an hour after exhaustively whoring him for the cameras at the Tour of California last year til the boy finally had to concede the obvious. Still, I can't help but feel some ambivalence here. Sure, the pro peloton's got a truly freakish staggering proportion, relative to non-moneybag-cyclists, of chronic asthmatics and other stricken delicates whose sufferings can only be totally coincidentally alleviated by the sledgehammer use of performance-enhancing drugs during critical moments in stages in races they want to win, which may render the more cynical among us (not me, of course) somewhat suspicious, but on the other hand, it seems like complete and total bull!@#$ that Petacchi's (who after all took some of his drugs *after* the stage ended) now mutually separated his rump miserably on the couch in a mortifyingly ignominious end to his astonishing career while that same salbutamol-OD'ing perp from last year's Giro Leonardo Piepoli is, for no other apparent reason than that he has the sense to race with a license from no-standards Monaco, ostentatiously pulling that arrogant whining little twerp Ricco' up the hill for a stage win this very week. Fine, purge the peloton of every dirty cheating dope-snorting pig (and CAS didn't even think Petacchi was cheating), the sport'll be better off if utterly empty with the two sap-but-honest riders that are left--but do it consistently people, or this entire effort's a grotesque hypocritical half-@#$#@ (cough! McQuaid! cough!) farce! Still, as the Milram sponsors affirm their pride in their strict but just anti-doping policy, no word yet from the poor (well, not poor--I'm pretty sure that satin-draped pin-up calendar he did last year'll get him a nice-paying gig on the Milan runways, if he can't get a new one in cycling) jobless boy as to whether he'll keep his promise to retire if banned. I *told* you, Thor--get the lead out and lunge for that better lead-out train already! Look, they make some nice dip--everyone likes dip right, you can work for these guys!

Armstrong, Flirt Hollywoodiano: oh sure, he's won a bunch of dull old Tour de Frances, campaigned for cancer research and opened a dandy new bike shop--but what's the front-page news on gazzetta dello sport about Lance Armstrong, now that his rock-star romance is over and he's apparently done slurping on that little Olsen twin? Yes, he's snuggling up with inhumanly cheerful actress Kate Hudson. Um, not to distract the primary sponsors of the Giro d'Italia from what's clearly far more important, but isn't there some little local race meandering about that you might want to report on?

Piti on Parade: speaking reluctantly about the comparatively lame Tour de France, I see Alejandro "Man, Am I Lucky I'm Spanish" Valverde was scoping out some key passes in the Pyrennees today, joined by least-respected-second-place-finisher-in-Tour-history-ever-to-be-given-the-maillot-jaune Oscar Pereiro. Apropos of nothing I swear, is anyone else concerned that, despite Christian Prudhomme's most fervent hopes and ridiculous exclusion of posturing, the Tour might not be as Stain-Stick spotless as our pure and noble peloton cleansters would have us believe? And on a related subject, nice work by Riccardo Ricco' implying that Alberto Contador must've been taking something stronger'n sunscreen to whip him into such immediately smashing shape for the Giro after being interrupted lounging beachside (though now the boy's chances may be hamstrung by an arm injury right where he rests on his time-trial bars, though I doubt it--who cares, go Klodi!)--forget climbing skills, he's clearly learned *something* from his year's tutelage under the peerless Gilberto Simoni! Stuff like this keeps the reactionary among my loathed profession in business (not me, alas--but I'm still open to making copies and other humiliating drudge work for Ivan Basso's lawyer!)--Saunier Duval, expect a little phone call from Astana's pinstriped goon squad!

No Surprises: and, I see baby prodigy Marianne Vos has made every other phenomenal cyclist on earth look like a helpless crawling talentless wussbag yet again as she takes it in El Salvador--like a wee Mark Cavendish but without the smug disregard for her (barely) elders. Right on Marianne--though I'm still hoping Marta Bastianelli whups you in the Worlds for a two-fer this year!

Forza!: Finally, just a small note to you Simoni-hatas that, while the boy could certainly be looking better so far as he gacks along going backwards while Di Luca and Ricco attack every six seconds, Gibo's total lack of legs eight days into the corsa rosa is clearly just a wily stalling tactic so he can hoard his energy under the radar until it's time to stealth-brutalize those egomaniacal weaklings on the deadly Passo Fedaia. It'll happen dammit--eat his dust and weep for your pathetic monstrous time loss in the Dolomites, Il Killer!

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's Raining Men!

No Hallelujahs: yep, the (literally) bloody mess that is the Giro d'Italia has grimly continued, with half the boys hitting the deck like drunken sailors in days of relentless pouring rain, the riders utterly unable to recuperate from their wounds by shower, massage, or even timely dinners due to endless late-night transfers and, just as the weather gods smile on the peloton at last, we love Levi Leipheimer and jailbait climbing god Maurizio Soler lose time they sorely need when a police moto wipes out right in front of 'em. Can these guys' luck *get* any worse? Oh man, now I've cursed 'em...

Talkin' Smack: and, it's already a war o'the words in our beloved race, as toddler wunderkind Mark Cavendish opines he kicked old bag Daniele Bennati's !@# the other day because "I'm younger," Ricco' aims to become even more of a petulant blame-gaming prima donna than we adore Gilberto Simoni by lashing out at everyone in sight for his troubles, Jurgen Van den Broucke is derided for taking advantage of a planned rider slowdown to skip out on a breakaway for not having or caring about his wife and family; just-denuded maglia rosa Pellizotti suggesting world champ Paolo Bettini is an inscrutable peloton-hating sell-out for refusing to join the riders' protest over yesterday's long stage and !@#$-slapping Basso as the one who's gonna have to prove he can handle team leadership at Liquigas next year, and even ever-equable gentlemen like Stuey O'Grady cheerfully attributing his race-ending clavicle-snap to guys "mak[ing] stupid mistakes and rid[ing] like idiots" and Contador and Leipheimer struggling not to antagonize RCS for letting 'em in the race while simultaneously calling bull!@#$ on the post-stage Transfers o'Death. And just to show you how right baby Cavendish is about decrepit ancient slug Bennati, I humbly bring to you the sprint replay:

Hamilton's Believe It or Not: holy crap, it's plausible folks--Tyler "I Ate My Twin" Hamilton's homologous blood doping defense could be true after all, as a 9-year old girl who went to hospital with abdominal pains is found to be carrying her embryonic twin inside her stomach. Tyler, if this was you, I owe--and hereby offer--you a sincere, abject apology for doubting such a reasonable excuse. But if you did it anyway, I *still* want my fifteen bucks back for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation hat I defaced with fabric paint protesting your innocence, buddy!

Leuk of the Belgish: meantime, it's a happy day for Bjorn "Love Defense""No Wait It Was My Dumb!@# Team Doc!" Leukemans, as his ban is overturned effective immediately and his case remanded by the Belgian Council of State on the grounds that there was "no fault" by the "accused person." Bjorn, natch, jumped to announce he's been training diligently and could use a new squad, leading one, of course, to think of such havens for nondopers-but-still-outcasts as Rock Racing. Bjorn, get ready to ride in a flamin' skull kit--Michael Ball's bottomless ego is likely going nuts with a good two days out of the newspapers already!

Thor, Thor, Thor of the Jungle: finally, a much-belated "woo-hoo!" to ever-underrated Giro-dissed sprint king Thor Hushovd for taking his first win of the season at Dunkirk, just in time for Credit Agricole to tank financially and desperately seek a bailout, putting the future of its perhaps extraneous (to soulless number-crunching euro-hoarding greed-buckets) bike squad in some doubt. Y'know, not to displace we love ageless slogger Erik Zabel, but with Alessandro Petacchi "on vacation," I hear Milram could use a new guy....

Monday, May 12, 2008

Floyd Landis, Spawn of Satan

Wah, Wah, WADA (Again): so, having been hilariously stiffed by the all-bark-no-euro witchhunting cheapskates over at UCI, enforcement Dobies WADA are now whining full gas on two fronts: (1) the crap Floyd Landis hosing has cost 'em a whopping and unjust 1.3 million dollars; and (2) the entire cheating-skank Spanish peloton remains on the road because those obstructionist-weasel Spanish judges won't turn over the smoking-gun Op Puerto blood bags. Um, no offense WADA, but you're a hugely funded entity with no-one in your organization personally getting whacked in the wallet (nor upside the head, for which frankly you ought to be grateful), unlike, say, evil culprit Landis, who's reportedly gone completely personally broke defending himself--as is his due process right, you crybabies--against the inexcusably incompetent bungling of the UCI lab chimps, who so !@#$%$ up the explicitly-laid-out process that I don't think the poor boy could reasonably've been found guilty if he'd ostentatiously slapped a giant testosterone patch on the works right in front of the assembled press corps at the start line. Oughtn't you (1) quit wanking and (2) blame the real culprits for this fiasco here? Even better, save money--free Iban Mayo you hacks!

And, Speaking of Pains in the !@#es: yes, tiresome twerp (and to be fair to Shameless St. Millar Defender, exceedingly fine racer) St. David Millar is now quick to disdain aspiring-but-failed St. Ivan Basso of Varese, on the grounds that the latter has utterly failed to take true responsibility for doping. But he's kissed a *lot* more bambini in his charity work in his two years in the tank, David, doesn't that make the two of you about even?

Crash Test Dummies: well, as we love completely jacked-over Stefano Garzelli goes on vacation to ponder his upcoming gig at the Worlds and presumably drink himself into a miserable stupor, it's already major carnage in the peloton over at the fabulous Giro d'Italia, as we love Dave Zabriskie caps the Most Frustrating Season Ever by cracking a vertebra on day 2, baby climbing sensation Maurizio Soler's hand looks worse than originally thought, Ricco' hits the tarmac and immediately denounces the course which I'm sure is karma for not appreciating Gilberto Simoni's guidance and mentorship enough (like it wasn't enough pain that Gibo lost 20 seconds the other day to Di Luca), and CSC, which was reasonably looking at at least a couple of stage wins, decimates the ranks even further as we love Stuey (right randie?) O'Grady and poor Brad McGee snap their collarbones in their own romance with the pavement. Oh well, there's always Jens--he's always happy to bound off at any moment solo like a happy slobbering dog after a tennis ball! Luckily, most of the rest of the climbers remain relatively unscathed despite their own tumbles, and in time trial news, it was really very sweet to watch we love wee mountain kings Euskaltel-Euskadi careening all over the place in the team time trial, and even more heartening to see they still managed to finish respectably in the bunch. Just wait 'til we get those boys into the mountains, baby!

Ale-Piper Cub: finally, congrats (and much-needed good news) to Alessandro Petacchi, who welcomed (with the hard work of his wife, no doubt) little Ale-Jet Jr., which should at least be a welcome distraction from watching triumphant young rival Daniele Bennati take a stage. Hey, if he can't ride, at least he'll have plenty of time to domestique on diaper-duty for his tiny new team leader...perhaps not quite the same adrenalin rush as ricocheting off his lead-out train and crushing a surging pile of sprint gods at the line, but a noble job nonetheless!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Giro D'Italia (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Welcome, Giro d'Italia newbies! You've watched the Tour de Georgia and the Tour de California. You know all about Lance Armstrong, and some big race he kept winning for most of a decade. Perhaps you've even watched a wunk of Cyclysm Sundays on Vs., and have already rendezvoused with the bone-jarring pave' of the hard-core Belgian classics. But now it's time for the smashing Giro, baby--and here's what you need to know:

Q: How can you *watch* this crap for six straight hours?
A: On the contrary, dear grasshopper, once you know what's going on, you'll actually want to! Sure, 'til you're thoroughly brainwashed as the rest of us, there's maybe *something* in the world more entertaining than watching wee little climbers being blasted around by crosswinds at the butt-end of the peloton in the flat stages for 5 hours 'til the sprint squads bring the race under control and set up their boys for a thrilling showdown, but hell, go grab a snack til the last 5k! As the rolling stages: will the breakaway succeed? will the lead group collapse under the weight of its own paranoid tactical gamesmanship on the run-up to the line and be sucked up agonizingly by the group within sight of the finish? will a lone strongman attack his compatriots and dash to solo glory? And then there's the mountains, the lovely mountains--any favorite, at any moment, can crack on a decisive climb or lose concentration on a perilous descent, and three weeks work of pain and striving--and the overall win that goes with it--is gone in an instant. Watch, learn, and fall in love!

Q: Isn't the Giro just a cut-rate Tour de France?
A: Aiiiiiiiiggggggghhhhhhhhh! Aiiiiiiiiggggggghhhhhh! Um, no. Less hype, better food, and the liveliest rider smack-talk in the business.

Q: What do all those different jerseys mean?
A: Pink: the fabled maglia rosa--the overall leader's jersey, the one who takes it all. Hot pink: the maglia ciclamino, or points jersey--basically, the best damn sprinter. Green: the coveted maglia verde, the king of the mountains. And white: the best young rider, who'll be back in a few year's time to take the maglia rosa from the big boys. And if someone's wearing a totally different jersey from the rest of their team that isn't one of these--they're the national champ on the road or in the time trial, so watch yer back!

Q: Who are the favorites?
A: Overall (GC): Well, defending champ Danilo Di Luca thinks it's him, but he's gotta convince past winner Paolo Savoldelli to domestique for him, and Olympic/World road god Paolo Bettini thought it was we love aging 2x winner Gilberto Simoni, that is til Astana showed up with 2007 Tour de France winner Contador in tow. Others to watch: his teammates Kloden and Levi; unpredictable baby Ricco'; dark horse star-o-the-future Nibali. Indeed, "i bookmakers" have our adored and ever-hosed Klodi as the fave at 4.5 to 1, with only DiLuca and Contador close by. Sprints: Robbie "Head-Butt" McEwen; Daniele Bennati; Erik Zabel; Mark Cavendish. Rolling stages: barring some tactical reason for the big boys to reel 'em in, look for a breakaway. Team time trial: CSC, Slipstream, Astana. Any stage he sets his mind to: Paolo Bettini, desperate to break the curse of the world champion jersey and take his uncharacteristically late 1st win of the season.

Q: Who's missing?
A: Sprint god Alessandro Petacchi, first by bronchitis and now by his ban; Thor Hushovd, who the hell knows why the race organizers don't like the harmless Credit Agricole; overall contender/former infant champ Damiano "The Little Prince" Cunego, enraging the fans by focusing on the inferior Tour; former overall winner/2007 stage monster Stefano Garzelli, hosed over an inexcusable management snit. You blow RCS!

Q: What's it say on the TV screen?
A: testa della corsa: head of the race, the leaders on the road; also fuga (breakaway). The gruppo (peloton) are chasing 'em; if there's more'n one, it'll list 'em as "G1," "G2," etc. "GPM" indicates where you pick up mountain points. Traguardo or arrivo is the finish line--finally!

Q: So what do I yell at the TV riders, like they can hear me?
A: Forza! (strength) or Vai! (Go!)

Q: So, these guys are drinking insane amounts of liquids and riding hours at a time without a break. Where do they, um...?
A: Well, they sure ain't waiting in line for the little boys' room at the autogrille, so it's wherever and whenever along the roadside the race leader tells 'em to, or on their own, or even right off their bike at speed. So if you're standing innocently in front of a charming Italian orchard as the peloton's about to set off, as I was, then turn in surprise and excitement to see why Bobby Julich's walking right past you into it, as I did, don't come cryin' to me if you can't avert your eyes fast enough--honey, you've been warned!

Q: When's this whole shebang get decided?
A: In the last week--it's all about the mountains, baby! Watch for the Fedaia and its fearsome 18% gradient; the Gavia; and the Mortirolo for spectacular triumphs and race-defining cracks. Forza Gilberto--and Savoldelli, don't feel too bad if you feel compelled to bushwhack team leader Di Luca on a descent just for fun!

Okay folks, I've got some petty inconvenient job to go to, so that's it for now, but if you've got any questions I didn't answer, or you think my answers are just plain crap, ask 'em, or tell it like it is!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ivan Basso, Superstar!/

Do You Think You're What They Say You Are?: many thanks to the eagle eyes and general geniuses over at trustbutverify, who found that UCI has now signed St. Ivan of Varese as the comely repentant face of their new anti-doping campaign, to the swooning sighs of a bizarrely smitten Pat "Dick" McQuaid, dithered like a little girl at a Jonas Brothers concert at the prospect of having such a shining (and pretty!) example of sincere redemption as its poster boy. Indeed, lauds our Pat, he, like St. David Millar, is the voice of a new cycling,,presumably the voice that says that if you start sobbing about your horror at doping on cue or publicly cuddling helpless bambini *after* your !@# has been caught, and if you're young, bankable, and charming enough to catch Pat's eye, all your sins are forgiven, but if you're an aging star on a popularity downslide who can't stand to be a total camera slut, you're just flat cooked. Um, not to stir up trouble, Pat (all right, I'm lyin'), but doesn't UCI sort of have rather a lot to do with the ProTour, and didn't Liquigas just tell the ProTour to completely !@#$$% by hiring your winged acolyte in defiance of his additional required two-year ProTour ban? So did Liquigas or Basso cut a deal with you disgusting hypocrite clowns, or has your (completely understandable) crush on the boy simply rolled over your insufferable morality crusades like a tank? Inquiring minds want to know!

Sigh. Our beautiful cycling is fast becoming the sweaty stinking armpit of the sporting world. Can't we all just have one untainted day of bike-racing so we can uninhibitedly enjoy what remains of our innocence? Well, the unimpeachable we love George Hincapie's riding the Toura Missoura I hear, and at least most of the boys in that race haven't the budget to score anything more potent than a double espresso....

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Crash and Burn

Manly-Man Blues: just as scientific studies confirm that some people are fortunate genetic freaks who can snort enough testosterone to fuel an '80s action flick and still test negative, and others are helpless genetic saps who'll test poz for testosterone even after a weeklong estrogen binge, Lampre's own Paxti Vila has been pegged as the dirty peloton drug cheat on an apparently-mild variation from approved parameters and is, therefore, demanding a B-sample analysis. More surprisingly, Lampre--which really could use this fine climber to shepherd Tour long-shot Damiano Cunego in the high passes there--has declared its "faith" in the boy, which loyalty oughta last til he comes up poz again whether he's actually done anything wrong or not, and which has already been undermined somewhat by their immediately yanking him off the Giro lineup. As to the luckless Alessandro Petacchi, suspended for a year by a reluctant CAS for his asthma-med OD despite specifically finding he "is not a cheat" and even holding he took his extra dose "after the stage"--which would seem to preclude any performance-enhancing benefits--Milram's being a hell of a lot more circumspect even with such a superior profit machine at stake, gacking up merely a terse "no comment", and it remains to be seen if, though Petacchi's wife concedes he's "depressed," with his '07 Giro and all '08 results stripped and his ban whacking him out of this year's Tour, the ailing and now dope-smacked boy will actually keep to his earlier glum promise to retire if banned. The tifosi, meantime, have gone completely nuts, with most of them still enraged that no Spaniards (cough! Valverde! cough!) went down for Op Puerto but the Italians are as always being burned at the stake, the less nationalist pissed that fellow (and no doubt, in their estimation, lesser) countryman Leonardo Piepoli got off the hook for his little '07 Giro indiscretion, a lone asthmatic soccer player hesitantly opining that if you're really having such an attack, no amount of Ventolin is gonna let you go out to get the mail, much less charge across the line in a full-on sprint with a pack of other super-athletes, and not a few groupies too stunned and angry to muster more than an impassioned "this sucks!" Okay, maybe there's more breathless gasping asthmatics blasting away at full gas (with a TUE in their pocket, no less) in the peloton than there are in, say, the entire rest of planet Earth, but no-one's saying Petacchi's not one of 'em (at least not in earshot of his now-extremely-touchy legal team)--and either way, what a crappy way for a storied champion to go out!

Not So Fast: so, Kloden, think that Johan Bruyneel's not gonna toss you out the team-car window like a grease-soaked Big Mac wrapper in favor of his chosen baby-faced golden boy just because you're spot on form and entirely deserving of sole team leadership at the Giro? Well, think again, pal, because the truly gracious Contador's recent illnesses, dental work, and uncertain post-holiday fitness aren't gonna keep the organization from now crowning him "captain" for the race, which I imagine is even more set in stone now that ASO has reaffirmed that no matter what those gullible Italians and Spaniards are gonna do, the morally righteous Tour de France is gonna pointlessly keep Astana on ice this year. Oh, why even bother with the pretense, Johan--just kick poor Andreas in the works already and call it like it is! Ah well, Klodi, why should you let the fact that the last three teams you've been on have forced you to play gaseous emission to someone else's streaking comet when you're perfectly capable of winning a Grand Tour in your own right get to you?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Oh, Just Suck It *Up* Already, Tour de France!

Yet Another Reason The Giro Makes the Tour Look Like a Pack of Petty Grandstanding Prima Donnas: so, as the news sinks in that Astana rightly gets to ride the Giro, and that we love Andreas Kloden is jacked *again* out of a likely Grand Tour win despite his own handsome win at Romandie, this time by the team's inability to build their training around the race (although I must confess that, in his little interview with Vs., I couldn't help feel a wee bit skeptical as our ex-T-Mobile hero waxed so poetic on being on a clean team at last), the tifosi over at Gazzetta dello Sport, happy to see the Giro become even more competitive and duly lauded for its total greatness, still have only one real question: "you're letting a pack of foreigners into our Giro and leaving out STEFANO GARZELLI?!" Right on tifosi, I call bull!@#$ RCS! Still, that doesn't stop the fans from giving credit where credit is due: while Klodi may be the team leader on paper as Levi and Alberto express doubt about their form, and Danilo Di Luca remains the hometown fave over such fine GC contenders as Simoni, Ricco, and Savoldelli, at the moment, according to the latest poll over at Tuttobici, they're banking on little Contador to take home the whole show. Come on Tour de France, pony up with the invite already--despite your own natural and reasonable desire to completely !@#$ over Levi Alberto Contador Johan and Klodi for stuff they had absolutely nothing to do with, can't you give the boys a fighting chance by letting 'em prep Contador for the Tour and at least let Levi get ready to take on the Vuelta so each of these boys can get their shot at a podium?

Team High Horse, Indeed: and, thinking of T-Mobile, I can't help note that it seems awfully funny that even after mighty clean-sport crusader Bob Stapleton rode in on his white steed to purge the magenta filth pit in '07, there were apparently a giant wunk of major-euro payments to the dirty dope-stuffing Freiburg docs the year he'd already stepped in to take control. Oh, I'm sure the shiny new squad was simply honoring the previous cheating-weasel management's installment plan...

Quote o' the Week (and lacking stenographic skills or perfect memory, I paraphrase): from we love Phil Liggett during Sunday's Tour of Romandie coverage, discussing Oscar Pereiro's performance: "Of course, he's going to have to do a lot better than that, if he hopes to win another Tour de France, if indeed he won one in the first place." Right on Phil, and forza Floyd!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

CSI: Moronothon

Who Iiiiiiiiiiiis It?: yes, after a remarkably quiet few months, it's the first doping poz of the season, as the UCI's 'biological passport' claims its first 'top rider,' and, rather shockingly for the same clowns who didn't bother to give Floyd Landis a wake-up call before the news was already splashed all over the newspapers, the smug little wankers aren't actually even press-whoring the name yet. UCI, though, has wasted no time crowing about how this is clearly a sign of a newly-spotless peloton, as anyone who even tries to pump up on the good stuff is inevitably going to go down in flames. Sure, we all know from the highly-effective purges of Op Puerto and last season that there couldn't be any dopers left in the gruppo, and that from the class-act monkey justice gifted to Floyd Landis and Iban Mayo that you've never been proven wrong yet! Anyhoo, it ain't Floyd Vino or Iban--any guesses? Oh, right, like you don't want to know too, you lurid vultures!

Ale-jet Down in Flames: and, it's official: Alessandro Petacchi, lately plagued by a serious of vicious respiratory problems after a smashing early season, has announced he's out of the Giro d'Italia, rendering his possible CAS suspension for a salbutamol OD utterly pointless, leaving the Milram train in the care of aged but brilliant backup stalwart Erik Zabel, and pretty much handing the points jersey to a finally-surging Robbie McEwen or, if his younger smack-talking Italian rival has anything to say about it, Daniele "Benna-Jet" Bennati. Damn, kid, can't you at least wait for the poor bastard to be busted into formal retirement before you co-opt even his nickname?

Klodi Coyote: well, yippee-ki-yay,!@#$%%^^^&&, as we love Andreas Kloden, finally emerging from months of illness, serious glumness, and a narc-pimping by former BFF/teammate Patrik Sinkewitz (looking for a new squad, by the way, if his teammates don't mind sharing the bus with someone likely to sell 'em down the river for personal amnesty), has surged to first in the Tour de Romandie time trial and, even more happily, the overall. Man, ASO, after this, Maxim Iglinsky's stage win, and Contador taking every possible race on the planet, isn't it about time you just sucked up the reality that Astana's history is no more disgusting than half the other teams you're inviting to ride and just let these boys race in France? Aiiiggggghhh, and allez allez Andreas! Oh, Klodi, if only you'd been best man at bawling golden-boy St. David Millar's wedding instead of the reviled Jan Ullrich's, you'd be prepping for yet another Tour podium today....

Career Corner: finally, for Jorg Jaksche, Jan Ullrich, and all you other poor, disgraced (did I mention poor?), unemployable exiles still reeling from the hard crash to the cold tarmac from glorious superstardom, I humbly suggest a way for you to regain your love of cycling, your pride, and (as any bike messenger could tell you) a fat, fat bank account:

Thursday, May 01, 2008

License to Ill

Listen All Y'All, It's Sabotage: In a piece sure to be a massive financial boon to discreet, fly-by-night genetic testing outfits everywhere, the NY Times reports that an impressive percentage of folks contain a gene mutation that allows one to scarf truly startling amounts of testosterone and still test negative for doping. Hmmm, could this, rather'n a mere sartorial love of the Van Dyke, be what's causing the recent fad in facial hair in the peloton? WADA, if the less hirsute among the boys suddenly start making appointments at the spa for serious manscaping, or the women mysteriously start singing bass, watch out!

The Downside: however, for those not so freakishly gifted by the cheating gods, the French have just enacted legislation whacking any rider caught in possession of doping products with up to a year in jail. Jef D'Hont, put down that poison pen and stop pimping Jan Ullrich's dessicated carcass to all comers--looks like the peloton's got a lucrative job for you once more! Of course, anyone caught *trafficking* drugs gets up to 5 years in the big house--but hell, it can't be any worse than the ignominious exile you're living in now!

A Mixed Musette: well, it's good news and bad for Danilo "Il Killer" Di Luca, as CAS upholds his largely off-season three-month suspension for his association with childhood physician Carlos Santuccione, including tapes of such obviously hypothetical conversations as how and when to inject EPO for maximum benefit (surely, say, for that extra boost to catch up on all that springtime yardwork). Still, Danilo, though "disappointed," gets to defend his Giro, as nothing untoward happened with the boy last year, and to that end, Simoni, Di Luca, Ricco', and a host of other GC threats braved teh lingering snow and crap road conditions to try out the likely decisive mountain time trial to Plan de Corones:

Forza Gilberto, and screw you RCS for hosing Garzelli! Oh, what does it really matter, they're all gonna be left in the dust when Ivan Basso hits the road in '09 anyway, since he was already strong enough to kick their !@#es when he wasn't doping in the first place...

On a Roll: finally, a quick note for either of my faithful readers who may be in vague proximity to Boston: the inestimable, and downright hilarious, Bob Roll is gonna be at Landry's bike shop on May 9th, and it's a damn lot more'n we're ever gonna see him on Vs. this season, so for my money, it's worth the trip. No, I'm not a paid shill for Landry's, nor Bob (though I wouldn't be averse to that, if offered); yes, go to the Landry's site for the lowdown. See you on the 9th, woo-hoo!