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?

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