I'll Take You There (Sunday Spoiler!): woo-hoo, fellow mountain freaks, we're in the high passes at last, and, as the fearsome Hautacam rears its ugly head tomorrow--and Cadel better get off his stolid journeyman !@# and start pounding his rivals pronto if he wants to take the maillot jaune in Paris, because not only is Valverde always game to attack, but unlike the relentless Caisse d'Epargne Logan's Run superdomestique death squad, Silence-Lotto's guys clearly can't do the job for him--Riccardo Ricco' proves yet again that, given any criticism by anyone anytime anywhere ever, particularly when it's the Italian press implying he's a GC-impotent disappointment, he can really take it out on the pedals. And, as the newspapers backtrack and instantly hail him as the new Pantani, the tifosi, of course, are going wild, enraptured at having an Italian wail on the French at the Tour, still largely acknowledging they find the boy annoying, wondering what the hell has happened to Il Piccolo Principe Cunego (Damiano says he felt good in his head and body today and that the real battle for GC starts tomorrow, incidentally), and only reluctantly comparing Ricco' in climbing style only to their idolized Il Pirata. Ricco's response to such a happy day? Yep, this is the sort of thing that happens when he's pissed, and it's the very core of his soul, so apparently he's gonna be a relentless nudnik 'til the end of his successful career. Thanks for the warning Cobra--where the hell is the "mute" button on my remote control?
He's Doomed!: as poor handcuffed alleged-EPO-snorting Triki Beltran continues to proclaim confusion at what happened (apparently "my team doc/soigneur/wife screwed up" is not on the table at this point), and everyone blasts him as "an idiot" (Phil Liggett), "scandalous" (Bjarne "So What If I Won My Own Tour Doping?" Riis), and "totally not under our guidance or approval! we swear it! it's an absolute coincidence we bailed from the ProTour so we could hire Ivan Basso!" (Liquigas), brave (and possibly deeply stupid) Cedric Vasseur defends not only Triki, but also Iban Mayo (right on Cedric!), the presumption of innocence, the desirability of positive B (that's "B", you bastards!) samples and, of all abominations, due process. Um, not to suggest that any rider who dares reserve judgment is viciously made to pay by the nasty righteous hypocrites who run the antidoping agencies, but anyone else thinking that now every time Vasseur takes a nature break at some charming Alpine roadside, or, say, twenty years from now when he's merely puttering about operating a nice little bike shop in his hometown, he's gonna be stalked by narcs?
The French Connection: what do homologous blood-doping megolomaniac freak Alexander Vinokorouv, last year's sap Cristian Moreni, and we love Iban Mayo whose goddamn B through Y samples tested negative so why is this even an issue you repulsive witchhunting wankers, have in common? Yep, they're all potential guests of the notorious French prison system for last year's alleged hijinks, and if any of their fellow convicts turn out to be serious fans of their hometown French cyclists who've been losing against such foreigners for the last decade, I cringe to think how long these fragile little lightweights are gonna be able to fend off a distinctly unpleasant prison-yard beatdown. Run, Iban, run!
Miss Manners Award o' the Week: surprisingly, to Team Columbia sprint king/brash youngster Mark Cavendish, taking a remarkable break from the assholian braggadocio so typical of sprinters and generously crediting his team's efforts over his own after his second win of the Tour, when honestly, this is a kid who's already earned some ego and for my money is gonna be the McEwen of his generation (without the unfortunate tendency to physically assault his rivals, of course). Keep it up Cavendish, and Ricco', you arrogant whining twerp, listen and learn!
Loser Prediction of the Day: of course, dear Sastre for tomorrow, so place yer bets elsewhere folks--but allez allez Sastre, you can do it!
Five Is a Magic Number: finally, in non-Tour news, yeee-haaaaah! to bad!@# Fabiana Luperini, comfortably snagging her fifth Giro d'Italia as Ina Teutenberg takes yet another stage over hard-charging Amber Neben. Forza Marta Bastianelli--this is only a temporary setback, I'm sure! And congrats and welcome back to duly chastened babealicious party-boy Tom Boonen as he handsomely takes the final sprint at the Tour of Austria--time to celebrate Tommeke!--but with *alcohol* this time, capisce?