Friday, August 29, 2008

*This* Is How You Say "Good Job!"?

Didja Ever Hear of "Thank You Notes?": yes, as you might surmise, on the eve of the spectacular Vuelta, a spectacularly ungrateful Bjarne "Thank God No-One's Pursuing Those Allegations About Me and Fuentes" Riis has generously informed the press that Carlos Sastre "doesn't represent the future of our team" like Cancellara big and baby Schlecks and Sorensen, and we just don't have space for the boy anymore, though we're really, really gonna support him at the Vuelta, the poor old useless hag. Um, last I noticed, Bjarne, he just a few short weeks back won you the same Tour de France you admitted you doped through, so while I'm certainly no Miss Manners, it does seem to me that, however decrepit his aging bod, perhaps the boy is owed some faux good will at least through the end of this season, no? What, he just told you he's taking off for Cervelo's new Pro Continental gig or something? Suck it up and show some class, you bitter nasty clod!

Pass the Deutschie: so as Andreas "Thank You Sir May I Have Another" Kloden, already smacked by his country leaving him off the Worlds team, skips the race and as usual tanks his own superior prospects to wipe Contador's butt at the Vuelta (thanks PJ and Anon for the sympathy!), the 2008 Jens Voigt's Just Gonna Win It Again Deutschland Tour is underway, and while he's certainly got a hell of a road ahead of him with boys like the Fothens Kohl Burghardt and Grabsch to put on the hurt, one other boy on the start list oddly stands out: the smashing Haimar "Contador's Future !@#$$" Zubeldia, bagging the last chance he'll ever have for himself at the Vuelta to prostrate himself at the service of you-know-who next season. Look, I don't begrudge the boy's phenomenal talent--if you gotta work for someone, he's more than worthy. But must some of the best riders on the planet always find themselves playing dope-slapped spit-on second banana to Johan's latest object of adoration? If you can't give 'em any dignity, Bruyneel, you at least better be paying Klodi and (next season) Zubeldia some serious dough!

The Sounds of Silence: yep, it's contract season folks, and for my money, one of the biggest surprises isn't that Milram's just offered to snap up half the jobless Gerolsteiner boys, but that Cadel Evans, whose team's complete inability to support him in the high passes likely cost 'im the Tour de France (or at least a closer second place finish--woo-hoo Sastre!), has signed on with the ineffectual Silence-Lotto for another two seasons (so likely the end of his career), which begs the obvious question: what, you couldn't for any humiliating pay cut convince someone like Bjarne to back off the Schlecks he's grooming now that he's tossed Carlos off the team bus? I hope you at least persuaded Silence management to pony up for a better climber than Robbie McEwen...

White Ponies on Dope (Redux): and, in non-cycling doping news (since frankly it's no-one I care about who just made cyclists look like selfish stupid reckless !@#es, *again*), the fallout from the notorious Olympic busts of 2008 continue to shake the coke-snorting denizens of the stables to their very cores as yet another front on the drug war opens up, this time, following the fine example of the sincere zero-tolerance anti-doping maestros over at UCI, from the law'n'order Kentucky racing authorities: no anabolic steroids for you! Unless, of course, you require one of the race organizers' handy new Therapeutic Use Exemptions, so long as you flush it all out 60 days before race day, which oughta make early-season form enhancement a prancing breeze. Okay Mr. Ed, the choice is clear: admit you don't have any health problems and lose, or emulate the 90% of pro cyclists who totally coincidentally desperately need meds that totally coincidentally happen to increase their ability to win. Take the latter, and I guarantee the 2009 Triple Crown is yours!

Gripe o' the Week (Surprise! There is One): now, Velonews is a very fine publication, I enjoy the website, and the whole operation I gotta say is overall bitchin'. But imagine my surprise and total ballistic rage when I received the August 25, 2008 issue--5 measly days before the start of the you-know-what--and discover *zero* mention of the season's third Grand Tour on the cover, in the table of contents--anywhere! And *this* with everybody's darling Contador as the favorite! Oh, fine, you've alluded to it in past issues, I'll erect you a freakin' statute in Madrid for that-- but WTF, dear Velonews?

Stand and Deliver: finally, as said peerless Vuelta heads out today, a nationalist shout-out to Caisse d'Epargne's Jose Ivan Gutierrez, who avoided impaling himself on the Carbon Fiber Pike of Imminent Castration by the riding the last k of the Eneco Tour standing above the jarred-off remnants of his saddle-less seatpost and, even more unlikely, winning the thing for the second year in a row. Y'know, I get that these are professionals and all whose phenomenal technical skills allow 'em to strip off raingear on a roaring switchbacked descent without catapulting into a crevasse or to throw a half-empty musette into a hated rival's wheel at 50k an hour with surgical precision, but coming from the perspective of someone who can't peek under her shoulder to see who's behind her without actually ramming into a building, I gotta say--even acknowledging the enormo motivation and adrenalin rush Gutierrez must've had to not let himself be transformed into a soprano--I'm impressed. Give that boy (and his surely relieved significant other, if he's got one) a bottle of champagne!

All right, we all know there's only one thing that matters the next three weeks anyway. On to the fabulous Vuelta!


randie said...

i for one am excited about the vuelta, this will be my first, i am ashamed to say

racejunkie said...

Ashamed? Randie, no-one who comes from the land of Stuey O'Grady ought to be ashamed of anything! It's entirely the fault of the woefully lame underpublicity of the event relative to that big hoo-ha in France every July. Viva la Vuelta, and I hope you enjoy it!

PJ said...

My complaint? Why isn't Versus covering the Vuelta? Where can I find online video that at least show a picture? The lack of coverage is very disappointing. I want to watch, not just read live feeds.

racejunkie said...

Sorry PJ, the only way I've found to watch it here in the US is to pony up and subscribe to, where you can watch the whole shebang live, on repeat or highlights. If I recall correctly, Vs. last year offered about 2 total freakin' hours of coverage *after* the entire Vuelta was already over--aaaiiigggghhh! Anyone else found other alternatives?

racejunkie said...

Hey PJ (and other frustrated Vuelta fans), here's a site with free streaming video coverage of the "laatste kilometer" yesterday (and video of whatever-the-hell "wedstrijdverslag" means):