Friday, September 26, 2008


Vola, Vola, Vola Paolo!: Okay, it had to happen sooner or later, but if Patrick "30 YEARS OF DOPING" Lefevere hadn't been such a soulless europinching miserable tool, we love and will sorely, sorely miss Paolo Bettini wouldn't be saying that tomorrow is his last race on earth--yes, the peerless master of tactics, capturer of Classics and endless Grand Tour stages, and generous supporter of wholly lesser creatures than himself has decided to retire. Dammit--right when I was ready to start selling off lesser organs on the black market to finance one last view of him at the Giro next year! Needless to say, the tifosi over at gazzetta dello sport have erupted into all-caps trauma and fury, and not a few indications of general malevolence to every stupid inscrutable team that failed to hire their (our) hero. Grazie, grazie mille, il nostro Grillo, per la sua forza di volonta' e' corpo per molti anni--and you *suck* you greedy miserly selfish unappreciative dirtbag Lefevere!

Young Frankenschleck: yes, as a German newspaper reported 'way back in July (and then linking him with Bjarne "Doping Bad (Except for Me)" Riis on a little field trip to a medical team)Frank Schleck has indeed been nailed by the narcs, this time with the specific allegation that the boy wired a tidy 7,000 euro from a Swiss bank account to Gyno-to-the-Male-Stars Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. Still and all, a glum Pat "Dick" McQuaid has conceded he's got to let Frank start tomorrow, managing to toss another bitter whining slap to endlessly wily quarry "Piti" Valverde since he can't get who he's actually after at the moment. Leaving aside the fact that at Fuentes' reputed rates 7,000 euro isn't enough to buy you propulsion up a mildly steep driveway much less a freakin' mountaintop, Frank, and as such seems an awfully trivial thing for which to tank your career and bitchin' Tour legacy, and also ignoring my own personal aggravation at my repeat stupidity that someone I admired was apparently on the juice *again*, I could've *told* you not to take financial advice from Jan Ullrich!

Not So Fast, Sucker: so as Armstrong gets ready to jack over we love Levi Leipheimer at the Amgen EPO Tour of California, and even makes some noise about checkin' out the Giro, which I imagine can only be because Contador sez he's not gonna take any crap at the Tour and in which I hope the Italians viciously take him out because he doesn't deserve to even survive a glorious race which he so obviously considers an also-ran, our fine friends at UCI have now stepped in with a big caveat: if Armstrong thinks he's gonna bedazzle the Aussies at the Tour Down Under, he's gonna have to wait to find out, as UCI's now desperately trying to knock him out on a time-limit technicality for participating in pre-race anti-doping protocols. Y'know, Pat "Dick" McQuaid, you *just* managed to make yourselves look slightly less obnoxious by calling detente with the Grand Tours; given that the mainstream sports press is all set to personally cast Lance in bronze and park him on the steps of the Capitol, do you *really* want to look like more of a petty pack of whining toddlers by tormenting him that way? Have some dignity for once, and revel in the impotence that is yours!

Understatement of the Year Award: y'know, as Contador reiterates his readiness to bail should Johan Bruyneel renege on his promise to let baby Contador ride in the front seat at next year's Tour, you gotta give our wee rising-overlord-o'-the-peloton some credit for having a sense of humor, as in pondering the dynamics of a possible (tho' highly unlikely) joint Contador-Armstrong Astana run at the Tour, Alberto surmises, "I don't see him as doing well in the role of domestique." So *that's* how you say "Lance is a monstrous raging black hole of a life-sucking ego utterly incapable of ceding power to anyone"--give that boy a gold star for diplomacy!

Just Another Manic Monday: and, it's gonna be a nervous few days for at least a small percentage of the doping saps at the Tour who breathed a sigh of relief watching that twerp Ricco' get busted instead of them, as on Monday the vampires start testing blood samples for CERA whose riders, naturally, had come up clean on the urine tests. Round up the usual suspects, boys--you already know who's left that you wanna fry, so why bother with any pretense of objectivity and test 'em at all?

Emergency!: closer to home, heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to TBV over at Landis-source-o'-the'gods trustbutverify, whacked quite hard by some inattentive clueless cyclist-crushin' assclown of a car while on a training ride, hospitalized with a bucket o'fractures and, fortunately, reporting this morning that despite being seriously dented he's gonna be okay. Get well and back on the bike where you belong soon, TBV, and let me know if you need a hand suing that hoser's !@#!

Erik the Hot Pink (and Baby Blue): 12 stages in the Grand Boucle. Valiant 6x green jersey champ. Smoked Milano-Sanremo 4 times. Three badass 2006 & 2007 victories in the Vuelta a Espana, and, even more remarkably, 3 wins this year even as he was kept busy as a humble lead-out for the designated lords of his squad. And only once in 1996, in one of the filthiest, darkest eras of this sewerdwelling spectacular sport, did our boy use EPO to try to get there. Yes, as if Paolo Bettini's horrid retirement weren't enough for one week, indefatigable sprint king Erik Zabel's finally calling it quits. Ergo, in tribute, I humbly mooch the following off someone(s) else:

Sorry folks, I looked for slinkmeister photos of these boys, but neither one of 'em saw fit to pose in a gladiator outfit or for a soft-porn calendar. Thanks for the memories Paolo and Erik!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The First Wives' Club

Tried and True: wow, is Johan Bruyneel quite the trendsetter, as he officially ditches his flashy young mistress Contador for his wrinkly ol' bag first wife Armstrong, despite his bull!@#$ promises to his naive protege to the contrary and the fact that Armstrong's value as an actual cyclist is only going to decrease while Alberto's is on the upswing. One might question the wisdom of presiding over the festivities as Lance's ravenous narcissistic adoration cravings train-wreck his sporting legacy, but big points to Johan for loyalty! I wouldn't worry about our pretty new spandex king-o'-the-world too much though--aside from the fact that he's apparently rethinking yesterday's vow to head for the hills if Armstrong tries to muscle in, he'll inevitably move on to even more besotted, deep-pocketed squads, who'll no doubt lavish him with gifts so generous it'll make Tom Boonen's Ferrari collection look like a rustpit full o' Pintos in exchange for the not-overly-onerous duties of establishing himself as a legend in the sport with his next half-dozen Grand Tour wins and only a minimum of tedious love-ins with the sponsor high honchos. If Contador does leave, though, it's hard to imagine who he's going to get to domestique for him next year, after he nastily threw his selfless nursemaid Leipheimer under the team bus by denying that Levi ever helped him win the Vuelta in the first place and--horrors!--charging that Levi might even have won the whole thing in his own right if the time trial had been 20 kilometers longer, the treacherous servant bastard. Damn, Levi, at least if you stick around Astana to be dope-slapped by Lance next season, you only gotta put up with this prima-donna crap for one more year! Can we all just cut the Teen Beat heartthrob !@#$ now on how sweet and dreamy and gentle and generous and fairy-princess rainbow-sparkly Alberto is, and concede that--once-in-a-generation brilliant or not, and he's certainly that--he's clearly been learning a lot more from Lance "the Ego" Armstrong's example than just race tactics of late? Get *out* of there Levi and Klodi, Bruyneel can't pay you enough to deal with *either* of these soul-sucking remoras!

The Fourth Estate: meantime, from CNN to the New York Times, the non-cycling American sports press is simply rapturous over Lance's return, particularly, one imagines, since with the Great American Hero and his Great American Story (and I don't demean either one) to glom on again, they're now utterly free to cover cycling with a guaranteed cash-cow in hand without having to trouble themselves to learn (much less explain) such arcane and inscrutable terms as "sprint," "seat post," and "time trial." Don't let these nits dumb you down, dear newbies (leave that to the rest of us)--there is so much more to know and love even about this tainted filthy debacle of a sport than this one famous socialite-slurpin' camera ho!

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: finally, in actual race news, the dandy Worlds is underway, with Amber Neben scorching the field in the time trial and Judith Arndt--who I'm presuming, despite the fact that the Italians are apparently favored, is gonna lead the badass German squad to a gold in the road race--snagging the bronze. As for the gentlemen? Dropping like flies before they even get their boarding passes, sadly, as now we love Stuey O'Grady becomes the latest to bail out from fatigue, tho' the Spaniards remain largely intact even without the presence of Sastre to challenge (if fruitlessly) the smashing squadra azzurra. So you got four boys for the price of one to replace Bettini, Lefevere?--enjoy, as (win or lose the podium) your reject gets ready to kick Belgian !@#!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Tour That Wouldn't Die

It's a New Anti-Doping Protocol, Baby!: so if you thought a *positive* test at the Tour de France was gonna get you in trouble with the narcs, wait'll you see what happens to you when you come up *negative*: yep, in a move that makes even the hypocrite tools at UCI and WADA look good by comparison, the paranoid French conspiracy theorists are gonna naturally assume that means you're a filthy cheating dirt-weasel, unearth a passel of half-forgotten blood samples from the AFLD office beer cooler, and make those incompetent lab chimps at Chatenay-Malabry test that !@#$ til the results come up *right*. Y'know, so long as we're utterly throwing due process, common sense, and objective analysis out the window, let's just cut to the chase, shall we? The only way to truly kill doping in cycling is to rip it out from the roots. Let's arrest Lance and Eddy and Bernard and Miguel, and we'll hang 'em upside down from racks by their ankles and squeeze 'em like toothpaste tubes til we can figure out once and for all what those cheating bastards were winning on. Hell, why don't we just dig up Anquetil? *That* oughta teach 'em to !@#$ with you!

Last Meal My !@#: what's more, according to the new WADA rules just announced, antidoping penalties for the boys and girls in all the races become more "flexible" in 2009, ditching the two-year one-size-fits-all time-out, and allowing for milder penalties for inadvertent or non-performance-enhancing use, and up to four years for such aggravated first-time offenses such systemic doping, multiple product use, and--here's the kicker--"deceptive or obstructing conduct," which I'll damn near guarantee means not only actual lying, but also such heinous defense tactics as demanding a hearing expressly guaranteed by WADA procedural rules or, even worse, protesting one's actual innocence. So don't even think of suggesting that the same testing protocols which have been proven to pop up with an occasional (or more than) false positive didn't work perfectly on you, you worthless dissembling scumsucker--you can ask for your last cigarette if you want to, but we're still gonna shoot you first! Can you imagine what they'd've done to Floyd Landis if he came up poz this coming season instead of when he did? Yeesh...

All About Alberto: yep, on the eve of his historic victory in the noble Vuelta, Contador's really done now with that starry-eyed ingenue bull!@#$, as he tells gazzetta dello sport in no uncertain terms that if Armstrong comes home to big daddy Bruyneel, he's *still* riding the Tour de France for himself alone to win it, so any old-bag interloper who wants it is gonna have get it without him. Boy, Lance, have things changed since you were head Moonie over at PostalDiscovery--even Ivan Basso would've wiped your rump for you if he'd managed to stick around long enough! Needless to say, the press is rapturous (as am I, slimily) over the possibility of such outright warfare, and with Columbia flat-out nixing the idea of Armstrong coming in to boss around his ol' pal Hincapie, looks like Lance is gonna have to pay up hard to steal the few loyal minions still left in the peloton. I *told* you that spun-sugar kid wasn't gonna take any crap if you pushed him!

Cape Fear: so Paolo Bettini's talking Worlds, and this is what he thinks: the Spaniards should be afraid, very afraid, because if he can't take 'em out, he'll make sure Davide Rebellin will. Who's keeping Il Grillo up nights? Mainly, Oscar Freire (as he should be), Valverde's coming in tired but you still can't take your eyes off him, he ain't so impressed with his imminent replacement at Quick Step Schumi, and, while he's pretty sure this isn't the corsa for big Tom Boonen, he just hasn't seen enough of the Schlecks of late to know if they're gonna crush him or not. (It's a pretty bitchin' interview actually in terms of discussing his past career, so if anyone wants more details and is willing to take my craptastic Italian on faith, let me know and I'll happily, if inaccurately, oblige). Y'know, I gotta say I'm caught here on which losing underdog cause to root for--Paolo, so he can dope-slap that bastard Lefevere for jacking him, or Freire, who inevitably loses 3/4 of every season to freak injuries like bowling-ball-sized saddlesores. Oh heck, no one's ever pulled a 3-fer--forza Paolo, and stuff it Quick Step!

Let's Play Dodgeball!: after Euskaltel's brutal humiliation at the Vuelta via poor Igor's embarrassing sunny-day dry-descent crashout, and the horrible defection of Haimar Zubeldia to be Contador *and* Levi *and* Lance *and* for God's sake lowest-rung-on-the-ladder Andreas Kloden's subservient !@#, the team's finally got some good news: Olympic gold medalist (woo-hoo!)/future Vuelta champ Samuel Sanchez *is* gonna stay with the team, as even the flush folks at Cervelo aren't gonna pony up the 900,000 euro to buy him out of the last two years of his contract. Still, those oligarchs over at Tinkoff/Katusha remain perhaps a dark horse, so I ain't gonna believe it til he turns up in team kit next season--please Samu, please, for the sake of all that is pure in this repulsive sport--and I've gotta believe *something* is--stay with the humble but glorious Basques. Aupa Sanchez--can anyone but their fanatic orange army award you so well in sheer adoration?

Viva, Viva, Viagra!: finally, what's the latest word on the war against drugs after Andrea Molletta was unceremoniously yanked by Team Gerolsteiner from this year's Giro after his dad was oddly busted with a bucket o' mystery syringes a freelance DS and a truckload of Viagra tablets, in theory advantageous for their blood-flow-enhancing properties? Well, the peloton studmuffins have both dodged a bullet and gotten some help making up to their significant others in the off-season for all those long, lonely spring-and-summer nights on the road, as thankfully, according to the UCI's medical commission, Viagra doesn't count as doping. Um, anyone else thinking that whatever the actual scientific merits of this finding, the elder statesmen at the antidoping agencies just can't bear the thought of making such a handy substance contraband?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bang, Bang!/I Am the Warrior

So Who's It Going To Be, Johan?: he's got the face of an angel, the self-effacement of a saint, the gentility of a prince, and the generosity of a good Samaritan. What else has he got? Let's face it, the raw self-centered hunger for victory at any cost of a young you-know-who--and if Johan Bruyneel and Lance "Be My !@#$%, !@#$%" Armstrong don't think that darling child Contador means exactly what it looks like when he thumps his chest like an amped-up chimp and fires his imaginary gun as he crosses the line, they're freakin' nuts. Why in hell would this surging creature want to domestique for yesterday's news? In short, one of 'em's clearly gonna have to switch teams, since Lance in particular can only tolerate total unquestioning servitude from everyone he rides with. So which is it, Johan: is your loyalty to the king you made back then, or the one you're making now? Y'know, Lance'd look awfully pretty in Columbia baby blue...

Of course, either way this turns out, Andreas Kloden and Levi Leipheimer are screwed *again*, though, given that Contador never begrudged anyone a stage win or a split-second's attention from the press, they're probably better off as it stands now--which still, frankly, sucks. But if it's Lance, they'll only be allowed to race for themselves if and when Lance thinks it'll help him at the Tour, and even if they are allowed to ride for themselves at all anytime anywhere ever, Lance (1) is hardly gonna ride for 'em in return or (2) let anyone else on the squad do so if it conflicts with any of Lance's immediate needs. So you want the Giro or the Vuelta boys, or even say the Deutschland Tour, under the new Armstrong regime? If you don't mind your team car being staffed solely by a waterboy, your massages done by a mechanic with a wooden mallet, and your support riders being a middle-school development squad, have at! Oh, poor little Klodi...

Rosy-Pink Floyd: in happier (or crappier, depending on how you feel about him; I profess the former) news, trustbutverify's boy Floyd Landis--who still owes them a wallowing obeisance of gratitude and a good half of his Floyd Fairness Fund stash for their indefatigable efforts on his behalf--confirms he's going to be back racing next year, aiming at the Amgen EPO Tour of California, so I guess it's time to book tix now. Allez Floyd!

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: so the verdict's in for 2005 Tour (and 2001 Giro--damn, they should just prosecute this guy for stupidity) doper Dario Frigo, last busted for a wad of EPO found in his wife's car, and it's six months in the clink suspended plus a hefty fine if he holds it together and doesn't do anything else moronic, though having been long since ignominiously ejected from the peloton I imagine he doesn't exactly need to stoke up for a meandering Sunday ride with the bambini. Then again, no doubt those tots can really put on the pressure...

A Gentle Plea to okay, as a no-coverage hellbound American, I admit I'm abjectly grateful to be permitted to pay out the hoo-ha for the pathetic privilege of receiving two-inch-square streaming web coverage of my grossly underrated Vuelta, particularly when all I'm catching on Vs.' "Cyclysm Sundays" is twelve straight hours of Bambi-shootin' and about 10 minutes of old-news national championship bike racing, but jeez, for what I'm payin', *must* there be such an egregious delay in posting any given day's "As Live" footage when it's inevitable one's gonna hear the stage results before the entire three week race is over? I mean, this ain't the Superbowl in this country--it's not like my lame boss'll let me watch 5 hours of live coverage while I'm on the clock! Please, please, dear, put my money where your mouth is...after all, don't I get points for asking you so nicely (if primarily because you hold my Vuelta-lovin' fate in your hands) *and* promoting you so relentlessly to both my faithful readers?

Paolo Bettini Contract Watch: nothin'. Dammit! But I think anonymous is right on Cervelo'. Hell, they must've ponied up some pretty serious dough for the reigning Tour de France champ and a solid sprinter/prologuer/green jersey winner like Thor Hushovd--surely they can find a few (million) extra euros for the giant hole in their squad where a Classics/Grand Tour stage winner/world champ oughta be, right? You better not have blown the budget stealing Samuel Sanchez from my Euskaltel you twits!

The British Invasion: finally, congrats to our beloved (if slightly delusional as to his hero) Shameless St. Millar Defender for his countryman Mark Cavendish's completely stomping the US-heavy field at our own Toura Missoura for 3 mortifying stages. If the American Revolution had been fought out on the roads on bikes right now, we'd clearly all be Brits, I must concede!

Friday, September 12, 2008

What the Hell Are You Thinking, Quick Step?

Stick a Fork in 'Im, He's Done: multiple road champ of Italy. 2-time winner of the venerable Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Former Olympic gold medalist (woo-hoo, Samu!). One of the most beloved--and rightfully so--riders in the peloton. More Grand Tour stages than anyone can count, and world road champ the last two years running. And now Bettini's such a decrepit over-the-hill yesterday's-news money-sucking drain that Patrick "30 YEARS OF DOPING" Lefevere has tossed his tiny !@# out in the street in favor of the (very fine, but much cheaper) Schumi so late in the damn season there's barely any place for a boy with his wholly justifiable price tag to go? I call bull!@#$ Lefevere! So he suffered under the Curse of the Rainbow Jersey the first half of the year? Big deal, you baby! After all, it's not like you couldn't find money in the budget for Tom Boonen's Ferrari-and-blow habit when--even aside from snorting his way out of the Tour de France like an idiot--he's been getting his butt kicked all season by Mark Cavendish, so WTF Quick Step? Needless to say, the Bettini tifosi contingent over at gazzetta dello sport is going absolutely wingnut over the vicious diss to their hero, encouraging Paolo to take the anger he openly claims and channel it into crushing the Belgians in Varese, and while we're at it, Alejandro Valverde is a cheating skank (no, it's not relevant to the discussion; but what's a discussion about cycling without insulting the Spaniards?). Hire back Bettini Lefevere, and pay that boy what's he's worth you low-rent cheapskate!

A Fine French Whine: meantime, the reaction to the Armstrong comeback continues to roll in, with the French--having thought they were done being roundly humiliated by foreigners at the Tour only to have an American (yeah, you heard me) and two Spaniards take it the next 3 years in a row--predictably ratcheting into full crybaby mode with the at least polite exception of a surprised but gentlemanly Bernard Hinault. Yes, as Marc Madiot mentioned, Lance'll totally jack his own legacy if he loses the 2009 Tour--and the French would object to his embarrassment why exactly? Embrace your fears, France--it's not like one of your boys is gonna be in the maillot jaune in Paris anytime soon anyway!

A Knee In the She-Nuts: speaking of tiresome publicity-ho whatsisface, his return has led to speculation about who else may be on the way back, with Michael Boogerd pondering, Jan Ullrich denying, and, toughest of all, we-love-and-sorely-miss-and-so-what-if-he-was-on-Liberty-Seguros-you-soulless-miserable-cynics Joseba Beloki still deeply lamenting his absence from his beloved peloton training faithfully and wishing fruitlessly for even a domestique-level comeback at a halfway passable squad. You *suck*, Saiz, you slime-dwelling career-tanking Heras-pimping weasel!

Arf!: yep, as the peloton enjoys the last few hours of its rest day before its near-vertical hike up the terrible Angliru, one fact stands out: Alejandro Valverde, for some cause surely completely unrelated to the post-'06 lack of access to drug-stuffed blood bags with his dog's name plastered on 'em for no reason, is gonna blow his Next Great Grand Tour Winner hype for about the fifth year running. Sure, Astana and Euskaltel (look who's in the maillot d'oro--right on Euskaltel!) were more'n happy to pile on the hurt when you gave 'em the chance Thursday, but you couldn't've sent some Caisse d'Epargne minion back for your freakin' raincoat instead?--what the tactical !@#$, Valverde, you're not some stupid kid! Which still won't give you the legs you need on Saturday if tactics ain't your only problem...
Update: I stand corrected and duly chastened on Valverde, who rode bravely and exceedingly well today. You still ain't gonna take the Vuelta, but you *are* a great one-day rider, Alejandro, however any of us may think you get there--take your place with peace in your heart already!

Sink or Swim: I see that testosterone poz/rat-fink Patrik Sinkewitz, off easy on his own drug bust for tattling on his T-Mobile teammates for systemic university-clinic blood-doping during the '06 Tour de France--not that those allegations actually kept any of 'em out of the peloton the last 2 years, so a hell of a lot of good that did--is ready to return to his rightful place in the still-filthy field, reportedly in talks with a couple of ProContinental and even a ProTour squad. I don't know Patrik--it's gettin' on in the season and Liquigas has already snagged ludicrous anti-doping poster boy Ivan Basso, St. David Millar's found himself a secure nest, god knows Rock Racing can't fit any more dopers'n it already has, you've also got Bjorn "Love Machine" Leukemans coming off his ban and looking for better start kissing babies for charity, pronto!

Basta Already!: finally, in a sign of just how far the grossly underpaid women's peloton has come in meeting the disgustingly low standards of its male counterpart, the antidoping narcs are recommending a two-year ban for reigning (if about to be ex-) world road champ Marta Bastianelli, nailed for taking banned weight-loss drugs though not, she claims, in an effort to enhance her performance. Right, because it's far more important to a cyclist to look hot in her bikini than to get down to a fighting weight to improve her chances of winning...will this gross farce of a sport *never* clean up its act?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Trouble in Paradise

I'm Not Your !@#$%^, !@#$%!: so, Lance, think charmingly self-deprecating angel Alberto Contador--best known for professing no professional ambitions whatsoever for the Giro then totally coincidentally showing up on a dime in full pink team kit mani-pedi underwear lip gloss and handpainted bike the actual clinical second he snagged the maglia rosa--is still ready to welcome you to Team Astana with open arms now that the rumors are done and you really are back for the Tour in 2009? Well, think again pal, because Contador's already gone from a joyous unconditional welcome, to the thoughtful desire to "reflect on everything once we have time to study all the facts in detail," to a testy "if I go to the Tour next year it's to win, what problem would we have?" Y'know, not to speculate here, but it seems to me the "problem" is that Lance is a raging self-involved egomaniac hypercompetitive control freak with a total inability to tolerate not being the center of the universe for a nanosecond--and yap, yap, I know he's sincere about the cancer stuff, but like he couldn't've gotten even more publicity for the cause going for eight straight before taking three years off to play tonsil hockey with an endless string of nubile starlets for the paparazzi's delectation?--and Alberto is a baby savant star-ascendant who, despite being sweet and cuddly as a My Little Pony, apparently has the unspoken desire to throw your aged carcass and its old-news legacy off a cliff and take over the Tour and (unlike you) every other race he can find 'til he's bodily restrained from doing so. Lookin' forward to next July's Celebrity Death Match, gentlemen!

The Sounds of Silence: so who's *not* talking, amidst the clamor of ex-teammates, DSes, cooing anti-doping honchos and, for heck's sake, even the French welcoming him back (if only in the futile furtive hope he'll finally test positive)? Yep, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden, whose personal websites are fully updated with the latest news that...well, Levi was really happy to be in the maglia d'oro a few days back, and Klodi, though cheerful, is pretty darn tired. Damn, have you boys no spine? I *told* you during the Basso and Contador debacles to stay away from that treacherous pimp Bruyneel if you didn't want to end up being some dirt-low water-carrying chamois-scrubbing donkey for his latest anointed golden god!

So Close, Cadel, But Yet So Far: meanwhile, this could not have come at a worse time for sober steady Aussie Cadel Evans, who finally got some help in the mountains with the surprisingly formidable Bernhard Kohl, only to be preemptively smacked around by not only the return of St. Ivan of Varese at Liquigas but now by that darned Armstrong as well. Things are looking up, though, for we love Carlos Sastre, whose new gig's oomph quotient has been significantly stoked by the arrival of we equally love the ever-underrated prologue king Thor Hushovd. Okay, we've got the boy from Credit Agricole a job--now let's hire him a good solid lead-out!

Back in Black: finally, many thanks to the fine folks over at trustbutverify for announcing the likely post-ban return of kangaroo-courted lab-chimp victim Floyd Landis with American squad HealthNet Maxxis, while, if not quite his old gig at Phonak, sure gives us broke-!@# US-bound saps a chance to see some riders worth watching. Now somebody hire Iban Mayo, dammit!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Yep, He's Back All Right

"I Want an Eighth Tour": yes folks, it's official, Lance is back in 2009 to ride the Tour and thereby take the fight against cancer to a global level and, totally coincidentally I'm sure, stuff his monstrous bottomless appetite for adulation with an unprecedented blitz of fawning press coverage, adoring retrospectives, and assorted swooning starlets'n'socialites. And while he won't yet announce what team it's with, can there be any real doubt where the Cult of Personality is gonna reign and Levi (as annie so rightly points out), Klodi, and I assume even little protege Alberto Contador are completely !@##ed? Hope you're enjoying your Vuelta, Alberto--ya ain't gonna be allowed to see the top of the podium at next year's Tour!

Y'know, he's the greatest Tour rider ever, yap, yap, yap (no doubt in part because, unlike, say, Hinault and Indurain, he basically never trained for anything else.) And he's truly got an compellingly inspirational story of triumph over adversity, yap, yap, yap. And if he really decides he wants to win the Tour, I suppose he will, yap. But let's be honest here--if we're gonna raise the dead in this sport, wouldn't it just plain be a *lot* more fun to bring back the irresistible careening Ecstasy-scarfing donut-downing IV-lovin' car-wreck that is the incomparable Jan Ullrich?

Monday, September 08, 2008


Thanks for !@#$ing Julich Out of the Last Two Tours, Bjarne!: so as my adopted hometown collectively croaks over the totally unimportant season-ending knee injury of some supermodel-sucking GQ prettyboy pigskin jock, comes yet another reason to hate Bjarne Riis besides his complete whining farewell diss of Carlos Sastre: yep, we love Bobby Julich, who's been relentlessly relegated to meaningless monkeydom by our drug-snarfing lord of CSC the last two seasons, has decided to retire, citing a "lack of motivation" to compete at the top levels of the sport anymore. Ya think kneeing Bobby in the works after years of faithful service and smashing results and shoving him into such prestigious races as the Tour of !@#$$%$#$, Iowa has anything to do with it Bjarne? Of course, Julich, having class, speaks warmly of his years at CSC and his continued desire to continue in a management capacity with the squad, but fortunately I, lacking any, can stick by my assertion that it's entirely the fault of that blustering Napoleon-complex DS of Doom. Dammit!

All Right, Spit It Out, Who Wants 'Im Back?: speaking of directeurs sportif on my loathe list, the ever-hungry Narcissus that is Lance Armstrong has apparently decided to return to the road and his old haunt PostalAstanaDiscovery in 2009, defiling such beautiful races as Paris-Nice, the Dauphine, and even--and I can't imagine why he'd want to bother with this one unless he's certain he can wear the maillot jaune with cameras blazing at the end of the road in Paris--the Tour de France. Lance, you were a marvel to watch, if equally a marvel of naked, wholly self-centered ambition. And to be fair (for once), you make a wonderful legend, and a genuinely impressive marathoner to boot. But are you really gonna act like a spin at any of these races, while the real players that year get shoved aside like manure at a racetrack, is anything but an excuse to stuff your voracious ego?

Man. Can poor Andreas Kloden *get* any more jacked?

Alejandro Valverde is Toast: so watching Perpetual Next Tour de France Winner "Piti" Valverde latch onto Contador's wheel like a leech yesterday--to the protests of Alberto that he didn't share the work and Valverde's cowed response that he hadn't the legs to--one conclusion is inescapable: Valverde's just plain hosed. There's simply no way Contador--even playing the high passes conservatively as he did in the Giro--isn't gonna drop him like a Fuentes blood bag when the race turns to the really steep stuff at the end of the week. Look, no matter what he is or has been stoked on, Valverde, great as he is, is just not this generation's Lance. Can we cut the hype already, give credit where credit *is* due, and just let him learn to content himself with being a fearsome Classics and one-day Grand Tour stage rival?

Eat Our Dust Caisse d'Epargne!: that's right baby, the orange army is back, with someone completely inconsequential taking the stage win at the Vuelta today but, more importantly, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Egoi Martinez taking the gold leader's jersey. Aupa Egoi--and it's only a matter of time before the squad leaves the rest of the climbers in the dust in the Basque country!

Tremors: speaking of misclassified Classics men, salacious rumors are circulating over at gazzetta dello sport (well, one guy's saying it) that Damiano Cunego, having abandoned his own Giro to bonk in two consecutive Grand Tours, may be bailing from (or ditched by) Lampre to head over to, of all filthy squads, the IV-jabbing Bjarne's CSC, leading to the gorgeous irony of the Italians slagging anyone else (with the possible exception of the even worse Spaniards) for their dirty doping lack of ethics. Apropos of nothing, meantime, a returned and refreshed Alessandro Petacchi, "liberated" from his demons at LPR, has taken his first sprint of the Tour of Great Britain, even without the immortal Zabel one-man leadout train, while, unsurprisingly, Cavendish has already smacked around the field at the Toura Missoura. There, Shameless, don't you feel a bit better now?

Finally, to dilute my venom and peacefully recall the fabulousness that was Bobby Julich's road career, I tried to find some video of him winning Paris-Nice, but that being impossible in the lame footage available, I did manage to locate about a minute and thirty seconds' worth of the endless-loop punk-!@# cheap-shot replay of Jeroen Blijleven, having just woofed a sprint, taking issue with our hero like it was his fault:

Thanks anyway Bobby for so many great years!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It's the Mountains, Baby!

Supa Dupa Fly/I Can't Stand The Rain: sure, it was freezing pouring and zip for visibility in today's queen stage of the Vuelta, but happily for us at home it only gets nastier from here, as tomorrow the boys grind up four leg-mangling climbs including the highest point in the race at Puerto de la Bonaigua and the legendary Pla de Beret, and, after a workweek of nerve-wracking anticipation, next Saturday's fearsome Angliru. If the frustratingly erratic Valverde thought today was a bad 'un (and don't give me that crap that he doesn't want the podium), he better hold it halfway together tomorrow--the bike gloves are gonna come off now baby, so aupa Euskaltel-Euskadi!

Go Gently Into That Good 2009 Tour: so with Carlos Sastre having formally announced his new gig with Team Cervelo to the envy of a hundred thousand gearheads going nuts these guys are building a team basically to conduct test-runs of their nifty new components, Bjarne Riis, who last week came out swinging at the decaying old bag, has apparently decided to be civilized, complimenting Carlos on his great achievements and wishing him and his fellow defecting DS well, particularly, one imagines, since Cervelo's gonna have to come up with some serious dough if it hopes to get Sastre enough backup not to be completely Cadel Evansed compared to CSC next season. Okay, Bjarne, you've got some fine prospects for next year, just try not to be an !@#$!@#$ to the Schlecks...

Tour de Where?: okay, I pettily ignored the noble Tour of Germany once it became obvious we love Jens wasn't gonna take it (and also out of annoyance that perpetually-jacked Andreas Kloden was too preoccupied completely woofing at the Vuelta to be there) but there is some pretty sweet stuff even beyond the far superior Vuelta to keep an eye on: the Tour of Great Britain and the Toura Missoura start this week, and to the Brits' loss and our gain as Shameless St. Millar Defender kindly pointed out, Mark Cavendish (recently tagged by none other than Mario "the Chest" Cipollini as the new him) is gonna be burning up the tarmac on our side of the pond along with Mick Rogers Hincapie Van de Velde and Zabriskie, as LPR's Alessandro "Wheezy" Petacchi and Danilo "Hey, At Least My Dope Doc's Not a Freakin' Gynecologist" DiLuca (but not next year's Tour de France's mountains king Mauricio Soler, just !@#$%$ by bureaucratic snafu) take to the roads over on the other. Go big George--after all, it might be some comfort to Lance for losing at Leadville if his ol' lieutenant takes another one!

Big Wheel Keep on Turnin'/Proud Ricco' Keep on Burnin': so after seemingly being told by a wily publicist that being a complete crybaby twerp isn't good for either the ol' rep or the ol' post-ban bank account, Riccardo Ricco's of all people's been engaging in some pretty intensive image rehab, and while he just can't be as pretty as Ivan Basso unfortunately, he's not only learned to profess his gratitude for the support of his many fans and his ardent desire to prove himself dope-free and worthy again one day, the boy's even got himself a new day job: yep, he's teaching a spinning class. Now *his* class' energy drinks oughta be something worth imbibing!

I Spy: more on-line coverage of the Vuelta, as the Italian tifosi go into riot mode over the fact that they've now not been able to see any of the Italian triumphs on their own TV sets, and someone handily posts this link on gazzetta in response: try, and though I didn't bother to try downloading it, click on "English help" on the top right of the screen for instructions and on the date at the bottom of the screen for the schedule. Good luck, and Jesus H. Christ Vs., can we not be bothered to run an hour a week of this smashing race in between the scintillating bloated-beer-swillers-waiting-for-a-bass-to-bite coverage you're subjecting me to?

Tribute to Il Falco: finally, as quiet two-time Lord of the Giro Paolo Savoldelli hangs it up, I bring you--instead of, you'll be relieved to learn, the photographic homage I was gonna post because of its bitchin' Duran Duran soundtrack--a goodbye showing Il Falco doing what Il Falco does best, slaughtering the field on an ugly descent even as he shepherds that laggard Di Luca along:

Mille grazie Paolo--so what if you never posed in your satin netherwear and press-pimped yourself like the sprinters?--you'll be missed!

Monday, September 01, 2008

*Now* What're They Gonna Do With Him?

We Are the Champions: so after a crappy season, Dave Zabriskie's finally back on form and takes the US national time trial championship again, but for my money, with Levi bagging the defense of his title in favor of settling for being Contador's high-end minion, the more interesting win is that of Tyler "I Ate My Twin" (and "I Still Owe Racejunkie 15 Bucks for Her Defacing Her Tyler Hamilton Foundation Hat Pointlessly Defending My Innocence", while we're at it) Hamilton, our new national road race champ. So there he oughta be all next season, enjoying the fruits of his labors and his spiffy red-white-and-blue stripes in the European peloton along with the other lords-o'-their-nations at the Grand Tours and the classics, and what's he got instead? Well, besides the Tour of Great Britain, which miraculously he's being allowed to race, a bunch of race organizers that won't touch him *or* his ex-doper teammates *or* his egomaniacal master Michael Ball for any money, and just a really, really fashionable team kit for a consolation prize. Hope you enjoy wearing your national championship stripes at the Tour of the Ass-end of Nowhere next year, Tyler! So here's my question: do we all really mean this crap about serving your time, or is only when you serve your time admit the irrefutable rub hot peppers into your eyes fake like you feel bad about doping not about getting caught and wah your repentance like a colicky two-month-old for every camera you can find?

Babe in Arms: and, a big congrats to a thoroughly humbled and greatly motivated Ale-Jet Petacchi, whose idiot ban for an extra post-race snort of salbutamol is over and will be returning to the peloton at the Tour of Great Britain with his new gig, fellow (alleged!) dope-head Danilo DiLuca's LPR. I don't know, Shameless St. Millar Defender, if your boy's gonna ride at your home tour maybe he might want to reconsider his position on squeaky-cleanliness given how the start list's shaping up...

He's Like the Wind: well, I see the constitutionally wanky and perhaps-just-slightly-past-his-prime Robbie McEwen's been seduced away from second-class citizenship at Silence-Lotto to Russian oligarch Oleg Tinkov's reincarnated team Katusha, along with the golden-locked Filippo Pozzato, surprise Champs-Elysees winner Gert Steegmans and Vladimir Karpets, which really is starting to make the squad look formidable for next season, though how long Steegmans is going to be content playing leadout monkey for McEwen after finally bringing it on in his own right remains to be seen. Still, Robbie sounds uncharacteristically happy about the change--perhaps that'll pull him out of the doldrums for one last stellar season?

Here I Am!/Rock You Like a Hurricane!: after the dual thrills of Liquigas taking the team time trial and really-quite-an-amazing-one-day-rider-no-matter-how-you-think-he-got-there Alejandro Valverde taking the stage and briefly the maillot d'oro, I'd like to congratulate Tom Boonen on his post-image-rehab return to his Grand Tour-winning ways by nailing today's sprint at the Vuelta over new golden jersey Daniele Bennati by bringing you two reminders of just how babelicious our Tommeke really is:

Sigh. Aren't you glad he's back?

How Not To Ride: finally, in the noble interests of public service and helpful hints from heloise that I hold dear, I bring you a handy 1963 bike-safety video and a wish for safe and happy trails (and if those freakin' monkey masks give you the same shrieking nightmares I'm gonna experience tonight , my bad!):