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!