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!