Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm Shocked, Shocked! (And Now, Some News We've All Been Waiting For)

Trick or Treat!: nope, no word yet on which T-Mobile boy yapped to the German narcs that the docs handpicked for the squad by the team leaders were handing out pre-race EPO to riders during the 2003-2004 season like Sweet-Tarts to sugar-shocked miscreants in Batman costumes, though one thing you *can* be sure of--and how comforting is such certainty in an uncertain world!--is that no-one in any team hierarchy'll ever be held responsible for anything if they should personally walk down a team time trial lineup jabbing needles into rumps for the assembled press corps. How very jolly it must be, UCI and WADA, to live in a happy, sun-dappled world where the flowers are always in bloom, the birds are always singing, the rainbows always a-glimmering, and each of 8000 doping pozes from a single team in a single season is caused by a rogue individual rider acting completely at odds with the desires of the DSes, the managers, and the sponsors! Um, not to quibble with the infallible Pat "Dick" McQuaid or nuthin', but *how* much PCP do you have to take to believe this !@#$?

Ivan the Terrible: well, "Ivan the Impending Likely Badass," anyway, as one certainly can't help but feel that if the comely boy's already taking third in a one-day race his first day back against the even dog-tired likes of Cunego, Lance Armstrong is in for a serious beating by his handpicked ex-Chosen One at the 100th Giro d'Italia. I mean, if Basso can race this well clean at a one-day gig--and of course, on-line Mapei snoop software and all, that's a big freakin' if--can you imagine how he's gonna perform in front of swooning rosepetal-strewing hometown tifosi at the 100th Giro d'Italia he's so well suited for next May? You might not have really saved yourself so much dignity over Contador smacking you out of your Tour, Lance, if you're just gonna get your !@# whupped in the Giro! C'mon, don't be such a baby, there's no shame in being Alberto's bottle-boy...frees up Andreas Kloden anyhow!

'E's Not Dead! 'E's Restin'!: yep, thankfully, as most of the rest of the peloton has headed off on holiday, returned to the comfort of their homes to make babies in the off-season, or sneaked off to some skank to cancel their CERA order in favor of the recently-cleared autologous blood doping, recent retiree (you *suck*, Lefevere!) we love Paolo Bettini is still on the bike, riding to a respectable result in a recent six-day, headed off for next weekend's ride in Milan, and, even better, reportedly in talks with Gazzetta dello Sport to broadcast the action at next spring's Giro live from the back of a motorbike. Oh, Paolo, like some bonking domestique from the squadra azzura wouldn't bail on his DS, hop off his ride, and lend you his bike if you asked him nicely...allez allez il Grillo!

Sing It, Sister!: and, a colossal shout-out to Shameless St. Millar Defender for her countrywoman/reigning Olympic track goddess Victoria Pendleton calling bull!@#$ on the Olympics for not giving the women enough track events, and making a bold 'n' bitchin' pitch for more cycling in 2012. Now if those of us stateside could only persuade Vs. to ditch the 24/7 coverage of guys in chaps and 10-gallon hats tormenting bulls by cinching ropes around their nuts and, worse, making 'em confront rodeo clowns, in favor of a little more action from the peloton...

Landis of the Free: finally, Floyd Landis, who no matter what you think about his actual guilt or innocence clearly isn't half the skank of 3/4 of the boys still sliming about in the peloton and is damn near back from his two year ban, has just announced his new gig, named, appropriately enough after both his excruciating rendezvous with a new hip and the Most Ludicrous Monkey Trial in History built on the flawless work of the Most Incompetent Lab Chimps on Earth, OUCH. Okay, I still miss Iban Mayo more, and wish Floyd were back on a Bassoesque-level squad, but I'm happy enough to see our boy race wherever he is--cheers, trustbutverify!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

God Save the King

The Emperor's New Clothes: so dreamy reformed attempted delinquent Ivan Basso's new web site is online at last, and holy moly, is this the most smashing sophisticated propaganda campaign in cycling history, I mean, has this boy got me sincerely convinced he's one miracle away from well-earned sainthood, as the page starts off with truly charming pics of the Most Adorable Family On Earth, invites you to sign on to his no-holds-barred-test-my-blood-you-doubting-vulture-meanies Mapei training page, sets up a wholly worthy and touching children's charity link, gives you the Teen Beat dish (he's a simple guy who loves to chill with his friends! His favorite food is pizza!), and writes a long and loving tribute to his wife for standing by him in his journey from heaven to hell and back (and because I trust him, I won't say he must've *seriously* been in the doghouse to put this one together, in addition to being genuinely grateful and all). Best of all, if even this didn't hook you, o vicious doubting cynics, click on "Personale", look to the right of the screen, and yes, you can still revel in a major rotating man-candy GQ photo montage that reminds you just how very, very smokin' this humble family man still is. Oh right, he also rides a bike from time to time. Geez, Ricco', you're really gonna have to step it up if you even remotely want anyone to give a rat's !@# when you come back--a buncha crappy Polaroids of you on your website smirking as you cross the finish line in triumph can't possibly compete with this pedaling Adonis!

The Tour de Contador: and, as everyone now knows and has minutely scrutinized, the 2009 Tour de France is out, with a disappointingly naturally-achievable 3 mountaintop finishes, the return of the beloved team time trial, a we-love-Carlos Sastre-friendly lack of individual miles in the discipline, and, most bitchin', a nail-biter of a penultimate day up Mont Ventoux which, while it won't allow any of the favorites to break away unwatched, will provide the cringe-inducing possibility of a spectacular GC-crushing crack among the most tired, dented, or unsupported among them (hi Cadel!). Sure, Lance won't be riding because he's afraid (1) Contador'll bushwhack him and (2) he'll taint his legacy and is now concentrating on screwing over my beautiful Giro instead--but with Valverde now rejecting his emerging status as a Classics god and proclaiming yet again his intention to disgust everyone by choking at, that is, delight everyone by winning the, Tour, can anyone doubt that finally after years of discord this often-tiresome three-week publicity stunt'll be a show worth watching, and not just for the repulsive National Enquirer scandalfest?

The Rider Formerly Known as Little Prince: okay, at his age he's not *so* very long in the tooth as to have to ditch the nickname, but thinking of the Giro next year I must say I'm almost tempted to root for Damiano Cunego, finally pulling out of his 4-year post-victory slump (shades of we-still-miss-so-bite-me Iban Mayo!) with a gorgeous threepeat in the Giro di Lombardia and, most admirably from my perspective, firmly brushing off suggestions that he's the New Paolo Bettini which, in addition to being blasphemy punishable by eternal immolation in roaring hellfire, it's a goddamn good thing he did 'cause my head's gonna explode if some numbnut journalist even thinks about repeating that stupidity again. Forza Damiano, as long as you remember where you stand in relation to (y'know, below) Il Grillo!

The CSCity of Brotherly Love: finally, so long as we're talking family loyalty here, big points to precocious soon-to-be Grand Tour winner Andy Schleck for waxing poetic on the new Tour route, particularly how he looks forward to sharing team leadership with big brother Frank next year. Say it ain't so one more time, Frank (or at least that that bastard Bjarne made you do it), and I swear, all is forgiven!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

!@#% Armstrong !@#$%$#@ !@#$!

Cause and Effect: so poor Andreas Kloden is officially screwed *again* for an entire upcoming season and, of course, it's all Lance Armstrong's fault. Here's why. Schumi wins two time trials at the Tour de France, and gets busted for doping. Bernhard Kohl is third on the podium and king of the mountains at the Tour de France, and gets busted for doping. Therefore, the Tour of Germany announces it's shutting down for 2009. This means that Andreas Kloden, who rocks at the TdG, can't even ride it, much less be allowed to ride to win it by that ruthless tool Bruyneel. His upcoming season, ergo, is complete crap. It's complete crap because, having signed with Astana, Klodi was first forced to be Contador's minion for the 2007 Tour, kept out of it entirely in 2008 because of Contador's ex-Liberty Seguros teammate Vino's poz in 2007, then was forced to be Contador's !@#$% this year in the Vuelta. And next year, when he might've had half a chance of racing for himself, Contador--having kissed and made up with fickle suitor Bruyneel--is naturally taking the Tour, Levi and now Haimar Zubeldia (and don't even get me started on how screwed *he* is)'re gonna get the Vuelta, and while Klodi might otherwise at least have been given the Giro, that egomaniacal selfish sinkhole Lance Armstrong has now decided he's afraid of looking like a colossal wussbag if Contador crushes him in July, so he's prevailed upon Johan to hand him Italy instead, which leaves Kloden with no races of his own at all to ride and the rather dubious consolation prize of getting whacked upside the head with a 2 x 4 by his team leader every time he gets in the saddle and made to skulk off back to the team car every ten seconds to be a subservient underutilized errand-running waterboy. !@#$#$% Armstrong you !@##$!

I Think I'm Turning Japanese/I Really Think So: yes, to the delight--and total hypocrite unadulterated forgiveness from the same folks jabbing pitchforks and blazing torches at fellow cheat-skank countryman Riccardo Ricco', I might add, though I assume the difference is the simple fact that our dreamboat only *tried* to dope--of swooning Italian tifosi of every persuasion (save a few tiresome zero-tolerance purists who'd better stay under the radar if they don't want the !@## beaten out of 'em by his rabid defenders), Ivan Basso is back for the Japan Cup, wheeling suavely into his press conference in full Liquigas kit and ready to start from "kilometer one" to earn his place in the peloton and the faith of his fans anew, though considering rumored plans to erect a humungous golden temple to Basso in his hometown with an eternal flame tended by fifty vestal virgins, I rather imagine that even if he should hook up to an IV right in front of Pat "Dick" McQuaid, their faith is unlikely to be shaken so long as he just keep batting those lovely eyelashes of his. And, lest anyone doubt he's been reborn, his largely-dormant web page assures us it's gonna debut its all-new season in a mere 5 days 1 hour 50 minutes and 28 seconds, though if you click on the tiny print for his blog next to his wee-but-still-pouty photo, you can already get pics of him posing with his spankin' new bicycle. You're exceedingly thrilling to watch, Ivan, but even that unbearably wanky Simoni was right-on calling you an "extraterrestri"--we'll see how you do now that you've been brought so rudely back to earth!

The Densest !@#damn Thing I've Ever Heard Of: no, not everything UCI and WADA have ever done, though that comes close, but this one's for the crybabies over at German TV, apparently dead set on depriving an entire nation of cycling heavyweights of the Tour de France, all because Bernard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher have brought the entire sport into disrepute with the only two doping positives this sport has seen since the invention of television. Leaving aside the fact that Kohl's actually freakin' Austrian, you guys kept the klieg lights on for the entirety of T-Mobile's dirty doping existence and you're seriously gonna say with straight faces that *that* boy is your moral dealbreaker? What the hell have you guys been taking the last 10 years? Don't tell me you've been partying with Jan Ullrich again...

Chat Stuey: finally, a big shout-out to the Aussie contingent for their boy O'Grady's smashing win at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, capping off a self-sacrificing season with a little well-deserved glory of his own and not only warmly complimenting every past and future Australian rider in cycling history (and there's a lot to fawn over, to be sure) but, even better, declaring himself ready to take the fearsome Hell of the North once again next year. Finally feeling all better, are we?--
Go get 'em Stuey--let them eat pave'!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kohl-d As Ice

The Curse of Cadel Evans: yes, unlikely '08 Tour King of the Mountains Bernhard Kohl is the latest chump who's positive for CERA, but for my money it's really crap news for stolid ever-the-bridesmaid Cadel Evans, as his new ticket to the top of the podium after Popovych pulled a three-week bonk on him this past July is already on his way to having his spankin' new contract with Silence-Lotto "annulled" and leaving our hardworking if dull hero without the support he needs in the high passes yet again. Damn, like the KOM race wasn't lame enough this year without Mauricio Soler, now the clown who managed to beat the weak-!@# competition couldn't even pull it off without stuffing himself full of drugs? Pathetic. At least with Rasmussen on the juice up there we'd still have had a race worth watching! Anyone else thinking Bernhard's only honest accomplishment is in making Hans-Michael Holczer quit cycling in shame and disgust today, rather a shame perhaps given all he's done for the smashing Rebellin? Anyhoo, all is not lost for the canny boys who dosed themselves sensibly enough to avoid detection but are now too afraid to try it again, as luckily, one of the high honchos of the Tour de France has himself announced recently that when it comes to autologous blood doping, there ain't a test on the horizon to tease proof of it out. Now that oughta lead to a surfeit of happy peloton skankballs for next season!

Team Weaver: speaking of minor peccadilloes, I see cyclingnews is reporting that quasi-repentant Simoni-dissing crybaby wanker Riccardo Ricco' was turned on to Danilo DiLuca's adulthood pediatrician Carlo Santuccione (who apparently didn't learn in his neonatal rounds that CERA is in fact detectable when injected a week ahead of time) by none other than a former Saunier Duval team director. But as T-Mobile and (please please please please don't let this be true) CSC have taught us, and as we've all been so heartily reassured by the fine folks at WADA and UCI, we all know this must just be a freak anomaly rather than any indication of the existence of systemic team doping practices....

Presenting the 100th Giro d'Italia, I Mean, the !@#$ing Lance Armstrong Show: finally, as even the non-cycling sports press has reported by now, a rapturous Giro d'Italia and Lance himself have announced his attention to take on the corsa rosa, and I gotta ask, what the hell are they thinking? Whether he's in it merely for a training ride for the Tour or to give himself an out if Contador kicks his !@# two months later (because the idea that Lance's insatiable ego'll let him actually *work* for the child is, frankly, ludicrous), he's utterly defiling one of the most beautiful races on earth by suddenly claiming his eternal love for and career-long desire to win a race that during his actual career he tossed off to his Italian and lesser domestiques like someone else's snot-filled Kleenex. And the tifosi? A pretty decent handful looking forward to his return, if only to watch their beloved innocent fairy prince Ivan Basso kick dirty doping Armstrong off a precipice in the Dolomites (and come to think of it, perhaps that's worth the price of a ticket to Italy after all), the hardhearted beancounters delirious at the amount of dough the Armstrong publicity machine is gonna bring into their hometowns, and the rest gone absolutely Postal at the idea that the 100th Giro d'Italia is gonna basically ignore the Italians on their own turf on their own anniversary in favor of some overhyped American Tour de France slut. Guess which view I favor?

Look at this. Look at Hampsten on the Gavia in 1988, and listen to his account of the day and tell me this ungrateful bull!@#$ing Tour-whore Armstrong deserves to ride this race. Aiiiggggggghhhhh!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

10 Steps to a Pure Peloton

A Modest Zero-Tolerance Anti-Doping Proposal to Clean Up Cycling Once and for All (Or, Biological Passport My !@#!): all right folks, with the sport effectively cleaned up first after Festina, then after Op Puerto, and now with the new UCI biological passport that's but an invite for sophisticated pre-season blood value tweaking, it's clear the current protocols ain't working, and drastic measures are needed if we're truly to tidy up our beloved cesspool of a sport ahead of certain riders' triumphant return. Therefore, I humbly propose:

1. Look, we all know these filthy little !@#$s have been cheating from the winner of the very first Tour de France in 1903 through now. Ergo, all dead guys will be forthwith exhumed and subject to body-defiling testing for the advanced substances of the day. Thought you got away with it, didn't ya?

2. All live guys, regardless of age, will be ordered back on the bike to climb the Plateau de Beille. Everyone who makes it into the top third of the field will be presumed to have doped and have their title stripped. Everyone who makes it into the middle third of the field will be slapped silly for sucking so badly that even doping couldn't help 'em, and skipped over for the title anyway. Everyone in the bottom third will get a ceremonial lap around the Champs-Elysees, a kiss from a podium babe of appropriate vintage, and their name in the history books, unless they actually expire from the combined strain of effort and advanced years, in which case they can enjoy their moral and physical victories posthumously.

3. Lance Armstrong's pediatrician shall be ordered to turn over all urine samples from his elementary school annual physicals for analysis by the unbiased and untrained sports journalists at L'Equipe. All samples not so preserved will be presumed intentionally destroyed and deemed positive for banned substances. We know you've been doping since you were in training wheels, you arrogant little !@#$!

4. Anyone who ever worked for Johan Bruyneel, Patrick Lefevere, Bjarne Riis, or Hans-Michael Holczer is guilty. Off with their heads!

5. Alessandro Petacchi, Ivan Basso, and Damiano Cunego are presumed innocent and will never be tested again. They're sooooooooooooo cuuuuuuuuuuuuute!

6. All Spaniards are guilty and immediately banned from the peloton, except Carlos Sastre, whom we love, and Alejandro Valverde, who we all know never once--Alejandro! Put down that needle dammit and get over here to the microphone! Alejandro!

7. All stage winners are guilty and shall be summarily flogged upon ascent to the podium for their photo ops. Enough with the happy champagne-spraying bull!@#$!

8. All out of competition drug use, including Listerine, dandruff shampoo, and Chapstick, is banned. Don't tell me that crap doesn't enhance performance, you lying dissembling scumbucket!

9. All out of competition coke use, though, is A-OK. Come on, everybody loves Tom Boonen, right?

10. Any non-Italian who wins a Giro is guilty. Any non-Frenchman who wins a Tour de France (and let's face it, those numbers don't look good) is guilty. Any non-Spaniard who wins a Vuelta is guilty. Any non-Belgian who wins a Classic is guilty. Any Belgian who wins a race in warm, sunny weather is guilty, and any Spaniard who wins a race in cold, rainy weather is guilty. Riders so busted shall be locked in a room with the French press corps, fans, sponsors, team directors, and governing bodies and regaled with stories about the unjust fall of the native cycling empire until literally whined to death.

Well folks, I'm confident that with these new rules in place we're gonna have an impeccably clean 2009. Now let's go party--drinks on you-know-who!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Devil With the Blue Kit, Blue Kit, Blue Kit

Devil With the Blue Kit On: yes, as you've no doubt heard, Alexander "I Heart Homologous Blood Doping" Vinokourov has announced his intention to get back to the peloton next season, specifically with Team Astana and at the Tour de France, which while it might distinctly displease Mr. Clean Lance Armstrong, ought to (1) be pretty much up to the Kazakhs who still treat the boy like a rock star, gave him a wholly wussmeister one-year ban in the first place, and, as Vino modestly pointed out, created the entire team for him, and (2) give Vino and his old Liberty Seguros teammate Alberto Contador a good chance to discuss how the hell, won the Tour de France last year, that's it! UCI, of course, has voiced some opposition to the idea, with Pat "Dick" McQuaid threatening to extend his ban a full additional year, which would get our decaying thirtysomething back on the bike just in time, natch, for the 2009 Vuelta. Can we all *please* just stop !@#$ing with my beautiful Vuelta and let the filth-packed Grand Boucle wallow in its own swill for once?

Let's Talk About Schlecks!: meantime, the freak show that is the I'm-still-in-mourning-so-stuff-it-buddy Frank Schleck debacle continues apace, with Bjarne "Oh, Baby, Is That !@#$ Good!" Riis expressing his surprise and disappointment at Frank's wholly believable excuse that he thought he was wiring 7000 euro to a pack of mystery do-gooder physiotherapists who planned to advise him on nice routes for training rides by telephone, though how you can cram all that plastic tubing an IV port and a bucket o' platelets, I mean a paper map, through even an old-fashioned land line truly eludes me. Um, not to point out that Riis' boys are starting to get busted more often than Tom Boonen gets caught with a straw in his nose, or to suspect that Bjarne is less than sincere about his commitment to anyone but him blowing the sponsor's budget on unauthorized substances, but with first Basso, now Frank, is anyone else starting to getting a distinctly T-Mobilian vibe from this squad?

Nacho Libre: and, with only our beloved dexters over at trustbutverify able to coherently summarize what the hell is actually happening, I see poor Floyd Landis is taking on the forces of evil at the CAS in federal district court this time, and not to be a downer here or anything, but jeez, Floyd, haven't you been reading the news lately?--under the new WADA rules this sort of outrageous protestation of innocence could get you rolled in nacho chips melted cheez-wiz jalapenos and chili, topped with sour cream, smothered in loathesome American lite beer and served to a couch full of ravenous rabid football fans during the Superbowl halftime show! Honor, shmonor--save yourself, man!

I'm Not Dead Yet!: Finally, for those of you who still care about the sport for the actual racing, and as everyone from Aussie badass Oeneone Wood to Erik Zabel crosses their last finish line, we love tenacious trash-talker Gilberto Simoni still stomps onwards, this time riding in not only the Giri d' Emilia, Piemonte and Lombardia in the coming weeks, but also more mountain bike races as well, tho' how he's going to keep up when Team Diquigiovanni's bike budget has been slashed and the boys all have to share one bike per race is beyond me:

And remember, it's only because I love you both that I didn't post that photo of him with his !@# hangin' out wearing nothin' but bike shoes again!

And, a Newsflash: yep, at least two of the doping cheating amped-up CERA-fueled dirt-weasels from the Tour de France negatives retests are busted: Riccardo Ricco's filthy little mentor Pieopoli (no surprise) and none other than winner of this year's two Tour time trials Stefan Schumacher, late of Gerolsteiner, and, since one imagines the team he just signed on with for a grotesque windfall of euros for the next two years is gonna toss him off the nearest precipice, late of Quick Step as well. Schumi, you twit--if you'd just stuck to the party drugs like the charming Boonen, you'd still be employed come January!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

His Name Was Ricco'/He Wore A Diamond

He Was Escorted to His Chair/He Saw His IV Hangin' There: yep, after even the narcs only asked for a 20-month ban, CONI has whacked our little twerp Riccardo with a full 2 years, valuing the doping violation at a mere 18 months but adding on another 6 for Ricco's use of Danilo DiLuca's childhood (and unusually recent) doc Carlos "Oil for Drugs" Santuccione--and this *after* the boy sang and gave the feds his dealer. Ricco', needless to say, is pissed that he 'fessed up for nothing, leading his lawyers to scream their heads off about an imminent appeal to CAS (good luck with that!) to reverse this cruel injustice, tho' even Ricco', perhaps tired of being told he should be glad he's not in prison by the same morally outraged tifosi who're swooning over Ivan "I Smoked, But I Didn't Inhale" Basso's return this month because he's just so very, very pretty, concedes that it's "fair" he does *some* time. This 2 year ban, of course, is particularly ironic, given WADA's new flexy rules saying if you play the ratfink, you'll get mercy, and if you don't, or if you god forbid get one of the highly statistically likely false positives and have the gall to object to it, you'll be roasted like a weiner at a Boy Scout campfire. Yeah, lookin' at how Riccardo got rewarded--and how for depriving his compatriots of a useful dope source he'll be even more loathed in the peloton than he already was, which is frankly tough to beat--I can see that's one hell of a payoff! Maybe you can keep yourself occupied suing Santuccione for !@#$ing up your microdosing, Ricco', 'til your ban is up? Anyhow, see you at the Vuelta in 2010!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving: meantime, the ever-generous French antidoping authorities have offered Lance Armstrong a lovely gift: let the same incompetent lab chimps that !@#$ed over Floyd Landis and couldn't find a lab short of Mars to come up with a poz on Iban Mayo's umpteenth sample retest your urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France, prove L'Equipe wrong once and for all, and we'll welcome you back to the Tour with open arms. Heck, we'll even allow you to test it at a different lab run by higher-order primates if you want! This way, as Pierre Bordry so kindly promises, you can smack down your naysayers once and for all and prove you've never cheated during your brilliant career. Even better, Lance, the statute of limitations has long since passed, so even if you do come out looking like the cheating lying drugsucking skankbag we all know and dearly hope you are because we're still mortified a French rider hasn't won the Tour since about 1915, you can't actually get punished for it anyway--so what's a little potential public humiliation and a total destruction of your legacy, you scaredy-cat? Sadly, Lance has put a kibosh on the idea, tanking Bordry's humble hopes of open redemption but still fortunately guaranteeing he remains in the constant spotlight his astonishing ego demands while everyone makes a gratifying fuss over him in the headlines.Damn Lance, you shoulda gone with Viagra instead of that EPO !@#$--after all, as one commenter here has helpfully noted, it does really help mountain climbers, and coincidentally could also help you keep up with all those rock stars actresses and socialites you keep snackin' on!

He Walked In Through the Out Door/Out Door: speaking of the spandex spawn o' satan, I see Johan Bruyneel is opining that not only will Contador and Armstrong get along famously at the 2009 Tour (at least if you consider "getting along" to mean not personally impaling each other with broadswords), but that Lance--always known for his generosity to his teammates and subservience to their ambitions--will of course be delighted to work for Alberto should our neophyte prove the strongest rider next year. *Where* can you get the happy pills that Bruyneel is on again? Anyway, lest stardust assurances of blissful team-bus communes don't convince the boy to shave his head don saffron robes and start handing out daisies to strangers in airports, Johan cheerfully reminded the press corps that Contador's got a two-year contract with no out clause, and no matter what the hell anyone wants to pay him, he'll goddamn yank his scrawny little kneecaps off at the socket if he even *thinks* about screwing Johan over. *Now* we're talking motivation, Mr. Sunshine!

Wire, Wire, Pants on Fire: and, a short hop away by train, Frank Schleck faced his own inquisitors today, earnestly denying doping but apparently still not coming up with a coherent reason for why he wired Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes a modest, if still sweet, 7000 euros in 2006. Don't worry CSC, as the alleged "Friend of Birillo," I'm sure he was just fronting a little cash to help stoke up Ivan Basso's dog for those exhausting frisbee sessions in the local park...please Frank, convince me the cops are wrong on this and leave me *one* freakin' rider I don't have to roll my eyes at!

Enter Sandman: finally, Op Puerto was finally put to sleep last night without a single conviction, thanks to exuberantly lax pre-2006 Spanish doping laws that allowed riders to, well, I won't say Valverde themselves as the boy can still probably pay for a pretty good attorney and all, but at least Heras themselves into speeding bullets so long as it didn't actually kill or noticeably maim 'em at the time. Sure, someone can still try to reopen the thing, but is anyone else thinking that somehow the notoriously transparent Spanish cycling authorities are gonna manage to crush anyone who tries to bring it back up? Lookin' forward to the carnage to come!