Friday, November 28, 2008

Step Away From the Wii, You Blockhead; An Update; And, the Bull!@#$ Quote of 2008

Shaun White You Ain't: yep, in the first (and surely the most moronic) accident of the nascent season, Brit sprint wunderkind Mark Cavendish damn near took himself out snowboarding on his Nintendo Wii, yanking his hamstring but fortunately not so badly he still can't hit his first objective of the year. Jeez, first we gotta worry about Paolo Bettini taking himself out in his flying machine, then we haveta cringe hoping a coke-stoked party-hearty Boonen doesn't weld himself to a telephone pole in his Lamborghini, now we gotta sweat you idiots playing video games in the safety of your own family rooms? For the kind of dough you doofuses (doofi?) get paid to stay upright on a freakin' bicycle, just...sit quietly in an armchair or something during the offseason, willya? Here, have a nice cup of tea. No, careful, it's hot--put it down! Down! Now stay...stay...good boy Cav!

The King of Wishful Thinking: meantime, as a glum Bernhard Kohl whines that half the peloton's on CERA so it's crap that he's gone down for two years especially since he at least named every name beside his actual doping doctor's, disgraced Tour de France time-trial marvel Stefan Schumacher's on the legal warpath, objecting that his samples weren't tested in accordance with the rules, threatening to sue the French narcs for defamation, and firmly proclaiming he was never even on the juice in the first place. Hmmm...well-taken anger at grotesque procedural irregularities, protestations of actual innocence, a slanderous incompetent pack of lab chimps and gloating self-serving hypocrite officials swooning over their own saintly reflections in the mirror...well, we all saw how far that got Floyd and Iban, Schumi--might as well just save the dough, slink off into obscurity, and pray some half-assed under-funded wish-they-were-even-Continental squad wants your doomed tainted carcass two years from now!

Sweet Dreams!: and, as those poor saps at least have time to become resigned to their fates, Pat "Dick" McQuaid is busily striking fear into the rest of the boys, affirming that a whole wunk of 'em have serious problems with their biological passports and are about to join their brethren and sistren in the seventh circle of hell as the cheating skankmasters of 2008. All right, doping's very, very naughty, wah, wah, wah--but oughtn't the punishment be much harsher for sheer stupidity for anyone who hadn't the obvious good sense to jack up their blood values *before* they submitted to the program?

The Curse of "the Next Lance Armstrong": finally, congrats and crossed fingers for perpetual Great Grand Tour Hope Tommy Danielson, coming back from the crushing weight of ridiculous expectations and taking the argyle leadership at the 2009 Giro and Tour. Come on Tommy, we've seen you demolish a descent like a winged Savoldelli on Red Bull...just keep your cool, leave the rest of the pressure to Zabriskie & co., and redemption may yet be yours!

The Return of the King: and double finally, no, I'm not talking about freakin' Armstrong, I'm talking about we love two-time world champ/recently-retired-thanks-to-that-cheapskate-assclown-Lefevere Paolo Bettini, who after days of can-we-please-not-completely-crush-me-spiritually-if-this-is-bull!@#$ rumors is really back, this time in the role of manager to the new Fuji squad, risen from the ashes of the Ricco'-wrecked Saunier Duval and, perhaps, taking on all or even a bit of the smashing Stefano Garzelli's Acqua e Sapone as well. Sure, it massively blows that Il Grillo's not actually returning to the saddle where he so clearly belongs--but I'll take what I can get, woo-hoo!

We've Got Ourselves A Winner!: and, really truly finally, after weeks of pretending like he gives a rat's !@#$ about the Giro or any other cyclist but himself, Lance has now announced he *is* gonna ride the Tour de France, and thus gifts us with, in an early triumph for this year's Racejunkie Awards, the Bull!@#$ Quote of 2008: "I'm committed to riding for the best guy." Anyone else feel a body-wracking coughing fit coming on? Pack up the maillot jaune, put away those matching shoe covers, and call off the special yellow paint job, Contador--you're Lance's boy now!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Three Cyclists, One Team, and One Head Honcho I'm Thankful For

1. Holy crap dear little Carlos Sastre is the reigning Tour de France champ this year!

2. Holy crap Samu Sanchez is the reigning Olympic champ for the next four years!

3. Nicole Cooke. In a year when the Brits absolutely pulverized every rival on the road and in the velodrome, she pretty well whomped on even her own superlative countrymen and -women. Woo-hoo!

4. Garmin-Chipotle. Who knew that a team could be so unaerodynamically furry and yet so fast?

5. Johan Bruyneel. In screwing over the spectacular threesome of Contador, Kloden, and Leipheimer for 2009, he's managed to beat even Bjarne Riis' record for Greatest Number of Internal Team Hosings In a Single Season. Allez, allez!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Vast French-Wing Conspiracy

Courage Under Fire: so Lance's paralyzing fear of the notoriously violent skinhead French cycling hooligans has now plastered even the non-cycling press, with one dear football-fanatic colleague sprinting into my office yesterday to break the news and expressing deep and sincere concern that our fragile saintly hero is about to be taken out by a blizzard of pelted broken Champagne bottles and kicked to death by a crazed mob of jack-booted ultranationalist baguette-chomping Tour-obsessed bike thugs should he dare to show up in France and ride up one of those big mountain things. Y'know, let's cut the bull!@@#$, shall we? Leaving aside the distinct possibility that your impressive ego simply demands that ASO debase itself by begging you to come to their party like a desperate-to-score frat-house senior to a buzzed 'n' lonely freshman, you're just plain afraid that Contador's gonna beat your !@#--or worse, clearly earn the right to beat you on the road in front of everybody, and thus humiliate you even worse--so you maybe want a face-saving out. Hey, I can respect that--if only you'd cop to it. But as it stands, you sound not like the best Tour de France rider in history, which you are, but a, well, sissy. Because realistically, all the French fans are gonna do to you is complain how one of their own boys hasn't won their home Tour in like 100 years, and that you obviously doped to do it (not like it helped Virenque, but I digress). And all the French press and race organizers are gonna do to you is complain how one of their own boys hasn't won their home Tour in like 100 years, and that you obviously doped to do it. Damn, Lance, isn't that what you've got that slobbering overeager pack of legal attack Dobies perpetually on the payroll for? Suck it up and ride the thing, or don't, already! Of course, if you're still feeling vulnerable for no valid reason, you might try these guys--no armored bike shorts, unfortunately, but a nice Calvin Klein jacket at least for your evenings out after a long day in the saddle...

(Michael) Balls of Fury: and, I see that mere days after ex-Ullrich uber-enabler Rudy Pevenage successfully convinced the German narcs that while the Janster did meet repeatedly with Dr. Eufemiano "Gyno to the Male Stars" Fuentes, it was simply to discuss training techniques, the Patron Saint of Ex-Dopers over at Rock Racing has taken Rudy on as Directeur Sportif, which means not only that there's no reason this disgusting publicity ho can't hire Roberto Heras while he's at it, but that while the boys on the squad may not get much help with say a broken collarbone or strained hamstring from the team doc next season, they're sure as hell covered when they start having problems with their menstrual cycles. I'm sure they're resting easier tonight, Michael!

Dear Miss Manners: first, Bjarne, you hose we love Dave Zabriskie. Then, you jack the peerless Bobby Julich. And now, apparently, you've even gone and insulted dear little Carlos Sastre, whom you apparently decided not to call and congratulate after he bagged you a podium finish in the Vuelta after he'd already brought the team the Tour de France you were expecting Ivan Basso to get for you. What's left in the repertoire of acting like a coarse pig to those who least deserve it--dissing Jens? stealing candy from your own baby?--y'know, there's still much to adore about the brilliant CSC (say it ain't so, Frank!) and their disconcertingly talented head honcho, but somebody get this man an etiquette coach, pronto!

Who-the-Hell's-Gonna-Domestique-for-Floyd-Landis-Watch: nothin', and even freakin' Patrik "Compared To Yours My Palmares Blows" Sinkewitz has snagged a gig with some Czech outfit while Floyd languishes unsupported. Dammit!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies/

Tell Me Lies: so Johan "How Can I Hose Andreas Kloden? Let Me Count the Ways" Bruyneel has weighed in on the season ahead, and in addition to the revelation that Contador's lame victories at all 3 Grand Tours haven't been enough to keep his hand off the snooze button, our Machiavellian genius has actually had the astonishing chutzpah to suggest with a straight face that whatever Lance's plans may be and with buckets o' podium contenders to pick from, Johan personally is gonna back the strongest rider in any race to the fullest. Um, tell me again how you're gonna get Lance The Golden Celebrity-Snogging Media-Suckin' Hero to domestique for, say, Levi Leipheimer, even if the our humble time-trialling genius is clearly podium-bound as usual? Yeah, didn't think so--and isn't building up an all-star team of subservient !@#$$%es the reason you just hired Popovych? Aiiiggggghhh!--why, Klodi and Levi, why didn't you head for the hills when you had your chance?!

Glorified G: speaking of Grand Tours, none other than we love Gilberto "Basso Non E' Uomo" Simoni is already pondering next year's Giro d'Italia, expressing delight at the formidable Rebellin's addition to Team Diquigiovanni, healthy concern at but also the desire for the Italians to humiliate Armstrong on his return, and a contemptuous shrug at the prospects of "man for the Classics" (and he's damn right, at that) Cunego. As for old friend St. Ivan of Varese, whose last rendezvous together, if I recall correctly, consisted of Simoni accusing Basso of being a doping honorless stage-buying cheat-pimp and Basso flexing his shirtless self in the pages of Gazzetta dello Sport in riposte? He does "not even consider him," which, with all due respect to the peerless Gibo, he's probably gonna have to when our dreamy-eyed princeling (1) comes pretty close to slaughtering damn near everyone in the overall and (2) is irksomely rewarded with a blitzkrieg of tossed roses and panties from squealing fans and swooning journalists alike everytime he hocks a lougie while poor Simoni is left woefully unappreciated on the sidelines. Chin up, Simoni--you were still right to call bull!@#$ on him in '06, and you *know* who won that mountain time trial last year whether that dissembling dirtbag Sella apologizes or not!

Spin City: meantime, over in la-la land, Riccardo Ricco', according to his dad, is training hard for his imminent return to racing, sticking to a strict diet in anticipation of his next stint in jail and, for those who may be taking a little trip to Italy anytime soon and looking for a nice gym while on the road, continuing to teach spinning classes (10 euros extra for a confidential tip session and small plain-brown-wrappered package on "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Winning a Tour de France Stage But Were Afraid to Ingest.") Oh, poor little Ricco'--take some lessons on pouting those lips and sobbing those eyes out for the cameras from the big boys, and *then* we'll talk about your prospects for 2010!

Woo-hoo, Samu!: and miraculously, our beautiful dope-smacked September-race-o'-perpetually-dissed-perfection is finally gonna get its due this year, as Samuel "Holy Crap He's the Olympic Gold Medalist!" Sanchez is, despite some heartbreaking reluctance and his smashing 6th-place finish at the Tour, making his primary goal this year the maglia d'oro at the Vuelta. Only wrench in the works: Pat "Dick" McQuaid's whining threat to extend blood-doping skankmaster Alexander Vinokourouv's ban to two years after Vino reneged on his promise to retire and the Kazakh sport minister cheerfully promised to have him back on Astana just in time to lead the squad into comical ego-driven implosion at the Grand Boucle, notwithstanding Vino's latest protestations of obvious innocence, which, of course, will bring our resident erratic mobile psycho back to the peloton just in time to jack over the Vuelta. But oh, Samu--he's got lucrative options elsewhere, he's got a clear shot at the podium at the Tour, he *still* sticks with our beloved brave broke-!@# Euskaltel-Euskadi--what's *not* to love about this man? Aupa Sanchez!

Legal Shout-Out o' the Week: finally, having sadly accepted years back that even Ivan Basso's smashing lawyer Massimo Martelli has his limits working with damaged goods, I've now got a new ween-crush on Jan Ullrich's legal team, who, having watched their client endure a loooooooong lecture from the local judge on the evils and exact definition of perjury, somehow managed to coach the boy both to a 500,000 euro win in his breach-of-contract suit with Team Coast and keep the boy out of the big house, as Jan quite precisely testified that he never took then-banned performance-enhancing substances during the moments he was riding on his bicycle with Coast at the start of 2003. Well, that's the sort of beautiful barn-burning weaselry to make a lovelorn litigator's heart thump! Just do yourself a colossal favor though, Jan, and avoid ever having to testify under oath about your untainted spree at T-Mobile--hot pink you may wear handsomely, but prison stripes, perhaps not so much!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Victory Is Mine!

Okay, It's Actually Il Grillo's: well, it's a smashingly badass end to a glorious career for the indomitable Paolo Bettini, who took the final race of his paid professional life at the Six Days of Milan after a vicious earlier crash that left his helmet cracked like a walnut and him trussed up like a pig on a barbecue til he was released from hospital to contemplate a crappy unbecoming end to a good 10 years of total brilliance. The tifosi, of course, are swooning even beyond their universal panty-tossing collapse at any sight of man-candy supreme Ivan "I'm Reformed Now! I Swear It! Give Me That Baby To Kiss!" Basso, and if that isn't a reason to love Italy even beyond the perfect food, impeccable collective palmares, and incredible ability of its favored riders to evade serious penalty for doping violations, I don't know what is. Woo-hoo Paolo, thank you for a career that'll go down in history--and come back, somehow in some role, soon! Perhaps, as history might indicate, on American Idol:

When It's Time to Change: so if pounding your unworthy competition into the tarmac, slurpin' on buckets-o'-starlets, and accepting endless No-Other-Cyclist-Exists-On-Earth accolades from the besotted sports press gets old, what's an even better way to annoy, embarrass, and generally kneecap your nemeses? That's right, Lance Armstrong's taken to impugning his naysayers' neglible talents, having already reminded Linus Gerdemann he's unworthy to scrub his chamois and now responding to old pal Filippo Simeoni's continued insistence that Lance is a vindictive all-doping tool who unjustifiably threatened him with grievous bodily harm and cruelly tanked his career by pointing out that if the reigning Italian national champion can't find a job or win any other damn race in Europe since Armstrong last reeled him back in at the Tour, it sure as hell ain't the *real* cyclist's fault. Nice! Anyone else having flashbacks to that nausea-inducing reality deathmatch between Greg Brady and Danny Bonaduce? I can't, I must, I can't, I...

Hera(s)tic: okay, let's get this out of the way, shall we? I'm a repugnant pro-doping Roberto Heras-missing hypocrite whose willful blindness and unquestioning desire to give him and Jan Ullrich a pass for damn near anything short of puppy-kicking is the sort of disgusting honest-guy-damning amorality that's wholly responsible for wrecking the sport, except that luckily for the more virtuous among you and the century-old tradition of cycling, I'm even more inconsequential than a sinus-stuffed overburdened messenger's flu-time snot-rocket. But our dear Roberto is in serious emotional pain for lack of a respected team to take him on despite a heartfelt 20,000 kilometers of training since his as-if-he's-the-freakin'-only-one-that-bastard-Saiz-was-stuffing-full-of-drugs-like-a-doomed-Thanksgiving-turkey ban expired, and I feel compelled to plea, WTF is *wrong* with you teams? Oscar Sevilla and half of Phonak are zipping about the Tour of Wherever Michael Ball Can Get the Most Fawning Ego-Stoking Publicity at Rock Racing, Basso had an entire team withdraw from the ProTour (and any credibility) just to score his dirty tainted !@#, the Italians likely saved half your rosters by refusing to retest any of the surely-entirely-unaided racers at the Giro, Valv--um, Valvoline is a really fine automotive product, and Heras and Beloki can't even get gigs as two-bit domestique !@#$%es for some total-crap nowheresville slugs-on-wheels much less a *real* friggin' squad? Dammit!

How Much Are Those Donuts In the Window?: finally, speaking again of scumbuckets I love, Jan Ullrich's manager has now formally refuted rumors his boy is going to return to the peloton to join the rest of his dope-fiend generation (not you Lance! not you!), saying he's got no intention of riding ever again. Aw, rats! I know he should never ride again amongst the noble, and a whole new, honest, and utterly innocent era has dawned. I know he heinously stole dozens of victories from virtually every other rider he raced with, as the entire lot of his serious nearest competition was absolutely riding unenhanced. But come on, you sainted purists--like you'd really rather watch some autobus-dwelling lumpmaster ride clean than have Jan around to abuse for his bloating off-season weight gain then deride him for his inevitable tanks then cast aspersions on his unpredictable triumphs? As if!

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself

...That, and the Terrifying French Cycling Hooligans: so as Lance gets all aero again for some serious reckoning with his bike positioning, he's still a' wafflin' on riding the 2009 Tour de France he so forcefully proclaimed his intent to win just a few short weeks ago, and the reason he's citing is, surprisingly enough, not the serious possibility that Contador's gonna whup his !@# next July, but cold-blooded fear of the French cycling authorities, media, and above all, fans. Why? Well, you're not "protected" at all as a cyclist (and to be fair, it *is* pretty mindboggling that you can shove a rider struggling for GC contention up a climb by his rear end without getting much more'n an irritated brush-off, as opposed to, say, getting summarily sacked and bludgeoned by a truckload of bodygoons as you would if you tried to pull that !@@# at an NBA game), "so if they hate you and you're on the roads and they want you, they can get you." Oddly enough, he then went on to insult the very folks he's so afraid of, deriding the French cycling mentality that believes not showing pain or emotion is wrong and "panache" is some show-pony drama queen who's "swinging all over his bike and looks like he's about to fall off" when, as he helpfully points out to Those-Who-Are-Already-Mortified-They-Haven't-Won-Their-Own-Grand-Tour-Since-Like-1918, he's "never found that to be an effective way to try to win." Well, that oughta bring out the love there, Lance! Leaving that aside, let's review the actual threat here from the French fans--what, they're gonna try to whine and moan you to death when you go by as they bang back pate' and champagne in their roadside beach chairs waiting in humiliation for their bonking hometown faves to drag up the slopes of Mont Ventoux? Quelle horreur!

Mea Culpa--Not!: and, I see that after (as bill hue so kindly posted) Lance Armstrong dismissed Linus Gerdemann as a buzzing-gnat-nobody-of-no-wins compared to the legendary greats of his own era when the boy expressed some disappointment at riders of a certain all-doping vintage returning to the peloton this year, Linus bounced back from this "oh, snap!" reminder of his own inferiority by strong-arming cyclingnews into "clarifying" his position: he doesn't think Miguel Indurain Sean Kelly and those guys were cheating super-human drug-stoked cyborgs, he just thinks *Lance* was. Feeling better now, Lance--or are ya just gonna hire a posse of legal thugs to thwap a lawsuit on his !@#?

Faster Than a Speeding Boonen: meantime, it's a sigh of relief for Tom Boonen, as--just days after some hair testing revealed the unstartling news that he was snarfing coke on quite a frequent basis before his little pre-Tour dustup, to the reassuring shrugs of Patrick "As Long As You Don't Get Busted for EPO, You Can Snort the Entire Nation of Columbia up Your Nose for All I Care" Lefevere--his own vehicle was in a near-miss with another car on the way to the airport and, fortunately, our boy was uninjured. Y'know, between this and your penchant for racking up speeding tickets on your Lamborghini collection, you really oughta be more careful on the roads, Tom--forget what could happen to your sprinting legs, look what happened to poor Luke Skywalker's career after he busted up *his* pretty face in a car crash!

Let's !@#$%-Slap the Vuelta for Christmas: finally, yet another fine rider has decided to ditch the Vuelta this year in favor of using the Giro to prep for the Tour, and yes, it's we love defending Tour Champ wee little Carlos Sastre, though at least, however suckmaster, this does make sense. Goddammit, can't *anyone* ever ride the thing without implying they'd rather get an anvil dropped on their heads from eight stories up than have to endure adoration fame and glory from winning one of the most challenging and beautiful races on earth? Aiiiggghhhh!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

!@#$^% Quick Step, You !@#$%!

That's Right, It's All Patrick "Cheap-Ass" Lefevere's Fault: as you've no doubt heard by now, grossly-dissed-and-forced-into-retirement tactical-lord-o'-the-peloton we love Paolo Bettini had a vicious wipeout in the Six Days of Milan today, snapping his helmet in half, surely giving poor mate Joan Llaneras a nasty flashback, and sending the boy to hospital collared up like a dog to the collective freakout of the outraged tifosi. Fortunately, our sturdy hero was discharged to his hotel this afternoon, where, proclaiming he doesn't want to end his career this way, he's going to suck it up, lick his wounds, and see how he feels in the morning. Of course, he wouldn't be goddamn ending his career in the first place if that shortsighted pennypinching dirtbag hadn't blown Paolo's entirely reasonable asking price on Bernhard Kohl (ha ha!) and a whole 'nother passel of who-gives-a-rat's-hairy-butt-abouts, but who am I to blame someone totally irrelevant for an incident he had absolutely nothing to do with, that entirely culpable skankmaster? Get well soon Paolo, and make the rest of those boys eat your dust!

You Still Blow, Bjarne!: meantime, we-already-miss Bobby Julich, having both grace and class (neither of which I have, nor, fortunately, need pursue in this regard), has apparently forgiven Saxo Bank-Whateverthehell high honcho Bjarne Riis for screwing him out of his last Tour de France by agreeing to be Rider Development Manager for the jailbait of the squad in lieu of the usual DS gig for at least the season to come, and reports himself to be quite happy with the new development. You better finally give this boy the respect he deserves, Bjarne--after this season's colossal jackover, wouldn't even you concede it's long overdue?

Rebel, Rebellin: so as Milram snaps up damn near every German not busted for doping at Gerolsteiner, one newly-unemployed badass is apparently inking a deal with we love Gilberto "Basso Non E' Uomo" Simoni's Team Diquigiovanni: yes, it's ragin' agin' ever-threat Davide Rebellin, aiming for the Ardennes Classics and looking to pile the hurt on the babes-in-arms of the peloton for one more year. Still, Rebellin's newly-cleared Viagra-hoarding pal Andrea "Too Much Is Never Enough" Moletta is glum, opining that despite the fact there was nothing nefarious going on with his dad gadding about after him with a fridge full of syringes and enough happy pills to fuel a Playboy Mansion full of dessicated octogenarians, even wee little teams with an expensive star or two can't afford to take such a PR risk as he is now. Ah, the perils of keeping poor company--anyway, forza Davide, and here's hoping you beat the crap out of the competition for Gibo in the Giro so he can redeem himself from that stage-stealing EPO-snarfing scum-weasel Emmanuele Sella's bull!@#$ "win" in the mountain time trial last year!

Who Can It Be Now?: back in the US, no word yet on who else's gonna be filling the roster over at Floyd Landis team OUCH, though given the rumors swirling over at Tuttobici that ex-doper-heaven Rock Racing might actually scam an invite to the Giro next year (then again, considering the down'n'dirty ProTour squads that are invited to the Grand Tours year after year of disgusting scandals, p'rhaps it's not so very odd), it'd seem rather unfair at best to leave Floyd and his boys at home in May if he can pull off a half-decent pack o' competitive domestique signings. C'mon, even if you're gonna say he *did* do it (and I still can't), they can't be any worse than most of the Italians riding for GC next year, right?

Tunnel of Love: finally, welcome back to Lance Armstrong, triumphantly taking the individual time trial and kicking prime 40-to-49-year-old amateur !@# (a formidable force, to be sure) by 'round about 2 minutes over at the vaunted Tour of Gruene. Next up? Our megalomaniacal charmer is headed for some quality wind tunnel time with amiable new teammate Alberto Contador, the latter presumably using his testing to figure out the most efficient way to impale Armstrong with his new Trek aero helmet should the old bag try to !@#$ with his Tour next year. My, ought that to be a lively exercise in teamwork should Lance try to muscle on in!