Saturday, December 06, 2008

The 2008 Racejunkie Awards

Well folks, another delightful, disgusting, sordid, exciting, gack-inducing, and beautiful year has nearabout drawn to a close, and while there's still another three weeks to up-end even this season's rack-up of hideous scandal, it's that time o' year, and without further ado, I humbly award the following:

Charity Begins At Home Award: Tyler. Santiago. In fact, damn near everyone of a certain age who's romanced an IV line, popped on a patch, or snuggled a syringe. And now, even notoriously blabbermouthed Jan Ullrich procurer Rudy Pevenage. For reasons surely totally unrelated to an insatiable personal need for constant attention like some preening overgrown toddler, Rock Racing's Michael Ball's loving redemption of some of the most notorious, and wholly coincidentally, famous once-dirty names in the biz has made this shameless publicity slut into a bona-fide Mother Theresa of the peloton. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, honey--and hey, is that a camera over there? Come back, I'm over here! Look, I'm signing Richard Virenque!

The Karma,Baby Award o' 2008: I just could't decide which was more delicious: Saunier Duval's boys throwing smack-talking crybaby Riccardo Ricco' to the narco-wolves after he !@#$%-slapped 'em for being maglia-rosa-losing suckmaster weaklings in his Giro, or Patrick Lefevere jacking over we love Paolo Bettini over at Quick Step only to have cheapo (in wallet and character) replacement Stefan Schumacher promptly test poz for dope. See, good really *does* always triumph over evil!

Celebrity Rehab o' the Year: oh Ivan. Two short years ago, you were flashing your wares in gazzetta dello sport, pouting charmingly for every camera you could find, and treating every lower life form on earth with the cool scorn they so clearly deserved from cycling's Next Great Hope. Then, even those long-lashed dreamboat eyes couldn't save you from your spectacular Op Puerto-driven self-destruct. And now, two short years later and with your best seasons still in your legs, you've been reborn, older-and-wiser graduate of a feckless youth, UCI's new anti-doping ambassador, humble patriarch of a beautiful famiily, endless benefactor of worthy children's charities, and, not accidentally, lime-green owner of a smashing cash-cow of a contract from one of the most powerful teams in the world. Give this man's PR team a bronze monument in the Dolomites!

Enviable Coup Award of 2008: on a related note, who *wouldn't* ditch the universally-loathed ProTour and its stupid rule about not hiring dopers for four years when you could perpetrate the scam-of-the-century by snatching Basso out from under your insanely frustrated jealous and naively moral big-league competitors a full two years early? Chutzpah, thy name is Liquigas!

Jesse James Lives Again: he drives drunk, snorts coke, cavorts with certifiable jailbait, crashes his car twice a week like clockwork, and routinely squanders the most formidable talent in the peloton for the hedonistic pursuit of ephemeral pleasures. Yet everyone (me included) still loves amiable aw-shucks leather-skirt-wearing outlaw big Tom Boonen, especially his ever-exasperated yet all-forgiving Mike Brady of a best-dad-ever over at Quick Step. We all *wish* we could live such a charmed life, Tommeke--just time your stupidity a bit more sensibly and don't deprive us of your presence in Tour next year, all right?

Defender of the Faith Award: to flying deliverer-o'-heavenly-justice Bernard Hinault, landing like a ton of bricks on the heinous ignoramus protester of some petty stupid cause like world peace, an end to human suffering or farm tariffs who dared to defile the sacred podium ceremony at the Grand Boucle. Get your priorities straight, you peasant chump, and you can eat cake from your hospital bed for all I care!

All Talk, No Action Prize: yes, it's actually-really-smashing-Classics-rider Alejandro Valverde, who has managed to reward his fans, his endless hype, the dope-rumor-ignoring Spanish officials, and his own constant predictions with yet another season sans the Grand Tour win that we're so relentlessly promised and denied each year. Embrace your true nature, Alejandro, and the hell with promises you can't keep--who wouldn't be proud of your existing palmares anyway? Subsidiary Deathgrip o' Futility Award to UCI and WADA for fruitlessly swearing every Tour, Olympics, Classic and Worlds they're gonna bring him down, and blowing it--damn, would you concede your mortifying defeat and give it *up* already, you *lost*!

Crap Verdict of 2008: I love you, Iban, but this one's for Floyd Landis, whom even the brilliant underappreciated loyalists at trustbutverify and a crack legal team couldn't save from the scumly vendetta-driven selectively-prosecuting due-process-abusing lowlife press-yapping hypocrites over at UCI, WADA, and the Most Incompetent Chimp-Staffed Lab On Earth. Hell, even if you think he *did* do it, this was a freakin' travesty. And am I the only one going absolutely insane thinking of who's still zipping around happily in the high-paid Grand Tour-racing Classics-taking ProTour while poor Landis only just managed to scrape up a deal with an artificial-hip manufacturer? Oh well, at least he'll be racing domestically where we can see him...

Unsung Verdict o' the Year: finally, a team gets held responsible for *something*, as disgraced rightful 2007 Tour de France winner Michael Rasmussen wins hundreds of thousands of euros in a breach-of-contact action against enabling team Rabobank for righteously firing him even though, as the court found, they knew damn well that Rasmussen was lying about his whereabouts when he completely accidentally was nowhere in sight during surprise pre-race doping controls for the Tour. Gee, if a *rider* does something illicit, he gets roasted like a marshmallow at a bonfire, but when a *team*'s implicated in any kind of wrongdoing, even Pat "Dick" McQuaid and Dick "Dick" Pound fall so silent you can hear the crickets chirping--cowardly sponsor-appeasing money-grubbing double standard, much?

Wuss-Baby Sissy-Boy Move o' the Year: Oh, Riccardo. You're busted for doping, and what do you do? Right, run hiding behind the skirts of first your sister, then your fiance, then your mamma, and let 'em protect you from the Big Bad Media and assorted other neighborhood bullies til finally, like a naughty child caught red-handed with a forbidden ice-cream smeared all over your face, you were jerked kicking and screaming from beneath their petticoats to face the obvious. That's an 18-month time-out for you, you bad, bad, boy!

Crash-o'the-Year (Cringeworthy): Oscar Pereiro's excruciating body-snapping airborne switchback traverse at the Tour. All that work for Valverde, for nothin'!
Crash-o'the-Year (Moronic): if there's anything more fulfilling for a cyclist than to work like mad for six hours only to be taken out within sight of the line by some meandering idiot on an oblivious stroll through the course right as the peloton comes through, I've yet to hear of it. I mean, a *dog* I can understand, but for a spectator to be this dimwitted?
Crash-o'the-Year (Spectacular): yep, it's a three-fer for the Tour, as young breakaway artist John-Lee Augustyn slightly misjudges a curve and pitches about 18,000 feet head-over-heels down the Alps before, remarkably unhurt and impressively tenacious, he scrambles back up the rockslidey slope on his tractionless bike shoes and gets back to business on his bike without a second's pause. Sure, he might review the laws of physics a bit when it comes to zipping around a turn at a zillion kph, but anyone else see a great future for this kid?

La-La-La-I-Can't-Hear-You-Doping-Poz-Award: Piepoli? Yawn. Kohl? Cry me a river, baby. Ricco'? Nobody could stand him anyway. Frank Schleck? Okay, that one hurt. But Triki? Triki!? Aiiiggggghhhhhh!

Doping Excuse of 2008: let's face it, nothing's ever gonna come close to Bjorn "I Did It All for the Nookie" Leukemans' in flagrante delicto defense of 2007. But this year, though it breaks my heart, we love Marta "Does My Butt Look Big in This Chamois?" Bastianelli's banned supplement poz comes close. Heck, why be World Champion for the second year in a row in one of the hardest, most beautiful, and most prestigious sports in the world when you could fit just a little more hotly into those already-miniscule blue jeans?

The Why, Why, Why Award of 2008: Lance. You are degrading the perfect and beautiful Giro by acting like you've ever given a toss about it 'til you got a little scared that a surprisingly resistant baby legend-ascendant Contador might take you out at the Tour, and insulting all of us by proclaiming your sudden selfless happiness to domestique for any first-year neo-pro who earns it when, frankly, in your own career you showed your gratitude for the role they play by barely ever letting any of your own willingly-subservient worker bees off the leash long enough to reward 'em with a thank-you-now-go-take-the-stage-win 'til they were damn near too old to be carried up a mountainside in an ambulance, much less personally ride the thing. Your legacy as the Greatest Tour de France rider in History is--justly--secure. Your noble dedication to cancer awareness and eradication is unquestioned and hugely successful. And your celebrity-snogging Matthew McConaghey-palling place in People magazine is permanent. Why, Lance, why, why, why?

And Finally, the Best Attack of the Year: he had to do it, he did do it, and even the tireless grinding and quietly amazing Cadel Evans couldn't answer it. Carlos Sastre on the Alpe d'Huez. Isn't nice to have *something* pure to celebrate in this stunning ever-tainted soul-singing trainwreck of a sport? Woo-hoo!

Well, that's about it for this year folks, and I'm sure there's a bucket o' stuff I either missed, or flat-out blew. So have at, and here's to a thrilling (if intermittently loathesome) 2008!


Anonymous said...

The funny thing about Rock is that Michael Ball knows how to draw the fans in. I was at the Tour of California and there were HUNDREDS of fans lined up to see Tyler, Santiago, Oscar, etc. I guess you're just jealous that Jelly Belly or Kelly Benefits doesn't have a former Tour de France stage winner on the team. Oh well.

randie said...

it's been over a year sonce i started reading your blog, because i remember last years awards. where does the time go? into being a cycling fan of course! good job. i had a giggle

Rosemary said...

I loved that pounce by Hinault! I missed it the day that aired, but thanks to you mentioning it during the Tour, I re-watched the recording.

I just bought the 2008 Tour DVD and was sad to see they didn't include that scene. Fortunately, I put the first 3 stages of the tour on video to show my (Breton) mother.

Lissa W. said...

Just happened across this site. Excellent commentary on cycling. I didn't know that other Levi/Kloden fans even existed! The glare off of Lance's halo must have blinded me...