Sunday, June 29, 2008

What Else?!

The Lausanne Witch Trials: well, the "!@#$ you, Landis!" we've all been expecting is in, and, as predicted, the boy's been completely screwed by a perfect storm of dubious sample results, grossly incompetent French lab chimps, and grotesquely concerted cowardly unethical leakmeister character assassination by venomous self-serving fearmongers desperate to justify their own egregious inability to conduct a just testing procedure--and that's a damn compliment even *if* you assume he *did* do it. Way to go, WADA and UCI--your reputations as the sterling guardians and objective enforcers of fair sport are secure!

So what did the 3-zip firing squad actually conclude? Let's review the decision: (1)Floyd's a meanie; (2) his witnesses are meanies; (3) his lawyers are double meanies; (4) ergo, meanies oughta pay. Specifically, the lab excoriated Landis and his legal team for "forcing costs higher" and "focusing on minor procedural imperfections," while "Landis' witnesses crossed the line, acting for the most part as advocates, not scientists objectively assisting the Panel in the search for truth" (notably, I saw no similar reproof along the lines of "UCI's desperate attempts to minimize the colossal !@#$up of the astonishingly untalented lab nits, plus the organization's publicity-slut push for conviction before the ink even dried on the A sample vial, crossed the line from neutral enforcement to outrageous butt-covering.") In other words, (1) Landis kept saying he was innocent; (2) his science team kept saying he was innocent; (3) his lawyers zealously argued he was innocent; and (4) if you think any underpaid sap domestique's ever gonna challenge our unimpeachable perfection ever again, you got another thing comin' mister, because you we're whacking with only 100 grand in legal fees, but the next obstreperous !@#$%$ who tries it, we're gonna take his goddamn house, and he's gonna have to ride his decaying $10,000 team bike to the leaking tarp and stinking outhouse he's gonna have to set up in a blackfly-infested scrub heap of killer-bear-crowded woods. All right, guys, I stick a syringe full of dope into my rump every evening just to get enough energy to flick the remote control, I confess--now please don't hurt me! Anyone else thinking we're gonna see a *lot* more quiet deals with the narcs from now on?

The Gloating: as Landis issued a short statement noting he's "saddened," and his legal eagle Maurice Suh simply stated the violations weren't merely "technical in nature," smug USADA guru Travis Tygart wasted no time weighing in, flaying Landis for not only trying to "abuse the system," but trying to embarrass the French lab and the "entire antidoping system." Um, not to invade the Happy Planet of Frolicking Faeries and Cavorting Unicorns you're living in, Travis, but hasn't it occurred to you that even if Landis had 'fessed up to being the filthy repugnant cheating skank you're sure he is, the lab and the entire antidoping process have *still* embarrassed themselves?

The End Result: ah well. For Landis fans--and I rather am one, despite my lingering ambivalence about his true culpability--at least we can hope to see Floyd in team kit again someday, as for my money it's almost inevitable Michael Ball's gonna offer him a truly obscene gob of moolah to ride for Rock Racing in '09. And if there's any silver lining to this swollen black cloud o' career-destroying death, it's that it's so shocked the entire peloton that they've all been riding clean ever since August 2006. Oh, wait...

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Devil Wears Spandex

3, 2, 1...: as our delicate hothouse flower Iban Mayo gently raises the wish that a decision on his idiot case might be made sometime before his actual clinical death from old age, Floyd Landis at least gets to enjoy The Crappiest Weekend Ever, as CAS kindly announces that they're gonna wait to formally announce their near-inevitable decision to jack him til Monday, giving a good two days for an alcohol-induced blackout to take effect before he has to hear the verdict. Trustbut, I'm pulling for your hero!

Ah well. If we never get to see the boy ride again (and that'd really be a damned shame), at least he'll have a second career as a model along with Tom "Gladiator" Boonen:

Good luck Floyd!

Greener Pastures: presumably unhappy with being told to blow at the Tour because all the firepower's going to back Cadel's GC shot, aging-but-still-dangerous sprint wank Robbie "Road Rage" McEwen's apparently been courting others of late, include Oleg "I Heart Dopers" Tinkov, who also might have a shot at luring Giro wonderstud Franco Pellizotti away from Liquigas as it becomes ever more certain that our ambitious climbing sensation is gonna be pressed into service at the feet of bellissimo new hire St. Ivan of Varese. And to think I'd lost respect for Team Tinkoff for hiring pimping then immediately firing the cheating trifecta of Tyler Hamilton, Jorg Jaksche, and Danilo Hondo--how far the publicity ho has risen!

A Confession: no, I'm not a paid troll for disgusting dopers like Jan Ullrich and Roberto Heras, as those who believe I'm part of the cabal of amoral pro-doping sport-destroying scuzzbags might suggest--I do it for free--but I do concede that, my personal annoyance with the really-not-at-fault Alberto Contador over we love Klodi and Leipheimer's perpetual subservience notwithstanding, and even though I do maintain there's no way Contador was the only one not imbibing (even unwillingly) at Liberty Seguros, the Tour de France is gonna be a total freakin' joke this year without the boy being allowed to defend Michael Rasmussen's '07 Tour title. Of course, Cadel gets massive points for replacing his dull wheel-sucking with occasional actual attacks this season, and even Alejandro Valverde gets huge kudos for having such a smashing season even without the helping hand of his gynecologist Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, but oughtn't Contador in all fairness, with his sap lieutenants on hand, be allowed the chance to stomp 'em into utter gasping submission if they're so worthy? I'm *trying* to be fair here for once, ASO--hell, I won't even point out what total hypocrite bull!@#$ it is for you let Cofidis and Rabobank race this year--but Let Contador Ride! See Alberto fans?--I'm not against your boy, even if he *did* absorb enough performance enhancers in a day to fuel the entirety of T-Mobile for a week at his old gig!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Love EPO

So Put Another Vial in the Cooler, Baby: well, it's great news for the cyclists just ahead of the Grand Boucle, as a new study shows that athletes using EPO are highly unlikely to get caught, which raises the question what the hell Manolo Saiz was smoking when he (or his crack medical squad) was (allegedly!) doping up Roberto Heras, if any clown--much less someone with as much (alleged!) expertise as our mastermind--can pull it off without a drug bust. Sue his !@@ Roberto!

Old Friends: okay, doping bad, yap yap, anyone who does it has all the moral street cred of a serial killer and deserves to be banned for life, yap, anyone (and I name no names here) who won't shut the hell up about it afterwards should be smothered in barbecue sauce and thrown into a pit of starving rabid wolverines. But in light of the news that one's odds of sneaking a blood-booster past the narcs are somewhere north of "ginormous", am I the only one feeling a twinge of sympathy for our late lamented exile and monstrous cheating pig Jan Ullrich, for whom watching a slew of compatriots he knows damn well are still at this very moment no less stoked than he ever was triumph at the Tour must leave him wallowing in a particularly grim sludgepit of his own personal Hell? Sure, the sport's a cesspool, but please don't give up your love of the bike Jan--even poor Landis, who at least was spared your own quick-n-painless flameout in *his* endless miserable melodrama, still hits the road (and mountain) when he can!

Question o' the Day: okay, it's been indeed a quiet season so far, with only a couple of funny blood values detected, and lord knows some people's tearful messages as to the evils of doping have had plenty of press time to take effect, so perhaps it's true that, except for a few loathesome renegades, our beloved peloton is clean as a whistle now and for all time in the future. Back to reality. Any predictions on who, if anyone, or which team, if any, is likely to get nailed at the Tour this year?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You Blow, Bjarne!

Jacked of All Trades: okay, CSC-Saxo Bank has an embarrassment of riches with boys like Carlos Sastre, baby and senior Schleck for GC, attack-happy slobbering Labrador Retriever Jens for a breakaway stage victory and general peloton destruction, Fabian Cancellara to take damn near anything he feels like and best of all general god Stuey O'Grady, but Riis, you *still* suck for hosing Bobby Julich out of his second consecutive (and at his creaky age, probably last-ever) Tour de France! Not to diss the very fine backup roster of Gustov Sorensen and Arvesen--when, after all, your very own too-young-for-diplomacy Andy Schleck helpfully pointed out, "we're not going to be the ones going back for water bottles" (obvious, but ouch, you cold little rugrat!)--but doesn't Bobby's smashing palmares, skill and experience qualify him at least for that? Aiiiiggghhhh!

In Like Flynn: As Milram builds its baby-blue leadout around Erik Zabel with Petacchi both kicked off the team and banned (and with party-boy Boonen out at the moment as well, leaving the green jersey, in my estimation, to Thor Hushovd, Thor Hushovd, or Thor Hushovd, but it's a crappy way to win it), the obnoxious yet fairly amusing Riccardo Ricco' has announced he's going to tag along with Saunier Duval for the Grand Boucle, leaving the rabid gazzetta dello sports tifosi variously going nuts with anticipation of a Ricco'-Cunego matchup and doubting that even Ricco' is ready to reach emerging Classics specialists Cunego's one-night stand with a Grand Tour win, and leaving me in a state of total misery that Iban Mayo is not leading, or least being very-gently-asked-so-he-won't-freak-out-and-have-a-major-nervous-breakdown to participate by the squad, since they fired his !@# before that weasel Pat "Dick" McQuaid even had the chance to pimp his 18th "B" sample to Bob's We Swear to Confirm Any Results You Want Us To Lab o' Horrors. Speaking of which, anyone want to hand poor Landis his (likely monstrous) verdict before, say, Contador's zipping along with a glass of champagne on the Champs-Elysees toasting his own 7th Tour win?

Happy Happy Joy Joy: and, as we-still-love-even-if-let's-face-it-it's-highly-doubtful the-boy-escaped-the-T-Mobile-drug-czars-without-an-astonishing-amount-of-illicit-crap- in-his-system Andreas Kloden gets viciously screwed yet *again* despite his dandy performance in the Tour de Suisse, and the versatile Levi Leipheimer isn't even gifted with the late-career opportunity to subsume his own achievable ambitions beneath his jailbait superior for the second year in a row, no-one could seemingly be happier over Astana's idiot ban from the Tour over some petty whining French power grab than last year's second-place finisher (yeah, you heard me) Alberto Contador, looking forward to taking his Grand Tour 3-fer with the Vuelta and "watching the Tour on TV," presumably in the same sense that he was "relaxing at the beach" before winning the Giro on two days' notice, which means anyone left to contest the Vuelta better watch out, as not only is Contador gonna crush 'em on his own merits, but if Klodi is forced to be Contador's !@#$% in 400-degree weather at the Vuelta every day for 3 weeks instead of pursuing his own goals at the rather more temperate Tour, I imagine he's gonna be extra motivated to slap around the field just out of annoyance. More, though the boy thought about bailing for another squad, Contador just couldn't let the team down (or Klodi or Levi up, apparently) when Johan'd built the team all round him. Humble, adorable, a great athlete, and charitable too--watch out Basso, you've got a rival in the teen-dream department, and this one actually seems sincere!

Can We *Please* Shut Off the Faucets Now, For !@#$'s Sake?: finally, if I wasn't happy I don't get HBO before, I sure as hell am now, as St. David Millar predictably hits the airwaves with a special that apparently delves into the irresistible pressure he was under to dope from soulless bottom-dwelling teammates and evil plotting management and how only his strong sense of morality--which totally coincidentally kicked in the second he was busted alone in a hotel room with enough drugs to stun a rampaging ox, but not before--saved him and kept him clean after the good-guy narcs thankfully brought down his career. Y'know, nuthin' against the man's surely genuine transformation from doping cheating scuzzbag to repentant red-handed ex-con, but would anyone else rather jam a !@#damn spoke in their eye than listen to this self-congratulatory !@#$%^%$#@ again? Oh, for the days of implausible (in the sense of grotesquely lying) denials and graceful withdrawal from the peloton!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

(Time) Trial of the Century

Faster Pussycat: so despite totally coincidentally having the pancake-flat time time of his life at the Dauphine--and we all know what happened to we-still-love-so-shut-the-hell-up Roberto Heras right when that !@#$ started, not that I'm implying anything against a guy whose dog totally coincidentally has a carload of Op Puerto blood bags named after him--perpetual Tour podium presumptive Alejandro Valverde's incongruously professing relief that the Tour's rather short on such stages this year, which for my money is even better news for guys like dear little Sastre and why-can't-you-just-be-happy-smokin'-the-perfect-Vuelta-and-leave-the-Tour-to-that-twerp-Menchov Samuel Sanchez. Still, the boy's only finished one Tour to date, so it remains to be seen if he can even hold it together for any of the many stages he could without the assistance of alleged illicit practices possibly win. Good luck "Piti" (and you may need it with the narcs on high alert this year and all), but I'm still hoping Sastre kicks your !@#!

The Roman Empire: first, holy moly youngster Roman Kreutzinger, as if you've got to take a first pro win, the Tour de Suisse ain't a bad one, but more important, right on we love Klodi, and what total crap it is that our fabulous ex-Jan acolyte is being denied his certain podium (despite being Contador's outrageously-conscripted endless errand boy) at the Tour de France! Over in Holland, Tom Boonen sensibly took his inaugural return to the bike and resulting stage win at the Stoer Elektrotoer, which, for reasons no doubt completely irrelevant to his decision to participate, has gotten roundly slagged in cleanster circles for a total lack of doping controls. Welcome back Tommeke! Meantime, proving yet again that the Italians rock, Fabiana Luperini took a record-smashing sixth win over at the Giro del Trentino as US wondergoddess Mara Abbott snags the young riders' jersey. Now that they've all proven worthy of their trikes, can we stop making, say, the women's Tour de France so insufferably patronizingly lame?

French Letters: and, it's been nigh on a week since the vicious attack ankle-biters at UCI suspended the French cycling fed for being "disloyal" in siding with ASO having Paris-Nice and the Tour de France be French-sanctioned, and the consequences of this dreadful, near capital, punishment are clear: um, nuthin'. Next up: anyone who doesn't put their hand over their heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to UCI has to go stand in the corner face to the wall while all the good little cycling feds get to go out for recess. That oughta show 'em, Sheriff McQuaid!

The Ten Greatest Male Athletes the Wall Street Journal Has Ever Heard Of: so just as the irksome New York Times had almost graduated from the unbiased Landis-immolating bull!@#$ faux neutrality of such nobly disinterested parties as WADA's (ex) Dick "Dick" Pound to really a very dandy article on training by the ever-likeable Christian Van de Velde, only to toss all cred again barely a day later by publishing an agonizingly idiotic Tiger Beat piece on the impact of Lance Armstrong's starlet-slurping on his cycling and cancer-awareness legacies, the crack sports journalists over at the WSJ have come out with their Top Ten Athletes in the World list, and I gotta say, it blows, in that I cannot believe there is not a single freakin' cyclist among them. Why? Pro cyclists are too "one-dimensional," which presumably means that the attention-deficit coke-snorting French-cuffed martini-sucking adrenaline-whore commodities traders at the WSJ haven't the patience or sense to actually figure out what's going on during a race. What's worse, the Journal uses "stamina" as a key point of judgment, and cyclists *still* don't make the list. Let's face it, some pansy-!@# baseball player is moving tops--tops!--10% of a 3 hour game, and 90% of *that* time, he's "moving" by spitting tobacco lougies at the cameras like some inbred backwoods Deliverance extra. Is this remotely the same in the effort department as even the most sad-sack un-doped time-cut-missing also-ran Continental domestique in the peloton expends during the ride to the line in the morning check-in? Okay, "popularity"--well, they did give soccer its due international credit, but are you seriously telling me more people are lining up screaming for some gorilla shot-put no-neck more'n once every 4 years at the Big Show? Even "skill"--yes, it is very, very hard for some lunk the size, shape, and general maneuverability of a boxcar to squash an agile 200-lb quarterback, when basically all he has to do is lean his steriod-bloated corpse over its natural tipping point in a timely manner, but I'll bet a tailgate's worth of brew none of these bloated clowns could manage to stay upright grabbing a snack from a feed zone without squashing a half-dozen of the poor soigneurs they'd inevitably plow into. What the !@#$ WSJ?

The Gift That Keeps On Giving: finally, as Bjorn "Love Machine" Leukemans and Andrei Kashechkin await the results of their latest appeals, and both Alexander "IV" Vinokorouv and Michael "I Was !@#$%^!" Rasmussen get back to training to the distinct displeasure of the joyless whiners over at UCI, many congrats to the head of the Spanish cycling federation, sued by the bulk of the late lamented Liberty Seguros squad and now cleared of media leaks with regard to Operacion Puerto. Explain to me again why no-one's gone down for the cowardly disgusting self-serving total-hosing Landis leaks that had the boy wholly incinerated by a flamethrower's worth of toxic character-assassination vitriol before the poor boy had even got his boxers on the morning of his downfall?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Cash Cow, At the Press Conference, With the Microphone

But Not if You Listen to Tom Boonen Tell It: yep, our strapping boy, still desperately seeking a way into the Tour de France after fruitless efforts to date on his behalf by Patrick "THIRTY YEARS OF DOPING, EXCEPT THIS TIME" Lefevere and a distinctly irked Quick Step, has now asserted that, apologies-for-nuthin' to the contrary, he never in fact snorted coke for fun at all, but was clearly slipped a mickey in his perfectly innocent alcoholic drink at a bar by some invisible heinous anti-Boonen provocateur. But the true evildoer, even worse than that stealthmaster Belgian-studmuffin-hating commie (or perhaps Spanish) spy? Yes, of course, it's his very own lawyer, who Tom now swears wrote and forced him to read that statement in which he basically copped to using the drug voluntarily, at least enough to mollycoddle the sponsors but not so obviously as to give the local prosecutors anything to actually grab on to, which might seem to contradict the boy's latest version of events. Right, blame the poor sap everybody's guaranteed to hate, you spineless bastard! Like you even need to Tom--don't you see now how everyone loves you *for* your sweet little booze-and-drug-induced foibles, not despite them?

It's My Party and I'll Be a Raging !@# If I Want To: and, Robbie McEwen sure knows his Miss Manners, as he manages to piss off not only the entire Tour de Suisse organization but also such amiable fellow riders as Fabian Cancellara by busily attending to hometown press accolades on his cellphone after his first stage win at the race the other day and going completely swearing ballistic at the rude asshole who dares interrupt his phone call by asking if he would mind coming up to the podium and enduring congratulatory handshakes podium babe kisses champagne and a huge pile of adoration utterly unmerited by his total wanker behavior. Today, though, Robbie wisely professed his love for all things Suisse, apparently attributing the whole hoo-ha to the inability of the linguistically impaired race minions to understand the actually complimentary meaning of the word "!@#$%&!. Allez allez we love Oscar Freire!

Watch Your !@#, Ricco'!: finally, congratulations to the mysterious "Manuel", the six year old upstart who recently took the maglia rosa over a competitive field of careening tots in the prestigious "Giro d' Minitalia." However, in an interview with gazzetta dello sport immediately after the presentation of the pink jersey, UCI's Pat "Dick" McQuaid stated that "a top rider at the Minitalia whose first name starts with M" has tested positive for the use of the banned performance-enhancing drug chocolate milk and that, despite the failure of an initial B sample tainted by cookie crumbs to confirm the result, backup Z samples have now been sent to a UCI-controlled lab in Siberia for analysis. Not so fast, you wily kindergarten dope-fiend!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Fantasy Rider Press Conference

Good morning. I'm here before you today because I'm afraid my team boss is gonna fire me if I don't perform well in my next race/I cost the organization sponsorship dough/he's in a pissy mood over his fight with his wife last night. I'm dressed this nicely because we all saw how Landis got slagged for that backwards baseball cap/the sponsor doesn't want me publicly wearing its team kit/I'm desperately hoping to keep my million-euro endorsement gig with the company that makes this suit.

I'm very sorry that I got caught openly snorting coke at a club/blood-doping with an IV in my arm poolside after the race/inhaling huge quantities of asthma meds even though my only "medical condition" is gout. It honestly didn't occur to me that just because you don't have Iban Mayo/Jan Ullrich/Floyd Landis to smack around anymore, you really meant any of that "zero tolerance" crap with regard to the rest of us, particularly since you let Michael Rasmussen wear the maillot jaune for a week last year knowing he'd skipped doping controls/are still letting freakin' Valverde ride/can't possibly believe any of that ridiculous crocodile-tear snake-oil bull!@#$ David Millar and Ivan Basso are selling. Anyhow, I'd like to apologize to my directeur sportif for getting us yanked out of the Tour/grandma for hiding my stash in her glove compartment/superdomestique for screwing him over yet *again.* Lucky for some of you, I'm not gonna name my dealer/expose my team's systemic doping practices/out any of my filthy teammates, because I still want a reliable source for blow/know what happened to Sinkewitz and Jaksche when they tried it/don't want to be wheel-whacked off a precipice by a vengeful peloton next time I take a start line.

I now plan to take a short break from cycling to change my racing license to Monaco/try to work out a cakewalk deal with UCI/find a better doctor. Finally, in the interests of signing a lucrative deal with Liquigas/the latest Discovery incarnation/any hard-up Continental squad that'll please, please take me, I hereby promise to go to rehab even though I'm not an addict, I just enjoy using drugs recreationally/become an impassioned crusader against everyone but me using performance-enhancing substances/be a lot more discreet next time. I will now take preapproved questions/commence bawling/sue any bastard who dares write the truth about me. Thank you.

Now, *that's* a rider I'd (1) respect and (2) forgive. Pony up, you drug-stoked wussbags!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Neutral Country My !@#!

Blowin' in the Wind: so, the fallout from Tom Boonen's little coke poz continues, with the righteous Tour de Suisse barring him from the race and even considering bagging Quick Step if they don't do the right thing, UCI WADA and the Belgian cycling fed shrugging it off as not their problem, Bouyges-Telecom ditching contract negotiations with the boy, and the Tour de France feeling awfully uncomfortable with the whole thing. Um, not to question the Tour de Suisse's superior morality here, but wasn't Jan "I Love Ecstasy" Ullrich allowed to actually go ahead and win the thing twice after his own little partying indiscretion? Meantime, the tifosi over at gazzetta dello sport are engaged in a spirited argument, one side generally defending the coke, and the other, of course, in a state of total nationalist outrage that Basso only confessed to wanting to dope, Di Luca was nailed for merely knowing some doctor with a record of doping everyone else, Petacchi was busted for drugs even CAS acknowledged he took out-of (since they were after)-competition as well, but some big Belgian is getting off the hook for actually taking a drug within 3 days of a pretty important race. Me, I think maybe Boonen ought to be prosecuted for stupidity, but really, so long as he ain't snarfing it out of his musette at the feed zone, well, how else do we expect these national-hero tabloid-fodder babe-magnet rock-stars-of-the-peloton to behave--and judging how riders of the past are viewed, won't it actually just be considered part of his charmingly misbehaving bad-boy appeal someday? Tip for the future: though apparently the narcs are only targeting "suspected riders" from now on, presumably those they don't like and not those that they do, Tom, please just stick to zipping your Lamborghini along at twice the speed limit on the autobahn after a long night at the club--nobody, it seems, minds that!

The Apology: yep, after meeting with a no-doubt displeased Quick Step management, our Tommeke has humbly apologized, completely voluntarily "taking a break" as he no doubt contemplates whether Quick Step is gonna completely mutually fire his !@# (though notably Patrick "30 YEARS OF DOPING" Lefevere is understandably indicating reluctance to give up his major source of income on such a trifling personal issue) and wisely beginning the St. Millar-like course of sincere repentance and even more sincere likelihood of another valuable ProTour contract or the continuance of this one as he snorts away his regrets on the beach in Monaco. Wishing you a speedy recovery from the recreational coke use you won't cop to, and for heck's sake Tom, *try* at least to keep the illicit hijinks to the off-season!

Local H: finally, right on big George Hincapie for smokin' the field at the Dauphine, and here's hoping you can take one at the Tour de France without being ordered to sit on someone's wheel next time!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Thor-n Between Two Time Trialists...

Feelin' Like a Fool: okay, so I admit I jumped up shrieking like a granny-panty-tossing blue-hair at a Tom Jones show when we love Thor Hushovd completely smacked around the rest of the field in the Dauphine prologue, but when we also love Levi Leipheimer came through and brutally crushed even that, I gotta say, I was caught on who to yell for more. But aside from Thor's recent bizarro morphing from sprint king into time-trial specialist, let's talk about what was *really* unusual on Sunday: Alejandro "Piti Is Not My Dog" Valverde, of all people, coming in third on a short, flat time trial course. Taking today on what was at least an uphill sprint? Sure. But come on, gack it up people--tell me honestly you weren't all thinking "Doper!" same as I was when he crossed the line in that shocker!

Phil and Paul Are Gods: y'know, I almost felt sorry for 2006 Tour de France second banana/maillot jaune anyway Oscar Pereiro yesterday, as the perfect team of Liggett and Sherwen said straight out they'd never seen him as the winner of that Tour and never will, because he took it on one escape where he wasn't even a marked man, then, mercifully switching the focus from the really pretty decent Pereiro's shortcomings and on to Floyd Landis' total hosing, expressed annoyance with ASO's handing off the jersey without a definitive ruling and that's it's flat disastrous for both the rider and the sport to have no resolution damn near two years on. Right on Phil & Paul--suck up the embarrassment of the complete farce that's been this process, CAS, and free Floyd already!

In Defense of Contador (As Much As I'm Capable, Anyway): Okay, Michael Rasmussen is indisputably the *true* winner of the 2007 Tour de France, but as no-one appears inclined to give him back the maillot jaune that was cruelly ripped from him days before the finish line and before the time trialists even had the chance to scare the bejeezus (if not the actual jersey) out of him in the last few days, it seems to me there's only one other thing left to be done: let baby Contador defend the Chicken's, I mean his own grossly unjustly stolen, Tour de France title. Let's be honest ASO: (1) You hate Bruyneel because (a) you think Lance doped his way through 7 consecutive Tour titles and (b) an American of all coarse cultureless pigs made French riders look like simps; and (2) you think Contador doped at Liberty Seguros, so you don't want him in there now. Well, so does anyone else with any sense, you petty little wanks, but really, hasn't everyone else effectively decided to forgive such alleged youthful discretions to keep Cycling's Next Great Savior on wheels, particularly given the wholly mitigating factor that when he and the rest of his vulnerable generation came under the influence (so to speak) of the formidable genius Manolo Saiz, the child was merely a helpless freshman at the high-school-senior party, virtually held upside down at the keg by his ankles and forced to chug by the big jocks til he yacked? Add to this the thrilla of a Giro that makes this year's Tour parcours look like a kiddie 1k, the reality that a reasonable proportion of the high-level peloton is still gonna try to sneak by your narcs anyway, and that the disgusting and amateurishly indiscreet antics at Astana last year were by basically a whole 'nother team, and you really do look like a bunch of petulant crybabies not letting him in. Of course, you could argue he's "on vacation" as he was just before the Giro and thus won't be on form for the race even if you did back down, but given that "on vacation" appears to be Kazakh for "training on 24% gradients on strategically important mountain passes for 18 lung-busting hours a day," even that last-ditch hope doesn't wash. You've got nothing to justify your actions, in sum, except the fear of losing face if you change your minds and let our wiry little prodigy play. Is this really a good enough reason to deface cycling history in the making, I ask you?

Vanilla Ice (Well, Snow): speaking of Tour de France decisions, cyclingnews is reporting that rakish speed demon Tom Boonen, lately busted yet again for speeding and last year named by a fellow local jock as his drug dealer, has now allegedly tested poz for coke in an out of competition doping screen, perhaps putting ASO in even more of an uncomfortable position as it contemplates the positives and negatives of the participation of yet another fan-beloved ratings-increasing yet vaguely-tainted cash cow. Oh Tom, not to worry--I'm sure it was your Dad's. Or your grandmother's. Or Simoni's. Or...

History Rock: finally, for those of you who bear, as I do, the secret shameful opinion that dopers do-really-suck-so-please-get-the-hell-off-my-back-about-my-being-an-apologist but the despised Jan Ullrich was still a gloriously compelling trainwreck to watch and the peloton's exponentially the lamer without him, I bring you this wholly traumatic link to "his" 2006 Giro blog, found courtesy of faithful reader Marc. (If, however, you have any fellow-feeling at all for the harmless Matthias Kessler, or any natural sense of delicacy whatsoever with regard to the intimate life of Simoni's bike pump, don't say I didn't warn you that this guy is some sick !@#$.) For those of you who *can* still bear to look at him after you wake up screaming in a cold sweat, I see that from Jan's actual personal website, you can send family, friends, or perhaps even Jan's little BFF Ivan Basso any one of a selection of handsome Jan Ullrich e-cards. Enjoy, and share the beauty that is Ullrich!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Napoleon Dynamite

The Spoils of War: as the big boys test their legs for the Tour de France at the Euskal Bizkleta and the Dauphine-Libere this weekend, and Il Piccolo Principe Damiano Cunego finally gets the chance to prove that even if he can't take another Giro he can still take out Alejandro "Did Not Either" Valverde at the Grand Boucle, ASO and UCI continue their vicious competition in the petite-dictator-trying-desperately-to-prove-his-manly-supremacy department by ASO putting their precious race under the auspices of the French Cycling Fed in a jab to the petty tyranny of the ProTour and mandating a 100k euro fine for any team-spawned doping poz and UCI's Pat "Dick" McQuaid going postal at the obvious prospect that the Tour he's worked so hard to clean up is gonna be a veritable hotbed of open EPO shoot-ups and an utter opium den of languid pre-race IV drips. Right, Pat, your overwhelmingly effective commitment to pure sport has been clearly proven by such zero-tolerance measures as (1) the inability of your incompetent bungling lab chimps to reliably track label and interpret a urine sample to the breathtakingly rigorous standards of a Romper Room science experiment and (2) knowingly allowing Michael Rasmussen to wear the maillot jaune at the Tour for damn near a week despite being perfectly aware the boy'd missed a huge passel of pre-race doping controls by lying about what hemisphere he was training in. You trying for a Man of the Year award from "High Times" magazine or what? Either way, allez allez dear little Sastre, and I call bull!@#$ on Moreau being jacked out of defending his title!

Contract News: and, Alessandro Petacchi's wussed out on his threat to retire if banned, as he's reportedly near to signing a deal with Team Tinkoff, which is interesting if for no other reason that team owner Tinkov is the same guy who bought a boatload of publicity for his new squad by signing half the riders linked to Op Puerto then, in shock at the discovery that they were accused of anything which any dumbass football fan would've known, fired 'em as soon as he'd milked those cows for all the cheap sleazy publicity they'd bring 'em. Anyway, glad to see those classified ads are paying off for you Ale-Jet! Danilo Di Luca, meantime, has offered up quite the shocker (though perhaps not in light of his poor Giro run hardly being a major selling point to the big boys), extending with LPR til 2011, which actually mightn't be that bad a move considering how much his ostensible support staff wiped the floor with him and half the ProTour teams in the Giro. Either way, any bets on Petacchi's late-season performance, after such a glum start to the season and a break-in period for a whole new lead-out train?

I'm Too Sexy for My Shirt, Too Sexy for My Shirt: okay, we all know that Rock Racing, despite its leadership by that intolerable egomaniac camera whore Michael Ball, has indeed some of the most bitchin' team kits to rock the peloton since Lampre's fabulous 80s pink-and-turquoise. And I know the guy's in the fashion biz, dedicated to scamming vulnerable label addicts into paying 8 grand for a pair of pre-shredded jeans. But is that any excuse for this greedy narcissistic blowhard to go around demanding $180 for a simple team jersey that's not even in its recent eye-searing acid green, particularly given their results this season (no, one win by Oscar Sevilla in Reading, despite quite admirable competition, isn't quite the team palmares of, say, Astana)? The hell with that ridiculous ripoff crap--pony up a mere $103 for the fine CSC jersey of we love Bobby Julich or the dandy new Slipstream argyle of big Maggy Backstedt or Dave Zabriskie at a wholly worthwhile 99 bucks instead!

That's Why I Wanna Be a Rock Star: finally, I see that the previously-modest Cadel Evans is ratcheting up the A-list factor, hiring a badass bodyguard for the Tour de France to swat off the swarming babe and press contingents and developing an entourage that would put P. Diddy's to shame. Holy moly, next thing you know the boy'll be unbuttoning his shirts down to his navel like Mario "the Chest" Cipollini and slurping on a little Olsen twin. Watch out Cadel, you don't want all that preteen shrieking along the roads of the Alps to drown out the instructions from your team car!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

All the News That's Unfit to Print

Wheels on Fire: think that just because whiny also-ran Riccardo Ricco' finally manned up and congratulated Contador on winning the Giro that Ricco's gonna let that damned Spaniard keep 4 seconds on him on the next Grand Tour they both get to race? Well think again pals, because as this classified photo leaked from the Saunier Duval mechanics' workshop shows, Ricco's got a whole new strategy. That's right, if that saccharine little press slut gets within 30 meters of Riccardo on, say, the Alpe d'Huez, Ricco's gonna flick a hidden flamethrower switch on his carbon fiber steed/advanced armament carrier and freakin' immolate him:

Now *that's* tactical riding, baby--and don't say you weren't warned, Alberto!

Quote o' the Day That I Could Live Without: legendary genius Bernard Hinault in the Velonews Tour de France issue re: we love Iban Mayo: "...Mayo, despite the talent he's demonstrated, does a lot better watching the Tour on TV in the comfort of his own home." Gnurk! Okay Bernard, leaving aside the fact that that may actually not be entirely incorrect, and the more salient point that he doesn't have a team to ride it anyway, we've seen how badly the boy reacts to positive reinforcement like "you can win the Tour someday"--*must* we hurt our fragile flower even more with negative assessments? If he functions best--and when he does, it's so very well--in a happy little bubble of no feedback from anyone anytime anywhere ever, I say, let our little Iban (if indeed he ever finds a team again) float free!

And Now, the Classified Ads: well, folks, with unemployment rampant in the pro peloton thanks to the specters of positive-tests past, ongoing (valid or crap) suspensions, and current suspicious irregularities, it occurs to me that there's a lot of very fine riders out there who could use some help getting a new gig, and in the spirit of helping one's fellow alleged doper, I mean man, and in the even unlikelier event that the team managers or their lackeys would even be interested much less aware, I humbly post this forum's first "Positions Wanted" ads (contact info upon request):

--Late-career Italian sprinter, up-to-date on latest medical advances in oxygen-delivering technology, # of professional victories somewhat uncertain due to confusing CAS ruling, seeks lead-out train. Therapeutic Use Exemption for buckets o' asthma meds. Still fit enough to kick Cavendish's @#% in a sprint.

--All-rounder seeks squad. Robust, loooooves the ladies, CAS ruling blames poz on doofus team doc. Won't rat out other riders, because we all know what happens when riders do *that*, but support staff fair game.

--Superlative Basque climber, former Next Lance Armstrong, available maybe someday. Seeks nurturing environment where I won't be excessively lauded if I win and will be protected from press criticism when I lose. Multiple Grand Tour stage victories. Prefer very, very gentle Spanish-speaking squad.

--Tour de France winner goddammit, still gamely training on mountain bike, won't cop to crime I didn't commit. Vindication and honorary B.S. in Crap Monkey Labwork Studies anticipated late June 2009. Much stronger than last lame squad would suggest.

--Domestique seeks captain. Dad promises to stay home next Giro.

--Attempted doper, successful Teen Beat pinup career, recently obtained angel's wings, likely early parole to attend 2008 Worlds in Varese, seeks...Ha Ha! Liquigas signed me already! Suckerrrrrssssssss...

--Recent Giro attendee, unusual blood values, seeks team that won't buy into the misleading farce that is the Biological Passport. Will work for food and free massage.

--Kazakh superdomestique, cleared by national cycling fed on idiot UCI screwup. Proven Grand Tour stalwart, super-loyal. Not afraid of needles.

That concludes the "jobs wanted" section for today. Best of luck to all and sundry!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The 2008 Racejunkie Giro d'Italia Awards

Okay, having (1) nursed my 3-week post-Giro-downer hangover with a nice bottle of wine from we'll-always-love-and-if-you-don't-go-to-hell Gilberto Simoni's home stomping grounds and (2) fortunately survived the Harrowing Plane Ride of Imminent Death that temporarily kept me from timely end-game mountains coverage or damn near anything at all for all eternity, I humbly wrap up this year's Giro d'Italia coverage for both my faithful readers by, for once, truly giving credit where credit is due. Thus, without further ado, a nice bottle of Prosecco and a bonus video of "Podium Babes Gone Wild" goes to:

I Call Bull!@#$ Award: to man-o'modest-expectations Johan Bruyneel, natch, for claiming the maglia rosa was a total unplanned and unhoped-for shock to the system, only to have Alberto show up 5 seconds later in perfect-fitting pink helmet, socks, gloves, shoe covers, musette and interior chamois. By the way, did anyone else think, even for a shameful second, that after weeks of virginal blushing, aw-shucks hemming-and-hawing, and charming self-deprecation at every suggestion the boy can ride a bike better'n your average beer-swilling couch lump, Contador's sprinter-worthy chest-thumping gesticulating across the line at the time trial belied his true filthy down-n-dirty bite-me-Ricco' eat-my-dust-you-pathetic-weaklings nature?

Like A School In Summertime...No Class Award: brilliant and generally quite likable young upstart Mark Cavendish, happily affirming to the press that Andre Greipel's stage win was in fact a gimme by his captain, right when an annoyed and ego-bruised Greipel had just denied it to the same press corps. We get it, you rock, it was truly dandy of you to body-block Bennati for Greipel, can you sprinters *please* ever shut the !@#$ up?

Mountain King: who else? 'Nuff said. Now that he's getting married as promised on account of those stage wins, does he get to wear the green jersey under his tux?

An Officer and a Gentleman: yes, baby Contador's modest, perfect, and ever so cute as a button, but this one actually goes to Danilo Di Luca, who didn't blame his teammates, some crap fictional ailment, his soigneur, the weather, an unduly weak espresso or his mechanics for his largely disappointing performance, instead candidly copping to a simple failure of form and, after expressing only modest hopes for a pick up, had the guts to fruitlessly attack in the mountains anyway in the final weekend. Right on Il Killer!

Tifosi of the Year: no, it's not the guys who even the gentle Emanuele Sella had to frantically swat off him like killer bees nor the helpful loyalists who wreck rider's lines on an excruciating ascent by sticking giant foam fingers in their faces, it's Marco Pantani's, for splendidly and wholly irrelevantly plastering his name and visage all over the roads, on every race-side banner, and in 90% of the comments on the Gazzetta dello Sport boards, despite the fact that technically (if not certainly in the hearts of all concerned) he's not actually raced in the Giro this year. Tell me, can a bunch of rioting drunken British soccer louts or screaming Dorito-spraying beer-gutted American football fans match such love?

General Team Bitchin'-ness Prize: though Gibo's loyal lieutenants came a close second, this one goes to the boys at LPR, who managed to take a wad of stage wins and several days in the maglia rosa while herding Di Luca along with a competence far beyond their craptastic Continental paychecks. Give these boys a raise, and a ProTour license while we're at it!

Shot Through the Heart!/And You're to Blame! Award: yep, this one's for Simoni, for whom I am still hoarding a miserable heartbreak over his hideous breakdown that whacked him flat off the podium in what is likely his last Grand Tour ever (and who the hell is going to cover his mountain bike races so I can see 'em? Dammit!), but who rallied to 3d in a fabulous mountain time trial in which he actually beat Contador like anyone gives a rat's fuzzy !@#, then broke away from the gruppo maglia rosa to take second to the unbeatable Sella's penultimate stage. First, major points to Gibo's tifosi for giving him the adulation he's due for an incredible career even amidst the fuss over at-the-moment-perhaps-stronger-riders-but-certainly-lesser-men. Second, next time even Phil or Paul refers to him like he's some decrepit old bat from the era before those ridiculous Horseless Carriages I'm gonna really get irked. Third, man Gilberto, you did a great job thwapping that obnoxious jerkface protege Ricco's body into shape at Saunier Duval, but like you couldn't have done something about his mouth?

Domestique O' the Race: Oh Klodi. You cracked, you got sick, yet you still wordlessly managed to slap around that little twerp Ricco' til he cried for mercy in the Alpine passes before you keeled over on the next to last day with a lung infection, though as with the other Grand Tours on which you have podiumed, you are more than capable of taking your own. Oh well, better to work for outwardly-amiable little Contador than toddler tyrant Ricco', right?

Shameless Nationalist Rah-Rah Award: yep, Christian Van de Velde, for taking the maglia rosa on day 1 even if it meant that poor we love Dave Zabriskie didn't get to. Dag nabit, and forza Christian!

Total Freakin' Stupidity Award: Y'know, I'll forgive the Italians damn near anything, up to and including the fine points of Italian grammar I've spent the last weeks being too dense to comprehend and that no-one told me doesn't even matter because folks actually speak Ladino in the Dolomites, but waiting for Leonardo "Aaacck! Snoorrtt!" Piepoli to crash out after he'd already helped Ricco' to stage wins, when Stefano Garzelli and Alessandro "Post-Race Doping Violation" Petacchi were barred from riding at all, is absolute !@#$%$^%!. What the hell were you twisted amoral goons even thinking, RCS?

Ricco'...Un-Suave Prize: finally, this one goes to red-faced rabid wolverine shrieking crybaby you-know-who, who had the great good sportsmanship not only to rip into Pellizotti and Sella for failing to be his !@$%#%$ and hunt Contador down by daring to ride for their own GC placements instead when they also happen to ride for other organizations, but also handsomely--if unproductively he'll find, I imagine--humiliated his own teammates at really a very fine squad by snarking that if he had a backup team like Astana's , he'd've obviously ground the rest of the field and especially Contador into the dust like a spit-covered cigarette stub too. Um, not to slag such piercing strategic analysis, Riccardo, nor such spectacular excuses for why you continue to bite at the individual time trial, but if you are really thinking about taking the Tour some day mightn't you not want to insult boys who now have a vested interest in accidentally touching wheels and nudging your ungrateful !@# down the mountainside on the Alpe d'Huez?

All right folks, if I've missed something or made a lousy call (and I'm sure I have), spit it out. Til then, it's on to the Dauphine and the riders' prep work for the irritating Tour de France, and we love Jens!