Thursday, January 29, 2009

Career Tips for (Ex) Dopers

Helpful Hints: Vinokorouv. Schumi. Sella. Kohl. Bastianelli. Dang, even Triki (aaaaiiiggghhh!). What do they all have in common? That's right, a scarlet letter for doping, deeply repentant souls (ha!), and crap employment prospects as a result. Therefore, in the spirit of sincere belief in returning rehabbed miscreants to productive roles in society, and my desire not to have our tax dollars pay to support these arrogant twits on the dole, I humbly offer some alternate career suggestions to help our poor downtrodden boys'n'girls back on the path to righteousness:

1. Phlebotomist. Who better to draw blood from someone else than a person with pre-existing expertise and such a marked lack of squeamishness they can shoot themselves up on the toilet of a Holiday Inn? Thanks, Dr. Fuentes!

2. Bus Driver. We already know you can manage those tricky descents on two wheels, why not for your local Greyhound franchise? With luck, you might even get to ferry your old teammates around--and with your eyes focused on the road, you'll honestly be able to say you had no idea what the hell was going on back there when the narcs come a-knockin'. Bonus!

3. Head of One of the Most Powerful Teams in Cycling. Okay, it helps to have doped your way to an actual Tour de France win for this one, but even the least successful among you ought to be able to score a gig with *somebody*. Big points if you can get your sympathetic sponsors to say they "understand" you don't want to "dwell on the past," then turn around and credibly profess your shock, disgust, and outrage when one of your own riders cheats without a particle of self-awareness or irony. Lookin' good there, Bjarne!

4. Pharmaceutical and Medical Supply Sales Rep. You walked the walk, now you can talk the talk. Your million-dollar mantra: Man, was *that* !@#$ good!

5. Waiter at Applebee's. Anybody who can stuff a dozen water bottles down their jersey riding alongside a team car at 35 miles per hour then pass 'em back out in a crowded peloton without so much as clipping a wheel can surely handle the beer-'n'-bloomin' onion orders of a handful of boisterous just-liberated cube-dwellers during the 5:01 p.m. rush. You get tips, too!

6. Peace Corps. If you've got any desire whatsoever to get back in the game after your ban is up, this one's for you. You benefit humanity, learn what a tough break really is, and totally coincidentally get potential-employer-pleasing waif-laden photo ops galore to prove your reformed-in-body-and-mind genuine-regret cred. Who knew charity could benefit the giver-of even more than the given-to?

Well folks, I hope this helps, but if these don't work out for you, you can always join little Ricco' teaching spin class. Welcome back to the ranks of the real world's domestiques, and don't forget to look busy when the boss comes 'round!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dopes Suck

Or Dopers, Whatever: all right, kids, we haven't even made it to the Tour of freakin' Qatar yet, and already either "a few" or 30 or so of these peloton clowns--including one allegedly "top" rider--are about to get busted via the UCI biological passport for blood doping. Now, I don't doubt for a moment that most of these boys naturally have the oxygen-carrying capacity of a twelve-pack of world-champion yodelers, or the inherent endurance of Tom Boonen on a week-long party crawl, or the ruthless bodily efficiency of a school of piranhas at an underwater barbecue, or inhaled a litter of equally-athletic embryonic sibs when they were themselves barely big enough to register on an ultrasound. But for the rare, rare specimen of a cyclist who might just try to sneak one past the narcs, I must ask--what the !@#$ are thinking, you brainless egomaniacal teammate-hosing tool? Is it the lure of glory? The dough? The hometown rock-star status and endless access to besotted bike-lovin' jailbait? The DS swearing to break your worthless sponsor-draining legs off if you keep jumping away when he's trying to make you hold the IV so he can jam a needle in your !@# and a testosterone patch on your works (no, never that!)? Damn. One day, *one* day where I can believe in one of you doofuses. Is that really too much to ask?

Giro? What Giro?: gee, Alberto, you can really tell from Lance's comments after the Tour Down Under how truly gobsmacked with excitement he is to be aiming "primarily"" at the Giro this year, seeing as he was all over how bitchin' his form is ahead of--um, the Tour de France in July. Boy, he's one eager-beaver domestique for you, though, ain't he? Lucky that's all he hopes to accomplish in France this year! Y'know, not to presume to advise you on how to manage your career and all...but, GEEEEEEEEETTTTTTTT OOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUTTTTTT!

Tour Down Under Roundup: speaking of one of the most bitchin' races of the season (did you go, randie?), there's one thing that truly stood out, besides the mighty glare of Lance's fabulousness, Stuey O'Grady's smashing second in GC, and Allan Davis' endless series of stage wins and Phoenix-like rising from the ashes of Liberty Seguros--yep, Robbie "Simoni of the Sprints" McEwen's crybaby wanking about someone else, as usual. This time, it's poor Graeme Brown, who not only lammed right into him with his handlebar while our righteous good sport was generously giving him an ultra-wide berth to help him out, but who had the audacity to unclip and damn near bring them both down, ruining Robbie's inevitable triumph over some no-talent no-name Italian guy. Graeme, though, took things politely in stride, merely pointing out that the commissaires didn't think there was anything amiss, which is not only diplomatic, but, considering the rabid McEwen's tendency to bushwhack his rivals at close quarters, probably the sensible thing to do as well. Now, stop snarling, Robbie, no need to literally chew up your rivals and spit them out...

Not a Piep: and, it's a sad, permanent farewell to drug-snorting stage-thief Leonardo "I Didn't Do It! No, Ricco' Made Me Do It! No, I'll Get a Lighter Sentence If I Say I'm Really Sorry I Did It!" Piepoli, whose two-year ban seems unlikely to result at his advanced age in a return to the riders' ranks, tho' I imagine he might score a nice modest paid interview or two if he plays it right and, say, outs anyone interesting up the supply chain. Start posting photos of you cuddling the wife and bambini and call for the paparazzi while you help some underprivileged tots, pronto, you hear me?

Takes a Lickin' and Keeps On Tickin': finally, it seems that after umpteen farewell six-days, Erik Zabel's really calling it quits this time, and while one can hardly blame him, I gotta say, the sprints are gonna be a long shot lamer this year wondering if he's gonna pull off an increasingly rare yet still seductively possible win at an age when most ex-cyclists are disconsolately gorging on Doritos, descending into drug-fueled downward spirals, or lugging some upstart twerp's dirty laundry down to the hotel basement as a one-shot junior DS. Come back, Erik--I mean, you *are* part Bionic Man, right?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lessons From Slasher Films; And, Breaking Rock Racing News

Run, Alberto, Run!: thought you'd maybe have to suffer the power-sucking vortex of Lance Armstrong's insatiable ego and hunger for attention for just one Tour de France, then you'd be back to being unquestioned team king at Astana under the nurturing, supportive hand of Johan Bruyneel? Ha! Think again, little Contador, because Dear Leader is now suggesting he'll come back for a second year. Y'know those scenes in horror movies where some unearthly disembodied voice gacks "GEEEETTTTTTT OOOOUUUUUUTTTT" to a half-dressed houseful of comely horndogging coeds who naturally ignore the voice then post-haste start getting slaughtered? Yeah, it's like that. GEEEEEETTTTTT OOOOOUUUUUUTTTTTT!

Advance Australia Fair: meanwhile, it's time for the fabulous Tour Down Under, baby! and as Robbie McEwen takes the early lead in the 2009 Thor Hushovd Promotional Tchotchke Body Mangling Award by being thwapped by a doofus spectator's outthrust camera just moments into the new season, congrats to hometown fave Allen Davis for his smashing stage 2 triumph, not that one'd know it with everyone hanging on whatsisface's every piggish burp instead, but for my money the local boy to watch remains indestructible stalwart we love Stuey O'Grady, who sez he's not really yet on proper form (aaaiiiggghhhh!) but which doesn't save him from my heartfelt expectation that he'll imminently crush everyone in the race like spike heels on cigarette butts. Allez allez Stuey!

Oh, Baby, It's Kohld Outside: over in doper purgatory, thieving Tour de France podium skank Bernard Kohl has decided to accept his two-year ban for being completely inferior to Maurizio Soler, whining that he'd hoped the penalty for cooperating wouldn't be the same as for an uncooperative rider, as he never *promised* he'd name his actual supplier. Live 'n' learn! I gotta say though, if he weren't such a cheating weasel dirtball, I'd almost feel rather sorry for him. Why name names just to get back to the peloton a few months earlier if the supplier's other customers are gonna run you over with a team car or knock you off a precipice for !@@#$ing up their source?

I Want to Publish 'Zines/And Rage Against Machines: yep, as he successfully tests his redeemed and drug-free legs in Argentina, dreamy-eyed winged angel Basso's blood values are officially up on line, and while Armstrong's backtracking a bit about posting numbers that could be misinterpreted in the vent of a little tummy upset or high-altitude training bout, our Ivan's determined to be not only clean but also transparent, so here's the site. Any of both my faithful readers who's not a raging science twit like, um, other people besides me, want to take a crack at it and give us the dish, especially, oh, in May or so?

Don't Cry For Me Argentina (Cuz I'm The One Who Owes You Thirty Thousand Bucks): finally, what would cycling news, or at least lurid rumormongering, be without the near-inexhaustible opportunity to dope-smack Rock Racing, this time for jacking the Tour of Argentina race organizers out of a sweet 30 grand put up front to coddle a pack of hosed-over hopefuls from a team too decimated to get its license--forget about their overall act--together in time to line up for the start. I'm tellin' you Ball, we've already got a good collection of bike(s) and harmlessly expired Power Bars here--don't look a gift horse in mouth when ya can't even keep your boys in bike skivvies!

Breaking News: really finally, it seems that even with its current travails, Michael Ball's miraculously scored his troops a break, as the squad's apparently gotten an invite to the Amgen EPO Tour of California. Slick move by Rock Racing, and here's hoping they can afford by then to show up with something more reliable to ride than 30-year-old Goodwill rejects--anyone else thinking it's gonna be lively watching Tyler Floyd and Levi slug it out for supremacy? Place yer bets now folks!

Friday, January 16, 2009

License to Ill

But Just Barely: yep, after Michael Ball's all-out hysterical PR assault the other day touting Rock Rocing's incredible stability (We've got the new Cadillac Escalade hybrid--and it's cool! We are so too getting bikes--and they're cool! Yes, I'm screwing the riders out of half the salaries and most of the races I promised 'em--and I'm cool!), the next day's less optimistic news that the boys were pulling out Argentina because they were about to be denied a UCI license, and Francisco Mancebo's glum realization that the only race he's gonna be riding is his paper route, the Boulder Report is well, reporting, that USA Cycling is affirming the squad met the UCI's astonishingly tough definition of solvency by putting down 10% of the riders' salaries today (whether it's the tasty ones promised, or the rancid scraps they've been told to eat'n'like it, remains unclear) and scored a last-second season's license to race after all. Break out the Champagne, boys, we're back on top!

Now, I'm no mathematician--not that it takes much aptitude to count to "broke-ass"--and I don't want to spoil the party, but before you uncork that expensive bubbly just yet, kids, you might want to consider the somewhat disconcerting implication that even having pulled the team back from the brink this time, Rock's still gotta come up with the remaining 90% they're gonna owe their riders before (1) the season ends (2) the managers and lawyers start shrieking and subpoena-ing or (3)a horde of wiry little guys in tight shiny clothing that was jacked out of gigs with anyone else descends on Michael Ball in a yowling mob and beats him down with a painful thumping surfeit of carbon-soled bike shoes. I know it's really truly hunky-dory, now, Michael--but Tyler can still have my Gary Fisher if he needs it!

Operacion Mindcrime: meantime, the Spaniards--perhaps chagrined by the worldwide mocking they received for running the Lowest-Casualty Doping Investigation In All Human History, perhaps tired of beloved icon Valverde's perpetual failure to score a Grand Tour, perhaps having finally found evidence that would implicate and humiliate the French (always a worthy goal)--have decided they've uncovered new evidence of "danger to human health" with regard to Dr. Eufemiano "Gyno to the Male Stars" Fuentes' helpful nutritional supplements and are gonna reopen the impressively impotent and charmingly salacious Operacion Puerto. Now, props to the authorities and all for taking it up again--because frankly it's unbelievable that there was anyone left riding in the Spanish peloton in particular besides a couple of runaway children careening around Daddy's team bus in their Big Wheels after that debacle--but I must wonder, what the hell are you clowns thinking? Okay, Valverde-the-Classics-man you apparently are willing to lose, but your little Grand-Tour-triple-winning princeling/Teen Beat poster boy/Indurain-of-today-and-tomorrow Alberto Contador from frickin' Liberty "More Drugs Than a Tom Boonen Birthday Party" Seguros? I don't care if he was powerless mind-controlled unfulfilled-promise jailbait at the time and everyone's happy to give him a pass for anything that (allegedly!) happened in his infancy--is this what you guys are willing to risk, or are you just going to pin a tiresome boring also-ran perp walk on Mancebo and Sevilla and waste everyone's time? Either way, run for it, Alejandro!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Charity Drive!

Let's Give Rock Racing Our Extra Bikes for Christmas: all right, having merely mourned the impending passing of Rock Racing, it finally occurred to me that if I really care I oughta actually spring into action about it, so here's what I propose: yep, as you wily readers of headers will guess, Let's Give Rock Racing Our Extra Bikes for Christmas (TM)! (Okay, it's several weeks late, but like anyone gives their nearest'n'dearest presents for Presidents' Day?)

Why our bikes? Because while one could reasonably assume a pro rider's got some pretty sweet rides in his stable, if Rock's flat out of its own bikes, I imagine the boys won't be allowed to use, say, their old logo-d Phonak gear without the ex-sponsors going all wingnut or, worse, litigious. And what better way to thank 'em for those many springs and summers of awe-inspiring sporting entertainment, and the thousands of unsung hours of excruciating training that preceded 'em, than by handing over our own handsome steeds?

Now, lest anyone think I won't put my money where my mouth is, I've got a beautiful red 1997 Gary Fisher Tassajara (with bitchin' panniers included even, for those times when a scrawny little musette just won't do!) with some lucky rider's name on it. Sure, it's a mountain bike frame, it's like four inches high, it weighs six hundred pounds, I had to hack half the handlebars off it to accommodate my wee little hands--but beats walkin' your !@# up a queen stage, right?

Now, I would've suggested we collect mechanics, since I hear they're lacking those too, but some stupid UN declaration apparently puts the kibosh on human trafficking. Anyone got, say, an extra Park bottle opener lying around instead?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Race to the Bottom

Rasmatazz: okay, I still think Michael "Someone, Please Feed Me a Sandwich" Rasmussen's ejection from the '07 Tour is crap even if he did intentionally skip pre-race doping controls like a dark-alley drug-snorting sleazemeister, if only because both rabid antidoping guardians of peloton virtue UCI and don't-ask-don't-tell Rabobank both knew it before they let him start, so if they weren't egregious publicity-whore hypocrite enablers--which they are--they either ought not to have let him ride, or admit they were happy to let him do it so long as those fair-play whiners at ASO didn't find out about it. But anyhoo, his ban is almost up, he's still got a stinkin' cloud over his head, and what's his first goal? To ride the Vuelta. Goddammit, can the world of pro cycling quit using this spectacular race as its sorry !@#$% of last resort? You know you'd choke at the Tour, you ride the Vuelta. You crash out of the Tour, you ride the Vuelta. Your numbnut team captain gets busted and blows your stage win hopes at the Tour, you console yourself at the Vuelta. Free the Vuelta, I say, and ban these undeserving unappreciative wankers--aiiiggghhh!

St. David Millar, Watch Your !@#: okay, he hasn't started actively bawling yet, and it remains to be seen whether he'll start to wail like a tot with a stolen Happy Meal anytime anyone else gets busted, but Ricco' lieutenant/fellow-Tour-skank Leonardo Piepoli has sure got a good start on his own behalf, wah-ing extravagantly about how, after he'd painfully crashed out of his beloved Giro with a torso's worth of broken ribs, and being desperate to honor his leader Ricco's call for aid when called upon at the Tour, he foolishly threw all his years of integrity to the wind by succumbing to the weakness of his own desire to help and, perhaps just the tiniest bit, but honestly just the tiniest, his own personal glory. I'm sure this has nothing, nothing to do with the fact that his day o'judgment with the Italian narcs is coming up on the 26th--but just in case, you might still have time to score a nice little DS gig with Liquigas, Leonardo!

Outback Stakeout: meantime, Lance Armstrong is apparently slipping into Australia incognito separate from his Astana teammates under banana-republic-dictator-level security ahead of his ride at the Tour Down Under (Go Stuey!), one imagines in the desperate if fruitless hope that Greg LeMond won't pop out of nowhere screeching at him, or that the violent French cycling fans he so fears won't hunt him down like pigs on truffle before he even gets a chance to have them cheer admiringly for him, I mean advance on him in a grunting flesh-eating destructo horror-movie zombie mob, on Gallic soil in July. Geez, Lance, I know it's truly terrifying the way everyone tosses rose petals in your path and hangs breathlessly on your every word, but a bit overheated from the glow of your own ego, are we? Tangential Alberto-Contador-Is-Doomed note: Lance now sez he can see an all-Astana podium at the Tour de France. Free commemorative winner's photo if you can guess who gets to be second, Alberto!

You're My Best Friend: and, as Gilberto Simoni magnanimously decides to forgive bushwhacking baby ex-domestique Damiano Cunego for his outrageous kneecapping betrayal of his rightful team captain at the 2004 Giro--which rift was charmingly healed by the intervention of their wives and bambini--Il Piccolo Principe has announced he's going to form an alliance with our smashing smack-talking aging two-time (eat it, Damiano, that's *two* times!) champ against Basso and Armstrong, to boost their chances of victory or at least put some fear--or more realistically, momentary mild discomfort--into a doubtlessly resurgent Ivan (after all, he took it in '06 clean, right?) and race-defiling Lance. Yes, I know it's to no avail dammit, let's just tattoo the freakin' maglia rosa on who's clearly gonna take the thing right now why don't we, I can still dream though, can't I?

Rock of Ages: so I'm stricken with a pang of conscience for being so hard of late on poor noble Michael Ball of Rock Racing by suggesting they're in trouble and all, and in the quarter-second this self-flagellation lasts I abandon my sordid muckraking and decide to get the news straight from the source: yep, ignoring the instinctive chills heading up my spine, I go to the Rock Racing website. The team motto? "Here to Stay." Okay, I admit I almost pass out at that one, but that does sound auspicious (or is that audacious?), so I delve in further and read the up-to-the-minute headline news that--Rudy Pevenage is the new DS? Um, that's dated November, but I'm sure the webmaster's still recovering from that New Year's Eve hangover, so certainly they're fine. And then--sorry folks, it's the Official Team Death Knell: Michael Ball--a guy who routinely charges people $200 a pair for artfully scuzzy pre-distressed jeans (on purpose! and without even a noticeable pang of guilt or nothin'!)--has put their Rock Racing gear on sale. I mean, it's still a rip and all--but that's it, baby, it's over!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Love Boat...

...Hits the Rocks: Damn, Alberto, I *told* you Bruyneel was gonna ditch your jailbait trophy-wife !@# for old-bat first-flame Lance, and now you might as well put any doubts to rest: Johan's gone and said flat out he thinks Lance can take the Tour again (though having nothing to prove, why would he want to?). Except he does, of course, so you're !@#$ed. If he thinks Lance can take it one more time, and you of course have 8-odd seasons left in those legs to bag a bunch more Grand Boucles anyway, who do you think he's gonna hose over Levi and Klodi for--you get one guess, kid! Ah, well, it only took Lance 7 seasons to thank Hincapie's relentless efforts with a stage win--now get back to the team car and bring me a water bottle, you peasant!

Bad(en) to the Bone: meantime, amiable Aussie sprinter Baden Cooke--lately pushed to Team Good-Luck-Getting-a-Wild-Card-to-Anything-Suckers after Rock Racing's speedy implosion--has now gone completely postal and is swearing to sue arrogant if natty wank Michael Ball for breach of contract, on the previously-rumored grounds that he wouldn't return his signed contract, wouldn't promise him more'n squat for dough, and, even better, would be bagging the prestigious Grand Tour and Classics calendar that the boy was promised (and with his palmares, has earned the right to expect) in favor of the even more prestigious Tour-Around-Michael-Ball's-Block-Before-His-Mansion-Gets-Repossessed and similarly mortifying races. I'm afraid he's gonna have plenty of time for those "long walks on the beach" he professes to enjoy on his website...

I'm Depraved on Account of I'm Deprived: and, I see Tom Boonen's day of judgment is at hand, with a Belgian court set to decide in the near future what our partying pinup is going to face for his little cocaine-and-ecstasy imbroglios--a serious drug bust, outright dismissal, or the tantalizing possibility that he could be nailed on the facts but released to the terrified 'n' vulnerable general public on the grounds that it'll help him "resocialize." Y'know, not to pass judgment on a surely more enlightened legal system than our own, but damn, Your Honors, he already *knows* how to socialize--isn't that what got our strapping sprinting hedonist into this mess in the first place? Perhaps Quick Step could just lock him in a room with a Wii or something to keep the boy wholesomely entertained between races...

Paranoid Conspiracy Theory o' The Week: finally, just when you thought Bjorn Leukemans couldn't go any more wingnut in the search for a plausible excuse for his last year's doping poz, he's now turned from an excess of manliness to a doofus team doc to now a three-fer of evil conspiring team docs battling over the right to back Cadel at the Tour by spiking each other's potions with disreputable substances to clinch the spot. Or, maybe you just, y'know, are the poor-sap victim of two false samples--it could happen, right?--or, um, actually did it. was that Starbucks barista who messed up your latte whose manager you complained to! no, that kid you budged in front of in the lunch line in second grade! no...