Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Amgen EPO Tour of !@#$%^& Lance Armstrong

Aiiiiiggggghhhhh!: so I'm thrilled and astonished to discover that Vs. is not only covering the Tour of California next week, but running an actual preview show like it's the Superbowl this week, and my initial untainted joy is hideously slaughtered, and it only takes me about six seconds to want to whack someone over the head with a bike pump, as what do I hear? Yep, "leading the charge" for the Americans is the godlike Lance Armstrong! Um, I know it's rude to use all caps (like that's my worst offense, but I digress), but NO, NO HE'S NOT, YOU REPULSIVE CHEAP-THRILL PANDERING ASSHATS. Levi Leipheimer is "leading the charge" goddammit, and for those of you who've may not have heard of him, he's got a rather bitchin' palmares, is clearly capable of winning the Tour de France for example, and has more than earned the right to be mentioned as the biggest threat of a race he's freakin' taken repeatedly. Look, Vs. I know the only way you can gain enough advertiser dough to justify showcasing the thing over the ever-compelling ratings-blockbuster station ol'-reliables of candlepin bowling fat guys sitting in boats tying flies for six hours and oiled-up extreme wrestlers giving me far too much information is to ruthlessly pimp the lowest-common-denominator easy-to-digest blank-stare-and-nacho-friendly All-American-Hero survival story remember-he-used-to-date-Sheryl-Crow-and-Kate-Hudson !@#$%^&, but let's be clear: this is a complete monstrous disaster for actual coverage of this incredible sport. If the blinding glare of Lance's bottomless ego trip and your own relentless glowing subservience so overilluminates the heavens that no-one you're trying to interest for the long haul can even see enough of anything else to learn about and be drawn into cycling for its own magnificent sake, and they're all just gonna run screaming out the room next morning like you're last night's hung-over beer-pong please-don't-turn-the-lights-up desperation hookup, what the hell exactly is the point?! What's more, in practical terms, if I've really gotta listen to this stupid worshipful unquestioning Princess-Diana-in-spandex stop-the-presses-Lance-just-went-to-the-bathroom crap for the next six months, I'm gonna have to watch every !@#$%^ race with a mute button, or, better, take a sledgehammer to my TV whenever you-know-who comes on. Phil and Paul, please, for the love of Mike (and Levi, and Klodi, and Alberto, and Cavendish, and Boonen, and Gibo, and....), reign in these halfwit publicity-whore bosses of yours and take back this sport! Due credit for redeeming feature: I did hear Levi's name a few times during the hour, and he was, rightly, the last image on screen as the credits rolled. Of course, he could have been mistaken for just the team towel boy and stuck in there as last-second filler....

To Forgive Is Human, To Freire, Divine: meantime, endless world champ/recent green jersey Oscar Freire's wasting no time setting the record straight, disdaining Lance for pathetically returning to the sport when he himself has the dignity to retire for good when he's done, and blaming Valverde's doltish dithering for blowing the squad's chances in Varese and handing the Worlds right over to the Italians. On the other hand, he did warmly compliment Ballan, so if he stays nestled among the boys of the squadra azzura this season, he ought at least to be safe on the roads from his new nemeses. Sing it, Oscar, you're spot on!

Aw, Shucks: heading on over to Teen Beat, I mean, Gazzetta dello Sport, the lovely Ivan Basso is shocked touched and humbled by the tifosi's surprising willingness to welcome him back to their hearts, which phenomenon, of course, happened utterly without any effort whatsoever on his or his astonishingly ginormous PR machine's part, and, fear not, he's in great form on his road to inevitable (re)coronation at the Giro to boot. Anyone else want to take bets on whether he's really gonna be the same "extraterrestri" he was when he left the field crying like colicky babies at the feet of the Dolomites in 2006?

The Five Stages of Mourning: so it looks like wee rightful king of the universe Alberto Contador's slowly getting to the "acceptance" stage of his misery over Lance's return to leadership, admitting he was perhaps less than joyous at first over the news of Armstrong's homecoming to Bruyneel but now professing some muted non-loathing, which perhaps means that (1) he truly doesn't think Lance is gonna have the strength to take him out at the Tour or (2) he delusionally thinks that merit is gonna be the deciding factor. Maybe adding a sixth stage of mourning, like "utterly dope-slapped into emasculated submission" would be more accurate?

Bjorn Again: finally, congrats to both Bjorn "Love to Love You Baby" Leukemanns and the still-pissed Alessandro Petacchi for their inaugural wins of the seasons, and while I didn't check out what the Leukemanns fan club is doing besides competing for his studly affections, the tifosi are going absolutely shrieking wingnut with adulation over Ale-Jet's return after his ludicrous bust and race-result-negating for taking asthma meds the UCI okayed for him (and everyone else, while we're at it) after the end of the race. Welcome back Alessandro--but young Bennati's still gonna try to make you beg for mercy at the Giro!

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