Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Your Tour de France Preview, Part Deux; and, Your Daily News Update

Okay folks, since I can't say no to a Stuey O'Grady fan, I'll get right on to the sprinters. The coveted Green (or Points) Jersey is awarded every year to basically the best sprinter in the entire Tour. In addition to points you win by your placement at the end of a stage, you can also pick up points by crossing the line first (or second or third) at various arbitrarily-set places during the course itself. You will often see a team’s lead sprinter sending another teammate up the road to grab these points instead, both to conserve their own energy for the sprint to the finish line and to keep any other sprinter who is a threat to the green jersey from getting them instead. Got it? Good! These guys are mostly *big*--it's all about the power, baby! Really, what’s fun on a flat stage is the last kilometer, when the “lead-out” boys are setting up the sprint for their main man for the frantic crush towards the finish. Frequent crash scenario within sight of the line: some dimwit forces another sprinter into the barriers at the side of the course, taking down like 20 guys at once because they’re too tightly packed and going too fast to avoid it. Now that's great television! So, without further ado, the sprinters:

1. Mark Cavendish (Columbia): the fastest man in cycling right now, absolutely. Just unbeatable in the last 100 meters. Very young, arrogant (a common sprinter trait), frequently obnoxious, but to be fair still learning how to handle the press. Dropped out of the Giro early after several wins because he couldn’t handle the mountains, got criticized for wussing out, wants to stick it out til the end of the Tour to take the green jersey and, not coincidentally, stick it to his naysayers as well.

2. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo): multiple green jersey winner and also a prologue (the short first time trial stage in some races that’s just there to put the leader’s jersey on someone’s back) specialist. Big lovable Norwegian, good sport, not as powerful as some of the others, but smart and can do it if the stars are aligned. Heinrich Haussler, his lead-out man, has been outshining him a bit so far this season, and nice-guy Thor will let him take it if he earns it. I’m rooting for Thor because not only is he grossly underrated, but because Cav has been a real wanker lately.

3. Daniele Bennati (Liquigas): smack-talking Petacchi-dissing Italian upstart, whose legs can sometimes even match his mouth, he just had a pre-Tour training crash. In bocca al lupo, Benna-Jet!

4. Tom Boonen (Quick Step): A special case. Busted for out-of-competition coke *again* this spring, partying Belgian national hero found out today he's got to wait for yet another tribunal to decide if the Tour will let him in even tho’ he’s a bad example for the kiddies. He drinks too much, snorts blow, occasionally wraps his Lamborghini around a tree, and is beloved by all, so I’m betting he’s in. Just crowned Belgian national champion and out to clear his name, he is the best sprinter in the world besides Cav as well as a hell of a Classics man and is great fun to watch.

5. Tyler Farrar (Garmin): until 2006 US-based (which is viewed as sort of farm-team level by the European peloton), has surprised everyone this year and is the best American sprinter right now--2nd in a couple of Giro stages, he could take a sprint at the Tour.

6. Oscar Freire (Rabobank): just coming back from an unusually ugly crash at the Tour of California. Perpetually thwapped by gross career-threatening saddlesores, weird neck problems, and damn near every other injury or ailment a cyclist can suffer, and just keeps on winning. Best of all, he's named after the best Muppet on earth. What's not to love?

7. Missing in Action: Aussie Robbie “the Pocket Rocket” (he’s small) McEwen: beyond rude by even sprinter standards, he’s great because he’s a total loose cannon but is unfortunately still recuperating from a brutal crash. Also Alessandro “Ale-Jet” Petacchi—-one of best sprinters of all time, his little team wasn’t invited to the Tour.

Remember, just watch the last 2 km or so if it’s too boring watching nothing happen on Vs. for six hours til it’s near the end (and before you whine at me, o hardcores, we're trying to draw the newbies *in* here)--now have at!

'Cause This is Thriller!/Thriller Night!/And No-one's Going to Save You From the Beast About to Strike!: finally, Lance sez again that he'll work for Contador "with pleasure" if it's "clear" the boy can win it, and if that don't give him his angel wings, I simply cannot see what will. Um, not to question the tactics of one of the best cyclists in history, but by the time you finish competing internally, won't you have sapped key time and energy that might have better been used trying to beat more unified squads? Ah, well, it's not like it hurt T-Mobile when Vino decided to kneecap Jan Ullrich at the Tour, right? Oh, wait...

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Tour de France in Preview, Part Un; and, an Important Medical Update for the Gentlemen

Welcome, cycling newbies (and oldies) alike! Yes, the Tour de France starts this Saturday, and since the lame American press is only gonna yap about Lance Armstrong (and no hard feelings, if some bewilderment, if you like it that way), and there's so much more to this fabulous race than that, it's time to get crackin'. Having already force-fed both my faithful readers various "Tour de France 101" or "Cycling 101" type gigs in the past, I'll mercifully spare you all that this year, but for my money, there's a ton elsewise worth watching this Grand Boucle, and you ain't gonna hear it from Versus. Ergo, today’s must-have (well, not necessarily "must" have, but tough noogies for you you "do" have) installment: The Overall Contenders:

1. Alberto Contador (Astana). Lance’s teammate, one of only a few riders to have won all three Grand Tours (Italy, France and Spain), and the best Grand Tour racer in the world right now, hands down. Great climber with incredible out-of-nowhere acceleration uphill, improving enough in the time trial to have just won Spain’s national time trail championship (and I won't mention again why that makes me just itch), and a true GC contender needs to be able to time trial. The European bookies have him as the overwhelming favorite. Potential downfall: with Lance on the squad, the team’s loyalties are divided. If they let infighting get in the way, it could open the door to someone else, namely:

2. Denis Menchov (Rabobank). Has won two Vueltas (Spain’s grand tour) and won this year’s Giro. Doesn’t quite have Contador’s acceleration, but can take an amazing amount of pain and is a good tactician—he will match any attack, and is not afraid to attack himself if he has to. Rabobank’s team is not quite as strong on paper as Astana, but it’s still one of the best and they are 100% behind Menchov.

3. Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto). Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Second in last year’s Tour. Solid, hardworking, has never attacked at all until this year, usually just gloms onto someone’s wheel like leech on skin. He could do it with a stronger team, but won’t because Silence is generally too weak to help him—you’ll notice in the high mountains he is almost always left alone.

4. Carlos Sastre (Cervelo): defending Tour de France champion. Great climber, pretty sucky time trialist (as pure climbers tend to be) but a very strong team. Lance, who is a jerk, gave an interview to an Australian newspaper saying last year’s Tour was a “joke,” but then again, Lance is a jerk.

5. Big Bro (Frank) and Baby Bro (Andy) Schleck (Saxo Bank). Will probably take a couple of stages, but if Frank, who never doped so you can all just bite me, thinks his gangly little sib can get the podium, he will work like a mad dog to chew up and spit out the field for him.

6. Ugh, Lance (Astana). Johan Bruyneel, his boss who guided him to his 7 Tour wins, left off one of his key domestiques Chris Horner this year, which hurts him somewhat, but then, he did the same to Contador. Probably in better form than he’s letting on—an old trick from his younger days. Says he’s in it to win it. Again, the question is whether Lance will decide to wreck the team rather’n let Contador take it over him.

7. Levi Leipheimer (Astana) and Christian Van de Velde (Garmin): Enjoy your rabid nationalist moment, Americans! Repeat podium finisher Levi’s gotta work for Lance so look for him to take a stage or two instead. Van de Velde was 5th last year but had a really nasty crash-out earlier in the year he’s still recovering from and may podium but not likely to win.

All right, now that we've nailed down the GC contenders, undoubtedly some French guy no-one's ever heard of is going to defy all prediction and take the race. Anyway, enjoy--and woo-hoo we love dear little Sastre!

And, a TMI News Roundup: last but not least, bad news for the boys in the band, though from the bambini they're constantly carting up on the podium they seem a pretty fertile lot unless the little tykes are just manly-man stage props: cycling more'n a bucket o' nothin' for these guys can seriously damage their sperm. On the plus side, they can plan ahead and freeze it up while it's still good. Heck, half of 'em are already intimately familiar with proper blood storage, how hard could this be?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Countdown to the Tour, Baby!

HIStory: okay, I admit I'll masochistically take virtually any amount of aural and visual assault I have to in order for US television to finally, in this post-Lance era, give me the Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen I deserve. And I know, because I'm in the US, I have to put up with 24/7 coverage of the Lord of All Creation for the next 4 (ack!) weeks in order to watch Alberto Contador dope-slap his !@# in the mountains if Lance doesn't accidentally shove him off the side of one. And if you must return, for wholly unselfish reasons that have nothing to do with your own undying convictions as to your own earth-shattering perfection, I understand. I mean, nothing publicizes your genuinely noble work to fight cancer more effectively than cutting off all press contact, assily demeaning other riders who actually ride other races besides the Tour during their careers without iron-fisted control of the rest of their teams at their relentless disposal as talentless losers, and crying incessantly on your Twitter feed about how grossly unappreciated you are. But am I the only one who already wants to poke her !@#$ing eyes out with chopsticks from watching this endless hero-worshipping crap?! Calgon, take me away!

Land of the Lost: speaking of which, today's fawning Cyclysm Sunday, featuring we-still-love-and-I-don't-give-a-rat's-!@#-what-that-unctuous-control-freak-Saiz-at-ONCE-and-Liberty Seguros-forced-him-completely-unwillingly-to-take Joseba Beloki's agonizing leg-snap, Iban "Shut Up! He's Still Perfect" Mayo, the ever-erratic-but-lovable Jan Ullrich, and then-young backstabbing wingnut Alexander Vinokorouv, was notable for the sheer number of doping pozes to come out of that peloton, particularly Johan Bruyneel's boys, who only, because Discovery was pure, ever came up dirty afterwards. However, before I start wallowing in nostalgia for the days when I stupidly didn't expect to see an IV port sticking out of everyone's shorts at the sign-in, can we talk about the sheer amount of talent so far left out of this year's Tour, and am I the only one who thinks this seems unprecedented? Horner. Gerrans. Petacchi. Boonen, which is just idiotic. Noval. Valverde, if you think he's no worse, as bitter bettys Jorg Jaksche and Bernhard Kohl suggest, than anyone else near the podium. Heck, even Basso, if you buy that he's still just getting his legs under him. Anyone else up for a "Tour de Rejects"? Ten bucks says they'd still wipe the floor with Silence-Lotto's chosen squad!

Ghosts of Tours de France Past: and, it's a hearty near-welcome back for famous Tour skanks Michael "Feed Me!" Rasmussen and Riccardo "I Am a Simoni-Betraying Scumwad" Ricco', the one for a team still unclear to me because I can't make sense out of a google translation that starts, "Bomb Chicks Comeback," and the other for Ceramica Flaminia next year because, apparently, Diquigiovanni had the sense--or merely opportunistic sense of self-protection--to reject him. Gee, give a certain young rider a team that's not gonna eat itself, and we might have a real mountains race next year!

We Are the Champions: finally, as we congratulate Nicole Cooke (as usual), sneak-attack Ruben Plaza, Tom Boonen (who could use some good news), and the Schlecks for their national championship wins, I cannot help but wonder: am I the only one a little squicked out every time a rider like, oh, say, Alberto Contador wins a time trial title? Ah, I thought so. I'm sure I'm just being paranoid, as usual!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who Gives About Astana's Tour Roster, Michael Jackson is Dead!

Okay, I Still Give, But I *Am* Traumatized: yes, in a promo right out of a testosterone-stoked summer action flick, and not coincidentally guaranteed to make the Americans look even more like a bunch of arrogant imperialist !@#!@#$# than we already do despite the fact that the team's technically Kazakh, Astana has announced its team roster, and all I can say is, *what*? Okay, Contador got his Paulinho (tho' he lost Noval) and Johan sez he's "earned the right" to be the "leader." And Lance, mourning Horner (which he's right to do, as one Horner, even ten minutes after getting run over by a truck, is still stronger than a half-dozen other riders put together), sez he's not the leader of the team. But let's review Johan's video masterpiece, shall we? Lance is--and I doubt it's just cause "Armstrong" comes first in the alphabet--right on top. And frankly, I cannot come up with a single freakin' reason that any rider, much less Lance, would ride the Tour de France after 7 straight wins only to come back as maybe a stage winner but definitively a lowly domestique water-!@#$%. Seriously, can you? Incomprehensible. Which means one of two things: (1) Armstrong's soul has been taken over by Andreas Kloden's agonizingly subservient hopelessly beaten-down ego, or (2) he's gonna fight it out with that rugrat Alberto in July no matter what this he's-a-jolly-good-fellow crap he's posting. Really, Johan hates to lose and all, and hardly ever does--but if he's gotta back one of 'em, who the hell else is he gonna pick? Oh, Alberto, you could've looked so pretty in baby-blue-and-orange...

The Longo and Winding Road: speaking of France, lest anyone think I've been ignoring all the national championships, which I have, Jeannie Longo, already just past the half-century mark, has yet again stomped a field of stellar cyclists less than half her age and taken the French time trial title, again. See, we-love-and-I'm-afraid-you're-gonna-call-it-a-day-in-the-near-future Jens? No need for you to retire anytime soon, you're just a *baby*!

Get Over Yourself, Cavendish!: and, in the (incredibly small) "sprinters who aren't wankers" category, the smashing Thor Hushovd has extended his gig with Cervelo for another 2 years, which does beg the question randie raised, how could a team with such refined and impeccable taste diss a multiple Tour de France stage winner like the great (if ever-unheralded) Simon Gerrans? You just better not do anything to hose over Sastre next year, weasels!

Livin' On the Edge: meantime, poor Tom Boonen now doesn't get to learn his Tour fate until next Tuesday, which gives him plenty of time to destroy himself psychologically particularly as, if his handlers have any sense, they're going to have to chain the boy to a tree like a dog to keep him from cheering himself up at the club between now and then. Hold it together Tommeke--these money-grubbing publicity sluts have got to let you and your big babelicious news-generating carcass in the race!

Requiescat in Pace: finally, in memory of Michael, let's have a moment of silence, and then 3 minutes of boogie (replete with cutting-edge special effects and, best of all of course, Tito) in The Gloved One's pre-perv days of course:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? (Because He Sure As Heck Ain't Going to the Tour)

Yoooooooouuuuuu'rrrrreeee Out!: yes, with the Italians still objecting to Valverde's presence on their sainted untainted soil, and even the Spaniards finally suggesting they might be a little suspicious of their national hero, Caisse d'Epargne has bowed to the inevitable and, before our boy even had the chance to shove this farce down CAS' throat, announced he's officially yanked from the Tour de France. Even worse, it looks like poor jacked Alberto Contador actually managed to completely blow his own salvation *twice*, as he was apparently also in talks with Oh My God You Could Have Ridden With Garmin And You Still Put Your Faith In Lance's Right Arm Johan Bruyneel?, and failed at that as well. Y'know, as a legal geek, I sincerely and wholeheartedly believe that breaching a contract is a terrible thing, and I admire your taking the moral high ground, or perhaps simply wallowing in the pit of naivete, in sticking with Astana while they refused to pay you for months. But as a cycling fan, I have to ask, what the !@#$ were you thinking, you nit?! And I thought no one on that squad could actually be hosed worse than dear little Klodi....

Tom Boonen Dance Party: so, the court is due to rule on a demoralized Tom Boonen's Tour de France entrance, and I gotta say, while yes, coke bad, the sprints'll be boring as hell--except for the ones Thor Hushovd wins, and subject also to Mark Cavendish's ravenous unstoppable egomaniacal post-race ravings, as well--without our sweet repentant hellraised there too. Oh well Tommeke, if you can't get a gig riding your bike, you can always get on with your pinup career!

Saxo-n, Saxo-ff: in positive, non-doping related Tour news (and we might as well be grateful while it lasts), however, Frank Schleck's knee is on the mend, as he, baby bro-savant Andy, and real time triallist Fabian Cancellara, in addition to Bjarne's usual cadre of breakaway-crushing superdomestiques, are ready to hit the roads of France. Okay, I still deeply dislike Bjarne for so rudely wanking at we love Carlos Sastre--but if Astana's just gonna destroy itself with infighting, who *wouldn't* at a minimum halfway root for the Schlecks?

One Way/Or Another/I'm Gonna Find Ya/I'm Gonna Getcha Getcha Getcha Getcha: and, just in time to highlight the incredible dearth of actual doping controls during the centenary Giro d'Italia, which must just have been a wholly inadvertent oversight, come the we-really-mean-it-this-year narcs at the Tour de France to announce a snazzy new test that's guaranteed to get the latest and hottest drugs on the market, which means that since they won't be looking for the old-school faves so closely I guess, everyone can just revert back a few years and imbibe without fear. Don't worry AFLD--no matter how many scandals yostill have, ya can't look any worse than you did last year/the year before/the year before, right?

A Lawsuit by Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet: meantime, Tuttobici is asserting that Olympic silver medalist/accused cheat-scum Davide Rebellin may actually be innocent, proving definitively that (1) we must always be mindful of the possibility that the allegedly dirty may in fact be clean and (2) in any event, the Italians as a whole can't possibly be more drug-stuffed than the Spanish. Go get 'em, Davide--and Simoni, didn't you also suffer significant economic and emotional distress damages when his help was unjustly denied to you in this year's Giro?

Escape From Alcatraz: finally, I see the Dumbest Thief in All of Human History has been sentenced to 3 (gnurk!) years in prison for stealing The Most Incredibly Recognizable Bike In the Known Universe, which, you'll all be sorry to hear, you could have been the one to buy instead of the cheapskate moron who got it if only you'd been willing to shell out less than most of y'all spend on Gu packets in a week. Come on, I believe in both my faithful readers' impeccable honesty...but like NEITHER of you would've wanted to stash the thing behind a pile of crap in your basement and just sneak down to pet it once in a while?

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Weapons of Mass Give-Me-the-Munchies: so I see ex-world downhill champ Missy "the Missile" Giove's been busted by the federalesafter they seized more'n 200 pounds of marijuana from a truck she was driving in upstate New York, and t'aint lookin' good for a light sentence: the narcs, taking over from an earlier driver, completed the handover and followed Missy as she dropped off the goods at a friend's house. Oh, those wacky stoner mountain bikers--don't they know they'd get off so much easier just dealing smaller quantities of the hard stuff to the roadies?

Speaking of Being on Drugs: and, in the wake of some skepticism over the efficacy of the UCI's bio-passport, Anne Gripper sticks to her story that the worst of the scum are already gone, leading to the obvious question: so only the lamest sub-domestiques in the peloton are doping, and even that doesn't help 'em halfway compete against the perfectly-clean top riders? Riiiiiigggggttttt. Meantime, several top cyclists, asked about her remarks, reportedly "laughed their asses off," "popped open some champagne," then "excused themselves to go to a doctor's appointment." Yep, I'm confident ol' Anne's spot-on!

He's Hosed: so, Alberto, after Valverde promised to help you fend off Lance's inevitable attacks at the Tour, Astana stopped paying you for months, and Caisse d' Epargne had a perfect spot just waiting for you if Alejandro stays out and if only you'd had the guts to go after it, not only has responsible good guy and your natural ally Luis Leon Sanchez gallantly offered to step up to leadership at his squad after all, but Lance has just told Velonews unequivocally that he is going to the race to win. Okay, the prospect of Astana eating its young in July is highly appealing, if only because that's the only way in hell Klodi's gonna be allowed within 800 miles of the podium, and I'm still pissed at you and the rest of your twerp-like ilk for getting out of Liberty Seguros alive while we love Joseba Beloki went down. But since you became so horribly oppressed by that tool Johan I have been kinder to you, and this is the stupidity you continue to pursue? Oh, Alberto--don't say you weren't warned!

Schleck!: in even lousier Tour news, Frank Schleck is now in doubt for the Tour from a bum knee, which, much as I hate to, I can't help but wonder means "I have a bum knee," or "I have a bum knee because someone's just found old photos of me getting a blood transfusion." Either way, get well soon Frank--we all know it can't be true, anyhow!

Dese Two Suits: meantime, our two dissolute heroes Alejandro "I Heart Blood Bags" Valverde and Tom "Didja See Those Lab Reports Saying I Coulda Got the Coke From My Hair Gel?" Boonen are both back in the ol' courtroom again, "Piti" to beg CAS to order the Italians to let him cross the border so's he can ride the Tour, and Tommeke in the far more justifiable quest to be let in on the grounds that (1) even the UCI isn't whining about his drug use and (2) everybody just plain likes him anyway. Too bad for the French they're taking such a hard line on doping all of a sudden--after all, how else is one of their riders ever gonna win?

Radio Ga-Ga: finally, seemingly in response to complaints that race radios are a supense-destroying candy-!@# crutch for strategic dimwits, the Tour has announced that it's gonna try two stages radio-free this year, and while I'm stoked that this'll set up some genuine thrillers, to me the bigger question is which of the obedient robots that half the boys have become are gonna actually manage to think and act for themselves without their heads literally exploding into feathery bits and let 'em take the stage. Aw, where's a canny guy like Bettini when you need 'im?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Take That, You Dirty Rats!

Not That Anyone Cares: yes, the UCI has finally come out with its Really Impressive List of Earth-Shakingly Important Cheaters, and what shocking names does it include? Right, no-one you, their mamas, the cycling feds, or even their teams particularly care about. But boy, does this warn the riders off the cheap stuff--you clearly gotta be a big-budget big-shot to afford the goods that'll keep you off the hook! Thanks for the heads-up, UCI--anyone else seeing a rash of, say, unusually large home-equity loans in some cyclists' imminent futures?

Break Out the Vino! (Tho' Not Til the Tour's Over, I Guess): in actual riders-who-(used to)-matter news, the exquisitely sociopathic Alexander Vinokorouv has learned his one year ban by the Kazakhs has been extended to two years that're almost up anyway, so while our national hero will miss this year's Tour and thus sadly the chance to create the most spectacular intra-team chaos since, well, he personally bushwhacked Ullrich at T-Mobile, he will, it appears, be all set to destroy morale, all previous climbing-speed records, and any semblance of fair play at this year's Vuelta. *Must* I ask yet again that that spectacular race not be the dumping ground for every Tour-rejected bottom-dwelling skankbag in the peloton? Oh, Samu' Sanchez, you deserve so much more worthy competition than such classless flotsam...

Oh, Fer Heck's Sake: yes, USADA has taken a strong stand against immorality and for total pointlessness, as, after Tyler Hamilton already retired in depression and disgrace, it imposes an entirely unnecessary 8-year ban on someone who had no nefarious Vino-like intentions of polluting this snow-clean sport ever again. Y'know, there's a lot of reasons not to respect Tyler--and a huge chunk of his generation, while we're at it--for what he did and the way he handled things, but it seems to me entirely wussy and, frankly, sixth-grade-alpha-!@#$% to go after a guy like this when he's already so far down. What's next, you badasses gonna text the whole school that his outfit today is dorky? OMG!!!!!!!!!

Back On the Chain Gang: meantime, I see the French are taking an innovative tack on reintegrating prisoners into society: yep, they've formed 'em a cycling squad to take their own 2,400 km Tour de France, complete with some pretty sweet rides, prison guard escorts, a team car, and (highly recognizable) team kit. Say the cyclists, it gives 'em a chance to prove to their families that they can do something good, and I gotta give it to 'em, at least it'll keep 'em too tired to shank their roommates. Caveat: like they couldn't have found enough felons in the *current* peloton to fill a freakin' team?

What To Do, What To Do: last but not least, as July draws inexorably closer, and wee little Contador himself has the sense to name Lance as one of his biggest rivals, it seems to me that Lance "The Happy Domestique" Armstrong has really only a few options to consider here:

1. Dedicate himself, 100%, no exceptions, to being Contador's pace-setting, wind-protecting, slip-stream-generating, snack-feeding, bike-changing, water-bottle serf. Ha ha! Okay, back from fantasy-land, folks. Why the @#$! would a 7-time Tour de France winner want to do that? And don't give me that pious crap about promoting Livestrong--he's been doing it to great success for the last 3 years without having to depend on the peloton, and if he cared so much that he cut off the fawning Italian press for the last two weeks of the race, what makes you think he'll promote it any more to the Armstrong-loathing French? What's more, let's face it, the guy got more publicity for his worthy organization suckin' on that Olsen twin, so if he's *really* lookin' for attention, he should pimp himself to People (again). Anyhoo, I digress, so let's move on:

2. Lay down the law like he always does with Johan's enthusiastic enforcement, and ride uncontested for GC. No doubt he'll do this if, and only if, he thinks he can win. Still time to snag Valverde's spot at Caisse d'Epargne, Alberto--and you know your old pal Luis Leon Sanchez'll genuinely help you if you ask!

3. Kneecap Contador faster'n you can ask "what was the name of that doltish inbred Tonya Harding sicced on Nancy Kerrigan again?" Oh, I'm so *very* sorry I rammed my wheel into yours at 65 mph!

4. (a) Start 'n'suck or (b) don't start if you think you'll suck, and cry "stomach flu" or some similarly disgusting no-questions-we-don't-need-the-details ailment. It's not like anyone'll suggest you just couldn't cut it anymore, right? Not with your legal team, they won't!

Well, that's my take on 'im, anyway--and of course, Free Klodi!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This Is The Best They've Got?

The Entire Peloton Goes Down: well, not exactly, as UCI makes good on its promise of mind-boggling celebrity drug busts by taking out one man, the king of all cyclists, um, Toni Colom? Needless to say, Katusha's already suspended him and Colom has (1) denied everything (2) demanded his B sample analysis and (3) worst of all, sicced his lawyers on the narcs. So we've spent what, eighty gazillion dollars, consumed thousands of needles, and issued 900 panting-hot press releases about the biological passport and *this* is the sum total of your accomplishments? Wow. Perhaps stung by the ho-hum response to this fearsome revelation, Pat "Dick" McQuaid and co. announced today that *next* week, they're really, really, really gonna surprise us with a bio-passport CSI thriller for the ages. Like what, you've now nailed some recreational cyclist for taking too much Sudafed to soothe her sniffles?

Just Say Yes: speaking of the UCI's terrible powers, the banned 'n' bitter Tour cheat Bernard Kohl continues to laud them with hosannas for providing a glorious roadmap to fail-safe doping levels, details his quite impressive out of competition drug intake, and snorts that there's no way the top ten at the Tour weren't doping right along with him and that twerp Ricco' last year, and it's a good thing he's not planning on ever coming back to the peloton, because while I imagine, say, Carlos Sastre couldn't take Kohl in a fist-fight, and we all know Cadel's incapable of attacking anyone, I bet that cagey little !@#$%$^ Denis Menchov could do him some pretty serious bodily damage. But wait! He didn't actually say this after all! He was misquoted entirely! Somehow, kid, I don't think that's gonna save you from either your all-star beatdown *or* the lawyers nipping at your heels. Hmmmmm....you can't bike anymore...I doubt other pro athletes would welcome you either...I suppose knitting always makes a nice harmless hobby, right?

Island of the Blue Dauphins: and my, our stolid Cadel is on fine form, taking 2nd in the time trial to Bert Grabsch, while Shameless St. Millar Defender's boy came in a handsome third. Valverde, of course, gacked up an entire 1 minute 31 seconds back at Cadel (which, for certain reasons, paradoxically makes him look better to me at least), and with Contador at 40-odd seconds back and the death march up Mt. Ventoux to come tomorrow, he could, if Cadel's notoriously tick-like wheelsucking ability should somehow fail him, easily make that up and then some. But since there's no way in hell Silence-Lotto can possibly support its star enough in July, and in harmony with my lifelong habit of backing losing causes, I'm rather hoping Cadel takes this one and perhaps even the whole Dauphine. Allez allez Cadel--you're gonna need it!

I Imply Nothing, Nothing!: because I am absolutely certain that Ivan Basso's radical change in time trial performance between, oh, 2006 and 2009 is 100% the result of (1) being out of competition so long and (2) total and complete coincidence. Oh, Ivan, I *do* like you better this way...just don't start getting *too* nostalgic for all those trophies press-slobbering enablers and podium babes, you hear?

Welcome to the Jungle: finally, it's a warm welcome back to the Tour de France for leather-skirted stud-machine Tom Boonen--if not by the French sports minister-- whose charming antics, cute little vials of nose candy, and wholly irrelevant enormous cash-cow potential have convinced the UCI and ASO that even so clean a race as the Tour won't be unduly besmirched if he participates. Alejandro Valverde, however, is not so lucky, as Christian Prudhomme says his !!@# is out, apparently not because the French just now found out about his scandalous involvement in some obscure "Operacion Puerto" thingy, but because the more foreigners ASO can keep out entirely, the greater the chance an actual French cyclist will get within lougie-hocking distance of a podium sometime before Bernard Hinault's great-great-great-grandchildren are unearthed in some far-off Planet of the Apes archeological dig. Don't give up quite yet, Alejandro--maybe you could offer to do a few extra loops up the Galibier to make up the kilometers everyone else'll be riding in Italy?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

It's the Dauphine-Libere, Baby!

Get Down On It: yes, with the Giro behind and the Tour ahead, the Grand Boucle faves are scoping each other out at the Dauphine this week, with Contador cagey about his form as usual and keeping an eye on Alejandro "I Guess I Better Aim for the Vuelta" Valverde, Cadel "Forget It, I'm Hosed in July" Evans, and St. Ivan of Varese, who, despite some admitted "mistakes" in the Giro (like riding clean) is going to the race to win. However, what truly impresses me about Contador these days is his near-perfect praise of rival team-god (and let's face it, no matter what Johan says, if Lance decides he wants the kingship at the Tour, he's gonna get it, and after winning 7 straight I'm betting he'd rather have Bruyneel intentionally run over his legs with the freakin' team bus to give him an excuse to bail than have to suffer the ignominy of being some upstart rugrat's water-!@#$%), including such over-the-top homage as "we've not seen each other much since the start of the season" and "our relationship is correct and normal." So long as you're not in the same country, that is--should be an exciting 3 weeks in July!

I'm Bringing Schlecksyback: and, I'll humbly ask that you indulge my complete denial over the hideously blasphemous and clearly-untrue-so-bite-me-you-yellowbellied-muckraker Frank Schleck doping allegations, as baby savant Andy takes an early stage and big bro takes GC control and one heck of a hilly leg at the Tour of Luxembourg. Just keep your head down and Bjarne on your side, Frank, and you'll be all set to go at the start line 4 weeks from now--hell, you can't be any worse than anyone else who'll be up there, right?

Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute: meantime, Tour-protester-tackling legend Bernard Hinault is back in action, smacking around everyone from the disgusting lazy French riders, who shouldn't be paid unless and until they win a race, to lame-!@# race radios, ("just a Game Boy that has a gigolo attached at the end telling the racer when to take a piss"), to Greg Lemond's lack of tactical sense, to, most gratifyingly (if predictably), Lance, who has no business coming back to the Tour and to whom he hopes Contador "gives...a beating." The reaction from the twit(ter)sphere, of course, was swift, with Johan embracing his ho-dom and Lance dismissing his old BFF as a "wanker." Aw, Bernard, you're warming my heart--it's almost like having the real Simoni back!

Woo-Hoo!: and, it's a delighted welcome back to smashing (and oft-smashed) modest Aussie we love Stuey O'Grady, at last recovered from his latest lung-puncture, lavishing praise on everyone from teammates to team-docs, and ready to hit the road again (hopefully not literally, for once). Bring it on Stuey, and don't forget, you can stomp half the guys you domestique for if only you manage to stay upright! Back too, after escapades rather less heroic: yes, our big blowzy beloved party-hound Tom Boonen, who the Tour's gonna let in after all if UCI lays off him as seems likely. Assign this boy a handler at the disco, and Cav may actually have some serious sprint rivals in July!

Banned Cyclist Activity Watch: finally, with an outraged Lampre denying rumors that they're in talks with disgraced scum-doper Riccardo Ricco, and with quite some time left to go on his ban, it appears the boy has moved on from his initial gig as a spin-class instructor to the field of "artistic cycling", the "rhythmic gymnastics" of the cycling world:

Monday, June 01, 2009

The 2009 Giro d'Italia Awards

All right, folks, the 100th Giro d'Italia has come to a close, and I have a whole year to remember this year's glorious corsa rosa, simmer with loathing and resentment recalling the stuff that ticked me off, and ponder what sordid surprises await us next year. 'Til then, here's one last, loving look at the Best Race On The Planet Except Maybe The Vuelta:

Catastrophic Commentary Loss Award: okay, universalsports. I know it's a !@#damn miracle that anyone's even broadcasting the Giro in the US, so you do get points for that. But if I'm doomed to a race w/o Phil and Paul, kindly remind the oafs you hire that by day 21 they should have at least have figured out the basic identifying details of the riders they're looking at when they are absolutely alone in the start house. Big hint: the guys in Disney-princess turquoise and pink are NOT LIQUIGAS. Jeez, do you clowns even know who won the race?

All-Freakin'-Right-Already Prize: I hear ya. He's riding. Honest. We are now fully and nauseatingly aware of the single least important issue in Giro d'Italia history. A big shout-out to anyone who can surmise who we're talking about!

Step Away From the Microphone Award: I get it, Cav. Garmin's argyle army bet the farm on the team time trial, and lost. To you. HA-HA! Classy. Your bailing after !@#$-slapping every other rider at the Giro for 'dishonoring' it unlike you: even classier. Can't someone read this squalling baby a story and put him to bed already?

Mountain Mama/Take Me Home Prize: what else is there to say about the more, well, pulchritudinous stages that both my faithful readers haven't listened to me whine about 'til their ears bled already? Aiiiiggggghhhhhhh!

Sissy-boy Media Slap-Fight o' the Giro: Lance protests race. Press excoriates Lance. Lance cuts off press. Press stops covering Lance Armstrong's Twitter feed. Nyeah nyeah, nyeah nyeah nyeah! Next salvo: Lance deliberately smacks scoop of gelato off Gazzetta dello Sport reporter's ice-cream cone. Oh, snap!

Best Media Insult (And Sadly, It's True): Cristiano Gatti in Il Giornale: Di Luca is Menchov's "most faithful and precious domestique." Ouch!

And Speaking of Whom, the Rabid Chihuahua Anklebiter Award: grrrr...grrrr...yip yip yip....grrrr...yip! Down, Danilo, down--ow, that latest tiny attack *hurts*!

Crash o'the Race: hands down, Pedro Horrillo's hideous flyer down the Body-Crunching Ravine of Rock-Laden Doom. You cyclists are masochists, man. Get well soon, Pedro!

You Get What You Pay For (Or Not) Prize: oh yeah, baby, this one's for Liquigas. Um, not to discount the fact that St. Ivan of Varese promises to kick !@# in a Vuelta the Italians have no interest in even watching, or that it's vastly preferable that the boy lose clean than win dirty, but oughtn't you maybe have invested all that dough and all those scarce domestique resources in the curly-locked Adonis who actually podiumed?

The Where-Is-He-Now Golden File Cabinet Trophy: no, not Gibo, go to hell--Damiano Cunego. More than one of these stages suited him fine--where *was* he?

Magical Mystery Tour Award: it's the end of the entire race, and no doping scandal yet? Don't tell me that just because no-one's dimwitted enough to use CERA this season that certain riders weren't one with a passel of medical equipment that'd make a fully equipped ER look like a punk-!@# toddler's toy doctor kit. Guesses, anyone?

Gratuitous We Love Carlos Sastre Holler o' the Race: okay, I couldn't really think of an award for him. Maybe that he's not a petty wank like Cavendish?...but that doesn't seem to personally reflect our hero. Still, nice stages there Carlos--woo-hoo!

Jump-Out-Of-Your-Seat-Screaming Moment o' the Race: boy, poor Pedro Horrillo had this one nailed, but if you freaked like I freaked, then who but Denis Menchov should grab it definitively only 900 meters from the end of the entire corsa rosa? Here's the Rabobank boys losing it (thanks Velonews!):

And Finally, Primal Scream Therapy Award: Menchov, of course, just after he crosses the line. Anyone else think he was gonna bite the head off a live chicken like Ozzy Osbourne and spit it out onto Pat "Dick" McQuaid in triumph? Talk about missed opportunities!

Well Giro fans, that's about all I'm sure any of us can take for this year, which means there's only one, count 'em one, full month before we have to watch Lance completely screw over Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, *and* Andreas Kloden in the Tour. Enjoy the respite while it lasts, and remember--only 11 more months til May!