Monday, July 27, 2009

It's The 2009 Racejunkie Tour de France Awards!--and, Our Win Free Stuff Contest Winner!

Well folks, Team Astana has officially eaten its young, three weeks of blood, sweat, tears 'n' disgusting Armstrong fawning have come to an end, and it's time for the 2009 Tour de France awards! Sure, I'm somewhat hamstrung by the Win Free Stuff! Contest's two-week rider insult moratoriums--but who doesn't love Cadel and Tom Boonen anyway? So, without further ado:

Like Britney Spears Flashing Her Crotch at the Paparazzi, But Less Classy Award: yep, this one's for Lance's petty crybaby podium antics, notably reaching over to shake 2nd place finisher Andy Schleck's hand heartily while virtually ignoring Contador, rudely not even glancing at his own 3d place trophy proudly given to him by the race organizers and pissily ogling Alberto's instead, and, icing on the cake, blasting by the neatly single-filing riders on his squad at the best-team presentation so he wouldn't have to stand next to the guy who'd beaten him and he could nestle in among his own happy servants instead. Let's be honest--if one of Lance's teammates had pulled that disrespectful crap on *him* during one of *his* Tour de France wins, he'd have gone Al Capone on him with a baseball bat *plus* had his broken carcass posthumously fired on the spot. Punk whiny sore-loser move, Mr. Armstrong!

Miracle on Ice Award: okay, I thought Denis Menchov maybe doped to improve his *performance*, but did anyone realize he needed to be on the juice just to maintain his *balance*? Never since Michael Rasmussen's ignominious podium-tanking final Tour de France time trial a few years back has a rider crashed so often with so little reason. Lots of guys were still tired from the Giro, Denis--what the heck was going on?

The French Revolution Prize: okay, when it comes to GC hopes--and half the time when it even comes to stage wins--the French have pretty well sucked in their own Grand Tour since Hinault. Until this year. Yes, time for us coarse arrogant McDonald's-suckin' bull-ridin' cultureless barbarian Americans to acknowledge the truth: from Fedrigo to Voeckler to Brice Feillu, not to mention the usual suspects pounding away in the breakaways, the French riders kicked !@# this year. Felicitations, boys!

Sissy-Boy-Slap-Fight-o'-the-Tour: so between we-still-love-so-I'm-sure-this-was- just a hallucinogen-induced-deviation Thor Hushovd cussing out Ciolek and Cav on the sprints, Cav whining about Thor, Bruyneel crying about Contador, and patient little Sastre finally completely losing it and slammin', well, everybody, this one was a killer. In the end, though, it goes to--and it wounds me deeply to say this--big George Hincapie, excoriating a wholly innocent team for protecting their own sprint and GC prospects which is, after all, quite their job. I'm sorry you didn't get yellow too, George--might've taken that one up with your own squad Discovery for oh, seven years straight!

Tuff Enuff Prize: on a sunnier note, this one, too, is for Hincapie: he rode the end of the race with a broken collarbone. What a bas-!@#--truly, even in a sport where you're expected to ride through incredible pain, kudos to you, George!

Celebrity Butt-Kiss of the Race: again, another embarrassment of riches, as a host of irrelevant Hollywood heavyweights, assorted quasi-royal dignitaries, and damn near every media outlet on earth sought to outdo each other with paeans to, and even momentary association with, the One. But only one name stands supreme: yes, former teammate Bob Roll, whose almost pornographic daily lovefests on Vs. could make a hard-core career gigolo blush. You're great fun to watch and listen to, Bob--but TMI man!

Crash o' the Tour (Cringe-Inducing): all right, no-one pitched off the side of the mountain this year, but gnurk! Jens' spectacular--and bone-shattering--face-plant on a none-too-smooth descent. Get well soon Jens--and come back and attack the crap out of the peloton again next year!

Crash o' the Tour (Tactical Significance): anyone else wonder what would've happened with GC if only he'd been around in the mountains to pick up where Popo left off? Yep, this one's for Levi Leipheimer--an ordinary crash with likely race-altering consequences. Okay, I'm still irked you piled on Contador over the Klodi debacle--but fair is fair, you earned this Levi!

Domestique o' the Race: yeah, no-one mentioned his name, not once in three long, long weeks of constant coverage--but if you review the tapes, you'll see him there, faithfully setting the pace, blocking the wind, and working his butt off in a humble obscurity completely at odds with his Classics-winning godliness--yes, it's indomitable Aussie tough-guy Stuart O'Grady. Okay, I know your big bro' Frank was invaluable Andy--but buy that man a drink post-haste!

B-B-Bad to the Bone Award: last year, he landed on some spindly socialist protester like a ton of bricks. This year, when someone dared to try to pass themselves off on the podium as a stage winner, he put on the hurt again. Bernard Hinault--if you ever get tired of being a cycling legend, you can always get a gig as the most-feared bouncer at a dive biker bar!

Sweet Spot o' the Race: lest you think I'm a total cynic, this one goes to Thor's leadout man Heinrich Haussler for choking up as he took his finely-played stage win. Didn't you want to about burst into tears, too? I know I did!

Ivan Basso Can Suck It Award: yes, as our comely long-lashed reformed miscreant readies himself for the Vuelta, the Adonis of the Euromullet, Ivan's equally-supermodelesque Giro "co-captain" Franco Pellizotti was, while sadly ditching his GC hopes, relentless and brave in his successful pursuit of the King of the Mountains. He got Most Aggressive Rider too! And boy, does he look pretty in polka dots...

Unsung Quote o' the Tour: from a smashing article in the Wall Street Journal of all places, this gem from 1/2 of the best cycling-commentator team in the universe Phil Liggett on the rise of the team-centered strategy from the ashes of purely individual contests in the high passes in the old Fausto Coppi days: "The strong men just got together in the mountains and knocked the crap out of each other. Nobody was helping them." Great, so can we finally lay off Contador for not domestiquing Klodi back up to him now?

What the !@#$? Prize: sure, it ain't easy winning the Giro, and goodness knows it's distracting to constantly be hauled off to testify to the doping investigators, particularly when you're about to try to win the most famous race in cycling, but am I the only wondering if there was perhaps something else--like oh, I don't know, a radical, um, nutrition-related redesign in the scandal-plagued Rabobank's race preparations--going on with Denis Menchov? If it's anything more than just really, really needing a nice long nap, buddy, give Roberto Heras back his Vuelta !@#dammit!

Young Rider: all right, Tony Martin was spectacular. And the boy I'm choosing didn't even take a stage--though barely. But I was gaping like a bass on a hook when jailbait Irishman Nicholas Roche was stomping on riders with buckets more experience. Anyone else think we're gonna see a lot more of this kid in the coming years?

Gross Hypocrisy o' the Tour: my, Lance Armstrong really *is* a winner. Stage 3: Armstrong takes advantage of crosswind, ditches Contador, credits self. Stage 7: Contador takes advantage of opportunity on Arcalis, ditches teammates, roundly !@#$%$-slapped by Armstrong for betrayal. And don't even get me started on Armstrong suggesting team leader Contador should've domestiqued for Klodi. Look in the mirror much?

Fan Overboard Award: we wreck their line in the mountains shoving flags in their faces, push 'em on the !@# til we have to be punched away, run alongside them screaming in highly disconcerting neon-green mankinis, and knock them over with sword-sharp advertising-giveaway-whatsits, but *shooting* at them? Aside from being criminal, psycho, and murderous, that just ain't right. What the hell is next, aiming water cannons at the peloton when they're three inches away from a precipice and blasting 'em off the Alps? Don't even think about it, you freaks....

Magical Mystery Tour Award: last but not least, let's look back on the most astonishing fact of an astonishing Tour--three whole weeks, faithful reader(s), and not a single--single!--doping poz announced yet. Luck? Simply careful double-checking by the oft- (and rightly-) maligned lab chimps? Or could we actually have the clean and sparkly peloton we've all been, so idealistically and fruitlessly, dreaming of at last? Somehow, I'm guessing the answer's a grim one. But please, in the name of similarly pure and precious fantasies like unicorns and the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, someone prove my disillusioned heart wrong this time!

Well folks, that's about it for this year, tho' I'm sure that in the likely event that I've (1) missed someone and (2) !@#$ed this up, you'll let me know. 'Til then, cue the schmaltzy music while we bust out the big rhinestore tiara and bouquet of roses for the winners' walk down the runway, and let these boys enjoy their reign!

And, after a plunge into the Holy ONCE-Eroski Cap o' Thrills 'n' Chills, we've got ourselves the final Win Free Stuff! Contest winner, and it's: Tusher! Tusher, check your e-mail so I can get your prize to you! And our Two Week Rider Insult Moratorium is on: TBA. Thanks to all for participating, and if you like, we'll do it again next year!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

No Thanks For Winning Us The Tour de France, !@#hole!

Can Someone Please Put the Lid on Astana, Already?: Let's get straight to it: I have never seen a team be so seventh-grade-alpha-girl-bitchy, so bitter, so angry and so publicly nasty over the hideous fact that someone on their team just won the Tour de France. Wah, wah, wah! Look Johan and Lance--quit !@#$in' crying about it. When Contador saw (waaaaaaaay too late, but then we've all pretty well conceded the kid's yet no rocket scientist) that his team boss and The Second Coming were gonna jack the best stage racer on the planet out of the unqualified team leadership he (1) deserved and (2) that any other team anytime anywhere ever would have rightly and unquestioningly given him, he asked to be let out of his contract. Eat this, Lance--*your* Bruyneel, the one who guided you to seven Tour de France wins, the one who hired the best riders in the peloton to solely serve your needs, the guy who was right there with you every step of the way while you proclaimed in all confidence that you would win the Tour again this year, said no. You expected Alberto to roll over like a dog for you like every other rider you've ever worked with anyway--well, too bad, he didn't. The kid is not to blame for it. Arrogant? Yes. Irritating? Punk-!@#? Yep. A few pieces short of a completed puzzle? Sure. A likely drug-stuffed skankball? Well, he was implicated in some weenie little Op Puerto thing that nearly brought down the sport, but he's probably no dirtier than any other recent starlet. Suck it up. Even if he had worked for you as selflessly and nobly as Levi, Tyler, Floyd, George, Popo and everyone else ever did, he is still flat-out matchless, even by you at the moment, in the mountains and (and I still believe there's a creepy, Herasesque quality about this) even a bit faster in the time trial. And while you, Johan, and certain other riders were publicly backstabbing and demeaning him as recently as yesterday--snorting about his disruptive presence on the team, dismissing him with an "I'm gonna ride my race, he's gonna ride his"--Contador has kept his mouth comparatively shut 'til now about the fact that he's been treated like total crap and let, unlike some folks, his legs do the talking.

Enough. We all know what you've accomplished and even those who can't stand you at least respect you for it. When Contador tests poz for dope, you'll be vindicated, and go into full-on crowing nyeah-nyeah mode about how pure you are and what a little lying scumbag he is. Until then, you'll never have to ride with anyone who won't drop to the pavement for you in obeisance again. And likely, to be fair, neither will Contador. You'll have an even playing field, even if, beyond all reason, you feel you didn't have one this time. So next year--keep this vicious backbiting gossip crap out of the press so other riders who deserve accolades and respect can actually get the ten seconds of press time they themselves so richly deserve, and throw down the gauntlet on the road instead!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bow Down Before the One You Serve/

You're (Not) Going to Get What You Deserve: fine, Team Radioshack is on for next year, and while the best stage racer in the world right now (sorry, but that's *Contador*, Lance fans, at least til he !@#$s up and comes up positive) is gonna get to go somewhere else where he won't be berated for not being someone else's miserable self-abnegating dog-obedient waterboy, Lance gets to build yet again a squad of totally subservient superdomestiques who, despite being able to win Grand Tours in their own right, will never question his absolute lordly authority, and try to win next year’s Tour that way. And fine, it's good for raising cycling awareness in the U.S., a nation better known for making enormous steroid-stuffed force-fed no-neck freaks crush each other to death in front of tens of thousands of freezing nacho-suckin' face-painting beer-swillers in pursuit of a little brown ball. But am I the only one thinking that if we have to deal with this nonstop fawning unquestioning media-sluttin' rump-kissing again next year, we're gonna end up bashing our flat-screens and computers to pieces with a bike pump just to stop the TV and internet madness before those nauseating three weeks are up?

Oh, Shut *Up* Already!: meantime, Lance, Levi, and Bruyneel are *still* piling on Contador for cruelly and intentionally attacking Andreas Kloden on the other day’s climb and jacking him out of a podium place, and while I love Klodi and generally will defend him under any circumstance, on this one, I call bull!@#$! First, coming from Lance, who's never done a favor for any teammate in his entire life and who never worried about any of his teammates' 'podium spots' because he'd have smacked them senseless in the post-race team meeting like a thug for even thinking of such traitorous heresy, that’s freakin' *rich*. Second, that’s not how I saw the stage play out. The Schlecks attacked, so all Contador had to do was stay on their wheels to keep a time gap from building up--fair enough, Johan. But Alberto thought--and that's a mistake right there--he’d try to drop ‘em with one of his super-accelerations, and also thought--again, a bad idea--Klodi had the legs to stay with him. He was wrong, and he was clearly looking back repeatedly in bewilderment when he saw he’d dropped Kloden. I mean, let's face it, tactically the kid's no Paolo Bettini (oh! I still miss him!). Come to think of it, the boy ain't even Wile E. Coyote facing off against Roadrunner, and we all know how *that* turned out every week. But malice aforethought? I didn't see that. Stupid you can maybe fix with experience, Lance--but being a wanker, that's forever!

In An MmmmBop He's Gone/In An MmmmBop He's Not There: fine, Cav took it today, and he'll probably take it again on the Champs-Elysees, and he'll probably take every single other sprint for the next 5 years until his head actually clinically explodes from ego overdrive and some new little upstart starts makin' him cry like a dope-deprived Di Luca. But who is the only sprinter to beat him this Tour, and who stands a pretty good chance of popping on the green jersey in Paris even without the stellar gift of Cavendish's earlier relegation? That's right, it's Thor Hushovd, baby--learn to climb or keep on whining!

And hey--remember, there's still time to enter my contest, and Win Free Stuff Part Trois!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Bromance Is Officially Over, Baby!--and, Win Free Stuff Part Trois!

Of Course, It Was a Sick !@#$ing Train Wreck to Begin With: yes, to the surprise of none, Johan Bruyneel has announced that, given those whiny Kazakhs' ridiculous insistence that they get to have a say in who's hired for a squad they're entirely paying for, particularly their nonnegotiable "take it or leave it" with regard to their psycho doper supremo Alexander Vinokorouv, he's gonna leave Astana at the end of the season to put together a incredibly irritating media-whore of a team with Lance Armstrong. Right, 'cause the same egregious hypocrite who jumped like an amphetamine-stuffed monkey to hire Ivan Basso the second he was implicated in a huge blood-doping scandal's obviously got the moral high ground when it comes to calling another druggie on the carpet! Alberto Contador, meanwhile, was clearly surprised by the news, not least because it was delivered to him by the already-up-to-date press corps. Way to show respect to your team leader, Johan and Lance you wanks--mightn't you have allowed the boy to retain more of his dignity if you'd simply, say, sucker-punched him smack in the manly bits for the cameras instead?

The Great Escape: Speaking of Astana (what's left of it anyway), I see the authorities searched the Astana team car for 3 hours and reportedly found--"nothing." Probably because it was all back at the hotel. Ba-dum-bum!

Eat It, Fedrigo!: Yes, the mountain kings at Euskaltel-Euskadi, already in every breakaway this Tour, have scored one at last: Woo-hoo Mikel Astarloza, aupa the fabulous Euskaltel!

I Love That Dirty Water: in non-Tour news, 2008 Tour cheat-scum Bernhard Kohl's ex-manager has now accused Kohl of giving Dynepo and other doping products to other boys at Gerolsteiner in 2007 and 2008, and he knows this because, of course, "he got it from me." Well, Kohl's retired, and no other rider is going to hire this degenerate loud-mouthed weasel to work for him--anyone else smell a lucrative book deal before the gravy train is gone for good? Bernie's attorney, meantime, rushed to say the boy only *referred* another Gerolsteiner rider to the manager for drugs--and gee, does that clarification make Kohl look a lot better--but seems to be a bit hamstrung by the fact that his client did, in fact, admit such nefarious deeds in an interview. Refer, procure, what's the dif--must we focus on such unpleasant trivialities?

Get Well Jens!: finally, as the news after eager-beaver-attacker-of-the-gods Jens Voigt's monstrous crashmercifully starts to look up, let's remind ourselves of just a tiny fraction, on happier days, of what makes us love him so much in the first place:

Monday, July 20, 2009

We've Got Ourselves A Contest Winner--and, Play to Win Free Stuff Part Trois, Baby!

Yes folks, after randomly selecting from amongst the winning entries from the Holy ONCE-Eroski Cap o' Doom 'n' Destiny, the winner for week two's contest is: SmT! Thanks SmT (do I pronounce that "smut"?)! And our two, count 'em two, week rider insult moratorium goes to: Cadel Evans!

All right kids, we're down to the home stretch. It's time for the final week, so enter to Win Free Stuff Part Trois!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lance Armstrong Is Still A Bee-yotch; And, In Defense of Garmin-Slipstream

Sure, He's Team Leader, But I'm Still Waaaaaaaaaaaay Better Than He Is: so just as Lance astonishingly concedes team leadership to Contador, as he should've done two weeks ago if he wasn't gonna make Bruyneel let Alberto out of his contract months back as he clearly deserved, our hero nonetheless manages to put Contador in his place with easily one of the most obnoxious quotes of the race: "If we ride into Paris with the yellow jersey in the team, I'm cool with that. I've got seven of them at home." No, really? I hadn't heard, you relentless egomaniacal self-obsessed goon! I mean, let's be honest, Contador is a tiresome pain in the !@@ with his non-stop shooting action (particularly thoughtless, one might suggest, after Oscar Freire almost got taken out entirely by some air-pistol-wielding wingnut), but not only does he get big points for pausing to pat the sweetly drooling St. Bernard at his podium presentation, at least he's not screaming "I won the Giro!" "I won the Vuelta!" "I won the Tour!" in every interview, when, as one of the few ever to do so, he could've entirely justifiably tattooed that on his naked butt and mooned the cameras with it the last two weeks. But yes, Lance, we know. No-one's ever contested that you're the best Tour de France rider in history, and to be fair, no-one ever should. And if it makes you feel better, o Mother Theresa of the Peloton, the entire planet is apparently completely capable of blocking out the umpteen times you've said in the last 6 months that you're coming back to the Tour de France solely--and inevitably--to win it. Ugh. Am I the only one longing for the halcyon days of the irritating non-stop People magazine updates about the latest Olsen twin he's snogging?

Don't Get Your Bike Shorts In a Twist, Everyone!: and, while Vs. impressively managed to barely mention the fact that Cavendish stiffed we love Thor Hushovd in a sprint and, rightly or wrongly (and of course you can guess who I'm gonna side with), was relegated right out of the green jersey competition, the big news from yesterday was of course George Hincapie being cheated out of the yellow jersey by the grotesque actions of Garmin-Slipstream, who, so far as I could tell, are basically guilty of trying not to get Christian Van de Velde jacked out of GC contention and setting up their own boy Farrar for the post-breakaway sprint. How dare they?! Natch, everybody and their mother--and particularly Bruyneel and Armstrong--immediately tossed Garmin under the bus, saying of course Astana was only up there driving the pace with no GC or sprint threat in sight to *help* poor George take the jersey as was their plan all along (and, because I'm sporting, I won't even point out that it took 7 years of endless subservience before Lance even allowed Hincapie a stage win), whereas Garmin clearly had some nefarious plan to hose somebody everybody likes out of nowhere to no benefit to themselves. The problem: no one has yet advanced any plausible reason whatsoever why Garmin would've wanted to keep Hincapie out of the maillot jaune, which he'd have no possible hope of keeping in the Alps anyway. And no, being 'a competing American squad' doesn't cut it--their DS Matt White is an Aussie for heck's sake! While we're at it--if Columbia was so freaked out at those five seconds, and so outraged that Garmin was pinching them as they watched the clock tick along, why the hell'd *they* of all squads pick up the pace, even if ever so slightly, for the sprint? Anyway, a crap ending for a great rider--but I don't see how Garmin is at fault. Do you?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Try Not to Kill the Riders: Fan Etiquette 101; and, an Update

Look, fellow fans. I understand. I've been there shoving a camera two inches from Ivan Basso's game face among a frantic horde of 6-foot Germans. Hell, I've even been far-too-close-to-there when we still love Bobby Julich unexpectedly let it rip in a roadside orchard. So I fully get how desperate one can be to press right up to the best, and most beloved, athletes on Earth. But as the rider body count seems to increase every year by the reckless actions of over-impassioned spectators, I hereby offer this handy Guide to Fan Etiquette in the hopes that some lucky rider will remain alive to claim the maillot jaune in Paris:

1. Leash the dog, you dimwit!

2. Come to think of it, leash the kid. Both tend to wander. Alternately, try duct tape.

3. The camera goes adjacent to, not into the actual nose of, the rider.

4. The razor-edged, plastic or cardboard promotional tchotchke, at 50 meters to the line in a bunch sprint, belongs *inside* the barrier.

5. Grocery-bag handles go over the shoulder or wrist, *not* into the course.

6. Flags, while admirably patriotic, can be inconvenient when shoved into one's face on a narrow climb with a 6,000-foot drop to certain, rocky death.

7. Riders only appreciate a quick push on the back up the mountain occasionally. Hint: the presence of a race-moto or camera with the power to time-penalize them, an angry torrent of probable curses in an indecipherable foreign language, or an actual slap to your face or body generally mean "no."

8. If, by contrast, you should inadvertently trip up a nearly-naked runner in a thong and neon clown wig, it's not exactly polite, but it's not like anyone (the trippee perhaps excepted)'ll fault you. If you trip up the Devil, however, whom I love, you are personally bound for the Searing Lake o' Burning Fire in the next world.

All spectators intentionally violating said restrictions will be summarily whacked upside the head with 900 pounds of Rabobank's most formidable blood-doping setup. All spectators merely accidentally violating said restrictions shall be forced to watch a two-hour continuous tape loop of Alberto Contador making that assy "pistol-shot" salute when he crosses the line. Well, that oughta about do it, tho' if I've missed anything, by all means let me know. So let's let the boys ride their race in peace (and in one piece), and do go ahead and yell, Allez Allez!

And remember: enter my contest, and Win Free Stuff Part Deux!

Update: Holy crap Levi Leipheimer's out with a broken wrist! Poor Klodi. It's all on you now. And not to be a total !@#$%^%$, but Carlos--here's your chance.

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Fantasy Team Astana Press Conference

Johan Bruyneel: Good morning. As all you lurid media vultures are demanding, we're meeting today to discuss the situation here at Team Astana honestly, openly, and with love in our hearts. I hope this is not only informative, but enough to get you !@#@#$%s off my back for ten minutes so I can DS this !@#$^%$ race. I'll first turn it over to Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador to discuss their relationship.

LA: Well, when I first heard I'd be Alberto's teammate, I couldn't've been more excited. I mean, certain guys--and I'm not naming names here--I know are just gonna bow down to me like a god, but a rider like Contador? Sweet. So what's with this "I want the Tour this" and "I wanna be Captain that" crap I'm hearing now? Wash my feet, you worthless dirtbag!
AC: It's a good thing I can't speak English, or I'd tell that arrogant entitled cowboy !@#hole where to stick it in explicit detail. I don't give a crap what you think I snarfed at Liberty Seguros or why you think I've improved like a freak in the time trial since last spring, I'm the best stage racer in the world, I'm only 26, I've already won the Tour the Giro and the Vuelta which is more than Lord One Trick Pony can say, and I have to beg to be allowed to go off the front like some zero neo-pro water-bottle-carrier who's barely won a nursery-school summer-camp tricycle race? Are you kidding me? I AM ALBERTO !@#$ING CONTADOR !@#DAMMIT!

JB: As you can see, they're great friends. And they only care about the well-being of the team. Now let's move on to the mood among the domestiques.

Levi Leipheimer: Me, I'm happy to work for anyone. Thank you, Johan, may I have another?
Andreas Kloden: With all the dope I took at T-Mobile, I'm just glad I'm not in prison.
Haimar Zubeldia: I should've stayed with Euskaltel. At least Samu' Sanchez is mentally stable...
Sergio Paulinho: That kid better take me with him when he bails next year or I'm gonna shove his scrawny butt off the side of Ventoux.
Yaroslav Popovych: Lance, dear, you look a little peaked. Can I get you a nice cold lemonade? Here, let me fan you with this palm leaf!
Chris Horner: I can't believe I got stiffed out of the Tour for some !@#$^%$ Kazakh nobody!

JB: Let's turn to team strategy. Guys?
LA: I haven't decided yet.
JB: Um, I guess I haven't decided yet.
AC: Whatever it is, I'm hosed.
YP: After what I did to Cadel Evans last year, my only strategy is to stay the heck out of his way.
LL: If one of these clowns cracks, it's no more Mr. Nice Guy. Aw, yes it is. Rats!
AK: I don't see why I have to hand-scrub Lance's bike shorts every night. It says "machine wash cold, delicate cycle" right here on the label.

JB: Finally, let's look at our plans for next year. As for me, if they think I'm gonna blow my legacy coddling that psychopath Vinokorouv and his yes-man acolyte Kashechkin, they're freakin' nuts. Besides, the Livestrong team kit's already on its way back from the manufacturer.
LA: I'm not worried. Johan'll do whatever I tell him to. Especially after I beat him down for not putting the lid on that twerp Contador this year.
LL: I don't know, but after multiple Grand Tour podium finishes and about a hundred stage wins, I don't see why I would deserve team leadership anywhere. That's what Lance and Alberto tell me, anyway!
AK: How much does a soigneur make again?
AC: I will spend the rest of my professional life making Johan Bruyneel pay for what he has done to me. Plus, who the hell else does this 'new Spanish team' think is gonna win the Grand Tours for them, Valverde? Adios, suckers!

JB: Well, this concludes our Team Astana press conference. Remember, if you don't like Lance, yer an America-hatin' commie-socialist pro-cancer sissified wine-drinkin' Brie-eatin' Euro-weenie--no yellow bracelets for you!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We've Got Ourselves A Contest Winner--and, Win Free Stuff This Week, Too!

Yes, folks, it's been an exciting seven days, but having randomly drawn from among the correct entries from the Holy ONCE-Eroski Cycling Cap O' Destiny, we've got us a winner from this week's contest!
The correct answer: the first rider to be pulled out of the Tour for doping this week will be from...Nowhere! I gotta say, I'm shocked as you are. Frankly, even shockeder. I mean, not one single Spaniard went down?
The winner is: RossCo--congratulations Rossco!
The insult moratorium for the next two weeks is on this rider: Tom Boonen!

Thanks to all for participating--and starting now, join your fellow reader(s) for Win Free Stuff Part Deux!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lance Armstrong: "The Team Won't Be the Problem"

Yeah, and you should've expected that when you came back acting as if Alberto was just gonna drop to his knees before you like every other rider who's ever worked for you.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

It's All About the Pyrenees

The Thorpedo Strikes!: yes folks, if you root for him in every stage, our big Norwegian lug will eventually come through, this time pipping we also love Oscar Freire at the line. Woo-hoo Thor!--but can poor Tom "Sniffy" Boonen's luck this Tour get any lousier? Just have a nice cup of tea and a massage tonight Tommeke, and you'll bounce back all right--but that's *all* you get to have to soothe your wounds, understand?

It's the Mountains, Baby!: and, it's on to Arcalis tomorrow in the first of a trio of days in the Pyrenees, and while I don't want Alberto Contador to unduly wipe himself out ahead of the third week, I *do* want him to kick the crap out of Armstrong in the stage, no matter where in the stage standings he has to do it. Then again, I'd be even happier seeing Klodi (didja see where he is on GC?) kick the crap out of Contador, but one can't have *every* dear wish one hopes for come true, right? Meantime, Cadel has to freakin' do *something*, Menchov's glum DS sez he just hopes Denis can make it through the first mountain stage without actively !@#$ing up, and Carlos Sastre, of course, can do no wrong so if you don't think he can come back from 2-odd minutes back you all just colossaly bite me. And forza, forza big and baby Schlecks--you're just in 25th Frank, don't let it become all about your little brother just yet!

My Eat Crow Moment: finally, a monster shout-out to Shameless St. Millar Defender, and all our beloved Brits, for their boy David's incredibly close, and incredibly brave, breakaway effort today. There, that feels good. Can I go back to abusing him for being a weepy whiny camera-whoring twit now?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Questions from Newbies; and, The Heat Is On, Baby!

Today, I take a moment to address a few burning questions posed to me this morning by a dear TdF newbie, intrigued, but befoozled by, a sport not involving three strikes, peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Reasonable people may certainly disagree, but then, I'm not one of 'em anyway. So here we go:

Q. What the hell is all this I keep hearing about problems on Armstrong's team?
A. Here’s the scoop. The opening day was a time trial and Alberto Contador beat his teammate Lance Armstrong, which made it look like Armstrong might ultimately have to concede team leadership over to Contador. Monday should have been a routine sprint, but it was very windy, which split the peloton into two groups. 20-odd riders, including Lance but not including Contador or GC contenders the Schleck brothers, Cadel Evans (2nd last year), or Denis Menchov (winner of this year’s Giro and 2 Vuelta a Espanas) made the front of the split. The controversy: Astana, Lance and Alberto’s team, should’ve just chosen a damn team leader before the start of the race and backed him 100%. Instead, Lance and Alberto are infighting for team leadership, and the whole team is in disarray as a result with some domestiques backing Contador and others Lance. So when Lance made the split, Johan Bruyneel, the team manager in charge of picking the team leader, told two other Astana riders who also made the split to pick up the pace for Lance, therefore hurting Alberto who was in the second group, so that Lance ultimately gained about 40 seconds on Contador (though in the overall Contador is only 19 seconds back, which he can probably pick up in the mountains in the third week). The upshot: Armstrong was smug, Contador (who should have quit this team the second Lance announced his comeback) is ticked, and the whole team is a demoralized angry trainwreck. Fun!

Q. Why do the French hate Lance so much? Who would the French like to see win instead?
A. The French press hates Lance’s guts because they all think he’s a doper; of course, so are their own riders, but that's perfectly fine with them. The fans are a little nicer to Lance since he learned to speak French the last couple years. Mostly though they all just hate him because the French riders have, for several years running, pretty well sucked. Can you say "displacement," boys and girls? They are looking to French riders like Sylvain Chavanel and Christophe Moreau for stage wins and a decent finish overall. Barring that, they will probably root for Contador—he’s very handsome and has a really flashy style in the mountains—tres chic!

Q. What is this "domestique" thing? Do they *do* anything?
A. Domestiques are the “worker bee” riders on a team whose job is to support the team leader. For example, on a flat stage, they will surround the team leader like a cocoon to keep him from being jostled by other riders so he won’t crash, and will keep him towards the front of the peloton, as most crashes happen in the middle of the group where it’s most crowded; in the mountains, they will go to the front of the race to set a very fast pace to try to exhaust and distance the team leader’s rivals, and will also ride right in front of the team leader, taking the brunt of the wind resistance for him, so the leader can ride in their slipstream and conserve his own energy so he is strong enough to attack later. If the team leader crashes, and the team support car is too far away to bring him a new bike right away, they’ll even give the team leader their own bike so he doesn’t lose time waiting. If you're really low on the totem pole, or if later in this year's race, you're, oh, say, Alberto Contador, you have to schlep back to the team car to get water bottles for everyone, which you shove down your shirt like a spandex-covered camel. Your only consolation: covered in your sweat and skank from hours of riding, that's what your boss gets to drink from. Sweet!

Q. So who is going to win the Tour? Who do you want to win?
A. If I were betting, I would bet on Alberto Contador—-he is absolutely the best Grand Tour racer in the world right now, and he is not only a great climber with amazing acceleration, but he has learned to time trial, which you need to be able to do to win. He is still very young and needs some better tactical sense but he is learning. He deserves to win but if Armstrong bushwhacks him the rest of the race he may not. However, I would like to see Carlos Sastre, the defending Tour de France champ, win again. He likely won’t though-—he is a “pure climber”, and the best he can do in the time trials is try to limit his losses. He also has worked quite humbly for other guys his whole career, like Ivan Basso who got busted for doping, without any complaint despite his own capabilities and deserving leadership before that himself, so, in keeping with my neverending backing of losing causes, I am dreaming of a karmic victory here. Allez allez little Carlos!

The Hosed and the Beautiful: meantime, as the Astana boys and team management trade barbs, backtracks, and damage control, the team time trial today made certain things clear: namely, Cadel Evans is unequivocally jacked. I mean, when a pack of mountaineer munchkins like Euskaltel-Euskadi kick your squad's !@# in the time trial, you *know* you might as well go home. Poor baby--was anyone else just heartbroken watching Cadel drive his own team to the line? Nor do things look much better for Denis Menchov, or even the aforementioned we love Carlos Sastre for that matter. Not to worry folks--at least my boy can actually attack in the mountains!

Finally, don't forget: join my contest, and Win Free Stuff !

Monday, July 06, 2009

Contador, You Spindly Nit!

You Picked the *Wrong* Time to Play Space Cadet, Kid: all right, Alberto. You're a great champion (however you got that way, and however much the dope-fueled playground that was your day-care center at Liberty Seguros still irks me). But you're still very young, and one thing you don't want to do is zone out enjoying the view on a windy day when someone with a creakier body but far more experience who has made no secret of the fact that he is here to win the Tour and is clearly ready to roll over your bony carcass to do it pays attention to the crosswind and comes in 40 seconds ahead of you on the line. Aaaiiggghhh! Of course, I'd be quite happy if, say, Klodi pounds you into the tarmac, but if you want to claim the leadership from the unbearable Armstrong once and for all you cannot let your current athletic superiority lull you into milch-cow-like complacency. Fine, you're only 19 seconds back of him in GC now, and you've got your spectacular acceleration in the mountains to unleash on the old dog ahead of you. But in the meantime, all your domestiques are in limbo waiting--and wasting energy--to see who's their true master. Just keep those pretty long-lashed eyes of yours open from now on, for heck's sake!

Silenced is Right: meantime, poor hosed Cadel Evans, already hamstrung by the weakest team a repeat podium finisher and clear GC contender's ever been stuck with, also didn't make the key move today in the crosswind, and if he or Denis "I Heart Doping Investigations" Menchov think it's gonna be enough to just wheelsuck from here on out, or even that no-one'll notice if they actually attack anyway, they're on more drugs than I thought Rabobank was already taking. So solid, so admirable, so frequently yawn-inducing--oh Cadel, if Andreas Kloden weren't so much *more* downtrodden, I might have had to pour all my fruitless ever-stomped hopes into you instead!

Money, It's a Gas: in general stupidity news, I see Contador, Armstrong & co. were fined a day's worth of milk money for failing to meet the sign-in deadline this morning, reputedly because, claims the team, they were so busy signing autographs and communing with the fans they lost track of time. Less known: whether Lance's taking coffee with the Hollywood glitterati caused the problem. Could we *please* take this sport out of the People Magazine hell Lance's cult of personality is dragging it into, and perhaps get to watch some bike racing?

(Time) Trial of the Century: and, it's onwards and upwards to the must-see team trial tomorrow, and given that Contador's going to have to prove to Armstrong that he can still put the hurt on him despite his colossal choke today, I'm putting my money on Astana, tho' I'd rather see Garmin, after Cavendish's whiny mocking wimpy wanking after the team time trial at the Giro, take out both Astana and the estimable, and clearly incredibly unified, Columbia. Come to think of it, since it took like 7 straight years of relentless subservience and stunning quality service by the great George Hincapie to the bottomless well of Lance Armstrong's ego before the latter even let our boy take a stage win at the Tour, I'd like to see Columbia stomp 'em as well. Go Garmin, even if we'll have to see Astana on the podium instead!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

This Team Will Self-Destruct in 5 Seconds

The Old Gray Mare, She Ain't What She Used to Be: and no, I don't mind it as a matter of fact, because Lance insulted we love Carlos Sastre like an arrogant low-rent bar-brawling thug-pig and deserves a giant karmic thwap because of it, but let's get down to business: Johan Bruyneel has got to decide which of his two prima donnas he's gonna coddle, and damn well get the loser to do it too, or he's in danger of letting a pack of crotch-grabbing power-plays derail the near-guaranteed victory chances of one of the most talented teams in cycling history. I'm going to leave aside the continuous feeling of mild stomach upset that Contador's stunningly recent improvement in the time trial has given me, and assume that, as is always the case with Armstrong's squads, everyone is truly pure til he leaves. You want to back Lance, Johan? I admire your loyalty, but if you give it to him now, at least before Alberto undergoes some spectacular crack, you are doing a disservice not only to Contador who has today earned the leadership (if, to be entirely fair, by a pretty small tho' notable margin), but to the broader sport as well. And while we're at it--free the course-smokin' Klodi for heck's sake, you can't put one of Lance's old lowly Discovery minions on Cinderella drudge-duty for your chosen one and let Kloden do what he's capable of for once? Keep your eyes open, Carlos--if Astana starts playing cannibal in the mountains, there's your chance!

Arf!: meantime, while these guys were all battling it out, what the hell (besides his winning effort at the Giro) happened to Denis Menchov? This course suited him, and he woofed it--not by so much it's unrecoverable, but he's gonna have to go against his habits and really attack in the mountains if he's hoping (probably fruitlessly) to gain time on Contador there. I'm sure it's got nothing to do with the fact that, post-Dekker, the team's feeling a little, well, conservative about its race prep...

Cav Comes Down to Earth: and, as Mark Cavendish gets ready to tackle his near-inevitable multiple sprint wins this Tour, and near-inevitable obnoxious-sprinter foot-in-mouth episode he's likely to have after at least one of 'em, I have to say, I was surprised that, despite his total incapacitation at the mere mention of a hill much less the actual presence of one, an ill, out of sorts, and severely colon-blown Tom "Sniffy" Boonen still managed to come in ahead of him. It's okay, Cav, you're still the fastest man on earth right now--don't let it psych you out too badly!

Tomorrow's Race: for those of you who have money bet on this year's Tour, you can almost guarantee winning if you pick whoever I don't, so in the interest of enriching you all I'm gonna say Cav's gonna keel over from the hilly parts and hand this one to Thor Hushovd. Sure, you can mock me--but at least I'm making you richer!

And, It's the Giro d'Italia Again, Baby!: finally, as the boys rip it up in France, the women are conquering the Roman Empire at the Giro Donne, and for purely entertainment purposes I note that among an all-star field the great American Kristin Armstrong sure placed a whole lot higher in the opening time trial standings than Lance (no relation) did. Hee hee--and you go Kristin!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Win Free Stuff--Enter the Weekly Racejunkie Tour de France Contest!

Yes folks, in honor of our wonderful Tour de France, and because I couldn't figure out how the hell to do this in time for the even more bitchin' Giro, once a week for the next three weeks, I'm gonna have a contest here at racejunkie, and here's the link to go to to enter. Prizes: a spiffy custom-embroidered "racejunkie" cycling cap, and an insult moratorium on your favorite rider. Good luck to one and all (if anyone), and may the best fan win!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Your Tour de France Preview, Part Quatre; and, Boonen's In!

All right folks, we're in the final run to the start line at the venerable Grand Boucle, so let's wrap up our preview so's you can hit the ground screaming your head off for your faves!

1. The Jerseys: When you see someone not wearing their team
kit, they're either wearing their national championship jersey, or one
of these: Green is for Points/Sprint. White is for Best Young Rider.
Polka-dot is King of the Mountains. And Yellow, of course, is the only
one that matters in the end.

2. The Time Trials: there are both individual and team time trials
in this year's Tour. Team time trial: Garmin (blue-and-orange argyle
uniforms); Astana (baby blue-and-yellow); Columbia (yellow black and
white). Individual time trial: normally, it'd be Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), by far the best in the world; American Levi Leipheimer (Astana), has won this
multiple times at the Tour de France before; Dave Zabriskie (Garmin),
crazy American hippie; but the opener's hilly so a GC guy might be better suited. Used to be Brit David Millar (Garmin), but since he stopped doping--which of course is a good thing--he sort of, well, not *bites* exactly, but certainly at least, um, nibbles. Lance was a great time trialist as well--will probably place highly at least.

3. The Breakaways: the French haven't had a GC contender for their
own Grand Tour in over a decade, which is pathetic, so stage wins in breakaways are basically their only hope. Did I mention it's pathetic? Anyway, riders to watch are Sylvain Chavanel, Christophe Moreau, David Moncoutie, Thomas Voeckler, and Sandy Casar, who crashed in the Tour quite badly a few years back when some idiot let their dimwit Golden Retriever wander right into the course when the guys were going like 45 mph so of course I'm always rooting for him. Another rider I love to watch in the breakaways: Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), a great old warhorse who speaking of dogs is like a big happy slobbering Labrador retriever going after a tennis ball-he basically just mopes around (but is working hard) the whole race itching for his team director to let him off the leash in a breakaway.

4. A Link to a Basic Cycling Dictionary, and a Coupla French Cycling Terms You Need to Know: When you're watching the race on Vs., the screen says what's going on in French, and here's what it means. "Tete de la course" is who is at the lead in the stage so that's what you want to look for; "Poursuivant" is the chasing group; "Peloton" is the main group behind them; and "Totally !@#$%&!" (technically, "autobus") is the guys who are dead last. Note: You will hear the spectators yell "Allez, allez!" (go, go) as the riders pass. The Americans, of course, paint the US flag on their hairy beer guts and run alongside Lance as he goes by--it's embarrassing.

Free Tom Boonen!: as the narcs announce that another 4 or 5 riders may still yet be nailed for doping before the Tour even hits the start line--and not to argue with UCI's timing on this, but if you want to convince everybody that the sport's cleaning up, mightn't you try announcing this stuff in, oh, February when no one gives a rat's !@#, instead of when even the freakin' no-neck American football fans are watching?--I'll say it again, and I'm not even Tom's dealer so it's not like I have a pony in this race: would you clowns let this boy race? He is the *least* of the peloton's problems, and doesn't anyone want anyone besides Cav to take a sprint so we limit how much we have to hear Cavendish wank to the press? Worse, you just made Quick Step drop this overgrown club kid into Monaco, home of some of the world's most decadent nightlife, while he waits to hear his fate--if you want him to stop with the coke, that's maybe *not* the optimal plan. Not to suggest he'll ever do anything wrong again--I'm just sayin'!

Update: And, he's in--now we're gonna have some sprints worth watching, baby!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Your Tour de France Preview, Part Trois; and, Bonjour, Scum!

Welcome back to your 2009 Preview yip-yap, dear newbies and oldies! Today’s installment: the climbers, always the best part of the Tour de France. You’ll note that they are also most of the GC contenders, plus some specialists—you can’t climb, you lose the Tour. So, onwards and upwards:

1. Alberto Contador (Astana): best acceleration of all the climbers right now, he just pops out like a champagne cork on the most excruciating gradients. He will take one or more mountain stages or I will say something really, really nice about Armstrong.

2. Lance (Astana): Historically not so much interested in winning the actual stage as gaining time on important rivals. Since he's still whining that he should've beaten Pantani a decade ago on the legendary Mont Ventoux, which he's never won, I imagine he'd like to take that. Ventoux is the penultimate stage this year so it oughta be a GC nailbiter right up to the Champs-Elysees. I still hope Carlos kicks your !@# on it though, Lance!

3. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank): best young rider at last year's Tour, he's a long gangly goofball with incredible endurance. Always a domestique til now due to his age/inexperience, he’s earned the right to go for it and will.

4. Carlos Sastre (Cervelo): defending champ, pure climber, not flashy but can attack so gently you don’t realize it til he’s too far up the road to catch. See, it pays to be small!

5. Levi Leipheimer (Astana): always in the front or at worst second group in the high mountains plus works like a dog for everyone else. We love Levi because he’s podiumed repeatedly at grand tours but still is not a pretentious jerk like he has the right to be.

6. Cadel "the Tick" Evans (Silence-Lotto) & Denis "" Menchov (Rabobank): Cadel's so darned earnest I can't help but like him, but he makes me insane on the climbs because he generally sucks off someone else’s wheel and can stay there but not much else. Menchov, by contrast, prefers to beat down his rivals psychologically by simply matching their every attack--he's really quite a sadistic little s.o.b. when you think about it.

7. Euskaltel-Euskadi: the Basque national team, all of them climb great (and with the exception of their sole sprinter, can't do anything else). You will always see their black-and-orange team kit in the highest, sharpest mountains and their crazed fans (the roadside mobs in orange t-shirts) are like Red Sox fanatics on steroids--lovable, but then it never hurts to have, say, an electric cattle prod around 'em in case you need it.

8. The missing: Mauricio Soler (Barloworld), former Tour de France King of the Mountains—dinky team wasn’t invited but this is a major outrage because he is the best climber in the world besides Contador. Also a rather bummed yet always smashing Samu' Sanchez (Euskaltel), whose team is making him skip the Tour to take his national Vuelta. Last but not least--Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), a perpetual GC contender who never ever lives up to his hype and who can’t race because he’s been banned in Italy due to the big Spanish doping scandal from 2006 (the Italian cycling authorities were mad their national hero Ivan Basso got nailed and banned for it while Valverde got off the hook, so they went after him in revenge this year) and the Tour crosses over into Italy for a stage. Don't worry Alejandro--like every reject who dopes his !@# out of the Tour, I'm sure you'll swing by to defile the beautiful Vuelta this year!

And We're Off!: finally, the Tour hasn't even begun, kids, and already we're hit with our first doping scandal--yep, child prodigy/Mozart-on-wheels (come to think of it, Mozart *did* take a lot of snuff) Thomas Dekker has come up poz for EPO via a 2007 sample and the UCI "I Told You We'd Get Someone You've Heard Of" biological passport and has been summarily tossed off the Tour team by Silence-Lotto, stripping Cadel of his only possible mountains man and prompting Silence to point out that, at the tender age of 22, Dekker was then actually a scum-cheat for Rabobank. Anyone else remember that Brady Bunch episode where the kids broke Carol's favorite vase playing basketball in the house and they glued it back together to fake her and Mike out, then at dinner the thing started springing leaks from 20,000 different holes? Yeah, that'll be Menchov when the narcs get done sticking holes in 'im. Ah well Denis--nothing a little duct tape (or reparative homologous blood doping) can't cure, I'm certain!

Which brings us to Anonymous' question, what's *with* this thing of freezing and retesting old samples til the end of time? Before anyone gets pissed off at me for being concerned about this, again, let me restate, doping bad and I hope they all get caught and they should all have to wear a scarlet "D" on their jerseys and be banned from the sport for all time and spit upon by the local children and roughly ejected from respectable nightclubs. But given that the last few years have been marred by EPO scandals, in a purely practical sense, do even the most morally righteous narcs (and I don't include those hypocrite enablers at UCI) want to go there? For my money, if we're gonna do this, we oughta go after the teams instead. Not to rabble-rouse, but Dekker just came up positive *now*--where did an untried 22-year-old get the dough, much less the connections for, the good stuff? And is anyone really buying this crap that when extremely valuable cash-cows were, say, disappearing for 5-hour roadtrips to a team-doctor university clinic on the eves between quite draining Tour stages their teams just assumed they must be delayed in the powder room primping (I mean, if it were the Italians, sure, but Patrik Sinkewitz)? Even if one does assume the teams, DSes, and everyone but the individual rogue cyclists themselves have been wholly in the dark, the on-the-ground implications are clear: at a minimum, we're gonna have to dig up freakin' Fausto Coppi before we come up with a rider we can be sure, truly sure, has been always, historically clean and who absolutely, unequivocally deserves a winner's jersey above all his compatriots. So why don't we hold the teams and their either doofus or nefarious management responsible, and concentrate on a tighter time frame? Both my faithful readers--what's your take?