Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's Time to Hit the Pave', Baby!

"Hit" is Right: yep, it's been a traditionally beautifully balmy couple o' days in Belgium, as Het Omloop Neiuwsbladt and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne start off the smashing Classics season, as the boys whack the rocks like dominoes, beloved strongman Boonen gets thwapped with mechanicals with almost Hincapian regularity, zonked'n'filthy Tommeke, Nuyens, Posthuma and Pozzato head for the showers early, Robbie "Head-Butt" McEwen crunches his knee before he can whomp anyone upside the head with his helmet, and poor Stijn Devolder even gets smacked over by a flying garbage can in the monsoon. Anyone want to take bets on how long it'll take Contador to flee screaming rather'n take on the pave' with the big boys? Anyhoo, here's Juan Antonio Flecha attacking the field and humiliating the Belgians in the slop at Het Omloop:

A Gentle Reminder to the Fans: okay, fellow tifosi, we've sliced Thor Hushovd's arm off with a promotional cardboard tchotcke, let our dogs crumple the bikes of Tour de France like drooly tissues, thought the direct path of the surging peloton a lovely place to take a meandering summer stroll, and now we've decided that the best and most thoughtful way to get an action shot of Alessandro Petacchi winning a sprint is to clock him right off his bike and capture his bloody writhing form right in front of us instead: Now, can we try not to actually *kill* anyone at least 'til they've gotten their primary objectives for the season under their belts? Most appreciated, I'm sure!

Grey's Anatomy: in early-season body-count news, Rinaldo Nocentini's already out for the season with a couple of snapped leg-bones, Cunego's still in a full-body cast recovering from his traumatic boo-boos, and, even worse, Mark "Jaws" Cavendish's lost the first sprint of his life after an agonizing infection rots out a good dozen of his 8,000 razor-sharp teeth. Oh well, at least we know Stuey O'Grady and Oscar Freire are impermeable enough to survive even nuclear explosions like cochroaches, much less some toddler toothache or silly severed collarbone...that gives us *two* boys who'll make through 'til the end of the season, at least!

Woo-hoo!: all right, as you've surely heard and don't give a rat's tail-end about by now, the world of cycling has finally heeded my four-year-old plea and given we love Joseba Beloki, last heard sighing dejectedly over his hideous dissing, a new gig as a DS at Basque breeding ground Cafe Baque', where he'll presumably nurture the next generation of perfect tiny climbers. For those of you too new, or inexcusably oblivious, to the sport to remember dear Joseba, here's his monstrous Tour de France leg-snap, accompanied incidentally by the single greatest instance of bike handling in all human history at the hands of--yep, I'm givin' credit where it's due--Lance Armstrong: Now can anyone get we still love Roberto Heras another gig besides tottering around embarrassingly in clown-bike races, for heck's sake!?

Miss Manners He Ain't: meantime, as if the Vania Rossi/Riccardo Ricco' saga could get any more sordid with cowardly hightailing and accusations of baby doping,Ricco' manages to take the noble knightship of "wussmaster" to a whole 'nother level as his outraged big bro-in-law shouts that not only has the officious little geek been using training as an excuse to bail on his own son since the scandal broke ('cause we all know that it don't take Ricco' long to "train" a needle into his !@#), but he also had the remarkably fourth-grade lack of class to ditch poor Vania by a text telling her "I'm no longer in love with you, it's over." Am I the only one surmising there's going to be a good two dozen riders looking to shove this crybaby simp off the nearest mountainside on the grounds that he's not only a thieving cheat but a pathetic excuse for a pimply junior-high dork-boy? Damn, I'd rather watch Armstrong coverage than this stupid !@#$! Okay, maybe not Armstrong. Maybe the perpetually whiny St. David Millar could take up some airtime sobbing for the cameras instead?

Tweet O' The Week: finally, welcome to a new feature here on racejunkie, as this week's prize goes to we love Frank Schleck for this pearl in which he remonstrates Jakob Fuglsang for whining about his !@# and suggests a cure as well . Fascinating, but just perhaps a little *too* intimate to send out to even the less gossipmongering amongst the general public?

Monday, February 22, 2010

But You'll Look Sweet/Upon the Seat/Of a Bicycle Bui--What the !#@$ Do You *Mean* I Can't Use It?!

If You Build It, They Will Come (And !@#$% You): y'know, I'm generally not a tech fiend, or a particular apologist for monster conglomerate bike companies, but I gotta say that was a low-rent move by guys who can hardly wallow any lower as Specialized apparently spends hundreds of thousands of dollars developing a bitchin' new time trial bike unofficially okayed by UCI for teams like Astana and we love Jens Vogt's Saxo Bank, only to have it dissed by the authorities when Contador was already settling his rump into the saddle at the Volta a Algarve time trial. Moral of the story: unless Pat "Dick" McQuaid etches his signature on an iron-clad guarantee in your favor in blood, don't expect to come out unscathed. Heck, just ask Iban Mayo. Or Landis. Or Ullrich. Or....

The Alberto Contador Annoyance Reduction Project: okay, I give the boy massive credit for (1) constantly pissing off Lance Armstrong and (2) finally accepting--publicly at least--his Kazakh-goon-at-gunpoint contract misery with grace. And to be fair, every megastar must have his trademark--Cav his chest thump, Boonen his aw-shucks rump-flash for the cameras, Valverde the IV port permanently embedded in his !@#--so one can't begrudge him that. But is anyone else thinking that if that twerp persists in making that !@#damn "pistolero" gunshot motion every five seconds I'm gonna imaginarily grab the butt of his imaginary gun and imaginarily pistol-whip him upside the head with it 'til he actually screams for mercy? Find something else, already, you smirking punk!

Everybody Must Get Stoned: well, now that HGH is apparently (vaguely) detectable--so I guess all those little Italian climber-weasels are gonna stay wee--athletes the world over have a new bestest friend: yep, coming on down the pike, it's gene doping, baby! For my money, this is great. While we're at it, why don't we give the first round of that get caught a reduced ban if they'll agree to grow, say, a human ear on their backs for use in transplants like those freak scientists did to that mouse a ways back? Or goodness knows that hypocrite cheat Riccardo Ricco'd be more useful if we could genetically engineer 'im to produce a cure for the common cold...

Trouble in Paradise: meantime, over at Liquigas, which is having quite the whomping start to the season, sweetly reformed attempted-doper Ivan Basso is humbly noting that both the Giro and the Tour are well-suited to his characteristics and carefully laid-out, wholly pure training regimen, which means that, so far as I can tell, if fellow "Make Me a Supermodel" finalist/squadmate Franco Pellizotti really thinks he's gonna be allowed a crack at either one of 'em, the angel wings are coming off and Basso's gonna beat his Teen Beat bud into sniveling submission with his golden halo. Lookin' forward to May and July--who cares about Cadel or Alberto or Lance, the real drama's gonna be on the team bus!

Here Comes the Sun: finally, as the Italian press wigs out that Damiano Cunego has a boo-boo to the utter disregard of poor Laurens Ten Dam's far less serious crushed pelvis, it's the Volta a Andalucia, baby, as we love Oscar Freire makes it two at the Ruta del Sol: Sprint's around 5:30 in. Allez Oscar, and watch your !@# everybody else all season!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More, More, More/

How Do You Like It, How Do You Like It: well, that's now put a hideous 70s-era soft-porn song in my head, but even more disturbing than both that and Alejandro Valverde's stealthily positioning himself since the Vuelta as a stage-race-winner-without-a-stage-win in a brilliant if entirely hopeless attempt to somehow escape the notice of even the most dimwitted of cycling narcs is a surely very nice Velonews reader's impassioned plea to see more Lance Armstrong coverage in the magazine. With all due respect, ma'am, are you !@#$in' *nuts*? Every sports journalist in this country has already got the One's face tattooed on his !@# and the only TV coverage you're ever gonna see here is of whatever race Lance is using as a nose-picking exercise ahead of the Tour this season and I guarantee you he'll still be getting more air time than not only the actual winner of the race but also if the greatest cyclists of the 20th century simultaneously popped back from the dead climbed onto a bunch of Bianchis and personally beat the crap out of Tom Boonen on the pave'. Please, please don't make this sick slimy orgy any worse, dear lady--can't ya just buy a photo spread of him suckin' on his latest sweetie in People magazine instead?

When Nature Calls: gee whiz, is Team Sky off to a rocky start, as controversy continues over whether the peloton intentionally dope-smacked the squad at the Tour of Oman by leaving poor team leader Edvald Boassen Hagen swinging in the breeze at a nature break by amping up the pace in a gross breach of gentlemanly urinary etiquette. Was it a cold attempt to put these obnoxious upstarts in their neophyte place? Revenge for earlier feed-zone imbroglios? If so, why was Sky putting on the hurt for their own boy as well? These and many other crucial questions can, one hopes, be answered in the future without a bunch more graphic details, or even better, on the road, as Sky's early-season perceived arrogance and the other teams' ongoing retaliation could make it a welcome distraction from the sexier, more profitable, and distinctly more annoying Armstrong/Contador rivalry. Come to think of it, keep wanking about everyone else, Sky--this could really help make this season more bearable!

Sign Simoni !@#dammit!: meantime, as if Damiano Cunego didn't already get on my nerves enough, *two*-time Giro d'Italia champ Gilberto Simoni is *still* waiting for those lazy anal-retentive slugs over at UCI to gack up their inevitable ProTour license to Lampre, which, he promises, is the only thing keeping him from formally inking a deal and riding his final Giro, in which he will, I dearly pray, ride up behind that traitor wussmaster troll Riccardo Ricco' and kick his scrawny needle-pricked posterior off the side of Passo Fedaia for the little weenie's complete taking-for- granted of Simoni's magnanimous mentorship. Dang, UCI, half the teams you already approved are either more incompetent or drugged-up than the boys in bubblegum pink and turquoise, and you're freaking out over some stupid accounting problem? Pony up for heck's sake you hypocrites!

I Guess Fashion Week Ain't Going So Well: finally, despite extremely jazzy graphics and a Who's Who of dope-soaked Euro flotsam, Rock Racing still couldn't score a Continental license over such dubious outfits as Team !@#-End of Nowhere and How Do You Ride This Thing Again?, leaving Floyd Landis, already having what one imagines to be an unpleasant week indefinitely postponing any travel plans to the Land of Effete Bitter Crybabies Actually Pissed About Something Else Entirely, officially hosed. On the plus side, while Rock's jeans remain a disgusting poseur ripoff, those fearsome-yet-dazzling Halloweeny neon skull jerseys are likely to go on big hackin' sale. Back off that clearance rack, beeyotch--$5 sez that team kit's *mine*!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Floyd Landis, International Man of Thievery

Allegedly!: yep, he's officially a man on the lam: a French judge has issued an arrest warrant for disgraced 2006 Tour de France champ Floyd Landis, theoretically because Floyd's coach--they don't even *seem* to be alleging it was actually him--purportedly hacked into the AFLD lab's computers and downloaded a bunch of documents that made, unsurprisingly, the protocol-mangling lab chimps who handled his samples look a huge wad of desperate biased incompetent morons, and Floyd, even more unsurprisingly, didn't feel like dropping into Paris to have a chat about it. Way to go, France--so timely, too! Of course, as a legal ween myself, I admire the judge's insistence on proper procedure, and certainly, it's exceedingly naughty to steal from one's opposing party, so the rule of law must be upheld. But let's cut to the chase, shall we, and the reason we all know perfectly well is *really* behind this--French cycling sucks, and you're just hoping all to hell that no-one who remotely cares about cycling is gonna notice it. Wrong! Look, arrest Landis, throw him in the Bastille with a pack of rats with flea-infested linen for a loincloth and a moldy scrap of baguette for a daily meal if you want--it still ain't gonna change the statistical fact that your boys haven't won a Tour de France since Bernard Hinault in '85, and judging by how he's systematically tackled erstwhile podium protesters the last two years with an athletic finesse even your current occasional stage winners can't halfway muster, he's *still* your next best chance for an actual overall win. But you keep issuing warrants, honey--at least it'll keep you guys occupied for the next good quarter-century it'll take you to put up a local on the top of the final podium in Paris!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow--Not!

Like a Schoolboy In Summertime--No Class: Yes, in an exceedingly early lock for the prestigious Racejunkie Tool o' the Year Award--and let's face it, in this sport, that can be one hot competition--it's none other than Riccardo "Captain Morality" Ricco', who ran shrieking and crying behind the team kit of his 'cross-rider fiance/baby mama Vania Rossi for succor and, more the point, protection immediately upon his pathetic doping poz at the Tour and has now, in her own CERA-suckin' hour of need, ditched her like a clandestine used-up nut-rank testosterone patch on the roadside. Quoth (roughly) our brave knight, apparently terrified that his fair lady is going to besmirch his unblemished reputation for noble fair play: "I'm disappointed in my partner and there can't be a reconciliation between unless as long as Vania doesn't show her complete noninvolvement in the accusations that were made against her." Classy!

Want Fries With That?: speaking of Ricco', I see his fellow former cheat-weasel Bernhard Kohl has at least decided to make *himself* a late-to-the-party asset to society by the wholly admirable venture of opening a by all appearances very handsome bike shop back at home, from which he plans to watch the Tour de France and, one hopes, provide a serious lesson on true redemption to aspiring racers and carefree tots alike. Ricco', I fear (tho' not without some pleasure, 'cause I'm soulless), will soon be relegated to the less glamorous among the full-time retail gigs by virtue of his sheer odiousness, in which case, rather'n manning the Fryolator in the local McRatEntrails, he might best be suited to scrubbing the bagno. Ah well, Ricco', at least you'll get to wear those cute little paper hats!

Thor Hushovd Is a God (No, Seriously, Bow, You Peon!): meantime, in a rather pointed, if inadvertent, contrast to last season's "How To Eat Your Own Young For Fun and Profit" Astana debacle, we love Thor Hushovd and we're-still-slightly-irked-at Heinrich Haussler have found a happy balance between their competing talents over at Cervelo, with Haussler further attaining coolness by complimenting Hushovd and Sastre for being effective team leaders without also being "!@#holes." All right, Haussler, maaaaaybe we'll all have to forgive you for woofing up the team time trial this week--just don't !@#$ over Thor at Roubaix!

In Memoriam: finally, tomorrow marks 6 years since the great, troubled Marco Pantani's death, and as we join pretty much all of Italian cycling in remembrance, let's recall just how truly fearsome he was on the bike:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Qarnage in Qatar

Boulevard of Broken Collarbones: holy crap, it's only a half-week into the season on a totally dry course and already these guys are breaking their bodies like it's a sleet-driven day on the cobbles at Paris-Roubaix--can you imagine what's gonna happen when these poor saps *really* hit that !@#$? Except Stuey O'Grady of course, who'll still be blowing across the line 10,000 years from now when he's actually been clinically fossilized and encased in a tar pit like a wooly mammoth. Man, I know these boys are just shakin' the long off-season out of their legs, but please, let *someone* half worth watching still be upright for the races that are *really* worth killing yourself over!

What Is So Freire As a Day In June?: a victory this early in the season, that'w what, baby, as both the fabulous Oscar Freire and the suddenly resurgent Alessandro Petacchi are already taking their first (Freire's) and gazillionth (Petacchi's) sprints o' the year. Since I'm normally deeply annoyed by the other sprinters' constant braggadocio, and last season was particularly lame to watch with Cav just slaughtering everyone (except Thor of course), it's actually nice to see some action this year amongst the same crew who were just clearly utterly psyched out in 2009 by the studmuffin o' speed. Allez Ale--and Oscar and Tyler and Thor, natch!

Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom: meantime, speaking of fast men on the rebound--and let's hope our boy stays that way--here's a lately-glum Tommeke taking his own victory at the Tour of Qatar:

Sky's the Limit: on the subject of Qatar, it was really cool that Sky snagged the team time trial and all (nice work hosing Cervelo, Haussler!), *must* Brad Wiggins have been such a punk-!@# about it to ex-BFF Garmin? Look, normally I really like him--particularly since he's been relentlessly smacking around that unctuous crybaby hypocrite St. David Millar all over--and I'm genuinely rooting for Sky, as it's rather a blast to see a new Brit squad try to take down the usual unbeatables in their first season out. But especially after you did bail on these guys at the last possible moment, was it necessary for you to be such a wench after the stage? Show some class, say you're sorry, and go back to playing nicely on the swings--after all, who's to say your new squad won't need your old pals' help at the front some day?

Product Pimp o' the Week: no, I'm not getting paid for this, tho' for the record (and the wallet) I *do* accept bribes, but Dave Zabriskie's chamois cream for the ladies is out, apparently without the "tingling sensation" that has caused both joy and consternation for the gentlemen. Happy (and chafe-free) riding to all!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Requiescat in Pace Franco Ballerini

Cycling's lost a huge talent: Italian National Coach Franco Ballerini, who led Mario Cipollini, Paolo Bettini and most recently Alessandro Ballan to gold in the world championships, passed away today after a rally car crash in Italy.

He was a great champion in his own right, having won Paris-Roubaix in 1995 and 1998 as well as being a repeat podium finisher.

Condoglianze al ciclismo e Italia!

Here he is on the podium at Roubaix in 1998:

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dave Zabriskie Kicks !@#!

Quote o' The Week: all right, we already know Dave Zabriskie rocks for snagging stages in all 3 Grand Tours and making an eponymous chamois cream that, I've heard tell from reliable sources, works medical wonders on a gentleman's sensitive areas. But what *really* makes Dave Z kick !@#, at least this week, is a smashing interview on team leadership in which he opines of his methods with underlings, "I'm not going to tell them what to do in the fashion of an asshole." Now, I *know* the boy is reputed to be entirely too nice to do this, and perhaps I'm just a raging soulless sleazemeister (shut up!), but please, *please*, let this be a slag at who I think it is! Or at least the second little fascist I can think of. Either way, underhanded, discreet, perfect. You go, Dave!

The Sting: speaking of Armstrong, I see the oddsmakers are already taking massive bets for the Tour de France, as Quick Step Guru Patrick Lefevere, in addition to slagging Cav for being a classless ape, joins Bjarne Riis in proclaiming that, barring mishap to Alberto Contador, there's no way that dessicated mummy can, even with the absolute boot-on-the-neck subservience of his all-star slave squad, take the child out at the Tour. Y'know, I gotta confess, even *I'm* not all that sold on that yet--let's face it, even with that revenge-driven psycho Vinokorouv to set the pace, split the pack, and humiliate the ASO, and the dog-loyal hard work of good-sport Oscar Pereiro, Team Astana this year is still no RadioSkank, and it's not like, given the raw materials the boy's brain has to work with, it's gonna take a lot of mind (Lance) over matter (Contador) to make the dif. Of course, tho' I'll personally be rooting for baby Schleck and Samu' Sanchez to stomp 'em both, I'll be more than happy when my fears are proven unfounded, so allez allez Alberto--it's the only thing that'll make watching the 24/7 Tour de Lance coverage half-bearable!

Jeez Louise, Boonen, Didn't We Cover This in Your Image Rehabilitation Project?: okay, maybe not expressly, but ya shoulda known, ya big doofus, that while Mark Cavendish may *be* a wanker--tho' I admit to being just a little bit besotted with him of late ever since he called Riccardo Ricco a "parasite"--it does *not* help your sorely-needed newly-restored sainthood to call him *out* for being a wanker. !@#$, Tommeke, would he have more "character" you can respect if he jammed a rolled-up dollar bill and a bucket of blow up his nose? I *know* you're pissed it's tough to take him head to head in a flat Grand Tour sprint, but he'll never be half the Classics man *or* half the rakish lovable charmer that you are--you're Belgian anyway, dopus, besides your omnipresent swooning entourage of panty-tossing arm-candy wannabes, what the hell more could you possibly want than eternal pave' god-status? Oh, and if you *or* your boss Lefevere think you're gonna beat out Thor Hushovd for the green jersey come July, keep dreamin', punk--did you even *watch* him at the Tour last year when you were coming off your two-year bender?

And We're Off!: lastly, as Liquigas and a rejuvenated Benna-jet get ready to take on the rest of the speedsters in Qatar, my thoughts turn to something totally irrelevant: what the !@#$ is going on with Lampre and we love Gilberto Simoni? Sign him, already, you twisted freaks, if for no other reason than to give the press something else to yap about in May besides Ivan Basso--you *really* think you're gonna get better sound-bites outta Cunego?