Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Mean, This *Is* April Fools', Right?

Knights of the Round Table (And Their Sucker Soigneurs): remember all those stories about medieval English kings where some poor doomed bastard had to taste the food first to ensure that the lord high honcho didn't keel over poisoned from some wily assassination plot, only to himself die writhing in agony at his sovereign's sainted feet? Well, I'm still waiting for someone far less gullible than I to call bull!@#$ on this one, but is it me, or has Lance Armstrong finally veered off into certifiable coke-stuffed Columbian drug-lord territory by having enough A-Team goons, sniffer dogs, hermetically-sealed anti-tamper water bottles and double-secret-safeguards around him to grubstake the massive paranoia quotient of some reclusive tropical-forest megalomaniac cult leader ahead of not even the America-hatin' Tour de France but the freakin' harmless Tour of Flanders for !@#$'s sake? Hear those Rottweilers barking?--don't even *try* anything, Contador you twerp!

Smells Like Team Spirit: speaking of the Tour of Flanders, it's only a few short days away, and not only are prime contenders dropping from the start list like Spaniards from...oh, why get my !@# sued?, but Quick Step guru Patrick Lefevere is going on the offensive to malign his own multiple-champ Stijn Devolder as a pathetic weakling, Devolder's wasting valuable energy (1) protesting his maidenly virtue and (2) trying to keep his rather handsome contract into next year, and even the preternaturally amiable Fabian Cancellara is dope-smacking the boy for not being enough of a doormat for Tom Boonen in the race. Y'know, I want Boonen to win as much as much as anyone, but surely this dandy performance deserves more than a *total* beatdown from Lefevere?:

I'm In With The In Crowd/I Go Where The In-Crowd Goes: meanwhile, as you've no doubt heard, the Tour de France team list is out, and I gotta agree with the reject DSes who are going all psycho over it, it is *complete* crap that 2009 mountain stage winner Brice Feillu (now of Vacansoleil) is out. I mean, not to be disrespectful or nothin', but not only is he one of the few French riders not to decisively blow in the last several years, which in itself makes him and by extension his squad an exceedingly valuable commodity, but *Cofidis* gets in over these guys? What the heck kind of justice is that?

And Baby Makes Three: so with Cav's announcement that he's not going to ride the Giro--because, to be fair, like most young sprinters he outright sucks in the high passes--and Boonen already in, by my genius math that's *two* Europeans outside RadioSkank to make it the Tour of California, and, as neither are GC threats, so far as I can tell Levi Leipheimer can stay home on the couch drinking lite beer and scratching himself and still take home, as he always does anyway, the prize. Sigh. Oh, Levi, I'd have *loved* to see in your rightful place on a Grand Tour podium again this year--too bad Samuel Sanchez is already scheduled to kick everyone's !@# if he rides the Vuelta!

A Friendly Plea to Our Pretty Pretty Pink Pals at Lampre: last but not least, a mild request for a bunch of Barbie lookalikes: you've got your ProTour license, NOW HIRE GILBERTO SIMONI FOR ONE LAST GIRO !##DAMMIT! Admit it, guys--it's not like Cunego's gonna take it anyway, is he? Aaaaiiiigggghhhhh! Aaaaiiiiggghhhh!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Punk-!@# Yap o' the Week

Me, Me, Me, Me, ME!!!!: now, I don't what the hell race *you* all were watching at Criterium International this weekend, but me, I saw heck-strong young RadioShack pro Tiago Machado take a really spectacular 2nd on the stage to boy-is-it-nice-to-see-the-French-all-not-suck-for-once Pierrick Fedrigo the day before the child also clawed his way to third on the overall, too. But if you were team leader/legend emeritus/noble nurturer of awe-inspiring future talent Lance Armstrong, in your 5-minute post-race press-orgasmatron with the fawning media so intent on capturing the brilliance and inevitable immortality of your every precious word that a mere mumble from you could make or break somebody for all human history, after a race you had no intention of being a contender in anyway, what *you* apparently saw worth noting that day was an in-depth exploration of your gastrointestinal problems, a thoughtful exposition of the weather, a detailed lecture on catching germs from little kids, and--in a truly Oscar-winning performance of total egomania--that "a couple of our boys were up front today." Generous! Man, just thank Levi Leipheimer for hauling your !@# up the Alps next July by kicking him straight in the nuts, whydontcha?

Millar Time: meanwhile, it was actually quite lovely to see the irksome ostentatious faux-wah-wah-king St. David Millar finally take a win, an interesting contrast given his post-doping tendency to blame the fact that he's basically stopped winning a damn thing because clearly everyone else but him is still on the juice (and giant bonus points to ever-diplomat we love Phil Liggett for delicately not pointing out the reason for the boy's loooooooooooong fallow period since then.) Not that I'm suggesting that the fact that he finally *is* winning means anything, particularly because Great Britain has notoriously plaintiff-friendly libel laws. I'm just sayin'. I mean I'm not saying nothin', nothin' you hear me!

An Encouraging Shout-Out to Tom Boonen: okay, he didn't win E3 Prijs, thanks to Flecha suckin' off him like a leech and Cancellara's perfectly timed attack. But he also hasn't been on a drug-fueled booze-blacked-out Ferrari-wreckin' bender this season, either, and he's really on fine form ahead of the big cobbles, so I think it's important he knows how very, very proud we are of him. You go, Tom--it's only a matter of time you big lug!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

California, Here I Come!

Dream of Californication: so as Tom Boonen gets ready to blast the cobbled Classics, he's already looking ahead to sunnier climes: yep, everyone's favorite studmuffinly comeback-gladiator is gonna take on the Amgen EPO tour of California along with great American we love Levi Leipheimer. Well, that's *one* good European rider for the ToC--any other takers?

No Schlecks in the Champagne Room: over in Holy Crap What is Happening to Poor Baby Schleck This Season? News, our curiously unsung 2010 maillot jaune threat is reassuring his freaked-out tifosi that despite his stomach problems he's on the mend and ready to hit the road at full force. For those of you who just can't wait to see him ride, check out this almost disturbing homage to Frank'n'Andy by his Italian fan club: Forza Andy--and watch out Contador in July!

My Little Runaway/A-Run-Run-Run-Run-A-Runaway: meantime, what's we still love lord of the climbs Joseba Beloki been up to besides his new DS gig with a smashing Basque youngster squad? Like you even care, which you will if you know what's good for you, but yes, like Whatsisface-With-The-Yellow-Bracelets before him, he's training to run the venerable New York Marathon this fall. Note to TV watchers: the wee woman in the crowd dressed in orange holding an "Americans for Euskaltel" sign and screaming "Aupa Joseba!" would be me. Go Joseba!

Jeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnsssssssss!: okay, I'm *still* crushed he's not gonna defend his perma-title at Criterium Internationale, but who won the stage today at the bitchin' Volta a Catalunya? That's right, it's Jens Voigt, baby!:

The Return of the Weasel: and, Riccardo "Don't Let the Door Hit You in the !@# On the Way Out, Sweetheart" Ricco' is officially back in the peloton, so how'd our climbing prodigy do in the hills at Coppi & Bartali the last couple days? Well, not so bad actually, and he had (or was forced into) the public relations sense to fawn over the help of his loving tifosi and team, but still, he couldn't quite pull off the win. To be fair (shut up! I am too), it's taken even the dreamy and far superior Ivan Basso a whole season to get back up to speed (and I bet Franco Pellizotti at least is hoping it'll take him a whole nother one), so perhaps we oughta give this sincerely apologetic wayward son a chance or two before we simply conclude that it's not that he made a "youthful mistake," it's that now that he's no longer on the juice, he simply sucks. Or not!

I'm Gonna Git You Sucka: finally, if anyone thinks that the Italians hunted down Alejandro Valverde in a vengeful bloodlust over their own riders' failure to escape from Op Puerto, you're damn right, honey, as anti-doping icon/cycling guru Ivano Fanini cheerfully opines that Valverde "got what he deserved" and that the once-implicated Alberto Contador, if he had any guts, would put himself at the Italian executioners' mercy as well. Boy, would I be eager to take him up on that one, Alberto--heck, even he thinks you're innocent, what've you got to lose?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Please Don't Hurt Me!

Mystery Press Release o' the Week: so Alejandro Valverde, one might surmise, oughta have as his absolute top priority keeping his dirty doping carcass in the peloton at the moment, but what's he doing instead? Inexplicably, issuing desperate press releases swearing, out of nowhere, that he did not so either rat out one of his own teammates to the narcs as being the owner of Operacion Puerto blood bag #18, previously linked to Valverde, when he was being tortured, I mean subject to advanced interrogation techniques, by the investigating authorities in order to save his own butt. Now, I don't know who Valverde could've ratted out that he'd have to be afraid of, but just looking at the 2006 team presentation photos it appears that Vladimir Karpets at least (who I have no reason to suggest ever ever did anything remotely wrong, so please don't hurt me either) is big enough to snap him in two...

Guess Who's (Not) Coming To Dinner?: so Team RadioSkank hasn't been invited to the Giro, and, depending on you believe, either the race organizers are massively offended over the team's high-caliber bail-out for the idiotically-rescheduled Tour of California and still annoyed over Armstrong wanking about last year's (ultimately cut-down) Milano circuit, and Johan Bruyneel tweeting cyclingnews they never even wanted to go to the stupid thing anyway. Me, I'm just as happy not to see Armstrong's giant publicity-whore machine demean this perfect race *again*, but man, can't Johan give Levi and Klodi *some* Grand Tour glories to look forward to, unless you count (as I imagine someone does) their fetching Lance his chamois creme every morning the equivalent of their collective giant bucket of Grand Tour podium finishes goddammit?

Who the Hell is Sacha Modolo?: well, I didn't know, anyway, 'til I saw him come in a rather astonishing 4th in the fabulous Milano-Sanremo yesterday, but here's a link to this young pro's FACEBOOK FUNS CLUB and his very fine, if barely begun, palmares. I assume we'll be seeing a lot more of this kid, at least if he doesn't Ricco' himself out of the running?

Sanremo In Review: speaking of Milano-Sanremo, I might as well should've saved the trouble of grossly mis-calling the race yet again, as intermittent bodily trainwreck/tenacious dexter Oscar Freire not only correctly assessed his chances for the race, but also called out the entire podium as well. Only woof: that no-one'd attack about the end, and big points to Pippo Pozzato and Philippe Gilbert (and didja see Thor right up there with the leading group?) for throwing down the hammer and taking some risks. Better luck next year, Cav and Edvald!

Vai Paolo!: all right, even without his wily presence to shake things up in the peloton, the retired Paolo Bettini's still a god, and with the tragic death of national coach Franco Ballerini the squadra azzurra is still, naturally, rudderless, so let's hope the rumors that Bettini's gonna take control are true. Forza Paolo--and really, could Italian cycling do any better than him?

(Criterium) International Male: finally, we all know it blows that Jens isn't gonna be riding and inevitably winning Criterium Internationale this year, tho' as Lance and Alberto are facing off for the first time since Tour de France 2009, and aren't even particularly considered contenders, it's not like anyone's gonna actually report who wins it anyway. The down'n'dirty? According to Johan Bruyneel, our delicate flower Lance is still recovering from illness, which means (1) Lance is on form, and is gonna clobber him; (2) Lance is on form, and still can't clobber him, so Johan's looking for a gentler excuse than "he's just better than I am now" or (3) Lance isn't on form, and Johan really doesn't want a bunch of crap over it from stupid Americans who expect him to win every time and beeyotchy Euros who always hope he doesn't. Me, you can guess where I'm aiming, but anyhoo, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, I do want to wish--and I'm sure you will as well-- Lance a full and speedy recovery from what's ailing him--after all, when Contador kicks the crap out of you in July and you're truly on top of your game, what could be more satisfying than that?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blood Is Thicker Than Water (Especially With All the !@#$ Valverde Pumps Into It)

Law and Order: so to the delight of UCI--which, having announced as its most recent anti-doping triumph nailing one of Pat McQuaid's grandkids for sneaking that extra Pop-Tart, could use some good news for once--the Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld Alejandro "Mainline" Valverde's Italian ban for the 2006 Operacion Puerto doping scandal UCI itself was too lame to bag him for, opening the door for a world-wide ban just in time for Alejandro to, according to his website, sic pretty much all of Spain on their hypocrite narco-enabler rumps and, likely, delay his actual worldwide full-stop until sometime after Jens Voigt abandons the peloton for retirement in 2023. No moss growing on that boy, for sure! Me, I actually find Valverde's lately steady, well-measured performances a lot more disconcerting than his 2006-era intermittent brilliance and multiple catastrophic meltdowns, but then, I'm sure that's just the magic of mood-stabilizers over the slickly calibrated daily manipulation of hormone levels, so I'm certain you'll all join me in wishing our Alejandro the very best of luck in the remaining 2 riding days of his career. Luis Leon Sanchez--here's your chance, buddy! 'Til then however, and just in case we really don't see him again, here's an enthusiastic tribute to Alejandro:

Side Effects: meantime, despite how pissed off the Italians are for Ivan Basso hitting the skids while Valverde pedaled away in smug security the last 4 years, am I the only one who's thinking that, if other countries start banning less-than-sparkling foreign riders willy-nilly for stuff with only the most tenuous connection to their own soil, they're gonna start losing all *their* star riders to outside cycling federations' personal vendettas at a truly scorched-earth pace? DiLuca, Petacchi, Basso, Sella, Scarponi, even the great Simoni, unless you accept unquestioningly as I do that he did indeed accidentally snor--I mean eat--those Peruvian candies his grandma sent him--let's face it, there's barely gonna be anyone left in the Italian peloton except Cunego, McEwen and Cavendish, and two of those guys ain't even Italian. Be careful what you wish for--you just may get it after all!

Mint Milano: over in Classics countdowns, the favorites are starting to eye each other quite closely, with McEwen gracefully bowing out as teammate/former champ Pippo Pozzato gets the Katusha nod, Pippo outing himself as a metrosexual and defending the long road to the line as "foreplay", Cav flat-out calling himself a goner on this one, Tommeke modestly assessing his own form and the Italians arguing over whether Lance (1) just there as some crap uncaring publicity stunt and (2)whether any of 'em even ought to care since any idiot knows Petacchi's the only cyclist who matters anyhow. Me, I've been pondering all week over which inevitably-losing underdog I ought to root for, with Petacchi ultimately getting my vote because Boonen's already won his first Italian race this season and he's been largely absent from the studmuffin fanzine headlines anyhow. Allez Ale!

Welcome Back, Wanker: finally, a hearty embrace back for Riccardo Ricco' to racing action, rejoining his compatriots at the fine Coppi e Bartali, one of the few races that weasel's been welcomed into so far this season and notably free of any of the huge list of riders who've indicated they'd rather like to slug him. Ricco', tho', is earnestly following the Official Ghost-Written Pat Apology o' Desperate Money-Grubbing Necessity, complimenting his team, his DSes, his mechanics, and the mother he cowered behind like a smack-talking over-precocious two-year-old when he got busted, and his loyal tifosi (both of 'em) are looking forward to our wee climbing rocket coming back and, drug-free, show the peloton who's who when he drags in on the autobus on the first climb steeper than your local playground speed-bump. Aw, Ricco', I'm sure you'll do just as great riding clean as you did when you were doping--just look at how David Millar has done! Oh, wait....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Contador's Hosed!

Uh-Oh: yep, it was a smashing (and for riders' bodies, oft-smashed) Paris-Nice all right, as Samuel Sanchez narrowly avoids a disastrous last-minute crash at the wheel of Christophe Le Mevel, Alejandro Valverde continues his creepy new ability to ride more than one day in a row without completely imploding physically and emotionally, Luis Leon Sanchez gets ready to take the Tour two years out, Voeckler violently yacks up defeat from the jaws of victory on the final day at the line, and race revelation/extreme Liquigas youngster Peter Sagan, whose previous palmares apparently consists of being the fastest kid on his 6th-grade paper-route, already ups his asking price for next season. But for my money, the most important thing out of Paris-Nice is this: I don't care what the hell Alexander Vinokorouv's gonna mainline from his musette at the feed zone this year, if he doesn't beat or drug Astana into form toute-suite, between Caisse Saxo Bank and yeah I'll damn well suck it up and admit it Radioskank even if Lance could barely pull of a ninth-place in South Africa this weekend, Alberto Contador is absolutely !@#$ed in July. Or am I the only one who noticed that the Kazakh laundry boy was the only guy in blue-and-yellow anywhere near our pistol-popping aging-ingenue after the first 5 km of the day? Too bad for you, twerp--I *told* you last winter to bail out of that hellhole!

DiLuded: and, just when you thought you'd heard the last of Danilo "Strawberry Shortcake" DiLuca, the disgraced catwalk master drops a bomb on Italian TV telling the interviewer he's just signing a huge honkin' Giro-bound contract with Lampre--like I needed another reason besides their jerking around Gilberto Simoni to be annoyed with 'em--only to immediately back off, one presumes under serious threats from pinstriped legal goons, and say that what he really meant was that he might have a new gig dusting the team bus for Vini Farnese. Nice save, Danilo--now back to Dolce & Gabbana for you!

Schlecks and the Sponsor: meantime, former Astana manager Marc Biver--who herded the squad through the glory days of some of the most voluminous doping pozes since Rock Racing got started--has confirmed that he's in talks to start up a Luxembourg-based gig with Frank'n'Andy. Bjarne, has your admission to winning your own yellow jersey in a dope-soaked haze clouded your mind--you can't find *anyone* to cough up the dough to keep everyone on board with your boys' collective reps?

War and Peace: so I'm lookin' at former Giro d'Italia winner/Tour de France aspirant Ivan Basso's Twitter feed, and thinkin' that, while our pretty principe is cheerfully going on about relaxing dinners with friends and the tranquil beauty of snowfall on branches, the real question here is still how long before a fist-fight--okay, more like a sissy-slap-fight, but I digress--between him and well-coiffed rival/teammate Franco Pellizotti, whose most recent source of irritation seems to be "why does that has-been-never-was Ivan keep getting more press coverage than I do no matter how many times I whomp him each season?" Well, *we* still love you, and your blonde highlights, Franco, so if being King of the Mountains and a truly rising Italian star of, y'know, actual cycling isn't enough for you, here's a little appreciation from your pals at racejunkie:

Did I mention you look just like Betty Grable in that photograph?

It's (Almost) Milano-Sanremo, Baby! last but not least, as Op Puerto refugee Michele Scarponi tears up the tarmac near the end of Tirreno-Adriatico--and I'm sure it's just the Wheaties he's been eating every morning--it's just 8 days and counting to Milano-Sanremo, with a Petacchi-Bennati showdown the big news, and poor achy Cavendish a mere afterthought, if that, for the bookies. Y'know, I wouldn't count Cav out yet, if indeed he's well enough to ride--no offense to Ale-Jet or wholly justified Italian national pride, but you really don't think he's a threat even with that head-as-big-as-his-ego out of whack?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!/

Everywhere You Go: dang, it's not enough that the blizzard conditions are wrangling half the riders into the pavement at Paris-Nice--where at least you *expect* the conditions to be crappy every day--but now even the boys at Tirreno-Adriatico (including Robbie McEwen, who poetically tweeted that he "crashed on my arse") are getting walloped by Mother Nature as the predicted snow turns into miserable slippy sleet instead? Those poor little peloton popsicles--someone, buy those fragile scrawny bodies a hot tub! Hmmm, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to switch the Tour of California to completely destroy any legitimacy or competition by rescheduling it at the same time as the Giro in May after all...

Bruised But Not Beaten: while we're yappin' Paris-Nice, I see Alberto Contador is recovering nicely from a nasty bruise that, thank goodness, wasn't so severe it'll inordinately screw up his Tour de France training, which is great, as Lance Armstrong has, for the second time in as many days, hit the airwaves to reiterate that the Tour is no biggie one way or another and if he doesn't win or even podium, who gives? Um, am I the only one who recalls him (1) stating approximately 85,000 times last season (and pretty damn frequently earlier on this year) that he only came out of retirement to win it in the first place and (2) shrieking like a toddler in full-on meltdown when he didn't? Just makin' sure all that meth hasn't *totally* affected my memory!

Bah(ati), Humbug!: yep, as the Euro peloton continues to welcome the most disgusting miscreants back into its grimy ranks with impressive regularity, 2006 Tour de France champ Floyd Landis joins ex-Rock racer Rahsaan Bahati's new gig, replete with the sort of child-friendly charity photo ops that just last season bought the comely Ivan Basso a big fat ticket to Liquigas. I don't know, Floyd, maybe if you just changed your citizenship to Spain or Italy...what's a little traitorousness to the USA, if it'd score you one last (lucrative) ProTour gig for old times' sake?

Shock and Awe: in UCI news, the billion-dollar bio passport program has now busted its latest high-profile star for doping: that's right, Massimo "Who the !@#$ Is That Guy?" Giunti. Next up, that teenager you always see around your neighborhood riding his BMX bike on the sidewalk while he's texting his buds gets record-breaking narco-sentence for that extra algebra-class Red Bull. Nice to see all your hard work's paying off in locking up the big boys, UCI!

From the Do As I Say, Not As I Do Department: speaking of UCI, as head honcho Pat "Dick" McQuaid--much like the same pain-in-the-!@# ten-year-old who starts meticulously quoting from the rules on the inside of the Monopoly box the second they start thinking they might lose--goes all Inquisition on any sap rider whose sponsor dares to ask the UCI well ahead of time if the new time trial bike they're planning on using gets an A-OK from the playbook fascists, a faithful reader kindly sends me this lively tidbit about our earnest stickler Pat: indeed, while still just a lowly cyclist himself, he deliberately broke the UCI rules and assumed a false name to ride a race in apartheid-era South Africa, thereby being not just a rules-defying naughty-boy and a callous enabler jerkface, but also getting his dirty self kicked out of the Olympics as a result. Sure, *much* worse to have an extra millimeter of carbon fiber on your stem--don't you feel better about being yanked off your bike at the sign-in, Alberto?

We Love Jens Gratuitous Video of the Day: oh, yeah, he's in yellow, baby--and what's more, since he's not defending his 656th consecutive Criterium International crown this year, he sez he's in it to win it:
We love Jens!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Psych-Out or Snake-Out?

Tell Me Lies/Tell Me Sweet Little Lies: okay, I'm not ordinarily one to psychoanalyze Lance Armstrong--unless pointing out that he acted like a whining backstabbing prima donna punk-!@# to Contador last July counts as analysis--but when curious articles start turning up on my legal news sites, even I'm seduced into taking notice, so here's the question: when Lance himself says that cycling is no longer his top priority and boy does he have a lot of other more important stuff going on right now, is he (1) psyching-out Contador by implying he's weak and planning on stealth-crushing him in the Tour instead, or is he (2)snaking-out making excuses in advance if he doesn't beat the child this year either? Recalling Lance's famous punking of Jan Ullrich by faux-bonking in the mountains then tossing him out the back like a drooly tissue, it could well be (1), but for my money, even if it is, it don't mean he ain't got (2) as his back-up plan! Either way, I actually don't see it as simple as Contador being younger'n'stronger'n' Lance (I ain't even gonna argue "smarter," tho' it's true as certain faithful readers have noted that he wasn't *entirely* stupid in the Tour last year) and Lance being a bone-creakin' mummified geezer. The fact is, even with Pereiro, Maxim Iglinsky's throw-down humiliation of the Italians at the Strade Bianche this weekend and psycho Vino's admirable certainty to get his troops in top shape and (unlike some team leaders we can think of) handsomely reward them for their efforts, much as it gacks me to say it RadioSkank is just so exponentially superior in firepower (not to mention more utterly psychologically whipped) that they may well be able to make up for Lance's dessicating body and new-found interest in other endeavors. Aw, rats--if that happens, it's gonna be a miserable craphole July in *my* happy sunshiny world!

I Believe in Miracles/You Schlecksy Thing (You Schlecksy Thing, You): meantime, as Bjarne Riis hits the suck-up circuit begging for a new sponsor, as if he ought to with that roster but then again it's true they don't have we love Carlos Sastre on board any longer so who can blame 'em except for Jens is a god so how they can toss him under the bus is beyond me, rumors are a-swirlin' that Frank'n'Andy are contemplating their own new squad for 2011, with Cancellara already under serious pursuit and, no doubt, a bucket of podiums in store. Frank, however, is coy to the press and dead-quiet on his Twitter feed, merely tossing out a warning to watch out for him at the Tour instead. Go Schlecks--either way, it's not like no-one else is gonna hire you if you bail!

Woo-hoo Jens! (Spoiler Alert): meantime, as Alberto gets ready to avenge his spectacular crack at last season's Paris-Nice, none other than we love Jens Voigt has recovered smashingly from his nasty bone-breaking tumble at the Tour and took an incredible 2nd in the prologue, no doubt a characteristically mellow lead-in to a humongous wad of peloton-pulverizing breakaways and Tour-stage slapdowns later this year. We love Jens!

Tweet o' the Week (alright, 3 weeks ago, who gives?): finally, if Robbie McEwen's frequent dope-smacking press cuss-fests and sporadic intra-sprint violence weren't already enough to make me love him of late, he's sure not holding back on his love affair with coward-weenie Riccardo Ricco', opining he's a "pieceofshit" and imploring him "justdon'tcomeback". Um, considering the Pocket Rocket's known tendencies to dismember his rivals 10 meters from the line, I mightn't get in his face at the pre-race sign-in, Ricco'...if your scumly presence don't get your team disinvited from all the rest of the races this year!