Monday, May 31, 2010

Tips From the Lance Armstrong Playbook; And, Good Luck With That Training Camp, Honey!

It's a Cruel (Cruel!)/Cruel Summer: yes, dear reader(s), the glorious Giro d'Italia is behind us, and it's back to the rest of the sleaze, passion, and triumph that marks the run-up to the 24/7 Lance Armstrong orgasmatron that will be the 2010 Tour de France. So what's the first piece of good news? That's right, o' underrated Contador companion Luis Leon Sanchez--Op Puerto wonderskeez Alejandro Valverde's finally been busted by the big boys, so the Caisse d'Epargne captaincy is yours! The ill-used Alejandro, of course, has come out guns blazing with the help of his cash-cow-lovin' squad, trumpeting, as revered mentor-in-dissembling-scumwadliness Lance has done almost daily for years, that he's Never Tested Positive In His Life. What, he gets bonus points for being a particularly successful doping dirtball? On the other hand, I've been thinking of late, with the riders so generously laying out the Greatest Guide Ever to the beating the now completely-useless biological passport, that really what we ought to be doing is banning riders that test poz from now on for their unvarnished and now inexcusably lame stupidity rather'n any actual cheating offense. In that case, you *go*, Alejandro!

I Heard a Rumor: meantime, wholly unsubstantiated word on the pave' is that even *more* of Lance's oppressed little minions are selling him out to the narcs, which, though in my eyes unlikely to derail the Tour de France prospects of the Noblest Rider Ever--in no small part thanks to the care and protection of the Greediest Most Obsequious Fame-Suckin' Enabler Industry Ho-Bags Ever--certainly could, if coming from someone slightly more reputable than Floyd Landis (and that's a dirt-low standard to begin with), perhaps contribute to a "catastrophic stomach ailment" for Lance sometime during the Tour de France itself, particularly if, even with by far the most formidable and psychologically-crushed team in the race, it looks like he's gonna get his !@# beat by that arrogant little twerp Contador again. Ow, something I ate seems to have suddenly disagreed with me--didn't I *tell* my soigneur I oughtn't've deliberately eaten that bag of prunes last night after I heard that nasty L'Equipe story was about to come out?

I'm Your Venus/I'm Your Fire/At Your Desire: in other Tour and Giro news, joyously reinstated dreamy-eyed pinup king of Italy Ivan "I Can't Believe How Perfectly My PR Campaign Worked" Basso has completely ditched the "I'm so looking forward to being a domestique for Franco Pellizotti in the 2010 Tour de France" crap, firmly putting Franco of the Euromullet back in his wannabe place even as a supportive Liquigas shepherds their quasi-discredited other Adonis to the pre-Tour training camp. Y'know, as if I didn't love Gilberto Simoni enough for rightly dope-smacking Basso as a drug-snarfing "extraterrestri" in 2006 when everyone just thought he was being a sour-grapes beeyotch, on the very eve of his retirement Gibo's bagged his recent maudlin diplomacy again, this time calling bull!@#$ on St. Ivan of Varese's angel-winged comeback by saying (very roughly): "Basso is a phoney nice guy. He behaves like a choir boy, but he isn't. Back then he did even worse things that flick me. His doping throw mud on the whole of Italian cycling." Aw, I'm sure Basso won clean this time--but I still love you Gibo, and thank you for a wonderful career!

Jeez, It's Not Enough the *Riders* Dope?: finally, when I first read it on tuttobiciweb I thought it must just be that my Italian skills sucked, but while that may yet be the case, it *is* also true that there's a new kid in town to displace those annoying back-alley drug deals and bothersome EPO injections: bike doping. The latest accusee: beloved time trial god/multiple Monument champ Fabian Cancellara, called out for (and vigorously denying) purportedly jacking up his ride by unlawful mechanical means and thus far outperforming those ProTour saps stuck with some crappy $10,000 steed. For !@#$'s sake, people, are we gonna have to start making the frames out of clear lucite from now on like some $2-stripper pole-dancing hooker heels? Me, I highly doubt the charges--heck, Fabian's 3 feet taller than the average cyclist already, he can intimidate anyone out of trying to challenge him just by standing next to their scrawny little bodies! Anyhoo, here's how it's supposed to work:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Feelin' the Love, Baby!

Get Your Mortirolo Runnin'/Head Out on the Highway: yes, tho' it crushes me to say, we're down to the last few days of the Giro, dear readers, as Carlos Sastre gets ready to brutally beat down St. Ivan of Varese and Cadel Evans (shut up! will too! at least on Sunday's stage when they're not expecting any snow I hope) on the feared Mortirolo, and Ivan and Cadel get ready to slug it out for GC over two ugly mountain stages as their revered mutual trainer Aldo Sassi, currently battling a brain tumor, roots for both his boys he swears are clean. Me, I'm almost inclined to agree--as a local wiseacre has opined, even with his recent world-champ power surge, "Cadel's just too boring to dope." Anyway, forza Sastre--and watch out for a late attack by Gibo!

Run!/Run Away!/Run Children/Run For Your Life!: meantime, the Most Hated Man In America continues to get it from all sides--from the understandably enraged believers who shelled out dough for his crap book or legal defense to the Lance-lovin' doping (oops, anti-doping) agencies desperate that this year's Tour de France not be !@#$ed with--which just goes to prove two things, kids: (1) no good deed goes unpunished, particularly if you've got weaselly ulterior motives, and (2) if you're gonna accuse a guy like Lance Armstrong of anything, you'd better have a more incredible run, and a more sympathetic charity to sell, and frankly, one taken-back Tour win over a decimated second-rate field, and a bull!@#$ repository o' personal "fairness" funds (whose website, curiously, seems to be offline at the moment) just don't cut it. Ah well, Floyd, live 'n' learn--and, not to think ill of others, but if I were you, I sure wouldn't leave my house from now on without a bulky steroid-stuffed goon entourage!

Good News!: and, good news for you, Mark Cavendish--Andre "Shit Race" Greipel, who took the final sprint in the Giro d'Italia today, would like to stay with HTC-Columbia next year. Of course, with squads like Quick Step begging to up their sprint power and Andre free to be on the market, anything could happen, but then again, with a relationship like you two have, Mark, I bet the boy couldn't even be pried away, much less be seduced by some shabby little pay raise and some paltry top billing. What, you're not popping open a bottle of champagne?

You're So Vania: over in doping-appealsville, I see cyclocross champ/EPO poz-with-subsequent-sorta-negative-B-sample/Riccardo Ricco's spawn-mama Vania Rossi is up against the Italian narcs on June 4, and I gotta say, I'm inclined to feel some sympathy here. I mean, doping for a Tour de France stage and the truly obscene amounts of cash your new contract is gonna get you, I understand--but a freakin' *'cross* rider on the no-credit women's circuit? What the hell benefit could she possibly have been aiming for, a window seat while stuffed in the back of the team Citroen with 6 other teammates on the 1500-mile ride to the next race? It just don't make *sense*, honey! Of course, if easy access leads to temptation, well, at least til Ricco' dumped her at the first sign of trouble, *there's* the apple in the Garden for ya...

What the !@#$ Is Wrong With You, Lampre?: all right, you *did* hire the great Gilberto Simoni to ride one last Giro and remind everyone that, of the two Giro winners on your squad, only one of 'em's done it twice--between that, and the Princess Bride uniforms that recall my fondest tot-hood dress-up adventures, I *am* appreciative. So why the !@#$ are you charging $46 US for his bitchin' new book "Gibo d'Italia" on your website? I'm not saying I won't pay it, once I pimp a kidney on the black market, as Amazon appears not to have an Italian outlet--I *am* saying that just flat sucks. Free Gibo's new book you bloodsuckers!

Oooooh-Whooooah Sweet Child o' Mi-ine: finally, nice job Floyd Landis breaking the heart of a wholesome young tween who ought to be sighing over pictures of that vampire guy right now, as this faithful girl comes to the defense of Lance Armstrong *plus* you made her dad use the swear word "jerk" in very range of her innocent ears:
I feel your pain, little sister--but I still think...oh, why set myself up for a lawsuit from the One?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Hope He's Clean, I Hope He's Clean, I Hope He's Clean; and, Bravo il Grande Simoni!

Please Say It's So, Basso!: First, compliments to Carlos Sastre for gallantly and wholly intentionally allowing Cadel Ivan and Nibali to reclaim their dignity by getting 2:30 on him on the stage to Monte Grappa and Ivan to take Zoncolan and get ahead of him on GC today. Shut up! Second, much as I'm used to being grossly disappointed and deeply disgusted by every scum-snorting drug-sucking dirty-pig cheat-wank I've ever admired in the peloton, and much as I despised in particular St. Ivan of Varese's incredibly smarmy and coldly calculated image rehab from his post-Op Puerto "attempted doping" (and right there that continues to piss me off), I must confess that in today's beautifully agonizing stage I rediscovered, in the Ivan-of-2006's elegant reserve, relentlessly smooth turning of the pedals, and--for the first time--visible effort scratched into his face, and in Cadel's painfully workmanlike drunken-sailor rocking on the bike, the sheer sense of romance and impossibility that drew me into the sport in the first place and made me squiggle precariously under a pride of humungous hulking Germans on Passo Pordoi for a tiny picture of Ivan's head, and found myself absolutely caught between longing and cynicism. Ivan, *please* say you did it clean this time--give us poor bastards who follow cycling *some* hope!

Grazie Gilberto Simoni!: no, he didn't take Zoncolan--by a huge wad of riders ahead--and yes, I'm crushed. But in his dotage he's become a perfect gentleman (okay, sue me, I still hope he rips Basso one more time for old times' sake), and here's our class act and two-time (that's *two*, Cunego!) Giro god on his final trip across the line on the mountain he's already conquered so beautifully twice: Bravo Gibo dei tuoi tifosi americani, sei veramente un mito!

The Loathsome and the Odious: in other news, in the wake of Floyd Landis' oddly sudden crisis of conscience (and, not to be petty, he needn't have given me the Stare of Death last year at Interbike, particularly since I spent half of 2007 *defending* (at least on procedural grounds) his dirty doping !@#), repugnant enablers UCI and WADA have already made it clear what they're willing to do to keep the Armstrong legend going, braying the Lance party line that "he's never tested positive" and "there's no proof." UCI, cut the crap! Since when does that matter to you guys? The entire bio passport, for example, is based on the premise that the rider never tests positive. And you're still going after Giro-barred dreamboat Franco Pellizotti, as well as a half a dozen other minor players, aren't you? So either throw the bio passport out entirely and demand reputable A & B samples before any sanction is issued, or stop punishing riders for !@#$ you can't even show they did. Oh, *I* get it--it's *who* doesn't test positive that counts, now *whether* they test positive. Yep, you've convinced me you really care about eradicating doping by everyone! Credibility much, you dissembling weasels?

Quote o' the Week: finally, in addition to we love Dave Zabriskie's second on GC at the Tour of California today, he gets gigantic points for this masterful quote on learning that Floyd Landis (whose recent accusations about Lance have apparently been corroborated by the One's ex-wife) had slithered briefly into the sidelines at the ToC to apologize to an over-gracious Greg Lemond for his associate's boozy threat to presumptuously out a painful episode in Lemond's life and, one imagines, to take a nice long look at what he lost through his own venality: "He's here, really? Tell him I said hi. How's he doing?" How can you *not* love Dave Z?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What Else?! Landis, Lance, and Lies

All right, you heard it: Floyd Landis has 'fessed up to being a lying doping bottom-dwelling estrogen-sucking scum-weasel and, at a minimum, pimped Lance, George, Levi, and Dave to the narcs. Anyhoo, kids, there's buckets to cover, so let's get to it:

The Motive: Ticked off we're no longer winning, are we? That, or I'm going for the Bitter-Betty triumvirate of (1) I need the dough from my next book (2) I'm still pissed I got caught and (3) I'm still really, really pissed Lance didn't. While honesty for any reason in the matter of doping is arguably a good thing, wah !@#$in' wah! Look Floyd, I'm sure you *are* telling the truth at this point. And I stand by my original assessments that (1) you still would've won that Tour stage--if not by that much--because the peloton completely misjudged the day and (2) you were subject to a total farce-meister monkey trial. But y'know, a *lot* of people both put up whole websites defending your sorry nonexistent integrity and donated actual hard-earned moolah to your bull!@#$ Floyd Fairness Fund. If you've got an ounce of self-respect left, don't you think you owe them (1) an apology and (2) their cash back?

The Reaction: honestly, if I had to watch one more oily second of that smug priggish self-adoring wanker I was gonna spit, but here goes: "it's our word against his word. I like our word. We like our credibility." Of course, Lance--you're a saint no-one feels comfortable criticizing for obvious reasons *and* a national icon to a country full of football fans who couldn't tell a peloton from a pedophile. Plus, like, you've nailed a rock star, man! The fact that a huge percentage of your domestiques turned up dirty after leaving your spotless kingdom just shows they lost their morals as soon as they left you. Be real, you "like" your legal team, honey--and with what you can afford, who wouldn't? Johan Bruyneel, of course, chimed in with a smirking "he needs to seek professional help." Um, Johan, he apparently *did*, tho' not the kind you're suggesting--isn't that precisely the crux of the problem? As to UCI's Pat "Dick" McQuaid, stop the presses! He's in deep selective enabler protectionist mode, zealously guarding his unimpeachable multi-year cash-cow from any aspersions no matter how true they may actually be. Way to clean up the sport, Pat "Dick"!

The Future: fine, you're all skanks, except for the cyclists I like, who, if dirtbags, were all cruelly manipulated by omnipotent egomaniacal selfish forces entirely beyond their puny helpless minion control. And frankly, if you're not gonna have the (male or female) stones to pony up right off the bat--or at least go into instant !@#$-you-hypocrites attack-dog wingnut Vinokourov mode--I am calling today for an immediate return to the brief-lying-denial-and-immediate-dignified-omerta of the ol' Roberto Heras/Jan Ullrich days. Why? Yes, it's disgusting, so before I hear a damn word let's cut the straight-edge granola-eating kumbayah crap about how everyone should truly feel remorse for their treachery. But what it *ain't*, at least, is a bunch of sniveling maudlin crybaby crocodile-tear Oprah-episode con-artist sob-whining about how sorry you are and how terrible you feel and how you're gonna devote your life to setting an example to the youngsters by riding clean and saving whales and kissing starving moppets and creating an endangered butterfly preserve on your team bus. I just can't stand to hear it. Look, you're sorry you got caught, and enraged that every other guilty needle-sticker you know is doing it wasn't. That's human. I understand. So either man or woman up with no excuses, or shut the !@#$ up already!

The Fallout: unless UCI suddenly develops a spine and Lance contemporaneously develops a career-and-Tour-ending "stomach ailment," I'm guessin' nothin' except a giant wad of defamation suits. Better get that "Fairness Fund" back up and running, Floyd, no?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Giro d'!@#damn *Right*, Carlos!

*That's* How It's Done, Baby!: man, bad enough that it's now 11 stages into the Giro without a single Italian stage win and the press and tifosi are going bonkers--now, we get to watch damn near every one of the favorites go off on each other over today's catastrophic collective meltdown and dear little Sastre's smashing vault back into GC contention. Vinokourov? Scornful--he wasn't about to work his !@# off for Basso and Nibali, particularly if they were too lazy or stupid to do it themselves. Liquigas? Whining--Astana didn't honor the maglia rosa and they weren't gonna domestique for Vino either. Cadel? Surprised, but to his gentlemanly credit, not an ass. Cunego? Blaming the guys on race radio for not telling 'em Sastre was up ahead. Carlos? Typically modest. Oh, right, some other guy actually won the stage, like it matters. Let's review, shall we? Woo-hoo Sastre!

You Suck, Vs.!: Look, Versus. I can overlook the fact, because it's presumably not your fault and because I will forgive people who employ Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen for damn near anything short of cuddly-big-eyed-puppy torture, that I spent two hours of my life that I'll never get back the other night watching snore-inducing footage of an empty finish line because the coverage of the actual road race crapped out entirely. And as for yesterday, I *like* hockey--hell, I was a devoted child fan of the Hanson Brothers from "Slapshot." But it's 2k to the finish, the gap to the leaders is still shrinking, and you tell me that because of some dumb!@# NHL playoff I'm supposed to watch the gut-clenching last few moments of the race on the website? What kind of !@#$in' stupidity is *that*? Do you know what happens in the first two minutes of a hockey game? Squat, the players haven't even had time to get in their inaugural sucker punch yet--get your priorities straight, you pandering freaks!

We Love Jens!: over in Toura California news, I'm delighted to see we love Dave Zabriskie grab a stage, but for my money, what's *really* bitchin' is the New York Times of all papers paying due obeisance to Jens Voigt, if only for his impressive bounce-back from his gory face-plant at last year's Tour de France. Plus, he's already attacking like a madman, and it ain't even July. You go Jens!

Release the Hounds!: finally, sincere condolences to family and friends of the RadioSkank team car mechanic, apparently first treed and then devoured by a pack of 100 rabid hunting beagles on Lance Armstrong's orders after taking an unheard-of 50 seconds for a bike change at the Amgen EPO Tour of California yesterday. Let the tattered bloody remnants of his clothing be a warning to the rest of you peon layabouts!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nice Guys Finish First (Unless You're...oh, Forget It!)

Bjarne, Give That Boy a *Raise*!: all right, yesterday's stage on the strade bianche was, in fact, truly epic. And while even posing nekkid with a saddle coyly in front of his works wasn't enough to bring Pippo Pozzato the win, and whatever one thinks of Vino's bad-!@# current performance at the Giro, Cadel Evans was truly a class act both on the road and in his uncharacteristically light-hearted post-race tweet, though I'm still not convinced, as he lost yet another teammate today, that he's not bound to be completely screwed in the third week anyway as he soldiers on all alone. But for my money, what was really rewarding was Chris Anker Sorensen's win on the Terminillo, in large part because, not only was the team mechanic entertaining as all heck to watch screaming his head off at Sorensen the last 2 kilometers, but unlike so very many riders, who shall remain nameless 'cause they can afford better lawyers than I, who breeze up mountains totally solo looking like they've just returned from a day sunning at the beach, our hero's face today looked pretty well the entire climb as if he were alternately being flogged, kicked, constipated and run over by a team bus, and he still stuck it out for the win. Bjarne, you've snagged your new sponsor, give the boy the homage he's due--and Chris, when I say "homage," I mean "next year's paycheck!"

Heart-Attack Headline o' the Day: all right, Universal Sports. Bad enough that I've paid you 15 bucks to see the last 6 minutes of race coverage at your random convenience when your website consistently says it's live for ages before I can actually get it, which I then end up having to watch on Gazzetta TV instead anyway, but what the !@$$ was with today's spazz-on-a-stick headline "Nibali Crashes Out"? No, he didn't, you nimrods--he *crashed* yesterday, but was still *in* the race. Anyone else already "out" of the Giro that you'd like to tell us about? Cadel? Vino? Ivan? Well, if he really can't pick it up a la the old days, maybe...

An Amgen EPO ToC Preview: no, I can barely stand it, but if this is the price I have to pay for seeing Levi's last race this season not being openly !@#$!-slapped plus hearing the perfect commentary of Phil and Paul--and because Jens is riding, of course--I guess I'm willing to pay it: here's what to expect the next few days as Dave Z hopefully gives Levi a run for his money and sweetly reformed big Tom Boonen beats that ego-on-wheels Cavendish at least once. Speaking of Levi, many belated thanks to Steevo for pointing out Levi's apparent long-ago lapse in jailbait judgment on the issue of performance-enhancement, which leaves me, so far as I can tell, with three options: (1) acceptance; (2) denial; and (3) hypocrisy. As one can surmise, and as my resolute fandom for Roberto Heras has trained me so well to do, I'm going for (2) and (3). Allez allez Levi--and who knew they put that !@#$ in Gatorade back then anyway?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Let's Head for the Hills, Baby!; and, That !@#$in' Lancefest in California

Higher, Baby!: yes, I've been lame about posting, and yes, it's because Petacchi and McEwen aside I really don't give a rat's !@# about the flats, but now the fabulous Giro's *really* under way: it's time for the hills, baby! On immediate tap: playgirl pinup Pippo Pozzato gets going on the strade bianche, and predicts disaster for pampered-kitten roadies Ivan Basso and shut-the-hell-up-Pippo-he's-a-god-anyway we love Carlos Sastre. Just please don't lose any more time, Carlos! Here's Sunday's parcours. Finally, some mountaintop action--oh, can it, you pervs!

Cadel Evans Is Scr#wed!: okay, let's get straight to it: Cadel's fine young team--and they *are* a fine young team--just doesn't have the chops to put Cadel into the final maglia rosa in Milan. Can someone please explain to me why the !@#$ a multiple Tour de France podium finisher & current scorchin' world champ can't ever find a team to hire him that can actually do him justice? I mean, I still want Sastre to stomp him into the dust and all--though I mightily appreciate Cadel's both ditchin' the wheel-suck and his increasing tendencies to go certifiably wingnut on the unsuspecting press corps--but are the powers-that-be *trying* to Klodi this poor guy into total obscurity? Hmmm...if Valverde gets nailed (ha!), there'd be Caisse d'Epargne, except LL Cool Sanchez is ready to take over there...if Bjarne can't find a new sponsor and the Schlecks hightail it for their own gig, *he* might have a last-minute, anyone?

Oh, All *Right* Already!: finally, it's time for the Amgen EPO Tour of California, and, in lieu of a formal preview, I'd just like to point out to the celebrity-grubbing Lance-whores who will ignore every other world-class rider on the planet and turn this event into a 24/7 piss-me-off-athon, Levi Leipheimer, not the Chosen One, is the RadioSkank rider for GC. Y'know, he's a cyclist...he's bagged a ton of Grand Tour and other glory...he's nice to animals...he wins this race every year...anyway, *we* love you, Levi!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Blood, Guts, and the Giro

The Agony and the...Well, Agony: Boy, if the fact that the first two stage wins and the first two maglia rosas went to English-speakers weren't enough to make the Italian press freak out over an obviously imminent linguistic and cultural takeover, seeing national hero Petacchi admit he blew it and watching half their riders looking like extras from some sleazy teen-movie gorefest sure were. Is anyone else thinking that Alberto Contador, watchin' the carnage and thinking ahead to his own first stages at the Tour, is quivering at home like a storm-soaked Chihuahua right now?

A Gentle Plea to Vs.: WHY THE !@#$ AREN'T PHIL AND PAUL ANNOUNCING THE GIRO LIVE EVERY DAY YOU LANCE-OBSESSED GOONS? Is it really more fulfilling as a matter of sport to cover a bunch of cowboys sadistically jerking ropes around innocent bulls' fragile packages while they're being tormented by rodeo clowns for other people's entertainment? Do you realize how many windmills we've passed without an in-depth investigation into their presence in an important 15th-century painting, or the particular hoppiness of a local beer they enjoyed together back in 1963? Hell, let's talk race--in the midst of the hours of dead air that characterize the other English language coverage I can get, you think some of us might be curious as to how Caisse d'Epargne ended up fourteen hours in arrears by the finish line or how the hell Cadel's gonna survive in the mountains if his fine-yet-inexperienced young team can't hold it together in the flats? No, I'll keep watching Dutch streaming video interspersed with 8,000 hard-core porn ads per second, you just keep showing bass fishing--really, it's much better. Aiiigggghhhhhh!

Thor Hushovd is !@#$%ed!: well, Cavendish, you've maybe got your green jersey for the Tour de France, 'cause poor we love Thor's training's now been been wrecked by--as if his early-season illness weren't enough--a broken collarbone sustained running over some sweet little tot on a training ride. Now, I'm not saying you're not right in your endless, years-long whining about how you've been totally unfairly jacked out of the green jersey by someone less deserving through no actions of your own whatsoever. But what I *am* saying that, *this* year, if *I* were you and took the final jersey in Paris at the Tour after Thor's training had been so catastrophically interrupted, I'd be wondering every single day for the rest of my life if I'd really have won it if it hadn't been. Every. Single. Day. Of. My. Life. But that's just me who'd wonder. Every. Single. Day. You just run along and enjoy it, you hear?

Somewhere, Mark Cavendish and his 2,000 Teeth Are Grinning: speaking of Cav, I can give him one more reason to smile tonight: HTC set up the perfect--perfect--lead-out, and arch-nemesis/derided second-rate backup-boy Andre Greipel, indeed the only sprinter with any teammate within a kilometer of the finish line, completely and utterly blew it:
Apropos of not-the-last-kilometer, get well soon Christian Vande Velde, and anyhoo, nice job Wouter--but Patrick Lefevere still kinda thinks you suck!

My Losing Pick o' the Day; and, Don't !@#$ With Robbie!

Forza!: yes, my losing pick of the day is, for nationalist reasons even tho I'm not even actually Italian, Alessandro Petacchi. Dai Ale-Jet! Why this pick's a dog: after yesterday's mechanical debacle, Robbie "Head-Butt" McEwen's gonna be out for revenge, tho' since he won't personally have a mechanic any longer having chewed him up into mulch after the time trial, that minor detail will work against him. Here's the last 27 seconds of his mechanic's life on this earth:
Either way, stay the !@#$ out of his way, honey!

Friday, May 07, 2010

One Day And Counting, Baby!; And, A Shout-Out to the Sprinter Fans

What the !@#$ Does *That* Mean?: yes, tifosi, with the Giro officially underway, and English-language coverage virtually guaranteed to freeze up or just plain suck, it's time to learn just a bit more Italian than those lines you always quote when you're loaded from "The Godfather," so here's some stuff you'll need to know:
Partenza: the start line
Traguardo (or Arrivo)--the finish line
Fuga: the breakaway
Tappa: the stage
Testa della corsa: the leader(s)
GPM (on signs, or on the road): the part of the climb where the points are awarded. What's that? The King of the Mountains contenders are looking for points toward the climbers' jersey, and other teams' domestiques are sent up to snake them out of 'em.
Pendenza: the percent gradient of the climb you're watching. Ahi, the Mortirolo hurts!
Tornante: the hairpin turns on a climb or descent--they're often numbered so you can keep track of how many more brushes with death (or just garden-variety misery) you have.
W--it's not a "W" you see on the road really, it's a "VV" for Viva. Naturally, VV Gibo!
Well, unless you want me to spell out in ill-bred detail the cuss words the tifosi are screaming at Vinokorouv, that's your lesson for today. Vaf--forget it!

It's My First Your Losing Pick o' the Day!: yep, the opening day in Amsterdam (or thereabouts) is a short flat time trial to stick someone in the maglia rosa and enrage the Italians if it isn't them. And yep, I know it should be that sanctimonious whine-wussy St. David Millar. But Cadel's got to beat the crap out of Ivan Basso right off the bat to psych him out, even tho' Ivan knows Cadel's easily gonna whomp him anyway, so I'm pickin' him. Forza Cadel--break my pathetic losing streak, I beg you!

More Practical Stuff You Can Use: so what's the order of sendoff of our brave cronomen tomorrow? Look for Damiano Cunego at no. 37, Gilberto Simoni in 125th, the irksome Millar at 185th, Bradley "Please Kick Millar's Sorry !@#!" Wiggins at 186, then Ivan, then Cadel, then Alexander Vinokorouv at 190, and Sastre at 195. Dai, dai Wiggo!

Self-Serving Wah-Wah of the Week: this one's for 2009 ex-podium finisher/disgraced druggie Danilo di Luca,for using a cheerful brag to the press that he's back in training and ready to hit the road--and good luck with that, sucker, but I digress--to snipe that the entire GC field this time is a pack of blowmeister milquetoast girly-man weaklings, which, of course, would not be the case if *he* were there. Glad all your free time during your ban hasn't diminished your good sportsmanship, Killer!

Faster Than a Speeding Boonen: first, you *suck*, Amgen EPO Tour of California!--what sick twisted Giro-hating pervert even *thought* to schedule this at the same time, are you *trying* to help Lance screw Levi and Klodi even worse than usual? Anyway, as I said, a friendly shout-out to our dear sprint fans here at racejunkie, as their faves, the toothilicious Mark Cavendish and Belgian ex-party-boy hunkster big Tom Boonen, are at the ToC so I'll try to cover the damn race a bit for their sakes. And as I don't want either fan base to pound me into jelly, good luck to 'em both!

Finally, a Loving Reminder: now, repeat after me: Gilberto Simoni is a god. Bow, peons!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

It's the 101st (Anniversary -- 93rd Running, mea culpa) Smokin'-Hot Giro d'Italia, Baby!

No, dear newbie (and dear oldie as well), Lance isn't riding it--and no, it didn't matter last year, either. Why? Because there's so much more to this race than just a rabid unquestioning cult of personality! And besides, that belongs to the great Marco Pantani. What'll you see? This!

1) The Contenders: it's a hot field, honey, and more'n just the two-dimensional dipwad Contador 'n' Armstrong crap you'll hear all July. Who's news? Ex-Lance protege Ivan Basso, still hoping to prove he can be the rider he was before his ignominious doping ban for the scandalous Operacion Puerto. Fellow Liquigas captain/desperate for credit Franco Pelli--oops, maybe next year! Crazed Astana captain/hugely controversial ex-(allegedly!)doper Alexander Vinokourov, out for revenge against everyone who still thinks he's dirty. Tour de France ever-bridesmaid Cadel Evans, whose world champion stripes have really given him wings and freed him from years of accusations of wheel-sucking timidity. And quiet Tour de France winner/pure climber Carlos Sastre, battling his own fragility in the crucial time trials and on the flats right down to the final podium. Tell me, what's *not* to love about these bad boys!

2) The Climbers: far more so than the Tour, the Giro is a pure climber's race. And the Italians, being on their home turf, want it more than anyone. Franco "Goldilocks" Pelli--oops, maybe next year! Former winner-backstabber/aging baby savant Damiano Cunego, really a Classics man but wanting to prove he still deserves his nation's adoration at the Giro. Stefano Garzelli, burnin' up the tarmac this year in the heights. Last, but *so* not least, 2x Giro king/well-seasoned (sounds better than "damn, he's old!", right?) Gilberto Simoni, retiring after the race and dearly wanting one last win in front of his hometown fans. They'll surge, they'll crack, and they'll surge again in the nail-biting pressure of the Pyrenees. Forza, forza, Gibo--and you'll be *begging* someone to dope you up when he leaves you in the dust, Ricco' you ungrateful twerp!

3) The Sprinters: with the Giro not especially friendly to out of towners, it's all about Alessandro Petacchi, baby. Arguably the greatest of his generation (and admittedly, a generation don't usually last too long for these guys), Petacchi hid the skids then came blazing back last Giro with a formidable 652 stage wins. All talk and no action, *again*--younger-but-not-stronger Daniele Bennati. Foreign riff-raff: well, the great Oscar Freire's been smacked out with allergies, which leaves you-just-watch-him-he's-ready American phenom Tyler Farrar; Andre Greipel, continuing his catfight with Tour-bound Mark Cavendish; and Robbie McEwen, who, if he doesn't actually beat you in the sprint, can actually beat you down, so you might as well concede defeat. Dai, Ale-Jet!

4) The Escape Artists: if they ain't a threat to GC, and they can't particularly sprint, *and* their team boss can afford to have 'em bonk the day after to trick the narcs, the rolling stages are all about the breakaways, baby! Spoilers: versatile tough guy Pippo Pozzato, aiming for the maglia rosa and a few key stages, Op Puerto victim/recently redeemed Michele Scarponi. Look for we love irrepressible Jens Voigt to leap off the front like an upper-stoked dog after a Frisbee, even though he's not even riding this race. We love Jens!

Well, Giro freaks new'n'old, except for your handy guide to unlawful gambling, that's today's intro. Next up: the stages you have to watch, what the hell does it say on the TV screen?, and of course, our never-fail Losing Pick o' the Day. Now pop that Prosecco, ply me with prosciutto, and let's get this party started!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Wow, Crime Really *Does* Pay!

Unless You're an Idiot: yes, on the very eve of the Giro d' Italia, the incompetent hypocrite enablers at UCI've finally managed to nab someone higher in the peloton than Valverde's cousin's high-school-girlfriend's dog's aunt's in-laws' little sister, and, to the excruciating yowls of besotted fans with half-naked screensavers everywhere, it's 2009 Tour de France King of the Mountains/challenger-for-Team-Liquigas-leadership Franco of the Euromullet Pellizotti! Now, I'll discount the speculation of a wisenheimer reader than the man got busted using Rogaine to even further fluff his flowing locks, and assume that he had, at least, the quasi-dignified excuse of cheating his way to the polka-dot jersey last summer. Sigh. Somewhere, Ivan Basso is admiring his own comely reflection in the mirror and smiling. Just flirt those snowy angel wings, Ivan--you're already almost in the final maglia rosa in Milan!

The Fallout: Shockingly, there's no mention on Franco's homepage of his latest adventure, but he did manage to slap together a quickie press conference for tomorrow in which he and a pile of expert witne--I mean, objective medical practioners--will attempt to test out his legal def--I mean, explain the wholly legitimate reasons why the UCI analysis is wrong, so I'm sure this'll all get cleared up by Tuesday eve. Lookin' forward to that one, Franco! In the interim, the never-shy tifosi over at Gazzetta dello Sport have already chimed in en masse, ranging from disgust to support to (and they wouldn't be Italian tifosi if they didn't) instantly calling hypernationalist bull!@#$ and demanding a wholesale immolation of the Spanish peloton at the stake. Good move protecting your own--that oughta keep, say, Ricco' out of trouble for the next ten minutes!

The Dangers of Boredom: meantime, with Pellizotti facing 2 years of imminent downtime, even the most vengeful among us can agree that it's best if the boy finds a healthier outlet for his frustration than some of his sad compatriots. May I suggest, since we know he already likes body art, a new tat might be in order?

The Green Monster: in happier news, notorious Operacion Puerto miscreant Alejandro Valverde has catapulted over talentless (or just, well, under-stoked) Classics hard-man Philippe Gilbert to the top of the UCI world rankings, despite some piddly WADA whining over buckets of bloodbags with EPO and Piti's DNA in 'em, an Italian ban already in place, and some ridiculous UCI campaign to kick his needle-pricked !@# out of the sport altogether before it descends into an actual open-market opium den in full view of the TV cameras at every start line. I don't know who the hell your lawyer and PR team are, you charming weasel, but give those miracle workers a *raise*!

Forza Gibo!: and, in the interests of reminding us all that there really is more to this wonderful sport than greedy dipwads with IV ports a'workin', the great Gilberto Simoni (shut up, his grandmother sent him those drug-tainted candies!) has apparently gotten over his post-Giro di Trentino doldrums and agreed to grace the entirely inferior Damiano Cunego with his presence at the Giro d' Italia one more time. The mountains are yours, Gilberto--dai, dai, dai!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Mark Cavendish Image Rehabilitation Project

Ok,Cav. I was actually about to tank this one due to your recent comeback victory, but closer review of the footage revealed that you had, in fact, right smack in front of your giant-paycheck-providing sponsor's logo no less, indiscreetly told the entire planet to !@#$ off. I know, you've been ill and in pain, you've had some probs with your love life--we love you, and we understand. But when your typical bragadoccio descends into outright wankishness, it's time to act. Ergo, our short, sweet, and entirely doable Mark Cavendish Image Rehabilitation Project:

1. Pain Management: first things first--I think this is really dragging you down. It's called a Therapeutic Use Exemption, doofus--if UCI can let 86% of the peloton snarf asthma meds like St. David Millar sprays tears for the cameras, why can't your docs manage to make the case to those hypocrites for some serious narcotics? Sure, you'll piss off your colleagues whacking half the other sprinters off their bike at the line weaving like a colossal drunk, but it's not like that !@#$'s gonna improve your *performance*!

2. Beer: fine, you hate Andre the Inferior, he hates you. But HTC's basically *said* they're gonna kiss your !@# all season and discard Greipel like a gacked-up lougie, so why not be the better man and apologize for the tiff over a nice pint? In public. With a widespread advance tipoff to the press as to time, pub, and the precise barstools you'll be sittin' on. Hey guys, surprised to see you here. Why don't I buy you all a round? Sure, we'll pose together with our glasses cheerfully hoisted!

3. Drop the Green Jersey Whining Already: of course, Thor Hushovd's a god, so this suggestion is born out of personal bias as much as helping you. But it does do that, and that's what counts. Cav, Thor beats you out for the green jersey at the Tour de France every year because he's just a better tactician than you. Ain't nothin' wrong with 5 or 10 stage wins instead. No harm, no foul--no lookin' like a crybaby jerkface. And when you *do* win it, compliment your rivals for their hard-fought competition and let the jersey do the talkin'. See how easy that was?

4. Cocky Fine--Acting Like a %^&*, Bad: Yes, you *should* be proud of yourself--you've earned it, even if not quite yet this season. And for some reason, folks *love* when sprinters preen like some man-candy supermodel for the photographers and press. And hey, if a little adrenalin makes you celebrate a bit much--*not* insult someone's mother--at the finish line, who can begrudge that? But for heck's sake, keep it to a flash of those pearly whites and a pumped-up-yet-modest expression of exuberance and concurrent gratitude to your team--we *know* you won, we *already* admire you for it!

Well Cav, start out with these handy basics--now, !@#dammit!--and we'll see if you need a fix-it (or several) from there. Meanwhile, go do something conspicuous for a hard-up children's charity, heal those 8,000 teeth, and we look forward to seeing the New You in July!