Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yer Random News Roundup o' the Week--Rider Smackdown Edition!

Tyler Extends the Olive Branch: y'know, I was gonna post a whole bunch of sweet sentimental ponderings today on dreamy Cav's impending fatherhood and Rodriguez's adoration of Team Katusha, but !@#$ that--for my money, the best tweet o' the week is traitorous Lance Armstrong defector/men's-room beatdown rival Tyler Hamilton, generously letting Lance know that if he wants any restaurant recommendations while he's in town, silly inconsequential betrayal to the feds and impending legacy destruction or no, Ty's still his man. Note to Lance (who shockingly, however, hasn't apparently yet responded)--if you end up in some cockroach-ridden Southie back-alley with Tyler and a posse of black-clad goons at 2 a.m. "looking for the entrance", he ain't takin' you to Legal Seafoods for chowder. See, I can be nice!

BMC See the Bloody Remnants o' Yer Carcass Next Season, Thor!: and, unstoppable Velo d'Or Philippe Gilbert is already amping up the love at Team BMC, ruminating on his chances for dominance in Paris-Roubaix for 2012 and, one assumes, really reassuring Thor Hushovd that besides being demoted to Cadel's water-boy at the Tour de France, he can also look forward to being Gilbert's b!@#$ at the Classics next year. !@#dammit, has ever a recent World Champion been so nut-kicked in such swift succession by squads that oughta be backing him up? Yap, yap, Thor's a whiner, yap--much as I love Cadel and Philippe, he should be freakin' howling at the moon like a werewolf and going all Wolverine on their !@#es, and they should thank him extravagantly for doing it!

The Racejunkie Review o' Books: yes, all that fancy lit-crit is for weenies, because my spankin' new Ivan Basso autobio has just arrived on these very shores, and, faster'n you can say "Birillo," I hope to be posting the more salacious details of his career--which, I fear, may be sorely lacking in this edition--for both yer entertainment. Oh well, what it may lack in potentially-litigious peloton gossip, it'll certainly make up for in really pretty pictures. Woo-hoo!

Jens, the Next Generation: finally, I see total god Jens Voigt has tweeted that one of his Jenslets just competed in--and, inevitably, won--his first-ever bike race. me, I'm thinking that with approximately 563 offspring to his credit, Jens derivatives'll pack to the peloton enough within the next ten years that there'll be no-one left *but* a Jens and Jensette in the ProTour ranks, all joyfully bounding ahead of each other on the road whether their DSes want them to or not like labs after a just-tossed tennis ball. Bow, peons--and with that many of 'em coming up, we're gonna have to get used to doing it *often*!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yer Cyclist Guide to Morality, Fair Play, and General Good-Guysmanship

On Dekk: yep, as he returns to the peloton after his ignominious doping ban, former Rabo-rauser Thomas Dekker has taken the moral high road and pimped himself to the narcs--not because he personally has anything to gain, because as he justly points out he's already served his time, but because he wants to make the world a better place. Awwwwww, so sweet! Um, am I the only one thinking this is a total bull!@#$ excuse for him to root out a buncha other dopers so now that he's been personally declawed he doesn't have to compete against fellows as morally flexible as he (used to be)? Thomas, thanks in advance for noble services to yourse--uh, I mean cycling, that's it, cycling!

Now *That's* Freakin' Scary: Frankenstein and zombies my !@#, I'll tell ya what's really flippin' me out as Halloween approaches--though I've been tightly clinging to denial thus far, I must finally concede the rumors exist, from none other than dear Samu' himself, that beautiful perfect Euskaltel-Euskadi may be having sponsorship troubles, and, worse, may actually have to fight it out with FD-!@#damn-J of all squads for a high-level gig. Are you !@#damn *serious*? Sanchez is the reigning polka-dot jersey you dirt-sucking amoral goons! Aiiiiigggghhhhhh! Bad enough the rest of you big-budget pervmeisters are constantly stealing Euskaltel's talent--now you're gonna leave the lonely brilliant Basques without a single ProTour team to call their own? Aiiiigggghhhhhh! Ergo, I hereby establish the Racejunkie Save Euskaltel Euskadi Fund, for which, under these dire circumstances, I will be accepting dollars, euros, yen, Groupons, trade ya whatever your mom packed in your lunchbox, marbles, candy, livestock, crap from ebay that can't even garner the minimum bid, and untraceable illicit black-market !@#$ that'll probably land me in prison the next ten years. Save Euskaltel--Aiiiiggggghhhhh!

The Mask of Zorr--Uh, Kolobnev: so lemme get this straight: although there was zero doping positives at the Tour de France this year, a guy who tests poz for a diuretic/masking agent (which masks, y'know, dope), is gonna get a 50-cent fine and a sloppy wet kiss from the narcs, but a wayward party-boy who comes up twice for coke-for-fun in 7 years is gonna get barred from the sport for 2 1/2 years? Not to endorse anything potentially involving horrid European techno music, but what the hell kind of sense does *that* make? At least prove he snorted it outta his musette when it'd've helped 'im in a breakaway or something first! Still, this does provide a valuable lesson: so long as you don't show up with actual dope in your system, evidence you've been trying to *beat* the tests is all juuuuuust fine. Thanks for the clarification--anyone else picturing Danilo DiLuca running out to stock up on whatever girly !@#$ was making him test at the testosterone levels of a Bratz doll a few years back?

Clean as a Whistle!: finally, it's with unrestrained delight that I report that the Vuelta a Espana was completely clean this year, which, considering they've allegedly historically taken even less interest in anti-doping efforts than the Amgen EPO Tour o' California did this season, makes me fully confident that the shocking result in nearly every stage plus GC this year is, in fact, clear evidence that previously-frustrated talents now allowed to compete on a level playing field are finally getting their rightful day in the sun. Yep, the peloton'll toast to that--wait, that ain't no champagne glass!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yer Burnin' Cycling Question O' the Week: #whatthehellwascontadorthinking?

'Cause This Sure As Hell Wouldn't've Happened to Armstrong: so let me get this straight: Contador--yes, even our brilliant wee Contador--needs some more support in the mountains next season, Saxo boss Bjarne Riis has known for a *year* he's gonna need some more support in the mountains, the !@#damn 2011 Vuelta winner, Denis Menchov (hint: both these guys are decent climbers), and their support riders are all out of a job with Geox's implosion and willing to ride without saddles next year to get a new gig, and one of the winningest riders and winningest team bosses of all cycling history can't scrounge up enough dough between 'em to buy *any* of these guys for next year? What the hell is *wrong* with this sport? And no offense, Alberto--because your tactical sense has certainly grown all up of late, and no-one can blame you for bailing for *anywhere* much less Bjarne and a really very fine stable of talent after the last couple seasons you've had--but this domestique debacle would *never* have happened to Lance. Of course, Lance is the kind of guy who (allegedly!) corners ex-minions outside of bar-room bathrooms like high-school-bitch on dork at Homecoming, so I imagine one might reasonably stick with him for life or else--but dang, you can't even sell off the diamond-encrusted fuzzy dice from yer sportscar to raise a few euros for one of yer ol' pals to have yer back? Hey, Samuel Sanchez sez he'd like to work with you--sure, they got no money either, but maybe you could still ditch Bjarne for Euskaltel!

News From the Department of Total Pointlessness: and, say what you want about Jan Ullrich--'cause you can sure as hell say it about everyone else he rode against, including a few guys who've still got starring roles in the peloton--but to me, at least the guy kept to his twisted code o' silence and didn't fake a bunch of bull!@#$ crocodile tears in saccharine crap remorse for publicity points, and since he's spent the last five years in a tailspin and only just emerged back on the charity circuit, I'm inclined to say it is completely useless at this point for the selective hypocrites at UCI to continue to try to prosecute his !@#. Their reasoning? Apparently, they'll look even more randomly vindictive--or enabling, depending on the rider--than they already do, if they don't. Now *that's* the way to clean up the sport, Pat "Dick" McQuaid--anyone else you wanna yank outta retirement to make an example of? Didn't think so!

Gee, We Oughta Just Start a New Cable Channel For This !@#$: speaking of which, as technological mastermind Floyd Landis goes on trial in absentia in France for computer hacking--for which, if I interpret L'Equipe correctly, the penalty is a year's diet of Wonder Bread, Cheez Wiz, and rotgut foreign sparkling wine--I see associated drug-weasel Joe Papp has been sentenced as well, and I gotta say, if this trend continues, certain riders are likely to openly stick their IV bags right on their handleb--um, repent unprovoked and voluntarily ban themselves 'til their careers would've been over already anyway. The proof--there's been nary a doping poz this season, except for a freak group of renegade Canadians, so it's obvious these hard-line tactics are working. Congrats to all--now, pay no attention while I suddenly start having play dates this winter with Ferrari!

Back In My Happy Place: finally, as I offer my fondest wishes for future employment to the thanklessly ditched loyal-Lanceista Ekimov outta the Johan Bruyneel ranks, compliments to talented youngster Brice Feillu for finding a home after the LeopardSkank merger debacle, which means that between them, Geox, and HTC's collapse, there's only a mere 6000 or so worthy pro cyclists still left without a contract next season. Y'know, far be it from me to suggest that a dedicated cyclist consider crossing over to another sport or nothin'--but heck, if any of y'all are desperate enough, I hear that say the Mets could use a hand (that's *any* hand) next season!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's the 2012 Tour de France, Baby (Again)--Somewhere, Andy Schleck is Crying

Off-Season My !@#!: well, the Tour de France route's been formally announced after a concerted campaign to hunt down and kneecap the bastard who caused the epic route-leaking screw up earlier, and baby Schleck, you can forget those few short months of R&R after dragging approximately 8 million miles outta yer legs this season: you've got basically the winter to correct your main weakness before Cadel, Alberto, and even Ivan beat the crap out of you at the Tour, or, in Desperate Pollyanna P.R. Bull!@#$-speak, "I am really looking forward to working with Johan Bruyneel, the guys at Trek, and the aero-geeks at MIT in the wind tunnel to refine and perfect my time-trialing position this winter." Good luck with that, Andy, truly--you are gonna freakin' need it! Still, you'll have yer chance to shine and conquer at the punchy new climbs and the few summit finishes, so long as there aren't any of those irksome "descents" along the way. Hey, if Alberto actually gets banned, I'm sure *he* could help you with that--he sure won't have anything else to do the next 12 months!

Wow, Maybe Katusha Doesn't Suck So Much After All: sure, they tossed Pippo Pozzato into the trash like a radioactive germ-stuffed hanky in flu season, but Team Katusha apparently ain't *all* bad--unlike lame-!@# Rabobank and Movistar, they're reportedly on the verge of hiring the great Oscar Freire for his last (aaaaiiiiggggghhhh!) season in the peloton. Even better, they bagged the legendary Erik Zabel (no, he didn't "dope," he said he rinsed with "Scope," you haters!) to coach the fast men. All right, Katusha, here's yer chance--now give we love Oscar the support he deserves, and don't !@#$ this up you trolls!

Search and Destroy: finally, peloton god Jens Voigt tweets that he's got a fine new hobby, geocaching, which seems to me the perfect opportunity: some directeur sportif--please, *anyone*--needs to suss out Jens' next search target, and leave a new contract and a huge bundle of unmarked euros as the prize. Oh, I know, dear Jens is sweetly loyal to the Schlecks--but come on, surely Bjarne Riis at least is flippin' out enough over his betting the farm so rashly on Alberto Contador next year to bankroll a sufficient sum to make a breach o' contract with RadioSkank worthwhile!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blood, Guts, and Liquigas--It's the 2012 Giro d'Italia, Baby!

Who Can It Beeeeee Now?: yes, reluctant defending Giro champ Alberto Contador is going for full-on revenge at the Tour de France--and not even considering he won't be able to do either of them--which leaves, despite a penultimate-day blowup on the Stelvio that Contador could really whale on, basically a spindly-gladiator internecine dog-fight between warily-complementary Liquigas teammates Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso for Grand Tour glory. Look, prodigy Nibali blew this year's Vuelta and Basso woofed--despite a fine and steady performance throughout, but we're talking by Basso standards here--his once-unquestioned claim to the Tour. So the question is, does Liquigas put a much surer bet on proven Giro commodity Basso for three-peat Italian glory and just pray for Nibali to hold it together for a decent showing in July, or does it assume that a Contador-free Nibali can still grab the Giro with a bunch of domestiques essentially training to support Basso and put all its real faith into Ivan's potential for a final maillot jaune in Paris? Me, I'm guessing that even Basso's hard-swallowed pride of the last few years won't allow a major rebellion from Nibali just yet--but one thing I do know is, with this year's flat-lovin' parcours, Mark Cavendish'll look really bad even for a sprinter if he skips out any time before the final week!

"Falling Leaves" My !@#--You *Suck*, UCI!: and, as the last edition of the real Giro di Lombardia goes out with a thrilling and satisfying end with a win by typically unheralded worker-bee Oliver Zaugg, it finally whacks me like a Grand-Tour post-doping-control "stomach virus"--that wanker Pat "Dick" McQuaid really means it when he booted Lombardia from its rightful season-ending position in favor of the Tour of Beijing for 2012, because if there's any hallowed tradition *more* deserving than the beautiful Giro di Lombardia of being kicked back to a totally unnecessary and irrelevant time slot near the Worlds in favor of a one-year-old race no-one yet cares about in which cyclists are afraid to eat the food, DSes are afraid to feed it to them, and riders are tweeting each other terrifying photos of the lung-munching pollutant haze, Pat "Dick" apparently hasn't heard of it. What next you goons, rescheduling the dandy and certainly enjoyable--but still pretty new--Amgen EPO "Don't Bother With Those Silly Blood Tests, We Don't Mind" Tour of California exactly so half the peloton'll bail on the far more worthy, century-old Giro d'Italia? Oh, *double* suck, UCI! Anyway, here's the glory our humble Zaugg deserves: All Hail the Domestiques!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Minor Correction To Contador's Clenbuterol Explanation

Nice Guys Finish First: yes, as yet another cyclist gets off on a clen violation because Mexico's meat supply is widely viewed as contaminated, the teams openly disdain Chinese food on impurities grounds at the recent Tour o' Beijing, and a certain 2010 Tour de France champ's CAS case draws nigh, I think this is a great opportunity for the unduly-discreet Alberto Contador to correct the international press on their 8,964th mistaken report that Alberto said his contaminated beef came from "Spain," when in fact he's been claiming for the past two years that it was flown in from "Mexico" or "China." Aw, that sweet kid, not wanting any reporters to get in trouble with their editors--but you can't *always* be so kind Alberto, it's *okay* to set the record straight now and then!

The Wheels on the Bus Go 'Round and 'Round: the hell with "doping," o scumlords of the peloton--perhaps, as in the recent case of a renegade English marathoner, it's time to revive a new/old method of improving yer results, taking a bus to the finish line. Now, to be sure, this trick's been tried in the Tour de France before, but really, if you're gonna risk a ban anyway, which'd you rather do--Ricco' a life-threatening fridge-bag of gross old congealed blood (uh, right, "iron solution") into yer virgin system, or blow a coupla euros on medically harmless bus fare? Ding, ding, we have a winner--who's afraid of the big bad blood test now (when you bother to run 'em), UCI?

Your Deep Denial Moment o' the Week: now, I don't know about you, but no matter what the whiny Padova narcs say, *I* wholly believe, as the Italian national cycling federation agrees, that former canniest rider ever/current squadra azzurra commissario tecnico Paolo Bettini was just being darned *thoughtful* when he reminded his notoriously absent-minded riders about an upcoming doping control at the 2010 World Championships. Shut up! And before you haters get your chamois in a bunch, if the cycling fed really *did* want there to be a "surprise" doping control, why on earth would they tell the team head honcho far enough in advance for him to warn anybody, which in any event the great Bettini would never ever do? There, proven--the man is clearly innocent! La-la-la-la-la--I can't *hear* you, so just !@#$ off!

Sky's the Limit: finally, as our dear readers kindly reported, British sprint-studpup Mark Cavendish has officially signed for Sky, raising concerns over how the team is gonna balance Wiggo's bid for GC and Cav's tragic upcoming loss of the green jersey to Thor Hushovd (shut up!) at next year's Tour, and, more important, begging the (trust me, related) question: what the hell is Levi Leipheimer gonna get to do at Quick Step when Boonen kicks !@# this season, and how the !@#$ am I gonna bear watching Fabian Cancellara and indisputable god Jens Voigt being soiled every day by Johan Bruyneel's RadioSkank kit? Oh well, at least Stuey O'Grady's gonna be wearing GreenEdge...Jens, please, I'm sure the Aussies've got at least *one* last spot on their squad--look, look, see how pretty their new outfits are?!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

It's The 2012 Tour de France, Baby--Oops!

How Do You Say "You're Fired!" In French Again?: yes, the 2012 Tour de France route has been revealed, which is great--except for the poor bastard who posted it a week before the actual presentation was supposed to take place. Of course, since I assume they're scrambling to scrap the entire route right now so it looks like it was just a completely made-up "prediction" by the rabble-rousers at L'Equipe instead of a humiliating internal ASO woof, this could in fact be *good* news for none other than Baby Schleck, who has recently vowed to improve his dismal time-trialing but must have been horrified to learn today that the Tour organizers planned to completely jack him out of the win in Paris with approximately 5,600 kilometers of the discipline. Oh well, ASO, at least you don't have to agonize over whether multiple Tour winner/potential 2010 Tour strippee Alberto Contador should take the stage with Cadel and Andy at the route-presentation press conference!

Greg Van Avermaet Takes Off (And Takes It Off): and, after what must have been a very frustrating last kilometer for poor Marco Marcato, during which Greg Van Avermaet sat on Marcato's wheel like a lump o' lead only to pull out around him as Marcato's leg seized up in a burnin' ball, Van Avermaet took the win at Paris-Tours, and, in lieu of available video, I bring you a photo of his win instead: . Gee, he didn't even need a bike to do it--impressive!

Suck It, Katusha!: in other news, after a crap season at the grossly unappreciative Team Katusha, Pippo Pozzato finally took his first win o' the year at the GP Beghelli, which means not only is he looking good ahead of next weekend's season-finale Giro di Lombardia, but with this new result on his side he's probably gonna be able to squeegee new squad Farnese Vini into upgrading his next season's lodgings from a standing-room-only berth with the soigneurs in a hotel janitor's closet to an actual above-ground shared hotel room. Things are lookin' up for 2012, Pippo--now don't blow it!

Watch Out for Deer: on a cautionary note, many thanks to cycletard for tweeting this footage of a freak collision during a mountain bike race, which makes me wonder if this, along with the truly humungous number of recent road-race cloven-hoofed disasters, proves the entire worldwide population of prey animals has suddenly pegged cyclists as the mistaken target of their enmity: Very glad to read the boy's okay, and the rest of you--watch out for Bambi!

Hold It Together, Cav!: finally, the incomparable Tom Boonen can breathe a sigh of relief that he's not doomed to be Mark Cavendish's lead-out beeyotch next year, as Cav's rumored deal with Quick Step has fallen through and, bizarrely, he still hasn't inked a deal with anyone else yet, either. Bad timing, Cav, it surely didn't help to have let yourself get so far behind at Paris-Tours this weekend--but it's still not like most DSes wouldn't sell off most of their minor relatives to get you to sign on with 'em anyhow!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I Get High With A Little Help From My Friends, With A Little Help From My Frieeeeeeeeee-eeeends!

Oops, I Mean, I Get *By* With a Little Help From My Friends: yes, on the eve of his CAS appeal, none other than patron saint of drug-snorting livestock Alberto Contador has called for "more rider involvement" in doping regulations, and before you nasty-minded cynics naysay the whole idea, I, for one, think it would be a great service to the sport if Lance, Floyd, Vino, and--well, you get the idea--all formed one big Roman-orgy love-in of a cyclist executive committee to put together some standards everyone with (allegedly!) ungodly amounts of dough and unscrupulous connections can live with (and win with) and set the whole thing straight from here on out. !@#$, if UCI can't keep its microdosing minions from unfortunate errors and unpleasant publicity, who better than expert riders to set some realistic goals? You go, Alberto--and the rest of you, he can wave to from the window of the team car as he gets chauffeured back to his hotel past you suckers still slogging up the road in the "autobus" towards the finish line!

Hang 'Em High: of course, in the same article, UCI's Pat "Dick" McQuaid's got a different take on the whole situation, saying that the national cycling feds oughta be banned outright so riders he's pissed off at that week can avoid that pesky due process and head straight to an international kangaroo court instead, which, while certainly likely to cut down on the nationalist fervor of antidoping ministers with a more, well, cutting-edge view of sports medicine as regards their own athletes, seems really unfair to extremely vigilant countries like, say, Spain. Damn, is there any option here for noble riders and faithful fans that *doesn't* suck?

A Gentle Plea for Reason: and, before we leave this topic for today, may I also point out a reason that, as November approaches, the fine folks at CAS might want to give our pretty little Contador a walk? Yes, yes, our charming boy is pure as snow, and surely, that counts for something--but more important, am I the *only* person who'd rather listen to a thousand rabid in-heat wolverines screeching for all eternity than hear Andy Schleck bitching about Contador (because let's face it, there's pretty much nothing bad one can say about Cadel) for the *next* two !@#damn years? Yeah, didn't think so--I rest my case, free Contador!

Give 'Em Hell, Cadel!: finally, speaking of whom, defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans has spit out his plans for 2012, and while it's certainly a darn shame he won't be gracing the Tour Down Under, I *would* like to suggest that, while I've never been a big fan of human-machine hybrids (Fabian Cancellara naturally excepted), given the ringing endorsement recently given Cadel by none other than Big Mig himself, if there's ever been a case for, say, surgically implanting an outlet in your !@# and plugging in a giant neon sign blaring "MIGUEL INDURAIN JUST CALLED ME 'RIDER OF THE YEAR'", *that* compliment is it. Oh, come on Cadel--it'd still be sorta aero stuck onto yer time trial skinsuit, don't you think?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Game On, Baby Schleck!

Tick-Tock, Sucker!: yes, even in the wake of WADA backing off on its own butt-kissing cowardice and sticking with a minimum level for clenbuterol despite doe-eyed superstar cash-cow Alberto Contador's upcoming doping appeal and the easy "why the hell bother punishing 'im" excuse it would provide, our boy's gutsily announced his program for next year, this time skipping the Giro he rode in case of a Tour ban last year, and setting his sights 100% on Paris. That's 9 months you've got to learn to time trial and make your peace with those unfairly-included "downhills," Andy Schleck! Of course, the race is Cadel's to defend, but with BMC apparently aiming for a spectacular infighter-meltdown between the already-irritated (and thoroughly justified, so stuff it!) Thor Hushovd and ever-ready stage-seeker Gilbert, Alberto's got a pretty sweet shot at the whole show despite a Frank'n'Andy tag-team wear-down--if he's allowed to ride next year. Good luck in November, Alberto--but I bet Andy's not quite so rooting for you!

Don't Cry for Me Jakob Fuglsang ('Cause The Giro Won't Change For *Your* Whiny !@#):
meantime, the spectacular Giro d'Italia's announced its 2012 queen stage, packing in a record 465 climbs in one day including the fearsome summits of the Mortirolo and Stelvio, leaving the race completely undecided until after the penultimate day and already causing nuevo Vuelta sensation/now-serious Giro aspirant RadioSkank recruit Jakob "Jan Ullrich's Mini-Me" Fuglsang to start crying like a 2-month-old. Look Jakob---you are a stellar young talent with a bright future at the Grand Tours. But do you really wanna start emulating Andy Schleck in *everything*?

Questions That Keep You Up At Night: okay, maybe not "you," but probably unjustified Bruyneel reject Jani Brajkovic, anyway--like, is Alexandre Vinokourov gonna nurture and support me to my full and obvious potential at Team Astana, or is he gonna intentionally claw his bike over my body like a discarded gel-snack on his way up the mountains at next year's Tour? Me, I'm genuinely hoping for the best for the talented Jani, but then, well, Vino *has* been known to be a little erratic. Damn, kid, maybe you'd've been better off with RadioSkank--at least the Schleck brothers are fairly harmless!