Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bjarne Riis: the Smell of Fear

But We're Nice! Really, Really Nice!: yes, in keeping with the ol' CSC tradition of dropping unarmed squad members dressed in penguin suits onto ice floes filled with starving polar bears, Bjarne Riis is still sending his boys to boot camp this year, but this time with an added bonus: they get to do charity work, too! Now, we here at racejunkie are never ones to question, much less openly besmirch, the untainted kindness, selflessness, and generosity of do-gooders. In fact, we downright admire it. Which is why I have no doubt whatsoever that Bjarne Riis' sudden departure from 20 years of training-camp rigidity has nothing whatsoever to do with, say, a gasping, heaving desperation move to make him and Alberto Contador look good totally coincidentally just as Contador, and ergo Bjarne, look like they're totally f!@#$ed. Anyway, at least someone benefits from the charity work--bummer for Bjarne if it ain't him, too!

Oh, Laaaaaa-aaaaaaaance! Laaaaaa-aaaaaance!: oh yeah, game on sucker--467 years after he officially retired, the Janster is finally about to be officially busted and, apparently, is ready to talk. So who else is ready to draw back the curtains on that brief, dark era of drug-stoked devilry, now that out of the entire peloton only (1) US Masters riders and (2) minor Canadian pros are still doping? Y'know who'd be really doing a service to the sport, is--hey, do I hear crickets chirping?

Tour Wars: meanwhile, Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans have both announced their goals for next year (if Alberto has a next year, but anyway): it's all for the Tour de France, baby, and each one's convinced the other one's goin' down. Well, they might want to run that by the Schlecks and Ivan Basso (tho' for my money Ivan's really gonna focus on the Giro), but either way, between Saxo Bank's broke-!@# lack o' backup, and BMC's astonishing potential to eat their own young in a monster clash of conflicting objectives, looks like the Tour's gonna be worth watching in 2012. Go Cade--uh, Alber--uh, Iva--oh, heck, good luck everyone, just stay the hell outta Samu's way on the uphills!

It's the 1st Annual Mario Cipollini Gratuitous T&A Award!: y'know, when I post, as a public service, a pic of Pippo Pozzato holding a saddle over his works, or, say, a soft-core Tom Boonen video, I am sometimes asked, in the noble interests of equality, "racejunkie, why don't you post a photo of Ivan Basso's hot sister?" Well, never let it be said I don't love you all, because as if women's cycling weren't already degraded enough this year, I hereby bring you this very informative wheel pic from 2009 Italian national road race champ/2011 Tour o' Qatar speedster Monia Baccaille:

Mario "the Chest", keep your eyes open, you've got competition!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Racejunkie's Ten Things I'm Thankful For This Year

Well treasured reader(s), it's time for us on my side of the pond to give thanks for our great nation by stuffing ourselves til our pants-buttons pop, watching 16 straight hours of football til someone else caves and does the dishes, and trying to keep that weird relative from spouting off freak theories about the alleged "moon landing," so in recognition of this fine holiday, and in the spirit of warmth, generosity, and kindness it so naturally engenders, I humbly bring you my Cycling Stuff I'm Thankful For This Year:

1. Alberto Contador. Love 'im, hate 'im, or stuff 'im with steak, the boy never fails to entertain, even in the off-season. Hell, this might be the last we hear of him for two years--might as well be grateful for him now!

2. Underdogs. If you saw Juan Jose Cobo coming at the Vuelta, you're either (1) a genius, or (2) a lying sack of !@#$. Either way, woo-hoo to the unheralded--just swear to me you earned it the nice way!

3. Mark Cavendish. Sure, he's been disappointingly diplomatic this year, but there's always that sweet underlying suggestion that he could still come flyin' at yer face like a cornered rabid badger at any instant. We love you, Cav!

4. Euskalteeeeeeeeeeeellllllll!

5. Holy crap we love Samuel Sanchez is the reigning polka dot jersey!

6. Thoooooooooooooooor (shut up you haters!)!

7. Cadel Evans. Not only a damn hard worker, the first Tour de France winner in ages who didn't make me just a liiiiiiiittle bit creeped out. And I don't freakin' want to hear otherwise, you got that?

8. Giorgia Bronzini. Sure, the men's squadra azzurra was burned in effigy in the streets of Florence by looting mobs after its spectacular woof in this year's Worlds, but you know who bagged her second world road champ title? Yeah, sing it, sister--again!

9. The Giro d'Italia. If there's ever a race as bitchin' as the Vuelta, the beautiful, perfect Giro is it--plus, prosciutto! Now would the rest of the !@#damn cycling world quit scheduling a buncha stupid crap at the same time or what?

10. Jens Voigt. The man, the myth, the legend--the one who makes the rest of peloton start mewling like babies before he even puts his socks on in the morning. Come to think of it, I'm thankful for Jens every year. Aren't you? Bow, fellow peons--and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Please, Can't They Just Start Racing Again?

The Hills Are Alive...With the Sound of Zabriskie: yes, the teams are rampin' up their official presentations for the year, and before Garmin's Dave "Muttonchop" Zabriskie heads off to a spa for some serious facial-hair management, here's his stellar rendition of "Proud JV": Tina Turner, watch yer back from now on!

Rope-a-Dope: yes, in the ongoing fight against doping, we've got three contradictory viewpoints today: CONI narc supremo Ettore Torri proudly saying that, despite the fact that amateurs are drugging themselves incoherent for a chance at "a salami", at the pro level cycling is "a lot cleaner" than it was in 2006 (tho' apparently he pulled a Sleeping Beauty for a couple years and missed, say, the even more disgusting 2008), bitter default Tour de France fair-n-square winner Oscar Pereiro claiming the whole system's mean because the soccer (sorry, football) players are even dirtier and no-one cares about that, and tennis great Yannick Noah saying the Spaniards are so high and the poor clean French so helpless against their illicit onslaught that the French oughta just quit testing entirely and give everyone a giant syringe full o' the Spaniards' chemical best. Me, I'm inclined to say we can all find a nice middle ground here and agree cheerfully that, if we weren't all raised to be ladies and gentlemen, it certainly wouldn't do the whole topic a disservice to gratuitously give, oh, Riccardo Ricco a swift steel-toed kick to the nuts. Harmony, people!

Riders I Like: Okay, it still really creeps me out that Chris Horner started being nice to Lance Armstrong. But you gotta love a guy who, long after most denizens of hte peloton have returned to their original training as carpenters or school-weens or joined the DS ranks, is more impassioned about the sport than he was as a youngster. And that, after that reckless selfish !@#hole Johan Bruyneel didn't even pull his bloodied head-whacked wreck of a bod from the Tour when he rode a bike for 2 hours without even realizing it! Chris, may you and Jens ride forever--but in one piece from now on, y'hear?

Pay Attention, Contatwerp!: righty-o, Alberto, remember how Alex Rasmussen accidentally evaded the doping vampires and asked to be punished for his shameful, if inadvertent, mistake? Well, you got one week to make a play for no mercy, honey, because the child just got off his "zero tolerance" punishment for his humility. You want to ride the Tour next season? Moo like a cow for the tribunal, Alberto, and beg for it!

Three Weeks In July: look, Eddy !@#$in' Merckx told the Schlecks what to do--essentially, you can't time trial for !@#$ so the Tour is fruitless, but if you work your !@#es off, you might be able to overcome Basso at the Giro. And though I bristle at (yes, everything, but also) any suggestion that winning the beautiful perfect Giro is any less a vicious masterwork than is the Tour--'cause it sure as hell wasn't this year, despite Contador's dominating performance throughout--I'll admit that the Giro tends to be rather, well, kinder on time-trial miles for its Italian homeboys than the Tour. Still, the Schlecks remain defiant, convinced that the loving attentions of Johan Bruyneel can nuzzle 'em up that final step of the podium and, mercifully, sparing us three solid weeks of whinging (did I get that right, dear Brit readers?) about Chaingate in March. Enjoy the Tour, boys--I'll sure as hell be enjoying the Giro a little more this year!

Monday, November 14, 2011

UCI Sticks It To Valverde (Tho' Frankly, He's Been Stuck Harder)

Nyeah, Nyeah, Nyeah, Nyeah, Nyeah!: yes, right as Movistar gets set to throw on the disco lights to welcome back drug-stuffed Op Puerto degenerate Alejandro Valverde, the tough guys at UCI have stepped in, declaring they're gonna completely clamp down on widespread systematic doping in the sp--uh, make Movistar cancel their press conference. Oh, snap! Um, not to rain on your parade, McQuaid, but all things considered, isn't better you *don't* give a guy like Valverde any more unsupervised free time off than you absolutely have to? Still, I'll give it to Alejandro, at least he's open about not giving a !@#$, instead of faking some unbearable self-righteous teary-eyed jailhouse-conversion yip-yap wah-wah. So let's see what Valverde can do riding without enhancement in 2012--if he'll show us, that is!

Cipo For Prime Minister!: in other news, we all know that eternal sprint god/women's cycling impresario Mario "the Chest" Cipollini is not only an icon of the noble sport of cycling, but an inspiration to clothes-conscious manscapers everywhere. So imagine my surprise and delight when a headline in the venerable New York Times proclaimed that if he weren't cool enough already, Super Mario is poised to lead the great nation of Italy! Sadly, it turns out to be a boring reference to some random politico, but still, I can't imagine a better candidate than the real thing himself. So suave, so smooth, so chic--who even *cares* what he thinks? All hail the Lion King!

!@#$ that Rocks: okay, a little slow on the uptake here, but given my distinct peeve with that reptilian little drug-sucker, I gotta say, this "Ricco" edition T-Shirt freakin' rocks: . And no, I'm not a paid spokesperson--but for those of you interested in highly prestigious product endorsements like mine, I *will* take bribes, particularly, in the off chance you're broke, Mallomars. Nice work, Dopers Suck!

Because It Just Ain't Cycling Without a Post About Contador: finally, as CAS sets a rough decision date for January, reports abound that among Alberto's approximately 678 personal-domestique character witnesses will be a lie-detector-test expert, leading, natch, to the exciting conclusion he has taken or will pony up a fateful test against the machine. Next up after the November slugfest: Alberto appears on a Very Special Maury "Are You My Baby's Daddy?" Povich. Lookin' forward to the show, Alberto!

Friday, November 11, 2011

He Shoots, He Scores--Contador!

Just One Word...Plastics: score one for imminent-appeal-subject/inadvertent clen-snarfer Alberto Contador: WADA's bagged a test for plasticizers that could suss out blood-doping weasels--yes, the same chemical wee Alberto was reputed to have awfully funny levels of--on the grounds that there's so much of that !@#$ floating around in pleather, rainwear, flooring, food packaging, and kids' toys that a perfectly innocent person could have freakishly high levels of medical-grade tubing residue in their bodies, which means that, if CAS buys Alberto's argument that a Spanish farm imported a Chinese cow from Mexico, he's home-free 'cause they've got nothing to hang him on. One likely sticking point--killjoy good-guy Alex Rasmussen's noble insistence that he ought to be punished for breaking the CAS similarly zero-tolerance rules on rider location tracking, as it just wouldn't be *fair* to everyone else to let 'im off. You school-monitor goody-two-shoes teacher's pet--don't you realize how bad that makes Alberto look if he don't make the same gesture?! Anyway, I don't know about you, but in light of WADA's beautiful new cave-in, *I* see a pack of suspect two-wheeled dirtbags in the very near future conspicuously wandering around perpetually in trenchcoats with faux-wood planks stuck to their shoes pacifiers in their mouths and Sno-Ball wrappers stickin' out their pockets to cover their butts. You're almost there, Alberto, you're aaaaaaalmost there!

Like That Facebook Kid, Only More Annoying: and, technological whiz kid/Tour de France miscreant/fan-ripper-offer Floyd Landis was handed a cool 12-month suspended sentence in France for masterminding a computer-hack of the lab that, despite its spectacular incompetence, managed to legitimately bust him for doping nonetheless, which means that, so long as he acts like a wuss the rest of his life and stays the hell away from the country he disgraced with his cheating, he can continue his triumphant return to the Masters' ranks or, even better, have to jack up his car instead to take NASCAR by storm. Good thing there's no doping in Masters, so you won't have to worry there won't be a level playing field there!

Boonen: The Next Generation: meantime, in off-season hijinks news, wacky-but-talented Euskaltel party-boy Romain Sicard was busted by the cops while blotto stuffing a purloined street-sign in his trunk, and, as truly fortunately no-one was hurt except the street sign during the escapade, I imagine a sincere mea culpa, a little community service, and a heartfelt promise to the sponsors not to pull that crap while dressed in full Euskaltel-Euskadi team kit ever again oughta do the trick quite nicely. Romain, it's much less conspicuous to try this stuff while you're *inside* the club--just ask Tommeke!

Cadeeeeeeeeeeel!: last but not least, massive congrats to Tour de France bad-!@# Cadel Evans for his (obvious, but still!) win for Australian Cyclist of the Year, and if there's any doubt about how thoroughly I consider myself well and fairly nut-whacked for having ever criticized his less-than-flashy style in the past, here's another look at his smashing time trial at the Tour: Okay, I've been nice like you deserve, Cadel--now you better not pull a Vaughters and !@#$ over Thor Hushovd next year!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Better To Have Loved And Lost (Your CAS Appeal), Than Never To Have Loved At All

Felicitaciones, Alberto!: yes, many wishes for a long and happy life together for wee champion Alberto Contador and his equally-adorable fiance Macarena on their marriage today, and as Alberto gives quite a nice interview on his training routine (he takes naps!), the current state of cycling (too many racing days!), and his upcoming season (Tirreno?), he remains tranquillo about his prospects for his upcoming CAS appeal, as, he sensibly reasons, he's got nothing to fear since he's done nothing wrong. Right, like that matters to UCI if they hate your guts today anyway! Of course, if I were a complete bitch as well as just a total ween, I'd've tangentially thought to idly google the state of spousal privilege in Spain, but since I'm hoping to come off for just one sweet shining moment as a far better human being than I actually am, I've decided to just look it up on another search eng--uh, confine myself to sincere expressions of happiness and success for Alberto's future in all things. And sorry he's off the market, Contador fans (not that you *don't* just love him for beating Armstrong down at the Tour)--but I'm sure there's another unattached dreamboat substitute left in the peloton!

Aw, Rats, *Now* Who's Gonna Bushwhack Cav?: and, it's with deep regret that I report that the great Robbie "Head-Butt" McEwen has now formally announced his long-expected mid-2012 retirement into the management scene, which means that, I suppose, while there's not gonna be anyone left on the road actually as ready as Mark Cavendish is to go all goon on a rival's !@# (seriously, can any of you picture Tyler Farrar sending his lead-outs up with a two-by-four to accidentally tank someone else's sprint?), Robbie will at least be left in a position to give the overly-amiable Aussies at GreenEdge some hard-won personal pointers. Today's tip to the youngsters: that innocuous plastic clip that fits under your earlobe to adjust your helmet can, in the right amoral rider jerkface's hand, make a formidable offensive tool. Oh Robbie, just *one* more go at the line for your faithful fans, *please*!

What the !@#$ Is Wrong With You People?: meanwhile, ever-trusting Vuelta god Juan Jose Cobo is even now confident Geox can find a new sponsor this season, raising the question not only of why Johan Bruyneel *still* hasn't sold himself on ebay to come up wih dough for him, but late in the season or no, what the hell is this sport coming to when a pack of proven-doper-dirtbags can land lucrative gigs with gigantic ProTour power squads and a spankin'-new Grand Tour champ is left begging !@#$in' Big Wheel manufacturers for a last-ditch ten-euro handout? You *suck*, people--now pony up and don't waste this guy, am I the only one who watched that freakin' race this year?! Oops, bad question--anyhoo, pony up I said!

Money (That's What I Want): last but not least, our beloved Euskaltel=Euskadi is *still* in danger of going under, and if any of you ever wanna watch anyone climb anything bigger'n a walnut ever again without the direct aid of IV drips, discreet frame-hidden motors, or tainted livestock, I implore you to please, please, quit being such callous cheapskates and donate some moolah to the Official Racejunkie I Said Save Euskaltel !@#dammit! Campaign. C'mon--the first one to give Samuel Sanchez a raise gets a really hearty thank-you. No, some cool racejunkie stickers. No, a four-week rider insult moratorium. No, a whole post's worth of soft-core Tom Boonen shots. No...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Uh-Oh, *That* Don't Sound Right

Y'Know That Prickly Feeling You Get on the Back of Your Neck When Something Creepy's About to Happen?: yeah, well, no matter how well-intentioned, an inspiring article about the Schlecks' efforts to improve their notoriously sucktastic time-trialing and descending skills just starts to read a weeeeeeeeee bit creepier when it's subheaded something like "Weaknesses Being Targeted by Spanish Experts." Sorta like "Tom Boonen's Birthday Party Being Planned by Top Belgian Disco Owner!" Anyway, I'm sure Johan Bruyneel's got his top do--folks on the problem, and if only so Cadel and Contador don't totally make 'em look like asses against the clock next July, I'm genuinely rooting for the brothers to triumph in their new disciplines-o'-choice. Hell, with "experts" on hand, how can they fail?

Go Big George!: meantime, I see big George Hincapie's teaming up with BMC to support a squad's-worth of upcoming young cycling talent, and while BMC handles the tedious logistics of equipment, lodging, and morals clauses, Professor George is scheduled to teach such classes as "How to Win a Race Even After Your Bike's Spontaneously Exploded," "Econ 101: How Much Do You Have to Pay a Guy to Make Him Wash Your Bike Shorts?" and "What To Do When the Narcs Come a-Knockin' For Your Friend." Me, I'd be delighted to see any of these whippersnappers open up a can of whup-!@# on the peloton--I mean, am I the *only* getting bored with the sheer inevitability every time Gilbert lines up for a race?

!@#Dammit, Bjarne, What Part of "Pimp Yourself If You Have To, But Get This Guy" Don't You Understand?: okay, no more excuses: Geox is *over*, and Juan Jose Cobo needs your help--or more accurately, you need *his* help, because if you *don't* dredge up Contador some more talent in the next two or so weeks, *and* he chokes the Tour as a result, I guarantee you Captain Cool'n'Rational is gonna whang you over the head with his two-ounce bike helmet 'til you start to cower with annoyance and screech for mercy from the onslaught. Heck, don't you *want* a backup plan in case your boy goes down for cattle-doping? Come on, offer him *something*--your Tour trophy, your eternal soul, *anything* worth a few euros'll do!