Saturday, February 26, 2011

Showdown at the Classics Corral; and, Sissy-Boy Twit-Fights!

Yep, Race Radios Suck!: wow, congrats to Sebastien Langeveld on a bangin' pounce at the line over yes-I-thought-he'd-take-it-bite-me Juan Antonio Flecha at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and if today's thrilling end proved anything, it's that (1) Thor and Tommeke are lookin' on target for a few weeks from now (shut up! Thor sez he's happy), and (2) some riders--and we all know who they ain't--can actually think for themselves without total bloody implosion catastrophe. Let the MENSA inmates rule the asylum, baby! Here's the top two at war, the glance'n'dither ends and surge starts in earnest around 8:30: Over at the women's race, Emma Johansson grabbed the win in a whompin' sprint after strongwoman Grace Verbeke crashed out of the break (and presumably later beat the crap out of her hapless cringing mechanic) when her handlebars snapped. Here she comes: Now on to more cobbles at Kuurne tomorrow--Tyler, if you can just channel your inner Belgian for the freezing slop, I'm rooting for you kid!

Sissy-Boy Twit-Fight!: but, the 140-character slaughter over race radios continues unabated over in the Twit-sphere, with rabid control freak Johan Bruyneel outraged, outraged I say over anti-radio race purist Marc Madiot's hilarious, if perhaps slightly hypocritical, suggestion that *he* wouldn't like someone shriekin' in *his* ear all day. Gee, I hate to side with Johan--I mean really, watching-useless-Tour-de-France-coverage-of-some-!@#-kissing-glory-glomming-celebrity hate it--but I'm rather with him on this one--if *I* were Brad McGee, I'd have sat up on the time trial bike and blown the whole show just to jam a spoke in Madiot's mug. Besides, with Armstrong whipping the !@#$ out of his domestiques with a riding crop, who needs race radios, anyway?

He's Baaaaa-aaaaack (Again, and Again, and Again): tired of watching the new generation o' riders win clean all the time (hee!)? Nostalgic for the days when your own teammate would slash yer tires just to gain an advantage for himself on the Tourmalet? Long for the cheerful red of a drug-stoked blood-bag amidst the tired Easter-egg blue-and-yellow of your team kits? Never fear, my children: yep, completely reformed Alexander Vinokourov is leavin' it open to come back in 2012. Even better, if he retires anyway, he's promising to bring you "the next Vino." it me, or did the stock-market price for a major medical equipment manufacturer just shoot up?

Yer Gratuitous Alberto Contador Ref o' the Week: and, for dear PJ and our other Contador loyalists, while nothin' much is going on with his case this week, I'm happy to report our doe-eyed climbing king *is* having a nice time in Mallorca with--and giving due compliments to--his teammates. Enjoy the quiet training while you can, Alberto--that, or stick to Spain!

Recovery Report: finally, best wishes for a quick recovery to training-concussed former-Lance-acolyte-supreme Taylor Phinney and, of course, Euskaltel sprinter (go to hell! they do so have one!) Koldo Fernandez, awaiting further news on what the hell besides his collarbone he's busted this time. Lookin' forward to seeing both of you back in action--but Taylor, maybe you're still a little more accustomed to the track?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Aw, Rats! If Jens Voigt Sez So, It Must Be True

Radio Silence: look, let's face it: race radios blow. Frankly, I'm sick as hell of being able to predict to the boring-!@# "metre" exactly where the sprint squads are gonna reel in the breakaway, precisely how many minutes to the second the peloton's gonna give the winner of a rolling stage based on the time of biggest GC threat in the lead group, or at which exact barrier Cav's gonna send up his lead-out goons with billy-clubs to beat the crap out of his competitors in the run-up to the line. In fact, if it weren't for thrillingly irrational wingnut Vinokourov and the occasionally suspiciously-resurgent late-career stage-winning 96-year-old Spanish domestique, with the damn radios we'd all be able to plot any given day's events with soul-numbing accuracy right down to where Millar starts whining how hard it is to win clean. The problem? Yes, indisputable god Jens Voigt sez they're a good thing, and therefore, it must be true. Ergo, despite the fact that the winners of every damn race for the entire future of humanity'll be more or less foreordained, it is, it must be, I have to accept they are indeed, the best damn thing on the face of the earth next to pancetta. Oh, Jens, forgive me my sinful doubts--your poor ignorant subject here is *trying*!

Aiiigggghhhhhh!: and, just when I thought we'd get a good day off from the 24/7 Lance news onslaught that has been the interminable last damn decade, those pesky anti-doping vultures are at it again, demanding Lance's old urine samples for re-analysis and, hopefully, completely pointless further prosecution now that he's no longer, you know, actually riding. Man, just when you thought it was safe to read the news again, this happens. Can't we at least call off the dogs 'til the annual endless whoremongering begins at the Tour, and we're *forced* to listen to the 3-week hurling sound of nonstop Lance coverage whether we like it or not?

Yer Paranoid Conspiracy Theory o' the Week: over in Contador news, as Bjarne Riis professes joy in Alberto's decent-but-not-disconcertingly-superlative early-season form, not least because it's enough to keep the narcs off Bjarne's back for 10 minutes so he can figure out how the hell to intercept UCI's appeal in the mail so it arrives at CAS too late to keep the boy out of the Tour de France, the Spanish Cycling Fedis rushing to explain why el Pistolero is only riding locally so far this year, assuring the general public it has nothing, nothing to do with Contador's fear he'll be accidentally ingest, say, CERA from some third-world backwater like Belgium's certainly drug-addled public water supplies. Alberto, I feel your pain--and if you *do* stray outside your own borders, watch out for those pissed-off squealing teenybopper Andy Schleck fans--they'll beat you down with their terrifying Hello Kitty backpacks in an instant!

Oscar the Ouch: finally, as Damiano "See What Happens When You Jack Over Simoni? That's Like 10 Years of Bad Karma!" Cunego breaks his looooong winless streak with a handsome win at the Giro di Sardegna, none other than gentle iron man/freak-injury king Oscar Freire takes his first of the season over a pretty fine field at the Ruta del Sol. Woo-hoo Oscar! And, since there's yet no video to be found, and because I do so love my loyal reader(s) who are Cavendish fans, I gratuitously bring you the Manx Missile's still-fresh win at the Tour of Oman last week instead:
Okay, here's Oscar now, run-up to the line and the crash start around 7:30, enjoy, and go Oscar!:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's the End of an Era, Baby!

Finally!: yep, Lance has really, truly announced his last-ever retirement to focus on his family, his unimpeachably noble anti-cancer work, and desperately evading the vulturous narcs, and while all-American CNN's fan commentary, particularly in response to accurate reminders that yes Lance *has* tested positive no matter what he says, runs along the lines of "DON'T YOU DARE CRITICIZE ARMSTRONG THE HERO YOU !@#DAMN TRAITOR!", my winner for Best Line in an Associated Press Story goes to "He doled out favors, like stage wins..." What?! As I recall, he only doled out *one* stage win in *seven* straight years of making the superstars-at-any-other-squad of US PostalDiscovery his total subservient automaton beeyotches--to the only one who never did betray him with conflicting personal ambitions, the great (and could've been even greater) George Hincapie. Let's not rewrite history like Captain Magnanimous gave a !@#$ about anyone else's wins but his own--dang, even that drug-stoked freak Vinokourov, who'd attack his own grandma on Mont Ventoux if he thought it'd score him a win, never begrudged his boys their own glory! Anyway, here's a tribute to Lance: Oops, it's basically a video about Lance being a sore loser to Contador...oh well, best wishes to a true Tour champion anyhow!

Every Action Causes An Equal and Opposite Reaction: meantime, as Contador proclaims his happiness, relief, and yes, vegetarianism, the rest o' the cycling world's reactions are pouring in, with the Italians predictably enraged that the Spanish dopers are getting off, *again*, when their own cheats always get nailed(and they ain't gonna enjoy that it looks like marvel-o'-the-Vuelta Ezequiel Mosquera's going to get off, too), the Tour de France staying noncommittal on Alberto's return, and Tour 2nd or 1st place winner Andy Schleck, who first defended then slagged Contador, keeping, so far as I can tell, completely mum. But watch out, Alberto, bagging meat may not be enough: looks like some of those dirty fruits'n'vegetables have been on steroids, too!:

Sky's the Limit: over in morally-superior cleanster news, Team Sky's still trying to control the damage from recent admissions by squad leadership that, due to the lack of untainted talent in the recently-graduated peloton ranks, they just can't help but staff up with dopers to supervise their innocent riders. Well, if you want clean, Lance is now available! Oh, wait...

Gilbert On a Tear: finally, watch out chumps at pretty much every race all season on the planet, 'cause the season's barely started and the fearsome Philippe Gilbert is already on the attack at the Volta ao Algarve. Look for Gilbert to take off around 5:15 in to the vid: You go Philippe!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ride, Ride Like the Wind, Alberto!

'Cause You Might As Well Do It Before CAS Bans Your !@#!: yes, cycling freaks, our ethereally graceful (and you'd be 'ethereal' too, if *you'd* had that much blood removed for storage--allegedly!) climber supremo Alberto Contador is off the hook and cleared to ride the Tour de France, which means that at least for now (1) somewhere, some Spanish narc is clearly on a monster dose of hallucinogens and (2) somewhere, Bjarne Riis is on his knees burning incense before an altar of yellow jerseys and praying to every god he can call on that somehow this thing's gonna hold up. Champagne for everyone--hey, you--put down that syringe--I said "champagne"!

To be fair, however--and it ain't easy, alright?--it is indeed possible, and I hope actually true as our faithful PJ believes, that our poor Contador ingested the Clenbuterol from tainted beef and, considering what !@## 90% of the peloton is apparently on, he could've intentionally snarfed an entire herd in some grotesque US-style barbecue-eating contest frankly and it still wouldn't've put him on a higher level than his filthy compatriots anyway. Either way, I'm happy to say with confidence that with Contador back in number 1 and gunning to avenge his tainted rep, we won't be stuck with some totally lame snoozefest in the mountains come July. And heck, if Schleck & everyone can't beat Alberto fair and square, they can always resort to whining bitter slanderous innuendo at their press conferences! Here, let's save Alberto the wasted energy of making that "Pistolero" move in celebration, so he can focus on the Volta ao Algarve tomorrow:

Best Wishes: speaking of skanktastic doping thief-pigs, of which Contador is not one, hearty good wishes and a continued full and speedy recovery to irksome little weasel Riccardo Ricco', whose kidney failure from an alleged gross too-old tainted blood transfusion is on the mend but whose lung and heart complications have landed him in the cardiac unit. Ugh, feel better you loathesome worm--at least so you can grovel for the great Gilberto Simoni's forgiveness for mentoring your worthless carcass!

Gee, I Guess I *Am* On Crack: by the way, am I on crack, or is UCI, whose selective rider favoritism, capriciousness, and abject cowardice knows no bounds, threatening to sue Floyd Landis for impugning their "honour"? Um, not to offend you by pointing out the obvious, but *everyone* impugns your honor, so picking on just Landis for it only makes you look like you target certain people even more. Please, can't you focus on something wholesome, like butt-kissing Armstrong instead...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tell Us How You Really Feel, Cav!

Yer Racejunkie Quote o' the Week: just as I was admiring Mark Cavendish for his firm yet diplomatic (re-)rebuke of Riccardo Ricco, and in particular his kind good wishes for his recovery, Cav confirms my growing swoonfest over his total inability to self-edit by tucking in a final thought for our fallen weasel: yep, Cav hopes "he becomes someone's bitch in prison." Me, I'm gonna be nice and bring you a tribute to his glory days. D'oh! He was a snakeling then too!

Like the Boy Scouts, Except They Help You Dope: uh, oh, friends o' Ricco', time for an impromptu trip to somewhere exotic: the Italian narcs are lookin' for anyone who helped him tranfuse, and since, let's face it, some of these magnum dopuses couldn't figure out how to put on their team jerseys without directions from their race radios, I'm guessing along with fellow skeptic Bikezilla the chances are pretty good that someone, at the least, helped Ricky Google "black-market expired medical equipment purveyor." Well, we already know it ain't Vacansoleil--after hiring you knowing you were an unrepentant lying cheating scumbag, they *did* have the PR sense to at least suspend you once it made *them* look suspect!

Race Roundup: in actual racing news, with Tommeke off to a fine start at Qatar, and Robbie lookin' good (if technically still winless--just for the moment!)in India, the boys are laying out their plans for the season, with Cav targeting, well, everything (and class move opining what a shocker it is for everyone, unlike for him, whenever Farrar wins a sprint), Cadel Evans having the eminent good sense to honor the fabulous Vuelta (where last year's tragic crash-out Igor Anton is still gonna kick his !@#, but no hard feelings Cadel!), and, best of all, we love Thor "Holy Crap He's the New World Champion!" Hushovd going for Roubaix and the Tour. Geez, Cadel aside, if the climbers don't get their acts together I might actually have to start paying attention to the fast men this year--ow, their giant egos are making my head hurt!

Like Those Weird Guys Who Insist the Moon Landing Never Happened By Pointing Out Tiny Funny Pixel Anomalies In Grainy Old Photographs, But More Delusional: and, for those of you (like Spain's Prime Minister) still flush with faith in Contador's innocence, here's a community of like-minded sweetly-naive in-denial doper-apologists, I mean, loyal fans with whom you can unleash your righteous anger over his complete crap frame-up, delineating in no uncertain terms how his 4 clenbuterol pozes are a trick and by the way enjoy that tainted hamburger before it drops you dead before you finish your chew. Aw, I still deep down do *hope* he didn't do it--wouldn't it be nice to be *sure* he made Lance Armstrong look like an !@@ perfectly cleanly?

Except UCI Agrees With The Weird Guys: whoa, looks like UCI--previously crusading to have Alberto drawn and quartered by a four-pack o' cyclists--has decided that the Spanish narcs, who they've been excoriating for weeks as being a bunch of nationalist hero-worshipping cheat-pampering pansies--have been doing a heckuva job after all, and it really wouldn't be in "cycling's" interest after all to, you know, try to clean up the sport. Hell, it certainly hasn't been in *UCI's* interest if they just plain like you--and even better, make tons of dough off you--the last umpteen years! Right, La--um, la la la, isn't it a lovely day to sing a song?

Nooooooooooo!: last but not least, it looks like eternal French road goddessJeannie Longomay finally be considering retirement, unless she sticks around for the Olympics, and not to question your patriotism or nothin', I say that's damn near treasonous--you're the only French rider who doesn't suck, Jeannie, and you owe it to your country to stick it out til they teach someone else to ride a bike! Or clone Hinault. Or slash everyone else's tires at the start line of every stage of the Tour. Or...Anyhoo, please don't go! And hey, Jens--I figure this gives you another good ten years in the peloton before you throw in the towel, no?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Kumbayah My !@#!

Andy Strikes Back: okay, enough of this "supporting Contador" Love Boat crap--baby Schleck can see where public favor is turning, and he's suddenly pissed off all over again about last year's Tour de France "Chaingate." Way to capitalize on Contador's downfall, Andy--that takes class! Sure, Alberto could've shown some in the first place--but am I the only one starting to agree with Carlos Sastre that riders oughta stop being such white-glove crumpet-nibbling crybabies, suck up the occasional mechanical, and just race? At least blame the win on his drug use, Andy--dang!

How Now, Brown Cow?: speaking of whom, more bad news for Alberto--as the boy submits his ill-advised appeal, the narcs've traced the farm his clenbuterol-snorting steak came from, and honey, those cattle are *clean.* Hey, I call bull!@#$, WADA--*everyone* knows those cloven-hooved scumlords use masking agents!

On the Radio: meantime, the riders are striking left and right over the UCI's race radio ban, and while I wholly sympathize with their safety arguments, I gotta say that, besides the fact that Robbie McEwen wants 'em and, I'm pretty sure, could still actually clinically rip my face off with his index fingers, I sympathize even more with the notion that at least a coupla these jokers oughtn't to be allowed to even pin their own numbers on without strict parental oversight. And really, how else are we gonna catch a DS telling his rider to d--that is, pedal faster?

What the Hell Is Wrong With You?: y'know, when I first read on tuttobici this morning that Riccardo Ricco' was taken to the hospital with "kidney failure", my first thought was "!@#$, I hope that kid didn't hurt himself doping." My second thought was, "RJ, don't be such an !@#hole!" Which I may well be, but it turns out, not for that reason, because apparently he *did* almost kill himself doping. Riccardo, I truly hope you get better--because some people, of course, never had that chance. But what are you, a !@#$in' eejit? You're barely old enough to spawn, Ricco'. You've barely had time to do *anything*. Is a freakin' trophy and a smack on the cheek from a podium babe worth leaving your kid fatherless merely to satisfy your own insatiable ambition? Thinking of a smack on the cheek...count yourself lucky if Vania Rossi only lectures your moron !@#, you punk! And no thanks for completely dishonoring the memory of the late Aldo Sassi, dirtbag! Geez. Stay safe, the stinkin' dopin' lot of you, willya?

Hey Na, Hey Na, Tom Boonen's Back!: finally, in actual racing news--and boy, thank goodness there finally is some after this ridiculous winter--as a stage-winning Heinrich "I Don't Get No Respect" Haussler still whines to everyone that Cav crashed him out last year, 2011's shaping up to be a banner year for the sprints and Classics after all: yep, big Tom Boonen's whomped the field in Qatar and even held on to the leader's jersey after today's stage. Keep it up, big guy--we poor tifosi've gotta have *someone* we can believe in this season! Here's the Tornado in action: Woo-hoo Tommeke!

Friday, February 04, 2011

It's the Tour of Qatar, Baby!

The Fast and the Furious: okay, a few days and a coupla damn stiff drinks later, I'm over the Landis thing and back in complete-denial and middling-optimism mode, because it's time for the fast men (and already the fast women) to hit the tarmac at the smashing Tour o' Qatar! On tap: Mark Cavendish, a bitchin' Tyler Farrar, and of course, the fabulously-recovered-and-ready-to-rumble big Tom Boonen! Yap, Cav, Tyler, yap--my money, and my hopes, are on Tommeke. As a reminder, here's our fearsome studpuppy stormin' two stages last year before the You Suck Amgen EPO Tour of California took 'im out:
2010 Tour of Qatar Highlights

And, our hero in further action:
Sure, it's gratuitous. And no, I haven't the slightest idea why a totally innocent instructional video has a 70s come-hither porno soundtrack. But really, can you picture Levi Leipheimer putting this out on the internet where his momma could see it? Anyway, 2011 is your year, again--you go, Tom!

The Battle Hymn of the (Spanish) Republic: meantime, Alberto Contador has, against all good judgment, decided to risk an even worse ban and fight his wrist-slap one-year suspension, and while I admire his righteousness--and let's face it, I ain't the only one who's made *that* mistake--I gotta say, in purely practical terms he's reverting to his "Lance'll Be a *Great* Teammate!" dimmer-bulb days. Are you *begging* those clowns to slap an extra year's ban on your rump before you even have a chance to hide the needle mar--I mean, track down that renegade cow-herd? Oh, Alberto, it took us *so* long to set you straight the first time...

The Basques Are Comin', The Basques Are Comin'!: and, watch out you big-budget poseur squads--Euskaltel-Euskadi is out for vengeance and Grand Tour victory after Contatwerp (Menchov, whatever) hosed Samu' out of his Tour podium and Nibali slurped off Igor Anton's vicious and unfortunate pavement-suck to opportunistically take the Vuelta. Bow, bow before the orange jersey, you wannabees--before their wingnut screaming fanbase *makes* you bow!

Yer "You Wish" Headline o' the Week: "Brian Holm Sez Alex Rasmussen Could Be the Danish Thor Hushovd." What?! I don't care how well you ride or what team you're on, you're lucky he doesn't pull a Lance Armstrong and make you indentured-servitude his !@# like Kloden! Just keep dreamin', punk...

How Do We Love Jens? I Cannot Count the Ways: finally, as if there were any doubt that Jens Voigt is a god--and no, there's not, you hell-bound heretics--the man is on the rampage again, ready to burn the field in the service of Schlecks and, of course, barely daunted for a moment after his hideous wipeout at the 2009 Tour. Really, can anything short of a nuke (and even that would probably cower before him) take down this man? Jeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnssss!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Whole !@#$ing Sport Makes Me Sick Right Now

Yankee Doodle Dope or Die: fine, I've read the entire Floyd Landis/Paul Kimmage interview, and all I can think is (1) bull!@#$ and (2) why, why, why? Great, you couldn't ride competitively if you *didn't* dope, so you had no choice. Yeah, I'm sure--we get it. Which means damn near everyone who's ever won a stage, much less a Grand Tour then or now, is a cheating, drug-sucking scum-weasel. Fair enough. But here's the problem--you *still* weren't competing on a level playing field, because if you think that the enormous money at the high end of the sport doesn't give those dopers an advantage over equally-talented, hard-training, broke-!@# domestiques from !@#$ squads in the form of better drugs, better doctors, more certainty, and less likelihood of being caught, you're !@#$in' nuts. It's the simple market-value difference between a $3 bottle of Thunderbird and a $3,000 bottle of Champagne. You benefited, unfairly, and while I highly sympathize with having to put up with Armstrong as the price for your magnificent success, suck it up. And you're just certain that the fans who believed in you and put hard-earned dough into your "Fairness Fund"--to which, for the record, I didn't contribute--would completely understand your thieving them personally if you had but ten hours to sit down and explain to them how right you were to ask them for money. Should they've known better, understood the real rules better? Sure. But the punishment for naivete is *not* to be screwed over for their faithfulness, whether they feel ripped off or not, so how the hell does that make it right?

Look, I'm happy Floyd's experienced some catharsis, and opened the lid on the ugly aspects of the sport, if only because it'd be a damned shame if some desperate kid dropped dead over the next fashionable drug cocktail before s/he ever had a chance to think it through, and if reading this interview fends it off, that's quite something. And I sincerely hope Landis, who clearly isn't much worse than a whole lot of folks but *is* !@#damn disastrous at PR, leads a long, happy, wonderful life and that whatever comes next is entirely better than the last five years've been. But let's cut the King Arthur crap, all right?

And while we're at it, I'm going to continue assume there's someone, someone in that entire !@#$ing peloton who isn't on the juice. And if I'm going down a fool, I'm going down a fool who believes that a sport this demanding, this grueling, and this paradoxically beautiful can still, in *someone* as flawed and tempted and conflicted as Landis and every other doper ever was, live up to its ideals. I sure hope it's Cadel, or Carlos, or Tyler, or Cav. But if it's not, it's gotta be someone. Otherwise, it's just one big WWF match in even gaudier clothing, and everyone who's ever known or been a serious cyclist who's suffered for the sheer love of it, has got to think it's more than that. Lanterne Rouge 2011--I'm rooting for you in July!