Friday, February 24, 2012

Baby Got Back (To Belgium, That Is)!

It's Kuurnage, Kuurnage I Tells Ya!: yes, the early season perma-snoozeathon of perfectly flat roads (though some pretty exciting sprint finishes) is over, the fast men are kickin' back, and it's time for the hard-men o' the cobbles to come out to play at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this weekend and the upcoming big-!@# Classics, which means (1) Tom Boonen is ready to !@#$-smack every wanky naysayer who dissed 'im last season (this includes you, Lefevere!); (2) Thor Hushovd's finally gonna take Roubaix (shut up! go to hell! bite me!); and (3) Philippe Gilbert's gonna leave pretty much everyone else in the peloton crying into their beers like guys when that pilot "Goose" gets killed in "Top Gun." Me, I love underdogs, so I'm rooting for Tommeke--that is, at least til he starts seriously winning again!

Well I've Had/The Time (Trial) of My Liiiiiii-iiife: and, it's exceedingly bitchin' to see smashing comic-con fan-boy/aero-king Dave Zabriskie tearin' up the tarmac at the Tour of Langkawi, which so far as I can tell means just one thing--yap, yap, one of the best riders of his generation, yap, legacy, yap, papa's gonna be gettin' himself a whoooooooooooole lot of new action figures! You go, Dave--and nice ride! >

Mario "The Chest"'s Words o' Wisdom: man, not only does one of the most legendary sprinters of all time look mighty dashing in his birthday suit (and, y'know, is one of the most legendary sprinters of all time), Cipo also generously provided some surprisingly sage advice for disgusting worm-weasel/aspiring barkeep Riccardo Ricco' on a companionable ride together: get a respectable freakin' job already! Oh my god, I didn't realize my Dad was Mario Cipollini! Anyway, no word from the boss on whether Ricco' is gonna drop his quest for revenge, redemption, and new and exciting ways to poison himself doping--but I ain't gonna let that little clown mix *me* a drink if I ever happen into his little pub, that's for sure!

Show Me the Love!: finally, let's all have a colossal contemporaneous moment of silence and general karmic flow of good wishes for poor Saxo-boss Bjarne Riis as he gets ready to go before the power-drunk blood-lusting hypocrites at UCI to grovel for his ProTour license, not because he clearly acted like a monster tool by driving away the perfect Jens Voigt to the horrid RadioSkank, but because by betting the entire farm (get the "cow" reference? what a knee-slapper!) on Contador, he's just about hosed a whole lotta awful nice domestiques, mechanics, and assorted other team minions outta the rewards, and dubious glories, o' the highest ranks of the sport. Dang, Bjarne, that kid hypnotize you with those pretty long eyelashes or what? Snap out of it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Happy, Delusional, Rainbow-Brite World of Planet Schleck

Or Maybe My Little Pony. Or Strawberry Shortcake. Or...: yes, Frank and Andy Schleck are waxing poetic about the season ahead, and having read their interviews, my question to these brilliant young cyclists is, are you on freakin' crack? Andy, I truly believe you *will* win the Tour one day, so long's Cadel, Alberto, and basically any mountain-friendly dimwit with even dubious abilities to downhill and time-trial are all, say, simultaneously stricken with massively foul 3-week bouts of food-borne projectile vomiting starting on July 1 of the next five consecutive Tours de France--but barring mishap on someone else's part, which to be fair would never be the way you'd want to win, it ain't gonna be this year. In which case, *why* does Johan Bruyneel apparently want to screw you outta the support you so desperately need to have even a hope at the top of the podium by burning out Frank at the Giro d'Italia this year? Sure, the Giro's an easier course this season--but let's be real, if a nakedly brutal course could so viciously take out Alberto, even a routine Giro's gonna knock Frank flat on his !@# for July. And yes, it *does* also eliminate the possibility that Frank could be RadioSkank's backup GC hope should you choke in the time trials even more than usual, tho' I know you're both usually too united and gentlemanly to consider such a thing. Then again, it's RadioSkank, who gives--Johan, just let Jens the hell out the door to tear up the course and you can stick dirty doping (allegedly!) Lance in there for all I care!

Soler System: meantime, in recovery news, twee tenacious mountain god Mauricio Soler, whose very survival not so long ago was uncertain, is back riding his bike at home in Colombia, and while he may never get back in the actual peloton, I think one can say without reservation that in the hard-man standings this guy makes even Johnny "Barbed-Wire" Hoogerland and Stuey "Bend Me, Break Me, Any Way You Want Me" O'Grady look like a coupla playground knee-skinned kindergarten crybabies. Best wishes in your continued journey, Mauricio, you bad-!@#!

Money Money Money: and of course, while French squads continue to bite, Spanish squads scramble for new do--uh, delis, and even the lamer Continental teams have enough dough to lure the big boys, the superlative Euskaltel-Euskadi is dragged down to diggin' change outta the seat cushions in the team car, rendering it damn near inevitable that (1) Samuel Sanchez is gonna be sent out on the street-corner with an accordion and an organ-grinder monkey to shill for pennies from tourists when he oughta be out training for the Tour de France and (2) that mercenary pigvert Bruyneel is gonna get to buy the cream of the Basque talent pool for his loathesome squadly machinations next year, *again*. !@#dammit, people, do I *have* to start another Buy The Euskaltel Guys Some New Underwear Charity Campaign--we barely kept 'em in Garanimals *last* season!

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty: finally, a big welcome back to golden euromullet Franco Pellizotti, no longer with a place at Liquigas after his two-year exile for failing to preemptively manage his blood profile, but, fortunately, being heavily courted by the morally flexible and even gaudier-outfitted Lampre. Look, he's taking his clothes off already--aw, just like old times!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bans Are For Sissies: A Comprehensive Approach to Anti-Doping Reform

Problem: "retroactive" bans clearly mean !@#$: the guy's back on the road in a coupla months. And banning a rider after 6 years of dithering is ridiculous: the man's either already retired, or well past his useful shelf life anyway. And some guys, no matter what they do, they never get banned at all. Either way, they're all laughing their !@#es off. Conclusion: unless the governing bodies are willing to ban first and apologize later, or you get some lily-livered crybaby who blubbers for mercy immediately in regret over being busted in hopes of a reduced sentence, bans are !@#$%$#. Solution: Chain gangs. Look, the death penalty, while tempting, is (1) frankly a little bit harsh for snarfing a jolt of pre-race joy juice and (2) some sort of whiny "human rights violation" if you're a simpering socialist brie-eating ivory-tower criminal-appeaser country unlike the United States or, say, Iran. But chain gangs? Benissimo! And not just *any* ol' chain gangs--they're ultra-deterrent super-humiliating ProTour chain gangs! Yes, Alberto, you and your fellow dope-suckin band o' miscreants will not only be wearing some rusty medieval 80-lb. shackles right where it'd hurt to hold the handlebars and clip into the pedals, but you'll be specially assigned to shame yourself right in front of the folks it'll crush you the most! That poor bastard walking around exactly in front of the final podium in the 100-degree sun in a grotesquely obvious prison outfit with a broom handle with a metal point attached to it pickin' up yellow confetti while the Official Andy Schleck Fan Club covers you in lougies and the man himself stands above you on high gleaming in his brand-new maillot jaune? That's *you*, baby--enjoy that fresh air and exercise, *and* be on the cover of every publication in sports the next day! Wah, wah, the verdict was wrong, you lost your dignity for life and 20 bazillion euros worth of winnings and product endorsements--nothin' an "oops, sorry!" straight from the mouth of Pat "Dick" when you win your appeal can't fix right up, right? So who's with me--baby Schleck, you got a vested interest in this one, so long as Joha--uh, I mean, you got a vested interest in this one!
Look, here's the crew for the Giro d'Italia! that third-from-the-left Hinault?

And, A Shout-Out to Our Tom Boonen Fans: back on the Planet of Stuff That's Actually Relevant This Century, ain't it a real, genuine delight to see big Belgian babe-magnet Tom Boonen back on form and so confident once again at the Tour of Qatar? I *knew* getting him back into the discotheque and onto the white stuff (y'know...sugar) would get him back on top--way to go for once Quick Step, and who *knows* how that quiet Levi Leipheimer'll take off if he adopts this new training regimen! Oh, and feel better poor Cav...

Monday, February 06, 2012

A Rational, Measured Response to the Alberto Contador Verdict

Y'know, not to claim I'm psychic or nothin', because frankly I banked on CAS simping out with a one year ban, but I did have a dream about Alberto Contador last night, and while yes I *do* apparently need to get a life you wisenheimers, it was this: Contador's on his knees before Pat "Dick" McQuaid, clutching a big black UCI rulebook and wailing to the skies above with tears streaming down his face in one of those ostentatious and peculiarly American jailhouse conversions that totally coincidentally allows you to act like an !@#wipe your entire life then lets you off with just a crappy apology and still lets you rule over your family and like half the universe with an iron fist without any merit on your part whatsoever but you are ABSOLVED, baby, and Pat "Dick" had his hand on Alberto's head like he was a-drivin' the devil o' doping outta him and about to dunk him in the purifying waters of one of those foul contaminated oil-slicked bayou swamps because the skies above don't believe in environmental controls, and then I woke up this morning and whammo, Alberto was well and truly nailed and there Lance was on ESPN blitzed on whatever lite beer he's pushin' wearing a blurred-out "!@#$ You, Landis!" t-shirt and babbling on about how at least he wasn't that stupid back in the day and with the statute of limitations on doping about to run out Travis Tygart can just bite 'im and he's returning to the peloton and good luck nailin' him then either anyway.

So in this same spirit of thoughtful, reasoned analysis, let's proceed with our scientific review of the CAS decision. To summarize our hypothesis, I believe the technical term is "bull!@#$." You say flat out you think *both* UCI's paranoid plasticizer conspiracy and Alberto's "smoking cow" defense are equally unlikely, and the problem is he wholly unintentionally ingested a contaminated food supplement, and you're *still* banning him for two years? Y'know, I'll admit, I usually don't like "zero tolerance" policies, one because I don't personally want to get busted for anything and two because they tend to be used to treat a Cub Scout showing off the new jack-knife he got for Christmas like he's a triple-murderer perpetual-solitary feces-throwing sociopath trying to shank his prison guard with a filed-down toothbrush. But I can accept them as at least making some sense, until you say you *might* have made an exception to it if he'd *happened* to have made up the same ridiculous excuse for his positive that *you* just did. How the !@#$ does *that* make sense?

Yes, Contador's an arrogant, and probably intentionally performance-tweaking, twerp. One thing's likely, you didn't emerge at the very top of Manolo Saiz and Johan Bruyneel's snarling two-wheeled wolfpacks without *some* savant sommelier's knowledge of the finer points of the good stuff--if you wanted it. But the fact is that Andy Schleck could personally mainline him, Vinokourov, *and* Armstrong like some sort of repulsive bat-hybrid vampire, and he *still* wouldn't be the rider that an undoped Contador is. Righty-o, delusional rabid all-caps "CONTABITCH" haters, we'll see if that's still true in August, when Twerp comes back from his ban and obliterates the entire field in the Vuelta. One does wonder, though, if much-derided riders like Cadel and Leipheimer would've ever *quite* earned their prior reps as boring wheelsuckers *and* gotten even more wins, if Contador hadn't been somehow assisted in his startling powers of superacceleration. Unless this kid's truly an idiot, the end of the season'll tell us. My money, however, is on "aberrant if charmingly doe-eyed mutant genetic freak."

Still and all, even with the two-year ban, this really isn't as bad as it looks. Contador's actually being banned from riding for a grand total of six squat months, still allowing him to race, as noted, his own Grand Tour--even if Bjarne's team does go down in flames by then in a haze of sponsor abandonment UCI downgrades and tragic Riisian 24/7 meth-chasing, it's not like a Spanish squad won't pick him up by then. So it ain't like he's gonna have two straight years of no competition to lose his form, his rhythm, and the feel of riding in (and away from) a position-jockeying peloton. All he's losing are the victories. And sure, it'll look like crap in the history books, but really, what's a freakin' asterisk in Wikipedia and the skeptic's intellectual sense of dismay compared to the indelible, visceral raw footage of Contador whacking the crap outta everyone else in the mountains? So Scarponi (and don't even get me started on *that*), enjoy the hand-me-down maglia rosa, Andy, best regards for being a class act in your statements today, Cobo, sorry you won't get to make your memorable 2011 Vuelta a two-fer, and Armstrong, put down the champagne and the karaoke mike because one more !@#damn chorus of "We Are the Champions" and I swear I'm gonna yack!

Off With His 'Ead: Alberto Contador Is Guilty!

Y'know, the world has come up with some pretty sick !@## punishments over the years-- drawing-and-quartering, Iron Maidens, sticking your head in stocks on the public square and letting the populace throw rotten vegetables at you--but for my money, the worst punishment of all has got to be, not CAS's two-year ban and retroactive stripping of results for Alberto Contador's poz for clenbuterol, but sentencing the poor doping sod to two straight years of listening to Pat "Dick" McQuaid's perpetual and obnoxious crowing of bringing a legendary champion that he doesn't like down. Damn, that monstrous harpy's shrieking would make me wish I'd given Andy Schleck the Tour he-also-unfairly-attacked-Alberto-in-but-inexplicably-got-a-pass-for too! Anyway, more to come of course (!@#$in' "day job!), but important statements have already been issued in the case, with Pat "Dick" keepin' it real with a simple singsong "ha ha!", and CAS stating, "There, we don't look like such *ussies now, do we!"

Friday, February 03, 2012

My (fantasy) Interview With Pat "Dick" McQuaid--Plus, Breaking News!

Racejunkie (extending hand): Hi Mr. McQuaid, nice to meet you. I'm racejunkie.

Pat "Dick" McQuaid: "Junkie?" Are you implying that I looked the other way for years while Lance Armstrong doped like a pig so I could bask in his reflected glory and take credit for the sport's exponential growth? Well, the feds just announced he's off the hook, so you're gonna hear from my lawyers, you bitch!

RJ:'s just my name. Here, I feel like we've gotten off on the wrong foot a bit. Would you like some coffee before we get started?

PDM: Why shouldn't I? It's legal! It's always *been* legal! There's nothing in the rules against caffeine!

RJ: Relax, dude, you're not even a cyclist. Why don't we begin. In light of today's complete exoneration of Lance by the narcs, and the universal blasting--some might say blacklisting--of Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton for speaking out about systemic doping on his Postal squad, what do you say to those who allege such occurrences only serve to enforce the omerta the sport purports to despise?

PDM: Two words, Racejunkie: David Millar. That guy could cry like a chick, *and* he didn't snitch.

RJ: What are your thoughts on the upcoming Contador verdict?

PDM: I'm fully confident we'll look like total !@#holes no matter what they decide.

RJ: Oh. Let's talk about the 2007 Tour de France. Now, assuming time moves forward in a linear fashion, at least in our puny human experience, it's obvious you knew Michael Rasmussen missed UCI pre-Tour doping controls before the Tour began. Yet you still let him ride for two-and-a-half weeks before yanking him out of the race on the very eve of overall victory. Can you comment?

PDM: Heh, heh, I always did hate that scrawny little motherf--um, it was an unfortunate miscommunication by an inexperienced administrative employee who has since been fired. Besides, *you* want those goons at Rabobank bangin' down *your* door at 3 in the morning?

RJ: There's been a lot of controversy in recent years over how terribly difficult the Grand Tours have become, particularly in the mountains, in an ever-escalating effort to thrill the fans. Do you think there's any chance that such grueling courses are virtually encouraging the riders to dope?

PDM: Nonsense. I personally have met with many fans who find it very exciting to watch riders like Evans, the Schlecks, and Sanchez manually push their bikes up 5 consecutive hors categorie climbs at 2 kilometers per hour.

RJ: The women's peloton has recently begun to criticize the sport for its lack of fair wages, and UCI specifically for its failure to support women's cycling. What is your response?

PDM: I told that idiot Verbruggen that once we let the female riders quit cleaning the men's hotel rooms that those ladies would start to get uppity. I mean, Bronzini? Get in the kitchen and make me some pie!

RJ: There seems to be a rash of recent doping cases among amateur riders, while the established pro ranks have seen a crash in the number of positives. Why do you think that is?

PDM: Wait'll they start making enough money to buy the good sh--er, we seem to be between effective testing methods at the mom--that is, I think the peloton has really turned a corner in its integrity, mindset, and overall level of sportsmanship. Damn, I *hate* it when the teleprompter goes on the fritz!

RJ: Any last words you'd like to add for the benefit of our audience today?

PDM: Oh, I can "add" all right. Especially unmarked 50 and 100 euro notes. Or how many pieces of lab equipment you've donated. Or, y'know, the carpet in my office could use replacement...

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

6 Days (Yeah, Right) 'Til Judgement Day, Alberto!

Home Sweet Home ('Til CAS Lets Him Off): yes, aside from a planned one-day sojourn to the Challenge Mallorca, Alberto Contador has reportedly returned home to barricade himself in his bathroom with his maillot jaune, 2010 Tour de France trophy, blankie, and some serious American-style weap--uh, to await his CAS verdict, and so far as I can tell that leaves six more days for Bjarne Riis to either (1) still be a professional cycling manager or (2) grow so obscenely rich for betting on this kid that he can maybe even afford to buy him a domestique next year in addition to his spankin' new private island in the Caribbean. No pressure, Alberto--just your personal legacy and the jobs of like 60 innocent victims!

French Kiss-Off: and, I see Vuelta a Espana mountains monster David Moncoutie is calling it a career on the Tour de France, focusing on defending his 5th King of the Mountains title in August instead, thereby leaving, I calculate, the number of French Riders Who Don't Suck At Their Own Grand Tour at a humiliating three, namely Sandy Casar, Thomas Voeckler (and God knows that saved 'em),, I hear that "Hinault" guy was pretty good back in the day! Oh, come on David, sure it'll screw your Vuelta, but *someone's* gotta take one for the team...

Baby Got (Cadel's) Back: meantime, it's truly heartening to see the ever-gracious Thor Hushovd commit to put his "full weight" behind Cadel at the Tour, which means, given Thor's 2011 performance in the mountains, this is the 1st time poor Cadel won't be left completely alone 90% of the time in the heights. Of course, if Cadel weren't Cadel and all, I'd rather see Thor throw his "full weight" *on* 'im for the Tour, but anyway, damn, BMC, you can't even spring for a bicycle for the guy to ride this year?

Ladies Night (Day, Whatever): and, the season is off to a fine start at the women's Tour of Qatar, with Kirsten Wild whangin' the heck out of a stellar field of sprinters, just in time to get in a couple hours selling Tupperware to pay her own salary before it was time to hit the hay. Pat "Dick" you loathesome cheapskate, quit whining about Paul Kimmage telling the truth about your being an oily disgusting Armstrong-slurpin' doper-enabler and get your lazy !@# out the chair to raise some dough for the women!

Who Gives A !@#$ About Contador, Don Cornelius of Soul Train is Dead!: R.I.P. Mr. Cornelius. You were the soundtrack to my childhood. Wishing you love, peace, and *soul*!