Monday, May 28, 2012

It's the 2012 Giro d' Italia Racejunkie Awards!

Yes, Milan's behind us, Paris is ahead of us, and it's time for the coveted 2012 Giro d'Italia Racejunkie Awards! No trophy, but eternal glory and a bitchin' free racejunkie bike sticker to any awardee unfortunate enough to read this are theirs! So without further ado:

Punk-!@# Move of the Race: sprint-wank Roberto Ferrari's near-horizontal swing by the line, fruitlessly-begged-for apology by team management, and half-blase', half-snarling !@#$-you response. Classy!

Crash o' the Race: Frank Schleck's screw-your-brother last-minute draft as squad leader, subsequent retirement from a bike-crash boo-boo, and Johan's extremely public attack-dog dope-smack, including even a threat to his brother Andy and a disgusted slag that at this point only Cancellara's got a spot for the Tour. Oh, come on, Johan--I thought Oliver Zaugg pulled a pretty brave breakaway on the penultimate stage, at least give that guy a job in July!

More'n Just Beer and Back-Bacon Surprise o' the Giro: look, we all knew he was all kinds o' talented, but let's be honest--only Ryder Hesjedal called Ryder Hesjedal,and the rest of us were morons. Oh, Canada, [your] home and native rock, Ryder!

Tifosi Award: to the unnamed Cavendish-dissing roadside wisenheimer, rewarded with this forgiving tweet: "Amongst incredible cheering from British & Italian fans today, 1 dude chuckles "ooh Cav's in trouble!"... I'd stopped for a piss, dickhead!"

Break Like the Wind Prize: theoretically wholly misplaced Belgian Thomas De Gendt, as the helpless GC field behind handed him a podium spot without even a whimper. Daaaaamn, did you see that?

Scalatore of 2012: indeed, Ryder was great--his body has no business whatsoever where he was when he was in the Alps and Dolomites. But Rodriguez is beautiful to watch, whether he's poking his rivals for weak spots or flying uphill on his own. Forza Purito--a nobler loss was never had!

Ghosts of Christmas Past Trophy: Damiano Cunego, soooo close on the Stelvio to a hint of the glory he so effortlessly nut-kneed Gilberto Simoni to steal so very long ago. See you at the Classics next year Damiano--do you *really* wanna be Scarponi's beeyotch at the Giro again?

Escape From New York (Well, Milan) Award: yes, just as Vinokourov's goons were measuring GC-!@#$up Roman Kreuziger for a pair o'cement shoes and a permanent date with the bottom o' Lake Garda, Roman--no idiot, it seems--ripped his guts out for the stage win to Pampeago and a temporary moratorium on his execution. Nice save, Roman--but pull this !@#$ again and you'll be sleeping with with the fishes for good!

Wake Me When It's Over Tactic o' the Race: Liquigas is in control of the peloton. Liquigas is in control of the peloton. Liquigas is in control of the peloton. Liquig...yeah, hell of a lot of good that did!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Basso Award: am I the only one who remembers what a cool calculating Contadorian snot Ivan Basso was in his pre-Op Puerto days? Well, now he's just the most gracious, appreciative, humble guy on earth, equally tranquillo on good days and bad. Dang, I thought that crap back in the day just improved your performance--who knew it jerk-morphed your personality, too? Kudos Captain Civility!

Domestique o' the Giro: I'm callin' this a tie between the faithful Van de Velde, who as a former maglia rosa could've easily chosen to be a resentful lead weight and instead did the entire race proud, and Basso lieutenant Sylvester Szymd. At least it paid off for Christian--but Sylvester, you done your unheralded brethren (and sistren) good!

My Eyes! My Eyes! Award: y'know, what I *don't* need to see for a good half-minute in the live coverage is an AG2R guy fumbling around with the works down his bib shorts and swingin' out for an off-sides 30-kph on-the-fly nature break. What, like the moto's got nothin' better to do? Uh, there's this "general classification" thing that's kinda neat, dudes...

Unrelated Doping Hilarity o' the Month: Wim Vansevenant, ripped off by a dope dealer selling 'im a bogus banned product, and his career and legacy are ruined anyway. Ah, the old oregano-in-the-weed-bag time ask your team doc for 'nutritional help', you nit!

You're Fired You Mother!@#$er! Award: well, I hope that clown who brilliantly led time trial king Taylor Phinney off the course in Milan enjoyed his ride on the moto--even if Taylor don't come back and run 'im over with it, I'm sure it's his last trip anyway!

And Finally, Your Near-Miss of the Race: two-wheeled terror Mark Cavendish, gamely crawling up the mountains like a whacked-out turtle only to lose the red jersey on the final day by one lousy point to Purito. We still love you, Cav--even when you piss us off!

Well, them's mine, and if I missed anyone, I imagine I'll learn it but quick. Congrats to all our winners--and hey, there's always next year!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

And We've Got Our (Non-Italian) Podium!

Woo-hoo Ryder! Aw, Crap, Purito!: okay, I admit it--I'm so happy for the great (and pleasingly non-assholian) Ryder Hesjedal on his (and the first Canadian) win of the Giro d'Italia, but part of me thinks the whole thing blows, because to me, the Giro is fundamentally a climber's race, and for Purito to lose it on the last day in a friggin' 28 k time trial just sucks the mountains' supremacy out of the Giro. But Hesjedal rode truly spectacularly in the mountains, and even Purito could barely shake 'im when he tried yesterday on the Morirolo, then on the Stelvio, and on the all the days before. So despite my disappointment over Rodriguez, thanks to all the boys for making it a nail-biter, a bow to De Gendt for his phenomenal last-minute near-win outta nowhere, but most of all, congrats and huzzahs and ungrudging admiration to Hesjedal and our friends up North--you won it fair and square, and are damn right a "mito" for doing it!

Well, dear reader(s), except for the bloody anarchistic store-destroying arson-fest that's about to start in Milan over the Italians' failure to capture even a podium spot, that's the fabulous Giro d'Italia for this year. Next up, after I stick up some photos/footage on here in a bit: the incredibly prestigious and highly objective 2012 Giro d'Italia Racejunkie Awards!

PS Was anyone else watching Scarponi's intermediate checkpoint times and thinkin', "I call bull!@#$?" Giro gods, please forgive me!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's a Showdown At the Last Chance Cafe'!

You Got Six Hours, Rodriguez! (And Basso, And Scarponi, And...): all right, I could be eating my words by lunchtime, but let's be honest: they couldn't drop him on Pampeago, and they're all crap time trialists, so unless Ryder has a spectacular bonk today, they ain't likely to drop him for more'n enough than a stage win on the Mortirolo and Stelvio, either, and there's a maglia rosa with Hesjedal's name on it in Milan. Too bad for tension's sake they aren't closer against the clock, right? Though Purito has sucked less than usual this year. Anyway, they've still got a chance, so good luck, boys--and damn, it'll really blow if all those domestiques from Liquigas did all that work the last three weeks for nothin', Ivan you at least owe 'em a podium! Vai Ryder...and heck, I am *so* conflicted on this one!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Game On at the Giro, Baby--For Most of 'Em, Anyway!

The GC Heats Up and Shakes Out: what an exciting day in the saddle, as Rodriguez Scarponi Basso (finally laying down the law on his own) and Hesjedal surge and the GC finally starts--but only just starts--to take shape. Still, Basso and Scarponi have a lot of time to make up, and Purito needs even more time on Hesjedal ahead of his inevitable monster suckage in the time trial--but damn, that kid is an all-terrain threat, and who doesn't love our neighbors in the Great White North? Forza Ryder--uh, Rodriguez--uh--oh, just let the best man win! Here, Scarponi's scramble to glom back on and the gruppetto's hotly contested run to the line:

Run, Roman, Run!: of course, the big loss today goes to Astana's really very talented Roman Kreuziger, schlepping in a humiliating 11-odd minutes back, dashing his much-hyped GC hopes and drawing the distinct ire of his directeur sportif, who's already suggesting he can kiss his team leadership goodbye. Y'know, that's a bummer and all, but what I'd *really* be afraid of is pissing off famously intemperate de facto Astana head Alexandre "I Will Gut You Like a Pig, You Failure!" Vinokourov--the hell with bicycles, Roman, steal a freakin' moto or something and get the hell outta there *now*!

My Besotted Uncynical Rah-Rah Moment: check it out--Euskaltel jailbait Jon "Rockstar" Izaguirre for the stage-16 win at the Giro in, for heck's sake, his first-ever Grand Tour debut. Suck that, you big-budget ProTour big-shots--and keep your dirty thieving money-dripping mitts off Euskaltel's talent you bastards!

Good News For RadioSkank (And Goodness Knows They Need It): no, not that desperate ostentatious bull!@#$ "nothin' to see here, move on folks!" love-fest between Frank Schleck and Johan Bruyneel--after the Crappiest Collarbone Break of All Time, Fabian Cancellara's mercifully back in action at the unfortunately named Bayern Rundfahrt, which means that between, say, him and Horner, they'll be able to salvage at least two wins for the squad at the Tour de France this year. Welcome back, Fabian--and please, stay safe and upright the rest of the season!

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's The Final Week of the Giro d' Italia, Baby!; and, Fun 'n' Games With Team RadioSkank

Up, Up, and Away!: screw all that tiresome sprint crap: after the Alps failed to winnow the field, the Giro gets serious in the Dolomites this week, and for my money, if Ivan Basso don't change tactics but quick, he's !@#$ed in Milan. Y'know, I admire Liquigas for its sensible containment tactics, I suppose, but Rodriguez is gonna attack, and smooth and steady as Basso is, if Purito can otherwise stay more or less with him, he's gonna smoke 'im on the steeps. Even Scarponi was the only one who could grab onto Alberto Contador's shirttails last year, and if he can get over his own preference for response rather'n independent attack, he could take Basso too. And frankly, I don't know that Ryder Hesjedal, who I'd love to see on the podium, is any less reliable despite his less formidable squad, and he's distinctly shown some punch this Giro. Ivan, you can't just minimize your losses any more--you've actually gotta *gain*, and before the penultimate day on the Stelvio. Am I the only one who thinks this?

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh ohhhh/Caught In a Bad Romance: geez, I honestly didn't think it was possible, but things are getting even worse between the Schlecks and Johan Bruyneel, as Frank drops out of the Giro with a popped (though apparently re-located) shoulder, and not only does Johan immediately pronounce him a "total wuss," (c'mon, you know what "disappointment" means), but Johan implies that he'll screw his *own* chances for another Tour de France credit by keeping Frank out of the Tour just to hose over Andy. Man, Johan, just grab Alberto Contador for a hot night out at a nightclub and rub the Schlecks' nose in it, whydontcha--are you really gonna be *that* much of a cad, especially when it's *you* who miscalculated hiring 'em? I mean, sure, the boys get the hell on my nerves, too--but show some class you punk!

We Love You Robbie "Head-Butt"!: last, but absolutely not least, a tearful farewell to the great Robbie McEwen on his retirement, because not only *must* one love a man who threatens to shove a fist down Lance Armstrong's throat, but the three-time green jersey-winning "Pocket Rocket" was truly one of the greatest sprinters of his--hell, any--time. Robbie, we'll miss you--and we look forward to watching your upcoming proteges stomp the field! Here, a few of this fantastic Aussie's greatest hits (literally, if you count him grabbing that fan by the throat):

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Deep Thoughts on the Giro d'Italia (Oh, And That Other Race)

1. Either Peter Sagan is the Next Lance Armstrong, or that kid is doped to the gills. Wait, wouldn't that make him the Next Lance Armstrong anyway?

2. Every time Jens Voigt talks about retiring, isn't it like the sky's suddenly turned black, the earth's opened up beneath your feet, and a giant plague o' locusts has just whacked you smack in the face?

3. If a tree falls in the forest, will the Schlecks *still* whine it's another rider's fault?

4. Dave Zabriskie. !@#damn, his upper body is absolutely motionless in a time trial. How the hell does he do it, Botox?

5. Pat "Dick" McQuaid--Alberto Contador just lies awake at night thinkin' of ways to piss you off every day, doesn't he? It's *gotta* be killin' ya!

6. If David Millar *really* felt so crappy about doping, he'd turn down his Olympic spot even though the rules now say he *can* ride.

7. The only consolations whatsoever about Robbie McEwen calling it a career are (1) he's gonna coach other sprinters in the fine art of trash-talk and (2) Roberto Ferrari's even more of a wingnut. Why head-butt a rival when you can just bring 50 of 'em down into the barriers?

8. Saturday and Sunday at the Giro. Yap, Baldy, yap--this weekend we hit the real mountains, honey, and the race of truth begins in the Alps--forza Purito!

9. I don't *what* the hell kind of painkillers Levi Leipheimer's gotta be on to ride the way he's ridin', but don't tell me you wouldn't take 'em!

10. The Giro d'Italia really fixed things this year. It's much, much better for the riders to have to navigate incredibly narrow 180 degree turns 300 feet from the line on every stage, than to have a bunch of those "mountain" things. Good work guys!

I Feel Love: finally, the Giro d'Italia has announced it will have a special tribute to Donna Summer tomorrow, and tifosi, let's get it started right here: Thank you Donna!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

*Now* We've Got Ourselves Some Races!

Pur(ito) Adrenalin: yes, as the Giro heads upwards at last, it's already a battle royale amongst the week-3 GC contenders, as stealth candidate Hesjedal relinquishes the maglia rosa to Joaquim Rodriguez who was really only here to practice, Basso continues his reign of quiet competence, and even Frank Schleck managed to scare the nuts off the Italians for a stage or two before he bonked it today. Could it be everyone's favorite big brother could pull off a podium on a grand tour he'd barely prepared for, now that we've all forgotten what a fine contender he is when he isn't on little-brother nose-wiping duty? Or is Johan Bruyneel gonna yank him out before the finish line in a panic-and-regret-driven move to keep him fresh to boost Andy in July? Will anyone else remember how ludicrous it is that Scarponi is sitting in as moral compass/anointed victor for Contador? All will be answered, dear tifosi--stay tuned, and let's just get through these last coupla sprint stages til the first high passes this weekend!

RadioSkank and Quick Step Talk Smack: y'know, I'll admit it--I thought evergood Chris Horner was just joking when he suggested Levi Leipheimer was "playing possum" with his pre-race "I'm no way close to being able to win" cool-out, but when Levi got notably pissed back at him, and then big bodacious Boonen had to step in to calm things down, I can come to only one conclusion: Johan Bruyneel is a colossal wanker, and this is shaping up to be a far better Tour o' California than I'd hoped. All that, and Jens and Sagan, too? First one o' you to pose next to Boonen while dressed in a gladiator outfit (you, not Tommeke this time) gets a free racejunkie hat--and no Photoshoppin'!

Oh, And BTW Octomom is Bankrupt: in "what the !@#$ is *that* doing here?" news, Lance is on slutty (non-cycling) gossip website TMZ as he continues his "I'm a Hero! Screw You!" campaign by appearing on some new talk show. Look, you can vote on his innocence, too--wait, or is that for the "Would You Rather Do Kim or Khloe Kardashian" poll?

Eeeeeeeeeewwwwww!, Or, Give Your Soigneur A Raise, Or Else!: finally, a warning for every smugly doping cycling starlet--watch who you're hiring to jam that needle in yer !@#, 'cause if he's anything like Roger Clemens' strength coach, he just may be grabbing a swab o' your butt-DNA to prove he was injecting you with dope and insulate himself from Lancian "you lie!" attacks years from now. Uh, not to intrude into these very intimate relationships, but am I the only one who thinks a few team helpers' shut-up pay just increased another, oh, 300% just now?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

So Does This Mean Lance Isn't Gonna Corner Guys Outside the Toilet Anymore?

Lance Speaks: well, I guess Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton can hit up McDonald's for a Happy Meal in peace from now on without Lance Armstrong screaming they're lying sacks of crap and threatening to shove them face-first into the sizzling fry basket: when it comes to any future investigations into doping, lying, and general scumbaggery, he just ain't gonna challenge 'em anymore, even if it means losing his Tours de France. As a special bonus, we won't have to listen to endless repeat loops of that robotic "I've never been proven to dope" from now on, and more, you can all go !@#$ yourselves, 'cause he doesn't care what you think. Whoa, wait a minute Lance, you mean to suggest you actually *allow* other people around you to think? Too bad for your domestiques you didn't tell 'em that 10 years ago--look what you did to the ones who actually tried it!

Ulle Right Already: in other repentant doper news, Jan Ullrich's thankfully emerging from his post Op Puerto pit o' despair, unlike some sadder counterparts in similar scandals, coming out into the world again actually enjoying his bike and conceding that, well, maybe, he "made some mistakes." Y'know, dope-slap Jan all you want--I certainly have--but I forgive 'im now for crushing my trusting innocent soul, and before I get called on the carpet for being some doper-enabler puppy-kicking devil-sympathizer, *tell* me you liars that you don't prefer his old-school one-lie, retreat-into-silence omerta (or the open screw-you defiance of a Vino) over all that crying whining self-serving bawl-for-the-cameras I'm-so-sorry-(I was busted) jailbird-for-Jeezus bull!@#$ of--uh, certain riders who were welcomed back to the peloton. Either don't do it, or do it, take yer lumps, and shut the hell up--anyway, glad your depression is behind you Jan, now let's go eat!

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin', Rawhide!: and, the smashing Giro d'Italia has finally started to turn uphill, not enough to bust apart the GC just yet but certainly enough to (1) bonk or crash most of the sprinters out of the race, despite Cav's controversial under-the-wire squeak thru the stage-6 time limit and (2) let the hardworking unsung roleurs get their day in pink on the breakaways. Bravo, little worker bees--remember, it's the meek who shall inherit the earth, or at least someone else's maglia rosa when it gets stripped off 'em from a doping poz!

So Long, Farewell, Auf Weidersehn, Goo--Holy !@#$!: finally, best wishes to onetime prodigy ohn-Lee Augustyn, retiring from the pros due to ongoing injury to open a bike shop in South Africa. If you'll recall, the youngster was on a hell of a run at the 2008 Tour de France before a most impressive flyer off a steep descent and a tenacious scramble back to the uplands: Good luck John-Lee--and remember, you'll *never* be as bad a descender as the Schlecks!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

It's Yer 2012 Giro d'Italia First-Day Rest-Day Roundup!

Well class, the first few days of the Giro are behind us, there's many more yet to come, and as the boys nurse their ambitions (and bruises) and plot their upcoming bushwhacks, let's ponder some of the valuable lessons we've learned:

1. Roberto Ferrari is one selfish mother!@#$er. Even if he *has* just been smacked into making an insincere apology.

2. I'm really glad Mark Cavendish is back to verbally abusing others, but if Cav were Robbie McEwen, he'd've chewed Ferrari's leg off his body yesterday like a meth-crazed pit bull.

3. Considering he's already the Most Cursed Maglia Rosa Ever, Taylor Phinney's conducted himself most graciously. Give that boy a gold star for etiquette!

4. Jeezus, could Denmark *have* any more road furniture?

5. Vincenzo Nibali's considering whether to reject a measly 1.8 million euro offer from Liquigas in favor of a cooler 2.5 mil from Alexandre "TAKE MY OFFER OR I KILL YOU, YOU WORM!" Vinokourov or BMC. Ivan Basso, I guess this means if you want the Tour de France next year, it's yours!

6. If you're gonna run the Amgen EPO You Suck Tour o' California during my beloved Giro, at least !@#damn do it during the flat stages. Like you haven't already decimated the Giro ranks enough--what the hell is *wrong* with you freaks?

7. Wow, there really *is* someone out there who time trials worse'n the Schlecks.

8. Can we just start going uphill already for chrissakes?

9. There's no need for Michele Scarponi to panic about the GC yet. He can wait until Lampre gets slaughtered in the team time trial for that.

10. Contador sez he knows the 2011 Giro is still really his, but sportingly pegs Scarponi as *this* year's favorite at least. Backhanded compliments much, Alberto?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Right On, Taylor! Oh !@$, Taylor!

Forget this kid's Secretariat lineage or the fact he's been hyped as the Next Great American Cyclist since he first dropped his diaper-clad butt on a Big Wheel--after a blazing win in the opening time trial, jailbait phenom Taylor Phinney just cemented his fame in his own right for completely keeping his cool (outwardly, anyway) when the Gazzetta commentators started screaming their heads off 8 k from the line and Taylor materialized 38 monstrous seconds behind the rapidly disappearing peloton with a chain-twiddle that seemed to take his poor mechanics forever a subsequent car-window futz with the brakes and, by the end of a chaotic finish that sent bodies flying up the barriers, Cav'd come out of nowhere looking too surprised to even do his normal victory dance and Taylor'd slipped in, cool as a cucumber, right back to the pack and into what seemed like an impossible pink. Now *that* is one collected boy. Complimenti, Taylor--and you're clearly doing something right with 'im, BMC!

Interestingly, Taylor talks about his new pink bike that would soon cause him trouble, just prior to the stage this morning:

Tomorrow: the fateful stage three, and a touching tribute to the late Wouter Weylandt. Go swift and safe, Tyler Farrar--you did it for him at the Tour, so I've no doubt you can do it again for him here!

Friday, May 04, 2012

It's the 2012 Giro d'Italia, Baby!; And, a Bonus Shout-Out to the Aussies

Yes, it's truly time for the fabulous Giro, and while the very concept of a "sprinter's Giro" makes me yack, there's still plenty o' mountainous suffering to be had in this gorgeous race, so here's Yer Official Guide to the 2012 Giro:

The Corsa: starts in Denmark, which is bitchin', but is pretty well flat the first week, which blows. Week 2: we start to hit the hills, honey, and begin to tease out out the GC hopefuls from the hopeless. The last week: the high passes at last, including a record-setting altitude-o'-agony on the fearsome Passo Stelvio *after* a same-stage slog up the Mortirolo. The prologue: a twisty, technical 8.7 kilometer time trial to put a bod into pink. Stay upright, boys--you got a looooooong way to go yet from here!

The Fast Men: like I'd care, but Thor, Benna-Jet, Mark Cavendish, and, most of all, heartbroken good-guy Tyler Farrar are there, and frankly, Hushovd better pull *something* off to make BMC forget his Classics. And go Cav--we're only going to see you for a few days anyway!

The Favorites: for the first time in a long time, there really ain't any. But Vuelta god Rodriguez wouldn't mind it, Ivan Basso needs it, and Roman Kreuziger--well, it'd sure've been nice for his beauty rest had Alexander Vinokourov'd not rashly marked him for 21 consecutive 3 a.m. wake-n'-pokes by the narcs by recently bragging a fellow Astana-ite had "won a race like Vino!" My question: without Contador's wheel to aspire to, will Michele Scarponi have the mental and physical wherewithal to take the whole show on his own? Here, an exclusive pic of Frank Schleck after hearing the news of his RadioSkank leadership from Johan Bruyneel:

The Climbers: crying in their Cheerios 'til about stage 8, basically, but thankfully, the Giro organizers haven't totally lameified the route. And while the GC freak out marking each other--Jose Rujano, the queen stage is yours!

And, Yet Another Reason Our Friends Down Under Just Rock: finally, while this has nothing to do with the Giro, it's still surely a sign of something good, as from the Aussie (non-cycling) sports federations comes this plea to warm the hearts of stoners everywhere: since pot doesn't actually *help* performance, please, please, please take it off the banned-substances list! Y'know, moralize all ya want, but it's true--Jan Ullrich once gained 67 pounds during the off-season from attacks of the munchies alone. How the hell else you think Lance kept winning the Tour?

Well, dear reader(s), onwards and (I swear) upwards--here's to the magnificent prize you're shooting for!