Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's Flanders, Baby!--Has Ever a Race So Beautiful Become So Snoozy?

Can we get to the point? This circuit !@#$ and skipping the Muur just sucks. Why not just let the peloton have a nice relaxing brunch the first 5 hours then start from 20k out? Anyway, it is still Flanders, so let's recap:

1. !@#$!: Tom Boonen down, stitches impending, and his Classics totally !@$#ed at 30K. Despite the fact that I was rooting for Boonen anyway after his crap season-so-far, and 80% of Boonen is still 120% of anyone else, am I the only one thinking that the Classics just ain't the Classics if Tom and Fabian can't slug it out in full form? Here, Belgium breaks its heart:

2. Notable Mechanicals: Rear wheel puncture for Fabian at 53k out. Flecha mechancial at 34k. Really, is that gonna take either one of 'em out?

3. Yep, It's Flanders All Right: walkin' on the Koppenburg.

4. The End is Near: Fabian and Sagan are marking at 34k! Argy-bargy at the foot of the Kwaremont! Roelandts ditches Hinault at 18K! Chavanel falling back!

5. Okay, You Can Turn Off the TV Now: Cancellara jumps again as Sagan hits the hurt locker at 17k! All over at 13k as Sagan and Roelandts settle for a slugfest for second.

6. Vooooos!: yep, it's Marianne Vos for the women. Damn, does she even need a bike to ride on--that woman could just win races walking and pickin' daises!

Well, that's what you missed, unless seeing Fabian Cancellara--who is brilliant, yap yap yap--pull the same one-length-and-he's-gone trick can keep you entertained for every race on the planet. Me, not so much. Bring on Roubaix, and for God's sake, some other freakin' tactic!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Peter Sagan vs. Mark Cavendish: Yer Handy Primer

Okay folks, there's been a loooottta flashy ridin' lately and a looooottta fan fightin' over who reigns supreme, upstart young Slovak Peter "Pop-a-Wheelie" Sagan or less upstart but still young Brit Mark "Colgate" Cavendish. And frankly, between the sprinterly arrogance, lightning-fast finishes and whack-job victory salutes, it's sometimes hard to tell who's who. So who are they, and who's the bitchinest of them all? Here, Yer Handy Racejunkie Primer:

Early History: Sagan: junior world mountain bike champ. Cav: gold-medal world madison champ trackie. And yes, they both rode everything else, too. Mountain bike's more beery 'n' fun, but track's just wicked cool. Advantage: Cavendish.

Palmares: Sagan: this year's Gent, possibly Sunday's Flanders, 5 stages and the green jersey at last year's Tour, points classification in basically everything else last year, too. Cav: 2011 world road champ, Milano-Sanremo, a mind-boggling couple dozen stages at the Tour de France, points classifications in the Tour and, miraculously, the fabulous Vuelta. Yes, Sagan's younger, but boy--you've got some more work to do!

Nickname: Sagan: the "Terminator." True, to be sure, but holy crap is that overused, and his sponsor should still be thwapped for that obnoxious green bike last year. Cav: the "Manx Missile." Cav takes it by a landslide!

Victory Salute: Cav: a clean, straightforward, chest-thumping, finger-flippin' "screw you!" Sagan: a masterpiece of arcane movie gestures, crowd-pleasing showmanship, and just plain goofy joy. Sagan, you charmer--sure, your elders are miffed, but then, they're jealous of you, too!

Strengths: Sagan: jack of all trades, master of...well, it's still a little too soon to tell where he's gonna really go, right? Cav: undisputed fastest man on two wheels in a pure sprint. Cav 'til Sagan gets a little more experience!

Weaknesses: Sagan: uh...I dunno...he's too darn big to be a Sastre-esque pure climber? Cav: can't climb for !@#$, but man, does he ever stick it out. Cav, we'll see if he out-chokes you at something!

Team: didja know Sagan's a Quick Step reject? Well, I didn't, you insufferable bike-stat snotwad! Lookin' a little green there, Lefevere? Anyway: Sagan's the better natural Classics rider, but Cav's got the better Classics squad. Sagan wins on the smashing Liquigas (Cannondale, whatever) team kit, which is almost as garish as he is, but Cav's already smacked his new Quick Step minions into a solid lead-out. Me, I love any team that's got Chavanel and Boonen, and Cannondale's still pissing me off for losing Nibali. Toss up!

Team Camp: sure, Liquigas is admirably sadistic, but it was Quick Step that had Cav and everyone else go special-ops Rambo on everyone's !@# this year. Drop and give me 20, Sagan you punk!

Argy-Bargy: there's still some debate about whether Sagan's De Panne win the other day was a bit of a punk-!@# move for changing his line, but did you know Cav once single-handedly flung Tyler Farrar over the border into the Spain by grabbing his bike jersey with his teeth? Yup, they still haven't found 'im! Gotta give Cav management points for delegating half his dirty work to his domestique goons, though. Sagan wins for cleanliness!

Smack-Talk: Sagan is relentlessly, heck, almost freakishly, polite. Cav, on the other hand, will not only blame the weather, the announcer, the race moto, and the other squads failure to support 'im for his loss, but will publicly rip into his own teammates to boot. Wait, do we give this to the diplomat, or the !@#$-you guy?

Eye-Candy Quotient: oh, gimme a break, you smug little purists--you think Mario "the Chest" Cipollini made his career on results alone? On this, I defer to my loyal reader(s). 'Cause it's not like you all hadn't thunk about it anyway!

Well, them's my assessment, and honestly, I'm surprised how Cav's more'n held his own against the Sagan hype machine. So slug it out on the road, boys, and let's see who earns the vulgar victory display at the end of the season!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

It's the Abominable SnowClassics!; and, Baby Schleck on an Upswing

Watch Out, Big Boys!: well, if there was any doubt that Peter Sagan was ready to win a big race, presumptive Classics kings BMC Quick Step and (thanks to Fabian) RadioSkank are scared straight now: the boy not only had the strength, but even seems to be developing a little tactical sense this week, to take a snow-snapped Gent-Wevelgem. Speaking of which, am I the only one totally pissed at how Thor Hushovd's going this season? Time to earn your damn paycheck o "God o' Thunder!" As for Tommeke, it looks his 2012 win streak has totally gobsmacked him out of any luck whatsoever this season. Dagnabit! Of course, the Terminator finished off in grand style, this time wielding an imaginary lasso and popping a trademark wheelie across the line. Sure, he's cocky--but doesn't it still make you want to smack him a lot less than when Contador pulls that "Pistolero" crap? Here, poor Tom:

Woo-hoo, He's Saved!: meanwhile, just as I was about to drop a bucketload o' mercy and resolve a Voluntary Rider Insult Moratorium on sad-sack bar-fly Andy Schleck until he finished a race, he *did* finish one this weekend by golly, coming in a respectable 57th out of 60 at Criterium International at only 22 plus minutes back. Start quakin', Alberto--after all, you're the one knocked out with the sniffles this weekend! However, I really do wish him a total physical and mental recovery for July. But it ain't still gonna help if you don't learn to descend and time trial, Andy!

Et Tu, Wiggo?: thinking of Chris Froome, who took the stage and GC from teammate Richie Porte at Criterium International on the last day, am I the only one thinkin' that Brad Wiggins actively wants to !@#$ over Froomey at the Tour by saying he now plans to ride the Vuelta as well as the Giro? Sure, Wiggins, he maybe tried to pull a Cunego to your Simoni at the Tour de France--with a ton of ungracious whinging at that--but you still couldn't surpass 'im with this year's parcours so why be a bitch about it? Either help or stay home, and just upstage 'im in France with your rock-band entourage or somethin' instead!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Boonen Goes Bull!@#$! Sagan Eats Pie! Phinney Phreezes! And, Wiggo Wants Whup-!@#

Uh, Aren't the Belgians Supposed to *Like* This Slop?: well, that was one smashing start for African cycling, as big Maggy Backstedt calls it early for the brand-new MTN-Qhubeka's sprint-stud Gerald Ciolek, powering around nicely as Sagan over-marked Chavanel to lose the top spot, and Chavanel himself provided, for my money, by far the most aggressive and entertaining ride of the race. But of course, the big news of the day--because it sure wasn't the podium--was the near-blizzard conditions that forced the Italians to cut off the race's Turchio climb but still left the peloton, even after their team-bus lay-off warm-up, in a severe state of soaked, miserable, decimated, pissed-off Popsicle. An extremely ticked Tommeke, as he bailed out at the break: "I think my decision says enough.This is partly a precaution, but also a statement to the organization. They knew long enough that there was so much snow on the road. What happens now is the fault of the organization's own fault. Have you ever wanted to bicycle through the snow ridden? There are nicer things than this. I'm completely frozen." Other casualties: Vincenzo Nibali, Matthew Goss, and, well, pretty much everyone from Spain. Stickin' it out: Mark Cavendish for heck's sake, who simply tweeted "Fucking.Freezing." and *still* came in strong in the chase group. Right on Cav! Here, Taylor Phinney coated in ice, and a cheerful Sagan with his pie:
And, the last 3k:

There's Always Tomorrow/For Dreams To Come True: but wait, there's more--it's the fabulous Volta a Catalunya starting tomorrow, baby, and it's really all about the pre-Giro showdown between we love modest Canadian defending champ Ryder Hesjedal, Brad "I Hate Being Famous! Wait, Where's the Paparazzi Going?" Wiggins, and Tour rivals Rodriguez and Valverde. Also in: controversial returning Lance-yappin' Garmin ban-ees Van de Velde, Zabriskie, and Danielson. Me, I'm just gonna be smug as hell when dear Euskaltel finally grabs their first win of the season (go to hell! are too! it's been cold out!). And come on Cadel, you can do this--time to show some form already!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rain! Pain! The Cipressa and Poggio! It's All Wide-Open for Milano-Sanremo, Baby!

What Is It?: the first big Classic of the season, baby, and a looooooooong 298k. Ow, !@#$!

What's The Terrain: well, it's flat enough at the very end for a bunch sprint. But the Cipressa and Poggio climbs and descents can (1) let a break get away and (2) thin the herd like lion on antelope. And it depends on how hard the wind is blowing. And if the rain is falling--which it will be. And how cold it is. And...damn, thank god I'm gonna be watching this thing from home!

So What's That Look Like?: Here, and for heck's sake at least wake up for the last 25k:

Who's Gonna Be There?: Who isn't? Oh, right, the munchkin 20-ounces-soaking-wet climbing specialists. The rest of you, line up and prepare to hurt!

Who're The Faves: yeah, you know 'em! Past winners Gerrans, Gossy, Pippo, Cancellara, Cavendish. Bearer of High Expectations Sagan. Bearers of Middlin' Expectations Boonen Nibali and Gilbert. Bearers of Crap Expectations Hushovd. And about 20 other big wily bastards who ain't talkin'. Me, I'm wondering if Sagan'll be so marked he'll just be Cancellaraed outta the win. Forza Tommeke--shut up, he can too!

What's the Weather?: according to the forecast, so miserable even the Belgians'll hate it. But come on--if you ain't riding it, doesn't it seem more "epic" that way?

Right, the Gilbert Psyche-Out: geez, what crap timing for world champ Philippe Gilbert to have to deal with accusations of bogus-prescrip'd cortisone use at Lotto after everyone'd already stopped doping 2 years ago--don't let it freak you out, Gilbert!

Finally, Yer Bonus Cav-Boonen Press Conference Eye Can--uh, Highly Informative Speaking Stuff:

Well, it's on to the race--good luck and stay upright you guys!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's Yer Tirreno-Adriatico-Paris-Nice-Pre-Tour-de-France-'n'-Giro Roundup!

1. Contador's just waiting. Don't get too cocky there, Froomey!

2. Nibali is just gonna crush this Giro. Ivan Basso, there's no shame in a stage win!

3. Andy Schleck is meat for the season. And I hope he gets--well, everything--back for 2014, or it'll go down as one of the most epic wastes of talent in the history of cycling.

4. Cav can bitch all he wants that Peter Sagan's "not a sprinter," but that doesn't mean Sagan won't still beat him again.

5. Speaking of Sagan, holy crap he's fun to watch. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that Sagan can climb without croaking, I'd say he rather reminds me of a certain dashing young Manxman.

6. Yes, Purito, you *do* look great. No, do *not* try the Giro/Tour double, you eejit! When you *win* your first Grand Tour, *then* you can try it. And you'll *still* be screwed. Ever hear the name "Alberto Contador"?

7. Jeeeeens! Jeeeeeeens! Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeens!

8. If you saw Andrew Talansky coming at Paris-Nice, you are a total lying sack of !@$%. Or Jonathan Vaughters.

9. Yes, that stage at Tirreno was insane. No, don't apologize for it. As Cancellara called it, what's a little "sadomaso" between friends?

10. Coolest. Trophy. In. Cycling.

11. No, this is not related. Get well soon 1995 we-love-the-Vuelta champ Laurent Jalabert!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

I Love You, You Love Me, We're a Happy Fam-i--You Suck You Worthless Vermin Dirtbags!

Yay, He's Back!: Geez, just as I was about to complain that Mark Cavendish's newfound happiness at Quick Step was making him into a vomitously saccharine gushing goo-goo-eyed alien pod-person whose brain has clearly been taken over by Smurfs, he's graciously restored my faith in humanity by immediately blaming his teammates for his humiliating 5th-place loss in today's Tirreno-Adriatico. On the plus side, Mr. Sensitive did say he would "talk about my feelings" with his lead-out train tonight. Awwwww. NOW !@#$ IT UP TOMORROW AND I'LL RIP YOUR HEADS OFF YER NECKS WITH MY GIANT TEETH LIKE YER A BAT AT AN OZZY OSBOURNE CONCERT! YAAAAAAAAA! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Here, why he's pissed, and how Gossy takes the win:

You're All Worthless and Weak!: meanwhile, Marianne Vos, natch, has not only already bagged a huge mountain bike event this week, but she's just nailed her first road race of the season as well at the Drentse 8, as well as the top spot on Wheel of Fortune, Project Runway, the Newlywed Game, and the Annual Betty Crocker Cake Mix Cook-Off, which, so far as I can tell, leaves even great rivals like former world champ Giorgia Bronzini and Emma Johansson pretty much scavenging for podium crumbs in her wake. Don't worry though, she still hasn't won a national election in the Ne--oops, hello, Prime Minister!

Sissy-Boy Slap-Fight o' the Week: finally, it's clearly gettin' ugly in ex-doperland, as Floyd Landis snarls that retired Rabobank doping-denier Michael Boogerd, who previously claimed Landis was only accusing him of drug use because Boogerd mortifyingly called him an "arrogant jellyfish", is still only coughing up half-truths now that he's confessed, much less total bull!@#$ artists like Tour de France second-place Oscar Pereiro, who still won't even cop to nothin'. In response to this latest salvo, Boogerd reportedly called Landis a "stuck-up hermit crab" and a "snotty-ass sea slug," while a less eloquent Pereiro merely labeled Floyd a "m!@#$%f!@#$$." I say, forget this whiny little smack-talk--you're tough, right, why not challenge each other to a duel?

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Thrills! Spills! Chills! Yes, It's Springtime in the Peloton

Te-rain in Sp--Uh, Italy--Falls Main-ly On the Pla-ain: yep, it's not only your fabulous spring racing, but it's also your Tour de France preview, baby, as Tirreno-Adriatico roars off tomorrow with big cheeses Contador Cadel Purito and Froomey staring down and psyching out their Tour rivals, Cav and Sagan plotting mutual destruction, and Cancellara--well, just hoping to get *something* out of his !@#$ experience at RadioSkank in this lifetime. Good luck there Alberto--and Froome, try not to rub the whole "suuuuuure, you don't want to defend the Tour" thing in Wiggo's face too much! Here, yer Tirreno dreamboats macho up for the cameras:

Let Them Eat Cake: and wow, despite Bernard Hinault continually slamming his country's entire current cycling generation as a pack of lazy talentless babyfied thumb-sucking wuss-weenies, the French *continue* not to blow this week, as not only did shock-victor Blel Kadri bag the Roma Maxima (before Pippo Pozzato erroneously celebrated his own win behind) out from under the Italians, but, at Paris-Nice, upstart FDJ rider/French champ Nacer Bouhanni grabbed both a wholly surprising stage win *and* the leader's jersey before a miserable bloody (but fortunately not so serious) next-day crash-out. Get well soon, Nacer--heck knows these guys need you! Tomorrow: a lumpy sumbitch puts on the hurt, honey! Meantime, I stand by my (hopeless) belief that Tom Boonen is merely stealthily *pretending* to be screwed as he desperately works to get his form back in time for the cobblestones. Yeah, keep yappin', wannabes, he'll still kick your !@# at Roubaix!

It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To: last but not least, in "Ah, JAYSUS already!" news, Sports Illustrated has scored the next desperate image-rehab victim-playing interview with Lance "I Won't Talk to the Press Anymore" Armstrong, this time, apparently, in which Lance is gonna tell all about that time those bastards Floyd and Tyler stole his sports drinks from the fridge in his private jet, and how if he'd only be granted the kind of pissant punishment reserved for laterne-rouge nobodies who are six seconds late to sign-in--which is already way, way harsher than he deserves--*and* he received a groveling knee-scrapin' apology from his lowly-nobody witch-hunt persecutors, he'd generously forgive Travis Tygart for *everything.* Gee, thanks, Lance--I'm sure those guys are just sittin' at home waiting for your benediction!