Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Euskaltel! Taylor! Thor! Nibali! Ullrich! A Brief (I Swear) News Roundup

Yay Carrots! Oh No Carrots!: yes, as brave team leader Samu' still sez he ain't lookin' for a new team yet, and the new sponsor search becomes ever more desperate, jailbait signing/Tour de France sprint top-4 (!) finisher Juan Jose Lobato bagged a bitchin' win today at Circuit de Getxo, so sponsors, give those guys some damn dough already! Downer: a downright pessimistic Igor Anton is already linked to Lampre, further decimating what's left of the squad. Upper: Samu is ready to pound the competition one more time at the Vuelta. Aupa Euskalteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel--and someone save this team !@#dammit!

Taylor!: what do you get for a smashing leadout, redeeming yer loss-battered sprinter, and having both amazing guts and tactical sense, all before you're barely outta diapers? You get karma, baby--and here's Taylor Phinney's move for the Tour o' Poland stage win barely a second ahead of the pack! Get Thor another stage and you can have yourself a lolly...

Thor!: sure, he didn't make the BMC Tour squad--and a hell of a lotta good *that* did, by the way--and sure, he maybe only got his mojo back like a week ago when he grabbed the Norwegian championship, but big lug Thor Hushovd ain't finished yet--with, as noted, a great lead-out by Taylor at the Tour of Poland stage 3, he finally brought home the goods. Worlds, Thor--you oughta go for the Worlds--hell, it's not like you're Cav, you can climb!

Vincenzo!: meantime, the squadra azzurra for the Worlds is shaping up, with ct/former world champ we love Paolo Bettini deriding flashy tatted Ken-doll Pippo Pozzato as all talk/no action, Il Piccolo Principe Cunego as nowheresville, and Ivan Basso as--hey, at least Basso pulled off a Giro fairly recently! He will, though, put the full force of his flyweight behind Nibali, who, though a post-Giro publicity-tour pudgester, Paolo is confident'll be on sharp form in just a few days' training. Forza Nibali--and Pippo, maybe "only God can judge you," but Bettini's tryin', isn't he!

Jan Defends Armstrong: last but not least, you gotta give--well, somethin'--to erstwhile ex-doper Jan Ullrich, advocating passionately for the return of ol' rival Lance Armstrong's 7 Tour de France titles because "!@#$, it's not like they can give 'em to me." Oh, so he took a fridge's-worth o' dope every evening, wah wah wah--you tell me, is *that* support of his bud not sportsmanship!?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Planet Cycling is a Cold, Barren, Airless Place--oh Euskaltel!

In Space (Without a Sponsor, No One Can Hear You Scream): yep, after year upon year of dire death-knell predictions, and even this season's disastrous forced experiment with large-scale foreign hiring, it looks like it may finally be true--my dear Euskaltel-Euskadi's riders have been given free rein to look for other squads, and with the exception of darling holdouts-til-the-very-last-second former Olympic Gold medalist and Tour King of the Mountains (and current and future god) Samuel Sanchez and Igor Anton, they've already started scoring (sucky! they're all just sucky!) new homes at, according to various rumors, SaxoContador'sBeeyotch (Mikel Nieve) and Movistar (everyone else they wanna pick from the carcass so screw you you big-money carrion-suckin' vultures!). Great--so even if Euskaltel *finds* another sponsor, their very soul's already been decimated! So, for those sorry few who *don't* know, why is your world now total crap without your even realizing why? Here's why: for nineteen years, the best climbers in the world, almost all Basque over the years, from a relatively small yet astonishingly gifted place. The most passionate--nay, nearly insane--fans, who're still most kind and encouraging to anyone else passing by. Their tireless climbing legs. The way they scattered like those fluffy little dandelion fronds in the least bit of crosswind. The most bitchin' orange-and-black uniforms. Joseba. Iban. Samu'. Haimar. The Izagirres. And of course, a palmares teams like AG2R (who *still* have sponsors--!@#$!ing son of !@#$ !@#$%er !@#$ing !@#$!) could only beg for.

Me, I'm still willing to chip in and save the squad, even if I can maybe only swing a couple dozen boxes of energy gels. And there's still a chance this is all the usual apocalyptic bull!@#$ and they'll return next season, broke-!@# but dedicated as ever. Til then, good thing at least still sorely-missed Iban Mayo (shut up! he was a fragile victim of his hyperaggressive Armstrongian amoral time! bite me!) has a nice steady gig as an electrical contractor. But for me it'll always be Euskaltel for lighting up the sport! A 2012 retrospective (not bad considering the team was already screwed and in turmoil last year!):

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Alberto Contador Is a Spoiled Lazy Princess; and, O'Crap O'Grady! the '98 Doping Pozes Come Down

No Time for Losers/'Cause He Wants a Champion: that's right Alberto, there *is* no difference between second and tenth place, and SaxoTinkoff team oligarch Oleg Tinkov wants to be sure you know it: you're a smug little lazy-!@# over-paid prima donna, and you can find yourself your own damn gullible sponsor, 'cause he is gonna buy himself HIS BIG OWN TEAM, with BIG STARS with a BIG WORK ETHIC who can WIN HIM BIG STUFF, UNLIKE YOU YOU TINY HAS-BEEN! Still, he's got a ton of respect for Bjarne Riis, even though his team management skills sucked, and really enjoyed working with you, although you grossly humiliated him, so HAVE FUN AT YOUR CRAP LOSER TEAM RIDING WHATEVER CRAP LOSER BIKE YOU CAN DIG OUT OF A DIME-STORE DUMPSTER because no-one else'll hire you, YOU SLACKER! Uh, Sky, you've been awful generous with Froomey and all--but maybe you oughta upgrade 'im from a Jaguar to a Lamborghini or something before Oleg pulls out the bottomless checkbook? Wait, this seems to be Boonen's old one, try this instead!

O'No I Can't Stand It!: yep, the '98 Tour de France doping pretty-darn-sure-you-naughty-boys-did-its are out, and the essence seems to be this: the only guys who *didn't* dope that year were the ones sneakin' outta their hotel rooms for a night o' booze coke and bimbos at the clubs while their more dedicated teammates stayed in responsibly for their nightly room-service doctor's visits. Oh Stuey--I knew it could be possible, but can the lot of you all just call a moratorium on this "I only tried it once and I didn't like it" and "no-one else had anything to do with it" guff--I'd rather you'd openly strolled around with a syringe stickin' out your butt your whole careers! Next up: you just *watch* yourselves class o' 2013, you morally righteous lying little snotbags--by the time the polar icecaps've melted and the continents have all crashed back into each other again, we are gonna *totally* find you out and bring you *down*!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's Yer Post-Tour Celebrations 'n' Recriminations Roundup!

Yep, the fallout's fallin' thick 'n' fast outta Tour de France 2013, with BMC boss John Lelangue, with Cadel's future perhaps in doubt, heading out for "personal reasons," which generally means "we'll personally smack you upside the head if you personally *ever* come near our riders again," Froomey's team buying him a Jag to keep him pacified over Brad's continued existence, Trek purchasing both Schlecks despite Frank's just-expired ban because of Andy's faintest-hint-o-hope performance, sprint star Marcel Kittel getting a contract extension over his weird prior blood "treatments" because apparently they didn't help increase oxygen-carrying capacity anyway, and, most notably, erratic moneybags Contador team boss Oleg Tinkov threatening to make the whole lot of 'em look for a new sponsor and run for the hills because they made him look like a bragging clueless jackwagon talking so much smack about Sky. On the plus side, there's about to be a *whole* lotta high-end if lately underperforming talent to be had dirt-cheap for some lucky squads! Heck, when the official '98 Tour de France doping news officially breaks tomorrow, there's bound to be more'n one manager in the ranks who'll be grateful to keep their jobs as well...let the bargain-hunting begin!

The Vuelta Shapes Up!: meantime, it's starting to be clear who's all-in, and who's merely in, for the fabulous Vuelta a Espana, with Samuel Sanchez ready to fight for Euskaltel (and its very existence!), last year's Sky double-threat Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao coming in bright 'n' rested, a tired though determined Valverde looking to avenge his wheel-screwed Tour, Purito Rodriguez saying the Worlds are actually more important to him--what?! are you on *crack* Purito?!--Ivan Basso rarin' to go after being jacked outta the Tour by an extremely gnarly giant cyst of the buttal region, everyone still waiting on Contador, and, for my money besides Samu' who will make everyone cry for mercy, a fresh and excited Vincenzo Nibali. Forza Il Squalo, and aupa Samu--the rest of you guys, you just *wish*!

Well, I guess it's on to (half)-Truth 'n' Reconciliation tomorrow. Me, now that I'm over the shock of the Janster being dirty, I'll just keep tracking the road to the glorious Vuelta!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

It's Yer 2013 Tour de France Racejunkie Awards!

Yap, Oscars, yap--this is pro cycling's biggest 'n' gaudiest show, so, fellow fans, it's time for our annual (and highly prestigious) Tour de France Racejunkie awards! Prizes: eternal golden glory (or sniveling shame), and--honest!--a pretty statue or custom-embroidered rj cap if any winner asks for one! So instead of some dopey tedious 10-minute musical preview act everyone'll hate to start the show, let's get right to our winners!

1. Camera-Whoring Running-Fan Originality Award: no, not those hideous neon banana-slings--it's the guy running up the mountains with the giant stuffed boar under his armpit. Mmmmm....creativity, *and* porky goodness!

2. Epic Fail o' the Race (non-Contador): ya give the Orica-Greenedge driver the okay to pass under the finish line banner, and you organizers (1) ram him flat stuck under and into the thing right as the sprint squads are bearing down and (2) cause about 60 broken limbs in the peloton contradicting yerselves in the last 3 k over where the finish line's gonna be. !@#$, why not just sucker-punch 'em all off their bikes at the start line and save 'em 5 hours in the saddle? Not to the mention the face-covering horror of the poor ol' Greenedge bus driver--honey, it *wasn't* your fault!

3. GC Surprise o' 2013: look, at least everyone knew the top finishers would be able to climb. But much as it kills me to say this, only Machiavellian Lance-mentor Johan Bruyneel that I could see *really* pegged brilliant young Colombian Nairo Quintana for the podium for the whole show. You *rock*, Quintana--and huge points for dedicating your fantastic stage win to injured mentor/countryman Mauricio Soler!

4. Big Whining Baby of the Tour: wah, I ride like a freak and you're asking me about doping, wah. Wah, Contador's not holding my hand down the mountain, wah. Wah, I don't wanna go down the Col de Sarenne or climb Alpe d'Huez, wah! Well you could obviously do all o' that without any problem, Chris Froome--so heartfelt congrats on your win, but you're the maillot jaune at the biggest prize in all of cycling, pal, quit yer cryin' and act like it!

5. Hardman o' the Race: y'know, he doesn't make a big fuss relative to his talent, and usually Stuey O'Grady bags this win because he's been hit by a train or eaten by tigers or sucked into a matter-crushing black hole or something, but Geraint Thomas--pounding his cracked pelvis into the saddle for 6 hours a day for three weeks in a row with nary a public peep o' pain--is the *man*. Chapeux, tough guy!

6. Bull!@#$ Rules Application Award (Time Cut Edition): cutting Tour de France debutante/all-round good guy Ted King--who separated his shoulder, I believe, in one of the pileups *you* clowns caused on the first day with the botched stuck-bus debacle--for a seven-second deficit in the team time trial, when you've repeatedly lifted this "strict rule" before for other (and surely no more hardworking) names, just sucked. Where's the fairness in *that*, jerks?

7. Bull!@#$ Rules Application Award (Feed Zone Edition): lemme get this straight--the near-unbeatable leader on GC blows his food intake, has a massively threatening hunger bonk on an important climb, and grabs some crucial nourishment denied to his more-prepared competitors, and all he gets is a do-nothing 20-second time penalty? Am I the only one who remembers Contador getting no mercy when he hunger-bonked some time back? That just bites. Next time, penalize the amount of time he *bought* from the other guys taking the illegal feed whydontcha?

8. Domestique o' the Tour: Roman Kreuziger, you deserve a *huge* raise and promotion for tugging Alberto Contador along. And Alejandro Valverde was a gracious, no-holds- barred helpmate for Quintana on the instant his own podium dreams were shattered. But Richie Porte, you blew up *every* *single* *stage* like a pin-stuck balloon for your man. What's more, you weren't even an impatient backstabbing open complainer like *your* boss was to *his* boss last year. I mean, your *work*--wow!

9. Punk-!@# Move of 2013: Cav, Cav, Cav. Sure, the great Robbie "Head-Butt" McEwen was capable of pulling a Mike Tyson and chompin' somebody's ear off, but ramming yer elbow into poor Veelers and steamrolling that nice lead-out boy into the tarmac for the horrendous offense of doing his job? *Not* nice, Mark Cavendish, *not* nice at all!

10. Savior of French Dignity Award: yes, I *am* still sniveling over Sylvain Chavanel not getting a stage win, thank you for your tender concern. But "super-combative" (though natch I'd have liked that one to go to Jens), *and* a historic win in the 100th edition of the race on the iconic Alpe d'Huez for what was right then an increasingly desperate and despondent nation? Champagne for you, Christophe Riblon--and I'm sure the Tour'll make it the really good stuff!

11. Monday-Morning Quarterback Prize: I guess the Giro wasn't such good prep for this year's race after all. But Cadel Evans, as always, you struggled on nobly, and whatever your future may bring, you're always--just not this time--a winner of the Tour de France!

12. Hype City Overkill of 2013: Peter Sagan, you are the fine and, for millions of dreamy-eyed fans, swoon-worthy winner of both a stage of this year's Tour de France and its superb green jersey champ. Congratulations! But for all that, the Hulk bike, the wheelies (amazo as your bike-handling skills are), and finally, your Kermit the Frog colored facial scruff were maybe just a *shade* too much compared to your pre-Tour multi-stage-win expectations. Sure entertained the fans though--now get thinkin' about hijinks for next year!

13. Mechanical o' the Race: yep, valiant Tejay's agonizing stage-18 chain-suck comes close--and he *still* rode so well--but Alejandro Valverde's dream-destroying wheel collapse on a theoretically-boring flat stage gets the win for sheer GC impact. Come on, like half of you wouldn't've been slightly squicked out seeing him up on the final podium anyway!

14. Liar Liar Pants on Fire Award: you did *not* see Marcel Kittel taking three freakin' sprints from Mark Cavendish, you Pinocchios! What you *did* see over and over again, however, was his bitchin' hairdo after the stage win. Let's all try to predict a little better next year--though I guess we know who'll bag the style award!

15. Team Tactic Head-Scratcher Prize: yer attackin' on the downhill but not attackin'? You're putting two guys up in the break then pullin' 'em back? Whatever the hell you were thinking out there everyday, Saxo-Tinkoff--and I have *no* clue what that is--you *did* grab the team classification out of it!

16. Last But Not Least, the Misty Moment of Tour de France 2013: whatever you think of Chris Froome, and whatever 5 years from now may or (we'll try hard to presume) may not show us, his shaking his head like he couldn't believe it to his national anthem, his generous speech, and his gimme-fiving Purito Rodriguez's little guys was tender indeed. I hope it's true I hope it's true I hope it's true!

Well, break out the podium babes, cue the laser beams on the Arc de Triomphe--let's all take a deep post-Tour letdown breath, then get ready for the fabulous Vuelta! Congrats to all our winners--and to the bone-tired peloton, well done on what I genuinely think is yer very first year not requiring (yet) one of our Doping Excuse o' the Tour awards!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Agony of Blown Expectations; and, Jeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnns! #tdf

Run, Contador, Run!: look, for anyone else--like, say, a French squad--a fourth on GC and the win in the team classification would be the pinnacle of their Tour, even their careers. But for Alberto Contador, Bjarne Riis, and SaxoTinkoff, this looks--and feels--like crushing defeat. Leaving aside the fact that, assuming his alternately delirious and frightening twitter account isn't just a parody, Oleg Tinkov's probably gonna hunt him down bust his kneecaps and sink 'im to the bottom of some murky Siberian lake somewhere, Alberto, at only 30 and already one of the most prolific Grand Tour winners ever, has got to be ready to answer, what the !@#$ has happened to him? Whether it's because he's off the juice and this is just who he is, or Froome's on it doing it better, or there's some totally legitimate explanation, I gotta say, even *I'm* feeling glum for the little twerp. Hell, even Phil & Paul seem to have written 'em off like yesterday's boozy D-list starlet, ignoring him once he popped and hailing guys like Quintana and Talansky as the exciting new generation of cycling. Well, Alberto, be sure to avoid your team boss, Bjarne, I wouldn't !@#% with Tinkov either, and before you both take time off to reflect, mourn, and regroup, make sure you've got those anonymous plane tickets to Untraceableland in yer pockets!

Jeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnssssssss!: meanwhile, in sharp contrast to the depressing excitement shown by everyone whenever Andy Schleck now manages to stay two wheels off the autobus on a climb, the great Jens Voigt continues to show why, despite some acknowledgement of aging in his charming blogs, he'll probably still be obliterating 3/4 of the peloton when his grandkids retire ,with a bangin' attack off the breakaway he started that blew the group apart. We love you Jens! Oh, it just breaks my *heart* that someday my beloved "JJ & Jens & Fabian & Stuey" totebag will be obsolete...but come to think of it, probably it'll still wear out before Jens does!

Night Moves: well, it's on to a novel nighttime coronation for Cav on the Champs Elysees, a huge freakin' outpouring of lucrative contract offers for Richie Porte, and one last Tour wheelie for Sagan--so Froome, before everyone starts asking a bunch of stuff that'll just piss you off for the next year, you might as well start popping your Champagne now! PS You rock Purito!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It's the Alpe d'Hell With That!; and, Yer Paranoid Conspiracy Theory o' the Week #tdf

You Know The Nearer Your Destination The More You're Slip-Sliding Away: First, nice ride Froomey, right on Cadel for promising some fireworks in the Alps, and bummer for poor young Mollema. Tomorrow's alleged parcours: 2 trips up the legendary Alpe d'Huez, and Chris "Prima Donna Rising" Froome, who fears no attack, is already demanding that one trip up and down the mountain be eliminated which, totally coincidentally, would only further serve to totally insulate him from any GC threat that frankly right now doesn't even remotely exist. Well, at least Froome bitches for a purpose! Tomorrow's forecast: rain, hail and fog on the Alpe, tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, a plague o' mosquitoes and a geological-era-ending meteor strike on the rest of the course. Oh, just pull on a vest and suck it up, you whiners--you guys got helmets, the hail'll bounce right off your heads!

Not As Good As the "I Was Boinking My Girlfriend Excuse", But Close: and, in actual-tested-dirty-doper news, Tour of Turkey winner Mustafa Sayar, who got busted for EPO, claims his poz is a giant French conspiracy so one of *their* riders'll win the race. Uh, not to discount the importance and beauty of the fine Tour of Turkey here, but if the French'd frame another rider for *anything*, doesn't it stand to reason they'd do it for the, well, Tour de *France*? Y'know, it's a bike race, in France, it lasts three weeks, they haven't won it for even a quarter century, it's a pretty big deal over there, I hear tell....

Free Euskaltel!: and, slammin' ride by the younger Izagirre brother today, and Samu's ready to take on Giro champ Nibali at the Vuelta. Send me (or them) dough to Save Our Carrots!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wah, Froome, Wah, Contador, Wah; and, Who Gives a Crap About the Tour, Euskaltel's In Trouble! #tdf

This Is What It Sounds Like/When Maillot Jaunes Cry: Froome, you big baby! Contador was a danger to *you*? You know he's gotta attack, he's usually a great descender, he overcooked a turn, you chose to glom onto his wheel & take the risk, where do you get off acting like he's supposed to shepherd safely you down the mountain, he ain't your domestique! And if he's so desperate, which he is, and it's so hopeless, which it is, he oughtn't've scared you so much you were an inch off his butt! Jeez, you sound like a freakin' Schleck. What's next, "wah, wah, Mollema attacked, wah, it really tired my guys out chasing him down, wah?" It's their jobs! And Alberto--in the interests of fair play and no-whinin', cut poor Quintana some slack. He's got his own interests to protect, and it's not like he's slugging it out with you for yellow. Damn, just whang each other upside the head with a bike wheel like gentlemen, and let it go!

Aiiiiggghhhhh! Save Euskaltel! Aiiiggghhhhh!: look, bad enough that 3/4 of the time I hear some Euskaltel rider's kicking !@#, I get the sickening realization it's already someone the wankers at RadioSkank or Movistar have poached, now team boss/former rider Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano's confirmed the team is screwed financially *again*, and if they don't get a new sponsor in like two days they'll be dust by August, so everyone's apparently bailing, including the smashing Mikel Nieve, who's now freakin' linked to Saxodor. All I know is, for the better part of 20 years, with a crap budget and an incredible fan base, they've managed to produce some of the best climbers on the planet (shut up! I'm still in denial about dear Iban Mayo! go to hell!), they put a sprinter up to fourth behind Cav this year without even a leadout, and *Europcar*'s getting all the dough? This blows! So send a pile o' money but quick to me, at "For !@#$'s Sake Save Euskaltel," and I swear I'll send it straight to Samu' 'cuz we all know he'll act gallantly. Free Euskalteeeeeeeel!

All right, on to the time trial. Then can we please get back to the fun in the Alps?

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's Yer Tour de France Rest Day Roundup Part Deux! #tdf

Unbelievably, there's actually been other news beyond speculation over Chris Froome's Vo2 max, Valverde's agonizing flat-stage meltdown and the peloton's collarless-skinsuit fashion tragedy, so in the few hours we've got before the breakaway gets going, here's the 'nother stuff:

1. If Alberto Contador sez Chris Froome ain't doping, I believe it. After all, who'd know better?

2. On a related note, if Contador can't take a stage, and *well*, his whole career looks like a lie. Uh, I think he's got a "virus," Bjarne!

3. Mark Cavendish finally *did* get Alessandro Petacchi as his lead-out! Not for the Giro or Tour though. And he can't help him in the Worlds. But Cav'll probably ride *something* after the Tour. Cage fight for Steegmans and Ale-Jet over who gets to be Cav's top main! Since Petacchi'll probably stop for a spa day and a nice mani-pedi, my money's on Gert for a surprise mid-sauna bushwhack...

4. Thor Hushovd won a race! Like two weeks ago, and not near the caliber of his earlier wins, but still. It just goes to show ya, BMC, don't screw over the Thunder God ever again!

5. On the topic of BMC, winless reigning world champ Philippe Gilbert just looks so glum. Can't the peloton discreetly give *one* stage away for this poor sod?

6. I think Sagan is genuinely heartbroken he can't show off more for his fans at the finish line, considering all his countrymen and women and like half the rest of the earth's female population took a three-week holiday to follow 'im. C'mon, Kittel, you've bagged three stages, show this guy some mercy already!

7. Andy freakin' Schleck, man. Even *I* can't pile on 'im at this point. He'll be lucky to get a contract scrubbing his own stage-soaked chamois next year.

8. Kittel's 80s mousse-fest blowout, or Uran's 80s mullet? Discuss.

9. Jens Voigt is still a god. We love you Jens!

10. !@#$ off, Phil & Paul haters. Phil Liggett could accidentally announce those irritating Michelob Light commercials the entire coming week and he'd *still* rule the airwaves, so like I said, bug off!

11. Cut the crap, UCI--the women deserve their own, real, permanent Tour de France. At least we *know* you jerks won't pay 'em enough to dope & destroy the sport like the guys have!

12. And if you really saw Bauke Mollema in second place, as opposed to just a dark horse for the top five, you are either Laurens Ten Dam or a lying lying liar. Allez Bauke--keep proving us wrong!

Well, onto Alberto's and Valverde's and Cadel's assault on the Alps. Good luck, 'cause with how Froomey looks, you're all gonna need it!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tour's Over--It's the Vuelta a Espana, Baby! #tdf

Froome Wagon: yep, after Saxo-Tinkoff's daring and beautiful attack on the maillot jaune on a crosswindy sprint stage--propelled, I imagine, as much by terror of team boss Tinkov's alternately ecstatic and threatening twitter ravings as an actual desire for the podium--and a peaceful subsequent rest-y day for all but the breakaways, Chris Froome absolutely slaughtered the once-unbeatable Contador and everyone else on Mont Ventoux, and with this Tour basically over except a passel of face-saving stage wins by the remaining GC wish-they-weres, it's almost time for the Vuelta, baby! Well, in the meantime it still *is* the Tour, and anything *can* happen--so can Sylvain Chavanel finally take a stage, or what?

The (Big, Gangly, Scrawny, Yellow) Elephant In the Room: so right beside Froome's amazing triumph, the obvious question bedeviling the poor guy, who apparently also whacked the late Marco Pantani's best time on the legendary climb: was he using, and do we have to wait another 10 years for an Operacion-Puerto-redux doping-control-catchup bloodbath to nail him? Or is it merely a question of Contador clearly not being what he used to be, at least this Tour? Me, I *hope* our yellow jersey's clean, and perhaps his many detractors are being unfair--isn't this what everyone *hoped* would happen, that with more sophisticated controls the dirty dopers would reveal their essential roadly humanity and a new and wholly unexpected group of former mere mortals would emerge in their spotless unsupplemented glory to claim their rightful places? I mean, look how beautifully that played out with underestimated ex-domestiques in the Giro d'Italia this year--aw, crap! Aaaaanyway, here's his happy win: And did anyone else notice we love Euskaltel's we love Mikel Nieve grabbed third? Well, enjoy your well-earned rest day, Froome--and happy Bastille Day to all!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stuff To Do During Those Big Boring Sprint Stages #tdf

Sure, Cav managed to liven up Stage 10 a little bit, but we all know that, a twitchy touch o' the wheels here or a satisfyingly GC-destroying cross-wind there, everything up to that last 5 k in a sprint stage is snooze-inducingly dull for the tifosi. So what to do for the other six hours it's on, and *still* feel like a loyal little Tour de France fan? Here, my suggestions for Stuff to Do During Those Big Boring Sprint Stages:

1. Compose Haiku: Shoulder and elbow/Meeting most unpleasantly/Veelers goes down hard. Take *that*, Shakespeare!

2. Learn a New Trade: Bust into the post-stage interviews and shout "Hey, FROOME, what kind of !@#$ are you ON!"

3. Unleash Your Inner Computer Whiz: hack into the info feed for the race commentators. "Well, I can't quite believe what I'm reading here, Phil, but it appears that Mark Cavendish has indeed led the front group over the top of Alpe d'Huez and is now the virtual maillot jaune on the road!"

4. Be a Race Volunteer: switch the sign-in magic markers with those little kids' scented ones. Wonder what chemicals'll show up in the riders' blood samples *tonight*!

5. Unleash Your Inner Artist: Paint "I HEART LANCE ARMSTRONG" all over the race course in huge white letters. Show the love, baby!

6. Meet Your Idols: Point out some random guy in the crowd and tell Bernard Hinault he's a political protester about to storm the podium right as the stage-win jersey's being presented. Excitement shall ensue!

7. Soigneur For a Day: Sneak into Cannondale trailer and replace Peter Sagan's "Hulk" bicycle with a "My Little Pony" one. Preeeeeety!

8. Rewrite the UCI Rules: the "attire" section clearly needs work. No polka-dot skinsuits, EVER!

9. Engage Your Faves: run up next to Andre Greipel holding a cup and wearing an official-looking vest and yell "mid-race doping control!"

10. Tifosi Contest: how many riders can *you* reach out and touch on the back before one of 'em slugs you? Last one standing wins!

Well, dear reader(s), it's that or end up on TV drunk as hell dressed in a Speedo and a cowboy hat while the gendarmes drag you off the mountainside. Either way, expand your horizons and enjoy the show!

GC (Wannabe) Roundup! Euskaltel! Cavendish! And, Etiquette for Pigs #tdf

Dream a Little Dream ('Cause That's the Only Way You're Hitting the Top Step of the Podium Now): yep, the individual time trial was today, and barring a catastrophic injury, a series of multi-day major-bonks, or, y'know, other bad news by which I am not accusing the irritable Chris Froome of anything, our Skyboy maillot jaune's got this one in the bag, and it's basically just a week and a half of the rest of the GC contenders scavenging for second. As some consolation, at least to us fans, it's *still* a thousand times less achingly dull than *last* year's Tour. Stay safe and strong, Froome, and may these guys still give you at least a good scare or two anyway!

Ms. Manners Explains It All: look, what Mark Cavendish did to Tom Veelers *was* punk-!@#, not to mention potentially Tour-ending for the poor guy who hit the deck. But hurling a bottle o' wiz on Cavendish on the time trial course (or, of course, *anywhere*) is just *disgusting*, not to mention unsanitary, classless, dangerous, and beyond even the grossest bodily-function-obsessed gang of third-graders' capacity for vomitous gnarliness. Plus, it's Veelers' fight, so if *he* wants to pee on Mark Cavendish after Mark twice-tweeted and called Veelers to apologize, he--nope, it'd just make *him* a pig! So since it apparently needs to be said to the restrained paragons of virtue lining (and smearing) the course, NO THROWING URINE AT THE RIDERS YOU BASE REPULSIVE ANIMAL SKANKWADS! Oh, whatever happened to those innocent halcyon days of roadside freaks just randomly wandering into the course, or a gentlemanly resolution of disputes by whanging the other guy over the head with a bike wheel after the finish line...Anyway, here's the cause of the controversy, and no, it is *not* an incitement to anything!

Save Euskaltel!: no, they haven't gotten a stage yet, though they will (bite me! will so either!). But they've already worn the mountains jersey placed high in a sprint for heck's sake *and* been in every breakaway that's stuck, so why the !@#$ do I need to campaign every year to Send Me Dough to Save Euskaltel? Worse, the alarm's being sounded just in time for transfer season, so Movistar and what's left of RadioSkank can poach the most bankable and ergo team-saving talent, *again.* Okay, maybe we won't collect enough to save the squad, but we *can* raise enough to get absolutely blotto should this horrid nightmare come to pass...look, here's Samu in the polka dot jersey, *now* can someone step up and sponsor the squad? Save Euskaltel!

Monday, July 08, 2013

It's Yer Tour De France Rest-Day Roundup, Part Un! #tdf

1. When you're Alberto King of the Universe Contador, and Bjarne Riis has to say you're "still our team leader", you *know* you've choked.

2. Maybe instead of team "buses", team "stretch limos" would be better. Clearly low enough for the finish line, and you *still* get to travel like rock stars!

3. Interesting that Alejandro Valverde accuses Contador of saying he'd help Movistar attack Froome then not doing it, when Contador sez he never saw the point in the first place. *Whatever* happened, you better hope you don't need Valverde in the last week there, Alberto!

4. On a related note, bummer all Movistar's work went pretty well nowhere, but they did at least strike a psychological blow to the benefit of the other GC contenders. So Cadel and Purito, can you come back now?

5. Sure, Sky was starting to look like a pack of USPostal man-bots, but yesterday, Porte looked reassuringly human. And is anyone else concerned that they lost one of Froomey's support riders to the time cut?

6. I'm no Schleck fan, but after Andy's past achievements, it is downright embarrassing to see his just not getting completely dropped being treated as an awe-inspiring triumph.

7. On another related note, the only thing better than Frank and Andy going to Astana next year would be Vinokourov staging an Armstrongian comeback. I mean "worse than," "worse than!"

8. I love the fans' camera-whoring enthusiasm, but next beer-gutted eejit in a neon banana-hammock mankini running next to a bone-exhausted climber just trying to turn over the pedal is fair game for Bernard Hinault to shove off the mountainside. For all our sakes, just stick with the funny wigs, whydontcha?

9. For my darling Euskaltel to have a rider take 4th in an actual sprint stage, without even a dedicated lead-out, is pretty freakin' amazing. Now can Anton or Nieve take a mountain stage already?

10. Some people just suck at descents, and some don't even seem interested in learning. FDJ prodigy Thibaut Pinot, however, is truly terrified of them. Kudos to him for publicly admitting it, and for his team for their unconditional support. *That's* guts!

11. Sylvain Chavanel, man. *Un*believable. Is anyone else gonna cry if he doesn't finally get his stage?

12. Riding a Grand Tour with a cracked pelvis is acceptable, if perverse, roadie masochism. Allowing *anyone* with a concussion to ride for even a single day, no matter how safe it turns out to've been in retrospect, is outrageous.

13. Pat "Dick" McQuaid, omerta blew the first time all you skanks enforced it. So please don't give us this "I'm gonna fight doping, but quit asking questions about it" bull!@#$. The sport deserves better!

14. Cav, if you're gonna scream yer head off like a raging beeyotch, at least have the courtesy towards the press and fans to do it on camera for us. Merci!

Well, the rest day's almost done, and it's on to a week o' time trials, breakaways, and epic Sagan vs. Cavendish snit-fests. Allez allez gentlemen, and remember spectators, it's *inside* the barriers with your !@#damn cameras, promotional tchotchkes, and giant dogs!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

It's Yer Giro Rosa 2013 in Review! #GiroRosa

Forza Maraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!: yep, another Giro Donne is behind us, and after a sweet comeback by Marianne Vos after her other-day's bonk over speed-demon Giorgia Bronzini in a sprint, bangin' US climber/general all-rounder Mara Abbott bagged her second career Giro Rosa win. Even more impressive, when you think of it--she battled back after a full year off the bike to handle a body-crushing eating disorder to remain one of the sport's great champs. What a triumph--and I'm already looking forward to seeing her go for a third Giro next year!

It's Il Podio!: Also winning the maglie: the ciclomino Points classification to Marianne Vos, the GPM green jersey to Mara, bianca Young Rider's to Francesca Cauz, and blu best Italian rider to the great Tatiana Guderzo. Complimenti a tutti! Amazing feat o' the Giro: two-time champ Marianne Vos took her 16th stage win this year. Compare that to Cav's stellar 20-odd wins he's racked up in the Tour de France--which is, after all, three times as long--and you're left with one conclusion: where the !@#$ is this woman's giant bronze statue, and why doesn't *she* get throw a crying-baby hissy hit whenever she loses for a jillion euros a year? Here, Marianne grabs stage 7:

Suck Result o' the Race: in bummin' news, Italian legend/5x winner Fabiana Luperini, DQ'd outta the race in stage because, apparently, her bike was 200 grams too light. Please tell me these riders aren't subject to the same UCI weight rules as those in the men's peloton whose bikes are like 100 centimeters bigger! Damn technicalities...

And, Yer Final Podium: Woo-hoo Mara, Tatiana, and Claudia!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

And It's Total Carnage! Froome Hammers, Cadel Cracks, And Il Pistolero's Shootin' Blanks (Y'know, Mountainwise) #tdf

Holy crap, yes it's just the first mountain day and there's plenty more pain to come, but the second-coming-of-US-Postal anti-Sky conspiracy theorists are heaving right now, as Froome absolutely crushes the field including an incredibly strong solo Quintana, Cadel just gritted his teeth to limit his losses, Valverde toughed it out and, most important for Froomey, Contador looked like hell was just desperately grabbin' the wheel of Roman Kreuzinger like his momma's skirt and lost over a minute and a freakin' half to Froomey. Well, I guess that answers the Contador question, because apparently he wasn't just fakin' it! Worth his *absolute* weight in gold: Richie Porte, who apparently took a walk in the park destroying the field while they whimpered behind him and still managed to come in a comfortable second as he'd already shedded the rest of the GC contenders behind him anyway. Froome, if *anyone* deserves to be a braggart challenging beeyotch to his team leader like you were to Wiggo all last year, and can clearly threaten you for GC from within, it's Porte, so gratefully give that guy a stage win in the next two weeks and *worship* the ground Porte walks on! Oh--here's the post-race interview--nice work Froomey, just keeeeeeeeeeep complimenting him, and the rest of your gut-wrenched teammates, boyo! Reaction from Contador: well, it ain't here yet, but poker-faced tranquillo as he always is, I am bankin' that tonight ain't gonna be pretty. There's plenty of road til Paris though--lucky for all you other GC (sorta, still) contenders!

Oh, and Vos is already back. What a bad-!@#!

Mara-vigliosa! Managing Mark Cavendish! And, It's the Mountains, Baby! #tdf #GiroRosa

'S Wonderful/'S Mara-velous: yes, with Stage 7 already underway, prior champ Mara Abbott made it a two-fer yesterday at the Giro Rosa with another blazing uphill triumph, as even the indomitable Marianne Vos finally cracked on the mountain, attributing her high-passes bonk and blown GC to a changed training regime that's got her focused more on mountain biking this year and, to be fair, *still* leaving her able to win almost every race she sets her pedals on. Geez, if this is her "weak," everyone else on two wheels ought just stay home entirely when she's not! Meantime, as they right passed through her hometown, the race paid particular tribute to injured-but-still-race-lovin' 2012 Giro Best Young Rider Elisa Longo Borghini. Here, yesterday's roundup as Mara grabs the (latest) victory: Today, Giorgia Bronzini and the other sprinters go for blood. My fave source this year for great GiroRosa coverage: Jen @ _Gavia_. Thank you Jen!

Temper, Temper!: y'know how you're in some big-box store the size of Austria and some HORRID SCREAMING CHILD 10 internal kilometers away in the TRAUMATIC-FOR-NO-REASON- AISLE starts howling in a TOTAL SENSELESS BLOOD-CURDLING MELTDOWN for like 10 minutes like some GODAWFUL DEMON-SPAWN FIRE-ALARM and you have to shove your nearly full giant cart in the detergent section and run traumatized outta the store before you jam chopsticks in your eardrums JUST TO STOP THE AGONY? Yeah, so that's how OPQuickStep handles Mark Cavendish on the team bus when he loses a stage! And then, after his head's spun around 360 degrees he's ejected some poor sod out the window to his doom and he's spewed a bunch of acidic bile all over the walls, he becomes, his DS assures us, a "good lad" again and is right cheery around the dinner table. Hey, I'd be happy too, if everyone was too freakin' scared to contradict me! Oh, Cav, it's so *nice* to see you getting back to your old self...

Climb Every Mountain (Or Team Sky Will Eat You For Lunch): and yes, it's finally the mountains at the Tour, baby! Yap, yap, Froome--what I want to know is, (2) is Purito gonna show us he's in contention this Tour de France and (2) can Contador truly dance on the pedals like he used to, or can he merely mark right now and save his hopes for the last week's Alps? Me, with guilty pleasure Vino out of the picture, a shameful, dirty part o' me can't help but root for that hornet-in-UCI's-pantaloons, Alejandro Valverde. As for Cadel, I think he'll be just fine. But you faithful readers can all (well, both) prove how wrong I am in a coupla hours!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Red White And Blue (and Pink!), 'Skank Sheds Schleck, and, Magilla Gorilla Takes a Win! #tdf #GiroRosa

Independence Day Is Right!: yes, it took 2010 Giro champ Mara Abbott to do it, but *someone* finally beat Marianne Vos this year, taking both the stage and the maglia rosa on a smashing July 4th attack. Video up soon. Woo-hoo Mara you Amazon! One gentle gripe: can we *please* get some low-class disrespectful smack-talk in the women's peloton so I needn't be so cheerful all the time? I'm feelin' like a freakin' smurf over here!

Andy's Doomed: well, that settles Andy Schleck's Tour, and probably the rest of his career: he's just got the news that RadioSkank-almost-Trek has shed big brother Frank just in time to keep him outta a post-ban Vuelta and completely psych Andy out of any positive result (not that kind of positive, you cynics!) the rest of the season til they find someone that'll take the Wonder Twins as a two-fer. Andy, I hate to break it to you, but he's gotta retire sometime. Oh, Frank, I *told* you diuretics were no good...

Now *That's* A Top Ten List: bored of such upbeat sycophantic endeavors as "Top 10 Riders of All Time" and "Top Ten Ways Jens Is Gonna Dope-Slap The Entire Peloton Into Crying Mewling Babies Without Even Meaning To"? Well, it's L'Equipe's Top Ten Doping Excuses! The best of the gnarliest: far too explicit for a delicate lady such as myself to explain here, but let's just say it makes Bjorn "I Did It All for the Nookie" Leukemans look like a blushing schoolboy just about to hurl his first spitball at his beloved. Me, in addition to Simoni's glorious "(Ubiquitous Brand)'s Cocaine Kisses" and Alberto's "Drug-Sucking Cow" excuse, I think one did have to admire in a nauseated way the simple sport-destroying vitriol of Lance's "YOU CHALLENGE ME AGAIN AND I'LL SLAM YOUR HEAD INTO THAT URINAL!" just-blatant-threats tactics. Well, we're *gonna* have a poz this Tour--do any of you miscalculating morons wanna take a crack at making the list this year?

Andre the Giant: and, congrats to Andre Greipel and former Cav helper/trusty lead-out Hendy for a bangin' sprint at the Tour today. Anyone else notice that green jersey Peter Sagan is startin' to look just a liiiiittle bit peeved on the podium of late? Just think of all those random movie-reference line-crossing gestures going to waste! Well, Hulk, pancake-flat isn't really your terrain anyway--and you can always look forward to leaving Cav in the dust in the mountains! Here, he celebrates (because I still can't get any video): Allez Gorilla!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Cav! Ted! Marianne! and, Revenge of the Podium Babes #tdf #GiroRosa

The Sprinters Have Their Day (and Days, and Days, and Days...): yep, time for a three-day breather before the race heads seriously up, as Cav bags his first win of this Tour while the rest of the race is still getting their coffee on the team bus, the GC contenders lick their wounds and psych themselves up (Cadel and Purito in particular, I hope) to make up time on each other in the mountains and, for those of you dissing Phil Liggett & Paul Sherwen who can all just go bite yourselves, an endless eardrum-piercing replay of that "I Want Moo-oore" crap beer commercial for us Americans to boot. Looking distinctly grumpy today: a caught-out (by his standards) Peter Sagan. I can't imagine how ticked off he's gonna be when we love Edvald Boassen Hagen beats him to the line again!

If You Weren't Bawling During His Interview, You're Lying: meantime, I and apparently most of the rest of Planet Earth still call b.s. on the bureaucrat-weenie exclusion of hardworking shoulder-dislocated Tour debutante Ted King, controversially out of the time cut and out of a dream by seven seconds in the time trial if you don't count his own data, and beneficiary of an outraged (if ultimately fruitless) reinstatement campaign. *Really*, when you clowns routinely let bigger groups and bigger names stay in from outside the time cut all the time? Not to mention the truly impressive number of busted ex-dopers who still get to ride the thing (yeah, different rule, still blows)! Anyway Ted, you did yourself and everyone else proud--forza, and I hope you come back next year!

Be Pink: over at the Giro Rosa, Marianne Vos continues her campaign towards Total World Domination, bagging two out of the last 4 stages. Tell me again how much she *doesn't* get paid to kick the entire world of cycling in the nuts? Here, stage 3: Bonus points if you can listen to the techno music without turning off the volume and missing all the interviews! Tomorrow: a short 'n' brutal climb to Monte Beigua. On and up--and can we *please* get up some decent footage on the internet the same damn day as the actual *stage*? Grazie dammit!

Body Count Update: in "down but not out" news, Alberto Contador took a huge hit when longtime lieutenant Benjamin Noval ripped a (highly useful) tendon on some dumb!@#$' camera Haimar Zubeldia's got his finger in a splint Tejay's been riding around with a cracked rib Geraint Thomas is sittin' on a cracked pelvis and poor Christian VandeVelde dislodged an existing screw in his collarbone and has got a blood clot, and also among the other injuries reported today, according to official race releases, luckless Johnny Hoogerland's now got "sunburn forearm." Damn, can't any of these guys get a break (not a literal one! enough of those!)? Get well soon (and for heck's sake stay upright and sunscreened) boys!

"Arm Candy" This!: last but not least, for those of us who object to antics such as, say, Peter Sagan's troglodyte podium !@#-grab and, y'know, the entire podium-babe concept, fear not, 'cause they're all about fairness: a veteran pro's got it covered with "". So does this mean Mario "the Chest" Cipollini and Pippo Pozzato can just post their nekkid oiled-up pics in one place from now on? Convenience *and* ingenuity!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Reality Schleck; Don't Mess With Giorgia Bronzini; and, Pat Goes After Pantani #tdf #GiroRosa

Money/It's a Gas: Ok, so Gerrans pipped Sagan beautifully at the line with a truly ace bike throw, at which point an irate Sagan immediately parked his bike on Gerrans' head. But hot on the heels of Trek's savior-sponsorship of RadioSkank, what kind of reorganization's in order there? Well, aside from Fabian Cancellara indisputably the center of the universe, a big, fat, humbling pay cut for the Schleck brothers. Now, I've always thought that Frank "Lady Cramps" Schleck's the stronger rider, but I gotta say, poor ol' Andy's handling his downfall (at least publicly) with attacks and grace. Well, boys, at least the new system'll let you earn some bonus dough with actual results! Of course, for Andy that always seems highly dependent on the presence of Frank...

Giorgia On My Mind: meantime, over at the Giro Rosa, maglia rosa Marianne Vos saved herself from the brink of disaster with some damn fine bike skills, as Greatest Sprinter/Resident Italian Bad-!@# Giorgia Bronzini bagged the sprint. Tomorrow: headin' uphill honey! Forza Mara Abbott--but I'm still always rooting for you Giorgia, so please don't hurt me! Here, (yes, going back a bit) the stage 1 finale: And, a brief flash o' the stage 2 finish: Brava campionessa!

Abomination Against God o' the Day (Sartorial): sure, it's taken a couple gallons of eye drops and an afternoon in a dark room, but my eyes (and I hope yours) are finally recovering from the afternoon's sight of King o' the Mountains Pierre Rolland's all-body polka-dot extravaganza. Pierre, you have every reason to be proud, but there's a *reason* Samu' never pulled this !@#$! That's it, the hell with the clown costume--I call bull!@#$, and a nice plaid from now on!

Let Him Rest Already: look, Pat "Dick", you're already odious. So now, in your run for presidency of the same UCI you already wrecked, you're gonna confront all this year's "CLEAN NEW ERA" doping pozes by stripping Italian idol Marco Pantani of his 1998 Tour? No, the fact that Pantani died tragically doesn't mean his doping was excusable, nor any and all either genuinely clean or simply-less-resourceful dirty riders he may've beat were any less cheated. But by all accounts, what he *didn't* do was wreck the sport and impose omerta by fear by going on an Armstrongian vendetta-driven scorched-earth destruction campaign against everyone who tried to tell the truth. And for you, Pat, it *really* takes a total wussbag to try to take down a dead guy who, by definition, can no longer address the accusations himself. Anyone else you want to dig up, jerk? Yes, his parents *are* suggesting they'll sue you, and on this one, they're right. So call it honestly, but let it go, and focus on the many many riders still testing positive *this* century!