Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Aiiiggghhhh! Zombies! Zombies are Rising From the Dea--Oh, It's Just Bruyneel And Those Guys

And No-One's Gonna Save You From The Beast About to Strike: yes, just when you thought it was safe to go outside, well get the hell back in, dumb!@#--Lance Armstrong minion/Postal mastermind-in-chief Johan Bruyneel is getting called up by the narcs but quick, and as they line up ol' pals like Tyler and Floyd to take down their former boss, he's already embarking on a weird Twitter assault to defend his virtue against all comers. Aw c'mon, Johan--you were the power behind the throne, the Rocky to his Bullwinkle, the Robin to his Batman, the Ken to his Barbie--embrace it, don't deny it, just ask Landis, it ended up being so much *better* for him in the end to 'fess up!

I Told Ya, It's the Walking Dead!: in other unholy news from the netherworld, most-inept-doper-of-all-time Riccardo Ricco', apparently irked at watching eight thousand other peloton dirtballs continue to enjoy the Grand Tour stages he once rode so spectacularly slimily, has announced his new goal: he's gonna set a world record climbing Mont Ventoux, and frankly, especially given the lack of scrutiny the banned boy's under at this point, I wouldn't doubt him. Even over, say, Valv--uh, nothin'! Look, he's already posing for the podium babes: All you need is Pat "Dick" McQuaid up there shakin' your hand, Cobra, and it'll be just like old times! Over in Germany, meanwhile, a high court has cleared former Gerolsteiner rider/busted CERA-weasel Stefan Schumacher, who if I recall right actually beat Fabian Cancellara in a time trial, over accusations of fraud on his team director Hans-Michael Holczer for doping at the 2008 Tour de France on the grounds that Holczer knew darn well what the hell Schumi and everyone else there were doing the whole time. On the plus side, the court apparently *didn't* believe Holczer's contention that indeed he *could* be that stupid. So when you think about it, it's a compliment, really! Anyway, you needn't cry for the poor naive guy: he's still working as a consultant to Katusha, where he was lately a team manager. The new clean cycling era continues nicely!

Pain, I'm in *Pain* I Said!: finally, great to see the rabid enforcers over at Team Sky taking the high road, demanding that opioid painkiller Tramadol be banned from the peloton despite admittedly giving it to their own riders--but only when they really needed it, not for, say, generally allowing them to train harder through the usual pain like everyone else but *them*. It's heartwarming, isn't it, how they're all watching out for each other's well-being? Well, *I'm* touched, anyway...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

They're !@#$ed!: 15 Kilometers of Cobbled Tour de France GC Destruction

Come Together/Right Now/Over Me: yep, the 2014 Tour de France route is out, and lucky for these guys it's lots less brutal but still bizarrely more prestigious than the beautiful Giro or Vuelta, with 5 mountain top finishes, two rest days, 40 sprint stages, and some choice opportunities for Thomas Voeckler to singlehandedly shatter the road surface below 'im into smithereens with the sheer force of his grimace. And sure, Froome won't know he's won til the penultimate day's huge 54km individual time trial, but first, he and the other GC boys'll have to survive this: nine separate sections and over 15 kilometers of stage 5 cobblestones, which could--depending on flats, crashes, dropped chains, and whether wee climber Nairo Quintana accidentally slips through a crack in the pave and disappears into the center of the earth--decide the final yellow jersey before we're even outta week one. Reaction: Contador is cagey, Bjarne's confident he'll still suck less than Froomey on the cobbles, Nairo's stoked for the climbs, Froome professes both optimism and the implausible idea that he and 2012 champ Wiggo can ride it all kumbayah together without them punching each other's faces in, Valverde's psyched to stick it to Rodriguez again, Purito himself is suited just fine to a whole buncha climbs til he's hopelessly screwed on the time trial, and Cav and Kittel's formidable hairdos nearly came to blows bragging on who's gonna grab the green jersey. All in--Andy Schleck, who apparently misunderstood the part where they said your brother *can't* take you down the descents with you sitting on his handlebars. Model of Understatement Award: former Tour winner Stephen Roche, discreetly opining that perhaps this year's "soft" course won't encourage vulnerable innocent riders to take "shortcuts" again. Wait, are we talking those jackwagons who grabbed rides on cars and trains back in 1904?

Ho Ho Ho!: and, we're about to find out who deserves to be on Santa's naughty list: Lance Armstrong mastermind Johan Bruyneel's got his arbitration date just shy of Christmas, and if I were him, after all that stupid crap with Lance whining how oppressed his poor railroaded teammates were getting cakewalk 6-month off-season bans in return for incredibly profiting from and still capitalizing on their ill-gotten gains (lovable as these fine gents are), and pretending he's getting ready to spill the beans again, I'd be worried he was ultimately gonna Landis my !@# and I'd start *talkin'*, honey. Oh, but omerta's still so much more dignified...

Papa's Got a Brand New Tat: finally, congrats to dashing Classics suavester Pippo Pozzato, who's clearly taking the massive heat from the disappointed Italian press for being all style over substance to heart in this nascent off-season, by revising his diet, spending days hunched in a windtunnel perfecting his position, and restructuring his entire training regime for 20--uh, getting some nice new ink. But it is *so* aero, man!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Horner Hears a Who?; The Tour de France Shapes Up; and, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Warrior Princess

Uh, I Can Delete That, Right?: yep, just as Chris Horner already wasn't helping his own cause sending a bitter bizarre series of wig-out tweets that'd completely freak the average publicity-conscious DS outta hiring 'im, *then* twitted a cheerful "so long, see ya, wouldn't wanna be ya" to his RadioTrek squad o' four years, now if it's even possible the poor guy's hosed himself even worse: uh-huh, some sports-science ween is claiming Horner's voluntarily-released bio-passport results from the Vuelta look just a liiiiiiitttttle too good to be true. Disgusting slanderous rumor-mongering or no, I sure hope you signed a new contract in the last, oh, ten minutes there, Chris, 'cause the rest of the teams are only gonna pretend they never heard of you even more from here on out! #iscrewedupthat...

Countdown to July: meantime, for riders who actually *have* contracts, it's already shaping up to be a hell of a competitive Tour, with defending champ Froome cannily demanding that any thought of cobbles next year be swiftly dispatched, Contador desperate to reclaim his rightful rep and fat paycheck, Quintana opining he could have this one in the bag, and Nibali, unsatisfied with having won merely two of three Grand Tours, now going all-out for the big show. Aw, come on, isn't *anyone* in addition to Basso and Cadel in for the beautiful Giro--what's the big deal about the winky ol' "Tour de France", anyway?

More Retirements That Suck: finally, best wishes and suck-for-the-peloton as incredibly prolific sprint bad-!@# Ina-Yoko Teutenberg hangs up her cleats--despite an injury-wrecked 2013, she's racked up over 200 wins in her long career, and with any luck for the sport of cycling she'll get some obscenely lucrative coaching gig training riders or something who if even half the talent she is'll be Ina-ing up the tarmac for years to come. Here, winning as usual in 2012: Congrats on a great career!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Euskaltel-Euskadi, 1994-2013 #euskaltelteam

Fine, cycling teams come and go. But Euskaltel-Euskadi was a unique and glorious one, and it deserves every bit of homage it can get. So here, and in gratitude for damn near twenty years of excitement, being a major factor in my falling in love with the sport, and having the most smashing fans in fandom, a quick summary of we love Euskaltel-Euskadi's greatest hits:

Grand Tours: small budgets, big hearts, bangin' results. For all the (well-earned) hype about Iban Mayo and Haimar Zubeldia, the top finishes actually all go to 2008 Olympic gold medalist Samuel Sanchez: a third in the 2010 Tour, a third and a second in recent Vueltas. And did I mention (this week) Samu's been Tour de France King o' the Mountains? Woo-hoo!

Stage Races: 1st (Samu) and 2nd (Iban) at Tour of the Basque Country. First *twice* (Iban, Landaluze) at Dauphine-Libere. And 1st at the Tour de Suisse (Aitor Gonzalez). Not too shabby!

Stage Wins: okay, forget the 80 gazillion stages in the tours of Asturias, the Basque Country, Burgos, and Romandie--in Grand Tours alone, they've racked up 17 victories since 1999, starting with Roberto Laiseka's wins in the Tour de France and Vuelta right through Ion Izagirre's 2012 stage win in the Giro d'Italia. Eat *that*--aw, you know who you are!

Scandals: shut up! who gives! bite me! far less than most squads, so stuff it!

Lastly, The (Clearly Heartbroken) Tribute:

Thank you Euskaltel--I doff my bitchin' orange team cap to you and all your riders and staff past and present for many years of great cycling!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Like That Disgusting Goo-Covered Thing That Pops Outta That Guy's Guts and Skitters Away In "Alien," But More Painful

Quotes That Rip My Guts Out: yep, even as EX-EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI rider Benat Intxausti, who those vulturous poaching carcass-pickers over at Movistar grabbed a coupla seasons back, takes a mountain stage at the Tour-of-Who-Gives-A-Crap-Except-It's-Dear-Euskaltel's-Last-WorldTour-Race-Ever!, our actual beloved Euskies continue to honor their carrot jerseys with characteristically hard work, but for my money, it's the quotes o' resigned doom coming outta the mouths of our boys in orange that's breaking my heart the most. The latest from team captain Samuel Sanchez, tentatively thought though clearly now not going to joining besieged and recently key-domestiqueless Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank: "Time goes by, and even if I do not want to end my career, I'm getting used to the idea of retirement." Arrruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu (or however you write an agonized howl), arrrrruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! Well *I'm* not used to it !@#dammit, what the !@#$ is with you cheapskate soulless assface sport directeurs, hire Samu' already, *look* at some of the goons you've got on your squads who could be added to or replaced! Oh, bad enough young sprinter (a sprinter! Euskaltel's got a sprinter!) Lobato has no home, erratic yet worthy Igor Anton is finally conceding “As things stand I’ve got nothing, or at least nothing concrete,” and half the team are tweeting rueful farewell pics of their final team kits, now this--arrruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!

On the Catwalk/On the Catwalk, Yeah/I Shake My Little Tush On the Catwalk: meantime, to no-one's shock, startlingly incompetent doper/Byblos runway man-candy Danilo "Low T" DiLuca's is finally facing a largely-too-late-but-at-least-symbolic life-time ban from his own deeply annoyed cycling fed. I gotta say, I almost get why guys like Jan Ullrich and poor ol' Strawberry Shortcake here are so aggravated at the utter arbitrariness at who still gets singled out for scorn--or all-embracing, prodigal-son forgiveness--in the peloton. Ah well, Danilo, at least your buds can keep you in style with free clothes!

If You Experience Performance-Enhancing Symptoms, Call Your Team Doctor Immediately to Get More: and, many thanks to USADA for their warning today about a popular weight-loss and "focus-enhancing" nutritional supplement that apparently acts on the body like meth, because apparently, that lovely opioidtramadol crap the new, clean generation's currently taking as a pain-reliever (pain-relief being, well, useful to athletes who painfully *ride* six freakin' hours a day)isn't even banned yet. It's under review though! Whew, I'm *so* glad things have completely changed...hey, if you guys aren't gonna use your resources to combat this, maybe you could use the spare energy (and dough) to help Samu get a new contract instead?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Horner Freaks Out!; Scarponi Looks S!@#$ed!; and, Like *Sanchez* Is the Biggest Prob in the Peloton?

#HireMeYou!@#$ers: yeah, you read it, or at least read the 24-hour stream of mocking tweets: Chris Horner's rabid rapid-fire twit-barrage of how he got to be the Vuelta champ he is today, how you're the lowly slacker worm you are, and how you better, ergo, start paying him tons of money to ride for your team next year. Look--I see how he might be very mad and all, that after years of intermittent (if intermittently brilliant) results, his passionate defense of Lance Armstrong against doping accusations after years of publicly slagging him which totally coincidentally stopped right when Johan Bruyneel hired 'im, and a clearly successful all-McNugget training diet, there's still some, well, slight suspicion about his recent achievement. Adding insult to injury, Europcar snottily announced today that Horner's agent tried to sell 'im for 750,000 euro and was harrumphingly dissed. But Horner, let's be honest here--leaving aside that you didn't actually win the Vuelta until after the big guns'd already blown their transfer-season budgets, *and* their terror of losing their sponsors and folding their team if you get popped, I think they're frankly worried that your incredibly advanced age of 400 makes this win, even if legit, a freak fluke, and at your age you're gonna just start droppin' limbs off like some rotting undead carcass zombie. So I get yer mad--now quit complainin', and get in line with everyone else still out of a job!

Scarpface: meantime, things ain't lookin' much better for Michele "I Can't Believe They Gave Contador's Giro Win to *Me*" Scarponi, who, reliable talent though he is, is having a hard time picking a team from all his lucrative offers, apparently one down though with Europcar having also smacked Scarponi's agent for sending an unsolicited unwanted e-mail and then claiming that's some sort of near deal. No offense to Michele, or Horner, but right on Europcar--really, they're gonna get more mileage outta some piddly Grand Tour champ(s) than the irresistible camera-whore breakaway antics of Thomas "the Grimace" Voeckler?

RaboBull!@#$: and, bad racing news but apparently a sweet payoff for stalwart stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez, who was ditched by RaboBlancoBelkin because he's been linked to too many doping stories. Jaysus, like *he's* the biggest liability in the peloton? Have you guys *noticed* what clowns are still getting paid hundreds of thousands or even millions of euros to actually *ride*, like right now, like next year, like 'til the next generation of dipwads gets busted and immediately rehired by equally morally outraged hypocrites? I mean, damn, I don't expect *anyone* who started over at Liberty Seguros, even as a baby, to've come outta there without some serious, well, nutritional advice, but Sanchez? When other squads are fielding Contador? Valverde? Scarponi? Sure, clean 'em out, I actually agree, but enjoy the two guys you actually got left...anyway, hope you do get a new gig if yer a cleanster an' all now LL, but one more spot open for a Euskie to grab, you hear that Igor Anton?

Monday, October 07, 2013

It's the 2014 Giro d'Italia, Beeyotches! All's Forgiven, You Wanker! and, Money Troubles of People Who Can Bite Me

Rosa Is the New Bad-!@#: yes, fellow Giro junkies, the "humane" 2014 corsa is officially out, with enough sprints (8, too !@#$in' many for me, but then I don't have to ride it) to seduce Mark Cavendish, enough "medium mountains" stages to give false hope to the breakaway artists, enough high mountain stages packed into the final week to guarantee GC suspense, and, after last year's violent protests, enough transfer time that they don't have to rappel some poor sap like Scarponi down from a helicopter to get 'im to the next stage in time and risk whackin' 'im into the rock face of the Passo Stelvio. Best of all--though it makes no actual sense from a race perspective--we start in my ancestral stomping grounds of fair Ireland. Road trip! Here, yer official promo: FORZA, FORZA, FORZAAAAAAAAAAAAA--oh, c'mon, Nibali, a Giro-Tour double can't be *that* hard, right?!

Redemption Song: and, huge congrats to Purito Rodriguez on his season-soothing--and second consecutive!--Giro di Lombardia win, and for then graciously deciding to simply agree to disagree with mortal enemy/Worlds-screwing teammie Alejandro Valverde as to both gentlemen's view of the prior weekend's race tactics, at least until Purito has the opportunity next year to jam a bidon into Valverde's chain ring flap a musette into his face on a plummeting descent drop 'im in a violent cross-wind and accidentally squirt an espresso gel onto his glasses on a twitchy corner. Jeez, of all the perfectly solid 'nother reasons to want Piti's !@# outta the peloton, and *this* is what's pissing Spain off? Perspective, people!

No Scrubs: meantime, while Alberto Contador's getting just glowing press for cutting his salary by like two million euros to save Bjarne Riis' de-Tinkov'd Saxo Bank--which has, for !@#$'s sake, saved-Alberto's-butt-and-shoulda-podiumed-instead-himself Roman Kreuziger, who alone makes the team worth saving--the rest of the peloton isn't faring quite so well in the wage-crushing scramble for the last few pro spots, so desperate high-class rabble Thomas de Gendt, for example, has taken an 80% pay cut to just to ride at all and be some GC snot's water boy, which means he's probably earning like what the best women earn now, which means he better start training on that McDonald's Fryolator but quick. Am I the only one not quite crying a river that Alberto, adorable as he is, is only gonna make like five million euros in salary and endorsements to possibly choke at next year's Tour? On the other hand, that cute little "pistolero" thing--aw, I'd pay gazillions of dollars for that too!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Will You Still Need Me/Will You Still Feed Me/When I'm Thirty-Four?: Retirees We'll Really Miss

The Old M(e)n Of the Mountain: yep, in an annual ritual of grievous crapitude, a whole wunk o' great riders are retiring this year--let alone the guys who're "retiring" because we love Euskaltel and like half the Pro Continental squads are folding--and I gotta say, Marco Pinotti, Juan Antonio Flecha, and the great Sandy Casar are (1) by far the most underrated and (2) the ones the peloton're gonna blow without the most. Why? Because Marco Pinotti is not only a great time trialist in his own right, he's also consistently voted (by me, so what?) as the Guy Least Likely to Be An !@#$hole About Being a Gregario. Because you've never, *ever*, seen Flecha not driving some insane daredevil breakaway, and, either he's a total wisenheimer, in which case we love 'im even more, or he's seriously threatening to become a pro surfer next season. Because Sandy Casar was basically the sole reason the entirety of French cycling didn't completely suck the last 15 years, and, unlike Philippe Gilbert (who we love anyway), he actually didn't interrupt his Tour de France to hunt down and scream at the clown who let his dog meander into the course and damn near kill 'im. Because they're not the megalomaniacal sprinters, the preening Grand Tour contenders, or even the skittish thoroughbred climbers who consistently get the press, the camera time, the hysterical lovesick fans, or the Ferraris-as-pocket-change contracts. Because they don't screw over their teammates, pimp themselves as saviors, or make the kind of sickening stupid excuses that only shame them. Most of all, because they make the whole damn sport tick, and because though you might not see them often, you know this place will be poorer for their absence. So grazie Marco, gracias Flecha, and merci Sandy--you were a blast to watch, and thank you!
Juan Antonio Flecha vole un drapeau américain - Buzz

Friday, October 04, 2013

Payback at the Giro di Lombardia! Andy Schleck's Big Plans! Contador's Wishful Thinking!

It's The Beautiful Giro di Lombardia!: yes, it's time for the last monument of the season, the glorious classica delle foglie morte, and what's usually a hotly-contested source o' local pride for the Italians is this year a rematch of last weekend's Worlds, with Rui Costa debuting his shining new rainbow kit (as Giovanni Visconti wistfully Twitted today, "In Rui Costa's room to admire his new maglia, shorts, gloves...I touch them delicately...they're a dream..."), Vincenzo Nibali to do what he was obviously perfectly capable of doing last weekend if he hadn't hit the deck, and Alejandro Valverde, if he's got any brains left in his legs whatsoever, staying the !@#$ away from a still-extremely-distraught (and this race's defending champ) Purito Rodriguez. Others on the hunt: twilight Italians Scarponi, Basso, and Cunego; climber supremo Rigoberto Uran; Basso teammate/wheelie-poppin' studpup Peter Sagan; and new-stripped Philippe Gilbert, with one hell of a gnarly lump on his knee. Ow, !@#$--heal up quick Philippe, looks like it's a good thing it's the end of the season already! Anyway, the course: perfect, with a trip up the Madonna del Ghisallo and later a sharp drop before the flat run to the finish. Forza ragazzi--I'm still just in awe you got anything left in the tank at all!

He's Baaaaa-aaaaaaaack (Uh-*Huh*): and, after an openly-conceded but still devastatingly crap season, Andy Schleck, his big brother and go-to trainer/nurturer both back to cocoon 'im in 2014, swears he's ready to come back blazing next year, all set to target (1) the Classics and (2) seriously, the Tour de France. What Andy Schleck *needs* to target first, frankly, is a finish line. Small steps, baby Schleck, small steps!

I Dream of Bertie: last but not least, in bocca al lupo in particular on Sunday to Alberto Contador, who's professed he's already blocked out his suckfest 2013 and is counting the Giro di Lombardia as a fresh start to a hopefully better 2014. So Bjarne told you he's got the dough to pay you next year after Tinkov slagged your overhyped butt and is gonna try to taunt you next year with a new, winninger, more cost-effective squad? I'd be pretending it's already 2014 too!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Amy Dombroski, R.I.P.

U.S. 'cross and mountain bike rider Amy Dombroski, 26, an American riding for Belgian team Telenet-Fedea, was killed in a crash with a truck while training today in Belgium. She competed in the GP Gloucester just this past weekend, where she posted strong results against a stellar field. Her website is here, and a lovely summary of her career is here. Condolences to all.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Yo, We've Still Got Racing (and Transfers!) To Do!; and, Yer Post-Worlds Nasties Continue!

It's Milano-Torino, Baby!: yes, despite the new-crowned Kings and Queens of the Worlds, the actual cycling season still ain't over yet, as the venerable Milano-Torino, including the tough Superga climb, races tomorrow with a field including defending champ Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodriguez, Andy Schleck, Damiano Cunego, and even the men's worlds road race lanterne rouge (and hell, at least he finished!) Thomas "the Grimace" Voeckler. Who's out: Vuelta winner Chris Horner, whose cracked ribs have called a late-early end to his season. Lookin' for vindication, Purito? Here's your chance! And in case you missed it last year:

The Race of the Falling Leaves (Teams, Whatever): meantime, as the clock ticks down to the lovely Giro di Lombardia, riders from Euskaltel to Sojasun are still scrambling for the last few spots in the ProTour teams, with grim Thomas de Gendt wondering if he'll get the last Quick Step spot from Igor Anton, Mikel Astarloza already throwing in the towel and retiring, stellar carrot climber/GC o' the future Mikel Nieve just grateful to play superdomestique and screw his own palmares over at Sky, and even the boys over at Bjarne's Saxo Bank starting to get a liiiiiiiiitle bit nervous they're gonna be stuck last-second without a squad. Still, fear not that baby Basque cycling talent won't be nurtured, at least: their cycling fed's hoping to start a wee Continental team to keep the Ibans (shut up!), Mikels, Josebas, and Igors coming nicely along. Til those heavy-handed money-bags at Movistar poach 'em anyway. !@#$!

Oh, Snap, Italia!: and, while British media is saturated with self-flagellating analyses like "Why We're A Pack of Weenie Dropout Quitter Wussbags," even one-medal (congrats, Ratto!) Italy's now piling on poor ol' Spain, with Paolo Bettini saying that, below hometown expectations as his squad was, at least they fought like lions and didn't lose like Spain. Geez, not arguing--because they really did snatch defeat from the slavering jaws of victory--but can people maybe lay off anything connected to poor Rodriguez while he's still a quivering mound o' tears over Costa's pip at the line? I mean, listen to the guy..."this is Purito's bitter destiny..."--kick 'im while he's down whydontcha?