Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Yer Post-Worlds Blame-Game Roundup!

National Brotherhood Week: yes, Portugal's Rui Costa, previously best known as a fine stage racer, tenacious climber, and for his spectacular sissy-boy slap-fight with Carlos Barredo at the 2010 Tour (tho' to be fair, it was Barredo whanging *him* with the bike wheel), is now our very worthy men's world road champ, and while the elite women exchange hugs, warm compliments, and congratulations all 'round, the men've already devolved into a seething snake pit o' venom-shooting viperous blame-purveying, with Britain telling its own team--none of whom managed to finish, least of all Brad "I Would Do Anything For Froome (But I Won't Learn To Descend)" Wiggins--y'all just suck except for Cav, Spain's chief slamming Alejandro Valverde for greedily screwing Purito into a lowly silver, the vaunted Classics hardmen dismissed disgustedly for failing in perfect (for them) weather, Team Italy head Paolo Bettini in and out of a job every six seconds, and only recent Vuelta runner-up Vincenzo Nibali roundly proclaimed a god 'cause if he had the strength to chase back on like that after his !@#$ crash with Luca Paolini he clearly woulda won otherwise. Surely these bitter Bettys can find *some* mercy for each other--damn, look at poor Rigoberto Uran's team kit! Anyway, here's how it all unfolded: Complimenti Rui!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

We've Got Our New (Old) Women's World Road Champ! Lance Sez "Huzzah," But Should He? And, Yer Men's Preview!

Holy Crap, She is Just One of the Best Athletes in the World Right Now: yep, after a select winnowing down to a field of 8--including three Italians, Longo Borghini, Ratto and Guderzo--2 Dutch and the best of the rest of the world including the US' Evelyn Stevens, then a wily spit out the back of two Italians and one last rider, then a desperate return of the three and two more cracked by a brilliant attack from Marianne Vos, then a frankly worried-looking Vos 3.5k solo from the line, it was Vos, with actually plenty of time to enjoy the win, then a fifteen-seconds distant Johannson and Ratto to round out the podium. Let's be frank--the quality of the women's peloton right now *far* outweighs the respect, dough, and treatment they're given in this sport. You wanna support women's cycling, UCI? Well you've got the Muhammad Alis of cycling to bring it home for you--you better not !@#$ this up, Cookson, and congratulations Marianne!

Hallelujah!: meantime, after a whole lotta nasty political wrangling yesterday which in my view could've been settled way less fussily with just a good ol' Thunderdome cage-fight, Pat "Dick" McQuaid was finally ousted, with Great Britain's Brian Cookson winning the hearts and votes--though actually, not by *that* much--to be our new UCI prez. Happy campers--tragic Op Puerto victim Alejandro "Bloodbag" Valverde, and hero Lance Armstrong, who bizarrely tweeted "Hallelujah!", and was immediately rewarded with Cookson cheerfully announcing now's a *great* time for "Truth & Conciliation." Uh, I know that glory-whore McQuaid hocked you into the gutter like a lougie after you embarrassed him, Lance, but weren't you maybe still better off with him in the end than someone who *wasn't* once your greatest swooningest cheerleader? Be careful what you wish for, new heralds o' clean cycling--looks like someone wants to clear out the garage!

You Better Not !@#$ This Up, Bettini!: and, tomorrow's time for the men's race, and it looks pretty much like this: either the sprinters barely survive the climbs, and Sagan who can already climb anyway takes it, or the sprinters choke on the climbs, and whoever's not too gutted out from the Vuelta takes it. Alternative: Gilbert, underestimated, is poorly marked. Last alternative: Vinokourov, still pissed at Nibali for blowing the Giro, jumps in in full Astana colors, takes the gold medal in fist-pumping triumph, and immediately whacks the Shark unconscious with it. Italy's problem: if commissario tecnico Bettini doesn't get *someone* a victory on home soil--and no, even Ratto's fine bronze today won't cut it--he's gonna be discarded like a nut-sweaty testosterone patch and tarnish his great rider legacy. Me, rooting for Nibali or impossibly Gilbert tho' I am (and yes, I'll be wrong by the time both of you read this, stuff it), I'd almost love for Alejandro Valverde to grab the win. Wouldn't *that* be a great start to our shining new era?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Grated Carrots!; Yer Worlds-in-Preview Part Due!; and, !@#$ You Movistar You !@#$ing !@#$ers!

How You Do Write "General Heartbroken Keening and Wailing" in Basque, Again?: yep, our dear 2013 Vuelta team-classification-champ Euskaltel-Euskadi's officially over, and typically, in one of its sweetest qualities, our doomed loyal squad was harmed being dead-set on providing for its back-room staff and bitchin' bike supplier, as well as its entirely unheralded and unappreciated riders, with "F-1" (apparently, some kind of car-related !@$#) superstar Alonso reportedly reluctant to take 'em all on as of course he should if Euskaltel even remotely willed it. And, in response to the constant bitching of late about the putrid decaying state of Spanish cycling, Euskaltel-poaching bottom-feeders Movistar allegedly also did their damndest to make it even worse, hampering the buyout because they feared having another Spanish team'd drive up the price of currently dirt-cheap Spanish riders. You capitalist oligarch worker-bee-crushing cheapskate Rolex-flashing bean-counting wingtip-wearing swine-pigs, how dare you help take them down--bite me Movistar, now and forever, and remember this day when your points-piling cash-cow Valverde (1) ages out or (2) gets popped again!

A Plea: which leaves us with this: Samu' is probably gonna retire, and a bucket of really stellar talent, including Mikel Irizar and Ion Izagirre (guess-who having grabbed bro Gorka), and even the uneven but still exciting Igor Anton, are without contracts at a truly dire time of year. Me, I'm thinking that for the boys who *don't* find gigs, we maybe chip in to cheer 'em up and fly them and their hardworking soigneurs and masseuses over to our respective home countries to at least stretch their legs and earn a few bucks in some nice local crits. That, or we blow the whole pot on a truckload of Irish whiskey and drown our sorrows. Who's in?

Oh, Right, *Those* Races: Meantime, it's still the Worlds, baby, and...oh, who the hell am I kidding, how can I focus while this Euskaltel catastrophe's going on, anyway, it's the women's individual time trial tomorrow, it's 22k, it looks like this , yer reigning champ is Judith Arndt, and is calling Ellen Van Dijk for the win. Oh, and here's the highlights of the women's team time trial that UCI wouldn't let be broadcast live those goons: Good run there Wiggle, congrats to Specialized!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's Yer 2013 World Championships In Preview, Part Uno!; and, Bonus Calendar News

Fast Times at Firenze High: yep, it's time for the Worlds, and, sensibly, the ever-high-strung time trialists are gonna be first outta the gate. What to look for:

The Team Course: actually, it's the same circuit as for the individual time trial, so at least this'll be a nice preview for those who hit the road with their teams: for the women, about 43k of damn-near-glass-flat from Pistoia to Firenze, and for the menfolk, nearabout 57k, also damn flat, from Montecatini Terme to Firenze. C'mon, wouldn't it be fun to just toss in a *little* unexpected 18% gradient for a surprise?

The Team Contenders: frankly, since it's a team as opposed to national event, I don't view this as much different from a Grand Tour time trial, so, exciting as it always is to watch, I'm not gonna sweat it out too much. Caveats: BMC could still use more cheering up, and St. David Millar just gets the !@#$ on my last nerve, so forza BMC!; and, despite widespread predictions Specialized-lululemon's got it in the bag, again, Wiggle-Honda really oughta win because (1) the great Giorgia Bronzini's on it and (2) their orange-and-black uniforms are making me sentimental because they remind me of Euskaltel's. Oh dear little Euskaltel! I already miss you so! Wait, what were we talking about?

Pretty in Speedos: and, because I can't bear to discuss transfer gossip because then I'd have to talk all the wee little Carrots flying the nest, I bring you this exciting news: hard as it is to discern from the ever-growing pile of Pippo Pozzato's gleaming half-nekkid instagram selfies, our boy's sun-splashed visage is also gonna grace a 2014 Calendar near you. Other reported pelotonian hot shots: Peter Sagan strategically hidden behind his bike in full wheelie, a lurid close-up of Argos hotshot Marcel Kittel's perfect hair, and Pat "Dick" McQuaid posing coyly behind miniature flags of all the random countries he's tried to get to back him for UCI prez. What, no Hein Verbruggen? I call bull!@#$!

Next Worlds Preview: the Individual Time Trials next week. Hey, wait up!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wiggo Throws a Bone; Horner Dodges, Demands; Lance Wants to Lie Less, and More!

The Fast and the Forgiving: yep, just as Brad Wiggins was a near shoo-in for this year's Giant Peloton Whiner Award, he's not only redeemed his miserable season by a blazing confidence-restoring time trial at the Tour of Britain, he's even reached out (sorta, indirectly) by gamely saying that even though he'd rather be slathered in honey and tied to a starving hill o' fire ants than have to be nice to Froomey, he's still going to work for the backstabbing glory-hog like a trouper in the Worlds road race. I gotta give it to Brad, that's kinda sweet! Well, we'll see if Brad gives it to Chris Froome in the road race...Chris, you might want to get at least one other teammate in between you and Wiggo at all times, just in case!

What? I Can't Hear You? I Think We've Got a Bad Connection: meantime, as speculation runs rampant that newly-crowned 2013 Vuelta champ Chris Horner is the notorious dope-sucking "Rider 15" named to the narcs, Horner was luckily caught on the phone at a completely inconvenient time and unable to answer unpleasant questions twice by cyclingnews' intrepid reporter, leaving everyone to think (1) he's understandably tired and wanted to get home and (2)exactly what they already thought about that evil cheating drug-stuffed piece of--uh, this thrilling example of the triumph of the human spirit, anyway. At the same time, our still contract-less Grand Tour winner is reportedly in negotiations with Alonso's new Euskaltel, allegedly demanding a cool 1.4 million to drag the outfit down in scandal'n'flames before it even st--uh, shoot the team straight to the top of the ProTour next year. Jaysus, Alonso, you couldn'ta just chipped in and preserved our actual dear Euskaltel if you were gonna blow that kinda dough on one guy?

Look Who's Talking (If It Makes Him Look Better Compared To Some Other Guys): and, I don't know about you, but I am touched--*deeply* touched--by Lance Armstrong's newly-stated heartfelt desire to cleanse his wounded remorseful soul and tell even less lies than he's already lied about already, if other riders'll make him look like less of an !@#hole by speaking up too, which is exactly the kind of openness that will continue to heal this sport and--hey--where's the rest of the peloton going? We're all truth'n'reconciling now! Right here! Guys? Guys?

No, No, It's Perfectly Fine For a Major Road Race to Run in Traffic: finally, over in the ever-jacked women's peloton, recriminations continue to fly for this week's ultimately disastrous Giro della Toscana in which half the field refused to complete the race, thereby screwing their own training preparations for the Worlds, just because a bunch of high-maintenance uppity spandex "riders" pettily objected to some dumb!@# thing like "personal safety." Unreasonable evian-sipping prima donnas! Next thing you know, the stupid *guys'll* demand that the roads be cleared for *their* races. Oh, wait...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

It's the 2013 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! #lavuelta

Yes, the Vuelta has passed, the dirty cynical speculation has begun, Valverde continues to creep everyone out, and runner-up Vincenzo Nibali is already a loooooooooooong way from anywhere Alexandre Vinokourov can find 'em. Hey, at least he won't Oleg Tinkov your !@# on Twitter! So as everyone rests up for the Worlds, and the fans all catch our breath (and catch up on sleep), who's the very best of the best? Well, it's the 2013 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards, so let's find out!

Magical Mystery (Grand) Tour Award: don't lie to me, you Nervous Nellies--even if you love 'im & congratulate 'im, you're a-wonderin' if Chris Horner, age Moses, doped not only to take a very impressive two stages, but to win the whole show. That disconcertingly uniform tick-tick-tick of the pedals? The Lanceian ability to not even crack once, for one second, and have to rest 'n' get his legs back, like everyone else? That superior-form-through-zero-pre-Vuelta-race-miles-and-Big-Mac-diet? Oh, ye of little faith--or too much! All I can say is, Lance never tested positive (tho' he actually did) either. Horner--congratulations, or go to hell!

What's Cooler Than Being Cool? Ice Cold! Statuette: okay, the Classics, it's mandatory. The Giro, it's expected. The Tour, it's a single day of unreasonable smugness to every warm-weather lover in the race. But the Vuelta? These guys were shiverin' like Chinese Crested Hairless show-dogs sled-dogging their nekkid butts to the North Pole! The stage 14 carnage: 14 dropouts, a whole peloton o' bone-chilled misery, and potential podium-finisher Ivan Basso, who proclaimed it the saddest day of his career. !@#dammit, you're supposed to *melt* these guys in August like wax on hot-plate, not freeze them solid like Solo in Carbonite!

Vuelta a France Prize: yes, for once the French aren't winning something like "Most Consecutive GC Losses In Their Own Grand Tour" or "Team Whose Spot Really Shoulda Gone to That Pro Conti Outfit"--from Alexandre Geniez to Warren Barguil,these guys we never talk about (yet) grabbed a pile o' stages and a whole bucketload o' still-in-diapers-neo-pro glory, including the legendary Angliru. Could we be seeing another French all-round champion the next few years? If so, AG2R--spiff up those bugly team kits already!

Unrelated Anticlimax Award: so, Lance popped his 2000 Olympic Bronze medal in an envelope and mailed it back to the IOC. The outrage! The shock! The scandal! The...yawn...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...snort...

Heartbreak o' the Vuelta: y'know, Tony Martin is a pretty fine rider, but powering alone through a 175 k time trial is an astonishing freakin' feat even for him, which is why it was so particularly agonizing to watch 'im get swept up within mere meters of the line on a masterful, brutal stage 6. Here, you watch it--I can't bear to do it again!

Relief o' the Race: Philippe Gilbert, this one's for you--you broke your rainbow curse on stage 12, ya got the hell out before you did something stupid, and ya saved the rest o' the gas tank for the World Championships. Chapeau, wise boy!

So Close, But Yet So Far-rar Prize: oh, Tyler. You had a really, really crap coupla years, you really need a contract, you really, almost got a paycheck-ensuring win a few times there, most agonizingly, alas, on the final stage. Perhaps the flatter sprints of the Tour are more your style? Aw, nabit--fate, course, and legs, *somewhere* smile on this poor boy and let him earn his win!

Not Too Shabby Award: okay, so Purito was off the podium for his first Grand Tour since 2011. But he *did* just kick !@# at a body-gutting Tour de France in July, and he *still* managed to drop all the other GC contenders, and damn near grab himself a podium slot to boot, on a brilliant stage 19. Woo-hoo Purito--2014 is your GC-winnin' year, I know it!

Sissy-Boy Slap-Fight o' the Race: oh wait--this wasn't the 2013 Vuelta, it was the 2012 Tour! Sir Brad Wiggins threatening to quit the race and not be the first ever British winner of the Tour because Chris Froome embarrassed him on a climb. Wah, wah--feel free to give the trophy, the dough, and the knighthood back, you whiner!

Isn't Halloween In October? Award: yep, there's sure some scary stuff out there--namely, the gory goblin' feeling of Alejandro Valverde still winnin'. I'm sure it's just an innocent cold breeze that's making those shivers go up 'n' down my spine!

Cool Cucumber of 2013: he gets the leader's jersey, he'll sensibly give it back. You take the stage, that's one less publicity onslaught he has to comply with. Claw within 3 seconds of 'im, he's glad to have the company. And win the race on the penultimate day, he's pleased as punch to pack his bags and get some rest. Rode like a lion, handled it like a lamb--complimenti Vincenzo, you grande!

Grouplove Award: last but absolutely not least, no, they didn't win a stage, only because they were kind enough to let all those newbies take 'em (shut up! did too!). But in their final Grand Tour ever (aiiiiiiggghhhhhhhhhhh! aaaaiiiiiighhhhhhhhhhh!) our brave Euskaltel-Euskadi was not only in damn near every break, landed Samuel Sanchez in the top ten overall, and was the only squad to finish with all its riders, but with consistency, dedication, pride, and grace, it won the overall team classification as its last farewell. Thank you, thank you, dear Carrots--Alonso, you better not !@#$ this dear team up!

Well, dear reader(s), them's mine, and to all our bnngin' awardees, may you enjoy your wins and pass your doping controls. On to the Worlds!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Holy Crap, It's Like "Jaws," But in Reverse: Man Circles, Attacks Shark #LaVuelta

It's a Bleeder!: so after a nervous other-day in which Vincenzo "Lo Squalo" Nibali already gave a surgin' Horner back 20-odd seconds, now the ageless "George Hamilton o' the Peloton" is goin' in for the kill: yep, you heard it, Horner tore another big chunk outta Nibali and left him with a mere three seconds' lead, a certainly-battered ego, and 2 huge mountain stages including the dream-shattering Angliru still to go. I know you're always tranquillo, Nibali, but even you gotta be freakin' out just a little right now! Mitigating Motivating Factor: Vinokourov'll sink you to the bottom of a lake if you disgrace him out there. Possible Saving Grace: Horner gets blood-tested and is disqualified for actually being a robot, or popped for whatever miracle-preservative-'n'-PED concoction he's loaded on. Forza, forza Vincenzo--I just don't like Horner's performance, it's too Contadorian! Here, judge (and cringe) for yourself:

Wah, !@#$in' Wah Report: so Chris Froome leaves his own team captain in the mountainy dust--well beyond, apparently, the previously-approved, non-humiliating margin--and the !@#$in' LEADER OF THE TOUR DE FRANCE, instead of beating him into submission after the stage with a stench-filled sweat-soaked bib-short chamois in front of the team, staff, family, friends, and press corps--sends a whiny snot-nosed woe-is-me threat to QUIT THE RACE to a cycling legend? Screw you, you big baby, you *shoulda* dropped out! Damn, even that preening prima donna Armstrong just publicly slagged Contador to everyone and acted like a bitter high-school homecoming runner-up on the podium, he didn't !@#$in' dishonor the maillot jaune by threatening to leave the biggest show on earth in some sissy-boy snit fit. That's it, 2012 Tour title goes to Froome--what, Wiggins, you gonna whine yer way outta the Worlds on some stupid pretext next?

Supersonic: and, tho' Marianne Vos set a course record for fastest prologue ever at the Giro della Toscana, it's of course Giorgia Bronzini who continues to completely dominate the 2nd half of the season, kickin' the crap outta everyone else in yesterday's sprint finale, *again*. Mario "the Chest" Cipollini, you counting? She is gonna *crush* you on career stage wins, and with half the opportunities to race and no personal hairstylist to boot!

Stuff It, Faithless Ones!: finally, while dear Euskaltel has *yet* to win its *inevitable* stage this Vuelta, not only are our beloved carrots kicking Astana's works in the team classification, *but* Egoi Martinez won Most Combative today. Auuuppppaaaaaaaaaaa darling Euskaltel--and watch out tomorrow, they're getting antsy, I can tell!

Monday, September 09, 2013

It's Yer Vuelta a Espana Rest-Day Roundup; and, Bonus Boonen Nut News Part Dos! #lavuelta

Argy-Barguil: Sure, Giorgia Bronzini grabbed another stage, Cadel Evans bagged his first win of the season--pack o' late bloomers this year BMC, nice to see!--and Sagan thrilled the crowds and bought a white cowboy hat, but over at the Vuelta it's the mountains, baby, and guess who's reigning triumphant? Yep, France's Next Great Hope, 21 year old Argos climber Warren Barguil, outsmarting the likes of Rigoberto Uran and pretty well every other stage-stealing hopeful with his second win in four days. So what else is up? Well:

--that's right, Horner continued to ride like a freak, which, if he won, 'd not only make him the Oldest Grand Tour Winner of All Time, but also Guy Most Stuck Full of Needle Holes (by the narcs, calm down!) to Still Survive a Grand Tour. Either way, a notable accomplishment!

--so Nibali finally cracked today. Fifty seconds was comfy. Twenty-odd is, frankly, a bit nerve-wracking. But the Shark remains tranquillo, and is ready to take Horner out in the last few days' steeper ramps. Me, I'm still betting on Nibali--so Chris Purito Roche Valverde and Samu (shut up! will too!), good luck sluggin' it out for the rest of the podium!

--when the Belgians drop out of a race due to cold, you *know* it's bull!@#$. Bad enough the Pyreneean Meat Locker o' Carnage blasted poor Ivan Basso--who really looked great--Roman Kreuziger and LL Cool Sanchez outta the saddle, and Gilbert had good reasons to go anyway, but really? Jelle Vanendert? Nick Nuyens? Poor pelotonsicles!

--didja see who's leading the team classification? It's our beloved Euskaltel-Euskadi, honey--woooooooooo-hooooooooooooooooooooo! Now, onto the stage wins--will too either, haters!

Guess Who's Back(Door) in Training (Almost)! in other cycling news, in a truly pass-out-worthy description of his healing perineal region (at least for the more ladylike among us), bad-luck Classics bad-boy Tom Boonen is but (ha! I said "but!") a few weeks away from resuming training, which means, barring a freak elbow infection, training crash, Lamborghini bang-up, club-drug relapse, or another ginormous monster meteorite of a cyst, he'll be back on form and back in action for a stormin' old-school Tommeke 2014 Classics campaign. Get well soon, Tom--not only 'cause we love you, but 'cause we can't bear any more graphic details!

I'm Glad It's Your Birthday/Happy Birthday To You: last but not least, happy 32nd birthday to ragin' late-season squadra azzurra contender/primo peloton pinup Pippo Pozzato, clearly enjoying his recent down time. Buon Compleanno Pippo!

Okay, rest up everyone--it ain't over yet, and we've still got some serious mountains left to go!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Welcome to the Mountains (With Apologies to Guns'n'Roses) #lavuelta

Welcome to the mountains
We've got fun'n'games
We'll climb each one of the Pyrenees
Before we know the names
We are the teammates that will chase
Down any one you need
But if you treat us badly, captain
We'll screw you for GC

In the mountains, welcome to the mountains
Won't you be my, my, my domestique?
Oooh, I'm gonna make you scream!

Welcome to the mountains
We take it day by day
Some asshat running next to me
smacked his camera in my face
And you've got a really great team doc
Very hard to beat
You can have the stage win if you want
But you better not take the GC

In the mountains, welcome to the mountains
That crash is gonna make you bleed, bleed
Ooooooh, now you're gonna lose speed!

Welcome to the mountains
It gets worse here every day
If the weather turns your nuts to ice
It's just the price you pay
And you're a very tough DS
Very hard to please
But if I blow it, Vino, we know
You're gonna break my knees

in the mountains, welcome to the mountains
I better get the, the, the red jersey
Oooh, I'm gonna watch you freeze!

And when you're high you always...gotta safely come down...I'm down....aiiiiggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

You know where you are?
You're in the mountains baby,
You're gonna diiiieeeeeeeeeeee
In the mountains, welcome to the mountains
Hope the soigneur's got what you need, need
In the mountains, welcome to the mountains
The pain'll make you plead, plead
In the mountains, welcome to the mountains
Shoulda taken that feed, feed
In the mountains, welcome to the mountains
They're gonna bring you down....Huuuaaahhhhhhh!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Curse (of the Rainbow Jersey), Foiled Again!; Euskaltel News; and, the Call of the (Kirsten) Wild

Like the Red Sox's, But, Not *Quite* as Long: yep, after a long hot drought of a year, Philippe Gilbert's finally broken the Curse, taking his primo win in his World Champ stripes in a theoretical sprint stage at the Vuelta a Espana and gettin' his form on nicely ahead of his 2013 defense. And geez, what a nail-nipper--this is almost as great a performance as when he screamed his head off in front of that little girl in the Tour for her doofus dad's letting their giant Newfie wander into the course and almost take Gilbert out! Oh wait, here's the sprint: Right on Philippe--you've done that jersey proud!

Wild Thing: and, over at the Holland Ladies Tour (won since, well, birth by Marianne Vos), Kirsten Wild's added two outta three stages so far to her existing huge palmares, tho' ever-fearsome Trixi Worrack remains race leader. Watch out Giorgia Bronzini, now Kirsten's racking up the multiple stage wins--I call a contest! Here's her first one:

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Alonso: meantime, future-non-Euskaltel continues to move along (waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! waaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! waaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!), with none other than a former ONCE rider and Lance's ol' teammie Chechu Rubiera rumored to be near signing on to manage the squad, with you-goddamn-better-keep-Euskaltel's-Igor-Gonzalez-de-Galdeano as reputed technical director. Possible complication: Bjarne Riis sez he's, like, totally best buds with Alberto Contador, who's still under contract anyway, and he's not gonna address a buncha stupid lunch-room rumors that from a buncha jealous alpha-beeyotches anyway. Get ready to fight for your man, Alonso--or at least pay the hell up for 'im!

Speaking of Guys With Bad Seasons: I gotta admit, I'm starting to feel pretty bad for Andy Schleck, who wasn't even selected to the Luxembourg Worlds squad this year. Ah geez, I'm gettin' soft--get your legs back soon Andy, at least just to stop the indignity!

Bee Movie: last but not least, serious props to red-jersey bad-!@# Vincenzo Nibali, stung by a bee in the face during training, unable to properly treat it (to Vino's unsurprising rage, considering the !@#$ *he's* taken), and still posting a great time in the individual time trial. I'd say "forza," but you've already demonstrated your strength pretty clearly, right?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

It's Yer Vuelta a Espana Rest-Day Roundup!

Well, it's been a lively and rather unexpected stages 1-10 at this year's fabulous Vuelta, and today, while the boys rest up and field uncomfortable press questions, it's time to take stock. So what've we learned so far?

1. No, there's no evidence to suggest that double stage-winner Chris Horner, age approximately 96, has done anything, y'know, suspect. But *damn*, it sure looks weird.

2. Samu' and the rest of Euskaltel have been very distressed emotionally. So bite me! Go to hell! They will too come back and win a bucket o' stages and make up four minutes and podium!

3. Speaking of Euskaltel, you gotta love SaxoTinkoff oligarch/raging nutwhack Oleg Tinkov for his cheerful !@#$-you tweet: "If Bjarne get rid of Conta I may re-think may departure from #TeamSaxoTinkoff". There's elegance (and certainly no sour grapes) in your compliments to those you work with, Oleg!

4. Yep. Alejandro Valverde continues to creep me out a little. Oh, but all that was so very long ago...

5. Geez, disgraced-'n-redeemed elder statesman Ivan Basso's really lookin' pretty strong out there. Plus, he's so dreeeeeeeeamy!

6. Didja see Giorgia Bronzini blitzed another sprint, *again*? !@#$, just kick out a coupla the ProTour teams barely gacking it through the stages out there and let her in instead!

7. Speaking of sprints, I still think Tyler Farrar can take one. One good win and I'm sure he'll snap outta his funk!

8. If Andy Schleck were here, and losing, he'd be lauded all over the place for his amazing accomplishments. So why're Ten Dam and Mollema taking so much crap?

Well, I'm sure I missed a lotta important stuff, but I'll leave that to those with more of a clue than I got. As for tomorrow, lookin' forward to some GC damage in the time trial, let's get the next few flat stages over with, then it's time for some serious pain next weekend!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Euskaltel Saved?! SortaKindaNotReallyMaybeButI'llTakeAnythingICanGetAtThisPoint

Aupa...Whoever You're Gonna Be!: Yes, our dear Euskaltel-Euskadi's ProTour license has been bought out by ridiculously wealthy Formula 1 auto racer/Samu' riding pal/Contador close bud Fernando Alonso. And so, our beloved squad's gonna kinda continue in the way that, well, QuickStep became I'm-still-not-calling-it-Omega-Pharma and ONCE became Liberty Seguros became Astana and--hey, you know the sponsorship dance. Except it'll be based in Asturias, not the Basque country, telecom company Euskaltel is out, no other Basque institution will take it on, and it'll be built up into a whole new squad. Big (if agonizingly temporary) saving grace--it'll remain basically still our darling little Basque carrots through next year (to the extent this year's stupid points-grabbing strategy didn't already toss Amets and the rest of 'em to other squads like last night's compost-tossed leftovers) and perhaps even a bit into 2015, with anyone having a current contract like Samuel Sanchez, Igor Anton (nice try QuickStep!), Mikel Nieve and the Izagirre brothers stayin' with the squad at least til those run out. So in the end, is this good or bad? Well, he's clearly gonna take it international, so the soul of our unique little squad'll be lost. Alonso's already paying homage to the past, firmly laying out his goals for the future, but imploring the rabid orange army fans to stick with 'im. As a modest reprieve, ex-Euskaltel rider/current DS Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is expected to stay, and, if we're in any luck, Alonso's not planning to completely gut it yet buy a buncha totally irrelevant whogivesacrapaboutems and stuff the remaining Euskaltel talent into Team Contador domestique uber-servitude til we've had til say 2016 to digest the loss. So here's the new king's site, and the press release. Oh, either way I can't stand it--I'll take what I can get but they'll never truly be who they were--treat those twee little Basque climbers well, Alonso, or you'll *need* a freakin' racecar to outrun those fans!