Saturday, July 12, 2014

Shake 'n' Break (Well, Not Really): It's Nibali's Tour to Lose Now, and, Chava-nooooooooooo! #letour

Okay, let's get this out there: even though Contador's down Kreuziger and Hernandez, and Nibali's Astana is now stronger on paper in the mountains, in this first comparatively minor test Nibs was surprisingly isolated surprisingly early, and Tinkoff-Saxo surprisingly held together longer'n they should've. Still, despite all the yelping by the announcers how Contador looked like he was kicking Vincenzo's !@#, that's sure not how it looked on camera, with Contador doubtless holding something in reserve for bigger peaks but still unable to shake Nibs off by more than a couple of seconds, leaving Nibs with plenty of cushion to lose time in the high passes, and another psychological boost today as well. Yes, yes, the first real mountain stages'll tell--but for my money, that wasn't looking so great for Alberto today, even if it did for his squad! Here, our very happy boy Blel, particularly as he gets to cover up that godawful AG2R jersey with those dashing polka dots:

The Blame Game: meantime, I suppose all the recriminations over the Gerrans-Talansky sprint crash the other day are moot, as Talansky, who yesterday bitterly demanded an apology for touching Gerrans' back wheel while looking backwards at the exact moment Gerrans (along with everybody else) slightly shifted his line and an indignant Gerro basically told him to screw off before Andrew modulated his tone this morning, crashed today this time with no help from Simon whatsoever and buried himself over 4 minutes behind on GC. Still, given the likelihood that that canny bastard Valverde will have at least one day's catastrophic meltdown, he can still claw his back to a decent position again!

French Toast: and, in a Tour where the French still can't field a GC contender for damn near going on a third decade, we love savior-of-French-dignity Sylvain Chavanel looked set to take the win even if he had to tic-tic-tic back up to Blel Kadri to do it, but in the end, it was Blel who took the day by a blazing two-odd minutes, and fair enough, because I've rarely seen anyone, out of all the guys achieving the dream of a lifetime every year, so clearly out of his head delighted as wee Kadri. Good work, and Chavanel, the break awaits another day!

Pink Cadillac (Actually, more like a Lamborghini): over in Italy, as usual, Marianne Vos, who seems completely impervious to weather, road conditions, gradient, or frankly even gravity, took the stage in the Giro Rosa, still leaving the great Emma Pooley at the top of the King of the Mountains classification and Mara Abbott a good three minutes down. Forza Mara, forza Emma--hell, forza *anyone* who has the grinta to take on a stage with Vos riding in it!

No News Is...Uh, No News: lastly, big congrats to UCI for taking the next great step in the fight against doping--yep, apparently, the sport's so clean, and the wrongdoers such hidebound aging relics of the Armstrong era, that they're not even gonna *bother* announcing sanctions against doping scumwads unless they're "important" any more, which left just-announced recent ban-ee Denis "Might As Well Give Heras Back His Vuelta" Menchov off the big-boy list. Well, that oughta scare the crap outta the upcoming generation of easily-tempted success-hungry youngsters--now just announce you're gonna stop testing, and I bet that'll finish up cleaning the sport *real* fast!

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