Sunday, September 28, 2014

Whoa Moly That Was Creepily Close For Valverde! Yer Way-Quick Worlds-in-Review #Worlds

The Quick and the Dead: yep, even as we love Purito kept his noble promise and actually worked for Valverde--kiss his butt for that, Alejandro, I mean it after last year, KISS HIS ACTUAL PERSONAL BUTT!--it was still a nail-nipper as new rainbow jersey/games-playing jailbait Michal Kwiatkowski sat up what looked like a mile before the line to meander across celebrating as the hopeful-too-late trio of Gerrans Valverde and Breschel came up behind 'im. Sooooo close to an atmosphere-shattering world-wide howl of agony as Valverde almost took the show! *Geez*, Michal, freak the whole lot of us out whydontcha! So to round up the rest of yer Worlds:

Your Winners: Team Time Trials: Lululemon grabbed the prize as Rabo-Liv hit the deck. Next year, I bet Marianne Vos won't get dropped! For the boys: BMC stomped the unstoppable Quick Step. Women's and Men's U-23: so who should you fear in the years to come? No, it's not Spain, Italy, or Belgium--it's Denmark (Amelie Dideriksen) and Norway (Sven Erik Bystrom). Thor Hushovd (and, uh, Michael Rasmussen?), you already got somebody picking up the torch! U-23 Time Trials: woo-hoo Cadel you've got some serious talent behind you, Aussies Macey Stewart and Campbell Flakemore! Women's Elite Individual Time Trial: Lisa Brennauer, Germany's first big hope (I *know*, I'm not counting sprinters) since we love and still miss (yeah yeah, stuff it, I know this too!) Jan Ullrich. Men's Elite Individual Time Trial: screw you, what the hell is Tony Martin supposed to be, some kinda Transformer Aerobot, the man's human for heck's sake! Oh right, Wiggo. Way to save the season, man! Women's elite: holy crap, what a disaster--unless you're Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, who sure oughta get a bonus stripe for she-nuts! Men's elite: You still suck for leaving Samu off the squad, Spain! Michal Kwiatkowski for the well-earned (and damn near lost) win. Oh, from "up-and-comer" to "marked man every single day of the 2015 season"--sniff, they all grow up so fast! Here, the elite road men's and ladies have us all yelling at our screens and jumping off our couches like crack-stuffed lemurs:

Well, that was exciting, and the smack-talkin' blame-game from the men's and women's road races is already even more so, with Armistead, Gerro and Gilbert laying it out. I love thoughtful, measured, adrenalin-raged post-race analysis! Now, it's onto Il Lombardia--forza azzuri, any of you!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Total Carnage, Tactical Disaster, and a New World Champion at the Women's Worlds Road Race! #worlds

Medic! Uh....Tactician! Uh...Jersey Printer!: holy cow it was total bloody bone-whacking carnage at the women's world champ road race in Ponferrada, with half the peloton going down before the rain even kicked in to slicken the roads--including American star Alison Powers, who despite missing what appeared to be approximately half a buttock after her crash still managed to make a bold attack that completely shook up the field--and a certain podium flushed entirely (and worse, entirely needlessly) down the toilet in the last half k when the four lead riders, Vos, Armitstead, Longo Borghini and Emma Johansson collectively sat up, wouldn't work together or hell even separately, and pulled off the road entirely to call it a day and go out for a beer. Damn, I expect this stupid !@#$ from someone like Valverde, but not these pros! Still, to be fair, Vos just didn't seem to have the legs in any case, and surprise new world champ/22 year old road and mountain biking prodigy Pauline Ferrand-Prevot utterly earned that win. As for the injured, a bunch of folks unfortunately had to go to hospital, and wishing a full and speedy recovery to all. Woot woot to our new rainbow jersey--and whoa moly, watch out for double-threat road-race 2nd place Lisa Brennauer this coming year, she completely smoked the elite women's time trial already too!

Puritoooooooooooooooooo!: bite me, he can so either! But if not I'm rooting for Boonen or Gilbert. Or Cancellara would be nice too I suppose. Puritoooooooooooooooooooooo!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Oleg Tinkov Throws It Down (In Case Alberto Contador Can't In July) #procycling

Pony Up or Shut Up, People!: Yes, having rashly committed 2014 Tour de France crashout/Vuelta a Espana champ Alberto Contador to the 2015 Giro as Alberto's first big goal of the season--and you know the boy don't go into *any* Grand Tour unless he plans to win it--Tinkoff-Saxo team emperor Oleg Tinkov appears to be having second thoughts about how his could affect his star rider's performance in July, and has now challenged all of Alberto's Tour de France competition--Froomey, Nibali, and Quintana--to do the Giro/Tour double with him as well. Because if you can't do 'em both and win 'em both, YOU'RE A PATHETIC PANSY WEAKLING! And thanks to a new dietary training regimen, ALBERTO LITERALLY EATS CHUNKS OF THE PYRENEES FOR BREAKFAST YOU SNIVELING IMPOTENT WUSSBAGS! And until Roman Kreuziger gets popped again, we will WEAR DOWN YOUR SUPERDOMESTIQUES TO WHIMPERING NUBS OF JELLY! Already begging off: Astana's Vinokourov, realizing that for the first time he's actually met a team boss more bat!@#$ crazy than he is, and Chris Froome's Team Sky, apologizing that Froome's already tied up for May with his official role as team toothpick. Game on: Team Movistar, whose directeur sportif reportedly opined: "!@#$, at least if we exhaust Valverde, we won't have to worry about him bushwhacking Quintana at the Tour de France!" Wise move, my friends--uh-huh, pass the nachos, honey, the 2015 cycling Superbowl is gonna be one hell of a fight!

You Suck, Spanish Worlds Team Honchos!: meantime, as the World Championships rolls along (sometimes catastrophically) in Ponferrada this week, the Spanish Worlds team bosses can officially suck it, because you hurt we love Samuel Sanchez' feelings by not calling him ahead of the official announcement to everybody that, despite a very fine 6th in the Vuelta and some bitchin' legs, he wasn't going to be on the squad. Screw you asshats--good luck again this year when we love Purito and that sneaky bastard Valverde eat their young again! Oh, Samu, they don't deserve you the way, guys, does *this* podium look familiar? Yeah, thought you mighta blocked that out!

The China Syndrome: finally, a fond farewell to the young-but-beloved UCI Tour of Beijing after this season, as cycling fed UCI pulls the plug on the grounds that, according to an anonymous and fictional spokesperson, "the team directors were really pissed that their guys kept getting busted here but not at any of our other races." Well, at least there you could blame the food supply--maybe you all shoulda kept the one gig that got yer accidental miscreants off the hook and kept the UCI looking dead-on effective!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Oh No We Love Thor Hushovd's Really Retiring! #thankyouthor

Yep, I've been in deep denial, both over the actual end to his career and his damn-well-looked-like-the-end-of-his-career-for-all-the-luck-he's-had-at-BMC for former holy crap he's the World Champion we love Thor Hushovd, but our big lug's turn in the peloton is officially over, so I thought I'd list just a few of his accomplishments here:

1978: Thor Hushovd is born in Grimstad, Norway. At age two, receives 52-cm road bike for birthday, but it's 2 cm too small for him.

1998: New pro Thor wins baby Paris-Roubaix. Watch out already, future Classics wannabes. After winning U-23 time trial championships, though, career in discipline derailed as he squashes every ultra-light time trial bike his sponsors try to make for him.

2001: And he's off! Thor takes first major win in Tour de Normandie and shares team time trial stage-winning victory in Tour de France.

2002: Stage wins ain't just for group rides, honey: Thor grabs first individual Tour de France win ever. Way to go big guy!

2004: Thor takes first of 4 Norwegian national road champ victories, another stage win at the Tour, and his second stage at the Dauphine.

2006: At Tour de France, some dipwad waving a lethal machete of a stupid plastic promotional item at the barriers hits Thor with a slasher-movie gore-gash to the arm; Thor still finishes 9th on the day and later takes his second stage win of the Tour. For next year, races with heavy protective "Popemobile" plexiglass shield around bicycle. And how many stages at the Dauphine has he grabbed now?

2007: Thor gets a stage in the Giro, wrapping up the Grand-Tour trifecta.

2009: The Thunder God takes the green jersey at the Tour de France. Eat that, Cavendish!

2010: Yeah, he's the World Road Champion! How do you like *them* stripes, beeyotches?

2011: Third time's the charm: three stage wins *and* a half-dozen days in the Tour de France maillot jaune. Boy looks good in gold, dontcha think?

2012: unidentified virus and BMC contract-o-doom take out his entire season. Oh go to hell, he's still better'n 99% of the riders on earth!

2013: Shut up! He's still sick but he wins the Norwegian national champs for the 4th time and takes overall in the bitchin' new Artic Tour of Norway, and a whole buncha 'nother stuff. You rock Thor!

2014: Thor announces retirement; Norway better be planning a giant bangin' sculpture for this guy somewhere. You got quite a palmares there, Thor--and who else in the peloton is ever gonna have such a bitchin' name again?

Next up for our hero: as you can see here, a pro contract with Team Godzilla in the controversial new sport of gila monster racing.

Thanks for many exciting years of racing, and good luck with your new gig ya big lug!

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's the 2014 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! #LaVuelta

Do you find yourself standing on an empty mountainside for 6 hours at a time waving your national flag at nothing? Running along right next to unsuspecting cyclists in your community screaming "Venga! Venga!" at the top of your lungs? Standing on a box, shaking a big green bottle, and spraying champagne on the people around you? Then you, like me, are suffering from Severe Vuelta a Espana Withdrawal Syndrome! The cure: we're gonna celebrate the good, the bad, and the just plain disgusting with the highly coveted and sometimes shameful 2014 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards!

Fake-Out of 2014: I'm not riding it. Gee, I wish I could ride it. Okay, I'm riding it, but just to recover, not to win. Well, maybe I'll ride it for a stage victory. Oh yeah, I'm riding to win the whole damn shebang, baby! Alberto Contador on his post-Tour tibia-busted best form in years. Geez, if snappin' a *leg* can't keep this guy down, what can?

Woot Woot of the Time Trial: holy crap did you see that, we love Samuel Sanchez moved up to 7th in the overall! Woot woot!

Punk-!@# Move of the Race: Alejandro Valverde, being all "I'm here just to help little Nairo," then leaving his poor tired wee butt down the mountain and attacking for the stage win. Well, any further backstabbing was neutralized by the cruel hand of fate, anyway!

How Much Am I Paying This Yawner Next Year? Award: Aw, Peter Sagan. Mustered *just* enough motivation for a single third place, then bailed in drowsy ignominy. But that's okay, because he was just "helping out his teammates" and "training for the Worlds." Oleg, you better get this high-priced bauble of yours a hell of a tactical mentor for next year!

Crash o' the Race (Oh, !@#$! Oh !@#$ Oh !@#$ GC Edition): 2014 Giro champion Nairo Quintana, futzing with his shoe on a treacherous downhill curve and doing a terrifying endo over his handlebars and right into the roadside barrier. Thank goodness he wasn't more seriously hurt--but that was the race for him. Now rest and heal up that shoulder, Nairo, and I'm sure you'll be ready to take on the Tour de France GC next year!

Crash o' the Race (Oh !@#$ Oh !@#$ Oh !@#$ Domestique Edition): poor Dario Cataldo's horrible skid into the pavement and also a tree. Amazingly, he was able to get up and continue on the day, whether he perhaps should've been allowed to, or not--and again, thank goodness he was ultimately okay, stay safe out there you guys!

Revelation of Vuelta 21014: sure, Astana baby Fabio Aru bagged two stages and fifth place after coming in a surprising 3rd in the Giro--but some "Pim Ligthart" in the breakaway every damn day? Who the hell *is* this guy?

Sissy-Boy Slap Fight Prize (Dumb!@# Edition): Rovny and Brambilla, flailing at each other on a descent like a coupla whiny windmills--in front of the race organizers, no less! Forget lack of sportsmanship--they oughta've been expelled just for stupidity. Do you *really* think it *helped* Contador to have one of his domestiques get kicked outta the race?

Sissy-Boy Slap Fight Prize (George Foreman Edition): Damn, Purito--who knew that someone so tiny could pack such a powerful left hook? Boys, *this* is a how a *real* pro does it--in the pack, and away from the cameras!

Corollary Tweet o' the Vuelta Award: Sky diplomat Peter Kennaugh, defending his teammate Philip Deignan's honor (and insulting Purito's weak "I touched him accidentally" excuse) with an emphatic "What a lying prick, take responsibility for your actions coward!" Now *that*'s the kind of honesty you want to hear at the boring rest-day press conferences...

Cry-Baby Hissy-Fit Prize: Nacer Bouhanni, you picked the wrong line, & John Degenkolb beat your !@# fair and square. Gesticulate all you want, but suck it *up*, honey!

Good Thing Cav Stayed Home Award: no, Kittel and Cav weren't there this year, and for some, there'll always be a bit of "what if" about the sprints. But John Degenkolb was one on-form hell of a competitor no matter who else was around him--so maybe watch out for this more'n you think!

Dyfunctional Family Award: Valverde, Purito, and Alberto bitching about none of the others collaborating to drop Froomey instead of, y'know, collaborating to drop Froomey, all the while Chris was chugging up the climbs away from them in week two. Valverde, I hope you're content with third place this year!

Memorial Carrot Statuette: no, they weren't there as a team anymore (waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!)--but from Nieve to Samu, the huge pile of former Euskies in this year's Vuelta certainly did their old team proud. Bring back Euskaltel! Bring back Euskaltel! Bring back--no, I mean it, really people!

Fade Into You Prize: Cadel Evans' loooooong, slooooow slide into this Grand Tour good night. But you're still the 2011 and forever a Tour de France champion, and you're even sticking around for your home tour next year--thank you for a smashing career to the most dogged foul-weather hardman of the peloton!

Watch and Learn Award: the great Guardia Civil, which liberally applied guys the approximate size of a box truck to toss back the eejits crowding the riders on the mountain finishes like empty chip bags into a garbage bin. Tour de France--you might want to consult with these guys for next year!

And Finally, the Fan !@#$head Award: yeah, yeah, there were the usual screaming miscreants touching the riders like talismans and shoving cameras in their faces, but, for the win, it's that total numbnuts--and the innocent minor with whom he appeared to act in tandem--running next to Chris Froome waving little pine branches in their hands on the final mountain stage of the Vuelta. For !@#$'s *sake*, stupidity like that could bring the guy down on the tarmac like a ton (okay, an ounce, but still!) of bricks and crash out his whole career, much less just the freakin' race. Insta-penalty of a year of the affected rider's salary for such clowns, I say--so you jack!@#es *better* hope you don't take out one of Oleg "Moneybags" Tinkov's guys next time!

Well, them's my prizes--winners, you can take a bow (or hang your head in shame) as the reigning champs til next year!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Smack! Even With a Broken Leg, Beeyotches! Contador (Surely Unintentionally) Rubs It In #LaVuelta

*Such* a Great Effort, Purito!: okay, it perhaps wasn't the most gentlemanly gesture after Froome's textbook-perfect tactics and repeated attacks, but I'll chalk up to relatively youthful enthusiasm, adrenaline rush, and judgment-impairing pain meds that Alberto Contador appeared to make a gently bite-me-doubters gesture towards his trainwrecked knee and leg as he hit the line. Must've just been motioning to the nice tape job his physio did this morning! Anyway, Contador is one tough little beast, chapeau to Froome (and how dear are cyclist's little sunglass reverse raccoon eyes?), and Purito, that was a wise and bangin' move to try to shake Valverde while he was distracted hoping to pop Froome even if you couldn't sustain it. But 4th at the Vuelta is nothing to be gloomy at--and I guarantee you Sky 'n' Tinkoff're gonna glue Alberto & Froomey's wheels to the French freakin' tarmac to keep 'em upright and in contention at next year's Tour, so a little off-season training tweaks, and the 2015 Vuelta will still be yours!

Next up: the last-day grab-for-glory time trial, the incredibly prestigious 2014 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards recapping the all the disgrace and thrills o' the race--then it's on to the Worlds, honey, and let's hope Fabs didn't blow it entirely bailing out of the time trial for the road race!

Here, your hot-off-the-presses recap--and great job by the Guardia Civil pounding back the overenthusiastic if sincere miscreants endangering Alberto 'n' Froomey at the top of the climb!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Three Is a Magic Number (Unless You're at No. 4) #LaVuelta

He's Got Leeeeeeeeeegs/He Knows How to Use Them: Okay, more like the power meter he's always glommed onto like that disgusting gooey face-sucker from "Alien", but still Chris Froome's legs are a considerable part of it too, and dang, Alberto, even if you *were* right sticking it on Valverde to do the work chasing Froomey down (instead of just marking each other and choking), 13 seconds still counts and if he can distance you again on Saturday that *does* leave you like one extremely crap day or mechanical away from at least a damn close call at the final time trial short as it is! Don't give up dear Purito, these two may just eat their own young yet!

My Bloody Valentine: and, another great win by jailbait Italian talent Fabio Aru, particularly as its exquisite timing distracts the cycling press and unnervingly erratic mastermind Alexander Vinokourov from the sleazy unpleasantness of Valentin Iglinsky's just-affirmed synthetic EPO test bust. @#$%, Iglinsky, you're on !@#$in' *Astana*, if you're gonna dope at least take advantage of the in-house expertise from someone who knows how to use that !@#$ right! Damn kids today, *no* respect for their elders *whatsoever*...

Auguri Pippo!: finally, a belated "Buon Compleanno" to 33-year-old stud-pup birthday boy Pippo Pozzato, who's now officially at the age when Lampre's team boss is gonna give him a serious beat-down if he doesn't get his head back in the game and start coughing up some serious results by next Classics. May all your wishes come true Pippo--especially the ones about, y'know, continued gainful employment!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

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

Yes, a lot's certainly happened in our dear Vuelta since the first rest day, hasn't it? And we've still got a week of this glorious freakshow left to go! So before we get week 3 of this party started, let's review:

1. Somewhere--and it pains me deeply to say this--Purito Rodriguez is hunched over an espresso muttering to himself, "!@#$! Those guys were supposed to be at the Tour!"

2. I don't think it's fair to suggest Alberto Contador, Purito, and Alejandro Valverde shoulda collaborated to drop Froome because they're all countrymen. They shoulda done it 'cause he's gonna knock one of the three of 'em off the podium!

3. Okay, Valverde's performances creep everybody out. So Alberto "Broken Leg" Contador and Chris "Flails Like He's Been Tasered" Froome's don't?

4. Froome--lift your damn head up, you're glued to that damn power meter like some robot! Oh the other hand, it *does* appear to be working...

5. Sorry, but scrawny cyclists in shiny little spandex outfits are just *never* gonna look tough, no matter how hard they slap at each other. Two Girl Scouts drunk at a bar, now *that's* a fistfight!

6. While we're at it, the first rule of Fight Club is: don't do it in front of the cameras, dumb!@#!

7. Purito didn't "punch [Philipe Deignan] full in the face"--he "accidentally touched him." With a balled-up fist. To the face. At high velocity. So *that* explains half the peloton riding around with split lips all the time, all that accidental touching! Socks to the mouth, slap-fights, wheel-whangs...oh, how I miss the gentility of the Robbie "Head-Butt" McEwen days!

8. Damn, Pozzato. Either go back to posting daily lurid selfies or liven up a stage already--you can't not do *either*, for heck's sake!

9. Shut up. Samu's just reserving his energy for the final mountain stage. Bite me!

10. That was a nice little ride there the other day by Fabian Cancellara. But I still want Tommeke to stomp him at Worlds!

11. If I were Brambilla or Rovny, and Purito *doesn't* get kicked outta the race if he actually pulled this !@#$--well, let's just say, Purito, you might want to keep your guard up next time you ride with these guys!

12. I think the boys are all trying just a liiiiiiiittle too hard for the daily "Most Combative" prize. What's next, siccing a freakin' pit bull on each other?

13. Don't !@#$ with this guy. I mean, would *you* !@#$ with this guy? Hell, he might even scare his boss Oleg!

Well, them's my words o' wisdom (oh cut me some slack you wisenheimers!). If I missed anything I shoulda gotten, speak up or forever hold your breath 'til Contador makes it through the time trial!

Monday, September 08, 2014

It's a Battle Royale at the Vuelta a Espana! (Oh, Yeah, and the GC Boys Go At It, Too) #LaVuelta

Sissy Slap-Fight Alert!: yeah, yeah, there was that big-!@# battle in the mountains the last three days between GC contenders Contador, Froome, Valverde and Purito--but for my money, the *real* fight of the day was happening out in Domestiqueville, where, for reasons still unknown, Omega Pharma-Quickstep's Gianluca Brambilla and Tinkoff-Saxo's Ivan Rovny came to blows right on the bike, and, ill-advisedly, right under the noses of the prissy joyless race commissaires, who clearly have some ridiculously antiquated notions about 'sportsmanship' and promptly kicked the two pugilists outta the race. The four-wheeled melee apparently began when Rovny grabbed hold of Brambilla's bib shorts and administered an "atomic wedgie", upon which Brambilla retaliated with the dreaded "wet willy." Reached by telephone at his hotel room, where he was still being held on time-out by his Tinkoff-Saxo squad, Rovny whined, "but he was LOOKING at meeeeeeeeee!" Here, the smackdown, and the justly outraged reaction to his ejection by Brambilla: Now Gianluca, I don't care *what* kind of apology you posted on that "Twitter" thing, you march *right* on over to Ivan's house in person and apologize!

Next up: yer rest-day roundup. And for the GC contenders--keep your damn hands to yourselves!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Now *That's* Bike Doping!; And, Attack of the Flailing Undead Zombie #LaVuelta

Magic Bicycle Ride: well, if Ryder Hesjedal's incredible surge and heartbreaking pass-by of holy-crap-he's-nailed-it-Oliver Zaugg for Vuelta the win today didn't convince you that that wily fake-benevolent Canadian wasn't already bike-doping exactly as he's been accused of, nothing will, but you're still a paranoiac eejit, because that was one drained (and Giro-winning!) tank that collapsed over the finish line today. Whoa moly I hope Zaugg found some kinda hidey-hole from Oleg Tinkov back at the hotel this evening! And don't lie to me you dissemblers--you were absolutely *delighted* to see Alejandro Valverde dropped in the final kilometer today, though that rather does tend to discredit the widespread assumption that he's got a discreet little IV port permanently implanted in his !@#. Even a natural powerhouse like Alejandro can have a slightly off-day I suppose--though it was a far cry from the one-day stage-long catastrophic race-wrecking implosion we can expect from him at every Grand Tour! Meantime, *so* lovely to see Purito covering Alberto Contador's every move, clearly Samuel Sanchez is just holding back for tomorrow and Monday so you can all just stuff it, and jeez louise it was a surprise to Chris "The Walking Dead" staggering back up to and even past the GC contenders after having been dispatched to the underworld already near the start of the final climb. Dang those things are tenacious--haven't you ever seen the video for "Thriller" Alberto, the monsters *always* throw you for a loop just when you think you're safe!

Worlds o' Hurt: in other news, a dispirited Peter Sagan pulled out of the Vuelta entirely today, presumably to prepare for the Worlds in friendlier, less-vertical pastures, though his Cannondale team director sounds majorly freakin' grim about even that prospect. Word to the wise, big guy: now is *not* the time to start drowning your sorrows in a pint of ice cream! And even the great Fabian Cancellara, perhaps totally flamboozled by Tony Martin's incredible domination this year, is pulling out of the Worlds time trial to focus on the road championships. I love you Fabian, but I still hope that an increasingly happy-go-lucky--hell, he's apparently even lost his fear of the sprints--Tom Boonen takes it over you!

Eat This Bouhanni!: yes, he's been riding very well and is a lovely bike rider, but consider how far fewer'n'far between the women's opportunities for sprints are, much less wins, as they haven't even a 3-week Grand Tour to their name yet--but there's the grandissima Giorgia Bronzini, bagging her third--third!--win at the Tour d'Ardeche today. No video that I could find yet, but here's an illuminating "day in the life o' Wiggle-Honda" from yesterday--enjoy!

Well, on to tomorrow's lumpy then whoa-is-that-a-mountain-or-what stage to Lagos de Covadonga--I'm sure even the mountain goats won't *quite* be adoring that final 17.5% gradient push to the line!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Oh No! Woo-hoo! Holy Crap! All Hell Breaks Loose (And Just Plain Breaks) #LaVuelta

Okay, so the individual time trial tossed a distracted Nairo Quintana over his handlebars and outta GC contention, thumped Chris Froome right in the nuts, catapulted Samu to 7th overall, pleasantly surprised Purito Rodriguez, gave Valverde the team leadership without even having to continue to bushwhack poor Nairo to get it, and anointed Alberto Contador Fake-Out King of the Universe. But they all had to get back in the saddle for the mountains today, and what'd *they* do to the field? Snapped down-but-determined Nairo's shoulder blade like a toothpick and outta the whole race, redeemed Froomey, justified the hype over Giro-podium Fabio Aru, confirmed Contador's riding like a freak, gave Valverde *another* chance to creep us all out, and pushed Purito up yet another spot in GC. Am I the only feeling like after about stage 5 the Tour de France was a 2-week Lawrence Welk Show marathon in comparison to this year's Vuelta? Not to mention that our beloved ex-Carrots have been kicking absolute !@# when not beholden to their team captains! So *now* do we get to bring back Euskaltel? Tomorrow: an eight-loop rolling circuit where Bouhanni gets another chance to bitch if Degenkolb rides better'n him. Come on, Sagan, give Oleg another reason to think you're gonna earn your paycheck next season! Here, today's stage winner Fabio Aru gestures to the Orica-Greenedge team-bus guy wedged under the banner again to honk his horn: Well done kid!

Monday, September 01, 2014

It's Your Vuelta a Espana Rest-Day Uno Roundup! #LaVuelta

Okay, so it's 8 stages in with the GC-destroying individual time trial yet to come tomorrow, so before that completely jacks everything, what've we learned? Buckets!

1. The GC: Well, if there was any doubt that wee ingenue Nairo Quintana wasn't gonna let his big brother/tormentor Alejandro Valverde grab the red jersey and apologize that he had to because Nairo just didn't have the legs, Quintana's now smacked *that* (and Alejandro) down--the boy's got the lead, and while he'll almost surely give it up (perhaps more than once), Valverde's stuck playing nice to his jailbait team boss for now. Might as well attack him--uh, go for a coupla more stage wins then, Alejandro! As for Contador, he's clearly been bull!@#$ing everybody, and though he may not have the finishing punch to take out Purito and Nairo just yet, it's apparent that fear of Oleg Tinkov breaking his damn legs is bigger'n the pain he's got in the one he's currently busted. And go to hell, Samuel Sanchez is only 1:35 back, he's just chillin' while those show-offs burn themselves out! Froomey? Still can't figure out how he climbs so well careening about like a punch-drunk bat, but the time trial oughta make up some of the damage from yesterday, tho' for my dough, Purito's looking easily the steadiest of the bunch, and if he can limit the carnage tomorrow, his consistency may be able to hold off the flashier competitors for at least a podium. *So* close Purito--we're rooting for you for the big one this Vuelta, you're being very gentlemanly about the frustrated Tour dropouts spoiling your sweet-sixteen party!

2. The Sprints: okay, like we really care, but there are some, and I gotta concede, when Nacer Bouhanni's not being a big whining toddler deprived of his turn at the playground, he's really got it going this year. Watch out Mark Cavendish, while you were snarking about other guys only winning "!@#$ races" a season or so ago I bet you never figured this kid would have to be on your radar! In the meantime, guys like Michael Matthews excepted, it's still the Bouhanni-Degenkolb show--unless Roberto Ferrari decides to jam somebody into the barriers or stick a bidon into somebody's wheel with 200 meters to go and then get all outraged when he's relegated!

3. The Maligned: and, it's kinda nice to see Damiano Cunego, who's seemingly not being offered a renewal at Lampre next season, at least trying to justify a continued paycheck with a decent breakaway performance, though I do think it's time for the ambivalent if highly photogenic Pippo Pozzato to decide to either focus on his selfie modeling career full time or ride his damn bike like he means it. Fickle climbing talent Carlos Betancur, meanwhile, has apparently decided to kiss and make up with the highly irritated AG2R, which presumably thinks it's found a way to (1) get him to lay off the Haagen-Dazs and (2) keep 'im happy enough so he won't runaway home and actually show up in Europe for some of his scheduled races in 2015. Good luck with that--he seems to have a need for some serious coddling! As for Peter Sagan, though he did push for an admirable third place the other day, here's hoping that his ennui fades before he hits the Worlds, even though I'm seriously hoping for we love Tom Boonen (no, I *don't* care if the course isn't particularly suited to him) kicks his !@#. I'm assuming Oleg Tinkov is gonna be able to motivate dreamy-eyed Sagan next season anyway--or else!

Well, almost time for Purito to get hosed in the individual time trial--just stay up Froomey, and it's likely the GC day will be yours!