Sunday, October 05, 2014

It's the Race of the Falling Leaves (And Carcasses! And World Tour Rankings!): the Road Season Almost Wraps Up #cycling

Puritoooooooooooooooo!: no, I *don't* give a crap he didn't win Lombardia today, Rodriguez *still* gets an adoring shout-out, as well as the Vuelta title next year (will too either! bite me!), but is this an early Halloween frightfest, or is Alejandro Valverde really coming so terrifyingly close on some terrifyingly prestigious races lately? I mean !@#$, is that guy a zombie from the bottom down?--his legs just *never* *!@#$in'* *die*! Anyway, *just* lovely to see Dan Martin escape for the win, woo-hoo Samu for pulling off a fabulous 5th!, and crap luck for Alberto Contador (and even worse for him now that Oleg's given 'im two seconds to heal up before he threatens to break his legs himself)--a nasty knee-whanger fall right in the last 250 meters or so. With Valverde now in the World Tour lead, Alberto, you got about two days to get better before the Tour o' Beijing and your last chance to avoid Tinkov wrath! Here, the last 4k: Complimenti Martin--damn great tactics!

Cyclist, Heal Thyself: and, a rather nice contract result there for Italy's former Next Great Hope Damiano "Il Piccolo Principe" Cunego, as he drops down discreetly to the Pro Continental level after years of diminishing results with Lampre and, wisely, starts prepping for his post-race career as a physiotherapist. Hey, even with years of lingering rage over his beastly backstabbing of we love Gilberto Simoni I can't help but think that's quite sweet! Lucky for eternal pin-up (if only occasional podium-finisher) Pippo Pozzato, he's still got another year left with Lampre on his contract, which I believe definitively makes him not only one of Lampre's elder statesmen but also the most rakish little devil on the squad. Forza Pippo--you've got all next season to earn your keep!

Astana Heads Home (And Vino's Head's Gonna Explode): meanwhile, a storm's a-brewin' in Kazakhstan, as Vincenzo Nibali publicly blames some sponsor publicity-ho-ing for his sorta-off late-season form, *and* Astana gets booted from the World Tour races the rest of the season for the Iglinsky brothers' getting popped for EPO. Leaving aside that damn, kids, it's not like you don't know anyone who doesn't know how to do that !@#$ correctly, I say cut Maxim and Valentin a little slack--they're a two-fer, like the Schlecks, just treat it like one single doping poz and you'll feel all kindsa better!

Welcome Back, Briefcase: finally, as Fernando Alonso misses the deadline for forming a new World Tour squad for next year (tho' a Pro Conti is still a possibility), great news for Basque cycling as its young developing talent rises again (and here's the bad news) under the nurturing bloodb--uh, hand--of notorious Operacion Puerto/early Contador mentor Manolo "Briefcase" Saiz for this coming season, but considering some of the odious clowns running actual World Tour squads, I suppose the worst thing about 'im is his unfortunate propensity for getting busted. "Don't* screw over the next generation of Basque riders, Manolo--PLEASE, can't Samu just be put in charge of, say, reconstituting dear departed Euskaltel when he retires, and we can bring some unabashed glory--and even better, legitimacy--to this smashing sport?

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