Saturday, May 30, 2015

*Now* Who's Your Team Leader, !$%^&*!: The Road to Milan Gets Ugly #giro

Mean Girls 3: The Peloton: well, we learned a lot at the Giro d'Italia today, kids, particularly in the post-stage interviews: (1) *don't* try to pull that backstabbing grandstanding Team Sky Froome-Wiggins show-off !@#$ when we've already let you take two stages, or we'll call you back to the team car for a smack upside the head, a delegation to Contador-nursing duties, and a forced watch of yer team captain as he sails past you for the win whether you could've beat him there again or not; (2) Landa's definitely not about to go sending Contador flowers after their time on the course together but Alberto's a lot more discreet about yapping about it; and (3) I don't know what the hell was with all the Tinkoff-Saxo pacemaking being intentionally, and bizarrely, spent on the flats, but even the mighty Contador is completely !@#$ed for the Tour de France unless he can manage to make a de facto support team outta Sky, Movistar, and Astana *again*. Still, everyone's *really* happy with the race results and with each other--hell, Tinkoff hasn't even sworn publicly to beat down Contador for not taking a stage win to prove he deserved that maglia rosa and for humiliating him with a hydration bonk on the final mountain stage! I still wouldn't turn yer back on him at the post-race party tomorrow though, Alberto--even Oleg can't remember to tweet *everything*!

P.S. Did anyone else misread that cyclingnews quote as saying "Tinkov jubilantly punching the air *and* the photographers," and not even question whether that could actually be accurate?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blood Feuds! Bike Doping! Crazy-!$% Bosses!: The Giro Thunders On #giro

Grudge Match: sure, he coulda--and shoulda--saved a little energy for, maybe, the Tour de France he's about to do in a state of total catastrophic exhaustion against 3 major (4 major, if you count on Valverde creeping everyone out again, which he will) GC contenders who'll be fresh as a daisy in July, but far be it from Oleg Tinkov for yesterday's humiliating blow-by of Astana on the Mortirolo to be enough public shaming for the previous' day's cheap-shot, 'cause Contador's needlessly attacked *again* on the day's only real climb, this time being magnanimous enough to let the breakaway have its glory (woot woot, PhilGil *again*!), but not so magnanimous as to not gack Aru *and* Landa out the back some like some toothless inbred baseball player's disgusting tobacco-chaw spit-wad. Damn, Oleg, about time to quit whining about other squads' tactics, ya think? Next payback: Tinkov lets a paper bag o' fightin-mad venomous fire ants loose in Mikel Landa's gym bag. Whoa, hope you decide to wear yesterday's sweaty bib short instead, Mikel--and that Tinkov, you use some of that dough you won't be "wasting" on Sagan to pay someone enough to keep a damn good eye on Alberto's gear the next few days!

"Dope" Is Right: over on Planet Random Target, the UCI's wisely marshalled it's anti-cheating resourecs against Ryder "!@#$, Did *I* Just Win Two Humongous Back-to-Back Mountain Stages?" Hesjedal, testing his bike for illicit motor-assists on the grounds that, y'know, he didn't drop outta the race crying when his GC went south and has kept on working really hard to win a stage. What, no razzle-dazzle, no showmanship, just a quiet day by day march up the GC? 'E's a witch! A witch I tells ya! Off with his 'ead!

Tomorrow: it's a relaxing 236k, 3-cat-1s slog to Cervinia before Saturday's spectacular, and potentially disastrous, dirt roads of the Colle delle Finestre. One puncture, and we know what *these* ill-bred clowns are gonna do--and it ain't gonna be handing a needy fellow countryman a wheel unless it's a hard whack over the head with it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

And *That's* What Happens When You Attack Like a Punk, Punk! #giro

Straight Outta Chaingate: yep, in an early contender for the 2015 Racejunkie Awards Punk-!@# Move o' the Year, Astana decided to match Katusha's blistering pace and wankily attacked Alberto Contador hard just as he was grabbing a back wheel from Ivan Basso after a crap-timed flat, which, after a desperate chase which left Contador's teammates gasping in the autobus two feet up the Mortirolo, was roundly repaid when an enraged Pistolero dope-smacked every rider between him and the front of the race on the way to bypassing Aru, at which point previous stage winner/ex-Carrot Mikel Landa--or more likely his soulless boss Vinokourov--decided to say screw you to his anointed team leader and spit wee Fabio out the back as well, only to have Fabio implode even further with his own unfortunate mechanical and bike change and no damn slowdown for him either, the punk! Jaysus, can *anyone* keep track of who's bushwhacking who in this race? Still, Fabio continues to get massive points in my book because (1) he's still very young, and I distinctly remember baby savant Contador being a bit of a tactical eejit in his own day and (2) no matter how he feels about his ignominious ejection from team leadership, he refuses to say anything the least bit indiscreet about his apparently-former domestique Landa or the management. Meantime, the Twitsphere of course has been going nuts debating--in all caps at one point, so like, you *know* it's getting vicious!--the finer points of the unwritten rules of Grand Tour behavior, with the groups rather split between "this is an outrage to good manners! now bring me my tea and crumpets Jeeves before the rabble really bust down the manor doors!" and "this is a damn competition, you effete weenies, Hulk SMASH!" Big winner on the day, even if he didn't quite win on the road: former Giro !@#damn champion Ryder Hesjedal, who did let slip he was aggravated as hell at Tinkoff-Saxo for not letting him up the road to likely victory in the first place before the whole Mortirolo catastrophe even happened, but frankly, puts Richie Porte and everyone else who bailed out of a clearly unwinnable race to shame. Forza Ryder--and Alberto, I know Oleg's gonna make you grab one or else, but next time, let him off the leash for a stage win!

PS Tifosi Etiquette Reminder: *don't* dress like some weird creepy pervert alien ant in a completely incongruous superhero cape and get in the riders' lines at a crucial tactical moment--Alberto, *no-one* would've blamed you if you'd slugged that guy!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Team Tactics! Wuss-Outs! Narc Bait!: It's Yer Giro d'Italia Rest Day Due Roundup! #giro

Porte Hole: look, I don't doubt that Richie Porte is a dedicated, hardworking guy. I also don't doubt that somewhere, Chris Froome is dancing an absolute polka at the realization that, despite Richie's early-race brag-fest, Porte now has no standing whatsoever to try to bushwhack Froomey, as Chris did so indelicately with his own team leader Wiggo a few years back, come July. But when your own DS is blasting your half-hearted excuse about a sore knee by saying that no, in fact it's yer head, and your own loyal domestiques are equivocating that they're not sure what the problem is and you'd better ask the race-whacked boy himself--added to Rigoberto Uran's shrugging off his own start-line bronchitis and nasty fall and deciding to battle on while the hugely-ahead maglia rosa sucked up a twice-separated shoulder and bashed legs and a smacked knee for !@#$'s sake--what *is* clear is that no matter how much pain you're certainly genuinely in or what incredibly disgusting virus you're now going to be diagnosed with, you're gonna look like a colossal whining, well, soccer player if you don't suck it up and honor the damn race you proclaimed your own obvious supremacy in by at least battling back as best you can til the final day you can slink back into whatever crap fuel-leaking rustbucket they're gonna let you ride in once they've taken your one-man rolling palace away. *Geez*, Porte, don't you owe it to your teammates to stay in and support your GC replacement Konig--if you're lucky, they won't even stuff you in the luggage compartment!

Tag Teams: meanwhile, though I normally hold Oleg Tinkov and Alexander Vinokourov about equal in the total raging nutjob department, I gotta say, while Oleg clearly can't shut the !@#$ up and quit openly smirking at whatever remains of Contador's competition--and anything can still happen, especially in this crazy race--at least he's being a hell of a lot more discreet than Vinokourov, having the sense to let Alberto's go-to guys visibly crack for the cameras while Vino's entire crew tick-tick-ticks away at the front of every monster climb as relentlessly as the worst days of Armstrong's motorized Stepford-domestique autobots. What the *hell*, Vino, of course ex-Euskie Mikel is completely pure, but you *did* just get threatened with the loss of your WorldTour license by the cowering impotent cycling authorities, don't you think it'd look a *little* bit less suspect now if you just ran 10 kilometers of plastic tubing directly from a cooler in backseat of the team car into the !@#es of their bib shorts? Still, to Aru's credit, he remains ever the gentleman, letting Landa off the leash when it was clear he could at least manage to glom onto Contador's wheel, pointing out Contador's relative weakness to his own teammate, and fully backing Mikel's taking off to grab the win. You could take serious deportment lessons from this kid, Oleg--if anything else should unexpectedly go wrong with *his* Giro, at least he won't have looked like a jerkface! Here, after a race moto totally jacks poor Atapuma, and despite an agonizingly brave surge by a then-heartbroken Trofimov, another darling former Carrot nails the Giro stage: PS Holy crap nice run there Hesjedal!

Next Up: an utterly sadistic post-rest-day crushfest, with the Passos Tonale and Mortirolo, and *two* climbs to Aprica. Enjoy, wee climbing glory-hunters and GC contenders--if even *you* guys don't run home crying by the end of the day!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Curses! Crashes! GC Psych-Outs! The Real Race Still Begins Now #giro

Not Quite Yet, Oleg!: yes, a mere day after braggart wingnut Tinkoff-Saxo team boss Oleg Tinkov horridly jinxed Giro-Tour double hopeful Alberto Contador by tweeting mid-stage he saw no reason Contador shouldn't win the TT today--thereby, of course, making Contador lose his first-ever mid-race leader's jersey to a still-bonking Aru by crashing just outside the 3k mark--Contador appears to have shaken it, *and* his change in time trial position *and* his bashed legs *and* his twice-popped shoulder *and* Oleg meanly making him have a roommate like a commoner--off pretty well, coming in third after LL Cool Sanchez and, more importantly, obliterating Porte Aru and even Uran to the tune of serious time on GC the day before the first real decisive mountain stage to Madonna di Campiglio. Just keep yer yap shut, Oleg, you clearly almost screwed over Alberto completely yesterday, and anything can still happen in this slippery nail-biter Giro! Meantime, poor Porte's premature assertions of total domination and likely bushwhack challenge to Froomey at the Tour this year are now apparently in the tank, with his irate less-pampered teammates already having toilet-papered his posh personal team bus in vengeance and installed Vasil Kiryienka (for whom Oleg *just* took personal credit on twitter, pointing out he offered him his first pro contract in 2006) in Porte's silk-sheeted sanctuary instead. Oh, Richie, *don't* make us have to root for *you* now with all the crap luck and clear crushing disappointment you've had--after all, it would hardly be sporting to mock this 'marginal gains' bull!@#$ anymore with you in this sad state!

Oh, It's Still On, Baby!: still, despite the grim statistics, the remaining GC contender(s) aren't giving up: to his credit, Fabio Aru was gracious in complimenting Contador for his triumph, also thanking the fans and promising serious fireworks on the road to Sestriere. Hey, Pistolero, if you've got the time on 'im, why not be a gentleman and let Aru take a stage win to go with his young-rider's jersey? Tomorrow: and you thought *today* hurt? Oh, the hell with the GC, go Mikel and Benat--our dear ex-Carrots are doing *so* great this race!

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's Yer Giro d'Italia Rest Day Uno Roundup!: Smack-Talk! GC Hijinks! Extra Etiquette Tips! #giro

To Sleep, Perchance to Psych Out Your Opponents: yes, with a relaxing day of massage, light riding, and fleeing in terror from Tinkov's raging angry goons, the GC contenders have taken time out to scare the bejeezus outta each other, with Contador proclaiming optimism he can save his shoulder and his podium by slightly tweaking his preferred time trial position and taking a pile of ibuprofen, Aru showing how relaxed he really is about potentially getting popped for his wholly genuine dysentery and coincidentally useful sudden weight-loss by officially suing Greg Henderson for the latter's calling BS on Fabio's bio passport, Uran set on recovering from a disastrous 52-second time suck, and Richie Porte--well, apparently he's too busy being waved at with cooling palm leaves and being served dainty bon-bons by minions in his one-man traveling palace to engage with the press, his DS, or his teammates. Watch out in July, Froomey, I think the karma you gathered bushwhacking Wiggo is coming back to bite your !@#! with this guy! Anyway, for my money, the real concern for GC is the team strength--either Tinkoff, easily the best on paper, is wisely holding back until the final week, or Astana's gonna continue to inexplicably crush them and leave Alberto isolated and he'll just have to hide from Oleg 'til the Tour. Don't give up Rigo, anything can still happen--don't that little twerp Aru's legs have to have a bad day *sometime*?

The Empire Strikes Back: meantime, over at the just-finished Amgen EPO Tour of California, lovable if terrifyingly bat-!@#$ megalomaniac Tinkoff-Saxo overlord Oleg Tinkov has not only expressed his keen interest in slashing dead-weight loser Peter Sagan's excessive salary--which seems a little, well, untimely since the kid *just* got his decimated mojo back winning 2 stages & the overall, which if nothing else shows the beneficial effects of being a giant ocean and huge continent away from his vindictive nutwhack team boss--but (1) sez it's true disgraced team founder Bjarne Riis was fired in part for watching "West Wing" reruns during major races (2) indicated Contador should be winning all *three* Grand Tours in one season, not just two like some quivering wuss and (3) suggested he'll either personally torture 20-odd innocent riders for the next 15 years with his hands-on-and-heads-off management style, or bail entirely on the team next summer just in time to reward them for their efforts by screwing them too late into contract season to find another squad. Thanks for the pep talk, Oleg! Alberto, I know yer signed til 2016, but at least heal up enough to grab yer cellphone, call yer agent, and get the hell outta there, *fast*!

Spectator Etiquette, Version 2.0!: and, with deepest apologies to the clueless for having left out a few key etiquette tips in my last Handy Q&A Guide To Stupid Crap Tifosi Have Actually Done, I add:

Q: Can I try to scare the hell outta the riders by pinging them with my pellet gun?
A: No, what are you, some spy-movie stealth-ninja wannabe you !@#$in' sociopath? Plus, you could put an eye out with that thing!

Q: I'm, like, really extreme. Can I jump over the passing peloton with my mountain bike?
A: It may look cool on Youtube, jack!@#, but can you *imagine* with your primitive thrill-seeking brain the bloody freakin' carnage of an eejit attached to a buncha prickly bike parts landing on 15 guys going 40 miles an hour from 10 feet up like a flailing swearing ton of bricks? NO. Jump off a cliff when the road's empty so you only impale yourself, blockhead!

Q: These stupid riders are totally in my way. Can I ram them with my automobile and throw them into a ditch/the fans/an excruciating pile of deadly razor wire?
A: Jaysus, NO. Plus, next clown to pull that !@#$ gets their license revoked *and* an epic personal beatdown by the offended rider's mom.

Q: The race is over already. Can I insert my radical political cause into the entirely unrelated podium ceremony?
A: No. It'll only make (1) everyone hate you *and* your cause and (2) Bernard Hinault dive-bomb onto you like an avenging cycling superhero and break every bone in your body. But you can, for example, protest by parking your tractor alongside the course. Everyone likes tractors!

Well, fellow tifosi, this concludes your lesson, so if I missed anything, just *try* not to think up something too stupid. Tomorrow: a six-hours-o'-nothin'-and-two-kilometers-o'-fear sprint stage. So GC contenders, stay outta trouble, and fans, remember to play nice--you do *not* want to piss off a guy the size of Andre Greipel!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Can I Do *This*?: A !#$%in' Idiot's Q&A Guide to Cycling Spectating #giro

I get it. The passion, the adrenalin, the reckless jockeying for position among a huge sea of frantic fans, the beauty and excitement of a sport that literally lets you so close to the players that you can touch them. But people are getting *seriously* hurt now, by us, and it's time, for those of us too stupid to do it for ourselves, to lay down some ground rules so everyone stays safe. Ergo, Yer Racejunkie Can I Do *This*? !@#$in' Idiots' Q&A Guide to Cycling Spectating (and y'know, I mean it!):

Q: Can I take photos of the riders at the start or end of a race?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I take photos of the riders as they go by during the race?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I take photos of the riders as they go by during the race by sticking my camera out into the course?
A: No, !@#$head. What're you trying to do, kill 'em?

Q: How about with a selfie stick?
A: *NO*, dumb!@#!

Q: Can I bring my dog with me?
A: Sure. An animal genetically predisposed to chase down any prey that passes it at high speed, what could go wrong?

Q: Can I let the dog off-leash when the race is coming?
A: No.

Q: But he's a really good dog.
A: What did I just *say*, for Chrissakes?

Q: Can a bring my baby?
A: Yes.

Q: Wouldn't it be cool if she took her first steps during a Grand Tour? I don't think anyone's coming yet.
A: No.

Q: Can I bring my toddler?
A: Sure. Does he *like* sitting around doing nothing for 6 hours in icy wind for a payoff of 30 seconds of intense, fleeting activity?

Q: Well, he gets fussy. Can I let him run around a little to burn some energy off?
A: No.

Q: Like when the peloton is coming?
A: For !@#$'s sake, NO!

Q: This text is really important. Do I have to look up from my phone when crossing the road?
A: Yes. Are you texting your lawyer about how much you're gonna owe a rider like Sagan in lost earnings if you take him out?

Q: Can I run along next to the leader in a funny outfit screaming at the top of my lungs?
A: If you must. But if you're not Didi "the Devil" Senft, everyone'll just think you're a !@#$.

Q: Can I touch the rider while he's riding?
A: No. He might get relegated, or slug you.

Q: What if he seems to *want* a little push?
A: Not in front of the cameras, eejit!

Q: Can I throw beer on the rider?
A: Do you remember what happened the last time you tried that with some random stranger in a bar?

Q: How about waving a flag?
A: Only if it does not interfere with the rider's (1) vision (2) wheel or (3) line. Keep it *back*, the poor sap you're waving it at probably isn't even *from* there!

Q: Can I whang one of those hard flappy promotional plastic thingies against the barriers?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I whang one of those hard flappy promotional plastic thingies *over* the barriers?
A: Can Oleg Tinkov whang an actual barrier over your head without you bitching about it?

See? It's *so* easy to enjoy a bike race without harming yourself, or, more importantly, the riders. Now pound back that beer, yell yer heads off, and stay the hell outta the *way* before they bar us *all* from the course, you ninnies!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Jailbait Breakouts! GC Hijinks! Fixie Numnuts! Rolling Palaces! Yep, it's the Giro and ATOC #Giro

Toddler Takeover!: well, Italy's got a brand new cycling god: yes, while the GC faves devolved into chaos behind, baby Cannondale Davide Formolo took a smashing win, and, after handing his bottle and lollipop to his soigneur, got on stage for his very first pro win ever. Not a bad one, either! And who's this "Jan Polanc" again? Meantime, over in the Amgen EPO "Does No One See the Irony of This Sponsorship?" Tour of California, Toms "How the Hell Do I Pronounce" Skujins--of Team Hincapie, which just goes to show how hard the Armstrong affair hit its participants--took an incredible solo breakaway win of his own. Nice to see the whippersnappers making a little noise--and watch out Contador, because from a GC perspective, that rugrat Aru ain't lookin' too shabby this week neither!

GC Chaos!: and, we're barely into the hills in the venerable Giro d'Italia, and one thing's already clear: Uran's screwed, Hesjedal's going to have to bag a consolation stage win, Contador may've taken pink (and too early at that, since I can't imagine Oleg's gonna let him give it away for a single day even if it would save Contador and the squad tactically) but Aru's the one with teammates able to hang with him 'til the end, and Chris Froome is *definitely* gonna demand that Richie Porte's luxury one-man rolling spa hotel be upgraded to a hideous McMansion-sized Trump-ian gold-plated butlered monstrosity so he gets to be even *more* special than his own damn domestique for the Tour. In related news, Oleg Tinkov reportedly rewarded Peter Sagan (spoiler alert!) for today's shock stage win by upgrading him from being stuffed into a cardboard cat carrier, to being stuffed into a plastic dog crate. "Marginal gains," Saganator--if you win *another* one, I hear he'll let you sleep in the custodian's closet next to the toilet brushes and mop-buckets filled with slop-water!

Miss Manners for Cycling Fans: finally, since apparently even ardent experienced cycling fans need a *reminder* not to be life-threatening glory-whoring egomaniacal dimwits, let's review: if you ride your poseur hipster fixie right into the passing peloton for the sheer wanna-be adrenalin rush of imitating people who'd actually rather not croak to serve yer twisted need for self-importance, you are, for lack of a more ladylike term, a total !@#$wad. *Jaysus*, it's not enough to stumble drunkenly next to a stage leader with a superhero cape twisting around your clomping feet, shoot a BB gun into a breakaway, send your kid out for an errand across the road right as the race is coming through at 40 miles an hour, let your excitable pony-sized dog off the leash, or stick a lethally-sharp promotional item into someone's arm 30 yards from the finish line anymore? *I* say it's time for the peloton to take back the damn road for themselves--that's right, make an unscheduled full-speed left-hander past the flag-waving guys *right* into the next pack o' nimrods who !@#$ with their lines. Free the Peloton!

Tomorrow, Tomorrow/I Love Ya, Tomorrow!: next up: Ale-Jet Petacchi gets his chance. But he still won't look quite as cute as Alberto doing that "Pistolero" move!

Friday, May 08, 2015

G-1, Baby: It's Yer Giro d'Italia In Preview Part Tre, The Climbers and Hot-Gossip Roundup! #Giro

Woot woot!: yes, after 11 months of lonesome agony, the smashing Giro d'Italia is back, and with just one day til the GC contenders find out whose lumpen teammates screwed 'em in the team time trial already, it's time for our last preview! Who's left to cover: the climbers, the assorted stage fighters, and of course yer random slimy hot-gossip smack-talk roundup! The score:

The Climbers: sure, Movistar's saving Valverde to back-stab Quintana at the first sign of any weakness at the Tour de France, but even better, they Sky and even Astana've brought half of Euskaltel with 'em, and while Porte Alberto Uran and Aru are keeping their eyes and wheels locked on each other, this leaves a blazin' field of ex-Carrots free to do what they do best, unleash the pain on every damn climb from the Mortirolo to Sestriere. Vai vai Mikels Landa and Nieve, Benat Intxausti, Igor Anton, and Ion Izagirre! Oughta win *some* kinda stage *somewhere* after all that hype then his disastrous 2014: Carlos "!@#$ Off Comparing Me to Quintana Already!" Betancur.

The Sprinters: look, it's the Giro dammit, so who gives? But still, it's all about Andre "the Gorilla" Greipel, whose main competition is either at the Amgen EPO Tour of California (Cav) or felled by some strength-sapping virus and desperately trying to come back for the Tour (Kittel). Me, I'm calling we love Tom Boonen, whose recent dislike for the argy-bargy of his youth is outweighed by the motivator that his Classics campaign was completely !@#$ed, sentimental fave Ale-Jet "Wheezy" Petacchi, back for one more round with the podium babes, and, because he's also an ex-Euskie, surprise flatlander hit Juan Jose Lobato. Gorilla, you got *no* excuses if you blow this!

The Puncheurs: they're called "puncheurs" because if you !@#$ around and blow the breakaway in the last two kilometers, they'll punch you in the face. Also, they have a lotta power outta seemingly nowhere, and a distinct penchant for spoiling everyone's else's fun. We love Philippe Gilbert, who so fiercely and famously faced off with a giant crash-causing dog and his child charge some time back; "Bling" Matthews, who looked so dashing in pink lo those many days last year; Sylvain Chavanel (shut up! can so either!), Luca "the Beard" Paolini, and Simon Gerrans. Come on Chava--we know damn well you still got it!

The Latest: finally, I'd be wholly remiss if I didn't remind my loyal reader(s) that: (1) Reigning Tinkoff-Saxo megalomaniac Oleg Tinkov says if Alberto Contador doesn't win this thing in his sleep, he's a hopeless weakling weenie; (2) he'd win it himself if his damn knee hadn't been bothering him, but it's still strong enough to kick Berto's butt off Aprica if he don't save Oleg's ego; (3) no less a cycling god than Bernard Hinault says Alberto can do the Giro-Tour double, so no pressure if you prove *him* wrong; and (3) Tinkoff-Saxo have, in addition to a video of comely two-time champ Ivan Basso's plan for victory, released this *hugely* intimidating photograph of an intently-focused Giro squad absolultey *smoking* a woman riding home with her groceries. Beat *that*, Aru you poser pretender wannabe!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

It's Yer Giro d'Italia In Preview, Part Due: The GC Contenders! #giro

Oh yeah, baby, it's three days and counting down to the smashing Giro d'Italia, the bitchinest race (along with the Vuelta) of the year! And yes, those vultures Froome, Quintana, and Nibali *are* bagging the Giro in hopes that the ultracompetitive Contador'll blow his legs out in this one and leave him gobsmacked--or at least slightly less supernatural--for his run at the second half of the mythical Giro-Tour double, but there's still plenty of other GC action to be found this May. Who? These guys--and their jerseys so you can tell who's who from the helicopter shot, to boot!

Alberto Contador: yep, he's been training at altitude, virtually unseen for months, and his form is, consequently, rather a mystery. But Oleg Tinkov is *not* bull!@#$ting around, and he's packed Alberto's Giro squad with experienced two-time Giro-winnin' slickster Ivan Basso, the explosive if intermittently erratic Roman "Please Don't Let Him Get Popped Again" Kreuziger and Mick "Holy !@#$ Did You See This Guy Last Year?" Rogers. Only downside: he needs these guys in July, especially to make up for whatever Oleg decides to squander on Peter Sagan's green jersey plans, so they gotta leave *something* left in the tank. But with some real heavyweights out of the GC race, will that even matter? Forza Alberto--this is yours to lose, and if you want to make your irritable team boss happy, you damn well better not!

Richie Porte: y'know who's actually been taking win after win this year? Yes, it's crappy to compare 'im to a recently-healed Contador, but this guy has been bringing home the *bacon*, honey. And without having to worry about herding Froomey around--or even just dodging to stay out the way of Froome's ever-flailing limbs--if he can keep his cool and not have a disastrous crack, he's a known--and virtually proven--quantity. Downside: with all that hype, he's gonna be marked almost as much--even more--than Contador. I'm sure with the slick black team kit no-one'll notice you, Richie!

Rigoberto Uran: he's got a bangin' pink-skull clothing line, a suave nickname, some damn good legs, intimate familiarity with the Giro podium, and, on a completely irrelevant note, we love Tom Boonen this year--but Uran hasn't pulled off his Grand Tour overall win yet. On the plus side, his hairdo of late has knocked even Marcel Kittel off his perch. Lookin' good Rigo!

Fabio Aru: apparently, you can't say anything bad--or at least preemptively slanderous--about this guy or he'll get all prickly and sue. Ergo, even though he actually hasn't won a Grand Tour yet, he's my first choice for top of the podium, and I hear he only eats wholesome whole grains, lean cuts of organic untainted meat, and legitimately purchased all-natural sports drinks. Furthermore, his team kit is made of earth-friendly undyed hemp, he's nice to puppies, and he calls his DS promptly every night at 9 p.m. to wish him good night and sweet dreams and to ask if the nar--uh, to wish him good night and sweet dreams. Wait, what the !@#$ is this about? oh right, he's got a pretty impressive young palmares too. Good luck Fabio--Nibali sure made it clear he wasn't gonna save your !@# by riding this race for you! Wait, wrong Fabio!

Ryder Hesjedal: am I the only one who counts this former Giro d'Italia champ in with the big boys, and if so, why the hell? Besides Alberto, the only one with the final maglia rosa, and the iconic spiral trophy, to his credit. Oh, stuff it, he can so too either--remember this, suckers?

Well, there's the top five (yeah, I *know* what everyone's been whining about the rest of the field)--good luck to the lot of you, and stay the hell on Aru's good side!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

It's Yer 2015 Giro d'Italia in Preview: The Course!

Oh yeah, it's Grand Tour season at last, baby--and what better way to kick it off than with the insanely beautiful--and grossly underappreciated--Giro d'Italia! So before we get to the contenders--and yap, Alpe d'Huez, yap, it will so too be better than the Tour de France no matter who's riding it--what've these poor saps got in store for the next 21 days once they set off from San Lorenzo al Mare? This!

Stage 1: Yep, let's get our first boy into pink--it's the team time trial, honey! 17.7 k of pretty darn flat twitchy-as-hell first-day legs.

Stage 2: Sprintfest! I know, Tommeke's just coming back and this isn't his race, and Petacchi's, well, still about a hundred years younger than Davide Rebellin, but half the other fast-men have been felled by viruses this year, and these guys have got something to prove. Plus, in Ale-Jet's sunset Giro, the scene of so many of his triumphs, he'll be keen to at least be in the mix. So even if the Gorilla does get it, forza both of 'em--if not this day, then soon!

Stage 3: time to stretch the legs on the uphills before a flat flat finish. First GC contender to look weak gets mercilessly abused in the press the next three weeks!

Stage 4: Up and down again, and again, a flat end to the day. Puncheurs, unite!

Stage 5: Officially again, a "medium mountain" stage, but the first of the uphill finishes. Aru, if you haven't already been po--uh, aren't quite feeling your best yet, this is a nice place to show off!

Stages 6 and 7: Whew! More playgrounds for the sprinters. Enjoy 'em while they last, Greipel--or before the mountains kick your !@# out the race!

Stage 8 and 9: up we go! A steep schlep then slight whip down on stage 8, then a roller-coaster of a stage 9. Next up: rest day, thank God!

Stage 10: the GC contenders just have to stay the hell outta the way as the fast-men enjoy another chance to shine. But the pain is coming gentlemen, it's coming!

Stage 11: rather lumpy, but fundamentally harmless. Stage 12: flat most of the way, then a coupla big bumps and an uphill slog to the finish. Keep your cool, Aru!

Stage 13: !@#$, where are the mountains already?

Stage 14: Damn, a 59.4k individual time trial! Any bets on who gets hosed the worst?

Stage 15: The GC battle really begins! After the Passo Daone takes a serious 14% nip at the legs, the top of the Madonna di Campiglio will either bring Alberto Contador hope and glory, or a post-race team-bus !@#-whuppin' for the ages. Next up, it's the second and final rest day--as we all start to seriously contemplate, so is this "Giro-Tour Double" bull!@#$, or not?

Stage 16: ow ow ow ow ow! It's the fearsome Mortirolo with maximum agony of 18 !@#$in' percent--but that's not even the end of it! If Porte can hold it to Aprica, and get over that little matter of the 15% hump up the way, he's looking good for overall. But maybe not so good as Contador!

Stage 17: Any o' you sprinters left? Here's your reward--you won't be feeling half so great tomorrow!

Stage 18: On the plus side, it's pretty nice and flat at the end. Like anyone will have enough energy to notice!

Stage 19: Screwed on GC, but hoping for a game-changing--and stupidly unmarked--flash of brilliance, or at least a face-saving stage win from yer humiliating time trial? Cervinia's your chance--good luck with that!

Stage 20: D'oh! It's the Col delle Finestre, on the way to Sestriere. Has Contador still got it, or has the turmoil in Tinkov's house taken its toll on his resident GC superstar too? Is finally Porte going to grow into the hype? Or is an ex-Euskaltel rider going to make me not give a crap anyway? Yep, woot woot ex-Carrots!

Stage 21: finally, as the overall winner takes his chill victory lap--and it better be Contador, or it sure won't be chill with Tinkov following him in the team car screaming for 6 straight hours--everyone but the sprint lead-outs can just concentrate on staying upright and mercifully crossing the finish line in more or less one piece. Oh, come on, even if it's a bull!@#$ giveaway, like you don't think this'd be a nice goodbye for Petacchi!

And here, the entire course, with techno music--next up, our GC Contenders, and yes there are and no I haven't forgotten the other guys!