Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's Your Tour de France in Preview, Part Deux: The GC Contenders! #letour

Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Over 21 Stages: look, it's clear who's really in contention here. But, as we know from last year's kit-shredding femur-snappin' carnage, *anything* can happen at the Tour. So who's who, and what're their chances? Let's preview!

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): yes, he goes first (though not necessarily in rank), he's the !@#damn reigning Tour de France champion! And yes, he was roundly humiliated last year at the widespread suggestion that, but for Chris Froome and Alberto Contador's unfortunate crash-outs, he'd'a been bringing up the rear on the podium. But the slow-n-steady Squalo has won all three Grand Tours, which is more than Chris Froome and 99% of the other guys in the peloton can say, and he's got the wiliest s.o.b. of a team boss in the field, the brilliant, if vicious and unpredictable, Alexander Vinokourov. Strengths: mountain superdomestique Michele Scarponi, who technically won one of Contador's Giros when it got stripped. Weaknesses: is this lineup *really* a squad that can win Nibs the Tour?

Chris Froome (Sky): Sure, he flails around like a drunken windmill, but against all aerodynamic odds, this guy's got game: he's a former winner of the Tour de France, and, even more usefully, knows who and how to throw under the bus to get there. Strengths: his team's been riding um, almost supernaturally well, and with a personal net weight of approximately 6 ounces, the man can *climb*. Weakness: psych-out. What the hell is this princess gonna do to protect his delicate wraith-like skin-sack from the harsh conditions of a 4-star hotel-room mattress now that UCI's put his mobile one-man palace off limits? HOLY !@#$, WHAT IF HE HAS TO SHARE HIS ICE-BUCKET (hell, the *hallway*) WITH SOME LOWLY SLOB DOMESTIQUE? And was Froomey *trying* to lie down for a nice nap in the middle of the roadway 5 times a day last year? Forget setting the pace--the boy needs someone to keep him *upright*!

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): Can Alberto Contador be the first man since the legendary Pantani to score the Giro-Tour double? Well, as the Greatest Grand Tour Rider of His Generation, and the good sense to keep his form to himself, he's got a better chance than anyone else would. Strength: he's willing to risk everything on descents that leave the rest of his rivals carefully hugging the roadside, and surprise-attack his rivals at the unlikeliest, yet paradoxically most successful, points on the course. Weakness: no offense Oleg--mostly because you could have me frozen like Han Solo and shipped off to !@#$hole camp in Siberia--but one, wasting a calorie of your other riders' efforts on Sagan could cost you the race, and two even though 'Berto bagged the Giro this year, it sure didn't seem to be because of his team. Nice if you can press Sky into domestique duties again--but since that ain't gonna happen twice in a row, even nicer if your guys bring their *own* A-game!

Nairo Quintana (Movistar): humble, thoughtful, and already a Grand Tour champion at the tender age of what, 25?, Nairo is the purest climber of the lot--a handy characteristic on a course laden with fabled mountains. Even more bitchin', he's a major women's rights promoter in his home country. Strengths: just peerless--peerless I say--in the steepest grades in the world. Weakness: the Tour's a lot more balanced than the Giro. Another wrench: Alejandro Valverde's there to "support" Quintana, which means, so far as I can tell, he's gonna toss 'im to the gutter like a used musette on at least 3 of 5 summit finishes and kneecap 'im entirely for at least 1 stage win. Yeah, he's gonna "help" you like Froome on Wiggins, honey--keep yer eye on that sneaky little bastid, Nairo, you *know* he wants to one-up his 4th place from last year!

Other Guys: Yes, the French rode well last year, scoring 2 podium spots for the first time in well--heck, I wasn't a math major, *you* see if you can count that high. But even the best of 'em was like 8 minutes back last year, so if Nibs even just stays even, and especially if Froome Contador and Quintana don't meet with any major misfortune, they're screwed. And go to hell, Purito's gonna be up there too! I do expect Talansky and Tejay to put up a show, and since Tejay is bringing we love former King of the Mountains Samuel Sanchez, he won't lack for help in the heights. While we're at it, allez allez Rigoberto Uran--after that Giro, you're gonna *need* to do well!

Well, let's hope that between the cobbles, the crosswinds, and just plain breathin' in and out, that all these guys manage to stay outta trouble so we've got a fight worth watching. Me, much as I love king-o'-the-future Quintana and admire the tranquillo Nibs, I'm kinda hoping for Alberto this year--if only so Oleg Tinkov leaves him in one piece at the end of the race in Paris!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

It's Yer Tour de France in Preview, Part Un: The Course! #letour

Yes, Tour fans, we're *getting* to the GC contenders next, I swear--but, as Brad Wiggins' virtually custom-designed Tour de France shows, the course itself can be difference between winning, or losing, the whole show. So here, what they're up against:

The Overall: no, this ain't no Giro: we got 9! flat stages, 3 medium hilly stages for the breakaway artistes, 7 mountain stages with 5 summit finishes among 'em, 1 individual time trial, one team time trial, and--though now useless to poor oppressed Chris Froome, who'll be forced to use a regular hotel room like a peasant instead of his one-man luxury motorcade--two rest days to relax the legs, restore the soul, and outsmart the narcs. How it breaks down:

Week One: Welcome to Le Tour, and the beautiful Netherlands! To get our first boy in yellow, we start off with a 13.8k exceedingly flat individual time trial from Utrecht to Utrecht. Not enough to blow the GC wide open, but just enough to scare a few guys a little! Day 2: 116 k with a coastline-hugging island finish that could toss in some crosswinds--so Sky/Astana/Movistar/Tinkoff, keep your captains up front! Day 3: if you can't handle the fabled Mur de Huy, with its 1.3k embracing a leg-crushing max 25% gradient, you're already in for it. Stage 4: it's the cobbles, beeyotches: 13k and 7 sections of potential disaster for any GC contender to have a mechanical or get caught up in some other eejits (or their own) nasty crash. Good luck kids! Stage 5, 189k and a sprinter's delight; Stage 6, a bit of a lumpy little beast with another threat of coastal crosswinds; and finally, another likely sprint stage to round out the week. Enjoy it while it lasts, overall contenders, 'cause next week, it's down to business!

Week Two: Stage 8: time to test those legs, climbers! Not so bad, but a finishing kick up the 2k, 6-odd% Mur de Bretagne. Stage 9: a hilly, but fortunately not too twisty, 28k team time trial, uphill at the end, which could leave some of the leaders bitin' their nails. *Don't* !@#$ this up for Quintana, Movistar! Day 10: relax, you've earned your rest day--instead of riding all day, you can use that time to freak out about tomorrow! Stage 10: *now* we're climbing! After a coupla cat-4s to lull the boys to sleep, it's a jarring hors categorie finale up the Col de Soudet. Ouchie! Stage 11: it's the pain-cave duo of the Col d'Aspin, and the Tourmalet, with, to be fair, a chill Cat-3 ending to give anyone who bonked earlier a chance to catch back up. And on the plus side, stage 10 didn't look so bad after all, right? Stage 12: no more gifts, honey: 2 Cat-1 slugfests, and the potentially GC-destroying--or making--Plateau de Beille. Anyone wanna place bets as to which stage Alejandro Valverde's gonna melt down on? Yeah, me neither, man's still riding like a freak--I don't think the hills will be his worst problem! Stage 13: a long'n'lumpy 198k schlep that'll mercilessly tease those climb-sucky sprinters still stuck on the autobus at the flat, friendly end. Now that's just mean!

Week Three: Stage 14: a deceptively false-flat midsection leading up to a sharp finish. Pay attention, GC! Stage 15: another day for the fast-men, whoever hasn't already abandoned the whole race in cringing agony. Stage 16: a break-friendly course with a sprint-lovin' end. Don't look behind you jaysus you've only got 1k to go don't !@#$ this break up and lose in the last 500 meters playing head games! Next day--yer last chance to rest'n' recuperate, 'cause Stage 17, it's up again with a Cat-1 before yer Cat-2 end-game. Stage 18--the hors categorie Col du Glandon before a mercifully (much) more manageable end. Stage 19--it's now or never for the GC contenders! Cat 1, HC, Cat 2, and Cat 1 to La Toussuire. Hang it there Alberto--if you bonk on the Croix de Fer, you can always bomb it down the Col du Mollard before the final push to the clouds! Stage 20: yep, if the GC guys've all been lucky, the race organizers have left it *right* to the end, as they tackle the Croix de Fer again and end up the legendary Alpe d'Huez. Gone from the planned route: the Galibier, nixed over some troublesome rockslides. Oh, throw 'em a rope and an axe and let 'em pick their way over with their bikes slung over their shoulders all 'cross-style--you *want* ratings drama, or not?

Last But Not Least: it's the ceremonial champagne-sippin' romps in the yellow, green, polka-dot, and white jerseys, and one last chance for eternal glory on the Champs-Elysees. C'mon, Cav, it'd be awful nice to see you back!

Well, them's the ride--and Contador, if you're not on top of the podium to bask in the Giro-Tour double, I'd stick on a fake moustache, sneak discreetly around that nutjob Tinkov, and grab the first damn flight outta Paree!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Hell With UCI, ASO, and the Teams: It's Yer Comprehensive Plan to Save Cycling! #cycling

Look, it's only nine days 'til the Tour de France, and what's the big news in cycling? Right, UCI, ASO, and the teams are all in some bull!@#$ power struggle to "reform" the sport, and inevitably, they're gonna !@#$ it up. Ergo, it's time for the rest of us to take charge, so here, Yer Comprehensive Plan to Save Cycling:

1. Screw this revolving-door of teams named after corporate sponsors. Who the hell's ever gonna feel any loyalty to Team You Got Embarrassing Dandruff? Like with soccer clubs and baseball teams, your team's from *this* city or *this* place, and it's got *this* in big letters on the front of the jersey, and the corporate shills can stick their little logos on the shoulders the arms and that showy patch of real estate on the !@#, and we are going to buy 8 million tshirts and jerseys 'n' !@#$ to show our team pride. We're the Boston Nutcrackers, and you're going *down*, you punks!

2. Consistent, uniform team kit. !@#dammit, I *hate* when the teams change colors every year and it takes you (well, okay, me) half the season to figure out who's where in the peloton. Argyle? Great! Lampre? So pretty (though I did prefer the turquoise to that sedate navy)! FDJ? You guys get *one* chance to fix that monstrosity before the new rule's in place!

3. Podium babes. From now on, unless they've personally just won the race, they're Alberto Contador and Fabian Cancellara. At least that's what I'm sensing would be a ratings winner from all those lurid comments on Twitter!

4. ASO gets a 12-month grace period to get over France not winning a Tour de France in 2 1/2 decades. Then, they have to stop acting like crybabies and help *solve* this mess. That's what like 80% of this is about, right?

5. The Amgen EPO Tour of California can damn well wait until the Giro d'Italia is over from now on. I'm tired of the Giro field being gutted by this stupid schedule change!

6. Halftime Shows. Let's face it--except for an occasional GC-threatening crosswind, *nothing* is going on, say, 50k into a glass-flat sprint stage. Solution: mid-way through each Grand Tour, we full-stop the race for a dazzling multi-million-dollar musical halftime show! And, if you're anything like American football fans, you actually *will* tune into a sport you never watch all year and blow the ratings, and the advertiser/sponsor dollars, through the roof just to see it. David Hasselhoff, man (he's very big in Europe), Nicki Minaj, hundreds of dancers in sparkling-crystalled matching team kits--let's get this party *started*!

7. Barriers. The season-destroying carnage from these menaces, and the fans who lean over them, has gotten out of control. From now on, they'll have those spinning-serrated-blade thingies like the chariots from "Ben-Hur" to keep people back. Ya wanna get closer? Yeah, well the riders don't want to break their damn bones for your stupidity, either!

8. Guy riders will, in addition to their regular team-captain or domestique duties, act as soigneurs for the women until pay parity is reached. Gee, I've got a crucial mountain stage to rest up for tomorrow--uh, can I run out to the pharmacy and get you a refill on your razor blades, miss? Yeah, two days of that--suddenly there's enough money for everybody!

9. Sharp left-handers within 500 meters of the finish line shall be padded with, instead of hay bales, the actual !@#$heads who designed that crash-inducing idiocy. Voila--tomorrow's stage has been rerouted more sensibly!

10. Anyone touching a rider, unless it's to squeeze with permission squeeze Peter Sagan's adorably chubby cheeks, will be summarily consigned to a cage-fight with Mark Cavendish. Ya can't touch anyone else with yer arm yanked off!

11. Anti-doping controls will be carried out by the slowest rider in any given field. That way, at least he's got a fighting chance of figuring out what the hell's going on so he can level the playing field for the next day!

All right dear reader(s), if I've missed anything, god knows our beloved cycling could use the suggestions. So let's fix what needs fixing, and get on to the Tour!

Monday, June 22, 2015

My Fantasy No-Bull!@#$ Doping-Confession Press Conference #cycling

Good morning. I've called you all here today, even though nobody gives a crap about a minor ex-pro cyclist and current directeur sportif/trainer/bar owner/TV commentator/washed-up bitter !@#hole, because I've finally been busted for doping/my agent told me I might keep my current job if I do this/that rat-bastard ex-teammate of mine threw me under the bus to the narcs.

First, I'd like to address Denmark/Germany/Italy/are you *serious* that's all we're ever gonna get outta *Spain*?'s recent report on systemic doping in our country. At all times, I fully lied/deflected/minimized/covered up/pointed fingers at some other sap to the anti-doping authorities. Therefore, the fact that the report calls me out in only one/two/three sentences is a testament to their utter complicity/complete oafishness/general squeamishness/severe personal embarrassment in dealing with this scourge of our beloved cycling.

Next, I'd like to say that my farcical claim that I only doped during the "early" part of my career, when I sucked, then was perfectly clean when I was actually winning races, was to beat the statute of limitations/make my mom feel better/keep my most recent soigneur from hunting me down like a wildebeest/the most ludicrous horse-hockey ever conjured with a sleazy PR agent and desperate team management. In fact, I was taking PEDs up until 2 years ago/2 weeks ago/hell, I'm about to jam a needle in my !@# right after the press conference just to take a club ride.

As to the UCI, I'd like to offer my sincerest ennui/disdain/contempt/!@#$ you buddy! for their inept/ineffective/half-hearted/completely useless actions to clean up the sport. In particular, I'd like to extend my gratitude/shake their hands/kiss them like they've never been kissed before for tipping off my team boss about the impending midnight hotel-room drug checks/introducing the biological passport and providing a perfect roadmap to what I could get away with/buying that ridiculous story about how I just had a massive stomach virus/weird tropical parasite/pre-test sexual encounter/asthma attack.

Lastly, I'd like to thank my current team for supporting me/recognizing that my prior sins have nothing to do with them/understanding that the sport cannot move forward without an open and honest discussion of the past/promising not to have me whacked if I completely exonerated them from any wrongdoing. I mean....you're not gonna have me whacked now, right? Right?

Friday, June 19, 2015

UCI Screws Sky! Tinkov Teases Sagan! Contador and Quintana Face Off! Aviva Tour Ignites! #cycling

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream (In Discomfort): well, screw the rolling hotel for Team Sky Tour de France captain Chris Froome: to the distinct annoyance of our pampered maillot jaune hope, effective immediately, UCI rule 2.2.010 specifies that riders *must* stay "in" the hotel accommodations offered by the race organizers. Special Tinkoff-Saxo exception: Oleg Tinkov retains the right to cram Peter Sagan "in" the hotel accommodation of the dumpster if he !@#$s up the Tour de France like he did the Classics. There's hope for you yet, Alberto!

Tough Love: meantime, the ever-erratic Oleg has, as far as I can count, changed his opinion about resurgent Tour de Suisse phenom Peter Sagan an approximate 34 times this week, alternately calling him a "good boy," telling him to go join Quick Step the ungrateful bastard because Oleg's sure not gonna whip out the checkbook again for his sorry !@#, and now, bizarrely, even complimenting him for today's second place finish to Kristoff. Damn, Oleg, make up your friggin' mind about the boy already--we're all trying to figure out exactly how much you're gonna hose Alberto by blowing domestique resources on the Saganator!

High Times: speaking of Contador, he's being typically obtuse--albeit tranquillo--about his form at the Route du Sud ahead of the first real climbs of the race, while Quintana, though always complimentary to his rivals, has made it clear that, after a long training period at home in Colombia, both mind and body are clear. Well, Nairo, at least Contador doesn't have another climber like Valverde to bushwhack him within his own squad in July--hmmm, between Sagan and Alejandro, who's gonna hurt who worse?

Viva Aviva!: finally, with the near-indestructible Marianne Vos already sidelined into commentating (but how cool she's commentating!) with a season's worth of ill-fortune and injury, speedy recovery to Aviva Women's Tour stage 1 champ Lizzie Armistead looking frightfully hurt--but luckily escaping unbroken--from her skirmish with the post-finish line photogs, and the remaining women going head-to-head in what seems to be a 5-stage sprint fest. So are these ginormous crowds finally convincing you wankers to show the races and put some dough into these women's squads, or what?

Monday, June 15, 2015

It's Yer Post-Dauphine Pre-Route del Sud Pre-Tour de France Roundup!

Smooth Operator: so everyone basically accuses Astana of being an obviously-doping pack o' Postal-Discovery autobot freaks at the Giro d'Italia, when they won like 4 back-to-back mountain stages with nary a breath inhaled, and what does Astana do at the Dauphine? Yep, defending Tour champ Vincenzo Nibali goes on an insane (and insanely-allowed) hammerfest breakaway--and wisely bonks the next day and blows the entire race. Well played, Alexander Vinokourov, well-played!

The Wind Beneath My Wings: y'know, I'm no aero expert, and I know the guy actually *won* the whole show, but couldn't Froomey grab even *more* seconds--hell, minutes! hours!--if he could find a way to halfway contain those gangly flapping pterodactyl wings of his? Still and all, he did manage to overtake incredible class-act Tejay Van Garderen--but in addition to general tenacity, and a beautifully-earned if rather regretted second place, the prize for Iconic Photograph for the Ages goes to Tejay--complimenti to a true campione!

Peto, Sit!: and, just as Tinkoff-Saxo was reduced to tweeting poor Peter Sagan congratulations today for his phenomenal performance of, um, posing for a freakin' fan selfie, the boy comes roaring back from his Classics funk and nails a hotly-contested uphill sprint at the Tour de Suisse with the expert help of Rafal Majka. In return, mercurial team boss Oleg Tinkov lavishly complimented the Saganator as a "good boy." Uh-oh, 'Berto--with the Route du Sud just ahead, not only has Oleg screwed you against the likes of Froome and Nairo with the Giro-Tour double, but now he might decide to actually squander some domestique resources you can't afford on Peter at the Tour de France--for god's sake, get this impending disaster under *control*!

We Interrupt This Broadcast For This Swooning Fan-Geek Moment: so what happens when you respond to a general twitter-shoutout to ask total Amazons Giorgia Bronzini and Elisa Longo Borghini at Wiggle a question? They answer--their happiest day on the bike ever was the first training day coming back from her 2013 crash (Borghini) and "the rest day!" (Bronzini) Oh, I'm just basking in their reflected smashingness even now...

It Was An Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny-Weeny...Aw, You Know the Rest: finally, as the women's peloton struggles for even half-assed respect, middling pay, and frankly hardly any TV coverage at all, let's take a minute to give massive props to the tone-deaf geniuses at the Flanders Diamond Tour, who utterly overshadowed Jolien Dhoore's smashing win by, as a disgusted Marijn de Vries promptly posted on social media, arranging a four-pack of heels-and-bikini-clad model-babes below the podium. Fortunately, as venerable UK rag the Guardian has reported, the Diamond Tour has since profusely apologized, promising that for next year's race, they'll be exploiting the women in skimpy Sports-Illustrated-worthy one-pieces instead. Yay, progress!

PS Didja see Tommeke win today at the Rund um Koln? Didja? Me neither, so here's some video!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Pre-Tour Head Games! Hour Record Controversies! Doping Wisdom! #cycling

The Intimidation Begins: yep, Tinkoff-Saxo's struck the first big psychological blow of Tour de France 2015: they've unleashed their special Tour team kit, a blue-and-yellow tie-dyeish camo design that virtually declares war on Alberto Contador's pathetic rivals. Not to be outdone, defending champ Vincenzo Nibali's Astana squad has reportedly released its own team kit design, a simple white jersey with "!@#$ YOU TINKOV!" emblazoned across the front in giant red letters. As for Movistar, Alejandro Valverde has allegedly secretly paid millions of euros to an elite military contractor to develop a cloak of invisibility to allow him to bushwhack titular team leader Nairo Quintana without warning. When asked for his comments, Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford dismissed the entire brouhaha, opining, "Nothing can beat our sexy see-thru mesh skinsuits. Except maybe those guys in the neon mankini banana-hammocks who always run alongside the riders on Alpe d'Huez...Hey, Arvesen, get our kit manufacturer on the line!"

Hour of Power: in track news, Sir Brad Wiggins' blazin' immolation of the fabled Hour Record is now totally overwhelmed by two far more important issues: (1) fer God's sake, you *don't* wear long black socks with navy kit; and (2) banned-for-a-decade doping-conspiracy team leader Johan Bruyneel and former UCI prez Pat "Dick" McQuaid were observed at the event having a disturbingly friendly laugh together. !@#$, like no-one thought that they were doing that for the better part of Lance Armstrong's reign anyway? Oh, right, and in inconsequential news, Brad's bike was illegal so his entire hour record was meaningless and Alex Dowsett's gonna come back and beat the crap outta Wiggo's new record anyway. Yeah, but with all this drama, who's gonna be left to watch the attempt itself?

UCI Can't Believe This Is Happening Again: meanwhile, I see two Pro Continental riders have tested "non-negative" for human growth hormone and EPO respectively, which, in addition to the recent scourge of amateur doping in the sport, the uselessness of the biological passport, *and* the fact that hardly any WorldTour riders have tested poz since, well, Contador (sorry, fans!), clearly proves an inverse relationship between doping and success, in that only riders who already suck by comparison to their WorldTour compatriots are dopers, and all of the very top riders in the sport are clean. Cause and effect, honey--whew, I feel so much better about those WorldTour squads now!

Lookin' Good for Tejay!: finally, as the Tour de France GC contenders (minus Alberto and Nairo, of course) face off in the Dauphine, the more interesting question seems to be how much the team time trial is gonna hurt 'em in the quest for the final maillot jaune, because it was a loooong 34 seconds over 24.5k between Dauphine time trial champs BMC and, unfortunately, Chris Froome's Team Sky. Well, everyone gets one bad day--I don't doubt that here or in the Tour, Froomey'll be able to inflict some serious damage on at least a few of his rivals in the mountains!

Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Road to the Tour Begins: It's the Dauphine, and Associated Ridiculousness!

Island of the Blue (and Black!) Dauphines: yes, the road to the Tour de France is *on*, baby, as the traditional pre-Tour psych-out of the Criterium du Dauphine gets underway, with Chris Froome, defending Tour champ Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana number 2 Alejandro Valverde, and we love Purito Rodriguez (shut up, he does so too either count as a Tour threat!)--all deprived of a close-up look at Contador or Quintana--at least able to see if all that humble downplaying in the press about how their training's been going holds up for at least 4 of the expected maillot jaune contenders. Almost as fun: watching 2014 victor Andrew Talansky and--uh, a bunch of other guys who deserve a ton of press that the Tour-obsessed press is sure to ignore--battle valiantly for the win in *this* race. Plus, Samu!

A Little Roman-ce: and, as ever-shy team boss Oleg Tinkov bitches how unfair it is that those weakling weenies Froome and Nibs've got an edge in July by having been too cowardly to ride the Giro, congratulations to formerly-sidelined bio-passport suspect/indispensible Alberto Contador right-hand-man Roman Kreuziger, who, you've no doubt heard, has been completely exonerated by crack narcs UCI and WADA, or, if not completely exonerated on merit grounds, at least wins by sheer dint of incompetence on the part of antidoping authorities. Hell, we'll take our triumph however we can get it--and at least Tinkoff-Saxo's performance last month made them look like perfect angels compared to those freaks of Vinokourov's!

Froome Wagon: meantime, news reports indicate that Team Sky will indeed put up Chris Froome in his own personal rolling hotel room for the Tour. However, in response to concerns that the ultra-luxe Giro setup made Richie Porte "too soft," this version will be outfitted with a rusty washbasin for bathing in, lumpy pillows, a saggy military cot, and, worst of all, instead of a spankin' new deluxe espresso machine, he'll be given a 3-year-old tin of stale ground Sanka and unfiltered tap water to drink. Sure, it's disgusting and probably downright unsanitary--but if it works on 'im, who but Froomey'll give a crap?

Bike Doping Update: y'know, this whole motor-doping has long seemed to me like paranoid idiocy, but then, even paranoid idiots gotta hit the jackpot sometime, and while I still think the lingering hysteria over the Giro d'Italia Contador-Basso wheel change is totally ridic, I gotta say, this latest Youtube footage of Alberto Contador's clandestine training on Tiede is starting to look just a *liiiiiittle* bit suspicious. Still, I'll leave it to you to judge for yourself: Nope, looks like standard-issue UCI-approved equipment to me!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

It's the 2015 Giro d'Italia Racejunkie Awards! #giro

Yes, the champagne's been popped, the statue's been kissed, and Oleg Tinkov's already flown in a crack team of Russian hairstylists to consult on dyeing his 'do the exact shade of Tour de France maillot jaune in July, but in the meantime, as we all sleep off our post-Giro hangovers and general mourning lethargy, it's time for the incredibly prestigious and like-2-dear-readers'-renowned 2015 Giro d'Italia Racejunkie Awards! Prizes: eternal glory, a lifetime of notoriety and/or humiliation on the Internets, and hell, I'll throw in a spiffy free embroidered racejunkie cap to the first fool who claims his prize! Ergo, without further ado:

Marginal Gains Award: So Team Sky, in an orgy of anal-retentive overanalysis, sticks its pressure-cookered GC contender Richie Porte into a slick new one-man team bus, replete with the latest appliances, heated massage table, custom mattress, and a veritable fleet of minions inquiring anxiously after his every petty need. Given how well *that* worked out, Sky is now reportedly going to give this rolling Ritz-Carlton to their slowest, crappiest rider, who will, if logic follows, win the upcoming Tour de France. Don't worry Richie--I'm sure they'll let you snarf down whatever dregs are left in the coffee maker for one last breakfast!

Punk-!@# Move of the Race (Riders): Astana's stage 16 attack on Contador after his flat tire on Aprica. Response: all in the legs, as a distinctly-ticked Alberto ran down every last one of those bastards except stage winner Landa like a twee scrawny tank. You've been *schooled*, beeyotches!

Punk-@!# Move of the Race (Race Organizers): penalizing Richie Porte 2 freakin' minutes for unthinkingly accepting a friendly wheel exchange from fellow Aussie good-guy/Orica-Greenedge rival squad rider Simon Clarke. Sure, the way he imploded, it was the least of the poor guy's problems anyway, but still--psych Porte out *completely* whydontcha?

Don't Mess With the Contador Award: right right, all that attacky crap on the Aprica and Mortirolo. No, this is to the eejit who, stages after some numbnut with a camera crashed an innocent rider outta the race and crushed his entire season's work with it, thought it was a great !@#$in' idea to shove a selfie stick right into Contador's line on a climb. His cool response? WHAMMO--problem solved!

Poltergeist Prize: holy !@#$, what *was* that thing? No no, it was only in my visual range for a split second, must've been an illusion. Team Tinkoff-Saxo. Yeah, yeah, tactics. Where the hell *were* those guys when Contador was isolated in a sea of turquoise blue from 3 meters into every climb?

Crash o' the Race (Numbnut Spectator Edition): I get it. You want the shot. But the !@#$in' riders want to stay in one piece, dumb!@#, and sticking a really long camera lens out into the peloton on Stage 6 in the mad rush to the finish line isn't going to help them do that. Worse, it jacked the entirely innocent Daniele Colli with an excruciating injury and nearly took Alberto Contador outta the race. Go to hell, idiot, and next year, back the !@#$ off!

Crash o' the Race (!@#$wad Spectator Edition): ever wanted to experience the adrenaline, the pain, the sheer exhilaration of driving along with the speeding peloton, fulfilling a lifelong dream of ineffable joy? Well *don't*, assclown, because you're completely unqualified to do it! Yep, the astonishingly selfish and stupid fixie-riding poser who actually leapt into the race--and promptly brought half of it down, including unfortunate abandon Pieter Serry. And you *wonder* why everyone hates these guys?

Crash o' the Race (GC Disaster Edition): y'know, for a normal rider--even assuming the freakish masochism level perversely enjoyed by yer average pro--snapping yer shoulder out of its socket twice would tend to have somewhat negative consequences on one's ability to continue to ride, much less win, the race. For Alberto Contador, it means a piece o' tape and certain victory. Damn, can you imagine the gap to 2nd place if this little robot had been *healthy*?

Crash o' the Race (Pass-Out Gnarliness Edition): yes, it's a grim two-fer: I am no student of anatomy, but I am pretty sure that no human arm is supposed to turn like this. JAYSUS, Daniele Colli--please, please get well soon!

Garish Publicity Slut Statuette: is this even a contest? Prosecco-swilling podium-hogging maglia-rosa-upstaging Oleg Tinkoff, this embarassing win's for you!

Froome-Wiggins Memorial Bushwhacking Award: oh, dear little ex-Carrot Mikel Landa. Without you, Fabio Aru would've been toast--but with you, even Italy's new Grand Tour darling was in serious danger of being outshone. You better *hope* whatever team you're looking for that giant contract next year doesn't already have a GC contender who's gonna preemptively slash your tires every morning at the start line!

Total Outrage of the Giro: look, Alberto Contador's interesting and all, but let's face it--a Giro without Pippo Pozzato is like a prosciutto without di Parma. So *what* if he wouldn't've won a stage, or hell, be all that useful to Lampre? He'd definitely make it both way prettier and suave-ier--Free Pippo 2016!

Imminent Midnight Drug-Bust Swat Team Prize: You know I love you, Vino. But *5* stage wins? *2* podium places? A leg-locked pack of futuristic sci-fi skinsuited androids pulling a USPostal slaughterfest at the front for 6 hours a day, while you just clutched onto your license to ride by the skin of your teeth? I don't care if you're feeding these nice honest boys Pixy Stix for energy, you are *asking* for 24/7 surveillance and constant medically-intrusive doping controls! Oh, just let *one* of your guys get spit out the back *one* day each Grand Tour, at least the UCI'll be able to save some face...

Unsung Victory o' the Race: Remember brilliant Colombian climber/Tour de France King of the Mountains Mauricio Soler, who suffered a horrific crash and career-ending traumatic brain injury in a crash at the 2011 Tour de Suisse? Well here he is with maglia rosa Contador. Forza campione, sei un grande!

Sissy-Team-Boss Slap-Fight Award: so whose fault *are* all those crashes in the peloton? Well, if you're blowhard BMC king Jim Ochowicz, it's the uncoordinated nimrod second-rate crap-squad Pro Continental riders, the whole lot of whom should be kept out of the races with the *real* riders. If you're Pro Conti Androni-Sidermec team leader Gianni Savio, it's a moot point, because you're an !@#hole. Now apologize to your little friend, Ochowicz, and go play nice together from now on!

Now *That's* A Fine Worth Getting Award: you think the *winner* of the Giro d'Italia is a good rider? Well, the *last* rider on GC in the Giro d'Italia--who finished an impressive 6 hours 40 minutes and 13 seconds down on Contador--can *still* kick yer mere-mortal club-rider gel-suckin' wannabe !@#. TrekFactory Racing's Marco Coledan, chillin' on the roadside on the peak of the Sestriere the penultimate day 'til his maglia nera is assured and proudly eating the 500 euro fine. No smug little jerk's gonna not beat *me* this Giro!

Well, them's my ratings-busting award show--congratulations--or shame on you!--to the honorees, and don't try these disgusting shenanigans again next year!