Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's Yer Post-Tour Gossip 'n' Recriminations Roundup! #letour

Straight Outta Paris: hot on the heels of Alberto Contador's pledge to target--and target *only*--the Tour de France next season, tuttobiciweb's reporting that he's going to officially end his 2015 season with this weekend's Clasica San Sebastian, leaving him only a crappy worthless Giro d'Italia (the most beautiful race in the world Oleg you publicity-whoring goon!), and a subsequent top-5 Tour de France GC that most cyclists would still kill for to show for all that work, immediately after which he'll be stuffed into the oxygen-deprived cargo hold of a decaying Soviet military aircraft and airlifted to Nepal, which Oleg Tinkov recently bought in its entirety to serve as a high-altitude training ground for Alberto to win the Tour next year or else, you little !@#$! Quoth a forcibly duct-taped Alberto, in response to a reporter's question about the tactic, "Mgggmmpph!"

Transfer-a-palooza: and, with the Tour de France results in hand, the post-transfer clamor has predictably started, with Mark Cavendish demoted to the just-banned Androni-Sidermec squad for his loser 1-stage victory, Andre Greipel given 3 billion euro from Lotto-Soudal to build a 36-man leadout squad, Porte shoved off to BMC at the special request of Chris Froome for getting dropped one one of the Tour's approximately 968 categorized climbs--uh, to "pursue his own GC ambitions," and Tejay Van Garderen reportedly taking intensive fencing lessons with a top-notch Olympic coach in order to challenge Porte to a gentlemanly duel for team leadership. Sky, meanwhile, has apparently hired ex-Euskaltel Giro revelation Mikel Landa, Benat Intxausti, and both Izaguirre brothers, upon which a potentially-retiring Samuel Sanchez will buy the squad, put everyone in orange-and-black kit with the words "WE'RE !@#$ING EUSKALTEL, DAMMIT!" emblazoned thereon, and force defending Tour de France champ Chris Froome off the team and into early retirement unless he can prove definitively he's actually Basque. Aupa Samuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! Finally, over in the women's peloton, Giro Donne/LaCourse conquistadora Anna Van der Breggen and the inimitable (if currently dented) Marianne Vos will be given a raise commensurate with their athletic prowess, meaning they'll be paid in a whole handful's worth of 1-euro coins instead of those little wooden tokens you redeem for cheap tacky crap when you win beanbag-toss games at those sandy seedy seaside amusement venues. Also, any and all women riders who've still been stiffed outta their rightful (if pathetic) earnings in *last* year's UCI races will be allowed to sideline as podium babes at men's amateur races to *really* earn their keep instead. Who *says* there's been no progress in the women's sport this year?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's Yer 2015 Tour de France Racejunkie Awards! #letour

Yes, the urine's been thrown, the champagne's been quaffed, and Peter Sagan made like a 1930s machine-gun gangster on the podium, so as we all catch our breaths and finally tear ourselves away from our Twitter feeds, it's time for the incredibly prestigious 2015 Tour de France Racejunkie Awards! Prizes: well, if anyone's so insane as to actually claim it, I swear I'll toss in an actual pretty little engraved trophy to go along with the eternal glory, shameful notoriety, and humiliating internet obscurity these fine awards will bring. So cue the Bernard Hinault-Christian Prudhomme dancing spangled chorus line, and let's start the show!

Punk-!@# Move of the Race: Yes, it is the topic of some debate whether Vincenzo Nibali intentionally attacked the yellow jersey when he looked directly into his face, saw he'd had a mechanical, and made what was undoubtedly a long-preplanned attack for redemption exactly at that very moment. Am I the only one who remembers the Schleck brothers (yeah, I said that, not the other attack that day) at Contador's Tour? But the winner is absolutely maillot jaune Chris Froome chasing down *every* second of Alberto Contador's moves from the very first *hint* of a hopeful pedalstroke. Valverde pulling that !@#$, I get--he's likely to self-destruct at any moment. But with AC six minutes down, that's not cautious. That's !@#holean!

Dumb-!@# Move of the Race: Warren Barguil, shouldering Geraint Thomas headfirst into a telephone pole *and* !@#-over-end into a ditch on a surprisingly broad switchback. Hold yer line, you eejit!

Formula One Wannabe Dipwad Award: Poor Jakob Fuglsang, about to pounce in the Alps from a breakaway and save the day for Astana when he's taken completely out by a race moto. Cold comfort: the motoman's ejection from the Tour, which was probably better off for the lout's personal post-race safety anyhow. You're supposed to ride *alongside* the riders, not *into* them, you !@#$!

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm" Prize: for a hulking track-n-classics specialist, Geraint Thomas sure is one hell of a freaky-deaky mountain goat. All-rounders are a refreshing change of pace in the modern peloton, though. Quintana for Paris-Roubaix 2016!

Fan Disgrace o' the Race: that skankball who allegedly threw a cup of wee onto Chris Froome. There's *wanting* to--which let's be honest, is pervy enough--and there's *doing* it. Can we just find this repulsive clown and shove 'im off to live in a cave somewhere the rest of his life, away from civilized folks? Oh, the innocent days when you just had to worry about some bewigged howling doofus in a neon banana-hammock half taking you down on the Alpe d'Huez waving a giant flag in your face...

Best Domestique: yes, I am instinctively voting for we love Samuel Sanchez, who has turned his Olympic gold medal and prior King of the Mountains jersey into platinum domestique superstar service. But this one's honestly gotta go to brash prettyboy goofball Peter Sagan, who never hesitated to help a struggling, bone-tired Alberto Contador wherever and whenever he needed it most. Nice work, Peto--between that and the green jersey, even Oleg probably won't beat you too hard for not winning a stage!

Don't Look Back Award: y'know how Nairo Quintana took off on that brave, if ultimately too-late, attack against the yellow jersey on Alpe d'Huez? Yeah, it wasn't Froome he really had to watch out for, it was his own teammate Valverde! Just to make sure he was there to help if wee Nairo needed, I mean. Right, Alejandro?

Tearjerker Moment of 2015: Tejay Van Garderen's head being cradled by team management as he steps sobbing off the bike and into the team car as he retired within spitting distance of the podium in Paris. Shut up, ya cynic, like you weren't tearing up, too--now pass me the Kleenex, you know you've got a box of 'em right next to you right now!

Marginal Gains Award: Sky, I don't know *what* tweaks you were makin' in the absence of Porte's personal Giro d'Italia motorpalace--but I bet the other squads are trying to find out!

Whining Crybaby Statuette o' the Tour: his graceless constant bitching in the face of overwhelming success was that single singing mosquito that drives you screaming out of bed and bat-!@#$ arm-swinging crazed in the middle of the night. Wah, the press is conspiring against me, wah, it's just the Wheaties leaving me 8 teammates in front of me on the top of la Toussiere, wah, Nibali's unfairly attacking me, wah, someone's turned my face into a toilet, wah wah wah. Chris Froome, this one's for you--was there anything you *didn't* complain about this Tour?!

Uncomfortable Announcer Commentary Award: it rather guts me to do this, but ex-Lanceman Christian Vandevelde so perkily commenting on Sky's creepily familiar robotic superiority in the Alps and Pyrenees without a hint of, well, anything, for days on end was a sight and sound to behold. What's this paranoid bull!@#$ about the press constantly besmirching your integrity all about again, Froomey?

Hissy Fit of 2015: sure, I'd like to've heard what Froomey yelled at Nibs after their little imbroglio, especially as Nibs discreetly suggested it was far too outre' for delicate ears to hear. This one's for Thibaut Pinot, completely blowing his cool at a routine mechanical and even losing it at the teammate who responsibly stopped to help 'im. Did you see Contador petulantly slamming $10,000 of equipment around when Peter Sagan offered 'im *his* bike? No--but by all means feel to throw an epic toddler tantrum for the cameras all over again!

Crash o' the Race: sadly, there *were* too many contenders this road-slick destructive disastrous year, though miraculously, the race organizers managed to keep from actively planting a pointless metal pole right in the middle of the course to bring down the riders. Poor Tony Martin, enjoying one day in yellow after a blazing near-win in the time trial then busting his collarbone into six different pieces within meters of the line. And of course, he got back up, climbed on his bike, and--with the help of his teammates, but still--brought the maillot jaune home. Allez allez for a speedy recovery, with that attitude I expect you to get it back next year!

Simp Overlord Decision of the Tour: it poured like hell during the entire LaCourse, turning the streets of Paris into a Slip'n'Slide and sending a good half the women's peloton skidding across the cobbles like drunken ice dancers. And what do the Tour de France race organizers do? Celebrate Anna Van Der Breggen's audacious solo attack for the win ahead of a surging chase, and then call "time" on the men's GC after the first pass of the finish line when the pavement was already drying out so Froome needn't roll over any dangerous remaining damp spots. Can we just give the women a *real* Tour de France already, and let those pampered princes in the men's race take their chances in the last 10 minutes of the whole shebang for all that dough they make?

Everybody Polka Award: yeah, whatsisface won the mountains jersey in the end. But who clawed his way into it beforehand, *and* won two stages this TdF to boot? That's right, Purito Rodriguez, baby. Puritooooooooooooooo--now let's see what you're gonna bring on in the Vuelta!

A Bicycle Built for Two (Well, Second) Award: Peter Sagan, you are *nothing* if not consistent this season. But for your sake, can you at least take a stage win sometime this year, before Oleg remembers how much he paid you to help out Mick and Kreuziger and to bring home a snazzy green t-shirt?

Reality Bites Consolation Prize: finally, before the post-race team-bus horsewhippings get underway, let's give a big round of applause *and* buckets o' credit aforethought to Tinkoff-Saxo boss Oleg Tinkov, who, before the grease was even off Contador's chain, had Alberto loudly proclaiming his one and *only* focus from now on is to bring the Tour de France home for himsel--uh, for Oleg next year. Go to hell, Oleg, the Giro's by far the more beautiful race--and this debacle is all your stupid fault anyhow!

Well, I just noticed I didn't do a sprint award, which in any case belongs to Andre Greipel. So let's pass out the prizes, say farewell to Paris, toast the Tour, and get on to the beautiful Vuelta a Espana--Puritooooooooooooooooooo!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

It's Yer Tour de France Rest Day Deux Roundup! #letour


2. On the other hand, anyone who gets kissed by a beagle can't be a *total* goon. But still mostly.

3. Alberto's looking, as he tends to heading into the third week of a Grand Tour, pretty strong. But if Froome's PostalDiscoverySky androids keep riding like this--not even counting Chris "the Pterodactyl" Froome himself--it ain't gonna matter for !@#$.

3. Quintana, man. Your "helpmate" Valverde is right behind you, and, well, it seems highly unlikely he's gonna hold off outta teamsmanship. Watch your back, little Nairo!

4. Am I the only one who thinks Oleg'd rather Sagan just take a !@#$in' stage win for once than don the "most consistent" green jersey every day?

5. Don't blame the !@#$in' media for everyone thinking you and your team are doping, Froome you baby. You riding like such a freak and having a !@#damn Classics specialist making Quintana look like freakin' Cavendish on a mountain climb are why. Wah, wah--the maillot jaune's your reward, whether you deserve it or not!

6. Speaking of whom, it's kinda a testament to Cav's sheer amazingness that everyone's acting like he's a loser for taking "just" one stage win this year. We really take him for granted, don't we?

7. Tejay Van Garderen. What a great job by him, *and* BMC. Samuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!


9. Major, *major* grinta by Nibali yesterday. No matter where he places, *that's* a champion.

10. New UCI rule: any classless skankfest "fan" throwing wizz on a rider--no matter who that is, or why--shall be used as a fire hydrant for the entire peloton's next "nature break."

11. Of all the reasons guys've left the Tour this year, it's a relief to hear Basso's prognosis after his terrible news is excellent and dandy a baby Van Avermaet is pending. And could Vandevelde quit bitching how BMC should never have squandered a spot on 'im in the first place?

12. Andre Greipel. Gets no credit, but gets the glory!

13. Loved, *loved* Steve Schlanger desperately trying to milk Geraint Thomas for tearful emotion after Warren Barguil whanged him head over heels into a telephone pole and a ditch and getting a mild "it's irritating" in return.

14. It's been a *lot* less bloody this week. Let's hope it stays that way in the Alps--and go Alberto, or it's *this* next week in Paris!

Monday, July 13, 2015

It's Yer Tour de France First-Rest-Day Week-One in Review! #letour

Well, the roads have claimed their broken victims, the cobbles are past, and two French journalists are reportedly recovering in hospital after Oleg Tinkov beat them over the head with Peter Sagan for asking about yesterday's team time trial debacle, and as the boys transfer to the Pyrenees and a day of well-deserved rest and screeching recrimination, it's time for we fans to take a deep breath, reflect on what's happened, and think ahead about what's to come!

1. The Giro-Tour Double: I *know*, my dear Contador fans. I *know*. He's gonna attack Froome when the guy pokes himself in the eyeballs with one of his own flailing elbows, take 14 minutes on 'im in the neutral zone, and already be putting on the final maillot jaune in Paris while Froomey's still riding the second stage in the Pyrenees. But 1:03 is a !@#$load of time to make up, even for him, and with our doe-eyed golden boy still looking tired from the Giro--and I *know* he's just psyching people out when he *says* it, but just entertain the possibility here with me that he actually *seems* that way--it's not looking completely *amazing* for the top spot here, and he's *still* gotta pile on a buffer on Sky on top of *that*. Not that he can't do it, because he's Contador, and he has a sad new motivation now to give him wings and do his teammates proud. Go Alberto--damn, Froomey's getting on my nerves!

2. Corollary "Please Don't Hurt Me" Observation: didja notice how Froome didn't barely even *mentioned* Alberto when he was waxing poetic about his competitors the rest of the race? Kick 'im in the nuts while he's down, whydontcha!

3. Race-Altering Mechanicals: one giant bike-slamming hissy-fit (delightfully caught on camera) and one screaming wankfest at his mechanic and an innocent domestique who stopped to, y'know, *help* you you ungrateful troll. You may not get the podium this year, Thibaut Pinot, but you sure do your country proud anyway!

4. Corollary Pro Tip: *don't* scream at the guy who can make your saddle accidentally fall off the next day when you're riding, and sorely need it. Ouch--and respect your support staff!

5. Crosswind in the Willows: y'know, I'm wholly accustomed to, say, Alejandro Valverde individually committing a catastrophic !@#$-up, but Movistar *and* Astana both letting their leaders lose mountains of time in a known crosswindy flat stage? For shame, team strategists--tho' at least Movistar redeemed themselves nicely in that team time trial!

6. The Bone Collector: even for a typically twitchy first week, this Tour's a cracker (literally). 98 consecutive crashes on perfect pavement, 2 bones in one wrist (Gerrans), a scapula, a Lincoln Log set of a collarbone (Martin), 2 broken vertebrae in the neck (Bonnet), 2 bones in the back hard next to the ones he just healed from (Cancellara), an ankle, a coupla ribs (Bling), 735 contusions, 14 miles of skin ripped off, and 2,864 general boo-boos. And those are the guys who could barely if at all get up. Medic!

7. Corollary Advice for Tour 2016: the safest place by far in the peloton was, freakishly, the feared cobblestones. Next year, let's just bring in the Forest of Arenberg for a few circuits instead of all that nasty smooth treacherous pavement, and give these guys a chance to survive their first week!

8. Feed Zone: Froome, man. No matter how well the guy's riding at his current level of emaciated, I can't believe the poor thing couldn't use a nice lunch. Here, just one more cookie, too, honey!

9. Peto Power: I'll give it to Sagan--he's been a real prince for Alberto Contador. But I still don't think Oleg Tinkov's gonna offer you another 4.3 million euro if you don't start bringing home the stage wins!

10. All the Road's a Stage: speaking of stages, make no mistake, winning a stage on another rider's bike is like winning a marathon in another runner's shoes. Chapeau Tony Martin--and Pinot, watch and *learn*!

11. Puritooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

12. Nibali's starting to sound pretty pissed off. Vino, isn't it *your* job to manhandl--uh, manage the disrespectful press while your boy focuses on his *race*?

11. Game of Thrones: tomorrow, it's the Pyrenees, and the (leg) smashing hors categorie Col de Soudet. Alberto, it's gonna be tough gaining any time for the long haul by your lonesome coming off those wee starter Cat 4s--Tinkoff-Saxo, you know what you need to do for him!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Have (Some) Coke and a Smile: It's the First Doping Poz of the Tour de France! #letour

Let It Snow (In July): well, *that* sucks for dear Purito Rodriguez: joining the ranks of we love Gilberto "My Grandma Sent Me Coke-Tainted Candies" Simoni and Tom "Hell, At Least It Didn't Make Me Crash My Lamborghini!" Boonen, now Luca "the Beard" Paolini's tested positive for metabolectrawhatsitlytes of cocaine, which means either: (1) he was just a careless good-time party boy and what's a little blow between friends on his off-hours anyway? or (2) the dumb!@# never heard of ESPRESSO, which can also enhance your speed(iness) and performance without getting you KICKED OUT OF THE TOUR DE FRANCE YOU EEJIT. *Must* we go years back to My Fantasy Tom Boonen Press Conference on how to deal with this issue? Oh, Luca--don't you know you'd'a gotten off *entirely* if you'd only taken that freakish !@#$ that makes one look like a terrifying undead skeleton wraith and *does* help your performance, to boot? Here, poor Luca's so out of it he's accidentally trying to snort his own jersey: Good luck with yer B-sample, honey!

C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me): and, after a disappointing series of sprint losses, for which he reamed his team, the press, the fans, and pretty much everybody but himself as usual, the expensive Mark Cavendish--currently looking, as team boss Pat Lefevere keeps pointing out, for a new contract--at last took a downright spiffy win in today's sprint, leaving green jersey Andre Greipel with 2 and lone wolf (and even *more* expensive) Peter Sagan with a big fat zippo (tho' to be fair, a selfless and gracious domestique, as Peter has been for Alberto, oughtn't come *too* cheap either). Good to see you on the map again, Cav--if you can just cling on to the autobus through the Pyrenees, the Champs is yours as usual in Paris!

What's In a Name? That Which We Call A Rosa By Any Other Name Would be As Bad-!@#: finally, in addition to celebrating MTN-Qhubeka's Daniel Teklehaimanot's first-ever-for-Africa polka-dot jersey at the Tour, over at the Giro Rosa, Wiggle's Mayuko Hagiwara became the first-ever Japanese rider to win a stage at the Giro Rosa with a spectacular 30k solo breakaway win on Stage 6. The action? Wiggle lays it down! Complimenti Mayuko!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But the Road's Gonna Hurt You Worse #letour

Three Days of DeCarnage: First, we get an upset in the time trial. Then, we get a superhigh (and supersuck, depending on who you're rooting for) when cross-winds crush the GC, Cav sits up and excoriates his team the press and the fans for saying so, and Spartacus holds 'im off at the line with the sprinters for a season-redemptive maillot jaune, and does any of that retrospectively count as interesting? Well no, because holy *crap*, we haven't even gotten to the cobbles yet, and today went from "gee Cavendish still looks pissy in the neutral zone" to "well, shouldn't be much trouble til the Mur de Huy today" to OH MY GOD ITS FABS/IMPEY/DUMOULIN/FARRAR/GERRANS/BONNET/PIPPO/TEN DAM/MOST OF ORICA/I CAN'T BELIEVE CANCELLARA'S BIKE DIDN'T BREAK THE SOUND BARRIER FLYING LIKE THAT to what the hell is with neutralizing the race and dang Astana looks pissed and Lefevere is going on a twitter rampage to don't the riders look twitchy all jockeying for position like that to how awful it's even way worse than they thought originally to woo-hoo Purito's gonna win the stage to oh no Contador's bonking this doesn't bode well for the mountains to jaysus Froome's riding like a freak to holy crap with that many injuries it's a miracle they didn't have to neutralize the entire stage! The final toll: poor Cancellara--who I honestly thought looked sorta dazed when he got up, but apparently that wasn't the problem--broke two vertebrae *again*, Ten Dam shoved his shoulder back in his socket, Impey friggin' finished the stage before realizing he'd snapped his collarbone, Dumoulin with a busted shoulder, the utterly cursed Simon Gerrans snapping a wrist (I think his third broken bone of the season right?), most of the guys riding half-naked with both skin and kit ripped off and worst-off FDJ's William Bonnet breaking his neck bone and miraculously not ending up impaired even worse. Poor *everybody*, they even all managed to avoid the road furniture so far, please heal up safe and get well soon and may the four guys left in the race manage to stay upright on the pave tomorrow! On tap: seven sectors of cobblestones, and forget losing time to tame boring mechanicals, after yesterday this is just gonna be a war of attrition to stay halfway up front with the two domestiques you've got left on the roster and hope to hell you make it to the line intact. Good luck boys--from now to the finish line in Paris, sincerely!

La Vie in Rosa: meantime, with some inevitable hitting of the deck, things have been comparatively tranquillo at the Giro Rosa, with buckets of coverage on their facebook page here (along with cyclingtips and prowomenscycling) and Lucinda Brand taking a tight sprint and the overall classification out of a rare successful breakaway over Orica's Valentina Scandolara and Italian national champ Elena Cecchini. Tomorrow: a flat run for the sprinters' squads to redeem themselves before the road starts heading upwards most of the rest of the week. Forza Giorgia Bronzini, sei veramente campionessa! And while I can't find anything from today's stage that isn't blocked (@#$dammit!), here's Wiggle-Honda's stage 2 with some carnage of their own unfortunately: Get well soon too, everybody!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Can't Get Enough of the Giro Even Though It's Time for the Tour? Me Neither--It's the Giro Rosa, Baby! #GiroRosa2015

The Race: 9 stages and a just-completed explosive 2k time trial prologue--hellooooo, 1st leader of the race Annemiek Van Vleuten!--with a sprinty-rolly 1st half yielding to a climber's delight--or agony!--for the final stages, with a 21.7k stage 8 time trial, 2 summit finishes and 3 more mountainy stages tossed in. Forza donne--you're gonna need all the "forza" you can muster!

The Ruckus: the women's peloton is at its most leg-to-leg competitive in virtually every discipline in years, the tifosi appear to be at historic levels of freakout, and, for my money, it's time for the women's sport to take its rightful place just as tennis' did a generation ago. And, you can follow it, and all the action, here! Heck, you can even catch it on RAI, if you get it (not me unfortunately--screw you American cable)!

The Contenders: the national jerseys have just been awarded, prior winners have a lot to show against the young'uns, and there's a whole lotta pride--and scarce scanty sponsorship dough on the line. Sprints--the great Giorgia Bronzini, who sez, to broken hearts everywhere if you got any brains whatsoever, she might retire next year. Her own Wiggle teammate Julien D'hoore, Barbara Guarischi. GC--2-time campionessa/US bad-!@# Mara Abbott (follow her here! French phenom and new world road champ--are you watching, French men's teams? 'cause she oughta make you weep!--Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. Brit fastwoman and all-round danger the great Lizzie Armistead, Evelyn Stevens! Also on tap: last year's blue best-Italian-rider jersey winner Elisa Longo Borghini and 2009 maglia rosa Claudia Lichtenberg. Out: unfortunately, still, defending champ Marianne Vos, but even without her, the depth in this field is insane. See you next year, Marianne--but even you're gonna have your work cut out for you when you get back!

Well, onto the fast course tomorrow--congratulations to you and whatever the hell you're standing next to, Annemiek!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

It's Yer Tour de France in Preview Part Final: The Climbers, The Roleurs, and General Roundup! #letour

Okay, the teams've been presented, the nutrition's been tweaked, and we've got one (two, depending where you live) day to go! So now that you got the course, the GC, and the sprinters, who's left? These guys!

The Climbers: if you *can't* climb, you're not up for GC, so that covers *them*. If you *can* climb, but aren't up for GC, you're generally yer GC-huntin' team captain's beeyotch. But if he chokes or you're free of an overall contender in yer squad, *and* you're capable of a flying legendary mountaintop stage win, you probably used to work for Euskaltel. BMC's former King of the Mountains and don't you forget it Samu', of course. Movistar's Gorka Izaguirre and Winner Anacona. Romain Sicard. Uran Uran. Richie Porte, if he gets his confidence back after his soul-suckin' Giro. Rafal Majka and Roman Kreuziger, the latter bouncing back from a bio passport accusation and with more'n enough motivation for vengeance. Last year's podium surprise Thibaut Pinot. Out: shock Giro podium Mikel Landa, on Grand Tour hiatus til the Vuelta (because apparently, Nibali doesn't take that !@#$.) Oh, come on, Fab 4, reward one of your boys with a stage win!

The Stage Fighters: they're not the climbiest, they're not the sprintiest, but put 'em in the right place at the right time, and you've got *gold*, baby! Fabian Cancellara, who just announced this may be his farewell Tour (yes, Fabs fans, I know--here, have a tissue!) and Tony Martin for the time trial. We love camera-grabbin' Tommy "the Tongue" Voeckler and the indestructible Sylvain Chavanel. Luca Paolini. Like every damn Belgian in the peloton for the cobblestones. Gerrans, Costa, Kwiatkowski, Pippo (yeah, go to hell, at least the Tour will be infinitely more glam with him there)! Oh, the likelihood that some dimwit fan is gonna take out one of these guys with their !@#$in' camera or enormous drooling dog *right* when they're on the cusp of victory is just *killin'* me here...

The Gloves Are Off!: finally, I note that the GC contenders are now breaking their pre-race silence, with quiet Nairo Quintana in a monster huff against usually-more-discreet Vincenzo Nibali for seemingly criticizing Nairo for training in the comfort and obscurity of home in Colombia while Nibs Froome and Alberto were drudging away in spot-lit misery in Tenerife, Froome finally not just bitching about his accommodations on Twitter, and Alberto Contador scaring the crap out of everyone by saying he "felt better at the 2014 Tour," which presumably means he's actually gonna shell Froomey like a peanut and leave him gacking from the bottom of the race's first climb right up to the final podium in Paris. On a related note, whose numbnut idea was it to jinx Alberto's Giro-Tour double with a maillot jaune canary? Well, enough with the smack-talk and psych-outs--it's time to go, so let's all have it out on the road!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

It's Yer Tour de France in Preview, Part Trois: the Sprinters! #letour

Yes, unlike our beloved Giro and Vuelta, where sprints are what you do before you get on with the *real* racing, the Tour de France is a veritable playground for the sugared-up irrepressible adrenalin-junkie fast kids, with a good 1/3 of the Tour to get their speed on. Also in the mix: the green "points" or sprinter's jersey, which Peter Sagan better win because even though it's lame compared to the maillot jaune Oleg Tinkov wants *some* return on investment on his showy one-boy money pit. So who's going for glory? These guys!

Mark Cavendish: the Manx Missile's had only a so-so season, and frankly seems a bit dispirited since his 2014 season-long thrashing by Marcel Kittel, but Cav looked on grand form last year for July before crashing out with a dislocated shoulder in the 2014 Tour. Result? The man is out for *revenge*, and even without his intimidating palmares and low bull!@#$ tolerance from other riders, a pissed-off Cav is liable to chew your head off right along with your legs as he takes out his anger to the line. Just so's the rest of you stay out of biting range of those big teeth you oughta survive the sprints--better a lost stage than a lost body part, for sure!

Andre "the Gorilla" Greipel: he's big, he's strong, and the Lurch o' the peloton, tho' low-key, can still stomp out a win (and accidentally his rivals) under his big carcass without even noticing. Plus, his squad's been on fine form this season. We love you, ya big lug--I'm sure there's at least one stage win in your near future!

Nacer Bouhanni: oh, sure, he *just* hit the deck hard--so hard he had to pose butt-nekkid as a jaybird to prove it. But he's decided to do the Tour de France anyway, he had a smashing early season, and who needs a properly functioning "ribcage" or "cartilage" to, y'know, breathe enough to sprint? If he can hang on long enough to really heal up, hell yes there's hope!

Tyler Farrar: shut up! Can so either!

Michael "Bling" Matthews: has this kid been having a *season*, or what? He's obliterated the field in half the races this part of the season, and has an excellent lead out to boot. Go Bling!

Peter Sagan: he can climb, he can sprint, he can cost Oleg Tinkov 4.3 million euro--but what he *can't* do is justify his wormlike existence to vengeful team boss King Oleg after blowing his highly-touted and clearly overhyped Classics season. So will the Saganator have the mental fortitude to hold it together in the Tour, particularly with his squad's (!@#damn well better be) focus on Contador grabbing the whole Tour? Well, Peter's been doing pretty well again lately--but then, it apparently helps when he's separated from Oleg by a good coupla continents, and if Alberto does well, you *know* Tinkov's gonna be there for 24/7 yellow jersey photobombs!

The 'Nother Guys: yeah, there's Boassen Haagen Dazs, Degenkolb, and a handful of other cobbles-friendly strongmen, but pure sprints aren't necessarily their thing. But if they can ditch Cav out the autobus on some of those hilly midsections, there's room to play for other boys!

Out: Cav archrival--and best competitor--2014 bad-!@# Marcel "the Hair" Kittel, and reportedly so ticked about it he's trying to leave Giant "Doping for Hair" (a slogan discreetly dropped for the Tour) Alpecin. Yep, as with Nibs' 2014 GC win, every 2015 sprint victory'll always seem a little bit unearned--and Cav, now you got *no* excuses!

Well, we got the roleurs and climbeurs still left to go--and then, it's on to the Tour!