Still struck with a pang of sorrow when you see some schmo on the street in a red t-shirt? Watch an ad for a Spanish telecommunications company and think angrily, "Valverde, you little !@#$%$#"? Find yourself running after the carelessly-discarded spit-covered gel packets of passing roadies like you've just been tossed the Holy Grail? Then you're in severe Vuelta a Espana withdrawal, honey, and we've got the cure--the incredibly prestigious, factually dubious, and beastily biased 2015 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! Prizes for the lucky winners, if they're ever desperate enough claim them--a custom-embroidered racejunkie cap and I *promise* I'll find some neat little high-school-jock statuette somewhere in a thrift shop. So here, this year's noble (and disgraceful) awardees:
Punk-!@# Move of the Race (Rider): Yay! We're popping champagne and chillin' our bone-exhausted legs 'til the sprinters can fight for last-chance glory in the final 2k of the entire 3 week race. Until we love Purito Rodriguez has a routine mechanical and that low-rent punk Alejandro Valverde attacks 'im to take the intermediate sprint and Purito's already-won green jersey. Well he's still got white *and* second on GC, you graceless jackass--and you better watch out for him at the Worlds!
Punk-!@# Move of the Race (Spectator): To the shirtless beer-gutted cig-smoking jerk who actually tried to steal Ben King's jillion-dollar Cannondale during a post-crash tangle in the peloton: it's not like anyone wouldn't've noticed you as slightly anomalous tootling on it, eejit! To the invisible dirtbag who took off with his Garmin, which he might've wanted to use to, y'know, figure out if he's about to blow up in the middle of a professional bike race: you're certainly more discreet than that other guy, but still a disgusting jack!@#. What the !@#$ is *wrong* with people?
Beach Blanket Bungle Award: I know! Let's run a Grand Tour opening team time trial right through a fast-blowing traction-hosing sand dune! No *way* the freaked-out GC riders'll crash out on *that*! Uh, on second thought--can you just toss some tacks down on the road next year, I think they'd have better odds with those things!
Crash o' the Race (GC-Screwing): the great, tenacious Tejay Van Garderen, sorely busted and out in a wicked Stage 8 pile-up and still by far not the worst off of the mercifully-healing-at-last boys to hit the deck. Get well soon, the lot of you--Tejay, we're looking for more great things from you next Grand Tour you ride!
Crash o' the Race (Totally !@#$ing Inexcusable): yep, it's a two-fer! Despite the conventional wisdom that one is there to escort the riders, not kill them, some moto-bound moron apparently--for I believe literally the umpteenth time this season--didn't get the memo. What are you *doing*, UCI, issuing hunting licenses to these guys before each Grand Tour? For !@#$'s *sake* already!
The Freaks Come Out at Night (Well, During the Day Award): if you pegged Tom Dumoulin as a high-mountain-goat-for-the-ages before the queen stage of this race, you're either a butt-naked liar, or the only cheesy late-night-infomercial fortune-telling hotline on the planet that actually freakin' works. Next year, Purito takes Paris-Roubaix--watch out, Fabs and Boonen!
Crazy Eights Statuette: all right, the Vuelta's always a bit of a wildcard, but even by its weird standards, *eight*--8 out of 21!--first-time Grand Tour stage winners this race alone is pretty damn impressive. Esteban Chaves (solo, he's won a ttt I think), Bert-Jan Lindeman, Jasper Stuyven, Kristian Sbaragli, Nelson Oliveira, Danny van Poppel, Alexis Gougeard, Caleb Ewan--this 8-headed prize is for all of you!
Sticky Bottle Award: hey, let's be honest--everyone drafts a wee bit from the team cars wending one's way back from a flat, or holds on to a fresh bottle o' refreshment a few seconds longer than strictly necessary at the start of a nasty climb. But having your team director shoot you out of a cannon to the front of the freakin' pack is a whole 'nother level o' naughty entirely. Nice work, Team Astana--hope Nibs enjoyed the rest of the race from his living-room couch!
Corollary Dumb!@# Life Lesson Award: while we're rewarding your catastrophic stupidity--much less lack of sportsmanship--let's give you this to boot. *Don't* pull this crap in front of the cameras--at least wait til the motos are busy rammin' someone else before you make your move!
Bye Bye Bushwhacker Prize: first, lemme say that as an ex-Euskaltel rider, anything and everything Mikel Landa does is beyond reproach, especially when his team bosses held him back--to no good end, even--at the Giro. But it sure was entertaining watching him piss Vinokourov off 'til Mikel finally caved for Aru's sake on the penultimate stage--Mikel, I can't wait to see what you do over at Sky!
Raving Oligarch Verbal Twitter Assault Golden Keyboard Award: you're all spineless pathetic wussies because none of you had the nuts to face Alberto Contador at the Giro. Astana are a pack of cheating scumbags (okay, maybe you can't really fault the man for that). Froome's a simpering crybaby (to his credit, he did apologize when he saw Chris broke his foot). I WILL TAKE YOU DOWN ASO FOR DAMAGING MY GOLDEN BOY PETER LIKE A STEROID-STUFFED PRO WRESTLER ON A 98-POUND WEAKLING! Oleg Tinkov, you sure beat the dullards in the team-boss world all hollow. And you still found the time to berate a million other schmucks as well!
No Guts No Glory Award o' the Race: Ruben Plaza's amazing 100 kilometer solo attack from his own breakaway to take the win. *That* is how it's done, you amateurs!
Just Plain Guts Award: Tom Dumoulin--I gotta admit, this one is--by far, no contest--for you. With virtually no team support (in legs, if not intent), you clenched the red jersey so tightly that only days of coordinated attacks by damn near everyone and from the only GC contender *not* already gob-smacked from the Tour de France could wrench it away from you at last. You are hors categorie, Tom--take a bow, *and* a nice, well-earned nap!
Finally, Yer 4.3 Million-Euro-Man Insult to Injury Prize: okay, it was a bit, well, intemperate of Peter Sagan to swear like a sailor and kick the crap out of a medical support van and his own bicycle, scaring a helpful--and innocent!--medical support person when he got whacked over and substantially de-skinned by a race moto. But really, *fining* him on top of that, when he wouldn't have had to react in the first place but for some eejit thinking *he* was the more important party in the race? Geez, UCI, make 'im send the asshats *flowers* next time whydontcha?!
Well folks, that was the Vuelta that was--Purito, I *know* you can do it, you still got another chance next year!