Thursday, December 29, 2016

It's Yer New Year's Resolutions for the Peloton!

Look, most of these folks--dear as they are to all of us--are either too inept, too narcissistic, or too darned clueless to help themselves for 2017. And while the philosophers say the unexamined life is not worth living, I say--if we can examine it for them--it darn well is. So listen up beloved cyclists, while we make Yer 2016 New Year's resolutions for the peloton!

1. Brad Wiggins: oh, !@#$ off. Really, who cares? We're all sick and tired of hearing about you anyway!


3. Peter Sagan: seriously, do I have to resolve anything? We all know I'm winning everything I want in 2017 anyhow!

4. Tom Boonen: I will win my 5th and final Paris-Roubaix. So suck it, Fabian!

5. Race Moto Drivers: we're gonna remember to put our contact lenses in this year. And take a coupla driving lessons. And try not to confuse the cyclists with freakin' bowling pins. And...

6. Chris Froome: I swear, when the narcs come knocking, I will be exactly as loyal to my former captain Brad Wiggins as I was during the 2012 Tour de France. Sucker!

7. Roman Kreuziger: well, I'm on a new team now...wait, who's the team captain I'm supposed to screw again?

8. Alberto Contador: Up. I will stay *up*, no matter what train-wreck idiot tries to take me down. Right, and I'm coming for you at the Tour, Chris you joyless android!

9. Greg Van Avermaet: I resolve that the next jack!@# that calls me an "almost-man" is gonna get it right in the kisser. I AM THE OLYMPIC CHAMPION FER CHRISSAKES!

10. Nacer Bouhanni: I will not pick stupid fights with random drunks break my hand punching 'em out and ruin my entire team's Grand Tour season. I will hold back, and punch out Mark Cavendish during a sprint finish instead.

11. Alejandro Valverde: I will meticulously follow the orders of my DS and unequivocally support my captain Nairo Quintana as his loyal-est domestique. From the top spot of the podium, that is! Oh, I'm sorry, was that my earpiece that I accidentally tossed back to be crunched under the front wheel of the team car?

12. Marianne Vos: You won't *make* me a three-week Tour de France? I'll damn well *ride* the three-week Tour de France--what, you gonna stop me?

13. Fabio Aru: I, I probably *will* have one spectacularly crappy race-wrecking day at my Grand Tour target again. Yeah, you've got competition now, Valverde!

14. Dave Brailsford: uh, Dave? Dave? Pick up the phone! Where are you, man? Anybody seen him? Wait, what's this about a plane ticket to the unmapped Amazon jungle?

Well folks, them's mine, if I missed any, have at--and riders, listen up, we're trying to *save* you here!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It's Yer Incredibly Prestigious 2016 Racejunkie Awards!

Put away those ballgowns and tuxes, bag the stilettos, skip the hours of hair 'n' makeup, and break out the spandex, bike helmets, and clipless-pedeal cleat covers--this ain't no fussy film-star red carpet, fans 'n' riders, it's the incredibly prestigious (and morally dubious) 2016 Racejunkie Awards! Prizes--your obscure place in internet cycling-fan history, eternal shame (or glory), and, for those confused or desperate enough to get their actual physical prizes, something--I swear--approximating a golden trophy, and a stylin' custom-embroidered--I swear--racejunkie cycling cap! So turn off those stupid Oscars, and get ready to scream at your TV--it's on to the 2016 Incredibly Prestigious racejunkie Awards!

Like That Killer Rabbit in That Monty Python Movie Award: oh, just *look* at the cute little fuzzy chipmunk-cheeked smiley wee th--AIGGHHH! AIGGGHHH! IT'S RIPPED MY THROAT OUT! IT'S JABBED OUT MY EYEBALLS! WHERE DID MY LEFT ARM JUST GO? Esteban Chaves, this one's for you. Fool you once, shame on him. Fool you twice--well, don't say I didn't warn you, you eejit!

I *Cannot* *!@#$ing* *Believe* It *Again* Slam-Your-Head-Into-a-Concrete-Pole-in-Frustration Prize: is there some new, sick-!@#$ game I haven't heard about this year, like "Betcha an Espresso I Can Knock Alberto Contador Off His Bike and Lose Him a Grand Tour" or some twisted crap? *How* is it possible that such a tranquillo bike handler with such a good sense of tactics can be so inevitably placed within a millimeter's proximity of the dimwittedest most uncoordinated nimrods on the pro cycling planet? You have my truest sympathy if you fall and hurt yourself, Anonymous Inattentive Peloton Jerkface--but you're maybe a little *less* sympathetic when you take prize-winner (who I'm sure would rather have a big TdF trophy instead) Alberto Contador down with you!

Punk-!@# Move of the Year: yeah, you heard me--while Alejandro Valverde typically grabs this one by a landslide, Chris Froome's flailing-ditzbag faux-panic babyfaced-naif Usain-Bolt overall-victory-nailing foot-sprint up Mont Ventoux in the please-don't-patronize-us-you-!@#hole 'confusing' wake of an ill-timed mechanical and even more unfortunate team-car delay--which totally coincidentally resulted in him *gaining* crucial time and space he would *never* have gotten otherwise over his exhausted bike-pedal-welded podium rivals--takes the Tour de France, *and* the cake. Like you'd normally even *notice* you were having a mechanical if it weren't happening to the power meter you've got glued to your eyeballs, you tick-tocking power-drone? Now climb those !@#damn stairs to the stage to pick up your stupid !@#ty trophy, before I lose my temper and smack you upside the helmet with it!

Implausible Deniability Award: It's "marginal gains." No, it's "functional dehydration." No, it's *bull!@#$*, you shameless asshats. They're amped up like a playground full of just-napped toddlers force-fed a lifetime diet of Red Bull and sugar cane, and that's *after* they've crossed the finish line after 6 hours of riding uphill. !@#$ you, Sky, in ten years you clowns'll bite it in a scandal of Operacion Puerto--hell, Lance Armstrong--ian proportions. Til then, we wait and sneer. Oh, except all your ex-Euskaltel riders are innocent victims of your inestimable toolishness. !@#$ you, Sky!

Bad-!@# of the Year: like the nearly indestructible Stuey O'Grady before her, Annemiek Van Vlueten can get hit by a train, run over by a bus, corralled by sheepdogs, stampeded by lion-spooked hippopotami, and kicked out of a plane at 30,000 feet without a parachute--oh, and endure a truly horrific crash at the Olympic road race--only to bounce right back up and start killing it at races while barely skipping a beat, which beats promptly got the hell outta her way the second they realized she was coming up behind them anyway. Bow, bow before the iron will--and body!--of Annemiek!

What, Are You *Trying* to Kill Them You Dipwad? Award: now, I may not be an esteemed road engineer, nor highly respected and often-utilized bike race planner, but one thing I *do* know in my pathetic liberal-arts doofusness is that, well, YOU DON'T FREAKIN' LEAVE A METAL POLE IN THE EXACT MIDDLE OF A RACECOURSE when the poor unsuspecting peloton is unerringly going to smash right into it at 60 kilometers an hour. Thank you, 2017 UCI races, you can pay me later for my sage advice--but you can !@#damn remove those stupid bone-snapping obstacles *now*!

Best Post-Cycling-Career Career Move: he was reviled for testing poz after his miracle run at the Tour de France, then duped some very nice people into donating into his "Floyd Fairness Fund", then reviled even worse for breaking omerta' and ratting out his former buds, and *now*, after years of public scorn, has earned back the love of the cycling--hell, entire--world by coming back with his blazing entry into the legal weed business. Floyd Landis, come on up--no, seriously, put down those damn nachos and come on up to claim your prize!

Worst Post-Cycling-Career Career Move: oh, 2002 Vuelta star Aitor Gonzalez, how it *pains* me to do this. And generally, I'm in no position to give career advice. But if you're gonna hit the netherworld up for a job after your cycling career is over, robbing a cell-phone store (allegedly!) in Alicante like a common schnook is *not* the way to go. For heck's sake, man, you're a *pro cyclist*--you've at *least* got the connections the know-how and the ready-made market to be a dope courier!

Total !@#$ Team Dissolution Prize: IAM Cycling. Short, but so *very* sweet while it lasted. Oh, how we'll miss you!

Retirements of the Year (Aw, We'll Miss 'Em): Fabian, you're a legend. Mara, *just* when I was about to put you into the racejunkie Merry Festivus Gift List for the Peloton with yet another Giro Rosa, I realize you'd already announced your plan to hang up (for pro racing purposes, anyway) your wheels. Dag nabit, come up and get your trophies, while I'm still inclined to hand 'em over!

Retirement of the Year (It's About Time Already): oh, thank !@#$ Bradley Wiggins has decided it's time to rest on his impressive (if now slightly tained) laurels and--*what*?! This !@#$ing !@#$er is still leaving the door open for unretiring again?! Jaysus H. Christ, pack it in already, pal--or are you waiting to milk a few *more* euros out of yet *another* autobio over your latest track feats with Cav?

Retirement of the Year (!@#$ You Teams For Not Hiring Him Yet!): look, unless and until he makes an official statement--and if common sense, justice, and pre-November 2016 American values prevail--dear ex-Carrot, breakaway artist, and climber supremo Amets Txurruka is still in the game. And we all remember the nailbiter of a film-noir suspense-fest when we also love Samuel Sanchez *finally* announced his renewed deal with BMC a year or two back--after the baby season had already started. But *!@#dammit*, you ignoramus short-sighted amoral freaks, *where* the hell is Amets' new contract ffs?!

Golden Memorial !@#-Kissing Award: Hey, I--um, you--just won that race! Here, let me heft up that trophy! Move your !@# over so we both fit on the podium! Look, I'm photo-bombing you while you're trying to pose for the ceremonial post-victory handshake with a true legend of the sport! Ooh, I've tattooed my whole body in World Champion stripes so I can match your jersey and piggy-back right on you the next race you have! Oleg Tinkov, you self-serving, publicity-whoring, Contador-screwing victory-slut, this one-fingered salute of a trophy is for you--and no, Peter Sagan can't be in the picture this time!

Domestique of 2016: It's over for your team captain, and at the best Grand Tour of the year. Oh, *boy*, is it over. And you, comfortably ensconced in the breakaway and with no-one needing to bother to chase *any* of you down for GC, have a serious chance at perhaps a last-ever Giro d'Italia stage victory--and you're Italian. So what do you do? *That's* right, you disloyal punks (I'm talking to you, Tinkoff riders!), if you're Michele freakin' Scarponi, you pull over to the side of the road and chill (literally, in a snowbank) for a good half-hour, downing water bottles energy snacks and barely dodging frostbite to boot, til your captain finally schleps up to you and you bash the crap outta the rest of the contenders til they're mere whimpering jelly beneath your wheel, and you *win* that guy the Giro. Michele, I concede I've had my issues--but damn, did you earn your keep!

And Finally, Yer Corollary Comeback Ride of 2016: look, you can say a lot of things about Vincenzo Nibali, and I'm frankly too much of a lady to say them here. But in the absence of any mechanical-or-PED-assistance scandal to the contrary, you gotta admit, his Stage 20 bounce-back to take the overall win at the Giro d'Italia after his excruciating humiliation on Stage 16 was genuinely a marvel to see. But I'm still rooting for Mikel Landa to take it in 2017 Vincenzo!

Ok folks, claim yer prizes, crack some Champagne--and for most of you, just *pray* you don't end up on this ignominious list next year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

It's Yer 2016 Racejunkie Merry Festivus Gift List for the Peloton!

Yes, no matter what we celebrate this time of year--or with what delightful, appalling debauchery we celebrate it--we've all got one thing in common: we love our dear peloton and its saintly (or dastardly) denizens. And what better way to show how much we love them than to give them the wonderful gifts they so rightly deserve? Ergo, cyclists and cycling fans, here's Yer Annual Racejunkie Merry Festivus Gift List for the Peloton!

Alberto Contador: what else? The 2017 Tour de France, baby! You can come back and re-win the beautiful Vuelta the *next* year instead!

Chris Froome: a warm, hearty, sincere congratulations from Alberto Contador on yer second place in the Tour de France. It feels almost as good as 1st place, amirite?

Tom Boonen: what else? A record 5th Paris-Roubaix, baby! Crappy, season-hosing crashes, bad luck, and sudden nerves, begone--YOU ARE TORNADO TOM, !@#DAMMIT, YOU HAVE GOT THIS IN THE BAG!

Mikel Landa: okay, I *know* I am supposed to root for an Italian, like Vincenzo Nibali or Astana starlet Fabio Aru, to win the 100th Giro d'Italia. But I guess I better get ready for my eternal trip to hell, because you, Mikel, are not only a noble ex-Euskaltel-Euskadi rider, but also doomed to play second fiddle to that snotty little !@#wipe Froome for the rest of your career if you stay with your current !@#$ty squad. Win the Giro, Mikel, and you can name yer price--and yer team--for 2018!

Pierre Rolland: yeah, that's right, he just called out the sainted Tour de France for being boring! And he's *French*! A gold-plated--no, solid-gold--superfast, supersexy blinged-out super-powered Lamborghini for that boy!

Nacer Bouhanni: some common sense. And some boxing gloves, to protect your delicate cyclist hands in case you randomly decide to ruin your whole team's Grand Tour again in some stupid beef with an obnoxious hotel guest. Seriously, you're an actual pugilist--you don't already *own* these things?

Annemiek Van Vlueten: well, you're already clearly a bounce-backing bad-@!# after your terrifying spine-fracturing crash at the Olympics and incredibly speedy recovery--and not only race *return*, but immediate *win*--at Lotto Belgium Tour, so I suppose there's not much I can get you that you won't perfectly be able to get for yourself--but damn, I'm wishing you the World Championship anyway!

Mark Cavendish: you actually had a pretty decent year, but still and all, you're not *quite* back to your usual whinging, smack-talking, sprint-obliterating self. I gift you your mojo--because *you* oughta be able to win without head-butting, Cav!

Women's Cycling: !@#$ this one-day 'La Course' dabbling--a real, three-week race-o'-destiny, just like the boys get. And some !@#damn decent paychecks while we're at it!

UCI: a fence. A giant, 50-foot-high, concrete, steel-reinforced, glass-shards-and-barbed-wire-covered fence that goes all around Europe. Now keep that tyrant asshat Oleg Tinkov away from our sport!

Team Sky: a year's gift subscription to Federal Express. Seriously, numbnuts, a *team courier*? Why not just hire a !@#$ing marching band with a majorette in spangles and a big !@#$ing banner screaming "I'm carrying a big bag of dope here!" for cripes' sakes?!

Dave Brailsford: speaking of which, a linear, credible excuse for Brad Wiggins' "mystery package," which, after months of sordid speculation (mine included), you grudgingly claimed to be a pile of, yes, ordinary, harmless *decongestant*, which is apparently (1) easily available over the counter without hauling it a thousand miles through Europe and (2) actually violently contraindicated for the bull!@#$ asthma diagnosis you *did* scam a TUE for Brad for. Brilliant!

Brad Wiggins: a peaceful, happy, *permanent* retirement. RETIREMENT already, you hear me? FFS!

Roman Kreuziger: You screwed--and dissed!--your own team leader Alberto Contador, and relentlessly butt-kissed your repulsive wingnut publicity-ho team boss Oleg Tinkov. Wishing you *karma*, jack!@#!

Amets Txurruka: Santa, I have literally been tweet-storming you Christmas carol lyrics for this talented boy--and most importantly, ex-Carrot--every single day for the last month. CAN WE PLEASE GET AMETS A CONTRACT ALREADY?

The lot of you: may your favorite rider ever win, your favorite Classic ever cobble, your Belgian beer be ever cold, beautiful Giro never end, your Tour de France--aw, who the hell cares--and your fabulous Vuelta go ever upwards. Now break out the nog--or glogg--and let's toast a Very Merry Whatever You Celebrate to fans and riders, one and all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

It's Yer 2016 Pro Cycling Year in Review!

Yes, it's December, that special time when we reflect on the events of the year almost past with a mix of joy, gratitude, revulsion, horror, and profound self-recrimination. And in our beloved sport of cycling, with its soaring (and plummeting) extremes of the divine and the disgusting, such reflection takes on particular significance as we consider that HOLY CRAP THERE'S STILL TWO MORE WEEKS FOR SOME GROTESQUE SCANDAL TO ERUPT! So in case you missed it--or have merely already blocked it out--here's yer 2016 racejunkie 2016 Pro Cycling Year in Review!

January: Team kits come out! AG2R relegated to Conti level for having "the butt-ugliest team kit the peloton has ever produced"; Tinkoff in hi-viz yellow so Oleg can find, leap into presence of Peter Sagan at all times; Pozzato personally designs dashing Southeast-Wilier kit, decides to ride naked all season anyway because "hell, I'm even prettier than it is!"

February: The road season begins! Ion Izaguirre accused of motor-doping because no-one has the guts to call out Cancellara; numbnut Katusha twerp endangers license, dear Purito's season by being 968th straight team stagiare to test positive for dope; Van Avermonster pips the Saganator at the line at Omloop as teams decide to quit race, have tea party at local hotel instead. Workin' hard for the money, boys!

March: Yay, it's Classics season! Matteo Tosatto, Eros Capecchi accuse Arnaud Demare of stealing Milano-Sanremo victory by team-car tow, pissed their own attempts didn't work; Nibali incensed as "extreme weather protocol" bags Tirreno-Adriatico stage, threatens to lose Tour de France, *again*; UCI solves bike doping controversy once and for all by busting, banning 'cross novice Femke Van den Driessche because no-one has the guts to call out Cancellara. Thank god this cesspool's all cleaned up!

April: It's Tommeke's Bid for a 5th Roubaix! Matthew Hayman wins Hell of the North in stunning upset, Bernard Hinault congratulates by shaking hand, asking "who the !@#$ are you?"; Fran Ventoso makes unsuccessful case for disc brakes in peloton when disc flies off mid-race, slices off top of legendary Mont Ventoux; Philippe Gilbert smashes too-close motorist in face with giant spiked medieval mace--uh, maces too-close motorist. Don't !@#$ with the Phil-Gil!

May: Il Grande Giro, baby! Pissed-off organizers nearly cancel entire show when realize only 3 Belgian neopros registered, everyone else is riding the stupid Tour; FDJ's Alexandre Geniez viciously assaults AG2R's Hubert Dupont at the line by wagging finger, pulling jersey collar, Dupont hospitalized for 3 weeks; remorseful Vincenzo Nibali gives overall race win to Esteban Chaves, who actually lost Giro on penultimate stage, "because he just looked so *cute* when he was crying." Awwwwwwwwww!

June: Pre-Tour de France prep time! Movistar, Astana, to unidentified "black sites" for top secret do--uh, top-shelf "nutritional counseling"; Sky hires master robotics expert, entire tenured faculty of MIT to "help us with some wiring in the team car that's on the fritz"; Contador to Oleg Tinkov's house for three weeks of wholly unwarranted verbal abuse and morale-crushing death-spiral. Thank you Oleg, that's *gotta* help!

July: It's the Sprint Heard Round the World! Bouhanni accidentally punches Bernard Hinault in face in hotel altercation instead of hapless drunken guest, requires 2,643 stitches when Hinault punches back; Contador crashes 18 times in first 2 stages, persists for two weeks despite looking like one of those creepy skinless plasticized cadavers frozen in weird poses in museum exhibitions; Oleg Tinkov extends support, sympathy by hiring small aircraft to skywrite "ALBERTO CONTADOR IS A TOTAL !@#$ING LOSER" above peloton during Stage 13; Froome realizes his riding style is !@#$iest, most inefficient on planet, ditches bike to run up Ventoux and seal overall win in Paris. God, *when* will this !@#$show be *over*?

August: Woot woot, it's the beautiful Vuelta at last! Contador's Tour redemption bid already wrecked on Stage 1 when Oleg hires actual turtles from local pet store as Alberto's Vuelta domestiques; Valverde "helps" Quintana by setting hotel-room alarm to blare Nairo awake every single night at 5-minute intervals; race organizers take out poor Steven Kruijswijk by unexpectedly parking 5000-ton decommissioned Soviet army tank in middle of race course. Shoulda put an orange cone in front of that one!

September: The Vuelta continues! Froome announces switch of focus from climbs to sprints from now on, Kittel, Cav, Greipel give up, quit cycling "effective immediately"; Contador taken out by some random dimwit, entire season ruined, *again*; "Fancy Bear" TUE scandal shows that Froome's bodily fluids entirely replaced by pure liquid amphetamines. 'Marginal gains' my !@#!

October: It's the Worlds, Baby! Extreme heat in Doha mummifies entire peloton into those invisible "sea monkey" things you can order out of back of comic books and reconstitute with water; 100th Giro d'Italia route announced, Froome declares interest in ra--ha ha, just kidding, of course I'm riding the Tour!; Team Sky "mystery package" determined to be "just a !@#$in' bunch of vials and !@#$, nothing to worry about!"

November: Transfer season! Contador formally announces expected transfer to "Please God, Anywhere Else"; Kreuzinger to "Hey, I Can !@#$ Over My Team Leader at *Any* Squad"; Marianne Vos to "We'll Pay You Anything! *Anything*! Here, Take This Ferrari! No, This Lamborghini! No..."

December: UCI announces no doping pozes at any Grand Tour ever, Armstrong smashes picture frames, grabs his 7 yellow jerseys off the wall of his man cave, runs up and down in front of Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis yelling "THEY'RE STILL ALL MINE, BITCHES!"; 2017 team kits revealed, goths raid cycling shops worldwide to snatch entire supply of all-black cycling garb; where the hell is Amets Txurruka's contract, dammit?

Well folks, that was the year that was--and hopefully, that *never* will be again. Next up: Yer 2016 Merry Festivus Gift List for the Peloton!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's Yer 2016 Racejunkie 10 Cycling Things I'm Thankful For This Year (And a Few I Ain't)

Yes, Thanksgiving in America is upon us, that heartwarming time of year when long-lost relatives from far and wide gather to spout their offensive political views, try to refrain from stabbing each other with forks, reach harmony over universal condemnation of the gravy, soothe still-wounded spirits in a slap-fight over the last piece of chocolate-cream pie, then retire to watch the football game where some lazy oaf falls asleep and completely hogs the sofa before everyone else shifts uncomfortably for three hours on ottomans and folding chairs, only to sob on the way out the door how the family oughta get together more often--uh, to enjoy a perfect Norman Rockwell holiday where the turkey is moist, the mashed potatoes are slathered with butter, and not a spot ever falls on Grandma's crisply ruffled apron. And for we cycling fans, what better opportunity to ruminate on our beloved sport and consider the Ten Cycling Things I'm Thankful For This Thanksgiving (And a Few I Ain't)? Ergo:

1. Alberto Contador is free. Whatever happens at the Tour, this boy's finally got his wings back at a team that'll really appreciate him!

2. The 100th Giro d'Italia. Truly, have more beautiful words *ever* been uttered? A toast to il grande Giro!

3. The Vuelta a Espana. Look, forget that gaudy showdown in July. Here's where the real GT hardmen have at it!

4. Nacer Bouhanni. Who *else* has single-handedly decided the prestigious Tour de France green jersey by TKO of a rowdy hotel guest the night before the Grand Depart? That is *class*, baby!

5. Didja see Tom Boonen is coming back to try for his 5th fabulous Paris-Roubaix? Didja didja didja? Allez Tommekeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

6. 2016 UCI Road Race Champ Denmark's Amelie Dideriksen. C'mon, did you even *remotely* see that coming? You did not either!

7. Esteban Chaves. Like you don't either, you cynics, I see you melting--*and* he can kick your !@#!

8. Alexander Vinokourov. Oh, go to hell, with that revolting oligarch outta the game next year we gotta have *some* guilty-pleasure arch-villain to root for!

9. UCI Doping Controls. Just kidding! Unless you're a Masters rider, or a kid racing yer tricycle around the schoolyard still hopped up on leftover Halloween candy, in which case you're guaranteed to (1) get popped and (2) earn a lifetime ban, they're useless. Dope on, kids--throw in a few hookers, and in 10 years you can have a lucrative new autobio on the bestseller list, too!

10. My dear Tweeps. So much raging bias and unsubstantiated gossip, *so* little time for me to spend on stupid "work." At least that's what I hope my boss don't find out!

And a Few I'm Not:

1. Team Sky. Official Motto: Screwing Ex-Euskaltel Riders Since 2010. Just go *away* already!

2. Speaking of whom, Brad Wiggins. Just *retire* already ffs, while your legacy's still halfway intact!

3. Where the hell is we love ex-Carrot Amets' Txurruka's new World Tour contract? Team camps are starting, give the boy a day to pack his gear whydontcha?

Well, them's mine, and if I missed anything, have at. In the meantime, enjoy yer dinner, and back away from that last slice of pie, pal!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

It's Yer Smack-Talk, Scandal, 'n' Road-Race Roundup!

Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye: look, there's no doubt Oleg Tinkov's brought a lotta, well, liveliness and publicity to the staid ol' sport o' pro cycling. But in the last coupla years, bravado and showmanship has deteriorated into vengeful malevolence and, let's face it, just bat!@#$ *crazy*. So it's with great delight that, after two years of Oleg publicly slagging dispirited Grand Tour superstar Alberto Contador as a lazy, talentless, over-the-hill never-was, I report that Alberto finally broke his diplomatic silence and came down like a bolt o' lightning on Oleg's sorry pissy head for his last race for House Tinkoff in Abu Dhabi: yes, the new Trek-Segafredo signing posed with his jersey zipper witheringly undone and the logo ergo squashed to the side for his official team photo. From Contador, that's like pinning Oleg down and scrawling "I'M A GIANT !@#HOLE" on his forehead with permanent marker and tattooing "KICK MY !@#" on his back in humongous Pippo-sized ornate script. Take *that*, you crass oligarch !@#$er!

Millenium: okay, it's actually "just" the 100th edition of the beautiful Giro d'Italia, but I'm sure *hoping* it'll last at least another 900 years, and the organizers of what looks to be quite a mountainous, smashing centenary edition can--after prematurely kidnapping Froome, Contador, Dumoulin, Nibali, Aru, Purito and Chaves and smuggling them to an undisclosed location in the race organizers' basement--breathe a sigh of relief that they won't *quite* be monstrously treated as a second-class race to the crappy Tour this year of years: yes, wee Nairo Quintana claims *he's* now interested in the Giro-Tour double that even Alberto failed to accomplish, which either means (1) he's aiming for the Giro-Tour double or (2) he doesn't think he can win the Tour de France against Sky's stoked-up android Discovery army, and wants at least to be able to claim--without an asshat team boss like Oleg disparaging the measly accomplishment--that he bagged a truly history-making Giro. Whatever the hell gets you there, Nairo--but am I the *only* one in a spitting rage because the Giro deserves so much better?

To Catch a Thief: meantime, in a grim glimpse o' the future for even stellar pro cyclists, 2002 Vuelta a Espana champ Aitor Gonzalez was arrested for robbing a cell-phone store, making, well, probably dozens of cycling fans to shake their heads in sorrow at what becomes of a former sporting hero after the pedals are unclipped the podium babes step off and the cameras go home. Helpful career advice: you'll make a *lot* more money, and suffer a boatload less consequences, if you forget the mask-on-your-face-and-finger-pointed-in-yer-pocket-like-a-fake-weapon trick and become a monumentally stupid no-questions-asked mystery-package courier for a giant untouchable World Tour team. Thank you Aitor, no charge, always glad to help a roadie in need!

Moto-!@#$er!: and, what would UCI's vaunted campaign to run over--uh, protect--as many cyclists as possible be without one last bit o' carnage to screw a great athlete's off-season? Yep, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio busted her hip just in time to jack her winter training when some careening twit didn't notice a 5-foot-tall-plus woman in bright spandex riding a, y'know, entirely unexpected *bicycle* in a *bike race* the eejit was *working in.* Get well soon Ashleigh--and get a !@#damn drivers' license that's worth something, you incompetent !@#clown!

When Pigs Fly: finally, it's nice to see that British trackie Jess Varnish, who got completely unjustifiably slammed as a disgruntled !@#$ cyclist after accurately raising that British Cycling technical director/total doping apologist Shane Sutton is a low-rent misogynist pig, was finally vindicated this week after an internal review confirmed that, yes, Shane is a few grunts short of being qualified to wallow in a barnyard manure pile. What was that you told her to do Shane? Oh right, now that you're too old to ride, head off into retirement and start having babies--or maybe for their theoretical sake, better not, jerk!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Sun Is a Mass/ Of Incandescent Gas/ A Gigantic Nuclear Fur-nace! #UCIDoha2016

And You're Riding In It, Sucker: yes, in the presence of truly record-breaking crowds--in the sense that "zero" is a "record", albeit a !@#$ty one--the planet's greatest cyclists have officially convened in the sweltering deserts of Doha to barf, pant, collapse, careen, and faint their way to World Championship glory, and, if there's one thing we know as the men's and women's elite road race is upon us, it's that the UCI's venal, profit-groveling, rider-endangering, cycling-screwing moronity clearly knows no bounds whatsoever beyond a fat, marinating pile of sun-scorched sweat-drenched euros, leading desperate riders to institute measures like "extreme sauna protocol" to accustom themselves to the heat, which apparently involves being locked in a small cedar closet with a steaming pile of hot rocks until you personally physically shrivel into (1) a desiccated, permanently preserved wraith-corpse, or (2), even worse, Chris Froome or 2007 Tour de France-era Michael Rasmussen. Glad no-one's actually *croaked* from the heat yet, you reckless !@#$ing sickos! Jaysus, why not !@#$ing hold the road race championships on a molten !@#$ing lava flow the next time Vesuvius blows and bacon-crisps an entire !@#$ing country, whydontcha?

Corollary Mystery o' Science: whether, as the winner ascends the podium to collect his or prize, s/he will--because as we all learned in school, if our inferior US educations were even correct, heat rises--spontaneously combust into a sad, skinny little pile of ash as the gold medal, with nowhere left to hang, collapses onto it ignominiously and instantly superheats into a gas, disappearing into the netherworld. Isn't science *fun*, kids?

The Postman Always Rings Twice--uh, NEVER EVER LOOKS IN THE !@##$IN' PACKAGE, ALRIGHT?: meantime, as British Cycling begins to cannibalize itself faster'n a Westward-bound pack o' manifest-destiny-seeking wagon-rollin' desperadoes, the latest guy to jump ship is the hapless Team Sky "mystery package" courier who, it seems, "didn't know" what was in the pile of sleazy, rules-evading dru--uh, do--uh, stuff he was delivering, despite the words "FRAGILE--PEDs" stamped all over the box in 200-point type, a frantic call from an unidentified staff person demanding to know its whereabouts, and, upon its arrival, an estimated 56 cyclists running up to the courier, bull!@#$ TUEs in hand, jersey sleeves rolled up, and their upper arms already freshly prepped with alcohol wipes. Yeah, it was a box of cutting-edge, specially aerodynamic band-aids, you doofus--*dang*, ignorance is bliss!

NEWS FLASH!: finally, I bring to you this exclusive breaking news from Doha: we're just now receiving reports that, due to extreme heat-induced dehydration, Tom Dumoulin has literally shrunk into Esteban Chaves. So much for that "breakthrough 2017 *Dutch* Grand Tour win", I guess!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Hot Times at the Worlds! Punk-!#$ Parting Shots! Tour-Induced Hallucinations! #ilovecycling

Death Valley Blues: yep, in what already promised to be a 270k snoreworthy World Championship bore-fest (with the possible exception of (1) stupidity regarding (2) crosswinds), another entirely unforeseeable crisis has reared its ugly flaming head: the desert is, apparently, *jot*, and UCI may have to shorten the course to a mere 106k so delicate riders don't start dropping dead mid-race from heat exhaustion. In other news, when riders' noses start to shrivel and fall off from frostbite during late-winter jaunts in Antarctica, it *may* be time to pull out the ol' armwarmers. Handy rule: when a freakin' scorpion can't handle the heat without wearing protective little booties on whatever creepy appendages pass for their feet, neither can, say, giant German fastmen. Glad that 8th-grade section in your science class on "weather" really stuck in yer heads, dimwits!

Pink, It Was Loathe at First Sight: in other news, vengeful oligarch/Russian Trump Tinkoff team boss Oleg Tinkov ends his gold-plated stewardship by both (1) trash talking !@#$ rider/9-time Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador as not only a weenie the entire team hated but also for not winning him the Tour de France, thereby depriving Oleg of the crucial opportunity to dye his entire body maillot-jaune gold and mug for the cameras like a meth-fueled evil clown, and (2) threaten to come back to sport that he despises someday, *if* Sagan'll still let him cling onto his coattails like a desperate bloodthirsty disease-bearing tick. Can't wait, Oleg--but I'm sure Alberto Contador can!

'Scuse Me/While I Kick the Sky: over on Planet Crap Transfers, just as we were all *so* enjoying wee we love Chaves re-signing for a jillion-year contract with Orica, Diego Rosa--helpfully throttled by Astana in its pointless bid to back Fabio Aru for Lombardia, then ruthlessly publicly shredded by wankmaster team manager for blowing his own certain win--has been sucked into a presumably loaded but inevitably self-destructive contract with Team Sky, ruining yet another fine rider with a great future ahead of him, at least til they've drained him into a sorry shadow of his great-potential self and left him littered like a spit-slobbered gel packet on the side of the road after they've used him up for the perpetually annoying and ergonomically horrifying Chris Froome. Just cash the checks and hold on, Diego--I'm *sure* a far worthier team is coming for you!

Feed Your Head (Especially If You've Got an Upper Respiratory Problem): finally, the endless bogus-TUE revelations of the last two weeks--which have taken riders who, by their alleged medical records, were knock-knock-knocking on heaven's door and instantly healed 'em right onto the top of every Tour de France podium the last half-decade--have come to their inevitable, cycling-rattling conclusion, this time by way of Tour king Christian Prudhomme: yep, "no-one" is coming from "nowhere" anymore like they used to, so cycling's troubled past is clearly behind us and we can all look up at the final show in Paris with the starry-eyed innocence of tots too young to spot the fake beard on the department-store "Santa Claus." That's right, Christian, Froome *did* come from somewhere: the !@#-end of a stagnant career path to Firedsville, before he unaccountably morphed into a mantis-thin record-smashing "Conan the Barbarian"-era Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whew, I'm *glad* I can believe in cycling again, aren't you?

Monday, September 19, 2016

It's Yer What the Hell There's Still Racing and Stuff After the Vuelta? Update!

Yes, as we slowly wake up from our post-Vuelta stupor, and the world's best athletes continue to recover from their garbage-bag TUE hangovers, the world of cycling charges ahead, so what're you missing? Buckets!

Sprint Train Sounding Louder/Everyone Jump Upon the Sprint Train: this week, the Classics boys, so long dormant, come out to play again, this time at the beloved Eneco Tour, where Can'tTellTheTwoLottosApart's Dylan Groenewegen snagged the first sprint stage in a chaotic--read "universally choked"--lead-out, and Nacer Bouhanni, who came in second ahead of new Eurochamp stars-man Peter Sagan, celebrated his podium spot by gratuitously punching two random members of the public and the guy who hands the winner the hot-off-the-presses leader's jersey. We're proud of you too, Nacer--you're behaving less Cavishly every day!

To Gasp, Perchance to GC: and, in "seriously,-we're-not-doping news", the controversy continues over the commie-conspiracy "Fancy Bear" athlete Therapeutic Use Exemption leak, which revealed an astonishing 74 separate TUEs for Chris Froome alone at this year's Tour de France, including totally coincidentally performance-enhancing meds for such common pro-cyclist maladies as asthma, high cholesterol, influenza, the common cold, arthritis, gout, heartworm, rabies, saddlesores, toenail fungus, and a particularly nasty case of dandruff. Geez, you really *can't* win a Grand Tour nowadays unless you're damn near dead! Over on Planet Bull!@#$, immortal Tour de France champ/unendingly self-promoting autobiographer Brad Wiggins justified getting over the Great Britain peloton's "total taboo" against using needles in order to receive a deep-tissue drug injection by saying, "I was on so much other !@#$, they coulda jabbed me with that thing they used to eviscerate Mel Gibson in "Braveheart" and I wouldn't'a felt it." Thanks for the clarification, Brad!

Move It or Lose It: finally, the smokin' hot end-of-season transfer market speeds on, as Alberto Contador explained his long-anticipated shift to Trek (bringing along like the only 2 teammates who didn't stab 'im in the back this season) by opining that, while the collapse of his team surely played some role in his wing-spreading, "there's only so many times even a diplomatic guy like me can say he's "grateful" to be Oleg Tinkov's b!@#$." In other team news, new-but-bangin' squad Dimension Data was briefly in danger of losing its coveted World Tour license for lack of points, at least until Mark Cavendish met privately with UCI prez Brian Cookson for tea, reportedly smashing a crumpet into dust with his bare fist and telling Cookson over the clotted cream that "this'll be your !@#$ing face, you !@#$ing !@#%!", after which Cookson announced "an accounting error" at an afternoon press conference and granted DiData its license back after all. Welcome back Dimension Data--and smooth save there Mark!

Well, until Tom Boonen takes an Eneco stage (shut up! will too! go to hell!), that oughta hold us, at least til some other dimwit breaks with the proud history of team d--nutritional guidance by getting popped for some sketchy "internet supplement" and ruins the fun for the rest of the riders. Allez Toooooooooooooooooooooom!

Monday, September 12, 2016

It's Yer 2016 Ultra-Coveted Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! #LV2016

Still reeling from the official end of Grand Tour season? Unrelentingly morose since that !@#$wit King of the Freakshow Froome shot a poison dart right into our darling Vuelta? Well morose around no more, dear reader(s), 'cause it's time for the incredibly prestigeless 2016 Vuelta a Espana Racejunkie Awards! Prizes for our mortified (and thankfully oblivious) winners: eternal Internets glory, a custom-embroidered racejunkie cycling cap, a hideous trophy-like tchotchke, and, in lieu of a magnum of champagne, you come on over thisaway and I'll treat you to a regular at Dunkin' Donuts. So roll out the red carpet, don your finest cycling socks, and let's get this awards show on the road!

Guy I Want to Smack Every Time He Opens His Lying Doping Weasel Mouth Award: "Nairo did a nice job today." "Boy, was that climb tough." "Merry Christmas!" Yep, no matter how outwardly polite he is--and despite the fact that I was raised to be a delicate lady--I swear I want to slap Chris Froome upside the head with a lead bidon every !@#damn time he speaks from today til his inevitable Armstrongian downfall, which, to go by previous UCI track records, will probably occur about the time the Big Bang reverses and the universe collapses back in on itself. Dammit! Chris Froome, accept your prize--if you dare!

What the !@##king !@#$! GC-Screwing Dumbass Award: all right, race organizers--normally I'd give you a pass on anything because you're the noble Vuelta a Espana, but what the *hell* were you thinking starting off with a remotely-longer-'n-5-kilometer team time trial that decimated the !@#damn GC on the FIRST DAY and left Alberto Contador almost a minute back before he even had time to get his chamois on straight? Take your award, and shove it!

Crash o' the Race (Oh, for !@#$'s *Sake*! Edition): Lotto-Numbnut, whoever you were, come on up in tearful quivering misery and accept your life o' notoriety, because after taking down the luckless Alberto Contador in an excruciating crash that left him fully held together with gauze pads and tape for reasons no mechanical, road surface, or basic familiarity with a bicycle could explain, this is frankly the last award you're ever gonna get. Save the daydreaming for the off-season, you eejit, or get the hell off the road and let the GC contenders alone!

Crash o' the Race (*What* Did I Just Tell You Not to Do? Edition): yep, *another* steel bollard thoughtfully placed smack in the middle of the road by some unaccountably embittered urban planner, *another* utter failure by the race bosses to place the smallest shred of marking upon it, *another* innocent rider down and Taaramae'd home in an ambulance. Bollocks, uh, I mean, bollard!

Crash o' the Race (The Entire Planet Sucks! Edition): after battling through the mountains at darn near double the age of some of his competitors, with a hot shower and a cold beer in Madrid virtually within view, our dear Samuel Sanchez caught a bad corner and dislocated his shoulder in a horrid--and horridly demoralizing--time-trial take-out. And he *still* came in 12th on GC after he winced across the line--get well Samu you bad-!@#!

Get Your Motor Runnin'/Heavy Metal Thunder Prize: Chris Froome. La Covadonga. As the bone-crushing fatigue of supremacy in the Tour de France, a bronze medal in the Olympics, and an 8-month performance peak finally hammers home--as if!--Froome's 'energy reserves,' led by a really zippy lemon-poppy scone at breakfast, kick in right on cue, and he tick-tocks up the mountain and onto the podium with the perfect regularity of a Postal Service drone. Damn, that "marginal gains" hocus-pocus really *does* work!

Oh, Snap! Rest Day Press Conference Excellence in Insults Award: he's been soooo nice to his miserable !@#$ team, and so typically complimentary of his usual opponents, that you'd scarce believe it. But even our doe-eyed hero Contador couldn't resist confirming to an inquiring wiseacre that no, he *didn't* want to ride like Froome does making out with his power meter for 2,000 kilometers. Take that, you horrid Sky spider-metronome!

Bestest Bestest Sprinter Award: what the !@#$ are you people talking about, this is the freakin' Vuelta a Espana fer chrissakes! Any of you poor bastards who made it over the Aubisque without having to be airlifted by helicopter gets a prize. Step on up--if you've got any legs left!

Punk-!@# Move of the Race: yes, this is indeed a shocker: for approximately the 96th consecutive Racejunkie Awards (jeez, I've been writing this drivel a long time), it's everybody's best bud Alejandro Valverde, saved from picking up the prize for nutwhacking his own team leader by this time actually bothering to hose someone else, to wit, apparently reassuring fellow countryman (and we all saw how much *that* mattered with Purito Rodriguez) Alberto Contador that they'd kick in a few wholly unneeded calories to chase down no-threat-to-Nairo cheerful stealth-weapon Esteban Chaves when he took off on a daring--and thanks to Movistar, unanswerable--late-Vuelta move to seal the podium *and* yet another reason for that tool Oleg Tinkov to bitch about him. Jaysus, Valverde, you're like a slavering spandex pit bull, throw yer budsd a *bone* whydontcha when you say you will!

Attack o' the Race: and, correspondingly, this is for wee adorable Esteban Chaves, cannily taking advantage of Alberto's still-healing body--and a peloton full of ennui--to attack from way out with Madrid in view and bag third place on the final podium. Aw, it's like being piranha'd on the ankle by a snarling Bichon Frise--it's just so cute you *can't* be mad at it!

Domestique o' the Vuelta: wah, Valverde for Nairo, wah. We all know if that if the Green Bullet hadn't choked so spectacularly on GC he'd've 'helped' Quintana by accidentally feeding his main--and all his replacement--bikes into a woodchipper. But who *could* be relied on, no matter what the challenge, terrain, or wincing blow to his own chances for stage victory? *That's* it, dog-loyal Tinkoff's (I know, right?) Daniele Bennati, working diligently for Contador from the first pedalstroke of the disastrous team time trial to the last depressing ceremonial schlep to the finish line in Madrid. Class, thy name is Benna-Jet!

Sleeping Beauty Award (And Lazy-!@# Prince Award, to Boot): *who* decided to catch up on their beauty sleep with a silent screw-you by meandering in a cool 60 minutes past the time cut, and *who* collapsed like a hurricane-swept house o'cards rather'n anger the whinging toddlers and kick out, well, the equivalent of the entire women's peloton, to avoid cringing embarrassment the next day when like 2 guys'd be left to show up to race? Uh-huh, like 90 clowns who smugly sought safety in numbers (and totally coincidentally, saved a ton of energy for the remaining mountains ahead), and the completely whipped race organizers. Congratulations--you oughta be ashamed of yourselves!

Grace Under Pressure Award: your team is nowhere to be found, except that one assclown who sent a congratulatory tweet out to one of your opponents. Your lackadaisical emperor team boss is still chasing Peter Sagan's holy shadow. And how do you respond to this total !@#$shit? Yeah, you sweetly thank the engineer of your complete miserable crap season and depressing 2016 fruitless downfall for their unending warmth and continued support. Oleg Tinkov, you owe Alberto Contador a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge reward for not completely losing it and going all Vinokourov on your sorry !@#!

Finally, the Corollary "You Suck, Oleg!" Award: it's one thing to be a bit short on reserves after you've targeted the Tour, to unfortunate effect. It's a whole 'nother animal to set 'em snarling on each other carcasses while they're desperately camera-whoring for new contracts at the gaudiest show on the calendar and merely send their wraith-remnants to halfheartedly schlep around at a Grand Tour you clearly don't care about. Forget Contador, the whole damn Vuelta deserves better than the likes of you buddy!

Well, now that the hair gel has melted, the trophies are handed out, and the few who've bothered to remain this long have collapsed into the warm remnants of their gourmet meals, it's time to pack it up on this edition of the Vuelta a Espana and head for home. Next stop, Lombardia--and Contador'll be there, beeyotches!

Sunday, September 04, 2016

It's Yer Holy Crap What Just Happened Out There Vuelta a Espana Roundup! #LV2016

Yes, we're fully two weeks into what is usually the least ridiculous of the Grand Tours, the smashing Vuelta a Espana, and what've we picked up so far, scholars? Damn chaos, I say! Anyway, the current hoo-ha:

1. Today, where like 90 guys deliberately finished about an hour outside the time cut by pulling over for a cool drink, a massage, and a dip in the local hotel pool, is presumably a friendly "!@#$ you!" to the sadistic organizers of the last two stages, which ironclad rule, as the peloton correctly predicted, UCI would be too spineless to enforce. S!@#$w off, UCI, or next time we're going on a 4-hour guided walking tour of the nice village we're passing by, too!

2. Usually, Grand Tour riders are strong in their youth, but gain tactical sense and lose, well, stupid as they age. Froome, of course, is in total reverse. What the heck was he thinking today? I mean, I get--maybe--condescending to Contador and covering your own implausibly miraculous performance by letting him take a little time back today. But Quintana? Jaysus, *how* can this amateur have won three Tours? Oh, wait, I know...

3. It's perfectly normal to peak, as, say, Valverde and Froome have, for 8 straight months of the season including all of the GTs, most of the Classics, the Olympics, and all the short "training" stage races in between, as long as you have one bad day. Must be that no-one in cycling--save, perhaps, Postal/Discovery--ever knew how to train, eat, sleep, or ride until this year. Whew, bullet dodged on the doping front UCI, you can go off and scan another top pro's ride for a motor you're never gonna find there!

4. Contador. If you were Froome, you'd've made up some bull!@#$ excuse to drop out 6 stages ago. Chapeau!

5. Tomorrow is a sprint stage. Given that giant Dutch riders have lately been known to take 86% gradient mountain stages the last season, anyone else banking on Esteban Chaves for the win?

6. Surprised to see Oleg Tinkov there shaking his fist for Contador--or was that giving him the finger? Sagan finally lose patience and kick you out of his entourage now that he's got a shiny new contract, did he?

7. What the hell, LL Cool Sanchez, you couldn't have told Vino to stuff his bizarro pointless orders to put the hammer down in the chase and let your ol' we-still-miss-shut-up-I-don't-care-what-they-were-forcefed-Liberty Seguros buddy snag back a few extra seconds on the Pasty Spawn of Satan's Soulless Beancounter? You *trying* for the Alejandro Valverde Hosing Your Teammate Lifetime Shameful Achievement Award? Send that unholy Astana/Sky alliance back to the flaming underworld from which it came!


9. Didja see Greipel took a win today? Look out World Championships, he's comin' right at you!

Well, that's my solid analysis--and if you're thinking that Sky'll figure out a marginal gain for Froome between now and the next mountain stage that'll completely blow the race back apart, well, wouldn't that be an un-surprise. Til then, hang in there Alberto, you got essentially a rest day coming up tomorrow--just stay outta the sprinters' way, and don't let that petty asshat Valverde pip you for seconds while you're the only sensible one avoiding the 3k-to-go feeding frenzy!

And here, the sweet replay:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's Yer Vuelta a Espana Rest-Day Week-or-So In Preview (Yeah, You Read Right)!

Look, we all know what happened so far: some Lotto dumb-!@# brought down the completely luckless Alberto Contador and screwed his whole race after his own team botched it already in the team time trial, Quintana found his second wind up the mountains yesterday as he was pursued by his own teammate Valverde, and Froome--well, his unseemly mating with his bike computer continues to play out disturbingly on live TV. So what've we got in store the next handful o' stages? Here, Yer Vuelta a Espana Next Little Wunk o' Stages in Preview:

Stage 11 (Wednesday): yep, in the words of the immortal Spinal Tap, this one goes to eleven as we hit the deal-breaking stage of the Pena Cabarga. Contador run over by herd of crazed stampeding cattle, breaks both femurs, 3 ribs, one occipital bone, and a pinky, takes second on stage behind Chris "the Living Dead" Froome. Don't sweat it Nairo, you've got plenty of time to grab an extra minute back before he slaughters you in the time trial!

Stage 12 (Thursday): We're in the Basque country with the smashing hordes of Euskaltel fans, who gives a !@#$ about the race? Contador and his bike completed smothered by rampaging swarm of killer bees, beats Chaves to the line by three minutes. Aupa Alberto!

Stage 13 (Friday): Longest stage of the Vuelta! Contador whacks into 50-foot bronze statue right in the middle of the road unmarked by apologetic race organizers, overtakes breakaway and inevitable winner Philippe Gilbert within 50 meters of the line, admits that with his entire body in giant plaster cast that winning the Vuelta in a week will be "complicated." What, your loyal domestiques won't just carry you to Madrid?

Stage 14 (Saturday): It's the Queen stage, and the GC-destroying haul up the legendary Aubisque! Contador beset by plague of locusts, gains 54 seconds on Froome as Sky captain mistakenly calls up Google Maps instead of his power meter, misdirected back to start of Stage 1. Eyes on the road, you joyless android!

Stage 16 (Sunday): Countdown! It's a Cat 3, 2, 1 to the finale up Los Sarrios. Contador caught up in draft from TV helicopter, flung back 30 kilometers, sets record time to finish line to just pip Valverde. Nice try Alejandro!

All right, that gets us to week 3, just in time for a flat stage in which some GC assclown fighting for 2 bonus seconds causes a 90-man pileup just outside the 3k mark. Good luck Alberto--if you can even make it that far with this stupid curse you've been fighting!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Let's Play Dodgeball: It's Yer Vuelta a Espana Week 1 In Review! #LV2016

Yes folks, it's high time to play that humiliating playground-game-o'-goonish-bullies everywhere--dodgeball, where some over-Red Bull'd bastard pitches a hard piece of sports equipment squarely at your defenseless 98-pound-weakling nerd-noggin, with the clear intent to hurt as much as possible, to the sadistic cheers of your 'roid-raged peaked-in-high-school 9th-grade coach, Vuelta edition! So what've you missed, cowering beneath the collapsible bleachers while praying nobody noticed you? This!

1. It's fine to exhaust your captain and set him back almost a minute on GC on the opening day making 'im domestique his domestiques on the opening day team time trial. !@#$, why not just have 'im hand his bike over next time one of his lesser teammates gets a flat on the final climb of the queen stage, can't screw him over any worse!

2. Not only did some thoughtless asshat neglect to put a big orange barrier and a person frantically waving a flag around a huge pointless steel "bollard" in the middle of the road, completely taking the very nice Steven Kruijswijk--and hat tip to organizers, noticing this !@#$ *afterwards* is not a particularly helpful response to someone who's just been whacked with a heavy pole in the "lumbar-sacral vertebrae"--but *now* poor we love Rein Taaramae's been knocked out of the Vuelta (and his very fine bike utterly splintered) by a numbnut Cofidis team car! Is this some sort of twisted pervert game of bicyclist Whack-a-Mole? You're not taking a !@#$in' roadtrip with your inbred buddies on a deserted red-dirt country byway at 4 in the morning to buy a six-pack of Bud Light fer chrissakes, you're in a *bike race* in the middle of the day--like, for your *living*--you eejits! I stand by my original solution--cattle prods, or one of those "electric fence" dog collars I think've been banned in some countries: one nice high-voltage jolt, and *that'll* keep you a safe distance away next time! Oh, for the innocent times of yore when some lumbering loser in a fright wig and hi-viz man-thong merely caused you to swerve off a mountainside by blasting a fog-horn in yer ear...and race organizers, *don't* start getting any offensive ideas from the fan base!

3. Valverde, man. I warned you dear little Nairo!

4. Sky, man. If it weren't for unfortunate attrition by saddle-sore and disgusting stomach problems (get well soon guys!), there'd be no hope. At least now if all the teams gang up and act in perfect concert maybe like one guy from another team's still got a distant chance at a podium!

5. What the !@#$ Astana, Samuel Sanchez stops to heed the call of the wild solo for *ten* seconds the entire race and *that's* when you put the hammer down? Well he's still in sixth you low-rent punks! Fabian, I don't care if you're *not* in the race--aren't you supposed to be policing this !@#$?

6. Looky looky looky at twee little Chaves!

7. Y'know, at this point, I don't even know if the stupidly scoured-up Alberto Contador is gonna start tomorrow--tho' since half the races this past year or two he's been whipping around with 80% of his body in splints, I'd be rather surprised if he didn't--but if this season's Grand Tours, and the truly vomitous lack of support he's gotten from his gilded wingnut team boss, aren't enough to make him question his life, his career choice, his entire belief system regarding the nature and order of the universe, and whether he just oughta go over to Oleg's house tie up his guards go into his living room where he's enjoying a peaceful lemonade and smack 'im square in the mouth in a fit of unseemly violent small-cyclist pique, I don't know what will. And frankly, if the discreet Samu *also* says you've ridden like a moron and needlessly whacked someone else down, you *know* you oughta just slink back to your team bus and burrow in amongst the dirty reeking yesterday's team kit like the hapless twerp you are. But even *if* Contador's lucky enough to make it to the finale in Madrid, Froome's *still* likely to snap his !@# with a wet towel and give him the world's worst chamois-wedgie while screeching "neener neener!" over his exhausted carcass, right as some other dimwit hits the brakes like they're about to t-bone a moose and takes him out again just in time for Froome to zip up the red jersey in triumph. On second thought--might as well go home and cool out playing video games til 2017 Alberto--even with Trek stacking half its deck with Classics up-and-comers, you sure as hell can't do worse than these clowns!

8. On a non-Vuelta-related note (I know, faithful reader(s), but it's just one, I promise), so now, on top of our star sprinter Nacer Bouhanni's penchant for self-destructive bar brawls, his baby brother is inciting fisticuffs with spindly outclassed unsuspecting fellow cyclists? Nice example you're setting there Rocky Balboa!

9. Finally, you've all been very patient. But don't worry lovely ex-carrots, your terrain is coming up fast. The GC's already pretty well set anyway, right?--might as well grab your own chances!

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Yer "Alberto Contador's Already Completely !#$%ed" Vuelta a Espana Roundup! #LV2016

Thank You Oleg, May I Have Another: yep, it's just 3 days into the smashing Vuelta a Espana--a race particularly suited to Alberto Contador's characteristics--and he's already a nearly-insurmountable 1:18 or so back. And *why* is he so far back, and *why* is that 1 minute and change already so potentially insurmountable? That's right, the lead-weight C-Team that Sagan-fawning "I'm *so* done with this cycling !@#$" Oleg "Alberto Who?" Tinkov saddled Alberto with, so much so that the freakin' GC captain had to gut himself of a week's worth of energy just trying to save his own domestiques' !@#es in the team time trial, when they should've been going all Captain America on the evil peloton trying to preserve *Alberto's* chances. Damn, Oleg, why don't you just designate Contador to lead out Bennati in the sprints so he can drain himself, declare his job done, and drop outta the Vuelta before they start hitting any *other* climbs? Alternately, you might've just whacked 'im in the kneecaps with a heavy-duty bike pump and at least've given 'im a dignified excuse to bail out on this humilating !@#$show before he wastes two and a half more weeks of his life on this planet! 'Nother factor: Sky, of course, is juiced up like a--uh,at near 100%, as is totally natural immediately following an all-out blisteringly successful effort in the Tour de France, and, as any guy who just smashed said Tour and taken a bronze medal in the Rio road race would reasonably be, Chris Froome (insert disgusting lougie-hocking sound effect here) is fresh as a just-plucked daisy to Contador's painfully mortal band of helpless wannabes. Oh Alberto, if anyone can save this, we know you can, and to be sure there's an awful lot of road left--the problem is, it's covered in Froome, and Valverde looks freakishly unstoppable as usual, to boot! But maybe Alejandro'll be too busy marking his own team leader Nairo to pay any attention to you when you get your legs back and take a flyer off the GC group--we can always hope his own greed'll overtake his team-friendly common-sense, can't we?

Tomorrow's Stage 4: a coupla Cat 3s early on, a buncha lumps, and a mildly sloping Cat 2 finish--Philippe Gilbert, if you were pissed off and bored because no-one rode on the Day 2 sprint stage, maybe on this one you'll goad someone into action!

PS Look Alberto, it's the red jersey! You remember what it feels like to wear this repeatedly, right? I think I can, I think I can, I *think* I can...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rio Whaaaaat? It's Yer Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Tres: the 'Nother Guys, and Roundup Stuff! #LV2016

We've got the course down. We've got the GC. What *don't* we have? Damn right, everybody *else* who's going hell-bent for leather for sunburnt glory, and all the last minute news, unfounded gossip, and prurient speculation you need (well, probably don't need) to know! Ergo:

The Missing: Who's *not* here? Tragically, not Froome, but even more tragically, these guys: Sky's Mikel Landa with a "hip injury", which can only mean one of two things: (1) he's got a hip injury, or (2) those !@#$ers at Sky have corrupted 'im. It better be option (1), Brailsford you goon! Also out: defending 2015 campeon Fabio Aru, and last year's bizarro-world revelation Tom Dumoulin, who, frankly, has no business in Vuelta terrain anyway, except maybe lounging in a folding chair by the roadside with a crisp glass of rose' and a nice luncheon with the other fans cheering the *riders* on. Worst of all, Purito--WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

The Sprinters: all right, you hard-core Vuelta freaks, quit laughin'! Yes, despite the wholesale bail-out of those sprinters with better sense, there *are* a few at this race, at least until Cavondonga sends them whimpering home like a kid who just got a bagful o' broccoli and Brussels sprouts for trick-or-treat on Halloween. Tyler Farrar (Dimension Data), who, late word has it, has even more epic hair this year than Marcel Kittel. (bite me! we still love him!). Reigning Spanish road race champ JJ Rojas (Movistar). Master o' Suavity Benna-Jet (Tinkoff). Uh...other guys! Oh, poor dears, at least they've thrown a *few* stages in there for you...just pretend all those mountains are--nope, I got nuthin', it's all an uphill death march and you're gonna be feelin' it!

The Stage Hunters: look, unless Froome's teammates chew their shoes off the pedals to free themselves from the trap they're in, they ain't getting let out for a stage win unless and until Froome *says* they can. And frankly, he won't. Sorry boys--it's "Vive la Revolucion" and you overthrow your captain, or you're hosed! Guys who actually have a chance: for the breaks and roleurs, Philippe Gilbert (BMC). LL Cool Sanchez (Astana). Michal Kwiatkowski, Peter Kennaugh--oops, they're Sky, they're doomed! Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), who's usually pegged for GC but is begging off in favor of Samuel Sanchez and hoping for a breakaway stage win instead (can you imagine, say, Cav and his huge ego doing that for someone else)? Andrew Talansky, and yes, I know you all want him for the overall. And did I mention I just plain like Rein Taaramae whether you seriously think he's gonna bag a win or not? For the truly climbiest, besides the GC contenders we covered already: Darwin Atapuma (BMC). Damn, they've got a bangin' squad this year! Pierre Rolland (Cannondale). We love ex-Euskaltel's Igor Anton (Dimension Data). Markel Irizar from Trek, an ex-Carrot--natch!(and we still love you Haimar Zubeldia!) Everyone at Caja Rural. And of course, the canny s.o.b. Michele Scarponi (Astana) who, having buried himself (and parked his bony !@# on the side of the road for 15 hours to help his leader) for his team at the last Grand Tour, and with no other road captain at the Vuelta to speak of, will surely have more than a few rocket-fueled cracks at the summit. Last but not least: by this year's results, whatever 6-foot-8 hulking Dutch weightlifter they stick in at the last minute to absolutely obliterate 2017 Paris-Roubaix champ Nairo Quintana. How do you say "Red Jersey" in Dutch again?

The Forecast: yeah, it's boring and I'm a ween. But it *matters*, first off because the poor Belgians're gonna spontaneously combust once they hit the unfiltered sun and heat of the Basque mountains, and second, 'cause it can determine the race. Sadly, the forecast for tomorrow's team time trial is lovely, meaning it's too late to back out of it now, suckers!

Roundup Stuff!: finally, as the cycling portion of the Rio Olympics winds down, let's take a moment to celebrate Peter Sagan's if not win, at least highly entertaining continuous-wheelie ride in the mountain bike competition, as well as his shiny new medals in the kierin, team pursuit, omnium, BMX, and the men's and women's road race even though he wasn't actually riding 'em. Nice work there Saganator! Meantime, Mark Cavendish profusely apologized for "not whacking into that bloody wanker hard en--uh, that accident!" And, for those of you just itchin' for early news of the Worlds, please be advised that giant and deceptively friendly German Andre Greipel has already informed his nation that's he not !@#damn going there to share team captaincy, which, I presume, is German for "wash my shorts and carry my chamois cream, Kittel you wuss!" Ah, our beloved cycling--now, get out your Basque flags, don't you dare ever root for Alejandro Valverde, and Alberto, it's time to stick it to that !@#hat Oleg Tinkov and take on the top podium spot in the Vuelta!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Forget That Wanker Cav, It's Yer Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Dos: The GC Contenders!

Okay, cycling fans, we've got the course of the fabulous Vuelta down: now who're the poor masochistic bastids twisted enough to take on the thing for the overall? These guys!

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff): you know the drill: the last few years, he's either crashed outta or been too tired to take on the Tour. But, on form, and however you think he has and hasn't done it, and after the natural indiscretions and tactical mishaps of youth, there's been no greater climber who can also take GC in the modern peloton, and the Vuelta is his kind of merciless stomping ground. How his? That's right, punks, he's bagged this Grand Tour alone three times, and if he takes it this year, he'll equal we-still-love Roberto Heras (shut up!)'s four-peat. Wildcard factor: let's face it, Oleg Tinkov's attention's been elsewhere, like getting a resort-perfect tan basking in the radioactive glow that is Peter Sagan, and he may not even remember at this point that there *is* a Vuelta. Ray o' hope: it's !@#$ing Alberto Contador for chrissakes!

Nairo Quintana (Movistar): for some reason, despite Movistar having the second most formidable GC lineup all year (behind the freaks at Sky, of course), our wee little pile o' pure mountain-goatness has had a lackluster season to date. But the mean steeps of the Spanish mountains are perfect for him, and he oughtn't be *too* set back from the get-go after the Stage 1 ITT. Go Nairo, for a high podium spot anyway--who doesn't love a redemption story?

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): Sure, he's theoretically tired from riding--and damn near winning--the Giro, the Tour, half the Classics, the Olympics, and virtually every other road race this year in the UCI calendar--except that he never actually *gets* tired, because he's Alejandro Valverde, he just posed butt-naked and oiled-up for a magazine cover, and, uh, he clearly takes "nutritional science" to a whooooooooooole 'nother level. And of course, he's not going to the Vuelta for himself--he's going for Nairo, if you define "going for" as "hovering over his desiccated desert-drained carcass like a starving vulture waiting for the perfect moment of weakness." *Such* a generous helpmate, Alejandro--and good luck keeping an eye on your own teammate Nairo, much less your actual other competitors!

Ugh, Chris Froome (Sky): fresh off his trouncing Tour de France victory, and still in ghastly irritating delight over his bronze medal in Rio, Froome's ready to do what virtually anyone else would only be capable of doing in his situation: absolutely sucking, except he's got a cybernetic Borg-squadron of half-human half-derailleur tig-welded Franken-wraiths to bring him up to the last 100 meters of every single climb on every single day before they even break a sweat enough to need to dab their delicate brows with a hanky. Me: I hope Mikel Landa--who had a rather indifferent Tour de France, but certainly had enough of being under the domestique yoke at his last team gig before inexplicably bailing for even less green pastures at Sky--finds the legs to match his talent *and* his ambitions and, as Froome did to Wiggins before him, *completely* calls bull!@#$ and bushwhacks--I mean, genuinely accidentally loses his earpiece when he directly tosses it under a race moto's wheel and thus unfortunately can't hear any orders regarding--Froome. Tough to bite the hand that feeds you--but *damn*, Mikel, not *that* tough if a red jersey can be yours on the final podium, amirite?

Esteban Chaves (Orica): he's humble. He floats up mountains like a dream. And, while he's clearly a threat, he's not *such* a proven dead-on threat that the Big Three won't consider pacifying 'im with a little friendly leeway, for a little while at least. Looking for at least a coupla stage wins outta you, kid, and a wholehearted fight for a podium!

Tejay Van Garderen (BMC): Oh, Tejay. Bursts o' brilliance, but totally unpredictable, careening from breathtaking greatness to miserable bonkfest within--sometimes multiple times within--a single stage. No matter the odds, we're rooting for you man!

Samuel Sanchez (BMC): Shut up! Go to hell! BMC sez he's co-team leader and he deserves it! How many !@#damn gold-medal statues of you are there in the village square of *your* hometowns, you miserable haters--and you can start taking bets now on what vicious mountain stage will be his!

Tom Dumoulin (Giant): just kidding! Seriously, when the !@#$ did these humongous hulking Paul Bunyan Classics goons suddenly become viable Grand Tour contenders, particularly once the mountains kick in? It's happening *everywhere*--and I call, well, hijinks, *that's* right *I* said it, *hijinks*!


Well, there's my Vuelta GC roundup, and if there's anything race predictions show, it's that they b--that anything is possible. Next up: The 'Nother Riders. Til then, venga Alberto, and Samu, bring us home one last stage win before you retire!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Hell With the Olympics, It's Yer Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Uno: the Course!

Okay, I've been lax, but besides the fact that both my dear readers have certainly got better stuff to do, I've also got an epic excuse: I was flattened for weeks by a completely ignominious yet totally incapacitating injury taking out the gar--uh, being chased off a high and excessively rocky nearby mountain pass by a distinctly irritated and giant-clawed Fiat-sized brown bear. Anyhoo, damn straight, cycling fans, new and old: it's time to block out the attention-whoring freak show that is the Tour de France, and go on the smashing, ever-underrated Vuelta a Espana! And sprinters, while there's a few bones thrown here for you, this ain't no place for Champs-Elysees glory-hunters: the Vuelta is a steep, leg-crunching climber's playground, and the rest of you, merely pack fodder. So what can we expect over the next three weeks? This!

The Sprint Stages: right, I'm forced to mention them in the interest of not being a total dismissive tool, so let's get it over with: Stage 2 tucks in a wee Cat-3 lump ahead of one of the few days o' mercy for the flat-land freaks; the 173k Stage 5 mocks you with another Cat 3 and a circuit finale; and holy crap, our Stage 12 intro to the the glorious Basque country at last, home of Euskaltel-Euskadi and, allegedly, a slight chance for fast men despite a Cat 1, Cat 3, then 2 Cat 2s on the way to Bilbao. Are you ready to get your orange on--I am! Stage 16: yeah, like any of you are still here anyway--but if you are, this Bud's for you! Ditto with Stage 18, and the lively last-day circuit of Stage 21. But spare a little TV time for the GC winner, if you please! So sprinters: the upshot is, I dare ya!

The Time Trials: Don't worry twee dear Nairo, there's only two: a flat 30k opening-day team trial to get someone into the gold (sorry, red!) jersey and terrify the GC time-losers on the day, and, on Stage 19 an individual bumpy 37k for the two time trial specialists (or reasonably competent roleurs) stupid enough to take on this race. Fabian, you sure you don't wanna have one last go after your spankin'-new gold medal from Rio?

The Breakaway Stages: sadistically categorized as "medium mountains," these are nonetheless a cavalcade o' cramping, not likely decisive enough for the GC to flip out but decisive enough to screw the complacent. Stage 3 warm up the legs with a Cat 3, a Cat 2, then a modest-sounding but biting 13.8 % hike up the finishing Cat 3 Mirador. Stage 4: another lumper, with 3 modest peaks at under 5% gradient, but a high-altitude, 11k final climb. And welcome to Stage 6, with some nippy little climbs and descents, and, an extra bonus, a "narrow" road at the end for some argy-bargy if the gruppo is fairly tight! Stage 7: 3 Cat 3s and a flat chance at the finish if the sprinters can schlep over the hills. Yeah, 'cause they're great at that! Stage 9: welcome to Oviedo, home of the incredible Samuel Sanchez, as the race pushes through a Cat 2-Cat 3-Cat 3-Cat 3-Cat 2 triple-decker sandwich--GC, sounds workable, but relax at your peril! Stage 13: welcome to the longest day of the Vuelta, 213k of you-better-not-!@#damn-forget-to-eat ahead of the next day's indescribable agony. Stage 15: you get what counts for mellow in the Vuelta--a 118k countdown from Cat 3, to Cat 2, to the Cat 1 finale of Los Sarrios. If you blew your GC on yesterday's queen stage, you might as well have a go!

The Mountains: *here's* what makes this race so agonizing, so excruciating, and so marvelously beautiful, particularly to those of us with access to primo air-conditioning: gradients so steep you might as well be riding upside down, terrain so summer-burnt and spare it's like a moonscape, and, of course, heat so brutal even the most flame-retardant sun-lover will be begging for a miserable Belgian early-March sleetfest or pelting Giro snowstorm. We first hit the serious mountains on the confounding Stage 8, which is mostly false-flat the entire way until at about 170k you smack right into the Cat 1 Alto de la Camperona endgame, with a max slope of 25%. What sicko dreams up this !@#$? Stage 10: yep, party's over, slackers: it's the legendary hors-category climb of the Lagos de Cavodonga, after you've already relaxed with a Cat-1 leg-squincher up Alto del Mirador del Fito. Enjoy tomorrow's rest day--you're certainly gonna need it! Stage 11: another 168k lumper, 'til the poor bastards hit the fearsome Cat-1 Pena Cabarga, with a slightly unwelcoming 18% pitch, a coupla short 6% sections, and a final-k punch of 11%. Ow, *dammit*! This gives you a few days to chill, until the Queen Stage 14: almost 200k of "holy crap!" with the gently-rolling Cat 1s the narrow Col Inharpu, the beloved (or behated) Col de Soudet, then the Col du Maria Blanque, and last but not least, everyone's HC fave--or, likely for someone on GC, mortal enemy--the notorious Col d'Aubisque. Medic--and masseuse! Stage 17: fresh off another nap day, it's the exciting new climb of the Mas de la Costa, generally a lax 13% for the weaklings but gearing up to 22% of sheer pain-o-rama. God, is this thing *over* yet--me, at least *I* hope not! Stage 20: if the race ain't already won or lost, honey, this is *it*--a fierce descent for the unafraid and completely coordinated: 4 Cat 2s and a GC bucket-list Hors Category Alto de Aitana, mostly under 10% but a looooooong--and draining--21k. Please, please someone drop Alejandro Valverde fer Chrissakes!

Okay, that's yer brief Vuelta a Espana Course in Preview: next up, the Players, and yes, I'm still hoping Purito comes to his senses!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's Yer 2016 Tour de France Racejunkie Awards (Because I Can't Deal With the Tour After Today) #TDF2016

All right cycling fans, the circus has ended, the clowns've gone home, and it's time for our incredibly prestigious 2016 Tour de France Racejunkie Awards (Because I Can't !@#$ing Deal With the Tour After Today)! Prizes for the winners, should any be so desperate as to claim them: a fine custom-embroidered racejunkie cycling cap, whatever cheap tacky statuette I can find in a local thrift shop, a lifetime's worth of shameful notoriety on the Internets, and, most important of all, a warm and heartfelt congrats for a job well (or incredibly horridly) done. On to the show!

Dumb-!@# Move of the Race (Pre-Race): People are *drunk*? And disturbing my precious *beauty sleep*? By speaking outside in a *common hallway*? At a hotel with a *bar* in it? On their *holiday,* the outrageous disrespectful bastards? Well god forbid I should grab a pair of 30-cent earplugs, peons, because you have dared to disturb the primo snooze-time of a *prince*! Yep, complete numbnut/not-so-hot-apparently pugilist Nacer Bouhanni, the entire reason for his team's otherwise hopeless existence at the Tour, sagely determining it was a smarter use of Cofidis's time and money--and a better cycling career move to boot--to beat the hell out of drunken tourist number one, break his own freakin' hand in the process, and injure himself outta the Tour de France, instead of using, oh, such unheard-of methods as "asking them nicely to be quiet" or "calling the hotel management and telling them to make them be quiet". Nice work, eejit--on the bright side, at least we didn't have to listen to you bitching at the finish line why it was someone else's fault you lost all the sprints for three weeks!

Crap (Well, Technically P!@#) Tactic o' 2016: so race leader Chris Froome, briefly losing the services of two of his android Sky domestiques for a grand total of 30 completely inconsequential seconds over a three-week race while only 6 others remained with him that whole time to shield him from the wind, wipe his nose, bring him his blankie and scratch his butt for him that might, just *theoretically*, have allowed the other GC non-contenders to get *one or two meters* ahead til they'd've been humiliatingly reeled back by the robot train anyway, *totally coincidentally* finds his delicate bladder is ABOUT TO BLOW THAT VERY SECOND, necessitating an immediate--and ruthlessly Fabian "Miss Manners" Cancellara-enforced--COMPLETE STOPPAGE OF THE PELOTON while our Froomey takes a relaxed and leisurely nature break that, shockingly, allows his boys to disentangle themselves, shake out their legs, get back on their bikes again, and return seamlessly to his service. What a petty little wanker move, Froome!

Run Run Rudolph, Santa's Got to Make It to Town Award: okay, maybe it's not entirely unreasonable to expect that (1) eejit fans are gonna crowd the riders on Mont Ventoux (2) the race moto in front of you is likely to do something both (a) unexpected and (b) sorta stupid (3) you're gonna be rather startled when (a) the guy ahead of you jaw-plants into the stopped-on-a-dime race moto and (b) your own bike folds up like a wet taco. But in the grand scheme of rider reactions to unpredictable events, Chris Froome still managed to pull off the Freakout Heard Round the World of this, or any, millenium. The bewildered grab for a neutral service bike, the pissed-off road toss when the pedals proved incompatible? Of course. The "sprinting up the road in your cleats like Usain Bolt being pursued by a hive of coked-up of killer bees without a bike against the rules and gaining (and being retroactively gifted!) a ton of ill-gotten time" part? Not so much. Froome, I know the whole situation wasn't cool--but either hold it together, or stay the hell away from the unfairly time-screwed Bauke Mollema for the next few years!

Domestique o' the Race: sure, Froomey had a pack of enormous Classics riders perfectly normally powering up the entire Alps like they were pedaling up the street for a Starbucks, but damn, if Tejay Van Garderen wasn't getting any help or sympathy from our winner this year, we sure can tell who was! Brailsford, get Richie Porte the Sky uniform he so fully deserves--and BMC, kick his !@# to the curb!

Kardashian Family Camera Wh*re Prize: so, Peter Sagan, how does it feel to win the gr--!@#$ OFF, VERMIN, I'M TAKIN' A PHOTO WITH MY BOY HERE! YOU, GET OVER HERE, GIMME THAT SELFIE STICK! HEY, PETEY, COME A LITTLE CLOSER! RIGHT, RIGHT, ARM AROUND MY SHOULDER..BIG SMILE NOW...Oleg Tinkov, you have every right to be happy and proud of your ginormously expensive toy-trinket's smashing performance this year. But we *know* you run Team Tinkoff already--can't you just get one of those life-size cardboard cut-outs to take pictures with, and leave the poor guy alone now?

Crash o' the Tour (Spectacular But Harmless Edition): there you are, just chillin' in the individual time trial, no pressure for results, just a few more pedal strokes to the line--'til one tricky corner sends you right into the spectators like you're about to pull up to have a beer with him. Oliver Naesen, glad you're okay, and you get *major* points for style!

Crash o' the Tour (Race-Wrecking Edition): need we even name the sad recipient of this unwanted prize? The nearly-invincible Alberto Contador, finally defeated by not one but two ignominiously avoidable and excruciatingly painful crashes as what was left of his poor wee ripped-up bod he crawled into the team car on Stage 9, flushing his sole season's goal, and any hope this Tour de France had of being remotely interesting for all but a few handfuls of seconds, down the toilette. Aw, rats--speedy recovery for the Vuelta Alberto, and don't you let that goon Tinkov suggest it's not as worthy!

Crash o' the Tour (Total Random !@#$show Edition): ever wonder what it'd be like to lam a $15,000 bike with your body on it into a 2,000-kilogram kids'-party bouncy house at 50 kilometers an hour? Well, a bloodied-n-stitched-up Adam Yates can sure tell you--and what he can tell you is, it *sucks*. Of all the avoidable !@#damn stupid things--next year, dear race organizers, can you at least put up some "WATCH OUT YOU DIPWAD YOU'RE ABOUT TO RIP THE PLUG OUT OF THIS GIANT TWO STORY OBVIOUSLY RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU FLAMME ROUGE INFLATABLE MONSTROSITY" caution tape?

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream Award: Was he off in the Land of Nod? On a Magic Carpet Ride? Don't Dreaming It's Over? Either way, Nairo Quintana seemed to absolutely snooze through this race (welcome to the club, pal!). Hey, forget the lousy cap and trophy--get this kid a nice pillow and soft cozy blanket, stat!

All Quiet on the Western Front Award: the first 6 Tour stages--6!--and not a single rider had to drop outta the race due to illness, bull!@#$ "I'm about to get popped for doping" illness, crash, or other injury. Okay, that right there is suspicious!

The Return of the King Prize: look, I am only awarding *anything* to the sprinters because Andre Greipel restored my smithereened faith in humanity by taking the final win on the Champs-Elysees today. But after a coupla lousy low-key seasons uncharacteristically in the shadows of guys like Kittel and, well, almost everybody else with a half-!@#ed touch of speed in their legs, I have to concede, it was very pleasing to see Mark Cavendish with his form (and confidence) back in buckets. But it was still nicer that Andre won!

Totally Unrelated to the Tour de France Stuff I Like Award: Didja see Tommeke's back in 2017 with Quick Step for one more crack at Paris-Roubaix, and also with a celebratory win that very same day he inked the deal? Woot woot woot!

Anticlimactic Retirement o' the Race: *really*, Fabian Cancellara--and believe me, it takes a lot to criticize a legend like you? Your very last Grande Boucle ever, you're just not feeling it, and you bail out for a shot at a medal in Rio? WHAT THE HELL? You better bring home gold for your fanboys and girls--after all those years of devotion, they deserve it!

Fan !@#$Head Neon Banana-Hammock Prize: okay, in *any* year, unfortunately, this is a pretty packed field of contenders. But from freaks dressed like humongous lobsters to !@#holes destroying riders' lines on crucial climbs to nimrods burning flares on the course to fans shoving giant flags into cyclists' derailleurs, this year really seemed to take the cake--until, of course, some invisible though history-making moronothon dead-blocked a moto, took Porte Mollema and Froome out, and earned themselves the prestigious tile of Biggest Sporting Tool of All Human History. Whoever you are--if you ever even sobered up enough to *know* who you are--be proud for this one brief shining moment before your ancestors, peers, and all your descendants disown you and deny your very existence for as long as this Earth shall spin!

I Really Don't Believe In Violence Award: to be fair, sometimes a struggling pack-fodder rider mightn't so much *mind* a gentle nudge on the saddle as he gacks up a mountain he's no business ever climbing in the first place. But unless you think a GC contender honestly *wants* to risk the maillot jaune, the greatest achievement of any riders' career except the Giro or Vuelta, and his stone-carved place in the tablets o'time for the amazing honor of your touch, your spittle, or even just your incoherent ear-bloodying screaming, BACK THE !@#$ OFF--really, is it *so* hard for even the tenderest and gentlest among us to understand, say, Chris Froome's surprisingly effective Stage 8 spectator slug? I ain't your biggest fan, Froomey, but credit's due where credit's due!

Corollary Okay Maybe Vigilantism Ain't So Bad Award: given that even France's finest gendarmes proved unable to corral the approximate population of China smooshed into meter-wide strips of grass on the edge of terrifying life-threatening precipices, it was perhaps not entirely unsporting for self-appointed sheriffs of the Wild Wild Alps to take the initiative to protect their heroes by grabbing 'em by the scruffs and swinging 'em off the road with admirable speed and ferocity. You threaten someone's favorite rider with your venal antics, you takes your chances, pal!

Last But Not Least, the Annual Raise the Red Lanterne Prize: armchair peloton denizens, noble weekend warriors, and hard core pros alike: one final round of applause, please, for this year's 174th, last-place finisher, Bora-Argon's Sam Bennett, a hard-earned 5 hours, 17 minutes, and 14 seconds behind overall winner Chris Froome. While he certainly didn't sound happy being asked about it, he, like anyone who can survive 3 weeks of cycling misery, exhaustion, intermittent fulfillment, and damned hard work, honestly deserves any pedestal we can find to put him on--congrats to our 2016 Tour de France Lanterne Rouge!

Well, fellow tifosi, I know you're all relieved it's over, but if you still care enough to point out whatever I certainly missed, have at--now let's get ready for the fabulous Vuelta a Espana!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's Your Holy Crap What Just Happened at the Tour de France !#$-show in Review! #TDF2016

Okay, cycling fans--you've seen the footage, you've heard the screams, but a whoooole lot was going on in that stage even *plus* that, so where do we start with a review of the bloody carnage? Here!

The Break: Yes, it all started as a perfectly ordinary day at the Tour de France, with the climb up the legendary Mont Ventoux axed by 6 kilometers after both Quintana brothers were blown off the top of the mountain by 150 kilometer winds and into the valley below on the prior day's recon, a pile of French guys desperately trying to prove their country's cycling relevance on Bastille Day, and giant German monolith sprinter Andre Greipel--approximately both the size and weight of the legendary Louvre museum and all its contents--poised to take one of the most epic climbs in all cycling over a pack of flyweight Munchkin mountain goats. So aside from the usual contingent of early crashes, such as Simon Gerrans breaking his collarbone and *still* finishing the uphill stage, something akin to to having Muhammad Ali at his peak punch your face in 50 consecutive times without a moment's break, everything's going along normally and swimmingly, until:

The Great Pee Controversy of 2016: trust me, on any other day, this'd send hard-core cycling fan into a scorched-earth nuclear-option Twitter war of rage and emoji-stoked weeping: so like three Sky boys--essential domestiques to race leader Chris Froome--go down in a pile, potentially screwing Froome out of much-needed backup which could endanger his overall race lead. Totally coicidentally, at that *exact* moment, Froome's bladder *completely* blows apart, and he pulls the "courtesy-slowdown-for-the-maillot-jaune's-call-o'-nature" card, immediately causing the peloton's Chief Etiquette Enforcer (oh right, and noted bike rider) Fabian Cancellara to slow down the group to wait for him, sending trigger-temper Alejandro Valverde--who knows something about being a !@#damn weasel, thank you, and clearly calls bull!@#$--into an impotent rage and allowing Froome to get his domestiques disentangled and back in line to help him, thus averting an utterly fair and justified loss of time. What the hell Froome you punk, you're riding just fine without this sneaky crap! Which gets us to:

The Climb of Mont Ventoux: where, as a pack of enormous Easter-Island-figure-sized Belgian Classics riders naturally are the first to ascend the feared mountain over the wee climbers gasping behind, the joyful crowd, hugely intoxicated by adrenaline, an Oktoberfest's worth of beer and god knows what else, and the peculiar pleasures of acting like total !@#holes half-dressed in man-thongs, fright wigs, and prurient Furry costumes for the TV cameras, runs, as always, dangerously on top of the riders while also helpfully setting off smoke flares two inches from the nostrils of both boys in the peloton who actually *need* asthma inhalers for medical reasons. Meantime, as Chris Froome, his superdomestique--uh, Tejay Van Garderen's teammate--Richie Porte, and nice guy Bauke Mollema attack and successfully drop the already-embattled GC contender Nairo Quintana--the "unprecedented security" at this year's Tour, apparently consisting of an impressive two gendarmes, is outnumbered by a ratio of 20,000 idiots: to 1 as the race motos try to ram their way through the throng, at which point one unusually stupid fan gets waaaay too in the way, causing the race moto ahead to stop dead on a dime, Richie Porte to smash his jaw right on the moto camera, and Froome and Mollema to go down like dominoes right on top of him, with Froome's bike especially folding like a hot crepe, leading to:

The Olympic Track and Field Competition: Froome, with no replacement bike or team car in sight, completely going off his head in panic and sprinting up Mont Ventoux in his bike cleats but sans bike, while frantically grunting to his bosses into his race mic and being shruggingly waved off by passing neutral Mavic wheel-carrying motos, until:

The Merry-Go-Round: in which Froome finally gets a neutral replacement bike that fits like crap, won't let him clip in his shoes properly, and might as well have been some roadside fan two-year-olds freakin' Big Wheel for all its usefulness, which the exasperated race leader promptly abandons by the roadside, standing around losing time until the Sky team car finally shows up with a new bike, at which point:

The Comeback: Nairo Quintana, previously climbing like, well, a giant Belgian Classics specialist except for a coupla brief and fruitless attacks, cheerfully passes Froome along with every other GC contender who's previously been dropped, crossing the line after:

Someone Just Won This Race: poor old Thomas De Gendt, taking one of the most celebrated climbs in all cycling which would normally be the absolute highlight and triumph of any rider's career, crosses the finish line in victory to virtually no notice by the fans, TV commentators, or race organizers at all, after which coverage immediately cuts away to:

The Important Stuff: namely, TV clips from 20,000 different angles showing how utterly !@#$ed the race is, breathless interviews with dazed GC contenders, the race commentator's swooning shouting dissection of what just happened, and the race organizers' desperate rocket-fast attempts to figure out what's the fairest way to calculate the GC when it's just been totally upended by some flag-waving fan !@#$head, which includes, somewhere, De Gendt getting a nice jersey presentation, ASO provisionally awarding the leader's jersey to Queen Elizabeth in the confusion, and Chris Froome getting totally crappily and unfairly hissed by the crowd when he's done tweeting that he's just been handed the maillot jaune and finally deigns to go up to the stage and put it on despite Nairo Quintana crossing the line some 36 years ahead of him, while fellow crash-caught riders, like Bauke Mollema who for chrissakes hit the deck at the *exact same time and place* for the *exact same freakin' reason*, immediately take to Twitter to denounce how *they've* just been massively screwed on time while Chris Froome gets gifted a now-virtually-unassailable race lead ahead of tomorrow's key, and inevitably Quintana-crushing, time trial, and former race leader/inexplicable new GC rider Tom Dumoulin cheekily asking if they can get their 21 minutes they schlepped home in removed from *their* time. Yep, just another day at the office--damn, maybe poor Contador was better off inadvertently getting the hell outta Dodge and avoiding this nightmare, who *knows* what would've happened to him out there!

Well, that's just another day at the office at the ol' Tour de France--enjoy the recap footage, and if today's stage is any indication, anything goes for tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

My Fantasy Oleg Tinkov Tour de France Press Conference #tdf2016

Good morning. I'm here to update you on how totally cool my boy Peter Sagan thinks I am and you're not. [Aide whispers in ear] Oh, right, and how Bjarne Riis' over the hill protege Alberto Contador is doing who even I couldn't save a has-been like him from himself when he got badly hurt in a fall the other day or something which doesn't even matter in this race anyway.

First, I'd like to point out that not only has my bro Peter Sagan won a sprint, the maillot jaune, and the green jersey so early in the Tour, but he was a useless winless piece of !@#$ with no prospects until I personally discovered and worked with him. [Aide whispers in ear again] Okay, he maybe won a coupla minor races before I found him, but only because of my impeccable eye for talent no-one else in cycling ever even noticed before then, as well as my enormous bank account. I only got whatsisface, that skinny one, as a tagalog anyway, sort of like when the wife buys 75 dollars worth of luxury beauty products and they throw in some cheapo "cosmetics bag" for free that falls apart as soon as you use it.

Second, I'd like to address how massively close my man Peter Sagan and I are. I mean, *he* wears a Tinkoff jacket at team events, *I* wear a Tinkoff jacket at team events. *He* rides in the team bus, *I* ri--well, *I* bought the tin piece of crap team bus that broke down on us yesterday. *He's* the reigning world champion, *I* graciously deign to join him on training rides. Like, twinsies here, amirite? [Aide whispers in ear] Oh, yeah, and you know I told that slacker Contador that if he's gonna embarrass me so bad he might as well just go put on a Cofidis uniform!

Finally, I want to stress how grateful my bestie Peter Sagan is for me basically single-handedly making him the best rider ever. Not only is he naming his first child "Oleg" after me, even if it's a girl, he's also named his dog, his parakeet, his favorite bicycle, and, by special government permit, the street in front of his house after me. And *boy*, if you could only see that tattoo of me he did in 24 karat gold ink on his--[Sagan briefly passes by outside in hallway] HEY! IT'S ME! YOUR BUD OLEG! I *MADE* YOU! SOMEBODY GET A CAMERA OVER HERE! HEY, WHERE ARE YOU GO--[voice fades as he sprints into hallway]

[Oleg comes back into room] Well, that concludes my press conference about my guy Peter Sag--[aide whispers in ear]--uh, the status of our GC contende--[Contador knocks politely on door, peeks into press conference] WHAT THE !@#$? WHO *IS* THAT GUY? GET HIM OUTTA HERE! [bodyguards tackle Alberto, drag him away]