Sunday, May 22, 2016

It's Yer Giro d'Italia Eve-o'-the-Rest-Day Re-Think and Recriminations Roundup! #Giro

Well, between the first truly excruciating mountain day and GC-smacking uphill time trial, it's been a lively coupla days at the Giro d'Italia, and what do our boys have to think about while they rest, sleep, ride, and fend off screaming phone calls from enraged DSes and humiliated money-bags sponsors? This!

1. Blazing uphill TT winner Gazprom's Alexander Foliforov. When Alejandro freakin' Valverde wonders about your performance, you *know* there's something !@#$ed up going on. Damn, the Russians have upped their sporting performance since they stopped doping after the last Olympics!

2. Vincenzo Nibali. Lo Squalo can be a legendarily award-winning whiner, but big points to him for collecting himself enough after his despondent post-ride press-avoidance and general misery to send out a friendly, "oh, well, what the hell, tomorrow is another day" kind of tweet this evening. Hey, if Alexander Vinokourov's about to knock on your hotel room door to kick your worthless !@#damn !@# from here to Kazakhst--uh, offer warm words of comfort and support--before you even get to see if you can crack Kruijswijk on GC, you might as well go out with class!

3. Kruijswijk. Speaking of whom, I have no reason whatsoever to doubt this guy's integrity, but leaving aside the shocking Foliforov and teammie Sergey Firsanov, seriously, what the !@#$ is someone built like him even doing in the maglia rosa in the second week of the Giro after a freakishly precocious uphill mountain time trial? It's another Dumoulin dilemma. What next, Andre Greipel's gonna spit Alberto Contador out like a loogie on the Alpe d'Huez at the Tour?

4. The Tifosi. Now, I *get* the enthusiasm. The screaming, the yelling, the flag-waving, the joyous adrenalin rush of having sporting history pass by literally within in an inch of the end of your nose. Heck, I've been there, and I dearly hope to be there sometime soon again (helloooo, Alberto's 2017 Giro d'Italia swan song!). But Giro fans, if nothing else, exceedingly respect the race and its participants, and frankly, as an American, I am *outraged* to have our country's slightly-unrealistic-but-deeply-sincere exceptionalism well and fairly smacked down by incredibly overbearing--and GC-ruinously harmful--Italian fans. In addition, they're lucky even the stoic Nibali didn't reach down grab a spoke and skewer those clown-wigged blockheads like a kebab. Hey, have you eejits been watching the Amgen EPO Tour of California? *We're* supposed to be the obnoxious ones!

5. Chaves. Y'know, I absolutely love Orica-Greenedge, but Alejandro Valverde showed up here with a *really* stacked deck o' teammates, and what climber-supreme Esteban Chaves and his fine squad have been able to accomplish is truly amazing. And, he's being really nice and not at all snotty about it. Forzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa wee Esteban, I can't wait to see you've got left in the tank for the rest of the week!

6. Alejandro Valverde. After yesterday's inevitable annual Green Bullet Grand Tour meltdown, to his credit, Alejandro managed to *somewhat* redeem himself today, and there's still a good amount of road left to go. More, he's got the similarly ageless superdomestique/depending-on-your-viewpoint-prior-Giro-champ Michele Scarponi, who turned in a smashing ride today. Revenge, thy name is stage win!

7. Brad Wiggins. Nope, I don't say *that* noodge of a name too often, particularly in connection with a compliment! But what he *can* do, is give the Shark some bike throwing lessons. Students, compare:

Panache, *and* dead-on accuracy!

8. An Astana-Movistar Alliance. Yes, absolutely--both Nibali and Valverde have an excellent, sensible interest in ganging up on Steven Kruijswijk in the remaining fight-to-the-death in the Dolomites. But c'mon, neither Astana nor Movistar can halfway keep the peace and collaborate within their *own* squads the last coupla years, much less make nice and join forces to actually accomplish something together--though if Vino wants it, Vino will get it, or *else*, Movistar!

9. The Remaining Stages. Chill out, Sleeping Beauties: tho' stage 17 is a short sharp day o' relative pain, you *do* get a puncheur-friendly gasp o' high-altitude air on Stage 18, before a leisurely spin to the Cima Coppi up the Col d'Agnello on Stage 19 and the penultimate day finalizes the podium atop the Cols du Var, la Bonette, and Lombardia. Here, yer last chance to dislodge the reigning maglia rosa before you get to collapse for a few weeks at the line in Torino--plan your efforts well, prepare either your pile-o'desperate-excuses or unctuous sponsor-credit speeches accordingly, and always expect that wily Valverde to try something!

Okay, we'll see how the team managers spin things overnight. I'm thinking lots of thumbs-up bed-time selfies, gourmet-mag pics of optimally nutritionally-balances meals, and at least one gratuitous butt-nekkid massage pic from Pozzato. Vai vai vai vai!

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