Sunday, December 31, 2017

It's Yer 2018 Pro Cycling Year in Preview (Yeah, You Read Right)!

Hung over from a hard night of partying to welcome in 2018 (or drown out the memory of 2017)? Well snap out of it! That's right, fans (and curious riders) it's officially a new year, and a new cycling season--so with the powers invested in me by Nostradamus, Baby New Year, and a good shot o' maple bourbon, let's get to it!

January: Back to team camps! FDJ to Biarritz for manscaping, champagne cocktails; Astana to daring raid at high-tech Kazakh prison to free Vinokourov after busted for buying Liege off inevitable winner Kolobnev; Movistar to Pamplona for off-season running of the bulls to determine Tour de France team leadership by stomping. Run, Mikel, run!; Richie Porte loses Tour Down Under on final stage when Chris Froome suffers bilharzia asthma attack leprosy hemorrhoids toenail fungus record-breaking tapeworm and perimenopause in final kilometer.

February: Now we're *really* getting going! Dubai Tour riders evaporate into those "sea monkey" things from the back of comic books at 96k mark of first stage, race halted as team docs attempt to reconstitute cyclists with water cannons; total media blackout of women's cycling for 2018 season as UCI too cheap to buy TV coverage, uses carrier pigeon to announce results, bird eaten by opportunistic hawk. !@#dammit!

March: Classics Season! Longo Borghini takes 2nd consecutive women's Strade Bianche after chewing, spitting out 100k of gravel to precise dimensions optimal for her current bike setup; Carlos Betancur repeats 2014 Paris-Nice glory victory after--aw, no he doesn't, he misses the start line on stage 2 due to rendezvous with 12-pack of Dunkin Donuts; Pozzato triumphs in final Milano-San Remo when blinds rest of peloton with gleaming beauty of new chest tats.

April: The scrawny little hard men come out to play! Philippe Gilbert loses Tour of Flanders after 2nd 55k solo breakaway when Alejandro Valverde spins past him at finish line 15 minutes after waking up, taking shower, making himself pancakes, and wandering down to the start line to sign autographs for fans; Valverde completes total sweep of Ardennes after--oh, who the !@#$ knows *what* that guy is on!; Van Avermaet realizes he's blown the entire Classics for 2018 when mistakenly sucked Fabian Cancellara's wheel on daily Starbucks run.

May: It's Il Grande Giro, baby! Giro pays Froome undisclosed sum to ride, Froome blows it all on new weight-loss PED, disappears into thin air; final week cancelled after defending champ Dumoulin takes 7-day refuge in roadside port-o-pot to "powder his nose"; !@#dammit Mikel why aren't you riding this I *told* you to bag one of these before going for the Tour in 2019!

June: Pre-Tour de France race prep time! Froome to accelerated PhD prgram in mechanical engineering, avers "just looking to tune up the ol' espresso maker, mate"; entire Team Sky to altitude training in undisclosed South American mountain location accessible only by llama, donkey, and Jiffy Bag; Bouhanni improves power-to-weight ratio by repeatedly punching resident peloton !@#hole Gianni Moscon.

July: What else? It's the Giant Yellow Freakshow, baby! Chris Froome's frame sawed in half by enraged Movistar team boss, motor shown to new UCI boss L'Appartient, who waives Fitbit at it and proclaims "that's some mighty nice brake cables you got there!"; Mark Cavendish relegated, removed from race for being a "whiny crybaby little !@#$"; 3 week women's Tour de France goes forward after Marianne Vos repeatedly runs new prototype studded anti-flat road tires over race organizers' face. Equality is sweet!

August: it's the fabulous Vuelta, baby! Vincezo Nibali disqualified on first day when slaughters field, found tethered to Elon Musk SpaceX rocket by near-invisible fishing line; entire peloton swallowed by melting tar in high mountains, mistaken for "really skinny wooly mammoths" when unearthed 15,000 years from now; Alberto Contador--aw, whaddaya *mean* he's retired?!

September: More Vuelta, honey! New Euskadi team takes 20 stages, points/mountain/combo jerseys, and team classification, politely arrive at start line one hour late on stage 2 to allow someone else to win *something*; 9 random strangers mistakenly replace Euskadi riders on stage 18 when team bosses can't tell own cyclists from screaming fanatics in full team kit--next year, try just selling the general public some t-shirts instead!

October: World Championships time! Men's and women's pelotons reduced to 15 apiece after worried national team captains tie up own domestiques reasoning, "after that Chantal Blaak !@#! you can't trust a !@#damn one of 'em"; Esteban Chaves takes men's time trial because "!@#$ it, none of the rules apply any more, who cares if I weigh 6 grams going into a 20 kph headwind the whole way?"

November: Giro route revealed by race organizer reading crumpled cocktail napkin from Froome's pocket titled "What I Want You to Put in the 2019 Giro"; Froome banned for 3 days in off-season for--argy-bargy in a 2004 juniors amateur race? What the !@#k is *wrong* with you, UCI!

December: Team kits revealed! AG2R gives up on trying to make kit look nice, replaces entire design with "poop emoji"; Movistar switches up navy blue theme with full-body pic of Nair--no, Mik--no, Valverde's face; Wiggins quits rowing career, announces he'll be competing in 2020 Summer Olympics in weightlifting, reveals new, all-natural not-chemically-enhanced bod:

Well, folks, it's on to an exciting 2018. Now you know--so don't come b*tching to me about it when it happens!

It's Yer 2018 New Year's Resolutions for the Peloton!

All right, you miscreants. You know what you did. And now, in this season of self-reflection, redemption, and renewal, it's time to ponder our previous misdeeds, and set out a plan for a sparklin' New Year. So here's what you're resolving--and I mean it, pal!

1. Chris Froome: I resolve to be gracious when I'm forced to hand over my Vuelta a Espana to Vincenzo Nibali. Hah, like that's ever gonna happen--suckers!

2. Vincenzo Nibali: I resolve to be gracious when Froome is forced to hand over his Vuelta a Espana to me. And then when I'm forced to hand mine over to Ilnur Zakarin after I'm busted for previously undiscovered footage of me taking a tow from my team car from the start line in Nimes to the final meter in Madrid. Hah, like that's ever gonna happen--suckers!

3. Richie Porte: I resolve to never, ever, trust any ungrateful, backstabbing piece of !@#$ ex-colleague to do the right thing by me ever, ever again. Of course, that still won't make me win the Tour. Dammit!

4. Alberto Contador: Who, me? I'm going off to play with my dog. Enjoy this year's !@#$-show, you chumps!

5. Tom Dumoulin: I vow to come up with a plausible reason why a 6-foot-10, 800-pound time trialist has suddenly become one of the best climbers in all of Grand Tour history. And not to eat "Bob's Giant Box o' Explosive Fiber" for breakfast the day before a big race. Ever again!

6. Mikel Landa: I will domestique nicely for Nairo Quintana. I will domestique nicely for Nairo Quintana. I will domestique nicely for Nairo Quin--WATCH OUT, MOTHER!@#$ER, I'M COMING FOR YOU YOU LITTLE !@!$! Aw, busted already...

7. Alejandro Valverde: I will domestique nicely for Nairo Quin--oh, screw that, you know I'm just gonna steamroll over him *and* that upstart little twerp Landa both from day one of the season!

8. Nairo Quintana: I will be humble and appreciative in recognition of Mikel and Alejandro's unquestioning and faithful service during the Tour de France. Oh, no, was that a water bottle I just accidentally rolled back down to the bottom of Alpe d'Huez? FETCH, B*TCH!

9. Gianni Moscon: I resolve to not call that !@#$%ing !@##$$ a !@#$ing !@#$%%. !@#$%ing !@#$%$. What?

10. Peter Sagan: I resolve to bash that Tour-wrecking little bastid Cavendish into the barriers so hard he'll end up with a Specialized banner sticking out of his !@# *and* his ear for 30 yards on either end. DQ me for *this*, you sniveling eejits!

11. Mark Cavendish: I vow to stay the hell outta Peter Sagan's way. But only really because I can't actually keep up with 'im.

12. Nacer Bouhanni: Right, like *I* was the problem in 2017?!

13. Women's Cycling Union: We vow to finally get a women's Tour de France, true Monuments, full and contemporaneous TV coverage on a real-not-pirate channel, and a minimum wage from the cheap misogynistic pigs who run this sport. After our lousy 3 a.m. shift at Wal-Mart is over so we can pay for gas to the start line. Paper or plastic, ma'am?

14. UCI: we vow to *really* crack down on motor doping. Hey, Team Sky, you guys use motors? No? Great, champagne's on us!

15. Roadside Fans: we promise not to shove a camera into Marcel Kittel's face in a frenetic sprint, run buck-naked into the line of a struggling (yeah, like that'll ever happen) Chris Froome, or call the start of a fox hunt with 280 slavering beagles and a cavalry's worth of amped-up horses right into the middle of a careering peloton. But boy, do we still reserve the right to throw a bottle of steaming "beer" onto any rider we don't like!

16. FDJ: come on, man. We gotta resolve to win *something* in 2018, right?

Well, riders, teams, and fans, you all know what you gotta do. Now do it--or you'll be right back here in the doghouse next January 31st!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

It's Yer Incredibly Prestigious 2017 Racejunkie Awards!

Yeah, let those hoity-toity celebs toast each other at their televised Oscar soirees with golden trophies hand-stitched couture gowns goody bags dripping with diamonds and snowballs of blow while they try to dodge the grotesque attentions of some even richer guy who looks like Jabba the Hutt--we here in the world of cycling have our *own* awards, thank you, and damned if they're not better! Prizes, for anyone so desperate as to actually pick theirs up (no, really, I promise, just ask!): a dashing custom-embroidered racejunkie cycling cap; a passel of spiffy racejunkie stickers to deface your bike, your car, or your face; and whatever trophy-looking tchtochke I can dredge up at the local second-hand store. So jot down yer speeches, plaster on that fake smile for when the camera hits you when you lose, and let's get this soiree rollin'!

Delusional Tweet of the Year: okay, we've got *lots* of competition here, including from me, but pro Phil Gaimon's "I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to go [for the Giro-Tour double]. Good luck Froome" absolutely takes the cak--well, the Kool-Aid. Delusional, but also so sweet!

Suck Retirement of 2017: Look, I bawled like a baby over Tom Boonen. And I hereby state that I stand unequivocally by everything--*everything*--I've said about Alberto Contador in this execrable e-rag the last ten years. But in an era where--totally coincidentally as a style choice I'm sure--Froome rides with all the pizzazz and humanity of an electric clock, Alberto was always a one-man attack-o-rama. Knock him off his bike (eejits!), cram a month's worth of pollen up his nose during the worst of allergy season, whack him with a stomach virus, you could *always* count on Berto, the second he had a drop of gas in the tank, to liven up the race. Even better: when he finally lost his !@#$ and unloaded on crazed ex-team boss Oleg Tinkov. We'll miss you, ya wee thing!

Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Well, Maybe This One) Prize: speaking of whom, Alberto Contador's smashing farewell victory at the Vuelta on the legendary Angliru. Now pick up your prize Alberto--that is, if even you've got your legs back yet!

Heartbreak of 2017: Oh, Samu!

Cyclist Slap Fight o' the Year: now, normally Bouhanni's delivered a fine sucker-punch to a rival for, y'know, existing in the same planet, but this year, kudos to Astana's Andriy Grivko who settled a little argy-bargy in a sprint finish at the Dubai Tour with a vicious right hook to Quick Step speedster Marcel Kittel's eye socket, leaving Marcel, who merely viewed the jockeying towards the line as ordinary, with a long bloody cut on the eyebrow as a result. Quoth the apologetic Grivko, as he headed off into his ban, "!@$% you you !@%ing !@##$%"!

Total Useless Piece o' Crap o' the Year: UCI. Let's be real, those clowns couldn't find a motor if you lifted the hood of an F1 car and jammed 'em head-first into the carburetor. But if you're a Colombian popping 10-year-old CERA outta Riccardo Ricco's refrigerator or a Master's racer in !@#-end of Nowheresville who took a hippie-store fish-oil supplement, ya might as well slap on the ol' handcuffs now, punk. Clean sport all 'round, hooray!

Superdomestique o' the Year: Mikel Landa. I mean, not like the most *willing* superdomestique, but clearly the highest quality o' the lot. Cause enough anarchy at Movistar in 2018, Mikel, and hopefully we won't have to see you up for this category in 2018!

Love, Love, Love Award: Nairo Quintana's warmest welcome to new teammate Mikel Landa. IT'S MY TOUR YOU PIECE OF !@#$--it's great to have you on the squad, now lick my feet you worker-bee dirtbag!

Crash o' the Year (Game Changer): Okay, Alejandro Valverde wiping out horribly on an inexplicably slick and crappy Stage 1 Tour de France opener *really* sucked. But !@#dammit, can Alberto Contador get a freakin' break? The boy's like a human domino. His Tour *and* his Vuelta both over before they really began. We're so sorry Alberto--we knew you could've beat that spindly wretch and his team of androids without 'em!

Crash o' the Year (Fan !@#$wit Edition): So, he may not be exactly a household name. But Austrian racer Marco Haller had pretty good reason to go ballistic on the stupid fan who wrecked his--hell, and a half a dozen other countries'--World Championship hopes by carelessly hooking 'im with a fluttering jacket and piling a ton of guys to the tarmac. Now, I may not be able to understand German--but I'm pretty sure he wasn't saying "Danke!" there!

Crash o' the Year (Totally Freakin' Avoidable): All right, race organizers have been to know to occasionally, y'know, not block off a noticeable piece of road furniture here and there. But a !@#$in' *automobile*? Yep, that's the gift the Tour of Britain left for Orica's Michael Hepburn, as he took a sweeping left-hander into the unexpected vehicle's back windshield, leaving him, surprisingly, among the least bloody of the pile o' resulting human debris. What the hell, are you clowns trying for a new Slalom jersey category in road races this year? STOP LEAVING !@## IN THE ROAD!

Get Yer Motor Runnin'/Head Out on the Highway Statuette: So who's got the moto--uh, mojo--that just won't quit after a brutal day's mountain stage? Yep, it's this incredible ride from presumptively exhausted Froome superdomestique Wout Poels, jetting away from the competition on a 28% gradient with, notably, no discernable involvement from his actual legs. Damn, I wanna hire his mecha--uh, barista!

Like the NFL, But Cycling: You wanna ~!@# with Tony Martin during the World Road Race Championships time trial? Not when the Norwegian police catch you running behind 'im you don't! Spectacular tackle by the cops. New England Patriots, I know you're gonna win the Superbowl and all--but ya might win it faster hiring these guys to do your dirty work!

Complete !@#hole of 2017: Y'know, I'd really just like to give this to Chris Froome on principle, but to be fair to Froomey--shut up, I can so be either!--this one's an absolute lock by racist !@#$face Gianni Moscon, who attacked innocent Kevin Reza with a racial slur, slugged him, then "apologized" by bitching about the mean press coverage he deservedly incurred. Bonus Team !@#$wit Award: Team Sky, which promptly "punished" Moscon by giving him an internal "Young Rider" award. Now *that's* deterrence, you Keystone Kops!

Karma's a B*tch, B*tch Prize: Chris Froome. Remember how you basically told your team captain Brad Wiggins to !@#$ off while you pedaled away, and nearly tanked his Tour in search of your own glory? Yeah, well you don't get to complain about what the clearly superior Landa so openly wanted to do to you. Didn't like it so much from this side of the col, didja jerkface?

The (Lost) Age of Innocence Award: so Richie Porte generously helps now-non-teammate Chris Froome to Grand Tour victory, and expects Captain Praying Mantis to return the favor. So fair, so trusting--but I bet you ain't gonna do *that* again!

The Last Gasp of American Exceptionalism Prize: yeah, I know. Shut up. But thank goodness for amazing Ronde champion Coryn Rivera--and what a *year* for this incredible star!

Race Organizer Bone-throwing Inadequacy Award: the women's peloton has never been stronger. The crowds have never been bigger. Even both puny minutes of TV coverage you've been sticking on the !@#end of Nowhere Channel have managed to garner great ratings. So what do we, and more importantly, the deserving peloton, get in recognition? WOW, A ONE-DAY TOUR DE FRANCE! Well bleach my bloomers and snap my bra strap, WHAT AN HONOR! Wait, now I have to stick around afterwards and wrangle the boys' teams' dirty laundry? Thanks, ASO--even better!

Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away With(out) Me Award: Philippe Gilbert's daringly huge--and smashingly successful--53 kilometer breakaway to steal the retiring Tom Boonen's potentially 5th victory at Paris-Roubaix. Fire *me*, Quick Step? Take *that*, !@#holes!

Enjoy Your Retirement, Please! No, I Mean It! Statuette: He was a cyclist. Then he was a knight. Then he wrote a book so you'd pay attention to him. Then he complained to every microphone he could find about how no one would leave him alone. Then he wrote another book so you'd leave him alone some more. Then, he decided to become a *rower*. Brad Wiggins--enjoy your dotage in peace, please--for the rest of our sakes!

Jaysus Someone Shut Up That Whinging Crybaby Award: hey, Cav. We know it's tough having gone from winning every race you rode in while you berated fellow riders for their pathetic victories in only "!@#$ races" to being out-supermodeled by Peter Sagan, but jaysus, can you quit bitching about him not causing you crash at the Tour de France? He got kicked out for no reason and you *still* didn't win the green jersey, so what's yer prob for chrissakes?

Dark Horse Award: Smashing new road race champ Chantal Blaak. Oh, c'mon, like you saw her in World Champion Stripes when all she was supposed to do was wait for her exhausted team leader--hell, even *she* didn't see herself there til she got there!

And Finally, Yer Punk-!@# Move o' the Year: hoo-boy, have we got a bunch to pick from this year! Usually, this one goes straight to Alejandro Valverde for some egregious act of treacherous backstabbing, but for 2017 we got hot competition from (a) a racist jack!@#; (b) (the same) reckless-to-the-point-o'-terrifying-injury-causing jack!@#; and (3) a whinging crybaby over being called out for being a jack!@#. Congratulations, Moscon--you just keep on "winning"!

Well riders'n'fans, them's my 2017 awards show, so in honor or in shame, come up to claim yer prizes with your arms raised in triumph--and to those of you who know what you did, let's *hope* I don't have to give you another prize next year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It's Yer 2017 Merry Festivus Gift List for the Peloton!

Y'know, as cycling fans, I feel we often take for granted the fine, upstanding members of the peloton upon whom our endless twitter rants, thoughtful blog posts, and many wasted hours of our lives that we'll never get back rely. So in this season of love and giving, let's take a few minutes to show our gratitude towards these hardworking denizens of the road, whatever they celebrate and in whatever Dante's circle of hell a few of 'em likely celebrate it in, by granting them their surely most heartfelt--or at least most sorely needed--desires:

1. Chris Froome: A year of good health. Seriously, ever since this poor boy went from perfectly healthy pack-fodder donkey to multiple Grand-Tour-winning thoroughbred, he's been absolutely plagued with incredibly catastrophic health problems--from bilharzia to asthma to severe menstrual cramps to Creepy Cyclist Overprominent Limb Vein Syndrome--which miraculously only seem to improve his performance, but anyway, the sad sickly thing just can't catch a break (though he catches damn near everything else). Get well soon, Froomey--!@#$, maybe then you'll win even *more* Grand Tours next season!

2. Alberto Contador: Froome's Tour. C'mon, like he didn't already deserve the damn thing anyway?

3. Mikel Landa: Let's face it, getting outta Team Craphole, he's already gotten a pretty sweet visit from Santa this season. But here's what he needs next--the Giro. That's right, the *Giro*. Yes, you can prove it on the road bushwhacking your own teammates at the Tour, but do you *see* how in a race where every watt counts and the other teams aren't blowing them that is going to be a hugely self-destructive waste of energy? Honor the fabulous Giro first, and get the Grand Tour win you need to send Nairo to the compost pile without a fight for it!

4. Alejandro Valverde: What do you even get a guy who at age 200 has, and still wins, damn near everything? More formaldehyde, or whatever Egyptian-mummy preservative-!@#$ he's huffing!

5. Gianni Moscon: Class. Not *a* class, but *some* class. Though he could use *a* class as well, to be sure--here's yer diploma, now either show us what you've learned and act like a civilized person, or shut yer yap!

6. Nairo Quintana: A suit of shining armor. Between Valverde coming at 'im with a Viking sword and Landa trying to hit 'im with an intercontinental missile, the poor little twerp's gonna need it!

7. Tom Dumoulin: A pink jersey? Naaaah. Give that boy a giant pink bottle o' Pepto-Bismol, and keep 'im stocked for chrissakes!

8. British Cycling: A ticket. To the 21st century. Don't be scared, you retrogrades--you're not gonna instantly shrivel your enormous gonads being in the same sport with the womenfolk!

9. UCI cycling: The world's biggest telescope. 'Cause clearly that iPad !@#$ ain't working, but if this thing can see billions of years back to the Big Bang to the very origins of our universe, it oughta at least help you see into a bicycle!

10. Daniel Teklehaimanot: He was in every break that, well, broke, he worked like a maniac, and was one of the most exciting young talents of the year to watch in action. And that !@#$wit Moscon gets a gig? Jaysus--get that young man a contract!

11. Andre Greipel: let's be honest, despite his total superiority over every other human being on the planet, our lovable lug hit a bit of a rough patch this year. So to our dear Gorilla, I say go screw Sagan and let's go for the big one for Andre: I wish you the green jersey big guy, and a pile o' sprint victories at the Tour to boot!

12. Mark Cavendish: a nice box of Kleenex. FFS, will you stop crying about that crash with Peter Sagan at the Tour you caused already?

13. Team Sky: a scaffold. Cause it's only a matter of time before that whooooooooole deck of cards comes tumbling down, honey!

14. Chantal Blaak: Captaincy! *You* can bring up the water bottles to *my* World Champion-striped !@#, you peons!

15. The New Euskadi Team: Your very first Vuelta a Espana mountain-top win. Now bring on the World Tour funding for our Nuevo Carrots!

16. Vincenzo Nibali: Okay, he's popped. You *know* that Vuelta's got yer name on it, honey. Sure, it's a hollow victory--but sure as hell beats a hollow loss, amirite?

17. And Last But Not Least, Both My Dear Readers: May Alberto return to the peloton, Mikel officially kick everyone's !@#, and your Saganator post cute videos of him baking cookies *every* *darn* *day* (oh, and riding, too). Now let's raise the Festivus pole, light the lights, trim the trees, get our groove on for the Solstice, and raise a glass to dreams coming true, the lot of you!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

It's Yer 2017 Cycling Year in Review!

Yes, cycling fans, it's less than two short weeks til we bid a sobbing, cheering (and occasionally nauseous) goodbye to a raucous 2017, and if the history of this sport teaches us anything, that's plenty of time for some repulsive skin-crawling scandal to rear its hideous flailing arachnid limbs and--oh wait, that one just happened. Anyhoo, it's been a lively one, so for those of you too excited, blase', or just too plain disgusted to remember, let's review!

January: Richie Porte takes Tour Down Under, "can't wait til July for Chris to pay me back for last season by working for me", he enthuses; Lampre dead, world glitter-and-pink-spandex market collapses; Trek-Segafredo boss admits they wanted Nibali first, "settled" for Contador, shut the !@#$ up you ungrateful wretch!

February: sole roadside spectator at Tour of Qatar dessicates in extreme desert heat waiting for peloton, eaten by vultures; Kittel-Grivko smackdown causes etiquette crisis in peloton, Queen Elizabeth's protocol chief called in to mediate, gets gratuitiously socked by Moscon.

March: Sexism scandal erupts at British Cycling, chief responds by scratching self, opining "go make me a sandwich and bring me a beer, willya dear?" Sky busted red-handed with Jiffy bag full o' dope, team boss avers "we just thought that was some of Wiggo's old !@#$"; Boonen preemptively chews up and spits out Muur in prep for final Classics campaign--wahhhhhh!

April: Van Avermonster takes Roubaix as Boonen stops for one last roadside party with coke-fueled fans, retires after waking up in Moroccan alley two weeks later; Gilbert takes epic Flanders after daring 53k solo helicopter ri--uh, breakaway; the rest of April wasn't funny--RIP complicated bon vivant Michele Scarponi.

May: It's the Giro, baby! Most Discussed Bowel Movement in All of Human History; totally natural flyweight climber/hulking Classics-TT specialist Tom Dumoulin takes Giro; worried Contador, Quintana, Chaves to intensive Arnold Schwarzenegger Weightlifting-n'-Steroids Bodybuilding Academy program to bulk up for Tour de France; Gianni Moscon disciplined for racist insults to Kevin Reza at April's Tour de Romandie, screams "but my best friend is a !@#$ing !@#$@%!"

June: Pre-Tour race prep! Sky mechanics to F1 racing teams to, uh, admire their very garages; Sky to altitude training, like they freakin' need it; Valverde to--holy hell, who knows *what* that perpetually reverse-aging genetic freak is doing to perform like this?

July: Shove it, pal, I know who won; Contador's (almost) Last Stand--waaaaahhhhhhhh!; Sagan controversially kicked out of race just to shut Cav the !@#$ up; UCI aggressively tests for motors using dowsing rods and Ouija board; Thomas Voeckler retires, briefly electrocuted when prehensile tongue slams into overhead telephone wires in final race.

August: Post-Tour cheating scandal! Just kidding, UCI's !@#$in' useless; it's the fabulous Vuelta, bab--oh, !@#$, *that* jackass is riding it?

September: Contador officially retires, entire planetary Internet goes down after distraught fans overwhelm world infrastructure with photos, farewell posts; Froome ruins perfect Vuelta; Peter Sagan bags World Road Champ hat-trick after 183k wheelie; Gianni Moscon DQ'd for extended sticky bottle--if you think a 45k tow is a problem, you Negative Nellie; Chantal Blaak takes surprise World Road title after telling official team captain to "move it or lose it, sister!", taking off.

October: Entire Colombian peloton tests positive for PEDs, Quintana flies home to "make sure they're doing things right"; Valverde officially finishes season having won 637 consecutive races, Olympic road race three years before it actually happens; Cancellara retires, local electrical grid surges with unexpected extra power; Gianni Moscon causes FDJ's Reichenbach horrid bloody crash in punk-!@# scum-move, now a completely well-rounded !@#hole in both verbal *and* non-verbal disciplines. Triumph!

November: contract excitement! Landa officially to Movistar, Quintana welcomes by trying to break both legs with tire iron; Sky inexplicably names racist !@#$wit Moscon as "Young Rider of Year," When Is Someone Gonna Take Down That Little Bastard Edition.

December: Team kits revealed! Sky tries to show innocence with sweet white and baby-blue outfits--yeah, we all know how *that* turned out; AG2R--well, they just can't be helped; Astana forgoes kit at all for full-body blue-and-yellow tats and jockstraps; Froome tests positive for excessive salbutamol after inhaling entire Zeppelin full of that !@#$ on single climb at Vuelta.

Well, darlings, That Was the Year That Was--so far. Thank goodness we still got two more weeks before we gotta live through the next!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Racejunkie's 10 Things I'm Thankful For This Thanksgiving (And a Few I'm !%#$in' Well Not)

Yes, it's almost Thanksgiving, that heartwarming time of year when we Americans celebrate the merciful saving of the Pilgrims from starvation by gorging ourselves into a revolting overprivileged stupor, dashing to watch a football game we hate to avoid doing a monstrous pile of grimy dishes, and trying not to whang our politically-offensive-yet-inescapably-loud relatives upside the head with a 25-pound frozen turkey before we even have a chance to stuff the thing. Oh right, and sit before our resplendent table, clasp our hands over our gleaming heirloom silverware, and ruminate humbly over the many things we have to be grateful for this year. So if you're a cycling fan, what's that? This!

1. #FreeMikel Landa! Oh wait--we did! Word to Movistar: Don't. !@#$. Him. Over!

2. Basque cycling rises again. Yes, they're just getting started, and no, they're not our lovely Carrots. But the rest o' you peloton can just working on those climbing drills now--you're gonna need 'em!

3. Chantal Blaak. Look, everyone knew she was good. Hell, great. But World Freakin' Champion? You *go*, you Amazon!

4. Svein Tuft. If he can take out a charging wolf with a hockey stick, he sure ain't taking any !@#$ from Bouhanni or Moscon next year!

5. Alberto Contador. Not that he's gone, but that he was here. Sure, I've slagged 'im (rightly, natch) over the last ten years--but seriously, has *anyone* else been *half* as fun to watch? Liar!

6. Team Sky. Just kidding! They're horrid.

6. Alexander Vinokourov. The gift that keeps on giving. Until you !@#$ with 'im. Then, watch out!

7. UKAD. Because Sky can sleep peacefully at night knowing that if they drop trou and jam giant needles labeled "THESE ARE PEDs" into their collective !@#es right on UKAD's doorstep, they *still* won't bust those freaks. Now that's trust, my friends!

8. The beautiful Giro. No matter what fraudulent mutant stick figure is threatening to ride it next year.

9. Andre Greipel. Shut up--he was just resting!

10. The Vuelta. No matter what fraudulent mutant stick figure is threatening to ride it next year!

And a few I'm !@#$in' well not:

1. Oh, Samu!

2. La Course. Le Tour to women's peloton: Le!@#$You!

3. Le Tour. Let's face it, it sucked. Next time you're gonna pull *that* boring crap, just hand over the final maillot jaune the first day and save us three weeks of misery already!

Well, fellow celebrants, them's mine. Happy Thanksgiving to all--now pass me the bourb--uh, apple cider--dammit!

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Tour de France is *On*, Baby!

Miss the hard smack of Cav ramming someone into the barriers? Find yourself sighing dreamily whenever you spy the color yellow? Well, I don't, but if you do, have we got a bangin' 2018 Tour de France right outta the gate! And it's still 9 months away for heck's sake!:

1. Pave'!: that's right, Classics specialists, not only is there reputed to be gravel patches ahead, have we got cobblestones for you! What better way to ensure total chaos in GC than to have Froome's spider limbs flailing wildly across cracks he can't even see due to his unseemly relationship with his power meter, or to launch a two-ounce climber into outer space when he hits a particularly lumpy slab o' rock? Enjoy the novelty, boys--if you survive it!

2. Mountains!: yes, it's already billed as "one for the climbers", meaning, presumably, that the giant Classics men who've recently taken over the mountains by storm'll be leaving boys actually built for mountain-goat duty, like Esteban Chaves, struggling at the base of every col like they've got a lead chamois in their shorts. Allez ogres! Over at Movistar, we can expect intra-squad treachery of truly epic proportions, as Nairo recently affirmed to the press that he is TEAM LEADER FOR THE TOUR DAMMIT, and Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde burst out into maniacal laughter before being whapped upside the head with a miniature Tour trophy by their distinctly irritated team boss. Froome, meantime, will abandon his beloved power meter in the heights in favor of a full-on Iron Man helmet, which will spit out a continually-updated full-body MRI, once-a-minute body-weight update, *and* replace his bike's mo--uh, Chris' own personal motivation. Asked about their captain's 5th-win Tour prospects, Sky domestiques Michal Kwiatkowski and Geraint Thomas responded in physical and verbal unison "He's great, he's great, he's gre--", until Dave Brailsford fiddled with some software on his iPhone and the riders slipped back into "human" mode. Fabio Aru, natch, is making his move from Astana to UAE in search of greater success, while Alexander Vinokourov, reportedly "stunned" at Aru's leaving, has already announced Astana's complete Tour de France lineup for next year, including surprise return Alberto Contador, who was lured out of retirement with the seductive promise, "!@#$, it can't be any worse than working for that !@#hole Tinkov, right?" May the best climbers actually win--and good luck with that, you underfunded suckers from every other team but Sky!.

3. Time Trials!: Uh-oh--there ain't much. Tom Dumoulin, upset at the lack of 28% percent gradient climbs that come so naturally to giant Dutch time triallists, is reportedly considering not riding the Tour de France because--oh, holy crap, it *is* because of the lack of time trial kilometers! Don't worry Tom, with your recent transformation you'll just take the queen stage in the Alps by 10 minutes instead--you'll hardly even remember you were ever some big sleek TT guy at all!

4. The Sprints!: As to the seeming lack of sprint stages in next year's course, Newly Sensitive Cav Version 2.0 issued a press release stating "!@#$ this !@#$, what the !@#$ing &*% do I look like, !@##ing Esteban Chaves you !@#$ing c@#$!?", Nacer Bouhanni, also present at the route reveal, had no comment about the course itself, but did sucker-punch the tech guy running the slide presentation on his way out, while Peter Sagan--oh, who cares what he said, he's just gonna win all the damn things anyway, can we just hand over the green jersey now and save the other guys the humiliation?

4. La Course!: Next, the Tour de France once again makes a great leap for gender equality by allowing the delicate ladies a one-day race on the exact same route as the guys', with the proviso that they all attach brooms to the backs of their bicycles because "we wouldn't want to risk the *real* Tour de France racers getting a puncture." Furthermore, in lieu of a gravel stage, the entire women's peloton will instead be assigned to breaking large granite rocks into little tiny pieces for the menfolk to ride on. I am woman, hear me roar--no, seriously, don't walk away ASO you !@#$wits, I said HEAR ME ROAR !@#DAMMIT!

5. The Circus!: Finally, what's the Grand Boucle without the glorious, tawdry circus that surrounds it? Lance Armstrong, who persists in clawing back from the dead like some gory extra in a Michael Jackson video, is launching his new podcast, "Look at These Guys. You've Gotta Be !@#$ing Kidding Me, Right?", and best "bud" the disgraced Floyd Landis, long banished to the trash heap of pro cycling, will be the Official Weed Provider to all the French teams who've already given up on GC anyway, *again*. Have a toke and a smile, kids!

Welp, that's yer 2018 Tour de France early preview. Now can we all get back to the Giro dammit?

Monday, September 11, 2017

It's Yer Incredibly Prestigious 2017 Vuelta a Espana racejunkie Awards!

Yes, cycling fans, you yelled through the Giro, you swore through the Tour, you cried through the Vuelta--so what's left, beyond a drunken post-letdown blur til the season's last hurrah at the Worlds? That's right, it's Yer Incredibly Prestigious racejunkie Awards! Prizes--and I swear on my sainted ONCE cap, so you know this !@#$ is true--eternal notoriety (for good or ill), a passel of handsome racejunkie stickers, some kinda trophyish tchotchke engraved, if at all, with what's already on it when I find it at the thrift store, and--honest--a high-quality custom-embroidered racejunkie cycling cap. So honorees--and dishonorees--let's get this party started right!

Punk-!@# Move o' the Vuelta: bad enough that Chris Froome's obviously using a mo--motivational coach to keep his spirits high, but now this greedy hypocrite has to contest the sprint jersey on the final day--when he's constantly complaining that etiquette-ignoring unsportsmanlike GC contenders are daring to attack him on, y'know, *GC* when he inevitably has to switch wheels, take an extended graphic bathroom break, or hit the spa for a hot-stone massage, Dead Sea mud mask and organic moisturizing mani-pedi at the base of the every climb. Wah, wah, the written rules allow it--you *suck*, Froome!

Deja Vu All Over Again Award: !@#$, I didn't realize Lance, Christian, Dave, Floyd, & the rest of the boys were still riding! Oh wait, that's *not* US Postal with 8 robot guys hammering at the front of every mountain-high til every other chump in the race has cracked like a rotten walnut? Sky, PostalDiscovery--I imagine they'll go down in history the same way, anyhow!

This Team Will Self-Destruct in Five Seconds/Argy-Barguil Prize: have stage dreams of yer own backed by yer obvious form, but fail to adequately support yer team leader? If you're Team Sky at the Tour, you...well, boy, do you give Landa a stern talking-to back at the bus! If you're Team Sunweb at the Vuelta, and you're dealing with pampered princess/recent Tour King of the Mountains Warren Barguil, we're sending your disobedient !@# home! And to the next clown, give Wilco yer damn wheel when he needs it, or else!

Absolutely !@#$in' Useless Award: Before UCI makes it official, I'd like to congratulate them *and* the pro peloton on another 100% totally-honestly doping-free Grand Tour. Now come get yer cap before I whack you impotent protectionist !@#$shit artists upside the head with it!

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again Award: let's face it: current Grand Tour tactics suck. No-one attacks, everyone treats the race leader as if he's their own team captain they can't ride against, and guys are aiming for second or third on the podium like first place has been eliminated entirely. But Alberto Contador--love 'im or hate 'im, think he's clean or a career-long cheat--you can't deny he goes all-in in *every* *freakin'* *race* he's ever ridden, to particularly spectacular effect on his second career victory on the Angliru. Gracias gracias gracias, fuoriclasse Alberto--we're gonna miss you, little guy!

Totally Normal (If You're Duct-Taped to a Rocket Being Launched Into Actual Space) Prize: okay, maybe he's just spinning a granny gear--who wouldn't? On the sharpest possible gradient on the sharpest possible climb on the sharpest possible day. But y'know kid, legit or no, it looks a *whole* lot better if you even *appear* to be breathing while you're doing it. Loyal Sky defender Wout Poels, this prize is all for you--but somehow I doubt you'll be claiming it!

Grinta Award: yes, Alberto fought his way through a !@#$ (no pun intended) day of stomach troubles, and still managed to attack every other day despite a team that, even with its bestest efforts, was completely outmatched by the androids at Sky. But y'know, this one's for the few--very few!--brave boys at Team Dimension Data, who were decimated nearly right off the bat by disgusting illness and injury and *still* schlepped on with only 3 boys standing, all the way to Madrid. Lachlan Morton, ex-Carrot Igor Anton, and Janse van Rensburg--step on up, if you remotely have the legs left to do it!

Crash o' the Race (Aw, Crap!): it was his first-ever solo stage in his first-ever Grand Tour. And with some crap luck, emerging talent UAE Team Emirates' Anass Ait El Abdia hit the deck, crashing out on stage two. The look on his face was particularly heartbreaking--but you earned your way to your first Grand Tour, there'll surely be more in your future!

Crash o' the Race (No !@#damn Impact At All): let's be honest--you could have Nacer Bouhanni riding next to Froome punching him in the face *all day* *every day*, and Chris Froome still couldn't crash long enough or hard enough to matter. I crashed and got a boo-boo? Big deal. I'm *still* gonna finish three minutes ahead of your !@#!

Passive-Aggressive Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist o' the Race: it's the biggest baddest climbing day yet, and Astana's incredibly detail-oriented professional mechanics "accidentally" left a rather crucial chainring off faded team captain Fabio Aru's bicycle. "!@#$ you" from Vino--or innocent mistake? Fabio--at least in the heat of disappointment, and before Vino beats it outta him--thinks the former. I'm sure it didn't *feel* innocent on that 28% gradient, anyhow!

Still Not a Grand Tour Award: oh, my darling Vuelta. So close--but 20 stages *not* too far. Thanks for the day race, but can we *please* give the women's peloton a little more road time?

Cult of Personality Prize: The howling, sobbing, shrieking mob of Alberto Contador fans, every single minute of every single day, before, up to, including, and far beyond his exhausted retreat into the team bus every evening. And who could blame them--well, us? Jaysus, I've seen Justin Bieber concerts with less bloodshed!

Field Art o' the Vuelta: now, we're all familiar with the standard aerial shots of hay-bale "WELCOME" signs, corn-field bicycle cutouts, and tractors slowly chasing each other with giant hood-mounted syringes--but what *really* stood out this year in both looks and ingenuity was the farmer who got his/her sheep into a humongous moving-bicycle display by spreading feed on the ground in the appropriate shape and releasing the herd to stampede for their dinners in perfect formation. A nice meal *and* a nice bike race--what's not to like?

Pointless Distraction Prize: HOLY CRAP WE'RE ABOUT TO FOLD THE TEAM FOR LACK OF A SPONSOR GIG! CROWDFUND US OR IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT YOU WORTHLESS FANS! Oh, wait--it's cool. We got it. Jonathan Vaughters, scare the !@#$ outta every single Uran Uran fan on Earth, whydontcha?--especially since it ultimately worked!

And Finally, Yer Dumb-!@# Move o' the 2017 Vuelta: for three freakin' weeks, you haul your saddle-sore !@# 200 miles across some of the most brutal terrain in Spain. And the very night before your chill slo-mo ceremonial parade into Madrid as a finisher of one of the greatest races in cycling's pantheon, whaddya do? Well, no-one's quite saying, but clearly something so beyond the bounds of normal pro-cyclist stupid--and that's saying a lot--that your own team pulls you outta the race the final morning. Drugs? Alcohol? A sex scandal beyond the usual Dekkerian-hooker hijinks? Only Odd Christian Eikhorn can tell--and he ain't, but kid, you can pick up yer prize anyway!

Well, that's our beloved Vuelta, done and dusted--in 2018, may the best robo--man win!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's Yer 2017 Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Dos: The GC Contenders! #LV2017

First, of we still love so !@#$ the !@#$ off ex-Euskaltel rider Samuel Sanchez, to whom I was going to give a podium spot as well as a stage win (shut up! could so either! even without that peptide !@#$!), let me just say: Aiiigggggghhhhhhhhhhh! Second, give me that !@#damn whiskey bottle before I snatch it outta your !@#damn hand!

Okay, with that out of the way, time to get down to business (or pleasure): it's high time for the fabulous Vuelta, baby, so let's talk yer General Classification Contenders! Sure, there's only like 4--but this is the unpredictable and vicious Vuelta, and anything could still happen. My picks (and they're always wrong, so pro tip to place yer bets accordingly, especially if you'll share the proceeds):

Alberto Contador: It is unbe!@#damnlievable to me that, in the Sky/USPostal-reboot era, you would pony up for a rider like Alberto Contador and not spend the rest of your entire generous budget building an impenetrable and entirely single-minded mountains behemoth around him for the Grand Tours. But Trek, ya didn't. In his favor: it's his last race (waaaaaaah!), it's his home race (yay!), the course is perfect for a guy who lives to attack, and right now, his health is g--forget it, *I'm* not gonna be the freakin' eejit that jinxes 'im!

Chris Froome: It's just like the Tour de France, Chris, but without Mikel Landa being embarrassingly stronger than you and telling you to screw off! To his credit, the only rider in the entire peloton who could turn the most exciting mountain stages in all of cycling into a seven-hour death march of watching static on a TV screen. Now, that takes talent! Still and all, he's got humble--and incredibly talented--superdomestique Mikel Nieve (for the rest of this year, anyway!), as well as the usual raft of robot suspects, who seem to differ from the rest of their kind in their phenomenally lifelike ability to sweat, ingest food and water, and get tir--nope, they sure don't ever do that! A highly likely, if deeply vomitous, candidate for victory. But if you're gonna do that, can you at least show the *slightest* bit of panache and initiative and at least nominally try for a stage win? Nope, didn't think so, drone-boy!

Nairo Quintana: Just kidding! But Movistar's actually got a bangin' young lineup that can really do some damage, including Carlos Betancur. Oh come on! so long as he doesn't 'damage' the buffet too much he'll be fine. Maybe see you next year Nairo--if Landa doesn't crush you first!

Fabio Aru: Yes, he had a disappointing Tour. But he's bagged this hallowed race before, and now, he's had time to reflect, recharge, and most of all, get the crap beaten outta him by charming killer team boss Vinokourov. He's also got the incredibly versatile (and former Liberty Seguros Contador teammate!) Luis Leon Sanchez, and while LL Cool Sanchez never shies away from his own stage win, he's a good--and hardworking--guy to have at your side. Forza Fabio--just not quite enough to pass Alberto!

Vincenzo Nibali: He was 'only' third in the Giro this year, though he showed some serious signs of life late on. And when he's in health and on form, he's a formidable force. But our dear little Izagirre is out after his !@#$ crash at the !@#$ Tour, so he's gonna have to rely on other teams for both wheels and tactics. I'm rooting for you, Squalo--but yer even more hamstrung than Alberto, for heck's sake!

The Dark Horses: yeah, yeah, Yateses, but with Esteban Chaves to either support or contend with, there's a significant chance we love Orica will have to divvy up potential stage wins, or eat their own in pursuit of GC. And even Bardet isn't copping to anything more than some stage-hunting. But there's also Majka, and Tejay (oh BMC! I'm sure this is all your fault!), Kruijswijk, and Kelderman. Me, I look forward to their stage wins. Good luck guys--by the time the second week sinks in, you're sure as hell all gonna need it!

Well, there's yer quicky Vuelta a Espana GC In Preview--let's hope that stupid 40k flat tt doesn't kill the race, because in the Vuelta, that's what the mountains are for!

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Yer 2017 Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Uno: The Course!

All right, you crybabies, this ain't no stinkin' Tour de France: it's the !@#damn Vuelta, baby, and not only does that mean mountains, most importantly, it also means more mountaintop *finishes.* Add to that, blistering mountain heat that could bring a frozen wooly mammoth back to life before you even get a chance to spit out yer gel packet out on the road like a pig, and you've got a three-week recipe for misery, glory, and a damn good show. Stuff that in yer power meter and watch it weep, Froomey! Anyway, here's what the poor bastids are in for:

The Opener: 13.7 k of flat but twisty and technical team time trial that, all the guys being roughly equally exhausted from the long season, shouldn't put *too* much damage into the GC, but then again, one touch of the wheels or ill-timed mechanical and some sap is a minute down before they even get to swat away the delirious press corps. Welcome to the Vuelta, boys (even if it is in France today)--it only goes upwards from here!

The 'Nother Time Trial: What the !@#--is the Vuelta taking some !@#$ty page from the Tour this year and *trying* to !@#$ the pure climbers outta GC? For reasons I can't fathom and also don't give a rat's !@# about because they're presumptively invalid, there's a 40 k paper-flat individual time trial on Stage 16. Wait, there's a little hi--nope, that's just a speed bump. Hope you enjoyed yer rest day--if you weren't wide awake all freakin' night panicking about the imminent disappearance of your podium spot!

The Rollers: Puncheurs and breakaway artists, domestiques with a day off for freedom and those still without a contract lookin' for work, here's yer chance: 8 medium mountain stages for yer delectation and general destruction! Stage 3 smacks you with a couple of Cat 1s, the first right off the bat then the second about 3/4 through, then a Cat-2 nipper with a downhill run off Alto de la Comella. Stage 5: a pile o' Cat 2s with a right sharp climb to the end. Next up, Stage 6--a moderate yet relentless Cat 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, then flat. Whew! Stage 7--are you hurting yet? Well you will be tonight, 'cause it's the longest stage of the entire race at a chill 205 k, with pave' and a bitchin' castle to boot! Boy, this is quite a run of "mid-mountains", isn't it? Stage 8 is some sadist freak's idea of "moderate," with a Cat-1 finale with gradients up to 20%, then a bit of a decline to the finish--though maybe that's just you falling over from exhaustion! Stage 11 is another "anyone else's real mountain stage", with 2 Cat 1s including a beautiful, and brutal, finale to Observatorio Astronomico de Calar Alto. Stage 12--wait, aren't we done with our alleged rollers yet?--is a bit of a toughie from the halfway point at 80k, but a downhill-then-flat finish oughtn't coax the real mountain goats out just yet. Then, we give the others some time to play til Stage 18, which gives a punchy last 65k and an uphill kick to the line. Stage 19--it's got a downhill finish, and they're calling it "medium" again, tho it seems to me these rollers are gonna kick the hell outta the GC at *some* point.

The Flats: who cares, no one except decent climbers are gonna be able to struggle through the later ones anyway, but we're stuck with 'em--but only 5, compared to the crappy Tour's unbearable eleven. Stage 2 gives the specialists a day to enjoy, if they don't get whacked by crosswinds--watch out, GC!--then a hearty 198k Stage 4 tucks in a wee Cat 3 and heads a bit bumpily down to the finish. Stage 9 hands a rare day of mercy to the fast men again--if you don't mind an uphill finish with a 21 percent gradient section, that is! Stage 10: sure, they *say* it's flat--if yer legs don't notice that lil' Cat 1 before you thankfully head down the valley, if a break don't beat you. God, I love what the Vuelta calls a sprint stage! Still alive in this race? You get the 198 k Stage 13 from Coin to Tomares all to yourself, honey--now if you ain't looking for a new gig this late, dear sprinty ones, you maybe wanna take yerself home!

The Rest Days: You get a day off the bike--and if you're pissy little Sky, a day to skip any uncomfortable questions at the traditional rest-day press conference, too--after Stages 9 and 15. On one, you get to ponder how long you've got to go. On the other, you get to ponder how you *better* get your !@#$ together *right freakin' now*, buddy. Ahhhhh, the sweet smell o' relaxation--and fear!

And Best of All, The Mountains: Woot woot woot--it takes til the imperious Stage 14 before the Vuelta concedes it's finally in the high passes, but it's worth the wait, a long slow meander ever-upwards then an HC climb to La Pandera! Next, a short'n'sweet--but surely painful--Stage 15 129 k romp up the Cat 1 Alto de Hazallanas, a dip before Cat 1 Alto del Purche, then no rest whatsoever before the relentless finale to Sierra Nevada. Aren't you glad it's a rest day? Then, after the suck ITT wrecks the GC, Stage 17 brings us a good 9,000 feet of climbing, with a nasty spike to finish you off. Now dammit, I'm missing a "high mountain" day--which of those ludicrous breakaway pretenders are they calling the 4th one, Stage 11? Stage 20--it's the grand GC finale, with the truly legendary Angliru. Alberto, I hope to see you there--first, where you belong!

Well folks, them's the quickie version. The long version takes three weeks of pain, pain, pain, and pain--oh Vuelta, even before we get to the GC contenders, how we love you!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

My Fantasy Alberto Contador Press Conference

Good morning. On the eve of my final race, the beautiful Vuelta a Espana--and now that I've formally announced my retirement--it's time for me to vent about 10 years of pent-up ra--uh, to thank my team bosses, teammates, and fans for their incredible support.

Lance Armstrong: You inspired me with your perserverance and calm during your cancer battle, through my own life-threatening--and nearly life- and career-ending--illness. You were my hero. Then, you were a *total* d*ick. Just as I come into my own after years of precocious, but nearly permanently interrupted, promise, you smack me flat at the 2009 Tour de France on what should have been one of the most joyous wins of my career with your narcissistic selfishness, cavernous ego, and boundless pettiness. First, you ditch me in a cross-wind. Then, you smack me to the press for (1) not domestiquing my own domestique and (2) well, *climbing*. I beat you. Own it. I don't care what excuse you want to make about age or anything else. Instead of blowing me off on the podium like a crappy toddler who's just had his lollipop snatched, either shake my hand like a civilized human or go home and wipe your snivelling nose on one of the 7 yellow jerseys you never tire of saying you won fair and square. Hell, you're not allowed to compete anymore anyway, what else have you got to do?

Oleg Tinkov: Get a life. I don't care who you think I should be banging, how often you think I should be banging, or what purported effect you think my banging's had on my job performance. In fact, it's downright pervy that you're focused so much on my sex life. I also don't care that I "only" won you a lousy Giro d'Italia, because as I recall, you had your entire luxury dacha spray-painted pink, whored yourself for every possible photo opportunity like a freakin' Kardashian, and fawned over me like Thomas on Froome for six months afterwards. I don't care how much you thought I sucked, who you should've bought instead of me, how much you think I should be paid, when I should've retired, why you thought it was productive to constantly slag your own GC leader, or what possible good it did for performance and morale to encourage my own domestiques to screw me over. And frankly, I took this !@#$ for *years* before I finally snapped and objected to your idiot low-rent behavior in the mildest possible terms, so now that I'm *not* bound by professional propriety any more, I no longer feel compelled not to tell you clearly to completely !@#$ off. As long as I live, and despite your epically inept leadership, I'll always be the winner of 3 Giri, 3 Tours, 3 Vueltas--as of this morning--and about 50 other races, forever. Besides a Lifetime Achievement Oscar in "Vulgar Bitching", what !@#$in' trophies do *you* have?

Bjarne Riis: on a related note, if I didn't understand why you and Tinkov hated each others' guts, I sure do now. And thanks for all your guidance--and resulting GT wins--over the years!

Chris Froome: you've won 4 Tours de France. Chapeau! As for our respective riding styles, well, nothing says "panache" like turning over the pedals at the exact same cadence every second for 3 consecutive weeks while glomming onto your power meter like it's the last piece of flotsam in a shipwreck. Good luck beating *that* boring yet incredibly effective !@#$ the next 5 years, suckers!

The Fans: All this swooning is making me blush. Sagan likes all that showy !@#$--maybe you could switch it over to him now?

My Domestiques: You know who you are. And not the ones who !@#$ed me over at Tinkoff, either! You were there with me at every moment, til you cracked like a rotten walnut from the effort. Now back to the !@#$wits who deserve a talking-to!

The Guy Who Ran Beside Me Dressed Like a Syringe That Time: I'm really sorry that I punched you. Without breaking your face. I know I got popped and all, but seriously, you're running alongside of *me* in that thing instead of my friend Alejandro Valverde? Unbegoddamnlievable! While we're at it, can the rest of you !@#$in' cut it with the steak jokes? It's been like 5 years already! Can't you clowns go after one of those morons who claimed they sucked up their entire lifetime doping intake over one sloppy makeout session with their girlfriend?

All right, time to prepare for the Vuelta. After that, I'm heading off into the sunset to play with my dog. And to anyone looking to !@#$ with me now--just remember that my cycling gloves are officially *off!*

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

My Fantasy Mikel Landa Press Conference

Good morning. As transfer season gets underway, I'd like to address the controversy over my relationship with Chris Froome and Team Sky once and for all.

First, I'd like to thank team management for their incredible support of me as a rider this year. There's nothing like getting B-grade backup at the Giro d'Italia & intentionally destroying my podium shot at the Tour to really improve one's morale. Hey, why allow the team's only chance at an actual *stage win* at no risk to the overall in Paris, just in case Froome needs me right there for his third consecutive bike change in a single climb? I'm also super grateful that since the Tour, they've rewarded my incredible effort and complete bodily exhaustion by working me like a donkey at every subsequent race on the calendar. Get it, a donkey?--kinda what Froome was just before he became a racehorse overnight, amirite?

Second, I want to say that while my legs were stronger than even Froome's mo--uh, motivation, I fully support the idea that the sole purpose for a domestique's existence is to be a selfless lieutenant for his captain, just like Froome was for Brad Wiggins back in his day. That idea, and not Chris hiding biting poisonous fire ants in my chamois as punishment for getting out of line, is why I was so glad to be deliberately chased down by my own teammates and made to schlep back and work for Froome instead. So when I said "I won't play second place to anyone next year," I meant "to anyone but Froomey." Love that guy!

Third, it's important to me that you all understand that I was *not* conspiring with Alberto Contador to bushwhack Froome when we broke away together. Not only does Alberto have too much class for that, we couldn't agree on how to knock that sonofa--how to knock that spectator's flag out of our way. Boy, are those things distracting when you're trying to hang back to help your team leader!

Finally, I'd like to address my plans for next year. Given my wonderful friendship with Froome and Dave Brailsford, I'm sure it's no surprise I'm giving serious consideration to--


Monday, July 24, 2017

It's Yer Incredibly Prestigious 2017 Tour de France Racejunkie Awards!

So, missing the Tour de France yet? Yeah, me neither, which is evidenced by the fact that, for the first time in 11 years of this crap blog, I haven't even been able to be bothered to write about it more'n twice since it began. But still and all, it did occur, it *is* the biggest, gaudiest show on the racing calendar, and, for reasons that defy explanation, some guys are *still* willing to ride the thing in the--and it pains me like appendicitis to call it this--Chris Froome era. And, miraculously, a few things *did* manage to happen to keep it from being like dutifully reading a 10,000 page stack of blank paper. Whaddya get if you've won--or lost--one of cycling's most coveted, if completely unknown and totally disregarded, awards? Well, if you're so desperate as to ask for it, you get--I swear to God--a custom-embroidered racejunkie cycling cap; some kind of cheap-but-shiny trophy-like tchtotchke (possibly personalized, but depending on what I find at the junk store, almost certainly with someone else's name on it); a passel o' glam racejunkie stickers to emblazon your bike, your car, or your garbage can; and, best of all, eternal internet notoriety! So, without further ado, let's get on to this year's Hall of Fame (or Shame):

1. Road to Nowhere Award: well done, ASO--you've managed to design the single dullest Tour de France course in over a century. Endless flat stages? Check. A coupla one-day races with hills in 'em--without the interest or tension of the cobbles, or hell, anything else? Check. Brutal mountain stages without y'know, *mountain top finishes* that could actually mean anything? Bingo. Even worse, you preceded three weeks' worth of sleeping pills with the most disastrous prologue in years, apparently believing that wiping out anyone of any interest with any ambition by sticking 'em on a squirrely time trial bike on a squirrely course in a monsoon was a good way to ensure that *no-one* was around to light up the race in the two high-top finishes that *might've* coughed up some drama. Okay, maybe two stages out of 21 didn't suck. Well done, !@#$wits--next time, can we make the *women's* race three weeks long, and you can just let the guys chill at home and save their energy?

2. Pointless Self-Destructive Bender Award--no, it's not Oleg Tinkov--he sold his team when he got bored of mugging for the cameras with Peter "just a world champion" Sagan! But in a related shoot-yerself-in-the-foot move, this one's to ASO too, for taking one of the few riders absolutely guaranteed to put on a spectacular, crowd-pleasing, media-friendly party-on-wheels for the whole time, and kicking Peter Sagan completely out of the Tour for the astonishingly weak rationale that Mark Cavendish tried to squeeze himself into an aperture more suited for a preternaturally flexible weasel than a human cyclist hooked himself under Sagan's armpit and brought his own self down into a painful pile against the barriers. Are you !@#$ing *nuts*? Not only was it not even a relegation-worthy offense, much less a kick-out one, it wasn't even an *offense*, you eejits. Even worse, now he's gone and shaved his head, which the twitverse is convinced is a direct reaction to ASO's stupidity. Next time, watch the replay, suck up your petulant pride, and do the right thing, you crybabies!

3. Punk-!@# Move of the Race (Team): Congratulations, Team Sky, you've managed to beat out both Nacer Bouhanni's unjustified smack to Quick Step's Jack Bauer for *no* reason, *and* your own team leader's gratuitous bash of Fabio Aru into the crowd for the *!@#$* reason of daring to pursue his own GC ambitions: in a race where the rest of you looked like wheeled grandfather clocks as you clicked dully along, you decided to completely kill any joy or intrigue in the Tour by chasing down your (bushwhacking, disloyal, so what?) teammate Mikel Landa every time he showed *any* signs of independent life. God, I can't wait til he's out of that clone craphole!

4. Punk-!@# Move(s) o' the Race (Individual): The way he has a mechanical exactly at the steepest part of the climb, so the GC'll be too shamed to attack him. Or the way he needs a pee break right at the bottom of every mountain, to destroy everybody's momentum. Or the way he lifts his arm up to "call for the team car" and slow the group down for no reason--unless, best as we can discern, it's just to smell his own armpit. !@#$ you Froome, not only are you a total whinging two-bit cheap-trick punk, you're gonna get all my awards this year, you flyweight glory hog!

5. Punk-!@# Move o'the Race (Fan): look, France. We all think Froome's a doping little !@#$, as well as an abomination against the cycling gods for his hideous position on the bike. But he ain't the only reason you haven't won your own Grand Tour in a generation. Booing the maillot jaune. Understandable? Hell yeah! Class? Well, not so much!

6. The Fast and the Furio--No, Just !@#$in' Boring Prize: Never has a rider made one of the world's most difficult, dramatic, and spectacular sporting events seem *so* like a flavorless three-week-long bowl o' bottomless gruel. Way to go, Froomey, you achieved the impossible! Now come collect your--no, take your eyes off your--hey, you've already won the--!@#$, no-one can get his eyes off that damn power meter for *anything*!

7. Crash-o-the-Race (Jaysus H. CHRIST, not *again*! Edition): Can Alberto Contador's luck *be* any more !@#$ the last few years? Before Trek can even fail to stand up to Sky's hideous mountain onslaught, and the commentators 6iscount our wee hero on account of his being the approximate age of a new-discovered dinosaur fossil (but still a good milennium younger than Valverde), Alberto's chance at a farewell Tour get wrecked once again by a series of idiotic yet painful crashes, including one at the wheel of an exhausted Nairo Quintana, who to be fair was so knackered by his lousy Giro that he may not have actually been conscious he was riding a bike race at all. Just, *please*--can this guy stay upright at least at the Giro next year so we'll know if he could win fair and square?

8. Crash-o-the-Race (Magical Mystery Tour Edition): *Would* BMC's Richie Porte--having only recently learned that best-bro/not-a-teammate Chris Froome might work *against* him sometimes--have tossed his friendship to the wind and gone all-in against Froome for Tour de France GC--and possibly even seriously challenged him for actual victory, or would he have yielded to temptation and superdomestiqued his own rival to the win in Paris, *again*? Welp, we'll never know, because poor Richie crashed out. Richie, when you've recovered from your wins, do pick up your prize--and *promise* you'll really ride against him next year!

9. Crash-o-the-Race (Didn't Make a !@#damn Bit of Difference Edition): y'know, I'm very sorry for Geraint Thomas, and I truly wish him a swift, smooth, and complete recovery. But really, when you've got !@#$in' 10 other next-generation Terminators decimating every other team in their path, did Froome even *need* him there, except perhaps for constant ego-stroking? Nope. Anyhow, get well soon Geraint!

10. Domestique o' the Tour: Michal Kwiatkowski, hands damn down. Sky, time to give that guy a ginormous raise--move it, or lose it to another squad!

11. The Power of Love (And Threats) Award: Oh, Rogue Mikel. You openly resented it, and you even attacked a few (okay, a buncha) times to show that you could, but *something*--pride, etiquette, bodily threats from Brailsford-- drove you to eventually fall in line behind your team captain (a hell of a lot more gracefully than that asshat did for Wiggins, by the way). But you sure don't have to put up with that crap next year!

12. Good, Good, Good, Good Vibrations Prize: Aw, who *didn't* join in podium finisher Rigoberto Uran's obvious delight at standing on the second step in Paris? Better luck next year--or whenever someone gets popped and you get awarded the whole shebang retroactively!

13. Total Freakin' Ripoff o' the Race: y'know, I wanted Andre Greipel to win *every* *single* *stage*--and if you've got any other explanation to suggest other'n "he was just intentionally resting," you can leave my happy island of plausible deniability and shut yer piehole--and Bling put on a super show, but man, Marcel Kittel *deserved* that green jersey, and even I was gutted for him when he climbed into the back of the team car in bruised defeat. Oh, all right, probably Sagan would've had it--but thanks to ASO, we'll never know, will we?

14. Nail-Nipper Moment o' the Race Award: 10 seconds to the line. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Is he gonna--no he's not abou--holy crap he's done it! Romain Bardet pipping Mikel Landa by one lousy second to hold his podium on the penultimate day. Finally, some drama--even if the result sucked!

15. You Spin Me Right Round Baby/Right Round Like a Motor Baby Prize: okay, let's hit this face on: despite my liberal-arts education, I get "inertia." What I don't get is some grasping half-dead guy gacking his way up a hill and weaving like a punch-drunk boxer while his brand-new wheel suddenly starts whizzing up the Alps at 8 million RPM. Or have I missed some valid marginal gains here? You know who you are--either get yer prize, or get lost, you weasel!

16. The Dog Ate My Homework Statuette: we know, Nairo--you couldn't win the Tour this year, but you had a darn good excuse for not doing it. Maybe if Valverde gets back to nip at your heels one last time, you'll be the pup that wins the race next year!

And Finally, Yer Class Act o' the Tour: As a three-time Tour de France champ--and nine-time Grand Tour legend--he could've, in all honesty, just packed up and gone home without anyone blaming him. But what does he do when his GC is shot and his body's too bashed for even a stage win? *That's* right, he !@#damn gets on his bike every morning, attacks his heart out til his legs explode, and honors the Tour de France *every* *single* *pedalstroke* *into* *Paris.* This doesn't change a whit of every word I've written since your jailbait days-but Alberto Contador, you are the winner in guts if not in glory!

Well folks, them's my awards--next year, let's hope Landa gets the big one, and we've got more interesting !@#$ to write about!

Sunday, July 09, 2017

It's Yer 2017 Tour de France Rest-Day Week-One-in-Review!

Well, with the dullest course in living memory on the books, the Tour de France's been surprisingly (if daaaaaaarn intermittently) sprightly the last few days, so as Team "You Suck!" Sky dodges the traditional rest-day press conference like a bunny fleeing a wolf-pack, what've we learned so far, fellow tifosi? This stuff!

1. Shut it Froome. I don't even know what you just said. In fact, I don't even know if you've actually been interviewed. Just shut it!

2. Now, reasonable people can differ reasonably--even on the brutish playing field of a pot of tea and crumpets in the parlor--as to the etiquette of a rider attacking the race leader when he's got a mechanical or, if you're one of Froome's GC rivals apparently, ever, under any circumstances, at all. But if Sagan deserved to get his !@# kicked outta the Tour for the sin of Cav riding up under his handlebars from behind and crashing himself out, Froome absolutely sure as hell deserves to get his !@# kicked out of the Tour for intentionally plowing Aru into the spectators with his spiky insect exoskeleton. A punk move I get--deliberate revenge is bull!@#$. Is it me, or are ASO's tender feelings too hurt from the Sagan backlash to play fair enough to punish an !@#wipe who *really* deserves it?

3. Mark Cavendish may have a long and glorious history of being a petty, whinging wanker, and I get the deep and actually rational sense of injustice of the swooning Saganator fan-base over what happened, but anyone who aims their ire--and for !@#$'s sake, even death wishes!--at Cav's wife and kids is a total despicable scumlord. Perspective, you vicious freaks!

4. Trek-Segafredo--you're lovely for buying up Contador with a nice contract, and I do believe you mean so well by him--as evidenced by, if nothing else, the fact that his own teammates aren't openly trying their damnedest to throw their own team captain to the wolves in their own self-interest. But totally aside from Contador's own legs and creeping age, to beat those soldered-together nuclear-powered robots at Sky you *have* to have an *entire* team 100% climbing-ready to escort him in the mountains. What, you need more money--I've got the $50 bucks I couldn't give away to crowdfund Euskaltel burning a hole in my pocket, anyone else in?

5. It was nice to see the remaining GC contenders stepping up to superdomestique Chris Froome for his 2017 maillot jaune today. At least you know Contador, however and whyever hampered, will try to attack when he's got the legs no matter what. Really, WTF was *that*?

6. ASO, any bike race is always dangerous, but this Tour is *carnage*. Valverde. Porte. Thomas. About a dozen other guys so far. Can you *please* try to minimize the inch-wide descents, unpadded corners, and curlicue finishing "straights" for next year, for safety's sake? Honestly, we *don't* need or want the 'spectacle' of people getting hurt and wins-by-attrition! What is this, !@#$in' "Rollerball"?

7. Oh, FDJ. Such fine and deserving talent, but *four* riders outside the time cut today! Maybe you could call Dave Brailsford and talk, y'know, nutrition or something?

8. Speaking of whom, !@#$ you Sky for screwing Mikel Landa for the Vuelta! He looks like a sullen toddler stuck in his "time-out" corner out there. Can you *please* let the guy off the leash and give him a cookie or something?

9. Andre Greipel will so either. He's just, y'know, conserving energy and nicely giving fellow countryman Kittel a few stages to shine. Is too! PS Class for setting things to rights with Sagan after the incidente!

10. Two Grand Tour career starts, two Grand Tour career stages--the Vuelta first, of course. Who *doesn't* like to say "Calmejane"?

11. White shorts. Just--no.

12. Yes, Robbie, the mechanics of on-the-fly nature breaks are fascinating. Can we *please* stop discussing them now?

12. Where the !@#$ is our TV coverage of the Giro Rosa?! *Tell* me what sponsor !@#$ you want me to buy to make this possible!

13. Oh Nairo. Even without Valverde around to bushwhack you, you should've known this was an exercise in total futility before you started. Be honest--is this why you rode the noble Giro, to give yourself an out here?

14. I've said it before, and I'll say it again (which is why it's lucky no-one reads this rag anyway): high mountain stages with downhill finishes are a *total* *!@#$in'* waste. We *know* who can descend--even if they run into trouble. What I want to know is, outside of Froome and his mo--uh, "mojo"--who the hell on a stage can climb to victory?

Well, them's my sum-up. Landa, plot your escape, Nairo, plot--well, *something*, for chrissakes, and Alberto, whatever's gone sour, we trust you'll be back to smack down your rivals and remind them who *earned* 9 Grand Tours another day!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

It's Yer Tour de France in Preview, Part Trois: the 'Nother Contenders! #TdF

You got yer course, you got yer maillots jaune, *now* what do you need? That's right, yer climbers, (yawn) sprinters, and yer adorably-doomed breakaway artistes and general stage hunters! So who to look for:

Sprinters: if you ain't here, your mama probably is! Sagan. Kittel. Bouhanni. Cav, if, despite Cav's wholly unwarranted recent-smack talk, will be lucky if Mark Renshaw don't accidentally outshoot his own captain. Best of all, woot woot woot--Gorilla's in the hooooooouse! Dang, isn't it *enough* that Sagan's gonna win the green jersey for more consecutive years than he's actually been alive, he's gotta take like 10 stage victories too? We're running outta goofy stage-win dances for this kid--Andre Greipel, primarily because of your general awesomeness but also just to give Peter time to re-choreograph, I'm *really* rooting for you here!

Climbers: bizarrely, despite the obscene lack of, y'know, MOUNTAIN STAGES at this year's Tour, there's a bunch of 'em, if the poor wee lightweights don't get blown off the course somewhere in Dusseldorf never to be seen again. Anyhoo, aside from the GC, who've we got? Yep, lots of team-captain's superdomestiques who'll have to wait til and only their GC boy cracks before they'll be let off the leash, and a handful who've already been granted their own chances at bat. Landa and Nieve, both hopefully looking to screw over Froome to save their own careers for 2019. Wee darling Esteban Chaves, who'll so enrapture his competitors with his aw-shucks adorability they won't even notice he's beat them til he's 45 k up the mountain. Our smashing ex-Carrot Izagirres, rumored to be riding together again next year. The Yates brothers. Alejandro Valverde, whose loyalty, one suspects, is just one deep breath from Nairo away from ditching his twee boss entirely and leaving him at the !@#-end of the Hautacam before Quintana's even got his chamois straight. Hell, even that much-hyped-but-oft-dismissed Carlos Betancur, who seemed to reach a crucial epiphany when he *just* heard for the *very first time* last week that an all-donut diet and giant tractor-tire of a beer gut *isn't* in fact the winning formula for flyweight climber success. You go Carlos--no, we mean it, now that you can, try *going*!

The Breakaways and Stage Hunters: frankly, who *isn't* her whom we love? Sure, sweetly hopeful newbies and the regular denizens of the (cycling) Atlas Obscura'll all be here, but we've also got such experienced wheelmen as the ageless Sylvain Chavanel--armed, I hear, with a Taser for the next !@#$wit who lets his dog plow into his wheel--Phil-Gil, and Tommy "the Tongue" Voeckler, particularly looking for glory in his last (!) Tour de France, everybody's favorite stoner little buddy Taylor Phinney, Cannondale teammie Andrew Talansky, Greg "!@#$ You I'm Not a Wheelsucker" van Avermaet, and, of course, the mighty Degenstache, who better shut the hell up buckle down get over himself and ride himself ragged for Alberto Contador in the mountains and on every other stage, you hear me?! So go forth and break away, or at least surprise the pack with a 3k-leap to the finish line a la' the wily Gilbert--just don't start !@#$ing around looking at your companions the last 300 meters before the line like you nimrods usually d--they're coming you fools, I tell you!--just stop i--stop it!--aw, *!@#dammit!*

Look, there's a looooooooot of non-GC talent out there, but one of those stages could be yours, boys--so keep your dope at undetectable levels, don't say anything moronic and embarrass the sponsors on the eve of the race, and for !@##'s sake, Nacer, wear a glove if you're gonna sock anybody!

PS Goriiiiillllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Monday, June 26, 2017

It's Yer Tour de France in Preview, Part Deux: the GC Contenders!

Okay, I've been avoiding this, due largely to the unfortunate fact that I recoil like a salt-sprinkled slug whenever I think about the Flailing Monstrosity Who Shall Not Be Named Yet. But now that you know the route, ya can't watch the Tour de France without knowing *who* to watch. So who're the mobile miscreants on the course, and what're their chances? Here:

Chris Froome (Sky): Ugh. Not only should he be DQ'd just for having the most hideous form on a bicycle *ever*, at last count his windmilling Elbows of Death have already taken out approximately 16 teammates' eyes on training rides alone--and your mother *warned* you about not playing like that! Worse, he rides like a !@#$ing metronome, and holds the unique distinction of Rider Most Likely To Be Even More Deadly Dull Than Watching Paint Dry. Anyway, he's had squat for results this year, but who *doesn't* think he'll miraculously show up ready to rumble by Day One come July? Not to mention his perfectly matched synchronized-swim-team-on-wheels. Possible saving grace: Mikel Landa, looking to score a lucrative new contract and chafing at Sky screwing him out of leadership at the Vuelta, goes rogue and does *exactly* to Froome what Froomedawg did to Wiggins. Karma, beeyotch!

Richie Porte (BMC): Having apparently learned only at the Dauphine that Froome's gonna reward him for 1000 kms of domestique labor while Porte was already riding for BMC, by, y'know, racing for his own squad, innocent babe Porte has clearly gotten the message: he's gonna ride for his own damn GC, at least until Froome's brow appears upsettingly dewy with labor on the Col d'Izoard and a contrite Richie goes all-in for the ungrateful bastard *again*. Strength: decent team, but they ain't no Sky. Weakness: self-abnegation, and WTF BMC, no Samu' to help?

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo): Shut up! Go to hell! Can so either! Sure, he's getting a wee bit long in the tooth, but !@#$, Valverde's got chamoises older'n Alberto and *he's* still a viable (if unbelievable) GC candidate. Plus, with 9 Grand Tour victories under his belt, and an instinctive propensity to attack, you still can't count the old boy out. Weakness: good luck with Degenstache (reasonably) wanting to ride for himself on select stages, squandering precious energy Alberto needs every calorie of against juggernaut Sky. That, and is he !@#$in' covered with magnets that the entire !@#damn peloton is drawn to run into him? I know I thought (correctly) that he was a twerp for years--but *please*, not that horrid other guy!

Nairo Quintana (Movistar): look, he's already got his excuse ready for blowing the Tour this year: even though he frankly looked like he was half-!@#ing it, he's still tired out from trying to win the Giro. Seriously, why bother with either one--does he even really *want* to win this year's Tour? 'Cause if he doesn't, I bet your 'loyal domestique' Alejandro Valverde does!

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb): what the !@#$ are you *talking* about, he's a time trial specialist, not a !@#$ing cli--oh, he's not riding this. Oopsies! Bummer, too, Tom, because this flat boring-!@# power course could've been yours!

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): yes, he manages one spectacular !@#$-up day almost every Grand Tour he rides. Yet, like a fine wine--well, more like a rotting bleu cheese--he gets better'n'better each year since his humbling lesson in fair play from Operacion Puerto. But don't worry Nairo--like lion on wildebeest, you're perfectly safe in the pack 'til you show any sign of weakness!

Romain Bardet(AG2R): it's so sweet that the French keep thinking they'll win their own Grand Tour again! Well, with any luck, this genuinely fine rider will at least podium, igniting an utter hometown press-corps feeding-frenzy over cycling's next great French savior til he (and any other local boy) makes a wrong move the next year and immediately incurs the soul-crushing wrath of a vengeful nation, psyching him out forever more. Relax, Romain--your countryman Nacer Bouhanni'll slug somebody and divert their attention for a day or two! Strength: he's young, talented, and hungry to live up to the hype. Weakness: no disrespect to AG2R's fine team this year, but he's still gonna need friends out there. And try to leave yerself plenty o' buffer room for the time trials!

Fabio Aru (Astana): He was unable to ride his much-wanted 100th Giro d'Italia, and he just showed his improving form by tearfully taking the Italian national road champs in memory of the late Michele. He's got passion, and he's got fresh legs--but he hasn't had a GT where he hasn't cracked yet. Good luck Aru--it can't hurt to wish for some, after all!

Well, them's yer GC, and just remember, if you're a betting person looking to make a pile of money on this year's Tour, I am always, *always* freakin' wrong. Next up: the Climbers, the Sprinters, and the Stage Hunters, and then it's on to the Grand Boucle!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

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

Let's get this right outta the way: the 2017 Tour de France course sucks. Now, I understand the Tour has always been more of a sprinter's playground than--until recently anyway--the infinitely superior Giro and Vuelta. But if I wanted to watch eleven--11!-- flat stages (okay, they're saying 9, but that's only if the sprinters' squads completely jack them up), I'd !@#$in' re-load that stupid sprint stage that Froome took like 20 minutes in GC on last year and watch that insane !@#$ 4000 times. But who needs mountains in a Grand Tour anyway, except maybe that flyweight also-ran nobodysville Quintana? Anyway, here's the !@#damn deal:

The Sprints: Be honest, this crap is gonna be 5 1/2 hours a day praying that some !@#$wit doesn't touch wheels with Alberto Contador while he's peacefully minding his own business and hoping he doesn't get taken out by the second stage with two broken femurs eighteen cracked ribs a busted collarbone all-body road-rash and a pinky injury, followed by 5k of slugging an energy drink in the hopes you'll wake up enough to catch the finish in time, then 1 k cringing while certain riders careen across the field like drunken sailors while Sagan loses his sprint train then 20 seconds of anticipation while he slingshots off the 13th wheel of some FDJ shmuck and wins the whole thing by eight bike lengths anyway. So anyhoo, there's as I said 11 of the eejit things--Stages 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 16, 19, and, of course, the final day of glory in Paris on Stage 21. Peter, you get 8 (sorry, 6) of 'em. Andre, you should have at least two. Cav--well, it's nice to see you back on the mend. Bouhanni, I'm sorry to say you !@#$ed it up *again* when you punched a commentator in the face for questioning your tactics, and unfortunately picked the notoriously scrappy Robbie McEwen, who immediately tore you to pieces and spit you out all over the tarmac like a tiny rabid wolverine. Jaysus, can we *please* climb a mountain already?

The Rollers: fortunately, the TdF gods *did* see fit to pack in a handful of breakaway-friendly stages for the desperate to show off their sponsors' logos in hopes of keeping their contracts next year *and* the perennially tenacious and very occasionally winning roleur specialists, so while we transition to the two--sorry, incredibly numerous *four*--real mountain stages, here's Stages 3, 5, 8--a neat little Cat 3, 2, then 1 leg-nipper *just* before the Stage 9 first big mountain day to Chambery--14 and 15. Enjoy, breakaway artists--may the bunch miscalculate, the GC contenders let you off the leash in exhausted repose, and a truly career-changing win be yours!

The Time Trials: Oh, go home everybody, none of you are gonna take out Tony Martin anyway. But on the off chance that you might, we start the Grand Boucle off in Dusseldorf with a quite technical, twisty-turny--but, with the exception of two minor hills outta the way by halfway through the course, classically flat--14k power-push for the prestigious inaugural maillot jaune. Then, on the 22k Stage 20, you start and end in the Velodrome, you have a coupla quite sharp little hills there which will keep you up in knots the night before over your bike setup, and you got *one* more shot to either make up a final few seconds and crush someone else's dreams on GC, or wipe out with accumulated nerves and adrenaline and crush your own. But no pressure!

Finally, the Mountains: yes folks, this is what we've *all* been waiting *so very patiently* for--shrieking nimwits in dangerously skimpy cut-off jean shorts running next to Alberto Contador and wrecking his line *right* when he's about to make a substantive attack, the quick-succession jump-and-fade of Quintana as he tries to shake Froome's 26 remaining robot teammates on the last 2 k of Alpe d'Huez, and the ever-loyal Alejandro Valverde accidentally ripping his earpiece out of his head and tossing it under the wheel of an adjacent roadside camper *just* as his little buddy Nairo calls for help and wholly mistakenly shooting up the mountain as if mysteriously propelled by a rocket, when we all know it's really just adrenaline and do--that Nutella sandwich he scarfed from his feedbag back down the hill. Stage 9--hey, who *doesn't* love the Colombiere or look forward to a thrilla up Mont du Chat, but what the everlasting !@#$ is it with making these poor shmoes rip their legs off climbing halfway to Mars only to have it all get decided by who doesn't simp out on the downhill finish? Then, mercifully, you can rest for a day before the one-two punch of Stage 12 to Peyragude (and a naughty little 16% percent gradient to really torment you in the last k, after you've already been kicked in the, um, calves, by the HC Port de Bales and the Cat 1-but-seems-harder legendary Col de Peyresourde and the extremely short-but-sweet 100k tactical playground of Stage 13, where any wishy-washy screwing around to save energy will be richly rewarded by significant time gaps in favor of the gutsy. But it ain't over yet--you can still save yourself on Stage 17 with--hooray! the Croix de la Fer *and* the smashing Galibier (tho downhill again for the finish), then a long cold drink at the Last Chance Saloon Stage 18 with what is sure to be an epic final battle for GC glory or, in the case of Chris Froome, a *still* methodically boring if disappointingly effective unseemly relationship with his power meter on the fabulous Col d'Izoard. Oh, at last--*this* is why we watch the Tour de France!

Well folks, them's your Tour de France Course in Review--may the best man, and for heck's sake not the best motor or medical team--win. Next up--and I confess the delay is entirely caused by my full-body loathing of having to say anything nice about Chris Froome--the GC Contenders!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

It's Yer Super-Quick Pre-Tour Guide to Peloton-Speak, Part Deux! #TdF

Well, you've got the first round of pre-Tour de France smack-talk down pat, so what's that leave us with? *That's* right, a whole *new* week's worth of bloviating, bluster, and total bull!@#$ from the GC contenders for July, and more! Ergo, Yer Super-Quick Pre-Tour Guide to Peloton-Speak, Part Deux!

Chris Froome: "I'm looking forward to the showdown on the Alpe d'Huez" = "Pay no attention to that button I'm clicking on my handlebars"

Esteban Chaves: "I'm so happy to be here!" = "DIE, MOTHER!@#$ERS, DIE!"

Richie Porte: "Some teams really didn't want me to win" = "I Rode For Froome All Last Year And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt"

Alberto Contador: "The sensations are good" = "Now if only my own team doesn't !@#$ me like last year"

Mikel Landa: "The team is sending me to the Tour de France so I won't be going to the Vuelta this year" = "I'll ride for a freakin' development squad to get out of this craphole"

Nacer Bouhanni: "I'm feeling good" = "I haven't broken my hand on anyone's jaw yet"

Alejandro Valverde: "I think my form is improving well for next month" = "They'll never !@#$in' pop me again, so maybe I'll try for the green jersey this year"

Peter Sagan: "I work really hard to do well every race" = "Did you *see* me in the mountains last year? You're *all* my b*tches now!"

All the Riders: "I appreciate all the work the organizers put in to make the race safe for everyone" = "No !@#tty old barriers that stick out at the feet, don't !@#$in' plow in to us with a moto, put a !@#damn flag on the road furniture, it's not rocket science you !@#$wits!"

UCI: "As a result of the team's two doping positives immediately prior to the Giro, Bardiani is being severely punished with a six-week suspension for the whole squad" = "Take all the dope you want! Here, have a shopping bag! Wait'll you see the !@#$ we've got for the U23 kids! Hey, for 20 euro a pop we can get you a vial of clean urine you can snug up against your nuts to fool the testers with..."

And, now that we're all enlightened--listen to what these guys are *really* saying, and pay attention every danged day til the Tour!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

It's Yer Super-Quick Dauphine/Tour de France Preview Guide to Peloton-Speak, Part Un! #TdF

So, with the Dauphine and a coupla other races giving the Tour de France GC contenders a comforting--or terrifying--window into July, there's a lot of smack talk flying around, so what does it mean? We begin to translate cyclist into reality right here, with our Dauphine/Tour de France Preview Guide to Peloton-Speak, Part Un!

Alberto Contador: "I felt I had some power in the climbs today" = "Chris Froome is going down in July like toilet paper down the loo"

Alejandro Valverde: "Beating Froome in the time trial is really something" = "The podium is *mine*, beeyotches!"

Chris Froome: "I didn't feel so strong today" = "But I will once I get back from a quick trip to Teide!"

Nacer Bouhanni: "I'm building up well for the Tour de France" = "And if I can't beat you on the road, I'll beat you in the face!"

Nairo Quintana: "I'm feeling optimistic" = "...That I can blame being exhausted from the Giro when I completely choke at the Tour"

Richie Porte: "I spent many hours suffering on my time trial bike, so to take the win feels great" = "So I crushed Tony Martin in his specialty, big deal! Nothing to see here folks, move along..."

Chris Froome: "I am absolutely not going to BMC next year" = "Why would I, when their best GC rider is already my domestique?"

BMC: "Samuel Sanchez will race the Vuelta instead of the Tour" = "There's no way Porte's winning the Tour de France anyway"

Brian Cookson/UCI: "We're fully committed to women's equality in cycling" = "You already got a *one* day 'Tour de France', what more do you want? Oh, Jaysus, now you're upset. You on your periods or something?"

Well, dear reader(s), it's only June, and already we're off to a fine start--and it's only gonna get worse from here. So riders, keep yappin', and fans, we'll be right there to translate polite restraint into messy reality!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

It's Yer Incredibly Prestigious 2017 Giro d'Italia Racejunkie Awards! #Giro100

I've Got the Fever, Yeah, You've Got the Cure: In a vomitous funk since last weekend, without knowing why? Heart leap at every flash of pink? Jerking awake from a troubled sleep muttering "Vai!" in Italian? Wondering why the people running in your neighborhood are wearing jogging clothes, not hideous neon banana-hammocks and clown wigs? Then you're suffering from Giro d'Italia Withdrawal Syndrome, honey, and before you stoop so low as to start looking forward to some overhyped freakshow in July, let's ease yer pain and rouse yer memories with the Incredibly Prestigious Giro d'Italia Racejunkie Awards! Prizes for the winners, if they're so desperate as to notice or claim 'em (I swear): a custom-embroidered racejunkie cycling cap, a hideous thrift-store trophy-tchotchke, and, best of all, eternal shame (or glory) so long as this disreputable rag shall last. Now let's celebrate the best, the worst, and the most just plain embarrassing of the beautiful 100th Giro d'Italia!

I Call Bull!@#$ Award: yeah, I'm saying it, and fer chrissakes I cannot figure out for the life of me why everyone else isn't saying it, too: THERE IS NO !@#$ING WAY TOM DUMOULIN IS BUILT TO WIN A GRAND TOUR. I don't give a !@#$ if it's 21 stages of time trials followed by one !@#damn ride up the Mortirolo. This performance is BULL!@#$. Every performance in which he ever wins a Grand Tour that is not absolutely tailor-made for him and in which the Alps and Pyrenees are not ground down into high-end kitchen countertops before he climbs them is a freakin' farce. Why not send Andre Greipel to chase after KOM points, or Esteban Chaves to beat the crap out of Marcel Kittel in a sprint? I swear this world has gone insane. And yes, I like him too--who couldn't? And it's going to insulate him for all time from even the slightest doubt. We love you Tom--but you're still not a real mountain goat!

Crash o' the Race (Asinine): so Nairo overcooks a corner on a treacherous descent, and what does the ever-helpful, ever-sporting giant-!@# Movistar car do? That's right, park *right* in the middle of the !@#damn curve with no warning to the poor bastards chasing behind, causing a virtual traffic jam of cascading spindly bodies plunging down the mountainside then spinning across the tarmac trying to avoid the unexpected 18-wheeler blocking the road. That's great, maybe Sky can just plonk its entire freakin' entourage and all their luggage right at the top of Alpe d'Huez at the Tour in July so Nairo can't cross the line til he's dug his way through. *Think*, people!

Crash o' the Race (Totally !@#$in' Unnecessary): dearest organizers, you *know* from long, bone-breaking experience that unexpected, unmarked things like road furniture can ruin a rider's day, race, and even career. So *why* was poor Astana nice guy Tanel Kangert left to plow head-on into a completely needless and dangerous obstacle like a SOLID METAL POLE IN THE EXACT MIDDLE OF THE STREET on stage 15? Miraculously, despite hitting hard enough to *bend the pole*, Kangert got off with "only" with a full-body set of cuts and bruises, and one severely broken elbow. Heal up fast Tanel--and race organizers, please, please, please, *don't* let this sort of tragedy-in-waiting happen ever again!

Sleeping Beauty Award: Congratulations, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali, you've just been kissed by a handsome prince and woken up from a century-long slumber! Except you haven't. God, were you drinking liquid tranquilizers instead of espresso every morning? Never have Grand Tour contenders meandered so disinterestedly towards the podium. If you really don't wanna be there, next time just stay home!

Punk-!@# Move o' the Race (Literally): look, we can all debate the etiquette of attacking your major rival while he's dealing with a major colon blow back down the hill, or whether apparently, you're just supposed to kill your own momentum and sit your own rear end on the tarmac for half an hour in intestinal sympathy. What *can't* be disputed is that it looked (no pun intended) like crap, and any Quintana or Nibali victory would have gone down in infamy as the subject of eternal, endless--and disgusting--poop jokes. Can we *please* just give a guy a private moment, and can his rivals just show a *little* more class next time? Thanks--and back the TV cameras *away* from the poor victim's !@#, whydontcha?

Punk-!@# Move o' the Race (Metaphorically): Okay. Dear Mikel Landa is still young, and perhaps needs just a *little* tutoring on how not to play lead-out man to your cheap weasel-face wheel-sucking stage-rival. But seriously, Nibali, you are a hero in your own country and a prior vincitore of the entire race already--did you really have to glom onto the poor kid like that remora Valverde for half an hour then sparkle on past 'im to the line? Jaysus, where is your *dignity*?

Sissy Slap-Fight o' the Giro: yeah, sometimes Robbie McEwen rips your ear off in a sprint, or Rui Costa might bash a carbon wheel over yer noggin, but let's be honest: most cyclist imbroglios have all the force of a death-match slug-fest between Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony. This year's embarrassment: Trek-Segafredo's Eugenio Alafacio lightly tosses a water bottle at Movistar's Rory Sutherland, who, in bloody revenge, responds by--uh, apparently patting Alafacio's back in friendly appeasement. THAT'S RIGHT, DON'T !@#$ WITH PRO CYCLISTS, I'LL !@#DAMN...well, gee, offer you a lemonade, I guess?

Thanks of a Grateful Nation Award: speaking of whom, you gotta give the little snake credit: this 100th edition of a legendary race--already the bitchinest on earth without the "icon" pressure--would have been an embarrassment to itself if not one single Italian had managed to win a stage. So thank you Nibali--now stuff it!

Domestique(s) o' the Race: yes, the invaluable Wilco Kelderman was obliged to abandon after yet another obscene race-moto crash. But each and every one of Dumoulin's Sunweb teammates worked beautifully both individually and as a team, as they patiently guided their leader through chaotic sprints, dangerous pile-ups, and really, really gross medical problems. Gentlemen, take your trophies--and Sunweb, give *all* those boys a raise!

Surprise o' the Giro: so, Bora-Hansgrohe blew their entire budget on the shiniest ornament in the Christmas shop and only had a few euros left for the dingy wilted holly sprigs left in the corner, did they? Oh no they didn't, baby--revelation, thy (inadvertent) name is "Postlberger"!

Cannon-ball Award: oh, sure, they technically got their first big stage-race win in two years at the Tour of California. But really, the Giro is what counts, and look who finally broke the curse of the Argyle Army: Cannondale's fine fast Frenchman, Pierre Rolland! Allez alle--wait, *that's* not what you yell at the Giro!

Blast From the Past Memorial Statuette: now crease my collar and polish my buttons, *who* could that be in damn near every single breakaway? Yep, it's Franco "Formerly of the Euromullet" Pellizotti! Welcome back, Franco--we half thought you'd bailed on the entire sport by now!

Peep(o)-Show Award: oh, Pippo Pozzato. Not only did you genuinely light up the race with some dashing, if short-lived, digs, but, bless you, on a rest day or off, you never missed an opportunity to whip yer jersey off for the cameras and immortalize, for anyone with internet access, your tats. Who, except maybe the next coming of Mario Cipollini, will be there to preen so when you retire?

!@#$ You Sky Gratuitous Smack Upside the Head: oh sure, you jumped on the bandwagon after you 24-7 dissed the guy and, wow, *tweeted* about him--but do you deserve Landa, you "co-captain"-pimping jerkfaces? No, I say--Mikel, I'll beg you *again*, get the hell *outta* that ungrateful squad!

Don't Believe the Hype Prize: Geraint Thomas is gonna win the Giro! Geraint Thomas is gonna win the Giro! Geraint Thomas is gonna--no, he isn't, and that's even *without* his unfortunate crash-out. But call me when he's an *actual* podium threat, unlike, say, *actual* previous podium denizen/teammate Mikel Landa. Til then, shut yer yap!

Crimson (Well, Fuschia) Tide Award: Sure, it's the Giro, and to me at least the climbs are the only real reason to be there--but only magnificent maglia ciclamino and three--three!--stage winner Francesco Gaviria could make me *beg* for a sprint finish on the day. Now let's roll it out delightedly with the RAI commentators: Franceeeeeeeeescooooo Gaviiiiiiiiiiiiiria!

Weeper Moment of 2017: LL Cool Sanchez taking the "Cima Scarponi" over the Mortirolo for his devastated squad. Yes, we *were* all hoping for a stage at some point--but it's an honorable tribute to the fallen Michele and his family, so well done Luis Leon!

Blue Suede Jersey Prize: yes, I'm biased and blathering on this issue. He's an ex-Carrot, *and* oppressed by his crappy squad that sucks the life out of everyone it touches. Woot woot King of the Mountains and maglia azzurra Mikeeeeeeeeeeel!

Last But Not Least, The Coveted Fan !@#$wit Award: finally, in any Grand Tour, there's guaranteed to be at least *one* fan amongst the usual speedo-stuffing mountain screamers, oblivious texters, camera-hogging furries, and free-ranging dog-wielders who stands above the rest, and this Giro was no exception: congratulations, and a permanent no-trespass order, to the joy-jouncing nimrod so excited for her YouTube moment that she nearly got knocked down flat by (and almost crashed out half of) the peloton she was presumably there to, y'know, *watch*. Glad you liked the race, lady--now stay the hell away from the poor endangered riders from now on!

Well, that's our 2017 Giro--please, Alberto, redeem its surely temporarily madness by coming to ride (and win!) it next year!