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--

[Froome busts in room with Geraint Thomas, shoves Landa off podium] YOU'RE *MINE*, B*ITCH, MINE TIL DECEMBER 31ST SO DON'T YOU FORGET IT YOU LITTLE PIECE OF !@#$! NOW GET BACK TO THE HOTEL AND GET READY TO RIDE FOR ME AT THE VUELTA, I DON'T GIVE A !@#$ HOW MANY GRAND TOURS YOU'VE RIDDEN THIS YEAR! I SAID MOVE IT! [swats over mic, stomps out of room]

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!



Saturday, May 20, 2017

It's Yer What-the-Hell-Just-Happened Roundup and Here-Come-the-Mountains Giro Preview! #Giro100

Gavi-what?: So, you *just* figured out how to spell "Postlberger", and now you've got some *new* phenom to memorize? That's right, much as I want Andre Greipel to win every sprint, there's no doubt newborn baby Fernando Gaviria is the new jock-on-the-block, and I gotta say, sucks to be you if you're sprinting against this kid for the next, oh, 8 years or so. So go go Gorilla--but for Chrissakes beef up yer leadout train first!

Gone But Unfortunately Not Forgotten: In other Giro news, an injured Mikel Landa has decided to save Sky's !@# and continue on in the giro, to which team boss Dave Brailsford gratefully responded by kicking Landa right in the nuts, and an injured Geraint Thomas (not so injured he couldn't go full Cancellara in the time trial, but whatevs) *quit* the Giro, to which Dave Brailsford irritatingly responded by overthrowing the house of Windsor, clapping Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family into leg irons and stuffing 'em into an unused utility closet in the Tower of London, and installing G on the Throne of England. Jaysus, Mikel, GET OUT of Team Craphole already, I know the dough is good but yer dignity is worth so much more!

La Vie in Rosa: Meantime, amiable giant Tom Dumoulin is comfortably in pink despite the fact that by sheer genetics he ought to be barely making it up the Dolomites sitting in a freakin' ski lift, but, with another time trial to go and two minutes plus on more natural climbers like Quintana Pinot (yes, he's a GC contender *now*, !@#$ off) & Nibali who can climb Everest without drawing a breath, it's apparently all but certain that big Tom'll not only stay there in the maglia rosa but beat 'em all by 3 or 4 days to Milan. What the !@#$ is *wrong* with the world nowadays, am I the *only* one who thinks it's gone all topsy-turvy?

Up, Up, and...Well, Good Luck Staying Away!: And, forget this Mount Etna/Blockhead !@#$--it's almost time for the full-on total mountains onslaught of the most beautiful race on Earth, so get set and embrace the pain cave, baby! Today: we're only a few short kilometers away from the gentle climb to Oropa, and if these nits just mark each other like spineless lilies and wheelsuck in Valverdean proportions, well, at least they got another chance to reclaim their rightful place in history on Monday's Queen Stage 16, a brutal haul up the Mortirolo with its 16% ramps, followed by the Cima Coppi at the fabled (and feared) Passo Stelvio and its hairy descent, then a quick jaunt for some more suffering over the border in Switzerland up the Giogo di Santa Maria, and a damn near 100% downhill plummet into Bormio. Okay, Mikel, we know you want and of course deserve this one--but it's gonna depend on yer descending, so please, you and the other guys just stay the hell upright, okay?! And don't worry big Tom, you'll get your breath back on Stage 17's comparatively mellow roller with early ups Aprica and Passo del Tonale before a chill middle part then last uphill grind to Canazei--which won't really help you if you cracked on Stage 16 and Nibs (tho down a key domestique) Thibaut and Nairo actually pulled their !@#$ together and attacked!

News It or Lose It: finally, no Giro would be complete without the two Bardiana-CSF nimrods who tested poz and got pulled immediately prior to the first day's start line getting popped for sure on their B-sample and promptly fired by their team, which apparently is totally cool for the race organizers to have the rest of em continue but raises the entertaining prospect of whether the kids are gonna blame (1) just had sex (2) didn't have enough sex or (3) yet *again* ordered an unregulated supplement off the internet like the rest of their similarly dimwitted pro-cyclist miscreant buddies. Ah, well--you guys got nothin' but time now, so choose yer excuses--and start cultivating the right friendships in anticipation of your eventual returns to the peloton--carefully!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Jailbait! Pink Gorillas! Disturbing Analogies! Slap-Fights!: It's Yer Giro d'Italia Week One in Review!

Okay, the first week of this year's monumental 100th Giro d'Italia has been accused, in some circles--as in, say, the legendary Mario "the Lion King" Cipollini's--as being a bit of a snoozer. But whaddaya expect--they gotta throw the few sprinters at the race *some* kind of a bone before they send 'em home crying like Cavendish when he loses, right? And you actually missed, if you weren't paying attention or, frankly, just laid a little too hard into the Aperol, quite a bit. So before we hit the serious mountains with tomorrow's hopefully GC-awakening slog up to Blockhaus, let's review!

Hijinks!: Yes, sincere congrats to the first two twits (Stefano Perazzi and Nicola Ruffoni, both of Bardiani-CSF) to get popped for doping before the race even it made it to the pre-show press conferences. Well, *that* restores the public faith in clean sport! Bonus points to Team Bardiani management for immediately throwing the riders under the bus (they wish literally!) as the usual "rogue elements" with the squad staff "completely unaware of the drugs we personally provided them (wait, did I translate that right?) and, of course, for UCI for immediately clamping down on this disgusting scourge by--uh, yeah, letting the team ride the race anyway. Bets on which Bardiani innocent gets busted next!

Jailbait!: look, if you *remotely* saw anyone from Bora-Hansgrohe coming--which, to be honest, has been primarily known as "Peter Sagan's squad"--much less their actual sprinter's lead out guy who happened to be riding his first stage in his first Grand Tour ever when his sprinter lost his wheel and his whole purpose in riding the Giro vanished in a second, you are a lying lying lying liar, or else the actual and direct hand of God reaching down and propelling an entirely surprised youngster Lukas Postlberger across the line and into the holy maglia rosa on Stage 1. Even better, the kid showed more tactical sense and cool under insta-pressure as some serious GC riders a good decade his senior. Best of all, the RAI commentator's endless delight since that fateful day in yelling "Postlberger!" at completely irrelevant times during the race ever since. A sweet start to an illustrious career, Lukas!

Pink Gorillas!: Meantime, big friendly lug Andre Greipel, who looks like he could kill you merely by thinking in your personal direction but who never misses an opportunity to warmly thank and congratulate his competitors, his teammates, his soigneur, the podium babes, or any rider who manages to stay upright during an on-the-fly nature-break, also took a smashing sprint and spent a lovely day in pink, generously allowing Caleb Ewan to take a stage as well, along with an astonishingly fast Fernando Gaviria. You're just so *nice*, Andre--*please* don't bail, the race organizers *swore* there's another sprint day in there somewhere!

Disturbing Analogies!: Speaking of Gaviria, who's already bagged *two* wins so far this race and donned the newly-returned maglia ciclamino, I gotta say he's an early lead contender for the 2017 Giro d'Italia racejunkie award for quote o' the Giro: "I think getting to Milan will turn Fernando the boy into Fernando the man." Y'know, um...yeah...no, there's just *no* commentary on that that *wouldn't* be disconcerting. Anyway, nice to see you riding so well, kid!

Lava Lumps!: naturally, the *biggest* disappointment for the tifosi this week was the vaunted Stage 4 hike up Mount Etna, not only because the volcano didn't explode and bury the Team Sky bus under a cloud of caustic ash and lava, but because the GC riders completely wussed out of *any* kind of move and that little weasel Thomas still managed to grab 4 bonus seconds over his team's rightful GC captain, Mikel Landa. Good little attack on today's stage though, Mikel--you'll have plenty of time on tomorrow's ginormous climb to stomp him tomorrow!

Slap-Fights!: Back in the peloton, an epic slap-fight between key Nibali domestique Javi Moreno and demon-squad Sky's Diego Rosa ensued after Rosa started it by giving Javi a shove and a startled Moreno reasonably responded, leading to the obvious result of the race organizers kicking out Moreno on account of Rosa being a total ass. Stop it, guys. Just--stop it. With most of you, it's like watching a unicorn and Tinkerbell getting into a to-the-death cage-fight in front of a howling bloodthirsty crowd of dew-drunk wood-sprites. It's *embarrassing.* Now hash it out like *real* cyclists, by surreptitiously lowering the other guy's saddle by a millimeter and freaking him out for 200 kilometers! Anyhoo, here's the Thrilla in Manila (Etna, whatever):

Fan Failures!: Finally, endless curses to the dimwit fan with either an overextended arm or a moron freakin' selfie stick who apparently thought it would be a good idea to steal DiData hardworking nice-guy Kristian Sbaragli's liver right off 'im and try to sell it on the black market, 'cause the eejit damn near succeeded, and as the wounded victim helpfully pointed out, it could've caused a hell of a nasty crash in the peloton, as well as the marginally lesser problem of personal disembowelment. !@#dammit, do I *have* to do yet *another* "Etiquette for Tifosi" post *every* Grand Tour--because I can only say "JAYSUS GET YOURSELF AND YOUR APPENDAGES OFF THE COURSE YOU !@#$WITS" so diplomatically!

Well, that--and the fact that an Italian astonishingly hasn't won a single stage yet this Giro, which the Moreno-less Nibali still better pull off tomorrow or he's gonna look vulnerable--was the week that was. Onto Week 2, and the *real* start of some major GC slugfests!



Monday, May 01, 2017

It's Yer 100th Giro d'Italia in Preview, Part Due: the Contenders!

Okay, you got the language down. You know the course. So who--with the obvious and tragic exception of Michele Scarponi, to whom we did an earlier Giro tribute--are we looking at, and what are their chances? Let's preview!

The Real Contenders:

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida): He's the defending champ, tho now on a different team than the last one (Astana) he won with. And *any* Italian, much less someone as cutthroat as two-time Giro winner the Shark of Messina, is gonna want to go down in history as the campeone of the 100th edition. But his team is new, so they haven't done a grand tour together before. The good news: thanks to their big-bucks sponsors, they're bringing a walloping--and Giro-experienced--squadra, including Valerio Agnoli, Giovanni Visconti, Manuele Boaro, and oldie-but-goodie Franco Pellizotti, with the added firepower of Konstantin Svitsov. Wherever you end up, we're pretty sure it'll be at least on the podium, Nibs!

Mikel Landa (Team Sky): Shut up, he can too! Go to hell! Well, the eternal !@#$wits over at Team Sky have disastrously declared that dear Mikel and Geraint Thomas will have "co-captaincy" at the Giro, which means (1) they're going to blow all their !@#damn energy figuring out who deserves sole leadership; (2) tactically, they're going to be !@#$, and (3) no matter what Mikel Landa says--and he's said a lot of contradictory things of late--with non-Tour Grand Tour heir apparent/fawned-over management darling Geraint Thomas on hand, Mikel is absolutely unequivocally !@#$ed. On the plus side, the chance that Mikel will wake up from a troubled sleep with a gigantic revelation about his crap situation leaves open a significant possibility than he's going to go for blood like Froome on Wiggins. But by then, it may well be too late. You *suck*, Sky!

Geraint Thomas (Sky): !@#$ you, you shoulda been backing defending champ Mikel last week at the Giro del Trentino, you little !@#$! On the grounds of extreme annoyance, I decline to analyze this horrible scenario any further.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar): Look, I *get* it. He maintains strict radio silence for the 8 months of the year he's at home training in Colombia "at altitude," where he is totally coincidentally completely unreachable by land,sea, air, tunnel, riverboat, or internet. No-one is *ever* gonna give a !@#$ about it, so let's just move *on*, shall we? Aside from Nibali, and of course Mikel to whom all should bow (shut up, he can too, go to hell!), the only other real competition for the top spot, barring ill-fortune, is wee Nairo. Weakness: the time trial, at least theoretically. Strength: this being the 100th Giro, the two of 'em oughtn't to decide it. And while this prior winner is a smashing pure climber and has fine tactical sense despite his relative youth, he *is* idiotically going for the fabled Giro-Tour double, which means he (1) risks holding back too much for July, endangering his Giro or (2) risks blasting too away much energy at the Giro, screwing his chances at the Tour. As for his squad, Movistar, to its credit, isn't !@#$ing around: Amador, Anacona, Izagirre, thankfully *not* Valverde, Rojas, even Bennati--who, despite his sprinter's prowess, wrenched his guts out as an indispensable mountain domestique for Alberto Contador and will no doubt transfer his allegiance here. Now let our little Izagirre go for a stage win after you've locked in the GC, Nairo!

The Outsiders 'n' Top Ten-ners:

Bauke Mollema: 1st of all, how can you *not* love Bauke Mollema? That said, if Trek has *any* brains, they're not gonna burn all their Grand Tour matches for a Top Ten (or even Five) at the Giro if they really want to have a chance of beating that freak Froome and his android army at the Tour de France, particularly since, as the Tour will happily brag to you, there's been no do--uh, positive tests for *anything* at the most prestigious race on Earth (and don't even *get* me started there) since approximately when Landis was popped. But I'd love to see Mollema get a nice high placing all the same!

Tom Dumoulin: let's be honest, by peloton standards, Dumoulin's the approximate size of an overfed wooly mammoth, so his recent-years' spate of climbing success makes about as much sense as Estaban Chaves pounding on Andre Greipel in a sprint (or being able to pound on the Gorilla hard enough to make him think it's anything but a gnat he's swatting, for that matter). But climb he can, except for maybe the nastiest gradients in the Dolomites, so if he doesn't, say, have a 14-minutes-in-one-day spectacular crack, I suppose he can do pretty well. Not as well as Nairo though!

Yates, Kruijswijk: I understand. And I like them. But c'mon--all this top of the podium %^&* I'm reading, really? Though Tejay, with your usual class, I positively expect a good show!

The Climbers: yeah, if you can climb, you're aiming for GC here. Except our darling ex-Euskaltel riders, who seem to have a "Stomp On Me" clause in each of their contracts. Screw you, ProTour!

The Sprinters: Andre Greipel. And, y'know, some other guys, except Elia Viviani, which must've been a kick in the nuts so I'm sorry about that. Forza Gorillaaaaaaaaaa!

The Breakaway Artists: !@#dammit why didn't someone hire Amets so he could light those up? Anyhoo, every single Italian at the Giro is honor-bound to absolutely crush themselves trying to win a 100th Giro stage in their hometown. You wanna do all that research or got it all right off the top of your head, well fill me in! High on my Official List of Things That Ain't Happenin'--the dashing Pippo Pozzato taking one last win, but at least we can count on him flexing his latest tats for the expectant press. Vai Pippoooooooooooo!

Welp, there's your quick guide to who's gonna be who at this year's Giro. Now on to the most beautiful race on Earth--and thank you Astana for riding on in memory of your friend and compatriot!

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

It's Yer 100th Giro d'Italia in Preview, Part Uno: La Corsa Rosa!

What: It's the 100th edition of the most beautiful race on earth, baby, so it ain't no place for wussies! And now that you got the lingo down from my previous posts, today, let's preview what the boys on two wheels are in for:

The Overall: Welcome to 3,615.4 kilometers of pain, glory, and general agony! Allegedly, we got six sprint stages, eight "medium mountains" stages, 5 "holy !@#$!" mountain stages, two individual time trials and, mercifully, *not* one of those stupid team time trials that can give some undeserving wanker an insurmountable two-minute gap for the overall win before the last poor sod out the start gate has even tightened his shoes. Thank you, Giro organizers!

The Prologue: Welcome to the beautiful island of Sardegna! We start off with a relatively chill 206 kilometer roller with a handful of Cat-4 climbs to warm up the legs, pave' (!) 2k before the finish, a big wide bend, and a fast finale. Enjoy it while it lasts, sprinters--it don't get much better than this!

The Sprint Stages: Like, who gives a crap, right, it's the *Giro*? Now of course, when we say a Giro stage is "flat," we mean "flat *at the end*, you hapless sap, so good luck to the dumb bastards actually choosing to be a sprinter here that you don't drop out by the 50k mark crying like Cavendish when he's just been beaten fair 'n' square by someone stronger'n him. But our big friendly lug Andre Griepel is riding it, along with, uh, some other fast guys, and you just *can't* not love *him*. Forza Gorillaaaaaaaaaa! Next up after our welcome speedway: an easy 148 k romp to Stage 3, a lumpy start then a sorta nausea-inducing consistent low roller-coaster on the way to Messina. First one in gets the motion-sickness pills! Stage 6 is another kinda-flattie with a leg-nipper of an uphill finish, just enough to discourage the pure sprinters and bamfoozle the gradient-loving boys. Stage 7, relax again til you knock the only categorized climb outta the way at 154 km, then generally down then finally up with a wee uphill to the finish in Alberobello. Enjoy it while it lasts! Your next break comes at Stage 12, with a coupla categorized climbs--wah, wah, what is this? the freakin' Tour?--on the way home to Reggio Emilia, then a ruler-flat ride of a Stage 13 before the really bad !@#$ begins and half o' you giants bail for home. Wait, I'm short on sprint stages--what he !@#$ counts in this race?

The Breakaways: Hot off the presses on stage 2, the "medium mountains" begin! And lest you think we're saving the first summit finish for the high passes, we get right down to business in Stage 4 with a Cat 2 slog up Portella Femmina Morta, before we (literally) heat things up with a Cat-1 finale up the legendary (and potentially, y'know, explosive!) volcanic Mt. Etna. Bad to time crack for the GC even with this far to go! Stage 8: eep! It's tricksy, with a seductively long completely flat stretch, then a coupla climbs and a short sharp uphill finale. Stage 10: it's yer first time trial, folks! Just shy of 40K, and early on, so no, the race ain't getting decided here: a mild start then a wunky uphill to Montefalco. Stage 14: a quick 131k, basically a looooooooong false flat all the way to the Cat 1 finale to Oropa. Fooled ya, today's a baddie! Stage 15: starting at 149 k, we got a Cat 2 and Cat 3, finishing up with a downhill run to Bergamo. Prepare the feel the pain on Stage 16, suckers! Stage 17: Do you know the way to Canazei? The Giro sure does, giving you guys a relative break after yesterday's killer with the 'mere' Aprica and Passo del Tonale before the final slog up to Canazei. All right, where's the "medium" mountain stages again?--'cause I sure ain't seeing 8 of 'em on the website!

The Mountain Stages: Hoooooooly crap, welcome to stage 9--and for my money, the Giro truly begins! Lump, flat, lump, flat, lu--whoa moly, it's the Cat 1 climb to Blockhaus, and underestimate the 14% gradients on this one like a blockhead to your peril! And while you breathe (sorta) on the aforementioned Stage 10, you better save something in the tank for Stage 11, with Cat 2, Cat 3, Cat 3, and (nyeah, nyeah!) Cat 2 again til the descent off Monte Fumaiolo leads to the final up to Bagno di Romagna. Ouch! Stage 16: it's the height o' the Alps, honey, and it's a beastie! The intimidating Mortirolo. The Cima Coppi, the highest point of the race, as we go up the mitico Stelvio on *both* sides. Then, after a final Cat 1 climb, it's a 20 descent down the Giogi di Santa Maria. Speaking of saints, you better be *praying* you don't bonk on this stage, or it's GC game over--and likely GC game over in a good way for the contender who doesn't! Stage 18: Welcome to the fearsome Dolomites--if you dare! In a leg-cramping podium-busting lung-masher, you got Pordoi. You got 2 Cat-2 breathers with Passo Valoparola and Passo Gardena, before the even more relaxing Cat 3 Passo di Panei. Finally, just when you thought it was safe to start crying, you get to ride the Cat 1 climb to Pontives, with a liiiiiiiiiittle tiny flat on the finish. Don't forget to eat now, you hear?! Stage 19--it's Cats 3, then 2, then 1, to the site of a Pantani triumph in Piancavallo. And finally, on Stage 20, it's your last-gasp hope that you can make up the disaster you suffered yesterday, and that the guy who triumphed then loses it completely today--but with Monte Grappa only mid-way through, a Cat-1 climb to Foza at around 175k, and a blessedly wavy final 15k, there's a strong chance for even some rival's tired legs to catch on up to you. Oh, thank God for you (and how devastating for us) that this suffering is almost over!

The finale: Here, it's the time triallist's last chance for glory--and the last barrier to making history as campione of the 100th Giro d'Italia. If you got more than a handful of seconds, with only 29 mostly-downhill k on the way to the--I swear, you're seriously almost done here--finish line in Milano, keep yer head and you'll probably keep yer crown (well, your godly golden spiral, but still). !@#$ the podium--after 3,500 k of this !@#$, I need a massage, pronto!

Well folks, them's yer preview of il percorso for the magnificent 100th Giro d'Italia. And don't take my unreliable word for it: here's the official promo!:


Tomorrow, the Contenders. Til then, forza ragazzi--and to *any* of you who make it to the line in Milan, we're not worthy, we're not worthy!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

It's The 100th Giro d'Italia! A Short Tribute to Michele Scarponi at the Giro

Look, there's no doubt that, with the tragic and untimely death of Michele Scarponi, the 100th edition of the mitico Giro d'Italia will start off, as it will finish, with inestimable grief and loss. And lest there be any tinge of hypocrisy on my end, let me state unequivocally that I stand by every wiseacre thing I ever blogged, tweeted, or said about him in the 11 year history of this wretched screed. But it also can't be denied that Scarponi's ineffable mix of showmanship, grinta, human frailty, and utter ease as either a captain or painfully self-sacrificing superdomestique were quintessially, well, Giro. So with that in mind, a brief tribute to the history of Michele Scarponi at the most beautiful race on earth:

2202: In his maiden Giro, with Acqua e Sapone, Michele bags a fine 18th overall. Not bad for a whippersnapper!

2003: Now with Domina Vacanze (oh! these lovely lost squads!), Scarponi goes two better in the general classification. Steady!

2004: What the hell? Why wasn't he here?

2005: Now with Liberty Seguros, Michele still finishes, this time at a yeoman's 47th. Just you wait though, until...

2006: As Operacion Puerto unfolds, taking half the active peloton and his own squad's now-notorious management with it, Scarponi DNFs. And of course, he misses 2007 and 2008 as well, leading to...

2009: A new gig at Androni, where he superdomestiques the great Gilberto Simoni, wins stage 6 on a solo break, pockets a thrilla of a stage 18, *and* pulls off a wholly respectable 31st, a fine preview of...

2010: His breakout performance as a serious GC contender, taking a smashing Stage 19 mountain sprint over the returning Ivan Basso and a jailbait Vincenzo Nibali on his way to 4th overall, which brings him...

2011: To the Disney sparkle princesses at our beloved Lampre, where he takes the prestigious red points jersey and grabs the second step on the podium, 6 minutes down (and it's !@#damn impressive he did) on the year's winner, Alberto Contador (yeah, I stick by that!), proving it's no fluke when...

2012: Ryder Hesjedal wholly unexpectedly emerges triumphant, but Scarponi still claws his way to just-shy-of-the-final-podium in 4th again, before:

2013: He scrappily holds onto 4th again, until...

2014: Now with Astana and its erratic raging (but wily!) boss Vinokourov, even he finally bails on stage 16, after which...

2015: He takes this one off, until...

2016: When, in what would sadly turn out to be his final Giro appearance, he stops cold on a mountainside on the way to near-certain stage victory to hang back and help his struggling captain Vincenzo Nibali not only on the stage, but to seal the overall victory (and winning a prestigious 2016 Giro d'Italia racejunkie Award in the process). Grande Michele!

May the 2017 Giro d'Italia live up to his impressive legacy. Grazie Michele!


Friday, April 07, 2017

It's Yer Quasi-Literate Guide to Italian Cycling Terms, Part Due!

Ok, so now you know who's doing what where in the gruppo at the fabulous Giro, or any other race you're watching on your smashing Italian pirate feed. But what disastrous mechanical did they just have, what just happened to that poor guy who crashed, and what the *hell* are the tifosi (that's you, cycling fan!) shouting at them from the roadside? This!

Bike parts!

Ruota: Wheel. Example: "I can't believe Carlos Barredo just whanged Rui Costa over the head with his ruota!"

Derailleur (front): Cambio.

Derailleur (wheel): Deragliatore. "Jaysus, you moron, try not to throw your !@#$in musette into my deragliatore!"

Handlebar: Manubrio. As in, "Holy !@#$, Sagan just caught his manubrio in some dipwad's giacca!"

Seat: Sella. "My freakin' *sella* just flew off? My mechanic is *dead*!"

Chain: Catena. !@#dammit, is Contador *cursed* or something, he just dropped his catena at the base of the Fedaia!

Helmet: Casco. Who's got the most hideous casco (well, caschi) in the peloton? Discuss!

Borraccia: Water bottle. I bet that ain't just water that weasel Valverde's takin' in from his borraccia!

Brakes: Freni. Don't touch your freni don't touch your freni don't touch...oh, !@#$, you just took half the gruppo down with you fer crissakes!

Frame: Teliao. Wait, what's that strange little button on your telaio? And how did you just accelerate like that when your face looks like Thomas "the Tongue" Voeckler's out there?

Computer: Computerino. Hey, some !@#$ing tifoso just stole my computerino when I was right here waiting for a wheel change!

Crashes!

Fall: As I mentioned, Caduta.

*Big* !@#$in' fall: Maxicaduta. !@#dammit, *another* maxicaduta for Alberto!

Collarbone: Clavicola. Oh, no, that's like the third time Phinney's busted his clavicola this year!

Leg: Gamba. Contador just finished a Grand Tour stage with a broken gamba again? Che mito!

Wrist: Polso.

Broken: Rotto.

Fracture: Frattura. Jaysus, how many fratture can Mick Rogers get in one career?

Finger: Dito. Hey, is that thing broken, or did Froomey just give the camera the dito?

Scrape: Graffio. No, no, my leg didn't just get ripped off, it's merely un graffio!

Skin: Pelle. Poor Chaves looks like a mummy, he's hardly got any pelle left!

Bandage: Fasciatura. Medico, ho bisogno di piu fasciature!

Syringe: Siringa. That better be decaf espresso in that syringa!

IV: Flebo. What makes Team As--ah, forget it!

Roadside Shout-Outs!

Dai!: No, not a wish for that guy to croak--go!

Forza!: Strength! Basically, go.

Vai!: Come on! Basically, go.

Ale'!: Allez! Basically, go.

As for what *else* they're shouting at those guys--and frankly, what I probably am too--I'm too delicate to use such language, so I'll leave that all to your filthy imaginations, perverts!
Next up--*what* do you want me to tell you how to say to Froome?

Monday, April 03, 2017

It's Yer Quasi-Literate Guide to Italian Cycling Terms, Part Uno!

Yeah, yeah, cobbles. But frankly, I'm so preemptively nauseated at the thought of Tom Boonen not winning his final Paris-Roubaix, and the incredibly anal-retentive obsessing over who caused Sagan's Flanders fall when we all know the important thing is what's the proper term for his current facial-hair configuration that I Just. Can't. Even. So, as we look ahead to the smashing 100th Giro, what do you do when your own country's commentator is a !@#$wit? That's right, scam some virus-laden illegal Italian feed, but for now, you need to know what they're sayin'! Ergo, a crash course in General Bike Racing Stuff:

Squadra: yer team. I.e., "how dare you not respect the fabulous Giro enough to bring your A-squadra, you Tour de France-whoring publicity pigs?"

Testa della corsa: the head of the race. Usage: how the !@#$ can that robot Valverde be alla testa della corsa for the 16th straight stage?

Fuga: the breakaway. Example: look, Amets is in la fuga agai--wait, he's not even *racing* anymore? What the hell is *wrong* with you freaks?

Gruppo: the peloton.

Gruppetto: the autobus (the !@#-end of the peloton, not the team bus).

Gregario: yer domestique. Poor bastard!

Velocista: sprinter. Example: how the !@#$ is that 200-pound velocista suddenly out-climbing Alberto Contador? Ohhhh...

Il doping: doping. No, serious!

Scalatore: climber.

Tappa: the stage.

Cronometro: the time trial. As in, "Are you kidding me? We're allowing a !@#$in' 45k flat cronometro to decide the *Giro*?"

Partenza: the start line.

Arrivo: the finish line.

Podio: the podium.

Ristoro: the feed zone. I think. Such as, "can you *get* through this freakin' ristoro without tossing your musette into my wheel, you !@#clown?"

Discesa: the descent.

Pendenza: the percent gradient of the climb.

Tornante: hairpin turn. Like, "Oh, !@#$, did that guy just fly off that tornante?!"

Vincitore: the winner. Correct usage: "Yay! Mikel Landa e' il vincitore!"

Maglia: yes, the coveted jersey! Leader is maglia rosa; mountains is maglia azzurra; young rider is maglia bianca.

Salita: the climb.

Podio: the podium.

Caduta: a fall. Dottore!

Ammiraglia: the team car. Yeah, this is all *your* fault, you @@#-strategy-spewing nits!

Well, them's the basics. Next up: bike parts, medical crap, and, *what* are they shouting at those guys?