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?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Fantasy Team Sky Press Conference

Dave Brailsford: Good morning. I've called you all here today to address the ongoing controversy surrounding Team Sky, namely, how the !@#$ did we ever think giving Richie Porte his own team bus was gonna help him win the (aide bends, whispers in ear)--oh right, that doping/Jiffy bag/motor !@#$.

First, I'd like to say--well, !@#$, at least we're not as bad as Discovery was under Armstrong, right? (aide bends, whispers in ear) We are? !@#dammit! Uh, second, I'd like to say that there is absolutely nothing suspicious about throwing a black bag over a team employee's head, dragging him into a windowless van with 6 to 8 jack-booted thugs in face-masks, blasting thumping Euro club dance music at top volume for 14 hours so he can't hear where he's going, then dumping him in a filthy London alley with an unmarked package with a note to deliver it an unused Victorian-era mailbox in Bull!@#$-on-Liarsville.

Owain Doull: I just wanna reiterate that we're all 110% behind Dave Brailsford. When Brian Cookson commandeers a tank and !@#$in' squashes him with it, ha ha!

Chris Froome: Uh, I think I met that guy once. Maybe.

Jess Varnish: You know, for months I've been testifying quite credibly regarding British cycling that-- (Brailsford interrupts angrily) Hey, lassie, didn't you see that "He-Man Woman-Haters Club" sign on the door?! We said, no girls allowed!

Dave Brailsford (continuing): Third, I'd like to comment on the entirely spurious allegations that Team Sky uses motors on its bicycles. A, that button Froome keeps pushes on his top tub is just a buzzer to ask his soigneur to kindly bring him a hanky to wipe off the urine that was just thrown on him and to fetch a refreshing gin & tonic. B, that's not a "motor", that's a pile of wires connected to a generator connected to a ring-tailed lemur we've hopped up on 50 ounces of cocaine then crammed in there with one of those hamster wheels to artificially increase the riders' speed going up the climbs. Plus, the blazing orange color showing up on UCI heat-detectors means it's really *cool* and *non-motory* in there, not *hot* from a *motor*.

Finally, I want to affirm Team Sky's unimpeachable commitment to clean sport, including the unrestricted use of tramadol, bogus TUEs, kenacort, cold medicine, malaria remedies, medicinal herbs, stimulants, downers, cough syrup, cortisone, menstrual-cramp tinctures, rhino tranquilizers, very strong tea and crumpets, liver-crushing quantities of wood alcohol, and, of course, giant boner pills. I told you it's all in the training and nutrition! We also use (aide drags him away from microphone, into hallway) gummy bears, like Sagan! And Easter candy! Marginaaal Gaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnssss!

Friday, February 10, 2017

It's Yer Unwritten Rules o' the Peloton, Revisited!

All right, as the recent smackdown between Kittel & Grivko so amply demonstrated, it's !@#damn etiquette chaos in the peloton right now, so before we all devolve into thievery, cannibalism, and chamois-snapping, I say it's about freakin' time to lay down some serious rules. Disagree, especially if yer a pro who's not just talking out of his/her !@# like I am? Have at, Miss Manners!

1. The Golden Rule: Do Not Be a Punk-Ass. If yer own mom'd spit on you and disown you for shaming the family, back off whatever weasel scumbag move yer about to pull. This goes for you too, Valverde!

2. Golden Rule, Part Deux: Do Not Be a Wuss. This, as dear reader(s) have pointed out, is bike racing. If Rui Costa'd rip yer stem off and start beating the crap out of you with it for some simpering passive-aggression, back off!

3. The Leader's Jersey, Part Un: Respect the Jersey. The leader sets the rules, dictates the pace at non-critical junctures, calls nature breaks, and doles out mercy or hellfire. But only within limits, because...

4. The Leader's Jersey, Part Deux: this goes both ways (hear me, Marcel)? Don't call a nature break halfway up Alpe d'Huez just because yer legs are crap and you know some !@#$wit with a motor--uh, Valver--uh, somebody stronger is gonna destroy your GC hopes like Godzilla on Tokyo, don't take undue advantage of someone else's misfortune, and don't, in general, be a !@#$. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, get it?

5. Sucker-Punching (A Fan): sure, you might not like that publicity-slutting asshat running next to you screaming their heads off in a neon banana-hammock, combination baseball hat/Texas longhorns, or a (wholly unjustified) syringe costume and accusatory sign, but if s/he ain't interfering with your line, endangering your wheel with a flag, or imminently tossing a large dog or small child in yer path, save the energy, honey, and let it go. On the other hand, if someone throws urine at you--and you're sure it's not just an ill-aimed, if well-intentioned, attempt to toss you a beer--I say, justice dealt!

6. Sucker-Punching (A Fellow Rider): Don't use it to screw someone over in a sprint. If some reckless selfish dipwad is jacking *your* line in the last 100 meters, though, fair game. And if you're Bernard !@#$ing Hinault, you can punch anyone at any time for any reason. Why, *you* want to tell him he can't?

7. Attacking (Flat Due to Natural Road Debris): look, happens to everyone. If you're just some schmo, no-one's attacking you anyway. If you're ten seconds apart on GC, particularly if it happens on a crucial climb, keep your pace, but no need to be a wanker about it. Caveat: no brownnosing peloton-powerhouse former teammates by staying with 'em for half an hour while the team you're supposed to be riding for gets hosed. And no running up the hill like a jack!@#!

8. Attacking (Flat Due to Pile of Tacks Deliberately Strewn by Some Malevolent Nutwhack): Not only should you not attack if you're the only sod lucky enough to get through it unscathed--which only rewards the scumbag, imho--but this possibly one of those instance where the Sucker-Punch (Fan) protocol applies. You endanger the riders, you takes your chances!

9. Bottles (Giving): Got an extra bottle riding next to someone who's obviously in croaking distress with no team car in sight? Nice to pass it along. Just don't accidentally hand over one with whatever sketchy drug-positive internet "nutritional supplement" you're scamming!

10. Bottles (Throwing): Over the head and/or to the side. Not skittering under somebody's wheel to take 'em down! This goes doubly for musettes: toss it into somebody's wheel and you've probably cost 'em the stage, the podium, or, even worse, some major collarbone surgery when they jackknife into the tarmac. And they'll remember you, pal!

11. Nature Breaks: Don't attack on a real one. It's weak, and the entire peloton will justifiably hate you. About three more water bottles in, you'll likely find that out for yourself! For calls necessarily heeded while on the fly, with perhaps the balancing assistance of a discreet teammate, for god's sake stay to the back and off to the side, so you don't let it rip on the poor bastard behind you!

12. Extreme Weather Protocol: Know you game-changingly suck in the wind/cold/snow/rain/dessicating heat, and your GC rivals don't? Well, it's really nice that UCI's decided no-one should actually have major limbs drop off from frostbite, but don't take advantage of your lack of hardman skills and whine at the organizers til they cancel the stage just so you can gain a leg up. Why? Because you're a *cyclist*, dammit, and Marianne Vos eats blizzards for breakfast and spits 'em back out as snow-cones for the kiddos while you're still cowering in your hotel room in your down bathrobe, you wuss!

13. And Finally, Yer Miscellaneous Post-Race Commandment: If you say you're gonna retire, *retire* fer chrissakes! This applies without exception to Brad Wiggins, but not to, say, Purito, whose glaring absence from the peloton has already left an atom-crushing black whole from which no light or matter can escape. And this includes any stupid !@#$ like reality-show long-jumping/bull-fighting/extreme curling or whatever the !@#$% you're doing lately, Wiggo!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

It's Yer 2017 Year In Preview (Yeah, You Read Right)!

Look, we all know the pro-cycling wreck-o-rama that was the dearly, and just, departed 2016. But what's gonna happen *this* year? Read, dear reader(s), and learn!

January: Team Kits-o-Rama! Glum Contador shows off jersey with huge portrait of Vincenzo Nibali, words "We'd Rather Have Nibs" in neon yellow under it; Astana eschews traditional team kit in favor of full-body tattoos of whatever crazy-!@# !@#$'s gotten into Vinokourov's head that day; Tour of Qatar cancelled, number of fans on roadside remains exactly the same.

February: Time for the hard men! Boonen calmly eats cobblestones as cereal for breakfast at check-in, spits out remnants next to team bus, entire onlooking peloton gives up, packs up, goes home; commentators at loss with entire peloton dressed in black kit, start randomly assigning names like "Willy Wonka" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to winners at line, enraging team bosses;

March: It's the Race to the Sun! Richie Porte blows prestigious Paris-Nice three-peat by domestiquing Chris Froome instead; Cancellara watches Milan-Sanremo from living room couch in underwear, drinking beer, eating nachos, wins by 24 minutes.

April: Paris-Roubaix "extreme weather protocol" invoked on new climb, Boonen, Sagan already frozen, excavated from blocks of ice 10,000 years later by next evolution of hominids; Philippe Gilbert returns to 2011 winning form at Ardennes Classics, takes--!@#$, Valverde, what are you *on*?; revitalized UCI reveals first doping bust of season as 4 year old Emma Smith of Maple Grove Pre-School popped for illegal juice-box use during last 5 yards of schoolyard bike race, banned from UCI competition for life.

May: What else? It's the 100th Giro d'Italia! Superfit Nibali poised to take 100th Giro after Landa, Quintana, Chaves kidnapped, force-fed typical bloated American fast-food diet until race bikes snap under new-gained weight; Landa catches bilharzia when Froome visits hotel to cheer on the guys, resultant energy burst from 24/7 vomiting, gut-wrenching meds gives Mikel the podium in Milan. Forza Mikeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel!

June: Pre-Tour prep begins! Froome falls off bike on training ride, bike completes circuit of Mallorca at top speed without rider, Froome avers "it's just a little brake lever problem"; Sky courier mistakenly delivers unlabeled package to Cofidis, entire squad promptly loses 40/kg each; women's peloton protests total !@#$ing lack of comparable races, rewarded with opportunity to ride the guys' bikes for them before each Grand Tour stage to work out any mechanical issues.

July: Uh, what else? It's the Giant Golden Clown Show! Bouhanni socks Cav in sprint finish, Cav wins when chews Nacer's wheel off, causing Bouhanni to crash at line; giant inflatable 1k banner collapses, beans dimwit tourist sticking camera right out into barreling peloton, saves 30 riders from career-ending injuries; Contador victor in Paris, Oleg Tinkov drunk-rushes final podium in yellow tutu, feathered headdress, pointe shoes, yelling "DANCE WITH ME ALBERTO, MY PRINCE!"

August: Oh, thank God, the Vuelta begins! Purito unretires at last minute, Chaves, Valverde, Quintana preemptively concede defeat; Dumoulin actually melts into tarmac in Basque mountains, disappears; total disrespectful !@#holes at UCI demand Vuelta be rescheduled til "some !@#ty week in February" to accommodate changed date of some crappy other race, instead.

September: It's the World Championships at last! Sagan blindfolded, spun around like kid playing "Pin the Tail on the Donkey", sent out on course on unicycle with underinflated tire 45 minutes after departure of rest of field, pulls off World Champ double; Vos retakes Worlds over exhausted field while actually still at start line signing autographs; time trial championship called off because "without Fabian, what the !@#$'s the point?"

October: Transfer season begins! Anton, Landa, Txurruka, Izagirres, Zubeldia, Sanchez to new mystery crowd-founded squad "Youskaltel-Youskadi"; 30 of those freaky !@#$in' 3D-printed super-powered robots from "Westworld" to Sky, like anyone can tell the difference; cryogenically preserved Valverde extends with Movistar until 3036, opining "I've still got a good few years left."

November: Transfer season heats up! Recent lottery winner Jonathan Vaughters goes on coke-fueled bender, buys out contracts of Froome, Contador, Nairo, Alejandro, Fabio, Nibs, hands out gladiator armor, weapons, orders them to "FIGHT FOR THE TOUR DE FRANCE LEADERSHIP, YOU SCRAWNY MOTHER!@#$ERS!"; entire Astana squad to "wherever we freakin' have to to get away from Vinokourov"; Sky leadership distracted by testifying at latest scum-weasel doping scandal, forgets to renew World Tour status, put up internet ads for "anyone with a warm body who can scam a UCI license."

December: End-of-year awards show time! DSes vote Chris Froome "Most Bull!@#$ Transformation We've Ever Seen in Our Entire Dope-Supervising Lives"; Valverde voted "Guy Most Likely to Blow the Tour de France in the Final Week"; bored Wiggo announces upcoming appearance on reality-TV "Rhythmic Gymnastics With the Stars," wows judges with ability to catch spiraling crankshaft with pinkie toe while bent into pretzel; team camps begin with Sky--aw, we already *know* what the !@#$ they're doing!

Well, them's yer 2017 preview, so cover yer ears, avert yer eyes--and for heck's sake, don't say I didn't warn you!