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!