Monday, July 30, 2018

It's Yer Incredibly Prestigious 2018 Tour de France racejunkie Awards!

All right folks. If you're anything like me, you could barely stand to watch the Tour because of all the Froome !@#$. But because we're cycling fans, even we scornful cynics put half an eyeball on it *occasionally*, so it's time yet again to reward the good, the bad, and the unspeakably ugly! Prizes, if anyone is so degraded, desperate, or self-Googling as to claim them--and I swear, I'm good for 'em--a bitchin' custom-embroidered racejunkie cycling cap, a passel o' dashing racejunkie stickers to advertise yer shame, and some kinda shiny random trophy tchotchke I'll wrangle up from somewhere. So winners, either step on up, or hide like a weenie in yer team bus--whichever fits!

Captain Obvious Award: hey, I like a good political protest as much as anyone. But it *ought* to go without saying in that dispersing said protest, one ought not to pepper spray the entire freakin' (and non-protesting) peloton. Oh, for the days when Bernard Hinault could handle these problems with a single tackle!

Crash o' the Race (Fan !@#$wit Edition): Y'know, bad enough some assclown thinks it's a great idea to inject a forest-fire's worth of smoke flares into gasping riders' lungs. And it's rather a crapshoot when some overenthusiastic drunkard crams a giant flapping flag cringingly close to a struggling rider's wheelset. But it triply sucks when some ejjit decides--after multiple, caught-on-tape Tour de France-screwing episodes of similar problems with various loop-things--that a !@#$ing *camera strap* is just *awesome* when it's suddenly wrapped around a GC contender's handlebars. Thanks, Nameless Scourge o' Nibali, for the fractured vertebra, and crashing out the only guy with a *possible* hope of livening up the race--now next year, stay the !@#$ home!

Crash o' the Race (Ow, !@#$! Edition): Philippe Gilbert can handle a bike. What's even more impressive is that after dodging what appeared to be something in the road in a whipping descent and flying over a stone wall into a crevasse, he managed (with the help of a neutral service car denizen) to climb right back out, give a thumbs-up, and finish the stage within the time cut with a busted kneecap. Undaunted, Gilbert promptly posted sweet hospital-bedside photos with the (still dearly missed) Tom Boonen. Come back soon Phil--the Tour owes you a stage win next year!

Crash o' the Race (Calm Down Everybody He's Going to Be Fine): look, it was terrifying when normally stellar master-o-his-machine green jersey/world champ/winner of everything else on earth Peter Sagan flew off the road, into the woods, and, as he poetically put it, landed on his !@# on a big rock. But not only did he seemingly not fracture that, he didn't touch his dreamboat face, either, and our hero managed to both gingerly finish the stage *and* hold his green jersey all the way into Paris. Now heal up Peter--your fans seemed to have been more traumatized than you were!

Dumb-!@# Race Organizer Move of 2018: Seriously, ASO? Putting 18 hors categorie climbs into a single stage, then not adjusting the time cut so every damn sprinter left got tossed out of the race before the Champs-Elysees? What kind of fun is *that*--forget making the final stage a snoozefest, you could've tormented those poor guys for *days* more!

Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz, Oh What a Relief It Is Prize: now, not to put a paranoid conspiracy theorist tinfoil-hat motive on everything Team Sky does--but c'mon, am I the *only* person to think that it looked a *whole* lot better for Team Sky to have Geraint Thomas take this Tour instead of Chris Froome, again? Somewhere, the hopeless antidoping authorities are toasting that win *twice* as much as Thomas himself!

Punk-!@# Move of the Race: I know, normally this goes to Alejandro Valverde for, oh, bushwhacking his teammate or something. But our wily Movistarlet was inexplicably quiet this Tour, and repeat racist/slap-happy dimwit Gianni Moscon -classily took his rightful place by, for no discernible reason, suddenly sucker-punching Fortuneo's harmless Elie Gesbert on stage 15, getting him promptly kicked out of the race. Team Sky, of course, immediately leapt into action, having Moscon robotically read a brief apology for the cameras and promising to deal with it *just* *as* *soon* *as* *they* *can.* Oh my, are you guys going to give him another "Young Rider" accolade on your website like after he flung a slur at Kevin Reza? *That'll* learn him--that you won't do anything about his behavior as long as he's useful, anyway!

French Dressing (Down) Award: Sure, it's rude. Heck, even indecorous. But is Dave Brailsford seriously suggesting that "French culture" is the reason behind the incessant 21 day 247 booing smacking Team Marginal Gains and their presumptive leader Chris Froome? Leaving aside the obvious fact that *every* culture was booing, j'accuse, jerkface--now you got your Tour anyway, so quit yer whining!

Cripes, Maybe It *Is* the French Award: Bad enough the poor guy had to ditch his yellow jersey dreams to some punk domestique--adding insult to injury (or more accurately, injury to insult), as Froome-dawg descended from the stage 17 finish off the Col d'Portet to the team bus, a gendarme, apparently mistaking him for a mere loser fan in his discreet giant flapping grey jacket, bodily jerked the 4-time Tour de France champ off his bike and onto the tarmac. Fortunately, after a brief discussion involving the words "!@#$ you!", "lawsuit!" and "bloody wanker," understanding and harmony was reached by all, but not, fortunately, without the entire humiliation being recorded for posterity on an iPhone. Here, we wouldn't want to relive that injustice, now would we?

Total Crushing Disappointment of the Race: oh, Mikel Landa. I *told* you not to go to Movistar! Would you just *promise* to stick it Nairo in August at the Vuelta, *please*?

Stupid !@#$ing Strategy of the Tour: in a related award--congrats, Movistar, on your idiot strategy of letting your three leaders blow all their energy infighting--it really paid off with the top step in Paris! Well, in the team competition anyway...

Hardman o' the Tour: as a wise man from Spinal Tap once said, "It's a fine line between clever and stupid." And we can debate EF's decision to let a shoulder-snapped Lawson Craddock continue in the race after a brutal fall all day. But stay in he did--and used the 20 consecutive days of following suffering to raise over $100,000 to restore his home velodrome, benefiting generations of local cyclists to come. You made it home to Paris, Lawson--now get that kid some champagne, his Lanterne Rouge, and a medic!

SuperDuperDomestique(s) Award: and, in sort of a two-fer, while Sky wunderkind Egan Bernal's smashing and relentless work for his captain(s) drove cycling into a frenzy over its Next Great Grand Tour Hope, EF's Simon Clarke and his teammates, to a bit less hype, carefully shepherded the severely-dented, yet undaunted, Lawson Craddock, to the line each day. That was really lovely. Oh, bite me, you cynics--even I get to get maudlin once in a while!

Best Stage of 2018: remember when Geraint Thomas took th--no, me either, frankly, because the one day "La Course by Tour de France" patronizing nod to the women was actually the most exciting, nail-biting day of the entire men's Tour de France. Annemiek Van Vleuten, *just* pipping an almost-triumphant Anna van der Breggen at the line. Agony!

Weeper o' the Race: I don't know what the hell the organizers were thinking except "carnage = ratings", but there was in fact a Paris-Roubaix stage this year, and when the rocks were conquered, the dust cleared, and the miniscule climbers pried out from the spaces between the cobblestones, John Degenstache--whose return to dominance was seriously in doubt after he almost had his finger severed in his (and his team's) horrific 2016 training crash by a careening head-on driver--took the honors, the day, and the Most Touching Post Race Interview Ever. Shut up, I'm not crying, *you're* crying--now give me those Kleenex!

Oh, Snap! Tweet o' the Tour: from Michael Rasmussen, who knows from dodgy performances: "According to Froome, Egan Bernal reminds him of himself when he was 21. The only similarity I can find is that both were riding bikes--not at the same level though." Sing it Michael--'cause the rest of us have no cred!

And Finally, the Bad-!@#ses of 2018: every damn day before the menfolk raced, and a day ahead of the guys, the thirteen intrepid, unofficial, under-supported women of Donnons des Elles au Velo J-1 rode the entire Tour de France--without the accolades, roadside circus, road closures, podium babes, prize money, or credit--because y'know, they *can*, and ASO's failure to have a full-fledged women's Tour de France is *bull!@#$.* Cyclists, we salute you--and ASO, fix this already you backwards jackwagons!

Well, folks, we're mercifully done with the Tour de France til next year. On the glorious Vuelta--and I mean it, Mikel, don't blow this, we believe in you!

Monday, July 16, 2018

It's Yer Tour de France Week One (And a Little More) Roundup!

Look, unless we're personally Chris Froome, or someone making a !@#$-ton of money off this farce, we've all been ambivalent about--or outright skipping--the whole damn Tour. But there was actually a lot of action amidst the 800-kilometer sprint snoozefests, so what'd you miss? This!

1. !@#$ you UCI for relegating Andre Greipel! The total unbelievable bull!@#$ you clowns allow and *this* is what you harp on? If you're trying to look *less* like wankers for kicking Peter Sagan out entirely last year, *this* ain't helping!

2. If you weren't absolutely *bawling* when Degenstache gave his tearful post-win interview dedicating his victory to his dear late friend after being smashed to pieces and utterly written off post-his terrible 2016 injury, you have no soul. NONE, you empty ghoul!

3. $%^!in' Porte, man. He can't catch a break.

4. !@#$in' Tejay, man. He can't catch a break.

5. The absurdity of a tiny baby superclimber suddenly bombarded by Next Great Talent hype having to effectively ride Paris-Roubaix in his first Grand Tour is superseded only by the ignominy of his plowing directly into the back of a team car without anyone watching out for him and folding up like a cheap suitcase. Heal up quick, Egan Bernal, and FFS Sky, let this kid develop somewhere a little safer first!

6. I'm not sure it was a great idea for Lawson Craddock to keep riding after his bloody faceplant--I'm a lowly couchpeloton denizen, not a doctor--but the caretaking EF's riders have shown for him as he recovers and perserveres is quite lovely. And kudos to all for turning his suffering into huge charitable donations!

7. Movistar--specifically Nairo and, with one silly paved-surface mishap, Mikel--survived surprisingly well on the cobbles yesterday. But with one less key man in the mountains, and the high passes finally looming, pick a !@#damn leader (Mikel, who is still considerably ahead of Nairo) *now* and stick with 'im!

8. Anyone else feel the universe was just playing a game of freakin' whack-a-mole on poor Romain Bardet yesterday? Just *amazing* he didn't lose more time, he'd've finished that stage two days earlier if not for all that !@#$!

9. Talking smack about your own rider is *not* the way to motivate your boy to victory, Tinkoff--uh, Katusha. Lucky Marcel Kittel whanged his bike into the team bus instead of yer damn head!

10. I know, I'm the only one happy to see Greg Van Avermonster in yellow. Don't worry haters, he'll lose the maillot jaune on the road by the time both of you read this!

11. Lots of yappin' today on whether Geraint Thomas, ahead of team leader Chris Froome on GC, gets to play captain at the Tour. Given Froome attacking his own road boss Brad Wiggins against team orders, I'm gonna say, what are you, on dope?! No, I don't mean that way! Well, come to think of it...

12. Oh, Rigoberto Uran. *So* great, but your run of misfortune continues. But I do believe he's good to fight for a stage win and a reasonably decent revival on GC!

13. Vincenzo Nibali. Uh-huh, that's how this former (and eternal) Tour de France champion gets there--he's so stealthy you almost forget he's around, and then suddenly, you're chum. Watch out for Shark sightings!

14. Yeah, La Course. It's got a stellar lineup--even if half of 'em are exhausted as hell from the Giro Rosa--and it's actually a very nice route. Whoop de doo, and, by current standards, the fact the women get any race at all seems like a celebration. But a group of women are riding the entire Tour de France route *each day* ahead of the guys with--unlike the menfolk--shoestring budgets and limited, if superlative, support to prove there ought to be a *real* women's Tour de France, *and* they're killing it. !@#dammit ASO you backwards troglodytes do what's right already!

Okay, on to the Giro Rosa in Review. And the rest of, y'know, some big fussy race going on in France!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

It's Yer 2018 Tour de France in Preview, Part Trois: the Fast Men, Roleurs, & Mountain Goats!

All right, people. We all know this sucks, the Tour's likely to be a three-week, uh, purely-enthusiasm-fueled farce with a preordained podium and a lifetime pass for damn near every illicit activity short of being a 49-year-old Master's racer popped for an overdose of Red Bull. But here we are, I'm carrot-bound to root for Mikel Landa, so while we're ignoring the TV coverage and begging for the misery to end, I promised both of you I'd post for the non-GC so let's go. Oh, and I forgot to mention Adam Yates in my GC preview. Like any other name but one !@#$in' matters! Anyhoo:

The Fast Men:

Nacer Bouhanni: out. Right now it's because Cofidis don't think he can win, and *do* think he's a colossal pain in the !@#. Tomorrow it'll be because he punched a two-foot hole through the side of the team bus when he heard the news. Hey, at least he didn't aim for anyone's head!

Mark Cavendish: he wants to edge up on Merckx's stage win record, *and* justify like 10 years of belittling smack talk about other sprinters for winning only "#$^& races"--too bad he's been on a downswing the last couple seasons. Still, good for a stage win somewhere, if he doesn't crash himself (or more likely some other unlucky bastard) trying to cram through a two-inch gap in Sagan's handlebars, right?

Peter Sagan: Pure sprinter? Classics man? Freak climber? I don't know which Saganator we'll be getting this month, but I'm pretty sure he'll beat the crap out of anyone he wants to when he wants to--and with his mad bike handling skills, without even having to sucker-whang anyone into the barriers to do it. *And* he'll wheelie doing it. Gosh, isn't he just dreamy?

Marcel Kittel: his year has sucked, and there's no particular reason to think it'll be much different right now, though with approximately 68 sprint stages, it'd sure look weak if he didn't manage to squeak out one or two of 'em. But cripes, will his hair look perfect!

Sam Bennett: sure, the Giro's not a sprinter's game (to the extent it ever was, say in the Petacchi years), but snagging two stages including the final day off Elia Viviani is still some pretty sweet pedigree. Bennett for the stealth win in Paris!

Caleb Ewan: oh, right--he's !@#$ed. !@#$ed, I say! What the *hell*, Michelton-Scott?

Bling Matthews: look, he is one crafty s.o.b. I often think he gets more attention for his flashy nickname than his wins. I'm not counting him out!

Andre Greipel: first, you *suck*, Lotto--how dare you jerk our big lug around so ungratefully? And despite his advanced age of "still half of Valverde's" he's having a bangin' year. So go to hell, he can so either--two for Andre, I call, so buzz off haters!

The Roleurs: between the mini-Roubaix, the gravel sections, and the days they just gotta put in to not kill the sprinters and to give the climbers a quasi-rest day, there's quite a bit of fun to be had, and, as usual, Quick Step plans to take all of it, if the ever-underrated Boassen Hagen-Dazs doesn't steal the pave. Too many to mention here, and Sky's gonna clamp down on anyone who could take one with Armstrongian ruthlessness, but Philippe Gilbert certainly doesn't intend a bunch of whippersnappers on his own team beat him, and, despite the fact it's not going to happen because the entire planet bites, I am still planning for Sylvain Chavanel to grab a late-career stage win, if a rhino doesn't come charging out the roadside and bash straight into his wheel like happens every freakin' year. Maybe armor up yer bike a little Chava, it's worth the extra weight in protection!

The Mountaineers: yeah, the entire GC. !@#$ off, Froomey! All eyes on baby Colombian phenom Egan Bernal, all the more so since their World Cup is blown, who though conscripted to the service of his twig-bug team leader ought at least be granted *one* stage Chris doesn't want so he doesn't get tempted to do to Froome what Froome did to Wiggo. Everyone else: don't count out Movistar: if Nairo Landa and Valverde manage to take each other out trying to crush the others like skittering insec--uh, helping each other so generously that no one of them can win, there's still wee high-peaks backup Soler. And right, we've also got Bardet, Zakarin, Barguil, and Martin, and frankly, if France *doesn't* pull something out of this ridiculous joke of a year, the press will be *very* peevish. But sadly, we may be just looking at another USPostalDiscovery/Skybot borefest. Me, tho' they're there for previous TdF champ Nibali, I'm all-ex-Euskaltel all the time. Allez allez Izagirreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!

Okay folks. Let's hold our noses the next three weeks, and beg for podium assistance from the Carrot gods. And no matter how much you dislike him--heck knows I'm with you there--no throwing anything disgusting on Chris Froome, you !@#damn animals!