Wednesday, May 15, 2019

It's Yer What the Hell is Going on In the Giro (and Even the Amgen EPO Tour of California) Roundup!

Look, in a week that's supposed to be a dull preview to the real action in the mountains in one race, and a hippie peace'n'lovefest at another, it's been a freakin' catastropalooza at the Giro and even the ToC so far, so what the hell is happening?  Let's talk!

The Giro: all right, I'm a little rusty on game shows, so apologies if all I can come up with is some half-!@#ed reference to whatever 1950s dinosaur was being aired immediately before the already-ancient "I Love Lucy" reruns I watched as a kid.  But only 5 stages in, this Giro d'Italia's gone 16 ways to hell, and boy, is there *buckets* of blame to go around.  So let's play Pick the Culprits!

1. The Race Organizers: to be fair, an 8k individual time trial shouldn't *totally* kill the GC on the first day*, especially when that 2k vertical leg-biter at the end seems to have been quite a mercy bone generously tossed to the helpless pure climbers.  But *damn*--can I just reiterate I have *hate* when the GC's half-decided on day 1 of a 3-week Grand Tour?  Take these stupid things outta the calculation and leave 'em to the specialists on Day 1 at least, for heck's sake! *I know, you're right.  GC contenders should be reasonably proficient in all disciplines, not just the climbs.  But the fact that you're right doesn't make it not suck!

2. The Race Organizers (Part Due): I, too, was pretty surprised by reigning maglia ciclamino Elia Viviani's dazzling deviation of line in stage 2's hotly-contested finale, not least because, when it came to avoiding the voracious press corps anyway, Elia was able to ride from the podium to his window-tinted team bus with the approximate precision of a returning moon lander with a 2-square-centimeter target window for evading otherwise certain death.  But swerve he did, and *gee*, did that cost 'im--not just relegation, but jersey-deciding sprint points, a whopping fine, *and* the requirement that he ride all subsequent stages solo on the safety of adjacent commuter bike paths.  Hey, at least no one crashed from that--what's a little argy-bargy between mortal enemies anyway?

3. That Flake from Ineos: Y'know, *everybody's* probably caused a crash or two in their day.  But *dang*, must it be to the eternal detriment of last year's runner-up Tom Dumoulin, who ended the stage in a pile of blood, a slew of x-rays (all negative, fortunately), and a reluctant early trip home?  I mean seriously, can't you just trebuchet yourself into a damn ditch first and leave the race contenders to go safely on their way? Eyes *forward*, FFS!

4. Movistar: Wow, that was a great ride by Carapaz!  But could you have kicked we love Mikel Landa from team leadership any faster'n !@#$in Goose from "Top Gun"  blasting himself from his ejector seat during the post-race commentary from the teams, even if you did backtrack the next day and generously sorta reinstate him after he made back up a bit of time?  Oh, Mikel, I *told* you to get the hell outta there...

5. Simon Yates: okay, speaking of dear Mikel, maybe he wasn't...*overly* diplomatic when he called Simon a man-whore and an idiot for allegedly taking him down in a roundabout the next day after the Carapaz fiasco after Mikel already miraculously evaded carnage in the Ineos crash that blew out half the rest of the GC.  But he *did* subsequently tweet an apology, which Yates kindly dismissed as a heat of the moment remark, which seems karmically right, as Yates had opined in the pre-Giro presser that the other contenders oughta be "shitting their pants" in fear of him, leading a tranquillo Nibali to first mildly castigate him to show "respect," then suggest such things added "pepper" to the race.  Lookin' forward to the next three weeks--now, I gotta go brush up on my foreign-language cussing!

6. The Commentator Paradox: yeah, I know I'm just banging this drum, but can someone explain to me why, say, David Millar gets to perch a crystal halo on his head on a perpetual nobility tour, Christian Vande Velde gets to talk turkey on US TV with nary a whisper, and Alessandro Petacchi gets kicked the !@#$ off RAI?  I mean, I personally maintain without irony or self-reflection that Iban was framed and Samu was shafted, but either we call bull!@#$ on these guys as post-career commentators or we don't. Or should Alessandro just get a lucrative DS role instead, and we've all championed clean sport the right way again?

The ToC: admittedly, I'm still so pissed at UCI for scheduling this race during the Giro that I've been reluctant to pay attention, but it is some darn diverting racing, no more so than today's stage, where Tejay Van Garderen busted a chain, swapped bikes with an Aussie teammate, got totally confused by the brake configuration, and flew through a Red-Rover's-worth of wildly gesticulating  course-flaggers, only to turn around, drag his !@# aaaaalmost up to the peloton, dodge a giant stick in the road, then get caught up behind a yuge pileup caused by some tape-like substance in the road, all well outside the last 3k, understandably drag in quite behind, then *still* keep his 6-second advantage and the leader's jersey in apparent contravention of the rules.  Is it me, or is it just no one really wanted to award the leader's jersey to that punk Moscon?

Welp, there's your crash (literally!) course, and with today's mere 1 moto wipeout, 1 gamechanger in the Giro *and* the Tour, a handy Nibs domestique plus some other guy at the ToC pulled before the day even started for biological irregularities, and a desperately cold'n' rain-soaked finale that caused the Giro organization to shorten the stage as Elia missed out on vindication thanks to frozen legs, I gotta say, I'm eager for tomorrow's undoubtedly more peaceful breakaway stage--forza ragazzi, and the lot of you, hold it together!

Friday, May 10, 2019

It's Yer Giro D'Italia in Preview, Part Tre: the Sprinteurs, the Climbeurs, and Puncheurs!

Sure, the race actually starts in a few minutes, but that don't mean we're done with our preview yet: while you're holding your breath while some poor bastard botches a bike change, we've got the sprinters, climbers, and stage hunters to break down!  So who've you got for stage wins, once you've been well and truly hosed by your GC picks?  These boys!

The Sprinteurs: let's be honest--recent bout of flu or not, if Elia Viviani is on half the form he was in 2018, he's a shoo-in for a passel of stage victories and the hallowed maglia ciclamino again.  First, the you-suck-uci-for-scheduling-the-amgen-epo-tour-o'-california-at-the-same-time-as-the-Giro has permanently gutted the giro sprinter field.  Second, this guy, unlike your typical sprinter musk oxen, can hang tough in all but the viciousest climbs.  Heck, if you can look fresher'n a daisy--or hell, an actual dead person--after last year's epic slog up the Finestre, as he did, what *can't* you conquer?  Still, there are a couple of other fast men here, most of whom are destined to crawl home weeping like wet-diapered toddlers after the first big mountain stage on Day 13, and scrappy little squirt Caleb Ewan, the tranquillo Fernando Gaviria, and Arnaud Demare could all dethrone, even if temporarily, the reigning king.  See that controversial Italian champ jersey they dropped on Elia?--kids, follow that!

The Climbeurs: look, if you can climb, you're a threat for Giro GC.  But some pretty amazing talent has been pressed into service, at least theoretically, for their team leaders, and all it takes is one captain's bonk for a mountain goat specialist to be let off the leash.  Ex-Carrot Ion Izagirre, who's whomped out an impressive palmares of his own this season.  Esteban Chaves, who if he doesn't get sick can charmingly crush just about anyone.  Carapaz, who better stick to backing Mikel !@#dammit.  Rafal Majka, who's pounded out a coupla Tour de France mountains titles. Pavel Sivakov--with poor Bernal out, now might be your moment. And of course, beloved ex-carrot Mikel Nieve.  Forza ragazzi!

The Puncheurs and Stage Hunteurs: Finally, the Giro is nothing if not unpredictable, and as the GC get too cagey watching each other, and hold back on the rollers to save energy in the big passes, there's some pretty wily stage hunters, and even out-of-place Classics guys, out for glory and a bangin' raise next year.  Tao Geoghegan Hart.  Bauke Mollema.  Bob Jungels.  Davide Formolo.  And I'm hoping that, as happens in at least one Grand Tour per year, some jailbait revelation or lifelong worker bee will pull a humungous solo breakaway and astonish and delight us all. Gooooooooo unexpected mystery man!

Welp, there's no doubt buckets more I'm missing, but them's my top picks.  Now let's get on with the show--and Landa, pleeeeeaaaaaaaase have a good ITT tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

It's Yer Giro d'Italia 2019 in Preview, Part Due: The GC Contenders!

Okay, tifosi, we got the corsa rosa down--now who's gonna rule it?  Probably one of these guys!

Mikel Landa: first, everyone can suck it for not including we love Mikel Landa in their top five.  Sure, he hasn't won a Grand Tour *yet*.  And with Alejandro Valverde missing in action with a gnarly butt-bone bruise, he'll lack some serious mountain firepower.  On the plus side, with Alejandro Valverde missing in action with a gnarly butt-bone bruise, he'll also lack the threat of a serious race-crushing bushwhack from his own teammate.  Of course, our luckless Mikel is down with a vicious toe-rub injury because Movistar sucks *and* all the gods of Valhalla are conspiring against him, but we know this--he's hungry, he's podiumed and won stages here before, it'd be bitchin' to give the unappreciative Movistar a giant !@#$ you as he bolts out the door to take Nibs' place at Bahrain-Merida, and, in a reasonably mountain goat's Giro where even the GC-blowing TTs are on the steep side, the boy can *climb*.  And even without Valverde, Mikel's got some hardcore backup: youngster Carapaz, who had a smashing Giro 2018, and Andrey Amador for the mountains, and JJ Rojas for some protection in the flats.  Aupa Mikeeeeeel--and the rest of you haters know what you can do with that!

Vincenzo Nibali: two-time Giro champ/don't forget his Tour or Vuelta either Nibs is focusing on the Giro this year, and that means one thing for the peloton: pain.  Pain on the climbs, pain on the rolling stages when he's in pursuit, pain on the flats when you can't even shake him, and most especially pain on the descents, where he'll blast by you and be enjoying a massage, a facial, and a cocktail back at the hotel while you're still white-knuckling your squirrely !@# down the first freakin' hairpin on the second-to-last Dolomite of the day.  Downside: second only to Tom Dumoulin's, his team's maybe not so strong as others' GC squads here.  Like that matters?  He's the freakin' Shark, !@#dammit!

Tom Dumoulin: all right, I'm still irked that someone the approximate body size of a steriod-suckin' Incredible Hulk can seemingly climb like a two-kilogram Chavito, but that aside, and ignoring his own grim outlook, Tom's gotta have nothin' but love for this route: he's got two whole weeks to conserve his energy before the mountains kick in, and he's got three whole time trials that, while not the flat profile beloved by specialists, nonetheless puts him on a bike that he can ride effortlessly while the other GC contenders are just praying to manage to stay reliably upright.  If he can minimize his losses on the giant passes, he could do this.  Aupa Mikeeeeeeeeel!

Simon Yates: the most excruciating "almost" of Giro 2018, when he bonked spectacularly on the grueling Finestre while that flailing spider windmill charged ahead for the win, he's got unfinished business here, and put a pretty sweet down payment on it with his late-season Vuelta win.  And while he says he's riding "conservatively" this trip, I assume that also means he'll be paying sharp attention to eating and drinking, to at least take one potential source of total collapse out of the threat pool. And who's he's got on his side? Cheerful Esteban Chaves, who'd also like to redeem a tough 2018, and we love fabulous veteran Carrot Mikel Nieve, who's already bagged the maglia azzurra and a buncha stage wins in this glorious race.  Hold your head together, and you've got a real shot at maglia rosa glory!

Primoz Roglic: look, I get it. He had a great Romandie, he's got a huge engine, he's an enormous talent.  But a three-week Grand Tour is an entirely different garanimal from a week-long stage race, and 21 days is plenty of time to grind even a strongman like this kid into a whimpering, jelly-like nub.  He's got only a handful of Grand Tours under his chamois so far--though who's to say this won't be his breakthrough?

Miguel Angel Lopez: he's young--in fact, last year's third place is also the reigning young rider champ.  He's brilliant--and has had a great start to his season.  And typical for Vino, who has been known to actually crush people into tiny carbon piles by the steely glare of his eyeballs, Astana has brought a squad, including twee-but-formidable Ion Izagirre, designed to kill. But I'm not sure Lopez's got this one just yet.  But I am sure that Vino'll make sure anyone who says that !@#$ is gonna pay for it!

And Finally, the Absentees: hey, I'm the first to say that that ungrateful arachnid-weasel is doing the Giro a favor by not showing up this year, but with happy lieutenant Geraint Thomas also delusionally thinking he'll get an equivalent shot at the Tour this year, that's two bigwigs out, alongside the ever-formidable mostly-bridesmaid Valverde that really open things up--and mercifully shield our eyes from the grotesque sight of Froome on a bike til his main goal in July. It'd be bull!@#$ to say that the absent won't define the race as the participants--so for the guys that are left, and particularly all my ex-Carrots in the house--now's yer chance to blow this race apart!

Well Giro fans, them's mine--next up, if I get around to it before a celebratory pre-race bar crawl with my Lupo Wolfie mascot derails it til after the show's already started, the sprinters, the climbers, and the 'nother threats!

Monday, May 06, 2019

It's Yer 2019 Giro d'Italia in Preview, Part Uno: The Course!

All right, we already know that the race organizers tailor-made this course to seduce Tom Dumoulin into participating by cramming in three freakin' time trials, instead of sensibly tailoring it to deserving natural climbers like Mikel Landa, in which case Dumo better cut the cagey psych-out crap with how out of form he is, be !@#damn grateful, and ride it if he's suffering from the !@#damn bubonic plague. Anyhoo, it being the perfect Giro, it's still a smashing course with plenty o' opportunity for unbelievable breakaways, spectacular bonks, and astonishing mountaintop triumphs, so what've we got? This!

The Overall: As I mentioned, this year's Giro's got *three* individual time trials, which means, no matter how climby they are, three opportunities for the mountain goats to fall over like dominoes on a quake fault and lose the race entirely to the Slightly- Less-Jolly-Than-Usual Green (well, actually red) Giant.  Dammit! Besides them, we have about 5 sprinty stages, 8 medium lumpy stages, and--the entire point of this three-week pain circus--5 big giant mountain stages.  Woot--bring it on, and gentlemen, I'll be sure to mimic your superhuman efforts by enthusiastically toasting you with an Aperol spritz!

The ITTs: we start, punctuate, and possibly podium-smashingly end the Giro with ITTs--no team ones, thank god--with 6k of flat and 2k of leg-nippin' nasty on Stage 1; a generally upward trending tho' not killer incline 35 k slog on Stage 9, and, to completely screw the GC for guys with a, let's say, imperfect grasp of time trial technique, on Stage 21, 17 k with a hill halfway, some last-second mountain points up for grabs, and a 4k descent at the end. Maglia Azzura hunters and crap bike handlers--keep yer eyes open!

The Sprints: like anyone cares, because it's the Giro d'Italia, but still, Elia Viviani put on a truly masterclass show in these last year, so I guess I gotta talk 'em.  Stage 3 stretches you out on the hills around Siena before a nice flat finale; Stage 5 pretends like the breakaway's got a chance with a hilly start then a pancake though awfully bendy finish into Terracina; then it's time for the mountain-shy to cringe home with some bull!@#$ stomach problem unless they can hold out til the flats pick up again on stages 10 and 11; and you get one more chance for glory on Stage 18--if you can make it there!  Sure you don't want to do the Tour of California instead?

The Rollers:   Stage 2's got a flat finish, so break at your peril and pray you don't get mortifyingly caught by the charging fast men in the last 200m; I don't know what the hell a "conurbation" around Rome is, but there is one on Stage 4, as well as a nice 4k uphill finale; Stage 6 is an exhausting 238k slog with a tricky twisty finish; Stage 7 takes us to L'Acquila with a teasingly flat run in until the road jumps upward; and Stage 8, our longest at 239 k, lulls you to sleep with with a flat 140k before kicking you in the nuts for three categorized climbs til a technical finish.  Then, a short'n'dirty stage 12 drags you *twice* up the 20% incline to Principi di Acaia, with the first Cat 1 beast o' the race, Montoso, to welcome you there; Stage 15, still a punishing 232k, takes us into friendly Il Lombardia territory, with the Ghisallo, Civiglio, and San Fermo.  Now take a rest day, honey--you're gonna need it through the big passes til Stage 19 gives you one last chance at mercy with a breakaway-friendly, low summit finish!

And Last But Not Least, The Entire Point of the Whole Race: yes, it's the mountains, baby!  Hope you caught your breath the first 12 stages, because now, it's a whole new world o' hurt: you ease in, sorta, as Stage 13 takes us up the Nivolet with a 15% finale; Stage 14's got 3,000 meters o' climbing in a quick 130k to Cormayeur.  But I hope you're not feeling too relaxed from your rest day--Stage 16 smacks you right in the Alps with 5,700 meters uphill, including the Presolana, the Cima Coppi (Italian for "We're !@#$ed") of the massive Gavia, and, if you're not crying in yer mamma's skirts yet, the mighty Mortirolo.  Whew, I'm I glad *that's* outta the w--aw, crap, it's Stage 17, with ginormous climbs and a vicious uphill finish!  But don't get too comfortable waiting out the sprinters and breakaway artists, and for !@#$'s sake, GC contenders, espresso up for your last chance to redeem your miserable bonk and 10 minute time loss on Stage 16: Stage 20 is a one-way ticket to hel--I mean, the smashing Dolomites, with 5,000 meters of suffer, including the Cima Camp, the Manghen Pass, and the Croce d'Auna to the last Cat 1 slog up Monte Avena.  Make it outta here alive?  Congrats, you just won the race--unless you blow it all on the ITT tomorrow!

Well, them's your 2019 Corsa Rosa basics, and remember, the Tour de France is for charlatans, braggarts, and media whores.   Next up: the GC Contenders--forza Mikeeeeeeeeel, and all of you lucky enough to participate in this beautiful event!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

It's racejunkie's Race Safety Guidelines for Every Conceivable Variety of !&#$wit!

Look everybody, we've barely made it through one Monument this season, and already we've got road-rashed collarbone-snapped riders piling up on race courses like empty piss-water beer cans in a frat house.  So what can we do to help these nice athletes stay upright, and in one piece?  This!

Spectators:

1. No. Selfie Sticks. Ever!

2. Next !@#$ing !@#$wit who sets off a flare next to the peloton is gonna have that !@#$ing thing shoved down their throat like some fire-eating !@#$ing circus freak.  Understand, asshole?!

3. If you're gonna slap *anyone* in the face with an inflatable promotional item in the last 15 seconds of a sprint, let it be yourself--or at least that six-foot-seven assclown who just budged in front of the primo spot you've been hoarding since 4 o'clock this morning.  And keep that thing behind the barriers !@#dammit!

4. Hey, let your freak flag fly, honey.  Just not a fourteen-foot Lion of Flanders in the face of a bonking rider desperate to minimize every inch of the 8000 meters he's just finished climbing!

5. Don't text and walk.  You have *no* idea where you are in space.  At least until all 14 kg of a breakaway lands on your dimwit body and ends their race right there. Come to think of it, anywhere on the planet, in any situation, this oughta be a face-smackable offense.  But we'll keep it to this context for the moment!

6. Children.  You know what children are?  Cannonballs with feet.  Shot out of a roller-coaster-shaped cast-iron tube at a million miles an hour with no more sense--or sense of direction--than a drunken amoeba.  Keep 'em back!

7. Straps. Nice purse! Hey, cool camera! Which any rider has the preemptive right to instantly garrote you with like a B-movie gangster if you let it fly out into the wind and catch their handlebar.  Hey, are you that jack!@# that took down our dear little Iban?

8. Dogs.  Man, I *love* dogs. And I'm writing this directly to you, Fido, because it's obvious you're the brain trust in your relationship with your stupid owner, who refuses to keep you on a short leash for the six seconds it takes the peloton to flash by because you might feel oppressed for the moment before you decide to roll in another animal's poop on the roadside.  I don't care if a !@#damn steak truck crashes over in front of you and spills its meaty guts in a gift straight from God, or if your owner throws the BIGGEST TENNIS BALL EVER right out into the yellow line in the middle of the road, or if there is nothing more compelling to you ON EARTH than a stampeding herd of spinning carbon wheels begging to be chased after and bitten into submission.  Stay off the freakin' road, for chrissakes!

9. Runners. I get it, there's something about the dazzling internet glory of letting your barely-covered less-impressive-than-you-think neon-highlighted junk bounce out into the TV screens of thousands of people while screaming like a maniac, while the only part of you anyone actually maybe wants to see, your head so you can be id'd and thrown into a !@#damn gulag, is crowned by some giant pair of Viking helmet-horns and threatens to spear some poor flyweight climber like a tropical fish, that hardly *anyone* can be expected to resist.  Well, resist it. Just...back off before you crash somebody, you gaudy embarrassment, and for god's sake, put on some real underwear!

10. Drunks.  Hey, I know that there's !@#$-all to do for the six hours you're freezing on a mountain top or baking to death in a desert or getting torrentially-rained on slipping on cobblestones but make doping jokes, write chalk encouragement or obscenities on the pavement, or simply get hammered. But don't let alcohol make an ENTIRE PLANET OF SEVEN BILLION PEOPLE hate your !@#$ing guts, and some unfortunate bone-broken rider put you on an angry DS hit list, when you stumble obliviously into the roadway and take out some guy who's spent approximately 25 million training hours preparing for the exact moment you happen to lose total control of your most basic bodily functions.  Dammit people, make sure the one teetotaler in your group keeps an eye on you!

Race Motos and Cars: your job is to *escort* the riders, not jerk to a stop so they go flying through your rear windshield, knock them sideways into a barbed-wire cattle fence, or plow them over from behind in some incidental inconvenience to your sad little Vin Diesel "Fast and Furious" fantasy.  In fact, they're why you're there.  Drive like it!

Race Organizers:

1. Inflatables.  There is truly nothing more exciting for the fans, and riders, to see than the red kite dangling from that giant inflatable bridge thing.  Even more exciting, however, is for it not to collapse on some poor bastard just trying to drag their exhausted carcass to the finish line.  Pump, generator, attendant, done!

2. Road furniture. Hey, you know what's even more fun than finishing a bike race after 6 hours barbecuing in 200-degree heat and vomiting your guts out in front of 76 eager TV cameras? An unmarked and apparently totally unnecessary iron pole in the exact center of the road you can crash into at 40 kilometers an hour!  Um, no it's not.  Remember, if there's gotta be carnage, some squishy volunteer with a waving flouro-flag makes a *lot* nicer landing surface than sheet metal!

3. Weather.  It does, I admit, make great television to watch a peloton-hipster's ridiculous handlebar mustache encase in sleet like some freakish mountain hermit, or Nairo Quintana slowly freeze into an adorable tabletop wedding-bash ice-sculpture, or some heavyweight climber sink into melting tarmac and be preserved for all eternity like a woolly mammoth for some delighted, if puzzled, future anthropologist to dig up.  And of course, you can't underestimate the highly smug martyrdom aspect of the sport, which also makes the bitter envious couch peloton all want to see these guys *earn* their pampered princeling sports-icon paycheck, because we have to !@#damn earn *our* paltry one in some !@#$y job with a miserable prison guard of a sadistic boss !@#dammit.  But geez, these frail little things *need* their fingers and toes--can we make "just before they're desperate enough for their lives to let another human being urinate on them like some disgusting politician scandal-video" the rule of thumb for calling it a day already?

4. Timing.  This isn't a safety issue, but it *does* completely piss me off, so I'm throwing it in.  How *dare* you schedule any other race at the same time as the perfect beautiful Giro, you twisted freaks?

Race Helicopters (I Mean Holy !@#$, We Have to Talk About Race Helicopters!): now, we *love* you.  You bring us beautiful field-art shots of tractors slowly circling in perfect harmony as bike wheels to carefully sited bales of hay making up bike frames.  You show us historic castles, the impeccable elegance of an echelon, where Sagan is peeking out from an impossible distance, and the argy-bargy of a sprint whose hairs-breadth result can only be seen from above.  And what else are you apparently doing now?  *That's* right, buzzing the finish line with your power-blades and blasting rows of barriers into unsuspecting, and, let's face, downright eggshell cyclists staggering across the finish line.  Jaysus, they made it through all these other idiots, and now they have to worry about you guys sending them to hospital?  Stay airborne til these tiny little things get to shelter next time!

And Last But Not Least, The Folks Who Keep Watch at Crossing Zones and Other Race Guardians: we all know that public-safety work can be incredibly boring, spiked with the sort of intermittent heart-stopping terror that makes the rest of us entirely to wussy to even casually *think* of doing your job.  But when your *sole* purpose at that race is to secure the course for the riders against a veritable army of teeming citizen dumb!@#es, please, please, please, do not turn your back for even a *second*.  Because that's the *exact* moment that Joe Q. Numbnut is gonna sprint *right* across the approaching peloton, and fold those suckers up like a giant carbon-spandex origami menagerie.  Never underestimate our astonishing dimwittery, and race organizers, give these folks a giant raise!

Well, them's mine, but I'm sure I'll be back here when some eejit decides to, oh, dig up a coupla cobblestones from the Arenberg for a souvenir just before Van Avermaet powers through, or some other spectacular act of world-class stupidity I can't even begin to dream of.  But let's start with these--and don't make me add to this !@#damn list, you hear me?!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

It's Yer 2019 Cycling Year In Preview (Yeah, You Read Right)!

Ok kids, time to shake off that post-New Year's hangover, toss yer 2018 team kit in the trash, and pull up yer big-boy chamois--another shameful year is behind us, and another one is rarin' to begin!  So what've we got ahead?  Here, yer 2019 Cycling Year in Preview:

January: Team camps round up! AG2R to preemptive counseling for inevitable Tour de France loss; Astana to WHEREVER VINO WANTS YOU TO GO AND WHATEVER HE WANTS YOU TO DO YOU WORTHLESS WORMS!; Deuc-whatever-Quick Step "Wolfpack" to Alps for extreme wilderness training, mistakenly tear Philippe Gilbert to pieces in pursuit of fleeing rabbit.  Guess the 'pack just got a little smaller for this year!

February: Classics training! Record 2 spectators on course at Tour of Oman, soigneurs vaporize into dry air awaiting passing peloton at feed zones; 68 riders positive for "!@#$loads of caffeine" at Tour of Colombia, field decimated for stage 2; Sagan recons Gent-Wevelgem press room for intensive preening, smack-talk training.

March: the Classics begin! Nibali takes Milano-San Remo (again) after using 2-by-4 to preemptively whack every fan he sees with a camera outta the way on the roadside; Simon Yates wins Paris-Nice after defending champ Marc Soler mistakenly chases down Adam; Sagan repeats Gent-Wevelgem after Viviani blinded by Sagan's gleaming beauty just before finishing sprint.

April:  It's the cobbles, beeyotches! Sagan lost in Forest of Arenberg, taken in by wicked witch in house built of candy; cobblestones torn out, replaced with asphalt when Roubaix first-timer Froome complains, "They're ouchy!"; Alejandro Valverde sweeps Ardennes, bolts for team bus, disappears behind sweeping black satin cape when UCI  photographer notices Bala can't see own reflection in mirror; Wolfpack distracted when Van Avermaet throws raw meat by side of road.

May: It's Il Grande Giro, baby!  Mountain stages cancelled after Tom Dumoulin protests they're "too climby"; Landa takes individual time trial, wins Giro after sneaking to course night before, pointing arrow for time trial course away from valley floor and up the Mortirolo; Egan Bernal gains 93 minutes on Fedaia without pedaling when team mechanic mistakenly hands him Froome's Tour de France bike.

June: Time for Tour de France prep! Alberto Contador back in action at Dauphine as fans snatch Caja Rural team boss, force them to sign one-race contract; women's peloton train for--aw, what the hell do they really have to train for in France in July, anyway? Porte doubles at Tour de Suisse, Australia's richest family thrown into bankruptcy when bet fortune on Porte winning the Tour de France in 4 weeks.

July: What else? It's the Grand Bull-shay! Sky rewards Geraint Thomas for incredible 2018 victory by kicking him off team bus to "save gas," making him transport Froome's luggage between stages on foot; Froome out after eyeballs weld to readout on power meter, sent to be freed by surgical specialist in London; Movistar to "9-man-captain" strategy, fistfight ensues at team meeting, Nairo only one to make it out alive when hides behind water pitcher on table; no-one bothers to ride La Course, Giro Donne officials startled when entire planet's female riders show at their start line instead.

August: the Vuelta begins!  Euskadi-Murias loses 26 hours on opening team time trial, regains on first mountain top finish; Yates blows double when confuses Oscar Rodriguez' neon-green team kit for safety vest of road-hazard flag guy, doesn't bother to chase down on decisive climb to Santuario del Acebo ; c'mon, who's really watching the Tour de Pologne, anyway?

September: Time for the World Championships! van der Breggen, van Vleuten DQd from time trial and road races after signing in late due to exhaustion from epic 48-hour "Fortnite" battle; Alejandro Valverde wins men's time trial stripes, because nothing in this ridiculous sport makes any sense any more; Cav grabs men's road race because "I gotta justify 13 consecutive years of slagging other sprinters for sucking somehow."

October: Nibali wins Il Lombardia after having vertebrae broken by dipwad with selfie stick, legs run over by stampeding elephants, arms fractured by out-of-control cruise ship, and feelings really, *really* hurt by mean kid who cut in line at gelato shop; Sagan switches career to unicycle when miffed at perceived lack of adoring press coverage, UCI votes to make 2020 Paris-Roubaix one-wheel-only; 'cross season underway, Belgian 3-year-old busted for using training wheels in debut victory; Mikel Landa announces team switch to "for chrissakes, anywhere but Movistar, please!"

November: Transfer rumors confirmed! Sky announces replacement sponsor "Joe's Suspicious Internet Testosterone Nut-Patches.com"; Geraint Thomas to "back to haulin' Froomey's laundry, I guess"; Quick Step erroneously signs actual wolves, Gilbert, Alaphilippe, Evenepoel out of contract for 2020.

December: Team kit reveals! Euskadi-Murias switches to bunny suits, tiny riders swooped away by hawks; AG2R to controversial "disco ball" outfits so at *somebody'll* notice 'em in the peloton next season; "Joe's Suspicious Internet Testosterone Nut-Patches.com" design rejected by UCI for too- graphic imagery.  Bummer!

Well folks, that's yer 100% Guaranteed racejunkie Year in Preview--so when this !@#$ goes down in 2019, don't say I didn't warn you!