Froome declines to ride ’15 Tour, chooses SoCal Cup crit series instead

October 23, 2014 § 11 Comments

2013 Tour de France winner and not-very-good-rider-in-a-pack cycling dude Chris Froome  has announced that he may forego the 2015 Tour de France, whose route was announced yesterday.

“The team and I will have to give it some careful consideration before we make any commitments to which races I will compete in,” he said in at a press conference held at his nursery. “I see myself as quite a balanced rider and the SoCal Cup crit series with its inclusion of a bunch of short, easy laps around an arsenic factory, and tough finishes sprunting for water bottles make it a well balanced race which suits me well. If I did the whole series, including the races put on by Lotts, I may also be able to get myself back to top shape for Grand Park training races and go there with a realistic chance of aiming for the win.”

Incredulous journalists swarmed the Bottoms Up Nursery for interviews after being vetted by Fanny O’Cowlick, the head wet nurse. Jean-Francois Mitterand du Fromage Puant, noted notary public and bicycling expert, was filled with outrage. “Ee skeeps le Tour pour zees Creet Zeries? Mon Dieu! Quelle fou! Cherchez les femmes!”

Froome, however, calmly answered his detractors after Fanny removed his pacifier and changed his soppy didy. “There’s no two ways about it, next year’s Tour is going to be about the mountains. There’s very little emphasis on short office park crits, which means the race will be decided up in the high mountains by men with giant testicles, covered with thick growths of jungle-like hair. With six mountaintop finishes it is going to be an aggressive and massively demanding race,” said Froome.

“Not that I couldn’t hack it,” he added. “But after looking at the Ontario prize list and the chance to sprint against the Surf City train, it just seems like SoCal is the better place for me. Plus, I can always use a couple of new water bottles and gain experience by leading out Charon.”

Jan van de Ooperckx, another noted notary public and cycling commentator, posed a number of questions to Froome. However, Ms. O’Cowlick refused to let her charge take further questions. “He’s got a booboo on his po-po, and we gots to burp the little bugger,” she said as she deftly stuck a dripping nipple into Froome’s toothless gum and simultaneously scrubbed his ass with a wet wipe. “But I can answer for him,” she added.

“Thing is,” said Fanny, “Froomykins crashed out of the 2014 Tour before getting a taste of the pave but he actually quite enjoys the challenge of riding on the cobbles. It’s true he pooped a bit in his drawers and fell off ‘is bike a couple of times and got some more boo-boo’s on his po-po, but ‘e likes it when ‘e gets a spot of a spankin’, don’t you, Froomykins?” Ms. Cowlick then smacked her charge on the buttocks with a soup spoon as he wailed happily, in a sad kind of way.

“Now all you bad men go away, especially you smelly French ones,” said Ms. O’Cowlick. “It’s Froomykins’s bedtime.”

END

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Shaming the Badger

October 22, 2014 § 24 Comments

I just finished reading “Slaying the Badger” by Richard Moore. It is the most gripping, exciting, blah, blah, blah, blah about cycling that shows the drama, intrigue, and gritty blah, blah, blah of the human blah. Every time I finish reading a book about bicycles I smash out the windows, kick the dog, and swear that I’ll never, ever read one again. Until the next time.

Then I pass it on to a close friend as the ultimate measure of passive aggression.

Anyway, “Slaying the Badger,” which is well written and not completely uninteresting, reveals some shocking, little known facts about Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond. For example:

  • Hinault was not a nice person.
  • LeMond was a whiny little bitch.
  • Winning the Tour is hard.
  • Cycling is hard.
  • Hard races are won by hard men.
  • Hardy, har, har

The book was so successful that ESPN made it into a full-length motion picture of 30 minutes, which is 29 minutes longer than the attention span of the very smartest football fan. So basically, now that it’s a video, no one will ever read the book.

My biggest criticism is that the author left out my own experiences with Hinault, which confirmed that which no one ever doubted: He is truly an asshole. However, sometimes a monstrous, self-absorbed asshole runs up against an equally monstrous, equally self-absorbed asshole, and that’s really where the fun begins.

It was at the last stage of the 1985 Coors Classic in Boulder, a crit. Since Hinault had spanked LeMond in the Tour, he agreed to ride for him at the Coors Classic. Greg had it sewn up. Before the race Greg patiently stood in front of an endless line of fans and signed autographs. I waited and he signed a piece of paper for me.

Then I watched the race. Somebody went faster than everybody else and was declared the winner. Immediately after the race, the Badger peeled off the course to head for the hotel. I was standing right next to him as he slowed to about 5 mph. “Monsieur Hinault,” I said in my best French. “Combien pour vos sous-vêtements?”

He snarled just as I realized that I’d asked him how much for his underwear. Then I corrected myself. “Puis-je avoir un autographe?”

“Non,” he snapped, and nastily pedaled away.

Five years later I was an official interpreter at the World Road Race Championships in Utsunomiya, Japan. It was Sunday, September 2, the day of the pro road race. Part of my duties were to secure the entrance to the VIP grandstand. Tanaka-san gave me explicit instructions. “Do not let anyone in here before 8:00 AM.”

“Anyone?” I asked.

“Anyone,” he confirmed.

“Okey-dokey,” I said.

About an hour later the coach of the French national team came up with a couple of other French flunkies. The coach looked suspiciously like the Badger. He was snarling something in such an angry voice that it made spoken French sound like the language of the body snatchers. Hinault barged his way up to the entrance gate, where I stood.

“Move,” he said in English.

I stared down at his tiny smallness. From far atop the mountain of my towering six-feet-two-inches of height I spied the tousle-headed little newt far below me. He craned his neck up and thrust out his chest, which had bristly spines of curly hair angrily poking out from his unbuttoned golf shirt.

“Nope,” I said in French.

“I say move!” he ordered again, this time taking a step forward, grabbing his plastic ID badge with his name on it, and pulling out the lanyard until the badge was stuck under my nose. “You know this, eh?” he snapped.

I slowly read his name out loud, taking my time while he steamed like a clam. “Bernard He-nalt,” I said, giving it my best Texas accent.

“Now you move!” he said, inching closer.

“Look buddy,” I said. “I don’t know who you are, and don’t care if you’re a five-time winner of the Tour de France. Nobody gets in before 8:00 AM. Especially no short people.”

I braced myself for the punch, certain that he’d understood enough to be thoroughly insulted. His face turned bright red and I kept looking at him with a relaxed smile on my face, thinking about that autograph and underwear sale he’d denied me five years earlier in Boulder.

Then the Badger did the unthinkable. He turned on his heel and stormed off. I almost shattered my rib cage from holding in the laughter.

Top that, ESPN.

END

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Andy Schleck announces retirement from quitting

October 10, 2014 § 15 Comments

The professional peloton was roiled by a news conference held by Andy Schleck, who announced  today that he was “retiring from quitting.”

“That’s it,” said Schleck, who was visibly distraught. “No more quitting for me. I’ve quit my last professional race. I never thought it would end like this, having to quit being a quitter, but that’s life. Sometimes you just have to quit doing what you love, which for me is, you know, quitting.”

Older brother Frank Schleck, who confuses orthographers by sometimes writing his name with an umlaut and sometimes not, stroked Andy’s head while the younger brother sat mournfully in Frank’s lap. “Even though Andy says he’s done with quitting, we’re holding out hope that maybe next year he’ll be able to stage a comeback and quit again.”

CitSB caught up with several current and former stars, all of whom reminisced about Andy’s uncanny ability to give up when the going got tough, and often when the going got merely uncomfortable, or, most spectacularly when the going hadn’t really even gone anywhere yet.

“I’ll never forget when he quit the 2014 Tour,” ruminated Alberto Contador fondly. “He really went out on a high note, quitting with me, and Froome, and a bunch of other riders. The tenacity he showed in giving up … I’ll never forget it.”

Shleck’s first pro contract was with Velo Roubaix when he signed under legendary director Cyrille Guimard. Guimard recalls the moment when he realized that Andy had what it took. “It was a sunny day, rare for northern France in early winter, and Andy had just joined us for his first pro training camp. We were, oh, fifteen kilometers into the ride and he sat up and abandoned.

“‘What’s wrong?’ I asked from the team car, and without missing a beat he said, and I’ll never forget it, ‘My knee is sore and I have a cold and I’m wearing the wrong base layer.’ He pulled over and quit and dared anyone to make him continue. That’s when I knew he was in a class of his own.”

Cadel Evans, who won the 2011 Tour by ripping the yellow jersey from Schleck’s back in the final time trial, was even more effuse. “Andy wasn’t just a quitter. He could crumple, fold, and give up even when he had a race sewn up. I’ll never forget taking 2:31 out of him in Grenoble, it was like winning a World Cup final by thirty points. He didn’t simply throw in the towel, he had a way of rolling over and dying that was truly epic. His ability to fling himself into an abyss of hopelessness and defeat was incredible.”

At the end of the press conference in his living room, after Frank had dabbed away Andy’s tears, the younger Schleck put on a brave face and smiled wanly for his fan. “Don’t give up on me,” he said to Darcy McIntosh, who had traveled all the way from the end of the block to lend her support. “I can quit this on my own.”

END

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Riders lament cancellation of Tour of Beijing after 2014

September 24, 2014 § 14 Comments

The pro peloton was rocked today with news that the beloved Tour of Beijing will likely end after 2014. “This was one of the best races on the calendar,” said Serge Dumoulin, noted domestique for Continental III-level pro team Buster’s Bunion Buster Orthotic Shoe Implants p/b Carburetor Kleen. “It was an epic race.”

Praise for the race was unanimous. In its first three years, the Tour of Beijing a/k/a Race for the Cinders, was hailed as one of the toughest and most challenging events on the pro calendar. “Sure, the stages were all pretty much short and flat,” said Pepe Contreras of Team Barnacle, “but to pedal even a hundred meters in that stinking, smog-filled shit hole of Beijing, I rate it as my greatest accomplishment ever.”

Team doctors from Trek, Cannondale, Katusha, and Tinkoff-Saxodope all agreed. “This race presented the most incredible challenges of our collective medical careers: how to inhale vast quantities of mercury, lead, cadmium, and airborne clenbuterol without either dying or testing positive. This was our greatest achievement.”

Pierre du Fromage-et-vins-du-Sucre, one of the few riders to complete all three editions, waxed nostalgic. “It’s not often you get to support, through your athletic participation, a nation that not only represses human rights but that also pollutes the globe on a massive scale. I’ll miss that. Plus all the teenagers we had sex with for, like, six bucks.”

Brian Cookson, head of the UCI and uncharacteristically sober at 9:00 AM British time, was more sanguine. “The Tour of Beijing served its purpose, to reach out to the growing population of Chinese sporting enthusiasts and expand awareness of our sport, but let’s be honest here. When has anyone ever gone to China and not gotten fucked? Making money off of the Chinese is harder than taking a full bottle of rye whiskey away from a thirsty Irishman. Not that there’s any other kind.”

Although the Tour of Beijing provided a last-stop Pro Tour race for riders still looking for a win and Andy Schleck, Cookson believes that other opportunities are in the offing. “I was recently contacted by a gentleman, Mr. Abdul Abdullah-Masoud al-Qaeda who would like to unveil a premiere stage race in the northern part of what was, formerly, I believe, known as Iraq. We are still working out the details, and would of course require that none of the riders be decapitated, and I believe they may be flexible on that point as long as everyone wears a bedsheet. With the UCI, rider safety is our paramount concern.”

END

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UCI rule changes usher in new era

September 21, 2014 § 31 Comments

With the changes to the UCI’s rules for the hour record attempt firmly in place, Jens Voigt stormed to a new mark in the legendary event, setting a fastest-ever pace in the event, a time that was faster than anyone has ever gone before in this distance, except for eight other riders, all of whom went faster, but who, under new rules are now technically slower, making Voigt the fastest ever rider not to have used certain modifications under the old rules that allowed the “superman” position. Voigt’s new status as the fastest ever rider for the hour except for the riders who have actually gone faster created a wave of happiness and hysteria at the UCI, and Cycling in the South Bay was lucky to catch this brief interview with chief Brian Cookson in between lunchtime martinis.

CitSB: You must be really happy about this.

Brian Cookson: Oh indeed, indeed. This rule change is going to see a wave of riders attempting to break the hour record.

CitSB: Can you explain it to the folks back in Peoria? It’s kind of confusing.

BC: Of course. Under the old rules, which were instituted to replaced the former rules before that, and which in turn had been liberalized over the previous rules, a rider couldn’t set an hour record unless he did it under the same technical constraints as Eddy Merckx’s 1972 ride in Mexico City.

CitSB: And why was that so hard?

BC: There just weren’t very many more pairs of wool shorts left anymore. Except for the guys over at Velominati. And reproducing the open-shit sewers of Mexico City in ’72 was a major technical hurdle, not to mention getting old-school pepper-upper combos like Deca, heroin, strychnine, and cocaine.

CitSB: So then what happened?

BC: We changed the rule so that it mirrors the existing rules for the pursuit. If you can use it in the pursuit, you can use it in the hour record.

CitSB: Even those stupid looking smooth helmets that make you look like a speeding penis?

BC: (Slams another martini, rubs self). Especially those.

CitSB: Back to Ma and Pa in Peoria. Jens Voigt has the new hour record, but there are still eight riders who have set UCI-approved hour records faster than him. How can you be the record holder in 9th place?

BC: Again, as with most things in cycling, you have to be steeped in the history and the regulations to appreciate the effort. It is true that the fastest hour records of Boardman and Rominger will never be broken, but those records were set due to technical specifications that allowed them to use bike positions that we will never allow again.

CitSB: Why is that?

BC: The hour record should be pure. It should be man against time.

CitSB: Or woman.

BC: What?

CitSB: Never mind.

END

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Tumpkins leads TdF; Facebag announces news blackout

July 15, 2014 § 11 Comments

With the recent crash-abandons of Andy Schleck, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish, Frank Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Alberto Contador, and the remaining 189 riders, the lead in this year’s Tour de France passed today to unheralded Mathers Tumpkins, a little-known domestique for Team Diaper. Diaper was the last team to receive a wildcard invitation, and Tumpkins, a/k/a “Jellyroll,” was the last rider to be selected.

Tumpkins appeared astonished at being led to the podium and asked to pull on the coveted leader’s jersey. “One minute I’m the lanterne rouge and the next I’m on a stage sticking my tongue down some bimbo’s throat watching the Badger punch out some bum in a wheelchair. Dayum!”

Evgeni Mxyzptlk, director of Team Diaper, was also suprised. “That’s the shits, as we say on Team Didy. Only reason Tumpkins even got on the team was because his father owns the company.”

After Froome’s multiple bicycle-falling-off incidents and resultant boo-boo, the biggest news of the day aside from everyone giving up was Contador’s falling-off-incident. El Dopalero was eating a banana when he inadvertantly flung aside the remains and his bicycle slipped on the peel. Dramatic photos show El Dopalero’s bike frame cracked in half; bystanders said that Contador rode into a small 12-foot pothole and snapped the frame.

Specialized immediately issued a press release denying that its frame was weak, substandard, shoddily made, or in any way less than perfect. The release is printed in full below:

Specialized deeply regrets losing El Dopalero from the 2014 Tour de France. However, the catastrophic failure that appeared to occur when he slipped on a banana peel and rode off into a mine shaft had nothing to do with the integrity of the frame despite alleged eyewitness accounts.

Eyewitnesses were flown to a Specialized Rendition Center in Uzbekistan where it was determined through perfectly legal measures that they were drunk at the time of the accident. Each witness signed a full confession admitting that Specialized makes perfect bikes of uncompromising structural integrity.

Specialized fully intended to make the witnesses available to the media, but after signing their confessions they accidentally fell down some stairs and died. Moreover, in the event that El Dopalero did not fall into a volcano crater, we are prepared to offer evidence that the frame broke because it was damaged while passing the Belkin team car, or because it got run over by accident after El Dopalero fell, or because it was mauled, but not eaten, by the dog.

Race leader Tumpkins was circumspect about the crash and mass abandons as he chewed on his fourth donut and swigged from a bottle of beer. “Look, it’s all the same to me whether he rode off a cliff or is having a heavy monthly flow. Fact is, there’s no one left in the Tour except me and I intend to take my fuggin’ time.”

Mxyzptlk concurred. “There is no reason to rush anymore. Everyone else has gone home. This last 450-mile cobbled uphill headwind freezing rain and ice stage was too much, even for Jens Voigt and his pharmacist.”

When asked whether fans would stick around for a 2-week victory parade, Mxyzptlk shrugged and turned the corners of his mouth down in that funny Euro way which essentially means, “Who gives a fuck?”

Facebag issues Tour de France news blackout

In related Tour news, Mark Suckerberg, president of social media giant Facebag, issued a press release regarding the new Tour Blackout algorithm. “We have set up Facebag so that nothing can be posted on it anymore before the entire Tour concludes, thus saving sensitive members of our community from having the event spoiled for them.”

The new algorithm was apparently developed in response to the piteous cry made by Mr. Mailliw Enots, winner of the not-so-coveted 2013 Most Time on Facebag Award. Enots’s plea for help is reproduced below:

It is really terrible when blatherskite people post the Tour results before I return home from work because, juice box. Those who do this apparently have a deep seeded (sic) disorder marked by wanting to be considered important and knowing when they have done nothing to suggest they are either. This posting of spoiler things must be stopped.

Although it was later pointed out that Enots hasn’t been to work since 1974, and a study team posed the question of why he was on a web site that exists specifically to spoil everyone’s fun about sporting results while posting photos of last night’s dinner and cats, Suckerberg took pity on the orthographically challenged Savant from Hooterville.

“While it does seem strange that someone would be surfing Facebag at work (you get fired for that here at Facebag), and even stranger that they would be surprised to find out what happened in the day’s major sporting event, some people deserve pity, and if not that, at least a healthy measure of contempt, or both, and he is one.”

It is not clear how Facebag or Enots will deal with the fact that Mathers Tumpkins seems poised to win every successive stage until Paris.

 

Froome out of Tour, vows he’ll be back “on Friday”

July 10, 2014 § 25 Comments

After Wednesday’s stunning reversal of fortune that saw last year’s Tour de France champion Chris Froome fall off his bicycle three separate times, the stem-gazing Man Of Something Not Quite As Hard As Steel announced that after falling and getting an “ouchie” he would not be starting Thursday’s stage. Cycling in the South Bay caught up with Chris and director David Brailsford aboard the team bus, now affectionately known as the “Froome Wagon.”

CitSB: So, what happened?

Froome: Aw, it was fuggin’ awful, mate, a bloody shit show. Rain, cobbles, traffic furniture, 190 idiots trying to squeeze onto a cow track, y’know?

CitSB: Cobbles got the best of you?

Froome: Well, it was the pre-cobbles.

CitSB: Pre-cobbles?

Froome: Yar. I sort of hit some wanker’s wheel and fell off me bike.

CitSB: Did you break your wrist in your first pre-cobbles bike-falling-off incident, or the second?

Froome: The second. It’s not quite broken. But it’s very sore. Incredibly hurty sore. I couldn’t continue.

CitSB: What’s the current Dx?

Froome: Oh, it’s very painful and hurts. The riding and such and the rain and the other people trying to beat me and the stress made it very ouchy and hurty, eh? Tough day in the saddle for us hard men, that’s for sure.

CitSB: When did you know you wouldn’t be able to start Thursday’s stage?

Froome: Right away. I hit me hand and scratched it pretty bad like. The doctor put on three Band-Aids and a cold pack, y’know? It was super hurty ouchy. I can really relate to what Johnny Hoogerland and Tyler Hamilton went through. But it’s a tough sport and not to brag, but we’re tough guys. Hard men.

CitSB: What does this mean for the rest of your season?

Froome: It’s not too bad, actually. I plan on grabbing a couple of pints down at the pub tonight with Cav and Millar and maybe Wiggo. We’ve got a little support group going, eh. Rooney may show up, too. I get to rest all day today and all day Thursday, then I’ll pick up where I left off on Friday. It’s a stage that’s not too bad.

CitSB: Excuse me?

Froome: The Tour’s a three-week race, mate. What’s a day here or there? I’m surprised more guys don’t do it. Take a couple of days off and then come back sharper than a needle, if you know what I mean.

CitSB: So you’re going to just hop back in?

Froome: Yeah. Why wouldn’t I? I ain’t no quitter, mate.

CitSB: Have you discussed this with anyone?

Froome: Oh, sure. Brailsford’s on board with it. Right, Dave?

Brailsford: Absolutely. He’s prepared all year for this. A lot of guys would quit with a big nasty ouchie like that, but Chris is no quitter; he’s more like a pauser. He lives for the Tour. And for stems. And as he says, by Friday he’ll have recovered enough to have another go. We don’t expect him to pull on the yellow jersey until the mountains, though.

CitSB: Uh … don’t you guys know that, uh … never mind. So, have you had any second thoughts about Wiggo?

Froome: (laughs) Yeah. Our first thought was that he’s an arse. And our second thought is that he’s a hole. (guffaws)

CitSB: I mean, does your accident make you regret having left him off the team?

Froome: Not at all. Why would it?

CitSB: Well, if Wiggins had been selected he’d be able to lead the team now.

Froome: (suspiciously) What’s that supposed to mean? I told you I’m comin’ back on Friday, didn’t I? I’m the leader of this team, that’s sorted. And if I’d had me way I wouldn’t of rode today anyway. Stupid stage, like I said. I’m a bike racer, not a rock climber. I think next year we’ll do a bit more stage recon and skip the ones that ain’t a good fit.

Brailsford: We’re still planning on using Wiggins, actually.

CitSB: You are?

Brailsford: Yes. We’re saving him for a couple of key mountain stages. When everyone else is tired he’ll be fresh as a new blood bag. We’ll send him in to set pace for Chris. We figure that’s the best way to burn up Contador. Then we’ll rest him for a couple of stages and send him in again.

CitSB: Kind of like a pinch hitter in American baseball?

Froome: Yeah, exactly, without all the chewing tobacco.

CitSB: Any thoughts on the withdrawals of Andy Schleck and Mark Cavendish? They both went down in crashes, too.

Froome: (laughing) Them wankers ought to learn how to ride a bike!

 

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