You can’t say that, No. #3

December 20, 2014 § 15 Comments

Ok, jealousy plus erythropoietin.

“It’s only jealousy.” Mauro Sangambrogio before testing positive for EPO, explaining to his DS Luca Scinto why everyone suspected him of doping. Cycling News, June 3, 2013.

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And while you’re at it, could you make “as soon as possible” sometime in 2020?

“I can only say that I am in disbelief about what has happened and will request the counter analysis as soon as possible.” Mauro Santambrogio, the day after testing positive for EPO, which was a few days after assuring team boss Luca Scinto that he was clean as a whistle. Ansa.IT, June 3, 2013.

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Sort of like Cupid with a needle in his ass.

“I’m not a criminal … but within my environment, I felt like a little god.” Mauro Santambrogio after receiving a 2-year ban for doping, explaining why he had felt the need to cheat. La Gazzetta dello Sport, October 12, 2013.

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Now, however, I have a different set of problems.

“My testosterone levels were low and I had erection problems, plus I had fertility problems. That’s why I was prescribed Andriol.” Mauro Santambrogio, facing a lifetime ban after testing positive for testosterone a few days before the expiration of his ban for testing positive for EPO, which was in turn was a couple of months before he was to resume his pro racing career. Cycling News, December 18, 2014.

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You can’t say that, No. 2

December 18, 2014 § 23 Comments

Incredibly, his mother forgot to tell him that something can be both a favor AND forbidden.

“I threw the bag in the suitcase without covering it. It was mixed with clothing. I didn’t know I was doing anything forbidden, just a favour.” Mexican racer Jose Alfredo Aguirre, busted at the Alicante airport in Spain with EPO and human growth hormone in his carry-on baggage, allegedly given to him by his coach. Cycling News, December 16, 2014.

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For example, he would totally dispense with that “getting caught” stuff. And the kidney failure.

“I wouldn’t dope, or I’d at least do it differently.” Disgraced, banned, and self-admitted “idiot” Riccardo Riccò at his book signing, explaining what he’d learned from a career that ended when he almost killed himself due to a botched home-job transfusion. Cycling News, December 17, 2014.

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But then, goshdangit, they made him pee into that little cup-thingy after the race.

“After having served a suspension in 2011, I never expected to find myself in this situation again.” Old fellow Todd Robertson, 51, after receiving an 8-year ban as a repeat doper at masters nationals in Bend. USADA sanction list, May 14, 2014.

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Or, it could just be the rather pedestrian story of another cheating dirtbag.

“I am confident that this will soon become a dramatic story about professionalism and family, with the outcome of the results of the counter-analysis that will be demanded by my lawyer.” Matteo Robattini, just prior to the counter-analysis demanded by his lawyer that confirmed he had in fact doped with EPO. TuttoSport 24-Ore, September 17, 2014.

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You can’t say that, No. 1

December 3, 2014 § 38 Comments

Because it used to be, like, a mark of distinction.

“Young riders have gone mad. They do not understand that doping is no longer acceptable in cycling.” Alexandre Vinokourov, suspended pro doper and head of Team Astana, on why five of his riders have tested positive. Kazhakstanskaya Pravda, Nov. 28, 2014.

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Except for, you know, that we’re on the same team.

“They are four idiots that have nothing to do with me.” Vincenzo Nibali, explaining the distance between himself and riders who were with him at Tour of Oman, Milano-Sanremo, Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the Tour de Romandie. VeloNews, Nov. 21, 2014.

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Which is why we’re renewing the team’s license for 2015.

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) views the positive tests for EPO by two riders of the same team — Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy — as an extremely serious situation and one which raises questions about the management of the team and the ethics which are upheld within it.” UCI statement about the 5 recent positive doping tests on Team Astana. VeloNews, Oct. 8, 2014.

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No dessert, sure, or maybe a spanking.

“It’s not right to say that they should have missed Lombardy or Almaty.” Roger Legeay, head of pro cycling anti-doping movement, defending Team Astana’s cynical timing ploy that allowed them to race the final monument of the year despite multiple team doping offenses. Ten Ring News, Oct. 12, 2014.

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But the runner-up will be invited back to a special award ceremony and given a winner’s trophy with a really cool t-shirt.

“Davidenok and Astana literally stole close to $100,000 from the rest of the field, and there is no way we are going to get that money back; bull-shit.” Canadian pro Michael Woods, on Astana doper Ilya Davidenok’s win at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, scooping up $100k in prize money while riding the field off his wheel and making the rest of the field “his bitch.” CyclingTips.au, Nov. 28, 2014.

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Brändle breaks hour record by .0000000018 Å

November 1, 2014 § 11 Comments

Both cycling enthusiasts poured out into the streets of Hohenems, Austria, to celebrate the accomplishment of local-boy-made-good Matthias Brändle, who crushed the hour record set on September 18 by Jens Voigt. “I never thought I would be able to set the record in such a dominating fashion,” said Brändle. “Usually you think perhaps you can take a win like this by a few ten-billionths of an angstrom, or perhaps a hundred-billionth, but to destroy the record by a full .18 billionth of an angstrom, that’s a record I can be proud of.”

The record was confirmed by the UCI through X-ray diffraction. By applying the present best value for a a, a = 543.102 0504(89) × 10−12 m, corresponding to a resolution of ΔL/L ≈ 3 × 10−10. This measurement allowed the calibration of the UCI’s official electron microscopes, extending measurement capabilities. For non-relativistic electrons in an electron microscope, the de Broglie wavelength is:

\lambda_e = \frac{h}{\sqrt{2m_e e V}} \ ,

Voigt, reached at his doping center in Belgium, concurred. “My math isn’t so great, but that’s a record that will stand for a long time, or at least until somebody learns how to use a calculator.”

Brian Cookson, head of the UCI who spearheaded the effort to allow hour record attempts with modern equipment, was euphoric. “This is what we were hoping for. The most exciting event in all of cycling, a lone anorexic pedaling mindlessly in circles for an hour covered in sputum, setting new records of human performance that require a Ph.D. in mathematics to appreciate. You know that video, ‘Jizz in my Pants‘? That’s how I feel right now.”

Local residents of Brändle’s blonde-haired, blue-eyed hometown were even more ecstatic. “In the past we have always been a rather rustic part of western Austria, a very small town,” said Burgermeister Adolf Reltih. “Our town’s deportation of the Jews to concentration camps was really the only thing we were known for, aside from converting their historic synagogue into a fire station after the war, and, you know, completely erasing all evidence of their existence and their significant contributions to our town and its history. Did you know that one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century, Stefan Zweig, had his family roots here before we deported them? But now we will be known for this amazing accomplishment. It will be years, decades even, before anyone goes a billionth of an angstrom farther than Matthias.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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