May 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
I swore I wouldn’t waste even a second of my time writing about “L’Affaire du Sprint” involving Ferrari, Horseface, The Anointed One, and the other riders who fell down in the gallop to the line at the end of Stage 3 in the 2012 Giro d’Italia. But then again, I’m an inveterate liar.
As is usual in such cases, the most eloquent explanations come from those involved. Before we get to that, however, let’s review a few basic rules of field sprinting in major races.
Rule 1: If you cross the line first, you win.
Rule 2: Everyone else doesn’t win.
Rule 3: If you fall down, you’re an idiot.
Rule 4: If you make someone else fall down, you might get punished. Or you might wind up with Rule 1 and a contract renewal.
Rule 5: Field sprinters win by sprinting in proximity to lots of other crazily flailing madmen. They take enormous risks to do so and invariably crash. It’s their job.
Rule 6: There is no prize for “Non-winner with the best excuse for not winning.”
Rule 7: Everyone is crazy mad dangerous can’t hold a fucking line in a sprint except you.
Recap: Roberto Ferrari swerved in the sprint and knocked down Horseface, The Anointed One, and a bunch of people who don’t matter because they’re not Horseface or The Anointed One.
This type of thing never happens in pro cycling, especially in big races, well, okay, it happens rarely, really rarely, like hardly ever. For example:
Stage 22, TdF 1991, li’l mix-up
Stage 4, TdSuisse 2010, Horseface brings down the house
Stage 11, TdF 2010, Whingey shows “respect” with head-butt
Schildeprijs 2009, uh, BAM!
Stage 1, Eneco Tour 2009, dude in orange “holds his line”…but the line is about 6-ft. wide
Stage 10, VaE 1994, Cipo changes lanes into barriers…oops
Stage 7, Tirreno-Adriatico 1999, shoulder check, launch, and bike toss
When I used to whine like this, I got a whipping
“Because things are changing in the peloton, there’s not the respect that there used to be. That means there’s a lot more crashes…a sprint team wants to stay at the front, and a sprint team is fighting with a GC team. If every team tries to stay together and stay at the front it becomes more of a stress.” Mark Cavendish
In other words, the sprint stages should only be contested by the “sprint” teams. The “GC” teams should leave Cav alone. It’s his stage, dude. Gots his name on it. Oh, and what exactly is a “GC” team? A team that shouldn’t be bothering with minor things like stage wins? And what about “GC” teams that also have “sprint” teams, like, uh…Horseface’s squad and Garmacuda? Or is this another one of those unwritten rule deals, where riders are just supposed to “know” when they can contest a stage? But it gets better…
“Since Highroad fell apart, there seems to be a lot less respect for each team during the leadout. On Monday we saw Sky try and take control and yet still there were riders coming underneath on the corners. When Highroad was in action, other teams would base their sprint on riding off the back of us and their tactic was to wait until the last minute. This year it’s a case of going to the front and if it’s detrimental to the team doing the lead out, then it doesn’t seem to matter.” Mark Renshaw
In other words, when Sky or Garmacuda or Rabobank goes to the front with a fancy lead-out train, sit back and let them fucking win. Just like last year. It’s called “respect.” What would these pathetic, cowering whiners have done if they’d had to face someone like Abdoujaparov? Besides poop in their shorts, I mean.
“Ouch! Crashing at 75kph isn’t nice! Nor is seeing Roberto Ferrari’s manoeuvre. Should be ashamed to take out Pink, Red & World Champ jerseys.” Mark Cavendish
Dangerous sprinting is bad, but dangerous sprinting that knocks down really important riders is worse, because, you know, they’re really important. Also, as the Red and World Champ jersey, he’s two people, so it’s like, doubly bad. Of course, nothing wrong with shooting cute little “victory fuck you’s” to your adoring public, sponsors, TV cameras, families with small children…nothing wrong with that.
“Is the team of Roberto Ferrari or the UCI going to do the right thing? Other riders, including myself, have been sent home for much less.” Mark Cavendish
Really? I Googled “Mark Cavendish expulsion/expelled/disqualified/disqualification/sent home” and found nothing indicating that he’d ever been expelled from a pro race. And what brand of crack is he smoking? People get expelled from the Giro for doping, like Pantani, or disqualified, like Contador. People get expelled for deliberate cheating, like Gerald Froome last year when he held onto a motorcycle to deliver him up to a feed zone. Dangerous sprinting gets you a relegation. Check this out from Stage 17 of the 2011 Giro, which involved actual one-armed punching and hitting in the sprint. There’s no “dual track,” where you get relegated for knocking down a domestique, but disqualified for knocking down Pink/Red/Rainbow jerseys.
Horseface would like different rules for himself…wouldn’t we all?
May 7, 2012 Comments Off on Giro d’Italia 2012: Cav penetrates mystery of Elia, reclaims heath
Stage 2 of the Giro began in Herning and ended in Herning. Herning? What the fuck kind of name is that? Some ancient Viking king who plied the sea lanes between Scandinavia and England, plundering the hapless forebears of Wiggins who cowered, britishly, under the wrath of the ruthless, fork-bearded marauders?
Herning was originally a heath, which is a barren wasteland. The heath accounted for millions of acres of land, all useless for agriculture, and all created as a result of the complete deforestation of the primeval forests by the Vikings, who clearcut the entire nation to build their ships. What they left behind was the medieval Superfund site otherwise known as Denmark.
In the 1860’s, when Denmark’s population began to explode, which is to say sometime after the Danes had been beaten to a bloody pulp by the Germans but before the discovery of porn, the starving and ill-tempered Scandinavians decided to reclaim the heath. “What we lost without, we will build within!” was the rallying cry.
Herning is one such reclamation project, created in the 1800’s, literally springing out of the waste of the earth.
That was then. This is now.
Not surprisingly, one of pro cycling’s biggest waste reclamation projects, “Mr. 60 Percent” Bjarne Riis, hales from Herning. A confessed drug cheat, architect of the T-Mobile systematized team doping program and general scallywag, it is only appropriate that the Giro would pay homage to its doping roots by kicking off 2012 in Mr. 60 Percent’s hometown.
Fortunately, Mr. 60 Percent and his Saxo Bank squad have put the terrible doping excesses of the 2000s, 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, 60’s, 50’s, 40’s, 30’s, 20’s, 10’s, and Aughty-Aught’s behind them, and have turned a new corner with clean cycling, except for the team’s star rider who is languishing under a doping ban for tainting his meat with clenbuterol and who was stripped of his 2011 TdF title and forced to write “I am a doping cheat” ten thousand times on the blackboard. But that is all ancient history.
The second page in the new history of clean sport and fair play from this year’s Giro was written by none other than Mark Cavendish, chubby sprinter dude who ate donuts and sucked wheel while the ten fastest guys in the pro peloton did all the work for 199k during Stage 2 and then delivered him safely to the last 200m, where he showed the power and speed of a smallish, angry, well-rested lardball that had been shot from a cannon.
This and other similar pre-arranged, predictable, stable return on investment-type finishes are programmed for the Giro’s entire stay in Denmark…or are they?
Elia, Ingvar Cronhammar, the Inverted Vault of Doom and the Danish Curse of “This is Bullshit”
Just a short distance to the east of the Master Start in Herning is one of the world’s great mysteries, rivaling Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids of Cheops, and Mitt Romney’s stance on healthcare.
It is Elia, the brain child of Ingvar Cronhammar.
Shaped like an inverted volcanic caldera, this hollow semi-sphere rises 30 meters out of the heath, where its top is punctuated by four massive steel cylinders. A furnace buried within the belly of the beast belches fire at random intervals, and the cylinders are made to especially attract lightning bolts. The acoustics of the beast’s empty bowels are such that they throw the growls of thunder back in the face of the gods from whence they were uttered.
The awe and majesty of this extraordinary “living” sculpture is captured on countless YouTube videos, where bored tourists and their colicky children can be heard off camera saying, “Is this it? We traveled all the way to fucking Denmark for this? This is bullshit!”
This, of course, is exactly what anyone looking for an actual sporting event is saying after a mere two days of Giro racing in Denmark.
Americans get all misty-eyed, the British stiffly shake hands, everyone else rolls their eyes
If you ever doubted the complete sporting fraud of modern pro cycling, Stage 2 didn’t even bother to hide the sham. Cav’s post race commentary said it all.
“[Teammate Ian Stannard] did 150 kilometers alone reeling in the break – he did incredible.” So pleased to know someone else did all the work, Mark.
“I was really looked after at the finish and kept sheltered. Geraint took me perfect and went exactly when he was supposed to. I was able to come off him and win the stage so I’m very, very happy.” So pleased to know that your race strategy consisted in being looked after. Did they warm your bottle and burp you prior to the lead out?
However, before Dick Fitzenceider sends me a snide comment reminding me that THAT’S CYCLING, it bears remembering that this awesome display of laziness and sloth by the reigning world champion is only a prelude to his true race strategy…pick up a few more wins and then quit.
“If Mark is thinking on the Tour and on the Olympics afterwards, as it’s the case, I think he will not finish the Giro.” Suspended meat-tainter Alberto Contador, on Cav’s near-certain withdrawal from the race.
The Manx La-Z-Boy rushed to his own defense in a roundabout way, claiming that Contador had been misquoted but then failing to confirm that he’d ride the race beyond the 13th stage, when the Giro goes from a donut feast to a force-feeding of nails and broken glass.
“I’ve planned to stay until the end. I never want to stop a race and leave the team.”
Check back on Stage 14 to see if “planned to stay” and “never want to stop a race” has equated to “willing to bust my ass for 22km up the Col de Joue and 27km more up to the finish at Cervinia at the end of a 205km stage.”
Wankmeister predicts that by the time the 14th stage concludes, the Manx La-Z-Boy will be sipping tea and chomping donuts back home in the Isle of (Not Quite) Man. Bets, anybody?
May 4, 2012 § 6 Comments
The 2012 Giro d’Italia is one of the most open editions of the race in recent years, with a host of contenders vying for the 2012 maglia rosa. Wankmeister takes a look at the top picks for the overall win.
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale)
Basso is a pale shadow of the once-godlike doper who resurrected his career two years ago after being banned for shipping off blood to Dr. Fuentes in Spain, but who never actually inhaled. It took until the Giro del Trentino in April for him to even finish a race, so weak of leg and feeble of spirit is he without cheating aids. His performances in Romandie suggested little in the way of a return to a solid doping program.
Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD)
Credible in time trials, powerful on the climbs, and stronger than a leather-clad, whip-wielding bitch in a room full of bound and gagged chubby business executives when he’s on the juice, Scarponi has every reason to feel confident that he’s gotten his micro-dosing dialed in to a “tee.” His 2-year doping ban? Done. His 2010 Giro campaign? Fourth. His 2011 campaign? Second + a reverse relegation thanks to Dopeador’s tainted meat. His 2012 prognosis? Katie, bar the door (to the medicine cabinet).
John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
The Frenchman, after finishing a surprise fourth in last year’s race, has a huge point to prove, namely, that a French dude can win a real bike race. Weak against the clock, he will have to count on natural talent, determination, and better medications to improve on 2011. Spanking Rujano, Kreuziger, and Menchov last year meant that someone in Gadret’s camp knows how to handle a syringe.
Jose Rujano (Androni-Venezuela)
Since his doping positive and suspension in 2003 during the Clasico RCS, the 30-year-old Venezuelan has managed to elude every doping tester ever sent his way. In 2010 he outsprinted a team of UCI passport regulators on a hilltop finish near Caracas for his third consecutive “Beat the Testers” purple jersey in the Tour of Venezuela. He got his grand tour career back on track last year with 7th place in the Giro, a performance that required him to juggle several masking agents and a body double while peeing remotely from a catheter attached to his smartphone. Can he win the Giro’s prized “Dirty but Clean” jersey again? We’ll see.
Roman Kreuziger (Astana)
Kreuziger has languished in the chasing group of elite racers, indicative of a third or even fourth-tier doping regimen. Although his close association with Astana and the obvious benefits of working with the filthy, nasty cheater Vinokourov should have led to better results this year, he has failed to fulfill the promise that everyone expected from a talented rider coming out of a dope-happy, Eastern European land of drug cheats like the Czech Republic. If Vino can deliver the “vino,” look for Kreuziger’s blood values to take him all the way to the podium
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda)
The sad sacks of pro cycling, Garmin’s previous attempts at Giro GC success have all ended exactly where you’d expect to see a bunch of pollyannas end up in this dirty sport full of liars, cheats, drug dealers, felons, and criminal MD’s. Hesjedal has repeatedly shown that, for brief periods, a drug-free athlete can compete with the worst reprobates in the pro peloton. Unfortunately, all of his races so far have been longer than 30 minutes. If any of the Giro mountain stages are shortened down to half an hour or so due to volcanic activity, earthquakes, avalanche or famine, look for Ryder to put in the ride of his life.
Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan)
The biggest check mark in Schleck’s doping column is the expert advice and positive drug test avoidance skills of doping king par excellence Johan Bruyneel. On the down side, Frank has clearly said that he’s not much interested in racing the Giro as it is poor preparation for the doping rigors of the Tour. However, since brother Abandy Schleck has quit so many races this year, indicating serious difficulty with his doping regimen, the Giro may be the only chance the Schlecks have in 2012 to beat the testers and make it to the top step of the podium
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD)
A 2005 edition of Procycling once featured Cunego [doper], Lance Armstrong [doper], and Jan Ullrich [pure as the driven snow] on the cover, with the headline “three’s a crowd.” Fans bought the mag hoping to see these three icons disrobed and fighting over a brace of porn stars, but no. At the time Cunego was seen as the next hero of grand tour doping, having shot to fame with the 2004 Giro title, a year in which even the podium girls were rubbing EPO on their vital parts. A lot has changed since then, and Cunego finds himself unable to use the massive quantities of performance boosting drugs that would put him atop the heap without also getting a positive test. A lackluster ride in last year’s Tour was a reminder that although drugs can’t make a racehorse out of a donkey, their absence can sure make a donkey out of a horse.