Friday, May 23, 2008

Any More Questions?

Sometimes people ask me questions. Sometimes I provide answers. See examples below:

Q - No Tour de Georgia coverage at all? What’s wrong with you, Yankee?

Fair enough. I hate the New York Yankees baseball team, but I don’t mind being called a Yankee. I love carrots, but I hate carrot soup. And I hate peas, but I love pea soup.

First of all, my lack of recent commentary is primarily a function of increased activity at the Job Spot, not a result of any lack of interest in our beloved sport. Or Georgia for that matter. Especially when we have the opportunity to see the US National Champion (Levi) and a guy on the most popular US Professional team (Lowe, Slipstream) look at each other while some other dude hardly anyone has ever heard of rides away at the most critical time of the entire race.

With that said, sometimes I think they should make the Tour de Georgia into a series of single-day events and not a stage race. It’s gotten to be like an NBA basketball game, where you can just watch the last quarter and pretty much see everything you need. Perhaps they should just make Brasstown Bald a hill-climb event like Mt. Washington, Mt. Evans or Mt. Tam.

But if the alternative to an inevitable showdown on Brasstown is a breakaway that gains huge chunks of time like last year with Janez (aka Yanni) Brajkovichszcxsck, then maybe the current format is okay. I am not sure anyone wants to see a repeat of 2007 again.

Anyway, I fear for the future of the TdG if they keep having random foreign guys with unpronounceable names (at least for most Southerners – sorry, that was offsides) taking victories over popular Americans (see VandeVelde, Leipheimer). Not to be too much of a Homer, but American races need American winners to grow the sport. Especially in the South. Am I wrong?

Q - How many kids in Georgia are running around with their autographed Kanstantin Sivtsov jerseys? Do you think they outnumber the ones with their autographed Kanstantsin Siutsou jerseys?

This whole multiple name spelling deal continues to bother me. I haven’t had the time or patience to research this more thoroughly but I feel bad for a guy who wins one of the biggest races in the country and has both his first and last names spelled no less than three different ways in various major cycling publications.

Now, I understand that there are sometimes necessary alterations to account for ümlauts and whatnot, but still, isn’t there a name on the start list that matches his UCI license or something? I can’t help but feel that it is somewhat disrespectful to not honor the acknowledged, preferred spelling of the guy’s name. Is that crazy and hyper-sensitive? I would be annoyed if I were Kanstantin Sivtsov. Or Kanstantsin Siutou.

Q - How cool is it that Christian VandeVelde got the maglia rosa on the twentieth anniversary edition of Andy Hampsten’s 1988 Giro d’Italia victory?

It is very cool.

In a crazy confluence of events, I ended up in Chicago on the weekend that CvV got the jersey. For those who don’t know, CvV is a native of the Chicagoland area and I couldn’t help but think how cool it is that a guy from the Midwest would be pulling on the leader’s jersey of the Tour of Italy.

Interestingly, I had a fairly lengthy discussion with a gaggle of soon-to-be Aunts the night before Slipstream won the TTT and found out that a soon-to-be Cousin-In-Law used to race with Christian back in the day. We talked about what a good guy he is (I first met CvV when he lived in Boulder) and how cool it was that he and the team were in Italy for the Giro. Then I checked the InterWebs the next morning and saw that he had taken the maglia rosa.

Very cool indeed.

Q - Could you beat the Schleck Brothers in a game of poker?

Well, I don’t personally know the Schleck Brothers, but yes, I think I could beat them in a game of poker.

The reason I say this is not because I am a strong poker player. In fact, I really don’t play much at all. But the reality is that the Schleck’s played the exceptional cards they were dealt at Liege-Bastogne-Liege like a couple of drunk 21 year-olds at a high-stakes table in Vegas.

Maybe they couldn’t have done anything against Valverde in the finale but I honestly think that everyone on the planet knew that they were going to try to spring Andy as a decoy and Frank would attack when they reeled him in. It was Bike Racing Tactics 101 but there was absolutely NO element of surprise when Frank counterattacked. I think they got too anxious and predictable.

Do they have casinos in Luxembourg?

Q - Seriously, what’s with the all-white kits? I mean, really?

Ugh. I wish I knew the answer to that question as it has been perplexing me for a few years now.

One of the most disappointing things about the Giro d’Italia this year is that Paolo Bettini has gone back to wearing the white shorts again. You may recall that The Cricket had actually procured some pretty cool shorts for Milan-Sanremo that were black in the junk-area and had white panels with the World Champion stripes. Then, inexplicably, he shows up for the Giro in all-white again. Devastating.

I would say that the all-white kit is a Euro thing but Ryan Trebon called that theory into question a while back with his USGP leader’s kit. Far be it for me to critique Treefarm and David Millar on anything but still…you guys should leave the all-white style to the Italians and the Imperial Stormtroopers from Star Wars.

Q – Should Petacchi have been suspended for taking too much asthma medicine?

I have always thought that the whole “Therapeutic Use Exemption” thing was weird because we all know that, given proper money/fame/etc, one can get a prescription for just about anything. Unless, of course, you have insurance through Kaiser.

So, Petacchi apparently has asthma (along with dozens of other professional cyclists with world-class lung capacities…?) which he treats with a borderline illegal inhaler. He takes an extra hit, maybe swallows some of the medicine and gets popped with an adverse analytical finding at the 2007 Giro. A year later, he gets officially suspended for an entire season because he couldn’t prove that he had taken all of the precautionary measures possible to avoid the extra inhaler hit. Uh, wait…what?

The beauty of the whole thing was the arbitration panel saying that they didn’t think Petacchi had done anything on purpose OR gained any advantage as a result of the inhaler over-dose. But they still suspended him for a year. Uh, wait…what? Where are Jackie Chiles and Bob Loblaw?

Somewhere there is an Italian patent-lawyer who is thanking his lucky stars that he is not a defense attorney for professional cyclists. Not an easy way to make a living these days.
I hope Floyd's lawyers have been taking notes.

Q - What’s up with so many male bike racers having female names?

The Sports Guy has a list called the Lindsey Hunter All-Stars, which consists of a bunch of male professional athletes who have names that make them sound like ladies. It’s actually pretty funny. Well, I guess as long as your name doesn’t appear on the list.

Anyway, it is true that there are a ton of Andrea’s, Daniele’s and other potentially feminine names out there in the pro peloton. The Giro start list reads like a co-ed classroom roll call.

It’s pretty much a European thing at this point, but maybe we will see the opposite phenomenon in the States and we’ll get a rush of girls named Lance and Floyd in the next few years. Or not.

Q - Why does Cycle Sport hate Tyler Hamilton so much?

Okay, I don’t know if Tyler maybe ran over the Editor’s dog or what, but it sure seems that the magazine has gone out of its way to disparage Hamilton at every opportunity. Think what you will about the guy but come on, when do you (as a professional publication first, as a thoughtful person second) bury the hatchet and get over it already? Has the man not been vilified enough for you people?

Everyone is entitled to their opinions but what bothers me is the way that Cycle Sport has gone about their anti-Tyler smear campaign. Instead of just coming out and honestly saying “We don’t like Tyler Hamilton” the magazine has taken to publishing pictures of him along with carefully selected Letters to the Editor from random “readers” who act like they were personally attacked by the man and that he is responsible for all of the evils in the sport.

It is confusing to me that Cycle Sport would consider it worthwhile to publish letters from people who have such little appreciation for cycling that they can be so quick to dismiss the sport due to their individual views about a single rider. Trust me, if Tyler Hamilton following his boss’ request and riding in front of the peloton at the Tour of California can shake your faith in the sport…maybe you need to look a little closer at the foundation of your interest.

Hey Cycle Sport, where were all the letters about Oscar Sevilla doing the exact same thing?

Q – Race radios, good or bad?

I am kind of conflicted on this one. I certainly think that the radios make the race safer by giving riders information about crashes, road conditions etc. But on the other hand, they do make the racing more predictable and controlled.

I guess at the end of the day, I’ll base my opinion off of the various insults I received after admitting that I ride with an iPod recently. As a testament to my apparent lack of intelligence, I say we keep the radios and continue to experience the fun of watching guys tape earplugs onto their heads before races.

I just hope they get to listen to something other than “Venga! Venga! Venga!” all the time.
- As always, thanks to those who write comments and questions for this blog. I appreciate your interest and hope to hear from you all in the future. Remember, there are no stupid questions. Just stupid people. Like me.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you got slammed about the ipod business...anyone who knows you knows you ride safe - hey, you're still alive. Judgemental people are usually just dealing with their own issues.
Keep those wheels a turnin!

-p said...

The all white kit thing has run its course and will go the way of hot pink, neon green and 1 piece ski suits.

sebastian said...

Thanks for noticing Bettini's brief spell in dignified shorts. There's something so icky about a dumpy, balding guy in tight white diapers. Even if he's good with a shotgun.

About the girly Euro-names: this has a lot to do with the way that Romance languages make male/female variants on the name hinge on minor differences in spelling (give or take an e or an l) or subtle differences in pronunciation. Cf. the Italian name Michele, which I believe is spelled the same "both ways" but pronounced a little differently depending on what you've got under your goofy all-white kit. English-speakers historically have differentiated male and female versions of the same name by borrowing them from different languages -- Michael vs. Michelle, Andrew vs. Andrea, etc. Notice that we usually give the Romance-language versions to the girls, as if it weren't already clear what we think of the Italians and the French.

And yeah, that Sweetsov guy may not be a house name in Georgia, but he did pull off the finest coup I've seen in cycling this decade.

Briggs Heaney said...

Cool site, I'll be back often.

CaliRado Cyclist said...

In response:

- I am judgmental about helmets so it's only fair that I get critiqued about the iPod. What goes around... I was just being snide because I know that I will lose any argument in this arena.

They are right. I am not as safe as I could be when I have a speaker kicking out fresh jams in my right ear. Mmmmm, fresh jams.

- Wait a minute...are you saying that my one-piece Spyder super-hero outfit is not cool anymore?

- Good comments as always from Sebastian.

I have noticed that The Cricket is switching shorts now. Maybe he is a reader...or he looked at some footage of himself.

I do not believe my name has a female version. And I'm okay with that.

Thinking of other good "surprise" wins like Konstantinople Sivinividivicov. Best this decade?

- Thanks.

sebastian said...

About CycleSport's Tyler problem: I'll admit they're nasty to him, but notice how it's their style now to go instantly negative on a rider as soon as he tests positive once. There was a pretty dramatic shift in tone after the 2006 Tour; they stopped giving anyone the benefit of the doubt and assumed that the worst possible interpretation of any irregularity was likely the correct one. Landis and Hamilton, being English-speakers, get extra venom for breaking "our" hearts, but they're pretty harsh all around. WTF with that Vinokorov-as-Dracula side piece?

RiceDaddy said...

Re the question of all-white kit... Remember Vince Young in the Rose Bowl? Worked for him.

CaliRado Cyclist said...

I am a Buffalo. The Longhorns get no love here. Unless they happen to be playing Nebraska or Oklahoma...then it's Hook 'em Horns all the way.