Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reading Between The Headlines - August Edition

Since the Vuelta a Espana and September have apparently snuck up on us while we weren’t looking, now is probably a good time to clear up a few headline stories that surfaced after the Tour ended last week. Er, I mean last month. Did anyone see where August went? Donde esta August? Anyway…let's look at some events that transpired over the last month.

Tour of Utah – Bikes, Bibles and Ball

“What awful things are written all over that man’s shorts? I can’t bear to look at his ‘area’ long enough to read it. Is that team sponsored by Satan?” – Overheard every single day at the Tour of Utah during Mancebo’s jersey presentation.

So…Paco Mancebo of the Rocky Road Racing biking club won the Tour of Utah and I’m sure the Mormon population could not have been happier to watch him accept the leader’s jersey everyday in his horrible faux-graffiti kit. I guess Rock has enough coin to make 10 different colored kits but can’t manage to get everyone the same kind of helmet or bike. So NOT Pro.

Speaking of which…Michael Ball went to Brigham Young Fashion School, right? You can always tell a good member of the Church of Latter Day Saints by the way they handle interviews like this. This guy is totally solid, I swear.

On the flip side, it was cool to see Alex Howes continue to prove that he has the goods to excel at the next level; even though the old “take a spectator’s hot dog and attack” move is just about the oldest trick in the book. I mean, how many times did we see Anquetil, Merckx or LeMond take the old “hot dog hand up” and go on to destroy the competition? I thought everyone knew that trick by now and was amazed the field fell for it yet again during the Tour of Utah. Suckers.

Alejandro Valverde vs. Tom Danielson vs. Logic and Reason at the Tour de Burgos

In yet another case of horrible, never-ending frustration courtesy of Operacion Puerto and the UCI, some cheesy Spanish guy who has been banned from racing in Italy (but is somehow still able to compete everywhere else?) managed to dislodge Tom Danielson of Garmin-Slipstream from the lead of the Tour de Burgos on the final stage. And critical fans of the sport took yet another carbon fiber-toed kick to our collective chamois.

Sadly, professional cycling is never going to get rid of its soiled reputation as long as there are regional bans and shady guys like Valverde and DiLuca who keep managing to slip through the net time and time again, only to be proven guilty in the long run. One can only assume that Valv.Piti will be banned by the UCI eventually and the fact that he can still influence races and even challenge for a Grand Tour is absolutely maddening. I rarely wish bad things for people, but I wouldn’t mind it too much if Valverde had some bad filet-o-pescado somewhere over the next few weeks in the Vuelta.

Garmin-Slipstream Wins! Gramin-Slipstream Wins!

In less depressing argyle-related news Tyler Farrar is rapidly laying claim to the title of Best Road Sprinter Not Named Mark Cavendish. Having recently won the Vattenfalls Cyclassics and a three-pack of stages in the Eneco Tour, Farrar will hopefully win his first Grand Tour stage somewhere in Spain and solidify his position as the best American sprinter since Davis Phinney.

On a side note, if all goes well Farrar will have completed all three Grand Tours in 2009; which is pretty impressive even if you ignore his handful of podiums and near-misses so far. Adding a stage win would be the icing on the cake of a great year. Great enough that we’ll give him a Mulligan for that weird spider-looking earring.

Texas Invades Colorado, Takes Jersey

Some guy named Lance Something or Other apparently moved to Aspen a few minutes ago and is now winning State Mountain Bike Championships and defiling the record books of historic local events. However, anger over this invasion among the cycling community has been diminished by the presence of a sign on the Texan’s bike that reads: Now Accepting Applications For Employment.

Understanding this, most people can probably look the other way on the Leadville 100 record simply because that event is pretty ridiculous anyway. But to have a guy who is outspokenly Texan come in here and take home the Colorado State Champion jersey is just depressing for everyone outside of your neighborhood Radio Shack. Reports that the Texan has stitched a Lone Star patch on the jersey and coated it in barbecue sauce have not been confirmed.

The only solace we locals can take is in the fact that people recognize the Colorado State Championship as an impressive accomplishment and it would probably be tough to brag to Matthew McConaughey and Ben Stiller about a Texas State Cross Country Championship. I mean, we all know that the only trails down there are on George W. Bush’s ranch and the denim sleeveless jersey they give out to the winner just doesn’t go with yellow at all.

USPRO Championships – Déjà Vu All Over Again, and Again, and Again

USPRO Time Trial Podium: David Zabriskie, Tom Zirbel, Scott Zwizanski, Billy Zabka, Daphne Zuniga, Don Zimmer, Zig Ziglar, ZZ Top, Zsa Zsa Gabor

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the first time in history that three guys with “Z” names have ever been on a national championship time trial podium together. That is craZy. Seriously, the odds are astronomical. “X” would probably be the only letter with less chance of sweeping the podium.

But the real question is whether or not Zabriskie was able to say, “DZ Nuts” when responding to every question during the post-race press conference. For example:

Journalist: “What propelled you to victory today?”

Zabriskie: “DZ Nuts.”

Journalist: “Who did you think were your biggest competitors before the start?”

Zabriskie: “DZ Nuts.”

Journalist: “What can we expect to see on your National Championship skinsuit?

You get the picture. Hours of fun with that one.

USPRO Road Race Podium: George Hincapie, Andy Bajadali, Jeff Louder

After recovering from a broken collarbone at the Tour, George Hincapie reclaimed the Stars and Stripes jersey for the third time as a professional. After the whole fiasco with Garmin and Astana in France, it is cool to see Melanie’s husband get a little redemption by scoring the USPRO Champs jersey. It would be even cooler to see the Stars and Stripes crossing the line first at the Roubaix velodrome in 2010.

Crazier things have happened. Like having three guys with “Z” names on the TT podium, for instance. You never know.

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