Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Santos - Australian for Bike Racing

Believe it or not, the 2010 UCI professional road racing season began in Australia this past week at the Santos Tour Down Under. In mid-January. I don't know who this Santos guy is but he is obviously not a procrastinator. I mean...I like bike racing but this just seems really early for a season that culminates in late Fall. Shouldn't pro cyclists have a longer break than professional golfers? Oh wait...maybe that is not the best example.

Actually, the TDU has historically been an Aussie-centric event in which a bunch of Southern Hemispheric (is that a real term?) dudes battle for Outback Steakhouse stocks, kangaroo pelts and crocodile vests. It was dominated by Michael J. Dundee in the mid-eighties and then Stuart O'Grady later on but has recently been shamed with victories by guys from Spain and Germany. While this cannot make Russell Crowe very happy, somewhere near Walkabout Creek a young boy who has killed multiple large reptiles is dedicating his life to reclaiming the TDU crown. Watch out Greipel.

Strangely, even though Andre "Bavarian Koko" Greipel won the event in convincing fashion yet again, there was a lot of interesting activity from guys we are usually accustomed to seeing at the front in July during the Tour. With names like Armstrong, Evans, Sanchez, and Valv.Piti (oh wait, he wasn't allowed in the Tour) at the front and showing form, it was a more interesting race than I have seen in previous editions.

Unfortunately, we ended up seeing some of these guys in new kits that really should have been thought out a bit more in the offseason. I continue to be perplexed by the overwhelming redness of the RadioShack and BMC offerings, Garmin seems to have given up on being cool and again, I am really just horrified by the Footon-Servetto debacle. It's bad enough to rock flesh-toned lycra but these cats are also being forced to wear yellow helmets. I wonder if they are planning on just making them wear Hot Dog On A Stick uniforms for the Tour de France.

We'll get back to the visual aspects of the Tour Down Under shortly but it seems like we need to talk about Andre Greipel a little bit first. For anyone who watched the coverage on Versus or any of the overhead shots on YouTube, it was clear that he was on a totally different level. I mean, even though he got caught out a couple of times, the guy was about 5mph faster than anyone else in the race. It was not close at all, despite what Team Sky would have you believe.

On at least two occasions, The Gorilla came from over 10 riders back and basically made everyone look like kittens. In fact, I would argue that right now, he and Cavendish are the two fastest guys in the peloton. Barring injury, I predict they will win 15 Grand Tour stages between them this year, and I put their combined over/under for the season at 43.5 wins.

But now we need to address Greipel's nickname. I don't know how many Gorillas there are in Deutschland but it seems like kind of a weird association, despite the fact that he is a pretty big guy. However, the bigger issue is that I am having difficulty determining whether to refer to him as "The Gorilla" or just simply "Gorilla." In addition to being entirely irrelevant, this is really annoying to me as a writer...and fellow primate.

Therefore, I will hereby refer to Andre Greipel as "Koko" in honor of the smartest gorilla ever to be referenced in an episode of Seinfeld. I think Koko is actually smarter than the chimpanzee that Kramer fought with (Bonus Question: What was the chimp's name? Answer below) at the zoo. Yeah, Koko...that Gorilla is alright. Besides, it was either that or "Magilla" or "Ronnie from the Jersey Shore" and "Koko" is just easier to explain. I would kind of like to see Greipel fight Ronnie though, and then Ina Yoko-Teutenberg can grapple with J-Woww. Then maybe Cavendish could throw down with The Situation?

Sticking with the highbrow sophistication of tabloid media, and understanding that my wife is currently caught up in the Red Carpet Season on the E! network, it follows that I am inclined to form my own Fashion Police for the bike racing world. And honestly, it's looking kind of grim in 2010 so far but there have been a couple of bright...well, er...less embarrassing spots that are worthy of note.

Two of the aforementioned bright spots could be seen on the feet of Lance Armstrong, who has finally made the leap to white shoes. Honestly, I thought he would have cured cancer before rocking white kicks and dishonestly, I would probably be almost as satisfied either way. Almost. I don't know if LA took my earlier words to heart and begged Nike to throw something hip together for him or not but regardless, it's good to see that he has finally come to the Dark...er, Light Side of the Shoe Force. Good grief, it's about time.

Not so cool are the red RadioShack tubetops and BMC ladybug kits. Don't the team managers have any say in this process? I cannot imagine Johan Bruyneel or Jim Ochowicz advising their clothing sponsors to come up with embarrassing kits for their riders. And I am certain that Mike Sayers was not consulted prior to the authorization of that much fire engine red in the design.

Having said that, I guess the BMC kits are a little more exciting than their "Weekend Warrior" theme from the past few years. Seriously, they looked like Cat.3's last year. I like the squad and what they are doing but there has not been a more anonymous looking team in the professional ranks. And yes...I will heckle teams that are too flamboyant as well as those who are too plain. Come on, it's hard enough looking like a cyclist (tan lines, odd proportions etc) so the least we can do is minimize the damage from a wardrobe standpoint. Is that too much to ask?

Anyway, until next time...Barry and the other banana-throwing monkeys say Peace. And watch out for the ones that aren't throwing bananas. Seriously, Kramer was lucky it was only fruit. After all, Barry could have thrown a Footon-Servetto kit at him.


Sebastian said...

Well observed, as usual. I always had mixed feelings about those old BMC kits. On the one hand, I think that a (predominantly) white jersey + black shorts is one of the classier color combos out there. On the other hand, something about the vertical placement of the BMC logo made it almost vanish, giving the jersey (as you say) the look of store-issue Assos fare.

By the way, not to be pushy, but please explain this to me:


CaliRado Cyclist said...

The funniest thing about that commercial is the use of that freaking Blur song. I couldn't remember the name of it so I literally Googled "Woo Hoo Song" and it came right up. Good grief, has there been a more played out song in the last 13 years?

I think Blur, Smashmouth, Sugar Ray and The Black Eyed Peas should just do a huge tour called "Sell Out" with commercials playing on a screen behind them the whole time.

I just saw the clip during the Super Bowl and there are a few shots where it is clearly a double, and Lance is nowhere to be seen. It's one of those weird ads that is so over-the-top that it seems almost like a Saturday Night Live skit. I expected Adam Sandler and Chris Farley to jump in the pool with LA at one point.

I hope he got paid a lot of money for that commercial. And I want to see some Michelob Ultra hand-ups during the Tour of California.