I don’t know much about Blazin’ Saddles, but I love his stuff.
A few choice bits below:
Tour de France – Blazin’ Saddles: Liqui-blast
Eurosport – Sat, 12 Jul 13:02:00 2008
The honeymoon is over. Just when the world started to believe in a clean Tour, along came the moment that so many had anticipated: a rider tests positive.
The scene: 8pm, Friday night. Blazin’ Saddles is sitting in his Shoreditch warehouse, hunched over his laptop, surrounded by empty beer cans, stubbed out cigarettes and an array of skinny jeans, colourful wristbands, visors and other hip paraphernalia. He is trying to write his daily Tour blog before hitting the pub and the only idea he has so far is rambling on about the lessons learnt after one week’s racing.
“Zut alors,” Blazin’ curses, for he has a penchant for the French language. This time last year, he recalls, there had already been a cluster of blood transfusions and high testosterone levels to speculate about, and hadn’t that guy called ‘chicken legs’ or something been caught out for eating undisclosed tacos in Mexico?
And just as Blazin’ begins to lament the good old days of cycling, the days when whole teams were caught out, when housewives’ favourites like Richard Virenque were reduced to tears, when the Landises and Vinos and Rasmussens of this world made us briefly believe in heroism on two wheels, just when he begins to lament this seemingly bygone era, he decides to check eurosport.yahoo.com (admittedly to see how many more readers had called him a ‘jerk’ in the course of the afternoon) and is greeted with his saving grace: Manuel Beltran tests positive.
Yes, yes, he’s quite good. Surrounded by empty beer cans hunuched of a laptop? A true brother in arms.
Before being belted with the Beltran blast, Blazin’ Saddles had been reflecting over the first week’s racing and thinking just how exciting it had all actually been. These are the few conclusions he reached.
Evans is in control: Without shining, the Australian has not put a foot wrong, lying second in the overall standings just six seconds behind Kim Kirchen and finishing every stage near the front. It might take a miracle to see the 31-year-old ever instigate an attack, but the passivity is serving him well.
Lunch on a bike is folly: Apart from one stage there has been a crash in every feeding zone so far, with debutant Herve Duclos-Lassalle the most unfortunate victim after breaking his wrist on day one after a musette choked up his spokes.
Kirchen is brimming with confidence: Second place in a sprint, second place in the ITT, the Luxembourgeois upgraded his green jersey for a yellow after Stefan Schumacher comically hit the deck. It remains to be seen how he fares over the big peaks, but we may have another Charly Gaul on our hands.
Kirchen may have too much confidence: The 30-year-old has already boasted about wearing the yellow all the way to Paris, while his claim that he would have beaten Schumacher by the 12 seconds needed to take yellow regardless of his crash was, to put it mildly, delusional.
The French are turning on the style: Frenchmen have been ever-present off the front of the peloton, with Sylvain Chavanel particularly explosive. Two polka dot jersey wearers, Romain Feillu in yellow and a Sammy Dumoulin stage win have given the home crowds the most excitement since pictures of their President’s wife posing naked hit the news stands.
The French are falling like flies: It would be unfair to say that France’s riders are living up to the national stereotype of being hypochondriacs, but over 50 per cent of those who have pulled out of the Tour hail from l’Hexagone.
Don’t stand too close to the road (especially if you are a generously proportioned lady of a certain age): You will get hit by Aurelien Passeron, cry on international TV, break your arm, end his race and get ridiculed in not-actually-funny-at-all Tour blogs.
Best avoid trees and road furniture: Ask Lilian Jegou (broken wrist) and Angel Gomez (collar bone).
Moreau will surely retire now: An embarrassing effort from the veteran, pulling up before the Pyrenees and failing to shine in what must be his final Tour. Maybe he was “assez troublé” with something on his mind?
Ricco is the real deal: He may be annoying, cocky, disrespectful, loud, brash, squeaky, outspoken, arrogant etc etc. But he sure is entertaining, winning the stage he said he’d win to open his Tour account.
McEwen is isolated: With his team Silence Lotto focusing solely on Evans’ overall classification hopes, if Robbie is to win a sprint, it will be without a lead out. The Australian veteran has already said his next chance might only come on the Champs.
Cav is the new McEwen: A faultless train to lead him out and sheer pace and determination to see him to the line, Mark Cavendish is the new fastest man in the peloton. He’s also about as popular as McEwen.
Chapeau Columbia: Founded, like Garmin, on a heavy anti-doping stance, the team formally known as High Road has Kirchen in green and yellow, Cavendish winning the sprints and Thomas Lovkvist as best youngster. That said, it still humours Blazin’ Saddles to think in this day of anti-doping any team would consider calling themselves Columbia.
Schumacher is Vin Diesel’s younger brother: Have you seen the bald German without his helmet on?
Spain are sailing: First Euro 2008, then Wimbledon, Spain’s roll is continuing in France as they become the first nation to win two stages.
Cunego is not up to it: Not only is his form not there, he has a stupid hairstyle.
Valverde is the same old Valverde: Created a buzz by winning the opening stage, but then put in a weak time trial before falling of his bike a day later in innocuous circumstances. At this rate, his presence in Paris is far from certain.
Read the rest: uk.eurosport.yahoo.comby
I enjoyed David Millar’s comments on Beltran today:
“It makes me f*cking pissed off that people are surprised that this is still happening. It’s taken us a decade to get to this point. If everyone’s foolish and naïve enough to think that a rider won’t test positive again, you might as well go home and not cover this race. The media have a responsibility to realize that this isn’t the last ever doping positive we’re ever going to have,” Millar said before the start. “Professional sport, there’s always going to be doping. With doping controls, there’s always going to be positives. What we have to do is handle it in the right way and move on. What we’re doing on this team is the future of the sport. There’s always going to be guys who are doing it in the wrong way, but there are those of us who are doing it in the right way and I think we’re now in the majority. It really it is a minority.”
Personally, I’m enjoying watching the race. Cavendish has been fun to watch. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that McEwan abandons, given the fact that his team won’t give him the time of day. Unfortunate, because Cadel Evans is about as exciting as watching paint dry.
PARIS (AP)—Blood tests in the Tour de France have shown abnormal results for about 20 cyclists, but none was above the official limit, the French anti-doping agency said Friday.
The tests were carried out July 5 in Brest before the first stage of the three-week race, said Philippe Sagot, deputy secretary-general of the agency.
“Around 20 riders have results a little high, right on the limit,” Sagot told The Associated Press. He did not identify the riders involved.
“There are no infractions, but some figures are very close to the limit, particularly as regards the level of hematocrit,” Sagot said.
A high hematocrit level is an indicator of possible blood doping, but not proof of it.
The agency said the results would be passed on to the riders over the weekend.
Sagot said this would not legally constitute a warning, but he recommended that riders pass the results to their team doctors “because of the possibility of a health risk.”
All 180 riders in the Tour de France were given blood tests before the start of the race to measure their levels against tests taken later in the race. The results were also passed to the International Cycling Union to be included in the riders’ biological passports.
The tour is ghay