Friday, May 27, 2011

It's Friday Afternoon: Do you know where your Hog is?

Seriously, where in the hell is The Hog?  As you may or may not know - Johan Bruyneel, long time directeur sportif for Lance Armstrong and team director for RadioShack, is also known as "The Hog."  But I'm not sure if he was called The Hog before or after he declared himself a "mastermind."

(Rumor has it the alternative title was "We Might As Well Win: Lessons I've learned from Edgar Alan Poe.")

See - it's right there on the cover of his book entitled "We Might As Well Win - On the road to success with the mastermind behind eight Tour de France Victories."  He's the one holding his chin in a thoughtful pose.  I honestly can't decide which nickname I like better...Hog or Mastermind...Mastermind or Hog?

It's kind of old news now, but the day after the 60 Minutes story aired, Italian police decided to pay a visit to Team RadioShack at the Giro d'Italia.  It seems that the team bus was searched first thing in the morning on their rest day this past Monday.  Of particular interest, however, was that The Hog had mysteriously disappeared from the Giro the night before - and no one could find him for days!  This actually had me quite concerned...until I got on Twitter this morning and saw that he had posted a message with a photo.
"View from my dining room."

"Wow," is all I have to say!  That is some view.  Where the hell is his dining room, in a secluded fortress atop some mountain?   I guess that book deal was pretty lucrative! With a view like that - Bruyneel definitely emodies the moniker of 'mastermind' moreso than 'The Hog,' I think. 

Honestly, I'm just glad to know he is OK.....cause it was starting to feel like a bit of a game:

Click to enlargen to play "Where's The Hog?"

Speaking of the 60 Minutes interview and The Hog, one of the allegations made by Tyler Hamilton was that The Hog and LA paid the director of the Swiss Anti-Doping laboratory, Martial Saugy, a little visit after a bunch of urine tested as "suspicious" for EPO at the 2001 Tour de Suisse.  One of Armstrong's attorneys, Tim Herman, (shit, it's getting difficult to keep track of them all) responded to this by saying "neither Armstrong nor Bruyneel have any recollection of meeting [Saugy] for any purpose at any time."  Oops.  It looks like Saugy does remember a meeting with the boys - I guess it did happen, after all.

Man these guys are hard to pin down - even they can't remember where they are or where they've been, or to whom they've spoken.  But in their defense - they are getting older....and that makes remembering things a little more difficult.  I think occasions like that are called "senior moments."  But lucky for them and Team RadioShack, is that no matter how forgetful they may get in their elder years, they also seem to get a lot stronger and faster!
ATOC Stage 7 (Mt. Baldy):  First and Second place - Combined age: 76 years.

But it's all good....these guys have earned the right to be fast....and to live in luxury....and to travel well and quickly from place to place.  I mean, no wonder it's hard to track them down when they can zip in and out of places on their personal private jets.  But what's wrong with the cycling elite getting to move about with a little style?

I mean - this guy won the TdF 7 fricking times, people!  That's a race!  Not like some one-day joy ride on a God-forsaken northern European rustic cattle path!

Speaking of which.....
"f-cancellara on our flight tonight!" via Ken Sommer Twitter 5/22/11.

At any rate - welcome home Hog, mastermind of 8 Tours de France....we've missed you.  And word is there are some nice gentlemen that have some questions for you.....

By the way, COMO kids - tomorrow is the annual Pedaler's Jamboree.  Tickets are still available up until 8PM tonight - so don't miss out.  And there will be absolutely, positively, no advantages to taking anything that could actually enhance your performance on this ride, people!  In fact - I'm pretty sure it's just the opposite....

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Time to clean the gutters

Obvious to very few, I've been hesitant to write anything these past couple of months. This is due to several reasons.  First, the rain gutters on my house really needed cleaning.  (FYI, I'm still in the contemplative phase of cleaning them - but that alone is a time consuming chore.)  Secondly, my views on cycling have become increasingly jaded, and recently, downright paranoid.  That is to say, my views on professional cycling.  This of course didn't help:
But honestly, the 60 minutes piece was a little misguided, soft-handed and apologetic for my tastes, and only served as a weak chaser of sorts to longtime LA fanboy Bill Strickland's article in Bicycling entitled "Lance Armstrong's Endgame" that starts off with the sentence,

"When I told my daughter that I believed that Lance Armstrong had doped, she didn't have much to say."

I have to admit, the entire issue chaps my ass.  Firstly, why does everyone feel they need to be so apologetic in the reporting of this story?  Secondly, I'm simply pissed that Armstrong thinks he can lie and buy his way out of this.  Obviously, I think he's guilty and have thought that for a long time.  But I don't really want to spew my bias and suspicions on anyone else - just have a place to vent.  And this is why if I continue to maintain this blog - I'm not going to post on Facebook anymore.  No one should be subjected to anyone's opinion on anything unknowingly - it's not fair.  Therefore - if you are interested in my thoughts, you can wander by on your own free will anytime from now on - and if my opinions upset you, no worries, just move along.  So yeah, I'm convinced he doped.  And you know what - I could care less.  But this is what I do care about, and why this issue does matter, 10+ years after the fact:

Yeah - I, myself, was an LA fanboy back in the day - probably bigger than most.  So am I pissed that I chose to look up to him?  Not really. That's just who I am - I get excited about extraordinary things and have the tendency to look up to anyone who demonstrates the capacity to achieve greatness.

I think the following video best surmises why I'm pissed and why I think this matters. This is sworn testimony in the SCA deposition from 2005, and LA has just been asked why his current contract with Tailwind Sports doesn't have a clause in it specificying the ramifications if he tests positive. Listen for about a minute and a half (or as long as you want).

Did you catch that bit about how it doesn't matter if his contract has a clause in it that outlines what will happen if he is ever caught with his hand in the cookie jar?  In his words, it wouldn't matter because at greater stake is the faith of cancer survivors and hundreds of thousands of supporters. I hope he sleeps well at night using us as his defense.

But of course, he has decided to cloak himself with something a little more substantial than just the faith and hope of cancer survivors.  Take the news from today:  LA has just hired attorneys John Keker and Elliot Peters.  If you don't remember, these guys formerly represented professional baseball players and successfully prevented federal agents from accessing the results of their drug tests back in 2003.  That's their speciality: suppressing information.  A question:  If you have nothing to hide - why pay so much money in hiring professional 'hiders' to keep it hidden?  For those of you keeping score - that brings LA's attorney count up to 6:  Keker, Peters, Fabiani, Herman, Luskin and Daily.  I guess that's what they call "lawyering up."

News flash for Lance:  There are two courts that are going to affect your outcome: the court of law and the court of public opinion.  And brandname attorneys don't help your case in the latter court; quite the opposite.

And it's also got to be flipping expensive!  Where will the money come from?  Cause I'm guessing his attorneys don't share Lance's sentiment, so eloquently expressed in the video above, that "It's not about the money."  Lucky for him, he's got a few luxury homes laying around that he is trying to sell off.  And guess which one just dropped in price from $12.1 million to $8.7 million last Friday, the same day he hired Bob Luskin (ex-attorney for Karl Rove).

This one!!!  A beautiful "vacation home" in Dripping Springs, TX.

We can only hope that this signals an Armstrong liquidation sale of some sort.  Cause I've had my eyes on one of those yeller-colored jerseys for a while now.  I'm guessing that the fancy pockets on the back will come in handy for holding tools when I'm up on the ladder cleaning out my rain gutters.  Although I'm about a year late in cleaning them - I don't actually feel so bad.  Look how long it's taken someone to finally start thinking about cleaning out America's dirtiest cycling gutter!