Showing posts with label Lance Armstrong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lance Armstrong. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The right thing: Just do it.

By now, everyone has heard of the continuing fallout of the Lance Armstrong scenario.  Anymore - reading the cycling news is like watching a flock of vultures picking over a carcass.  And I continue to be guilty of said scavenging as well.  To that end, I remind you of the Nike commercial featuring Lance from 2001:



Fast forward to today and the statement that Nike issued  on their website:

"Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him.  Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.  Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer."
 
I wonder what they want in return.  A medal? Are they suddenly expecting us to think they actually have integrity?  Let's remember that Nike signed football star Michael Vick after he had been arrested and found guilty of running a dog fighting ring....the first time in the history of sports marketing that a company dropped an athlete from their brand and then signed them back. 
 
As I was listening to the presidential debate last night, one question posed to the candidates was "How can we keep American companies from sending jobs overseas."  One answer I was looking for was not uttered by either candidate - and in reality, probably doesn't exist:  Convince highly successful American companies that NOT outsourcing their manufacturing to China, Indonesia and Vietnam (I'm talking to you Nike), where the law prohibits workers from forming independent trade unions and protective labor laws are unenforced, is actually patriotic - it's the right thing to do.  Convince them that even though this will reduce their profit margin, they will still be able to grow rich and would simultaneously put Americans to work - it's the right thing to do.  When was doing the right thing ever synonymous with doing the easiest thing?  Doing the right thing is hard......kind of like not doping.  I say this at the risk of sound ridiculously naive, I realize.  But how much money does Phil Knight really need, anyway?  So much that he endorses a torturer of animals? So much that he condones Indonesian child sweat shops? So much that he indirectly bankrolled the largest, most systematic doping program in the history of sport?
 
I guess it should not be surprising, therefore, that one of Nike's recent ad campaigns for a soccer jersey for the Sport Club International was delivered in some very unique and crazy expensive packaging:
"COLORADO BLOOD:  When a team enters the pitch, every fan wants the players to give their blood, sweat and tears for the club.  That's what inspired Nike for the launching of the new jersey of Sport Club Internacional. Known as Colorado (the red team), the red of its famous jersey was presented inside a blood bag."
 
Opening the box reveals an IV bad surrounded by plastic 'ice cubes'.
 
And within the IV bag is a red jersey, with Nike swoosh.
 
"MANIFESTO:  If there is one thing that identifies us, it is blood. Blood is what makes our hearts beat.  It is what keeps us alive.  Blood carries our history.  Every win, every tear, every trophy is there.  And trophies abound for those who have won everything....."
 
Indeed, "blood does identify us...." just ask Jan Ulrich, Ivan Basso, Frank Schleck and every other Operacion Puerto cyclist.
 
All Nike proved by dropping their endorsement for Lance was that they were the first rat to jump from the deck of the sinking ship.  Soon after they bailed - RadioShack followed.  Interestingly, at the time of this writing, the Lance Armstrong website still listed them both as sponsors.  Well if anyone is interested in playing a little doping bingo - I've attached a board below for you to play along....Any guesses as to which company is next?
 
Nike's abandonment not only opens the door for other sponsors to follow suit, but it nearly commands it if the others want to feign 'integrity' as well.***
 
Here's the kicker in my household....The GEEC loves Nike shit....she just ran the Chicago marathon in a great Nike running shirt.  I know she must grow tired (as I'm sure many of you have) of me bitching and moaning about all the facets that emerge surrounding this issue on a daily basis, so when she heard me complaining about Nike the other evening, she really looked weary and asked, "Is Nike on the shit-list too?"
 
I told her it's probably best to ignore me for a while...
 
*** Addendum:  Well, today ended up being a little like dominoes in the world of LA sponsorship abandonment.  In case anyone needs a refresher to their board, you can check out the COMO CYCO Tumblr site - or look below.  Hope everyone had fun playing!  There are still three open spaces....(We're looking at you Oakley, SRAM and Johnson!)
 
 

 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Deliverance

A lot is being written about the “bravery” of all the cyclists who have come clean the past couple of days.  And a few are dismissing this so-called bravery, because in all honesty, most of these guys came clean because they had to.  The Feds had tracked them down and put them on the spot and asked them point blank: “Did they or didn’t they?”  And lying to the Feds meant jail time.  Admission under the threat of punishment is not necessarily a mea culpa in my opinion.  I think most, if not all, would have been just fine taking their secrets to the graves with them, either because of shame for what they’d done or not wanting to risk the loss of a job, or more likely, both.  Who’s to blame them for wanting to keep their secrets?  Don’t each of us have embarrassing secrets we prefer no one ever found out about. 

As cycling fans, we have this odd relationship with those we watch and cheer on.  We don’t know these people.  We cannot understand what motivates them.  Yet we heap expectations on them and request acts of heroic proportions.  And then we put them on pedestals.  When we find out that they cheated to achieve such amazing feats we are left with three choices.  #1) Forgive and forget, #2) Not forgive, and not forget, and #3) Walk away from the whole stinking mess.  How do I rationalize forgiving Christian VandeVelde, for example while mentally persecuting Lance Armstrong (which, I admit, is exactly what I’ve done.)  I’ve met Christian several times – even ridden with him – and he seems like a super nice guy.  I listened to Armstrong speak once in Rolla, MO back when I was the biggest LA fanboy I knew, and I came away from his talk thinking he was an arrogant prick after he made some insult about the size of Rolla and refused to let a woman with cancer come up and hug him on stage during the Q and A.  But I was too scared to say how I felt because everyone else loved him.  But do I know either of these guys?  Absolutely not.  How do I make sense of the categorization my brain does automatically and without conscience thought: Christian is a good guy, Lance is a shit.  Partly because I could honestly care less at this point if they doped or not.  It’s more about how they have dealt with their decision and the fact that it now has become public knowledge.  Part of what defines character is how you respond to adversity.
Speaking of which, several years ago, I got to spend the day with Floyd Landis.  I was put in charge of organizing a benefit to raise money for osteoarthritis research, and was charged with coming up with a keynote speaker.  Floyd had been found guilty of doping, had served his 2 year sentence and was then making his comeback racing for Ouch/Maxxis on an artificial hip.  This was before he would make his full confession in the Wall Street Journal article.  At the time, I believed he was innocent of the doping charges.  I contacted Team Ouch and three phone calls later had somehow managed to secure him as the speaker for the event through his agent.  They never asked, but I guaranteed there would be no talking about doping, him winning, or not winning the Tour de France, or Lance Armstrong.  We just wanted to hear about what it was like to be a professional bike racer who performed with an artificial hip.  We made the public announcement that he was coming to speak at the event and I immediately got a couple of derogatory emails about the appropriateness of hiring a ‘doper’ as a speaker.  I stood my ground, defended Floyd, and the event remained scheduled as planned.
The day of the benefit, I had to pick him up at his hotel and take him to lunch.  There would be four of us going – and we were to eat at the winery in Rocheport – a 30 minute drive away.  When I met him and his agent in the hotel lobby, I was nervous.  He rounded the corner suddenly and came right up to me and said, “Hey, I’m Floyd” and shook my hand really, really strongly with a huge smile on his face, and I relaxed almost immediately.  I asked him if he and his agent would like to ride separately in their larger rented car, following us out to Rocheport, since it was a long drive, and I only had my Subaru Outback.  He said “Hell no – I can fit in the back seat – let’s go.” So I drove to Rocheport with Floyd Landis in the back seat of my Subaru.  Somewhere along I-70 I came to the realization that this was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.  Here was the man I watched ride solo and win Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France in what many have called one of the single greatest days of bicycle racing ever, sitting in my back seat.  The word ‘bizarre’ doesn’t come close to describing how I felt.  We got to the winery and Floyd asked if I rode.  I laughed it off, but he asked again and I confessed I was just a Cat 5 choade.  He asked me more about where I had ridden – out west?  Overseas?  I told him I had done both – ridden the Copper Triangle in Colorado and gotten to meet Davis Phinney through a mutual friend.  He asked how Davis was – if I had been able to notice any evidence of the Parkinson’s he is affected by.  He complemented him on being a truly amazing cyclist and a great guy.  I told him about how on the descent of Fremont Pass, the freewheel hub of my Mavic Ksyrium Elite had started squealing like an ape being raped  and he laughed and told me he had the same thing happen to him once.  I asked about his hip, how he was doing – and he told me the entire story.  Despite what I knew about Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong largely ignoring his condition and not facilitating him receiving the appropriate medical attention to have it addressed when he rode for Postal, he remained respectful of them when speaking about them – although he did recount a story of Johan demanding he fly to Europe the day after he had two screws painfully removed from his femur which resulted in a massive hematoma that extended down his leg, which he would later have to hide from doctors to be allowed to race. 
As I drove him back to his hotel after lunch, I asked how his parents were, especially in dealing with the press and aftermath of the 2006 Tour.  He said they were doing just fine, and thanks so much for asking.  I asked what his Dad did for a living, and he told me about his trucking company.  Amongst other things, he moves gravel in large dump trucks, and generally loves his job.  There was a long pause after this, and he continued You know – sometimes I think that may be the most basic, and most gratifying job a person could have.  Move this stuff here, to that place over there. Work hard at it, then go home and enjoy the evening with your family.”  I liked Floyd.
The benefit that night went incredibly well.  Floyd seemed nervous at first during his talk, but warmed into it, and there was a great Q and A afterward with him.  He signed things for people, spent a tremendous amount of time interacting with folks and posing for pictures.  Basically he gave himself to all the people that were in attendance.  I was grateful and relieved that the whole thing had come off so well.  As I walked him and his agent back out to their car, he shook my hand firmly again and told me to give him a ring if I was out in San Diego; that we’d go for a ride.
The next year, he would confess to doping throughout his career, and to having done so under the direction of Johan and Armstrong on Postal, and then on his own with Phonak.  He was called a “rat” and a “liar” by cycling fans and ostracized from the sport by commentators, fans, other cyclists.  He had previously accepted money for his legal defense knowing he was guilty all the time – and people were upset with that.  But in my estimation, they were more upset that he was now calling Lance Armstrong a cheat.  Lance defended himself by saying Floyd was mentally unstable.  (In retrospect, I’m thinking you’d have to be somewhat mentally unstable to race at that level at that time.)  But from my day with Floyd, my impression was that he was as down-to-earth and genuine as a person could be. 
In the midst of Floyd being singled out by virtually everyone, none of his former teammates that also doped came to his defense.  Hamilton, Vaughters, Zabriskie, Hincapie, VandeVelde….they could have spoken up and said, “Hang on – he’s telling the truth.”  But they didn’t.  There was positive incentive, to be sure: defending a friend, telling the truth.  But they would also be certain to lose 2 years of their career and undergo the same smear campaign from the Armstrong camp (see Hamilton, Andreus, O’Reilly, Anderson, LeMond etc) – and maybe they would never be able to race again at the level they wanted to, like Floyd.  They circled the wagons, remained silent and protected themselves, and Armstrong indirectly. Now each has admitted to doping – under the threat of jail time.  Floyd was right all along.  As was Hamilton.  As was LeMond and the Andreus.  It has kind of played out like a movie.  On the topic of movies, Dave Zabriskie was recently quoted as saying that the movie “Breaking Away” inspired him to become a cyclist, and that’s what good movies do, “They inspire.  Make us believe we can do things and believe things.”
I also think a good movie makes you ask yourself “what would I do?”  Like every time I watch the movie Deliverance, I ask myself, ‘Would I bury that body deep and paddle on?  Or ‘Would I go to the police and say it was self-defense?’ And every single time, I think to myself, I’m burying that body deep and paddling my ass down the river pronto.  In the movie version of the cycling saga that has played out for us all to watch, I play the same game.  I’d like to think I wouldn’t have doped – but I probably would have (remember - bury that body deep and tell no one).  But I also like to think I would have confessed for the purpose of standing up for a friend instead of just to save my own skin.  But who knows?
I’d still like to take Floyd up on that bike ride. 
I still think Christian is a good guy. 
And I still think Lance is a shit.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vampires, bitches.....time travelling vampires.

Last night at about 10:32 PM, I got an urgent text message from Pickle 2.

"I just ordered Tyler Hamilton's new book on Kindle.  It's going to automatically download as soon as it's released in 28 minutes."
 
Now, some of you may realize that yesterday was the first COMO Cyclocross race of the season.  And for me - this was the first competitive type of bikey thing I've attempted since 'jacking up my shoulder real good' in July and also obliterating a bone in my little toe about 3 weeks ago while chasing the COMO CYCO dog through the living room.  (Who would have guessed that the material properties of my pinky toe bone were no match for the cheap pine that my coffee table leg is constructed of?).  The evidence:
So, about the time Pickle was texting me about Tyler's new book, I was soaking in the tub, nursing my bruised ego, my swollen pinky toe, and my deviated collar bone, which these days protrudes so prominently under my skin that it looks like my shoulder is trying to conceal an erection.  I responded to Pickle nonetheless:
 
"Dude - do NOT stay up all night reading that thing!"
 
Pickle replied, "Can't.  Too effing tired from cross.  Gonna crash any second!"
 
As if we needed more reasons to ride bikes, or race cross, here was suddenly another one staring at me in the face....to escape the bullshit of the real world, if only for a brief time.  When you are talentless, weak and have a center of gravity that is way, way, way too fucking high to be taking a downhill off-camber right angle turn over tree roots at full speed, you tend to suddenly not give a shit if Lance Armstrong doped, or what Tyler Hamilton has to say, or if you accidentally left the oven on....you just don't want to go over the handlebars one more time and make the tent that your shoulder is pitching obscenely reveal its inner bone by finally poking on through the skin. 
 
However, as all things pass with time, so too does the mind-emptying bliss that one can only feel through sheer physical exertion, and slowly we start to re-occupy our brains once again with the news of the day.  Such was the case for me this morning when I tried to take a peek at what was going on in the Vuelta.  I had heard a rumor that today would be the ultimate showdown between Joachim Rodriguez and Alberto Contador (who were sitting in 1st and 2nd on GC) - and I was eager to catch a little of the action of the end of today's stage.  Logging on to Cyclingfans.com, this is the Eurosport feed I got.
 
 
Now, you may not have noticed, but if you look very closely, you will see, coincident with an interview of Alberto Contador, that there is a very subtle commercial for what appear to be a group of Asian women who want boyfriends.  This is what is known as subliminal advertising, and has proven to be very effective in gently convincing your brain that you desire something by showing mere hints and glimpses of the subject matter.  Regardless, I am generally happy to see Bertie do so well today and to be back in the peloton after having served his doping suspension.  This year's Vuelta is proving to be quite possibly the most exciting of all the grand tours this year.   Who can be sure, really, if he is juicing now - but regardless of his activities, I will say that that the Asian ladies that I'm being warned "will pursue" me on Eurosport definitely appear to have been on some serious performance enhancing programs.
 
And speaking of performance enhancers, there is more good news in the Lance Armstrong camp today.  First and foremost, a couple of very prominent athletes are speaking out in his defense.  The first is former professional baseball player Jose Canseco.  You may remember Jose as not only an accomplished designated hitter, but also a professional athlete who admitted to using performance enhancing drugs who wrote a book about it called: Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big.  Well in a recent article,  he comments on Lance,
 
"Just leave the guy alone and let him be the best there ever was or will be.....Liquor and tobacco will kill you, and of course they're legal.  But steroids, growth hormones, and enhancement chemicals that have the potential to help you live better and longer [are] illegal just like cocaine and heroin.  That needs to be changed soon if we want to continue to push the human body to its physical limits."
 
Well said, Jose.  Oh yeah, did I mention Canseco wants to be a Vampire as well?
 
"One thing I never understood is why anyone wouldn’t want to be bitten by a vampire. It’s like, what the fuck? Are you kidding me? I’d become a vampire in a heartbeat. They’re immortal, they can fly, and they can time-travel… what’s so bad about wanting to become one? What’s the worst thing that can happen? You have to eat a few people now and then? "
 
Ever hear of Hep B, Jose?  And also - hold the phone for one cotton-picking minute!  Vampires can time travel?  Since when?  And who said anything about them eating people?  I don't know, man.....the time travel shit could be cool - but the eating people?  Anyway - as if having Conseco's endorsement isn't enough, Lance also got the support of Barry Bonds.  The former pro-slugger, who happens to have been recently found guilty of felony obstruction of justice for lying during an investigation into his own steroid use said this of Armstrong just yesterday,
 
"I think if it wasn't for him, U.S. cycling wouldn't even be here.  He was the greatest cyclist of all time."
 
I couldn't agree more with Bonds on this issue.  Marshall "Major" Taylor?  Never heard of him.  Andy Hamptsen?  Chump.  Greg LeMond?  Overrated.  Davis Phinney?  Isn't he the father of somebody famous?
Who the hell is that?  Not Lance - that's who.
 
Well Jose and Barry aren't alone, apparently.  Word in today is that 23 Californian state senators have petitioned the two U.S. Senators from California to request a formal review of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.  The petition never mentions Armstrong, but does say,
 
"The United States was founded under the fundamental premise that everyone has the due process right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  To that end, we respectfully request that you call upon the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the appropriate oversight committees of the United States Congress to develop appropriate constitutional protections and conduct a comprehensive review of USADA's operations and finances, with special attention to USADA's unilateral changes in the rules for dealing with athletes who have never failed a drug test."
 
What a coincidence!  And how timely is it that these Californian senators decided to look into the USADA now of all times.  I know what you are thinking....sure Judge Sam Sparks already said that USADA was within its rights to charge Armstrong and is not acting "unconstitutional."  And absolutely, Lance waived his right to an arbitration hearing.  And yes, Lance agreed, just like everyone in the US who gets their license through USA Cycling, to adhere to the rules of the USADA.  But come on....we can bend the rules just a little bit for him - can't we? 
 
I mean - Jose and Barry said he's cool - so he gets a pass right?  Just think of the vampires.  The world needs its blood suckers to live in perpetuity, right?
 
Man - how many days until the next cross race?  I need to seriously forget about this shit.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

And suddenly, nothing happened: Belief and Reverence.

So, today I'm pleased to announce that an interesting thing is happening with the "Lance Armstrong" phenomenon.  Last Thursday, LA opted to not go through arbitration and discuss the evidence against him, which was his right.  USADA subsequently banned Armstrong for life and initiated the process to strip him of all his titles.  I feared that this news would bring the end of Lance Armstrong, as we know him, in a great cacophonous demise.  But since the day the USADA declared their action, things have been relatively quiet.  No anti-Lance protests were noted at the mountain bike race he participated in, nor the marathon he ran the following day.  And not a single anti-Lance peep was uttered from the crowd at the World Cancer Congress in Montreal during his speech in which he actually said "My name is Lance Armstrong.  I am a cancer survivor.  I'm a father of five.  And yes, I won the Tour de France seven times."

I have to be honest. I am amazed he actually said, "My name is Lance Armstrong!"  His humility is endearing, but really - how many people there didn't know who he was!  So fucking talent.

In addition, two articles from well-known sports writers have been published this week that are receiving a lot of attention which further demonstrates that Lance isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Titled "I Still Believe in Lance Armstrong" by Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights.
 
The headline of the article reads "To hell with the doping charges.  Lance Armstrong performed miracles.  Stop tearing down our idols.  Why I still believe."
 
The second article that caught my eye was authored by ESPN writer Rick Reilly and is titled "Lance is still worth revering."  In his article, Reilly says, "I'm wearing something yellow Friday for Lance Armstrong.....If he cheated in a sport where cheating is as common as eating, then I'm wearing yellow to thank him for everything he's done since he cheated."
 
You see, this is the beauty of Lance not arbitrating with the USADA.  If he had elected to go forth with a court hearing, he would have been forced to take on USADA all alone (not including the 12 or so ex-Bush administration lawyers he was paying, that is).  But now that he has declined the right to arbitrate, everyone else in America can arbitrate for him...not in an arbitration hearing - but in the court of public opinion - where it really matters!  And thankfully, we are winning!  I just need to decide what I can wear tomorrow that is yellow and that everyone can see easily!  I know just the thing....thank God it is in that perfect hue of Livestrong-Nike Yellow:
 
However, it is interesting to note from the aforementioned articles that those that support Lance are conceding that he may actually have cheated.  But they don't care.  And further, neither should you.  Why?  Because of cancer, of course.  What does cancer have to do with cheating, you ask?  Well if you have to ask - then you obviously just don't get it.
 
But hold on a tic - not all of Armstrong's supporters think he dabbled in the juice.  Some actually think there were dark forces, secretly conspiring against Armstrong which ultimately forced him into his current situation.  Here's cycling commentator Phil Liggett accusing US Federal Investigators of trying to pay people to lie about Lance Armstrong, thus fabricating a case against him in order to make themselves appear more legitimate (you can fast forward to minute 12:31 to hear the accusation).
 


And here's a transcription of the juicy bit if you find Liggett's voice akin to someone sticking a dart in you right ear....really deep....then wiggling it around....especially when he says shit like "argy-bargy." (Don't get me wrong - we all love him and want to sit on his lap and listen to him tell us bed time stories with his cute accent.)

"Again I come back, why is USADA, which is really a nefarious locals drugs agency in the United States, so intent?
Now I can tell you one thing. And I could prove it in SA but I, I went to, I met a chap who worked with Armstrong, err, on Saturday in Boulder Colorado. And he told me that he had a visit, two years ago, err to tell, and the question was, they were agents from a particular agency and, er, they said “will you tell us that Lance Armstrong took EPO? And we could assure that you will never want for money again“. That was his quote on Thursday and he told them in words I can’t put on radio what to do with that and they said “I think we’re talking to the wrong man” and they walked away."
 
Wow - these are serious accusations!  I hope his source recorded this alleged conversation - because we can't be expected to just believe this because he said he heard it!  Witness testimony is worthless in court from what I hear. 
 
Anyway, I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking, "Hang on one minute, there PooBah - no way I'm going to let you accuse Phil of making shit up to unilaterally support Lance because of some personal bias!"  Well, don't you worry - I never would.  Why, everyone loves Phil!  He has become the veritable voice of cycling!  We trust him like a gentle grandfather that smells of BenGay and Scotch, pays you a quarter to rub his feet and then asks you to pull his finger.  No way Phil could be so biased and non-objective on this topic - right?  After all, he has always been a stalwart anti-doping advocate.  He regularly vilifies any cyclist being found guilty of doping!  And he always knows how to remain objective...I mean........oh wait, what's this....
Ignore this.  I'm sure this is a photo of Phil admonishing Lance for something and masking it with a smile and a slap on the back for the cameras.  Phil is a bulldog! He's unflappable on the issue of doping - there is no way he could be swayed or persuaded to think Lance wasn't actually.....wait - hang on - what's this?
Oh shit.  Is that Phil sipping on a Starbuck's latte on Lance's personal private jet?  Well, so what if it is?  All these naysayers are already trying to destroy an American Hero that works miracles. There is no way I'm going to let them take down Phil effing Liggett with them!
 
If Lance is discredited as a great cyclist and a humanitarian, America would never survive!  Our only heroes in this country are self-absorbed, overpaid athletes!  And hardly any of them are cyclists.  Without Lance, no one may ever find the inspiration to ride a bike in the US again!  People with cancer would lose the will to fight!  Wrists around the globe would get cold in the absence of skinny bands of silicone.  Nike would lose the opportunity to use a disease to personally profit.  So won't you join me in wearing yellow tomorrow?  If you don't want to do it for Lance, then at least do it for Nike.  Do it for those little kids in Cambodia sewing the Livestrong tags on your new $200 sneakers.
"Smell that shoe.  Each one comes with an insole with your choice of a scent mixture already impregnated into it that overcomes your foot odor.  Options include 'strawberry-avarice' and 'lilac-anger'.....but my favorite is 'licorice-money."
 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Learning from the King: racing and jorting

Oh Google Translate, how I adore you.  You are like the Mad Libs of the 21st century...especially when you talk about cycling:

From the Danish site www.feltek.dk comes this story of Lance Armstrong's return to bike racing this past weekend - a mountain bike race in Aspen...translated, for our benefit, by Google:

 
Lance Armstrong got beaten up in Colorado
 
Lance Armstrong started his career as a pure amateur athlete in the weekend with a defeat. He lost to a 16-year-old boy in a mountain bike in Colorado.
 
While many of the dethroned Tour de France king's old teammates drove U.S. Pro Challenge, also in Colorado, then asked Armstrong to Aspen Snowmass-Power of the Tour is not far away, where he placed second Square and got laesterlige lost to 16-year-old Keegan Swirbul who came in goal 5 minutes before Armstrong.
 
"Had fun by running Aspen Snowmass-Power of the Tour this morning. Got beaten by the guy who is young enough to be my son.  Keegan Swirbul - remember the name," tweeted Armstrong on Sunday afternoon.  And despite his earlier assurances that he would no longer comment on his case with USADA, he could not help.
 
"There is no one should feel sorry for me.  I have five great children and a wonderful boyfriend.  My cancer fund has not been damaged by this case.  In fact, increased donations to the Lance Armstrong Foundation to the 25-double the current level by the end of Thursday night.  I can assure everyone that I have a lot to look forward to.  I actually have not felt so relaxed the last ten years, as I do now," said Armstrong after the race according to Sportwereld.
 
He is apparently not very concerned at the prospect that his new career as a professional triathlete is over almost before it had begun.
 
"It's not about results. I play sports to stay in shape. I enjoy the beautiful landscape and a hard route as here in Aspen.  Some might say that it's ridiculous to spend a day off to suffer in this way on a bike.  But I've enjoyed it.  And I think it's perfectly fine that I'm a young guy who could in reality be my son.  He's fucking talent."
 
It's refreshing to hear that despite being beaten up in Colorado, Lance is still relaxed, has come out of the closet and is also somehow his own son.  Thank you Google translate.  This is the best bit of Lance reporting I've read in a while. 
 
But no matter how relaxed and out-of-the closet LA might think he is - it just simply cannot compare to this guy spotted at the US Pro Challenge yesterday by Velo Magazine editor Neal Rogers:
The Lion King - Mario Cipollini, replete with open shirt, aviators and cargo pants.  Armstrong could learn a thing or two about how to enjoy retirement from this guy.  And while chilling at the Pro Challenge, Cipo even made it his mission to try to reintroduce what has become a quagmire in men's fashion, the ever-tricky jean-shorts, or 'jorts' as they are now called:
Jorts have come and gone in men's summer fashion - but now that Cipo has stamped his oily seal of approval on them, it's only a matter of time before cycling Freds across the country begin to sport them while watching the local crit series and Pearl Izumi attempts to sew a 7 panel chamois into a pair.  Witness; the mere presence of Cipo in jorts forces two disembodied hands to appear out of nowhere and reach into a wallet to give Cipo money - for apparently no other reason that to get to stand in his presence!  
 
Come to think of it, Cipo might have learned that trick from Lance.
 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Lance Armstrong Grapevine

Sometimes....no actually MORE than sometimes....it's better to shut up and listen to what others have to say and think.  I get tired of my own mouth all too frequently which is the main explanation of why I take a hiatus from this blog so frequently.  Anyway - today I thought it would be smarter to tell you what other people have been saying over the past 12 hours since the Armstrong bomb dropped rather than trying to put my own spin on it.  Check back throughout the day if you feel so inclined, as I will be updating this post as time allows.
 
Lance Armstrong: "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now." link

Travis Tygart: (USADA CEO) "Yes...the charges were not contested, so what automatically goes into place will be a lifetime ban from any participation from any sport which recognises the WADA code and disqualification from all results including any Tour de France victories, any other victories and placings beginning August 1st 1998 to the present." link

Sal Ruibal (Sports Reporter and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Inductee 2007): "One doesn't dominate one of the hardest sports in the world for so long with a normal ego.  Or with normal blood values...Do we expect too much from our heroes?  Maybe, but that's why we have heroes.  And that's why it hurts when they let us down.  I hope Lance is able to find a new path with the help of his family and friends. Truth and reconciliation, in that order.  For yourself, not us." link

Dave Towle (US Cycling Announcer): "I'm pretty sure the fact that I support @lancearmstrong comes as no surprise.  He remains the G.O.A.T. in my eyes. #livestrong." link

Jan Ulrich (former pro cyclist, 2nd place finisher (x3) in the Tour de France, results from 2005-2007 removed by CAS for doping): "I've ended my career and I have always said that I'm proud of my second places.  It doesn't really bother me that much." link

Race Radio (Cycling commentator and blogger).  "Congratulations to @weinr (Dave Wein) on winning the 2009 Leasdville 100! Not all of Wonderboy's tainted "victories" go to dopers." link

Alberto Contador (pro cyclist, former LA team mate). "I am not really on top of the case.  I do not know if the case is closed or what.  All I know is that Lance was like a fortress, intelligent and with a strong head."  link

Frankie Andreu (former pro cyclist and LA team mate): "Lance fights everything so I'm surprised he chose not to fight the charges. His press release sounds like a broken record repeating the same lines we have already heard hundreds of times from him. USADA has shown some true grit by not backing down from a popular and wealthy athlete - showing that clean sport is a right for every athlete. If Lance really wants to help his foundation and help people with cancer, he should admit to the past, apologize and move forward with a clear conscience." link

David Walsh (cycling columnist and author of From Lance to Landis; LA Confidential). "...the investigation should really be much deeper than Lance Armstrong. Who are the people who protected him? Are they still in cycling, are they still controlling cycling? Even the most neutral observer would say that cycling has been incredibly badly served by its leadership.” link

Bernard Hinault (former pro cyclist, winner TdF '78,'79','81,'82,'85):  "I couldn't give a damn.  It's his problem, not mine.  This is a problem that should have been sorted out 10 or 15 years ago but which never was." link

Johan Bruyneel (former pro cyclist and LA director, author of "We might as well win"): "Today I am disappointed for Lance and for cycling in general, that things have reached such a point that Lance has had enough and no longer wants to challenge the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) campaign against him.  Lance has never withdrawn from a fair fight in his life so his decision today underlines what an unjust process this has been.  I hope that it will soon be determined that the case that USADA initiated against me should never have gotten as far as it has." link
 
Youngatart1 (commenter on the Livestrong blog): "Lance is a HERO. His achievements are remarkable and deserve a Lot more Respect than he has been getting lately! The bureaucratic legalese of USADA is disgusting, and I am very ashamed to have Any of my tax dollars going to support those jealous jerks. Stay Strong Lance!! I have made another donation today to Livestrong from my limited income in support of him. " link

Mary Remuzzi (Nike spokeswoman): "Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors." link

USADA official ruling and statement: "In addition to the lifetime ban, Mr. Armstrong will be disqualified from any and all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to August 1, 1998, including forfeiture of any medals, titles, winnings, finishes, points and prizes." link

Kathy LeMond (wife of Greg LeMond, former pro cyclist and TdF winner (X3): "Finally". link

 
Travis Tygart (USADA): "....this is the most witnesses we've ever had in any case come forward." link
 
Nike (Inside the lines; The Nike Code of Ethics): "Compliance with laws and fair dealing:  Employees must comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations.  Employees are expected to deal competitively and fairly with others and may not use deception, misrepresentation, or abuse of confidential information to obtain unfair advantage over competitors, suppliers or customers." link

Jim Ochowicz (long time LA supporter and friend, BMC coach): He has done so much for our sport over the years and I am sad at what has transpired.  I think he has earned every victory he's had." link

Floyd Landis (former pro cyclist and former team mate): "I really don't know what the solution is for the sport of cycling.  That's not my issue anymore." link

Filippo Simeoni (former pro cyclist and LA rival): "It leaves me a bit perplexed, because someone like him, with all the fame and popularity and millions of dallors he has, should fight to the end if he's innocent.  But I guess he realized it was a useless fight and the evidence USADA had was too great." link

Lance Armstrong: "Thanks to all the @LIVESTRONG supporters worldwide.  Donations were up 25X over yesterdays.  Thank you thank you thank you!"  link

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monkeys and blow

It sucks playing second fiddle.  I wouldn't actually know that as a fact, because the fiddle I'm typically playing is so far down the line it's not even in the orchestra pit, but rather out in the parking lot somewhere.  But as a general rule, playing second fiddle generally blows, which is why so many sayings are dedicated to the position.  "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride," or "second place is the first loser."  Even in the diarrhea song, 'second' gets so much disrespect that there is no reference made to what specific form of defecation you will achieve as you round second base.  If you're coming into first, your pants are about to burst, naturally. And if you are contemplating stretching your double into a triple and heading for third, you are going to lay a turd. And of course if you are sliding into home, your pants are full of foam.  But NOTHING if you are coming into second!  It is the forgotten position.

This year, one of two men have dominated the majority of sprint finishes in pro-cycling and they both have one, if not many, nicknames.  Mark Cavendish cleaned up at the Tour de France as well as the World Championships and is, of course, referred to as the "Manx Missile" (although we here at COMO CYCO like to refer to him as "Cavendouche."  And Peter Sagan, who dominated the Tour of California and won the green jersey in the Tour has since been called the "Tourminator" or the "Velvet Samurai."

And whilst The Samurai and the Manx Missile have been competing with one another over whose celebratory sprint pose is most douchetastic, American sprinter Tyler Farrar (it's pronounced like FAIR-rah, I'm told)

has usually been simultaneously mopping the pavement with his body in race after agonizing race this year. Well today, Farrar finally has pulled a big ol' salami out of his chamois in the USA Pro Challenge Tour of blah blah blah.....in the form of a sprint win!  And truth be told, let's give the kid some props, because he did it by hanging with the winning field and dragging his ass up a long ascent into Telluride and over a couple stinger passes when many of the other sprinters decided to catch a ride in the sag wagon instead...I don't want to call anyone out...but....oh shit - hang on...a sneeze is coming on....ahh..ahhh....ahhhh-CHICCHI! 



Hell, even Farrar's teammate Dave Zabriskie suffered today, barfing away all of his vegan lunch and most of his vegan breakfast as he tried to stay with the breakaway group.  (He's a vegan, if you've not heard).  So can we finally give Farrar a nickname?  Oh wait - Christian VandeVelde just did.


"The Ginger Ninja gets the monkey off his back in the mountains. So happy for him."

Yeah - I think that nickname should stick nicely.  And this, apparently, is what you look like when you are a Ginger Ninja and you get a monkey off your back.
Begone, monkey!

And in other, much less interesting news, Lance Armstrong apparently has gotten himself some "fresh blow...."
And I thought he was just being accused for using EPO, steroids and testosterone....

Judge Sparks has sided with USADA and dismissed Armstrong's case against the anti-doping agency.  Looks like he's got until August 23rd now to decide whether he's going to accept USADA's sanctions or try to fight them through arbitration.  As I Googled this story, I noticed that many of the various news outlets have chosen to use the pursed-lipped, salmon-mouth photo of Armstrong seen above as visual representation of the story in an attempt to convey..... I actually have no idea what they are trying to convey, as he was neither photographed nor interviewed at all in response to this news story.  I guess the news agencies just subjectively guess what he may be feeling upon hearing this and then go through their files in search of a photo that conveys those emotions.....and today, that would be this....


Actually, now that I think about it, maybe this is what it looks like when a monkey jumps on your back...with some fresh blow.


Monday, July 23, 2012

2012 Tour de France: The Best and Worst

For the two or three of you that actually read this blog, you may have noticed that I didn't post anything last week.  That is because the GEEC and I decided to skip town with the COMO CYCO dog in pursuit of cooler climates which were happily discovered far, far away at a much, much higher altitude thankfully.  But what we gained in more pleasurable weather and scenery, we lost in Tour de France viewing, unfortunately.  So today I'm left trying to pick up the scraps of everything that went down in the past week.  Perhaps you missed a thing or two as well.  Just in case, let's catch up with some of the best and worst moments of the last week of the 2012 Tour!

Biggest prick in the 2012 Tour de France peloton?
That would have to go to the Stage 17 fan on the climb to Peyragudes....(credit)
Egoi Martinez was amused....passenger on AG2R motorbike - not so much.  But the man in the hat and little else prompted hashtags ranging from #dongstrong to #ricardo montaldong on Twitter.

Most aggressive former cyclist in the 2012 Tour de France?
Easy - Bernard Hinault on the final podium in Paris - chucking a trespassing hipster off stage and into the front row!  The Badger still has it!

Most unsurprising Tweet sent by a cycling spouse during the Tour?
Mark Cavendish's frequently half-naked girl informing the world she forgot her knickers.....shocker.


Biggest cycling news distraction from the 2012 Tour?
Lance Armstrong using Livestrong money and personnel to lobby against USADA who is currently charging him with doping.  Livestrong's purpose is supposed to be to raise cancer awareness isn't it?
"If I hold my thumb like zis, and speak wiz a German accent, I look a leetle bit like Hitler, ya?"

2012 Tour Team which invokes the most love-hate feelings?
RadioShack Nissan Trek...
Love: Jakob Fuglsang.
Despite not being paid by his team, then being removed from the Tour roster and any other UCI World Tour competitions by bossman "Hog" Bruyneel, Jakob still goes ahead and wins every other race he enters this summer...(incluing the Tour of Austria and a giant sausage) while the man who attempted to shackle him awaits formal doping charges.  Suck on that salami, Hog.

Hate: Chris Horner
Way to cover what was supposed to be George Hincapie's solo ceremonial break-away and then awkwardly suck his wheel 100 meters in front of the peloton on the Champs Elysees, stealing his glory for riding in the most Tours de France of any cyclist, you ass-munch. 

Cyclist who breathed the freshest air into the 2012 Tour?

Sagan, of course.  Not content with three stage wins and invoking the likes of Forrest Gump, a chicken and the Hulk during his victory salutes, Sagan attempts to steal more hearts by boob-raping female fans with magic markers.

Most insensitive photo posted on Twitter during the 2012 Tour ?
Richie Porte of Team Sky, crashed out on the couch in his tighty blackies and teddy the day after the Tour.....photo taken and posted by his girl Tiffany.....very not cool.

T-shirt with the least-veiled double meaning worn by a significant other during the Tour?
Christian Knees' girlfriend's shirt reading: "I heart CK."

Worst execution of a stoic game face in a period of great suffering during the 2012 Tour?
This one is a tie between SaxoBank's Chris Anker Sorensen literally every single day....

....and Bradley Wiggins' expression while on the podium in Paris during the singing of his National Anthem by Lesley Garret:

I'm giving this one to Wiggins because, as painful as that performance of God Save the Queen was, Anker Sorensen actually shaved two of his fingers down to bone when he reached his hand into his own moving spokes to retrieve some stuck paper, yet still finished the tour as "Most Aggressive Rider" while Wiggins only contemplated shaving his ears off in spokes during the performance of his national anthem.

What was your favorite Tour moment?  Discuss!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Getting defensive: the flatulent and the hairy

By now, much has been written about Tour de France leader, Bradley Wiggins', response to skeptics regarding his performance resembling that of the former US Postal team, now allegedly having been doped to win.  His response has been censored in almost all American news outlets including Cyclingnews:

"...after a pause, Wiggins replied: "They are just f***ing w*****s."


I think I know what he actually said - but only because I really like the comedic works of Ricky Gervais.  However, perhaps there are some readers who have been left clueless as to what Wiggo's eloquent phrase really was.  And I'm left wondering how the Cyclingnews editors decided how many letters to omit from each word.  Because with 8 asterisks in a two word phrase with 14 letters total - there are more asterisks than letters.  This might as well have been a game of hangman!
Some various possibilities:

"FAILING WASHERS"
"FALLING WILLOWS"
"FARTING WITCHES"

I'm kind of partial to the last one, myself, as I have it on good authority that Wiggo might actually be the proud owner of a Farting Witch.




I fully admit to being a very skeptical cycling fan, and thus would also be considered a 'farting witch' by his standards, I suppose.  I'm not saying Wiggo is loaded - but who is to blame me for questioning anyone really, as the day after Wiggins went on his defesnive tirade, a rival Tour team's hotel was raided by French police and Cofidis cyclist Remy De Gregorio taken into custody by the gendarmes for doping.  So in all fairness to Bradley's defiant response to cynics, I say:

And speaking of doping, the Lance Armstrong saga has now boiled down to what will prove to be an epic battle between two animalistic forces.  Let me explain what I mean.  First, in response to USADA's charges that Lance Armstrong both used and trafficked performance enhancing drugs in a conspiracy that spanned many years, Lance's attorney have recently filed two lawsuits against USADA and its "Kangaroo Court."

Of course, the reason why he had to file this suit not once, but twice, is because Federal judge Sam Sparks tossed out the first attempt less than 7 hours after it was filed stating,
"This Court is not inclined to indulge Armstrong's desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement or vilification of Defendants, by sifting through eighty mostly unnecessary pages in search of the few kernels of factual material relevant to his claims."
"Armstrong's complaint is far from short, spanning eighty pages and containing 261 numbered paragraphs, many of which have multiple sub parts," Sparks wrote. "Worse, the bulk of the paragraphs contain 'allegations' that are wholly irrelevant to Armstrong's claims - and which, the Court must presume, were included solely to increase media coverage of the case, and to incite public opinion against the Defendants."

Among many other "irrelevant" facts listed in the original version are the results of the Texas youth swimming championships which Armstrong entered when he was 12 years old, and finished fourth in the 1,500-meter freestyle. (See it here, page 8, paragraph 28.)
This, of course, is a brilliant scheme concocted by Lance and his attorneys, and is better known as the Chewbacca Defense.  If you've not heard of this style of legal defence, I refer you to its inception:


Who can really predict who will win in a battle between a kangaroo and Chewbacca.  I mean - sure Chewbacca is 8 feet tall and apparently possesses human-like intelligence, but let's not forget that in the Empire Strikes Back, he was ultimately unable to repair the hyperdrive on the Millenium Falcon in their highest moment of need, and R2D2 had to save the day.  But let's also remember that some think Chewbacca is nothing more than some dude in a fuzzy suit.  And have you ever seen what a kangaroo can do to a dude in a fuzzy suit?


Call me a farting witch, but my money is still on the kangaroo...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tour de France week 1 recap: The Perfect Storm

Do you remember the scene from the movie  The Perfect Storm where the ass-munch weather man nearly creams his jeans as he considers the rarity of the meteorological event that is unfolding on the Doppler radar before his eyes?
(The best acting in the entire scene actually came from The Count plushie)

Well this week, it is I who is the ass-munch weatherman, only I'm watching the Tour de France, which has become an equivalent perfect collision of calamitous events resulting in an epic wake of destruction.  Like various and severe weather systems intersecting, so too have the different story lines in cycling news woven together to form a veritable cesspool that is not necessarily fun to watch, but impossible to turn away from:
Oh jeeze...

Storm System 1:  USADA's timing.  Travis Tygart will certainly never be accused of being overly discrete.  I suppose when you want to make an example of someone, picking the biggest stage possible is definitely one way to go.  But the least he could do is give Vaughters a friendly "heads up" that witness names were about to be named.  I mean, the usually well-coiffed directeur was particularly disheveled when the news broke and didn't even have a chance to put a fine point on his sideburns before talking with the press yesterday!


Storm System 2:  The entirety of the commentating crew of NBC's Sport's Channel covering the Tour.  Could there be a more insipid or banal pairing than Liam McHugh (Liam McWho?) and Bob Roll?  One knows nothing about the sport, and the other thinks he knows everything.  Then consider that Roll and fellow commentator, the dementia-laden Phil Liggett, are both so infatuated with Lance Armstrong, that they cannot bring themselves to discuss anything that might be perceived as negative about him.  In light of the announcement yesterday of some of USADA's witnesses against Lance to include George Hincapie, Christian VandeVelde, David Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer - what any normal cycling news person would consider to be 4 very significant nails in Armstrong's coffin - the NBC crew spoke on the issue for a grand total of 30 seconds and then immediately cut to slow-motion crash footage of the previous days....over and over and over and over and over....and in such fashion has become the gonzo journalistic source for cycling in America.  Of course Team RadioShack Nissan Trek is advertising heavily on NBC sports for something called the Nissan Ultimate Access competition - so they probably have an agreement with NBC that no more than 30 seconds a day can be dedicated to negative news about Armstrong or Bruyneel.  I wonder if the clause says something like "If excessive bad news is released regarding Armstrong and doping, distract the viewer with more crashes - maybe they won't notice." (The old "monkey likes shiny" trick).  And speaking of crashes, and in specific regard to NBC's 'man on the street interviews', how many different answers do you expect to the question, "How did you avoid the crashes today?"  Yet they keep asking anyone they can shove a microphone in front of (Tyler Farrar excluded.)  Just once I would like Greipel or Goss to answer, "Dude - we were going 45 MPH - how the fuck should I know??  I closed my eyes and gripped the handlebars and somehow came out on the other side!"

Storm System 3:  Peta Todd (girlfriend of World Champion and sprinter Mark Cavendish) has become the new directeur for Team Sky.  She sends out a single Tweet (which she subsequently removed) suggesting Team Sky is not protecting her Man Missile enough, and during Stage 5, they lay down a lead out train for him unprecedented in this year's tour.  Team directeurs were later quoted as saying, "We thought Peta had a good point.....actually maybe two."



Storm System 4:  Peter Sagan.  Not only does he acquire the nickname "The Velvet Samurai" but he also channels Forrest Gump:


But all the crashes have made him a little jumpy, so today he is sporting a bell on his bike to let the peloton know where he is at all times.

Storm System 5: Tyler Farrar.  The poor kid is literally wiping the road with his body all the way to Paris.  So frustrated was he with his crash yesterday, that the bloodied Garmin sprinter charged directly onto the Argos Team bus after he rolled over the finish line to have words with Tom Veelers, even though, as far as I could tell, Veelers had absolutely nothing to do with Farrar going down.  And the whole charging scene was fairly reminiscent of a friend of mine who always thought it would be cool to almost be in a bar fight, so would tell me, "Dude - I'm gonna go get in that guy's face - make sure to hold me back." 

Tyler is probably way too nice of a guy to actually kick anyone's ass anyway.

So what can we learn from the movie The Perfect Storm that might apply here?  Many possible lessons, honestly. 

#1) Lance kind of reminds me of George Clooney's character, who, let's be honest, was far too good looking and well-spoken to be a North Atlantic tuna fisherman, and learned that even those attributes couldn't keep his ship from sinking in the end.  Also - if you keep enough stinking fish in the ship's hold, sooner or later, you're going to start smelling as well.

#2) If watching weather patterns (or bad Tour coverage) on the radar makes you an ass munch weatherman, maybe you should stop watching and go outside more.

#3) Kind of like how the movie really has no use for the attractiveness of Diane Lane, just throwing some booby pictures up cannot salvage a mediocre blog (sorry Peta).