Friday, December 17, 2010

When All Is Said And Done...

So, another year, another Curacaon holiday. Another gathering of the Cool People in Cycling. Too bad this year was kind of a wash out (or shall we say a ‘blow out’?) because of various cyclones and tornadoes and hurricanes in the area. Those pesky forces of nature really affected the amount of scuba diving that could be done, but at least it didn’t stop the boys from doing anything serious, or anything original, like prancing about in print board shorts (again), or staring poutingly into the sunset (again), or swimming with flippin’ little dolphins (again), or riding on flippin’ little dolphins (again), or flippin’ with flippin’ little dolphins (again), or making sandcastles (again), or perhaps even posing on one of those sandy beaches (again).

Yeah. Curacao sure had changed this year. I was shocked. I was shocked by the change in the Schlecks’ activities, and I was shocked by the staggering array of activities Curacao had to offer. I’ve got to get me there one day, because I don’t think my life will be complete until I ride one of those flippin’ little dolphins and make it flip for me. At least six times.
Curacao is Da Bomb. Who needs any of the other, say, six thousand tropical tourist locations around the world when you have Curacao? No one, that’s who. And certainly not Frandy.

Training camps
I’m fully prepared to jump ship and swoon over luxo-coloured lycra for the next cycling season rather than gawk in horror as a certain Spaniard plays the maracas clad in the ultra sexy saxo colours. But there has been a complete FTA of information regarding the Luxo-Leopard team and their kits/name/race schedule/whatever the hell else is all being kept a ‘secret.’ Newsflash, dudes. No one cares as much as you think. It’s not the unveiling of the bloody Mona Lisa. Sure there’s curiosity and excitement from some corners, namely from chubby middle-aged men who don’t shave their legs as much as they should, but from the rest of the world, there’s a big, fat ‘who gives a shit’ factor that Nygaard doesn’t believe could possibly exist. Get over yourself, pal. It’s not like Branjelina adopted another starving African baby. It’s just a cycling team. Get some perspective, dude.

Saxo Bank Sungard, on the other hand, courtesy of Tim de Waele (happy snap extraordinaire), has been busy capturing every glorious moment of sun, surf, and man-tower building you could hope for. The newly Spanish Armada-ised Saxo Bank team has windsurfed, paddled, and rescued fair maidens Baywatch-style to the delight of Tim de W’s lens. Also captured for all eternity are the ‘balance-the-plate-on-the-stick’ sessions that looked fun as anything, plus ‘touch-the-fire-and-therefore-overcome-your-fear’ sessions. I’m pretty sure I never saw these activities in any Saxo Bank team camp before, so maybe Bjarne thought he’d pull out all the stops to give Da New Boyz a treat. A bit of a stiff middle-finger salute to the Schleck boys. Bjarne: “Did I ever let YOU BITCHES have ‘balance-the-plate-on-the-stick’ sessions? I don’t think I did, Frank and Andy. I don’t think I did.”

Another thing Bjarne has treated Da New Boyz to that he never liked the Schlecks enough to bother with is the Man Towers. Wow. How much fun do they look? Pile three dudes on the ‘ground-floor,’ then add two more on the ‘second storey’, and then one more for the ‘penthouse’. That is really something. And not only is it a bonding session for Da Boyz, being that they have to get close to each other (as in, on top of each other), it is also LITERALLY team building. Get it? As in, ‘I’m building a team’s morals, and I’m building a team’s talent, and I’m building a team TOWER!’

Take THAT, Schleck bitches! (courtesy of Bjarne)

Oh, and there was Bjarne in Budgie Smugglers. The Schlecks could never look that good in Budgie Smugglers. No Siree. Hot, Bjarne. Hot.

With regards to The Luxo-Leopards, we do know that the training camp was ‘awesome, everyone was amazing and friendly, we have such good management, and we’ve just got a great bunch of guys together.’ Everyone who ever goes on a team camp will always, until the end of time, say the same thing. If a volcano erupted and took out the village they were staying in, or a serial killer prowled about the premises, or Jakob and Andy had a punch-up, they’d say ‘the training camp was awesome, everyone was amazing and friendly, we such good management, and we’ve just got a great bunch of guys together.’ EVERYONE was amazing and friendly? Even the serial killer? Hmmmm. It’s called sportstalk - designed to never get you sued for telling the defamatory truth. Not that I’m suss of Team Luxo-Leopard – I’m just saying sportstalk tells regular Joes like us abso-bloody-lutely nothing. Just saying.

New Riders
With new teams clearly come the abandoning / desertion of various riders, as well as the arrival of new ones. Saxo Bank Sungard has turned into an All American (Spanish) Affair, and the Luxo Leopards are semi Italian, French, Luxo, Belgium, German, Nederlandical (Dutch), Australian, and probably even Tongan. You name it, they’ve got it. No trend to speak of, nor riders that I know, or care, about. This opens up a whole lot of opportunity for random unwanted people to use up Tour Down Under spots. New riders on Saxo Bank include most of Astana, like Jesus Hernandez, his boss Bertie Bott and various other Spanish dudes that ride bikes. They’ve also got a new Italian called Manuel Boaro, who I’m scoping, if I’m honest.

In fact, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it; I think Saxo Bank Sungard’s team is hotter than Luxo Leopard’s Team. Sure, Frandy is aboard. But who else that is actually good-looking? Saxo Bank Sungard have the Haedos. And this Boaro dude. And Bertie Bott, obviously. And the best and second best looking Sorensens.

Take THAT, Schleck bitches! (courtesy of Bjarne, again)

Tour de France as a wrap:
Frank was good. For three days. Cheers, Frank. I mean, it’s not like Andy blames you for losing him the Tour, but it helped him about as much as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick helped him. So thanks, Frank. Cheers for nothing.
Andy impressed me, the little tacker. He’s just growing up so quickly, isn’t he? Turning into a real little man, winning bike races, and being a gracious winner / loser like a true gent. God bless his “my stomach is full of anger” statement. I would have liked to see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ locker bashing (or team-bus-bashing, I’m sure he had rage enough for both), but alas, we only got to see a pissed Andy stomp past the camera, jaw set, eyes blazing. And; unimportant sidenote - did anyone ever tell Andy that it’s not proper English to say one’s ‘stomach’ is full of anger? Oh well. It was cute. Sportstalk after all.

I developed a rather healthy loathing of Contador in this year’s Tour. That Chain Moment was disgusting. A champion should never win a Tour through someone else’s bike chain coming off. A champion should win the Tour by waiting, and attacking at a later point when the playing field is level. A dirty cheat with no morals should win the Tour by attacking someone’s mechanical failure, and then pretending he had NO IDEA about it. What, Contador? You rode right past Andy yanking at the bike and hollering at the team car, but you thought he’d just stopped, on a mountain, in the yellow jersey, for a perusal of the scenery? Contador, Contador, Contador...

Relevant disclaimers and all. Photos from Tim de Waele, thanks dude. And Corbis and someone else. Please dont sue. We're broke.

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