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Abnormal Edition.

I was going to write a nice, snappy introduction. But, like you need that? You saw the little picture at the top. You know what you're going to get. Gossip. So, um, if you're still reading this paragraph, move on already.

Trophy Mom News! Plainly, Rabobank watched the Dauphiné, and liked what they saw. For the Dutch team has signed a four year contract with Yuri Trofimov. That's right, four %$#@ing years. And that's not all. It seems that Trofimov still had a contract running for another year with Bouygues Télécom. So Rabobank reached into its oh-so-deep pockets, and pulled out a buyout fee. How badly did Rabobank want to sign Trofimov? €160,000.00. Reportedly. Honey, I just bought a new bike racer. Really? That's nice. I hope you didn't spend too much money. {Gulp}

Bob Stapleton? Not interested in any buy-out deals. In response to rumors linking Team Columbia's injured star Linus Gerdemann to Other Teams, Stapleton hoisted the NO TRESPASSING sign. Gerdemann remains under contract with the team until the end of 2009. No ifs, ands, buts, or euros.

Not so for Gerald Ciolek, whom Team Columbia has not yet renewed. Ciolek is free to wander wherever his heart desires. Milram is reportedly very interested in the young German sprinter, with a contract just waiting for his signature. Perhaps Zabel will stick around another year to ride lead-out. Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.

Bjarne Riis does not heart Team Columbia. And no one seems to know why. But apparently, this animosity in part explains the decision of CSC-Saxo Bank to put the race in the gutter during stage 7 when the crosswinds blew. This move prompted many angry words in the bunch. Meanwhile, the press speculates about bad feeling between the Schlecks and Kim Kirchen. Here at the Gossip, we find these rumors hard to believe. After all, it was just a few weeks past that Kim Kirchen looked so badly shaken at the Tour de Suisse after hearing of Fränk Schleck's frightening crash. The two rode as juniors together and by all accounts were good friends, though they have always raced hard against one another on the road. Riis jealous of all the attention showered upon Team Columbia lately? Riis, wanting to make the bunch suffer? Here at the Gossip we have little trouble imagining such things. For Riis, he has the passion. Really, we can hardly wait to see what happens next. Every grand tour needs a little jealous rivalry. Perhaps Gilberto Simoni should give Riis a call. He could probably offer a few tips.

Do not try this at home. During the 6th stage of the Tour, Cadel Evans punched a gendarme, who was riding a moto with the bunch. The rider will not receive any penalty for his display of force, but here at the Gossip we recommend against such behavior by our devoted readers. It could get you in trouble. And then you couldn't read the Gossip. Quel Horreur!

What next for Cadel? Jumping out of airplanes, seducing luscious women, and gambling for high stakes. Or, maybe not. When asked about his plan for the Pyrenees, Cadel replied, "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." Smert Spionem.

It's all the rage, this doping free thing. Vincenzo Nibali and Romain Kreuziger are among the latest riders to join the fun. A tatto a day keeps the vampires away.

Tatto or no, Damiano Cunego seems not to have convinced the French authorities. He is among those who reportedly have been targetted for extra testing during the first week of the Tour. So far, however, they haven't found anything nefarious. Though Cunego has never been involved in any doping scandals, he does have a certificate for a high hematocrit, which may have drawn the suspicions of the French authorities. Cunego is hardly alone, however, as Riccardo Ricco reportedly received four visits from the vampires in five days. Maybe they just like his sense of humor.

So busy, those vampires. Really, we need a new classification, Most Tested Rider. Red would look very nice, I think. Informed observers tell us that Fabian Cancellara, Alejandro Valverde, Damiano Cunego, and Riccardo Ricco are the front-runners in this most prestigious contest.

Rumors abound about the abrupt departure from the Tour de France of Christophe Moreau. Interviewed before the stage, Moreau said that he planned to attack, because the stage passed near to the home of his parents. Interviewed the previous day, Moreau said he had excellent form and anticipated a good ride through the mountains. Plainly, something happened on the way to Paris. The only statement offered by Moreau's team made some rather vague references to a back injury. Curious. Perhaps Evans punched him in the back also, when no one was looking? Or, maybe it was Carlos Sastre, in a much-delayed effort at revenge. The French media are abuzz about the surprising departure of Moreau.

Is Moreau among the Terrible Ten, the ten riders who have been notified of their abnormal blood levels? The consensus in France appears to be yes. On Wednesday, Moreau offered an array of samples including hair. Quipped cyclismag.fr, with all that hair gel, the analysis might take some time. Who are the other nine riders on the List of Ten? If one were to guess, certainly one might start with the leaders in the Most Tested Rider classification. Then, one might move on to names bandied about in the press such as that of one Stijn Devolder. But really, we can not be certain about such things, and we dare not speculate further. Sources in France do suggest that this story is far from over, and that the rest day in Pau may prove less than restful for some.

Speaking of blood, Ivan Basso returns to racing next year. Remember him? Birillo does. Basso will ride the Giro and the Vuelta next year for Team Liquigas. He is also hoping that the ASO will relent and invite him to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the Tour in 2010. I think maybe... no. No word as to whether Birillo will be allowed in the Team Liquigas bus.

Gratuitous Bennati Mention! No Vuelta for Liquigas? Senor Cordero the head honcho at the Vuelta claims that Liquigas will be uninvited to the party in Spain, if Manuel Beltran is in truth positive for EPO. That would mean, brace yourselves my friends, no Benna in Spain. Exeunt weeping.

That's all the Gossip you get today. Because my fingers are tired of typing it. But tomorrow? Perhaps they will be rested. And we can start all over. More is better.