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The Wednesday Session

The Wednesday SessionWelcome to the Wednesday Session. Yes, it is still Wednesday here in California. Time zones, bah humbug! It’s a short Sesh this week, as the news trickles slowly in the offy. Next week, I’m thinking crayons. And let’s make it dress-up.

In the meantime, I have travelled the length and width of the internet in search of stories to share. I nearly fell off the edge. There wasn’t a warning sign or anything. Someone needs to look into this dangerious situation. It’s only a matter of time before some unwitting soul falls over the edge of the internet. Then there’ll be hell to pay, what with the lawyers and such. Fortunately, I escaped this desperate fate and I’ve returned to bring you the Sesh.

This week, more Contador, change at the Tour de France, a win for Marianne Vos, two tours for The Team The Shack, and an episode of doping dumbassery.

The Contador Cunundrum continues this week. At this point, does anyone other than Contador care? Alas, here at the Sesh we are required to care about such things. In this week’s episode of As Astana Turns, the Belgian press reported that Astana had offered the Spanish Tour winner a four year contract paying an estimated value of 8 million euros annually. That’s just silly money right there. Contador’s older brother, who serves as his agent, denied the story, but confirmed that it was very likely that Contador would ride for Astana for one more season. Yo Franny, end this thing already! The ending looks as inevitable as it ever was, thanks to the revelation that Contador can only end his contract with Astana by paying a 2 million euro buy-out fee. According to Cyclismag, this buy-out clause remains in force, despite the passing of the 20 October pro tour deadline. So crafty, those Kazakhs. At this point, the question is not whether Contador will ride for Astana, but for how long and for how much.

In the meantime, Contador has asked the team to go shopping, though that effort has not met with uninterrupted successs. One notable failure: At Contador’s request, Astana tried to hire Ivan Basso away from Liquigas. The Spanish talent wanted Basso to ride in his support. In a shocking turn of affairs, neither Basso nor Liquigas showed any interest in this proposition. Really, I can’t imagine why. At the same time, it appears that there is no room at the inn for Andrei Kashechkin. Alexandre Vinokourov revealed - or claimed - that the UCI warned the team against hiring the Kazakh who is returning from a doping suspension. The Vinokourov-Kashechkin combo is not the sort of pairing to bring smiles to the high-sticklers at the ASO. Astana proved more lucky on the management side and has added Dimitri Sedun as a sports director. Sedun formerly directed the Acca Due women’s team and is married to Nicole Brändli. Reportedly, an announcement about further hirings is imminent. I quiver in anticipation.

Worried that your team might not get an invite to the Tour de France? Spent ridiculous money hiring a major rider, but not sure you’ll actually see him race in July? Afraid that your French sponsor will not see its brand in France in July? Worry no more. The ASO is here to save the day. Christian Prudhomme confirmed today that the Tour might add two more teams to the race and bring the total to 22. This move would avoid the hard choices and hurt feelings when someone is inevitably left out. We would not want cycling to be even more like junior high than it already is. Team Sky, BMC Racing Team, and The Team The Shack all stand to benefit from the change, as all three teams have made big money investments, but do not currently carry the iron clad guarantee of a pro tour license.

On the subject of Team The Shack, the new American team may only race two of cycling’s three grand tours next season. Jaroslav Popvych confided in an interview that the team is currently debating between the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. Apparently, they are quite confident in their Tour invite. Lance Armstrong has already announced his intention of skipping the Giro d’Italia in favor of riding the more funner Tour of California. The American is going full-on for another Tour win, which may rule out a team trip to Italy in May. Twitter will be so quiet in May. I'm not sure how we will survive.

In women’s news, World Champion Marianne Vos ended the season-long winning streak of American Katie Compton today at Jaarmarktcross in Niel. Vos went hard from the start, and a group of four which included Compton, Daphne van den Brand, and Sanne Cant rode away with the race. Compton slid out in a sharp left-hand turn and the two Dutch women, Vos and van den Brand, left her behind. Vos won the two-up sprint against van den Brand, while Compton finished third. In the men’s race, Sven Nys won ahead of Niels Albert. But do we care about that? No, no we don’t. Boys are stinky.

Someone has a bad case of the stupids, and it isn’t me. Masters track racer Kenny Williams tested positive for the banned substance DHEA in a test taken at United States masters nationals in Colorado Springs. In a letter first published at cycle-smart.com, Williams called the decision to take the drug a mistake and said that he had only taken it once. Right, because we’ve never heard that story before. But hey, maybe this time it’s true. And maybe the earth is flat. First time or no, doping for masters racing is stupid. ‘nuff said.

Moving on to better things. Ivan Dominguez has signed with Jamis-Sutter Home for next season. The U.S.-based team also includes sprinters Lucas Haedo and Alejandro Borrajo. The announcement marks the third team change for Dominguez in the last twelve months, after he ended his contract with Fuji-Servetto to ride for Rock Racing on the North American circuit. With Dominguez on board, the team looks ready to scoop up some serious cash on the crit circuit.

Basque company Ampo - and no, I don’t know what they make, but it doesn't sound edible - served as co-sponsor to Contentpolis this last season and brought four Basque riders to the roster, Aitor Perez, Dioni Galparsoro, Mikel Gaztanaga, and Gorka Izaguirre. It’s not clear whether Contentpolis will continue as a sponsor, and if they don’t, Ampo may make the switch to sponsoring Footon-Servetto. Presumably, Ampo would bring their Basque riders with them and might bring David Herrero of Xacobeo-Galicia to Footon-Servetto and renew the contract of Iker Camano. The deadline for Contentpolis to make the sponsorship decision is 15 November. Mark your calenders.

Gilberto Simoni may retire after all. The Simoni contract saga has waxed and waned through this transfer season. Yes, I do think that is the worst sentence I’ve ever written. Rumor connected the two-time Giro d’Italia winner with Lampre-Vini Farnese, which promised endless humor value as he lined up with former arch-enemy Damiano Cunego, and Astana, which promised very little humor, but no doubt considerably more money. No announcements have come from either team and the latest news suggests that Simoni will retire. In somewhat related news, Lampre-Vini Farnese has signed Danilo Hondo. The signing reportedly comes at the request of Alessandro Petacchi. Maybe they can swap What I Did While I Was Suspended stories, as both sprinters have served doping suspensions. Apparently, Pat McQuaid could not be bothered with warning Lampre about hiring their second post-suspension rider, as he did with Astana. Busy man, that McQuaid.

The Sports Arbitration Court is also busy these days. Far, far, far too busy to consider the case of Alejandro Valverde. Yes, the Court has postponed consideration of the Valverde case yet again. They might look into it after the first of the year. Or, they might not. Really, I’m running out of things to say about this story. So I'll just stop. Someone let me know when it's over.

And that’s all for the Sesh, this week. Next week, more Sesh, because more is better.

Lates!
~Gav.