Welcome to the Wednesday Session. Which is taking place on Wednesday, or at least, it's Wednesday where I am. Really, I can't be held responsible for what day it is where you are. That's far too much to ask. The Wednesday Sesh got lost along the way last week. I’ll try not to let it happen again. Promise. Anyway, it's Wednesday and I'm going to write about cycling now.
There’s a bike race going on in Spain, for those who may not yet have noticed. Tomorrow’s the rest day, then there’s a silly series of mountain stages. Spain, so rocking the mountain ranges, which all have different names beginning with Sierra. One Sierra, Two Sierra, Three Sierra, Four. The top five or six in the general classification are quite tight on time, which should make for suspenseful racing over the coming days. Piti currently leads, followed by Cadel Evans and Robert Gesink. Birillo, meanwhile, is riding a noticeably better race here in Spain than he did back in May in the romp around Italy. I am not going to mention the name of the rider currently occupying fourth position in the general classification, just 51 seconds behind the race leader. I figure, if I just ignore him and try not to notice that he’s riding well, Nothing Bad Will Happen to him.
On the subject of Garmin-Slipstream, Tyler Farrar took out his first ever grand tour stage win today. The American ended a streak of second places that had reached epic proportions. Seriously, I think he had like a million straight second place finishes. Farrar also moved up to second in the Points Classification, though after riding two previous grand tours, the Garmin-Slipstream sprinter would be excused for thinking twice about racing through the mountainous finale of this Vuelta. André Greipel, who currently wears the Green Jersey of points leader, has said that he is committed to riding all the way to Madrid. The German sprinter also hopes to score a ride for Worlds in Mendrisio, though what exactly he will do there remains to be seen. Mendrisio, no country for sprinters.
There’s been a shocking lack of polemica so far in this Vuelta a España. No Twit wars, no rider strikes. You mean we actually have to pay attention to the bike race? Shocker. We had a near-miss on the polemica front when Cadel Evans lost his temper a few days back. The Australian was leading the general classification, and grew red in the face after he believed that Robert Gesink blocked him from beating Valverde for the time bonus. Like Evans was really going to beat Valverde in a flat sprint? As if. Evans bonked Gesink on the head after the finish and said Mean Things in the press. Gesink posted his views on the Twit, but since I can’t make heads or tails of TwitterDutch, I have no idea what he said. It included a lot of words and some ellipses for good measure. Those ellipses, so hot these days. Later that same night, Evans realized that he’d made a Complete Ass of himself and apologized for the outburst. Now all is Tranquilo.
Speaking of tranquilo, the Arbitration Court in Lausanne will not make any decisions on the Valverde cases until the season is over. Does anyone know exactly how many cases there are related to Valverde? I’ve run out of fingers. In any case, Señor Tranquilo, who currently leads the Vuelta a España and is suspended from racing by the Italian anti-doping authorities, is free to race the remainder of the season, including the World Championship in Mendrisio. The details of this bit of legal fuckery escape me, since the article I read at cyclingnews.com was virtually incomprehensible. Yo cyclingnews, please find someone who can write English. Subject verb object. Subject verb object. Sing it with me. Subject verb object. Once you’ve got that down, we’ll move on to Conjunctions and their functions, though I think we should probably give Irony a pass. Too complicated. Getting back to the point - because I did have one - does anyone other than Ivan Basso care whether Alejandro Valverde receives a suspension? I confess to a certain weariness.
On the subject of Things That Bore Gavia, Team Sky announced the first six of riders for next year’s roster. In a huge surprise, all six are British. Tomorrow, the team will announce ten more riders. I feel certain that this new team will be quite lovely. Also, it’s past time that Britain had a major pro team. I mean, they have all the race commentators, why not a team? But seriously, Sky People, get the roster announcement thing over with already. My attention span, not so long.
Fränk Schleck has ended his season. The Saxo Bank rider was racing the Vuelta a España in preparation for the Worlds races in Mendrisio. A chronic knee problem that has plagued Schleck throughout the season has forced him to stop racing. The former Luxembourg National Champion will undergo surgery next Friday for the injury. According to sports director Kim Anderson, the surgery will involve removing tissue from around the patella. I feel like something was lost in translation there, but we’ll go with it. The timing of the surgery will allow Fränk Schleck plenty of time to recover before the start of next season.
Younger brother Andy Schleck, meanwhile, left the Vuelta earlier this week with flu symptoms, the details of which need not concern us here. We really don’t do bodily fluids here at the Sesh. Schleck the Younger still hopes to race well in Mendrisio, and would likely have departed Spain prematurely anyway. Saxo Bank, meanwhile, has not thrived under the Spanish Sun. Not only have the two Schlecks left the race, but the team’s general classification hope Jakob Fuglsang crashed into a truck during the Vuelta’s first week. You can’t make this shit up. Fuglsang has suffered ever since, though he made the winning break yesterday. Cancellara has meanwhile carried the Danish team, winning both the prologue and the Valencia crono. The big Swiss also spent several days in the race leader’s jersey, demonstrating that he looks quite smashing in Gold.
Apparently, there is also a race going on in Missouri. So far, it’s been a sprinty affair, as best as I can tell. Mark Cavendish won the first stage, Thor Hushovd the second. Christian Vandevelde of Garmin-Slipstream who surely must have broken a mirror earlier this season, or at least needs an exorcism, crashed yesterday and broke a bone in his hand. The American has had a ridiculously injury-plagued season this year. That’s about all I know about the Missouri thing, because quite frankly two stage races at once are just too much for my Very Small Brain. The Giro d’Italia - Tour of California Smash-Up next May spells certain doom for your humble correspondent.
To no one’s surprise, the B sample of Mikel Astarloza has also returned an Adverse Analytical Finding to match the Adverse Analytical Finding of the A sample. In a press statement, Astarloza said that he did not plan to confess in the effort to shorten his sanction. "Why should I confess to something I didn’t do?" he asked. Are you sure you want us to answer that Mikel? Astarloza said he prefers to take the two year sanction. Baby, bath-water, nose spiting face. There’s a relevant cliché there somewhere, I leave it to the reader to find it. I can’t be expected to do all the work around here.
Also from the unsurprising developments file, Viatcheslav Ekimov will join Team Big Hug next season as a sports director. Ekimov rode for a number of years with Armstrong at all those old teams they rode on together. Filippo Simeoni was last seen hiding under the bed. Haimar Zubeldia has also reportedly signed with Big Hug. The stealthy climber-stage racer is currently sitting in the top ten of the Vuelta a España and did solid support work in the high mountains of the Tour de France. Zubeldia skipped out on the remainder of his contract with Astana to make the transfer. Is Contador next? Only the Shadow knows.
That’s all for this week’s edition of the Wednesday Session, which by some miracle actually occurred on Wednesday. Really, we should make a habit of this. We are quailing at the likely confluence of mountain stages in Spain and a solid Northwest swell over the coming weekend. But surely we can recover by Wednesday in time for more merry-making.
Hasta la Vista Baybee!