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The Session

The Session By GaviaI think my laptop is going to catch on fire. Fall in California means heat wave. See, we have season changes, they’re just not like normal people’s season changes. It’s all relative, which might be like rain on your wedding day or it might not. Anyway, before flames emerge from the keyboard, how about some bike racing talk? I have this vague recollection of the Vuelta. I think an Italian won, an Italian in green shorts. These Italians, they get around.

One Italian not getting around these days is Filippo Pozzato. Previously on As The Pedal Turns, we learned that Pozzato hadn’t been getting any lately, perhaps in preparation for his big day out leading the Italian National team in the Worlds road race. Really, that kind of responsibility is enough to make anyone a little gunshy. Well, it seems that Bettini did not extract some kind of medieval vow of chastity from the Azurri team captain. No, instead, Pozzato reports that he hasn’t gotten laid recently, because he is single. Pozzato, way too class for the one night stand. He confided that his ideal is beautiful, intelligent, and classy. SWM with Big Hair seeks beautiful, intelligent, classy woman for intimate relationship and hair product sharing. Must appreciate shaved legs and small arms. Pozzato is among the favorites for Sunday’s road race.

Ah, worlds week, cycling’s annual ritual of hype and sandbagging. It’s a sprinters’ course. No, it’s not a sprinters’ course. Cipollini, who has not seen the course in person, thinks Bettini has made a huge mistake in his decision to make Pozzato, rather than a sprinter like Petacchi, the team leader. Petacchi and Bennati, meanwhile, cry in their cappuccinos after being left behind in Italy. Bennati, dude, you look fabulous, but the results, where are they? Perhaps you should give Cunego a call. The two of you could start a club: Italians With Big Names and No Results. Sprinter Mark Cavendish, meanwhile, rode the course and freaked. Cavendish claimed surprise at the difficulty of the climbs on the Geelong course. Hello, my name is Mark. I’m here to sell you a sandbag. All the cool people have them, you wouldn’t want to be left out, would you?

Since it’s been months since the last time I saw rain, I really haven’t much use for a sandbag. After previewing the Geelong course, one observer compared the first climb to the terrain of the Amstel Gold Race. And they’re going to do that climb over and over and over. In truth, I haven’t much love for circuit races, but I do love me some Worlds. This one’s for the classics riders and possibly, for a sprinter who can climb. Depending on tactics, Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd, or Tyler Farrar could win this one if it comes down to a big group finish. Think Salzburg, which was billed as a climbers’ course, but all the same, came down to a sprint. Philippe Gilbert, Filippo "il Intoccabile" Pozzato, or Fabian Cancellara are favorites from a small group, or better still, for the Cadel Evans style solo victory. I do like a solo win for the rainbow, don’t you? Either way, Alexandr Kolobnev will almost certainly finish second. Some habits are hard to break.

Back here in the United States, where my laptop has not yet burst into flames, but could at any moment, the Armstrong-Novitzky tango grinds on. Holy mixed metaphors, batman! I’m not so sure a tango grinds. Due to a fit of laziness, I will encourage you, my lovely reader, to replace the metaphor with one you like better. Go on, give it a try.

Torturous metaphors aside, last week, Stephanie McIlvaine testified before the grand jury. You know, Stephanie McIlvaine, you remember her, right? What? You don’t? You don’t have the entire Armstrong history memorized? And I thought I was lazy. McIlvaine worked for Oakley and testified in the Texas hearings in the case between insurance company SCA and Lance Armstrong. McIlvaine claimed she never heard Armstrong admit to doping in the now-famous hospital scene, and McIlvaine’s testimony directly contradicted that of Betsy Andreu. Andreu claimed that Armstrong had in fact talked of pre-cancer doping. The story would all be she-said, she-said except that McIlvaine left messages on Betsy’s answering machine apologizing for contradicting Andreu’s testimony. Answering machines... So last century. McIlvaine also later told Greg Lemond in a taped phone call that she had lied in Texas. So sordid, these taped phone calls, but then so too is perjury, if that’s what in fact happened. McIlvaine’s lawyer told the press after the grand jury session that she never felt pressure by Armstrong to lie on his behalf, and she did not hear any talk of doping in that now nearly apocryphal hospital room scene. I mean, did that thing even happen? Or, is it all one long collective hallucination? Andreu’s reaction to the McIlvaine grand jury testimony: She lied. Well, anyway, about that weather...

In other stranger than fiction moments, it seems that Enrico Rossi, brother of Vania Rossi, the sometime girlfriend of Riccardo Riccò, got done up in a doping investigation. The enterprising Rossi apparently held a central role in a trafficking scheme which bought and distributed doping products to other riders. Rossi, his father, his mother, and his sister are all implicated in the case. The investigators taped Rossi Sr. consulting with Enrico over which products to buy from the collaborating pharmacist. Oopsy. Authorities dragged four people away in handcuffs, including the pharmacist. Riccardo Riccò, meanwhile, reportedly has nothing whatsoever to do with this new case, though in an odd twist, his trainer received a series of text messages which purported to be from Riccò and which requested doping products. Further investigation found that the messages did not emanate from Ricci’s phone, and their provenance is in truth rather mysterious. Never trust strange men seeking CERA.

Before I leave you, let us all say a fond farewell to Xacobeo-Galicia. The Spanish team, known for it’s aggressive breakaway riding in the grand tours and for Ezekiel Mosquera’s Vuelta hijinx, leaves the sport at the end of this season. Too bad for that, as they added a necessary bit of spice to the past two editions of the Vuelta a España. Hasta la vista, amigos!

Alrighty, the Worlds is on soon, and it’s time for some women's and U23 time trialing. Catch you on the flip!