Twisted Spoke

My twisted take on the world of pro bike racing.

Posts Tagged ‘Vinokourov

Contador’s mom writes letter to UCI. “Please free my son from Astana.”

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Did he eat the stew, yes or no?

Did you eat the stew, yes or no?

Is Alberto Contador staying or going? Perhaps his mother knows best.

As cycling fans await the imminent yes or no on whether the UCI will continue Astana’s ProTour status, the news leaks are already happening.

The most surprising news is that Contador’s mother, Paqui Velasco, has taken the unusual and unprecedented step of writing the UCI to ask the board not to approve the Astana license and “set her son free.”

Contents of the letter have not been released but an unnamed source has provided a quick peek at the handwritten note.

“My son Alberto is a good boy. I don’t want him riding his bike with that Mr. Vinokourov who is a bad man and a cheater,” she wrote.

The letter goes on to remind the UCI of the Kazak squad’s financial difficulties. “They didn’t pay his salary for months. He borrowed money from his uncle and I had to make him a sack lunch for races because they didn’t even buy him food.”

Paqui Velasco did not stop there, with several long paragraphs suggesting that her son belonged in a different team and that her son deserved his freedom for the beleaguered Astana team.

“My son belongs in a nice team like Caisse d’Epargne with other Spanish riders. Even Quickstep would be better than those kazak people– Mr. Lefevere has assured me he is half Spanish. I don’t trust that Garmin fellow Vaughters, his sideburns are strange.”

In closing, she questioned the fairness of the situation that her son Alberto finds himself in. “As a mother, I don’t think it’s right Lance Armstrong steals all my son’s teammates. You can’t give a license to a team with nobody on it but my son,” she wrote.

UCI President Pat McQuaid and other board members refused comment on the extraordinary letter, which was apparently hand delivered with a hot pot of Cocido Madrileno, a stew of chickpeas, vegetables and pork.


Written by walshworld

October 19, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Vinokourov nonsense: Alberto stays with Astana.

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Believe me. Don't think so.

Believe me. Don't think so.

The latest Astana news quotes Alexander Vinokourov on his claim that Alberto Contador will stay with the beleaguered,  nearly gutted Kazak squad.

“He will stay with us, without a doubt,” Vinokourov told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I will be at his call. He doesn’t have to worry.” Note to Alberto: start freaking out now.

Why would anyone put any credence in anything this man says? The rider who tested positive in the 2007 Tour de France still shows no remorse and denies any wrongdoing.

Believing Vinokourov? You’ve got to be out of your Giro-helmeted mind.

That’s like a crack addict suggesting you leave your wallet and car keys with them for safe keeping.

Like asking a murderer in Folsom or San Quentin prison if they’re guilty as charged.

Like a self-centered Hollywood star lecturing you on the benefits of marital fidelity.

Like asking the used car salesmen if there are any mechanical problems on this car you should know about.

These things would be foolish, nonsensical and pointless. There’s no meaning, no attachment to reality, no basis in fact, no reason to believe.

Alexander Vinokourov is a man without credibility. The t-shirt he likes to wear is missing the last word: Vino 4ever. Add the word lies.

Written by walshworld

October 12, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Vinokourov and Lars Boom: separated at birth?

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Vino and Lars: could they really be brothers?

Vino and Lars: could they really be brothers?

Burning cycling question: is recent Vuelta stage winner, Dutchman Lars Boom of Rabobank somehow genetically related to Astana’s Alexander Vinokourov?

The resemblance is uncanny. Perhaps Boom is from the Kazak part of hometown Vlijem, Netherlands or Vinokourov hails from the Dutch part of Petropavl, Kazakstan. These things happen.

Written by walshworld

September 15, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Another Astana rider exits for Radio Shack. The cupboard is bare.

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What's in the fridge, honey? Nothing, just some old vino.

What's in the fridge, honey? Nothing, just some old vino.

The Astana fridge is just about empty.

Johan Bruyneel, the former Astana team director, is playing Grinch and swiping all the riders for the new Radio Shack team. He’s not even leaving one can of Who Hash. By our rough count, seven Astana riders have left the dead-in-the-water Kazak Calamity. The latest defection is Spanish climber and super domestique Haimar Zubeldia.

What’s left besides the mayo and celery stalk? Well, there’s Vino. If Alberto Contador still hasn’t read the evacuation notice, his chances of another tour win are doomed. He should be paying Caisse d’Epagne just for the life preserver. We question the career advice of his brother Fran. First off, who wants advice from a brother named Fran? Like getting advice from a brother named Bambi or Gertrude. A fundamental mistake right out of the gate.

You can imagine the evil thoughts running through Bruyneel’s brain as he sits at the negotiating table, metaphorical gun to head, forced to sign the pariah Vinokourov. The thought bubble reads something like, “you obnoxious bozo, sure, you’re back on the team, by the way you won’t have a team once I get done stealing every decent rider in the squad.” Something like that only enriched with some Belgian, Spanish, French, English and Swahili obscenities — Johan speaks five languages.

Another Sign That Contador Is Doomed: even his best friends, fellow Spaniards Paulinho and Zubeldia have abandoned ship to support the enemy, that nemesis and tweeting maniac Lance Armstrong. The plug is ready to be pulled from this fridge. You think American Chris Horner sticks around when he so admirably supported Armstrong? You suppose Andreas Kloden wants to ride for a man whose selfish attacks almost single-handedly ruined the German’s own podium chances? Those two guys are looking for a pen right now to sign the contracts.

Now, Twisted Spoke is a big fan of Alberto Contador but we feel compelled to pull out the all capped religious epitaph: JESUS. Wake up, buddy, ship going down. Pay attention  Mr Pistelero. When has such an amazingly talented rider seemed so lost? Do not bother going to the fridge. It’s empty.

Written by walshworld

September 11, 2009 at 5:02 am

Gerrans out-smarts rest of breakway to win Vuelta stage 10. Evil Vino denied.

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Gerrans had the legs and the brains.

Gerrans had the legs and the brains.

Little Simon Gerrans is a genius.

A brilliant, crafty ride in the breakaway won him stage 10 of the Vuelta. The Australian has now stage wins in the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta. Not bad for the baby-faced rider from Mansfield, Victoria.

Gerrans, Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) and the evil Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) played played cat and mouse in the final kilometers, weaving all over the road, shadow boxing on two wheels.

Finally, it was Vino who launched the last attack only to be swamped by Gerrans and Hesjedal. Simon says grand tour hat-trick. Garmin now has the hard luck distinction of earning three second places in the tour of Spain. They need to huddle with new sponsor POM Wonderful because they clearly need a little more pomegranate juice.

Gerrans proved to be one of the strongest and definitely the smartest riders in what was originally a 19 man break. It was part poker bluff, part instinct, some blind luck with a few chess tricks thrown in. The Cervelo rider has a knack for the winning move.

For a short time, the race appeared headed for an apocalyptic showdown between Good and Evil. Linus Gerdemann (Milram) summited the final climb first with Vinokourov doing the chase. It was anti-drug crusader again blood doping criminal. Unfortunately, the German crashed on the rough descent. It was shades of Joseba Beloki as numerous riders slid out on the gravel and tight corners.

Golden jersey leader Alejandro Valverde had a relatively quiet day spent waving at his hometown fans from Murcia. (We’re assuming there was nobody there from the Court for Arbitration in Sport to explain why Valverde was racing in the first place. But the rider who got the real cheers was Gerrans, at the finish line, another breakaway timed to perfection.

Written by walshworld

September 8, 2009 at 3:37 pm

The conspiracy farce. Danilo Di Luca joins the implausibility parade.

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I'll sign this autograph if you come up with a good conspiracy theory.

I'll sign this autograph if you come up with a good conspiracy theory.

Lies, denials and attempts to discredit labs and testing methodologies are one thing. But far too often accused riders who’ve failed drug tests stretch the limits of credibility by blaming their positive tests on a conspiracy.

Names are never named, theories are never explained, facts uncovered or witnesses produced. There is never any legal or logical plausibility to these conspiracies. They just exist in an ether that is almost supernatural or science fiction.

Today, Danilo di Luca, he of the failed A and B sample taken on two Giro stages, turned desperate with the “conspiracy” theory. Said Di Luca, “I just can’t explain the two positive tests at the Giro. I’m not ruling out a conspiracy but before I can confirm it I have to be sure.” Good luck with that.

There is a long line of such laughable behavior. Alexandre Vinokourov blamed a vague conspiracy to “tarnish our image” and derail his tour de France preparations.

Floyd Landis insisted there was a “conspiracy” at the Chatenay-Malabry lab to discredit him and strip him of his fairly earned Tour de France victory. He spent two million dollars on his defense but very few people believe that yarn.

Following his suspension for doping, Iban Mayo, the Basque super climber, ranted that there was a conspiracy at the UCI. The Saunier Duval rider believed they were out to discredit him for reasons he never made clear, supported or proved.

Marco Pantani, a man filled with delusions of grandeur and the habit of referring to himself in the third person, felt he too was persecuted. The rider once referred to as Mr. 60% for his sky high hematocrit level, alleged he was, you guessed it,  “a victim of a conspiracy.”

Lithuania rider Raimondas Rumsas, third in the 2003 Tour de France, reacted to his doping suspension with an extra twist: the conspiracy was perpetrated by his own team. He followed that outlandish claim with this gem: “It could be that (Lampre) wants to get rid of me…” He had no explanation for the large quantity of doping products the French police found in his wife’s car.

Richard Virenque, the rider at the center of the infamous Festina doping scandal, denied his guilt for years even when three of his team-mates admitted to a whole host of illegal drugs. Before eventually confessing, the winner of seven Polka Dot jerseys went on tv in tears to proclaim his innocence and that yes, he was a victim of a conspiracy.

One thing seems clear: the bigger the ego, the more likely the conspiracy excuse. This far-fetched explanation requires the kind of out-of-control ego that’s lost all concept of truth. The kind of person who believes they operate in a separate universe where all rules and regulations are theirs to twist with no regard for meaning.

Conspiracy theories work well for presidential assassinations, Wall Street financial scandals and Hollywood back stabbing. But it strains credibility in the world of professional cycling. Danilo di Luca is like the kid who claims Nazi frogmen stole his homework.

Next up, Alejandro Valverde. After being banned for two years in Italy, the Spanish rider will most likely have that extended to the rest of the cycling world. Expect a conspiracy explanation from Alejandro very soon. But don’t expect any facts to go with it.

Written by walshworld

August 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Vino and the Vuelta. Absurdistan all over again.

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Absurdistan, the novel. Astana, the black comedy.

Absurdistan, the novel. Astana, the black comedy.

And so the number one rated doping team in the peleton comes back full circle. The vulture has returned, Vino is back in the saddle and riding for his old squad Astana. Warm up the blood swirling centrifuge, alert the black market EPO dealers, tell the UCI and WADA they’re working over-time for the foreseeable future.

In the hilarious black comedy novel, Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart, an obese Russian with a love of American hip-hop and Brooklyn mulatto girls tangles with the Russian Mafia, soviet corruption, the US State Department and his own strange and outsize obsessions in a made-up place called Absurdistan. It must share a border with Kazakhstan and its capital city, Astana.

Welcome Vino. Set your blood bags and suitcases in the corner. There are still a few syringes in the secret hiding spot. It’s the Veulta, baby. You’re back riding a grand tour and nobody is giving you the cold shoulder. Say hi to soon-to-be barred Alejandro Valverde; don’t turn a pedal without a wave to Ivan Basso. (At least Basso had the class to admit his transgressions and move on with some shred of honor.)

Doesn’t it all seem a little strange? What would you call this story–Astanastan? A black comedy on two wheels about a disgraced son and congenital liar who returns from exile, thumbing his nose at every drug tester in Europe.

Boxing is one of the most popular sports in Kazakhstan and Vino basically punched out team manager Johan Bruyneel, forcing him to bring him back. No doubt part of the deal was Bruyneel’s escape to Radio Shack to join Lance Armstrong. This team is only going to get weirder. If Alberto Contador plans on staying, he not only needs drug testing but mental counseling.

The UCI targets suspicious riders and Vino has moved to the top of the list. Crazy, weird, bizarre? Nope, it’s Astanastan.

Written by walshworld

August 25, 2009 at 10:59 pm