Astana Listens to the Voices in Its Head

Cycling News

So Alberto Contador is leaving Astana at the end of 2010. Blah, blah, blah.

Read these next two paragraphs and tell me, am I the only one who sees a massive discrepancy?

“We did all we could for Alberto for three weeks by sacrificing ourselves for him. I only hope that he didn’t take the decision before the start of the Tour,” said Vinokourov. He added that the team had never put pressure on the Spaniard to extend his contract, contradicting Contador’s claims that he’d been given an ultimatum to agree to a new deal by July 27. “Alberto had been pushing for a new contract for four months, and it was he who was pressing to re-sign with us,” Vinokourov stated.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli admitted he had started to have doubts about Contador’s commitment to the team from the halfway point of the Tour. Martinelli said he thought that the Tour victory might convince Contador to stay with Astana, but added: “Even before the Tour it seemed like the Astana project was over for Contador.”

Vino says, “Oh, it was totally that little pipsqueak Alberto, begging, whining and crying for a new contract, which we, of course, were not certain he was deserving of.”

Vino, how can you say both that you hope Alberto didn’t make his decision before the Tour AND that he was like a gnat in your face with his demands for a new contract?

In one case or the other you’re having an obvious break from reality. No worries, with therapy and medication you’ll be ok and those voices telling you to . . . well, lets not even talk about what they’re telling you. We don’t want to see you locked up or anything like that.

Vino, as we all know, is the self-appointed Godhead of Astana (another sign that perhaps a little time in a therapist’s chair wouldn’t kill the guy). As such he is all knowing and all seeing, at least in his own mind.

But Astana management bigwig, the guy who, at least on paper, trumps Vino, Giuseppe Martinelli, says quite plainly that he sensed long before the Tour that Alberto was sick and tired and hoping to move on.

So this guy (Alberto) who clearly had no interest in hanging around was, just for shiites and grins, relentlessly pestering the team for a new contract.

Makes sense to me.

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Tour de France 2010: Rest Day #2: Lance Armstrong vs Jens Voigt

UPDATE: Via @Cycletard the assault that followed Stage 16 is now known as Lance Ragegate and can be followed on Twitter with #lanceragegate END UPDATE

Related: Lance RageGate and Tour de France 2010: Stage 16, Rest Day #2

‘Member the other day when Lance tried to put on his Big Boy Pants and win a stage, but didn’t have the strength, speed or stamina? Remember how obviously upset he was?

I mean, not just bummed, but seriously hurt. It really looked like it was devastating to him.

He came into this Tour believing that he had an honest shot at winning it all, then he finds out he doesn’t have what it takes to win even just a tiny piece of it (no matter how the butt-licking media tries to make it look like his performance was and continues to be one for the ages).

It was clear from his post-stage interview that he was barely keeping his emotions chained, though I’m not sure exactly what he was feeling. It was probably a mix of things.

First anger, because Lance is perpetually angry about something or at someone, especially since nothing is ever his fault, which makes it soooooooo annoying that the entire rest of the world is populated by screw-ups and assholes. Poor guy.

Second, humiliation, partly from within as the realization finally hit him that he’s fallen hard and far, partly from without (at least in his perception) as he imagined the whole world laughing at him (and while there are a good many people rejoicing at his fall, I don’t think many at all really laughed).

Third, frustration over seeing his planning and training come to nothing.

Fourth, his natural childishness at anyone’s nerve in not conceding his greatness and falling to pieces, leaving him to snatch the day’s glory to his breast. That is to say, at least part of the roiling emotions eating him up that day came down to a pure tantrum.

And that’s a lot of what we’re about to see in this next video clip.

Lance, cruising his bike back to the team trailer, awash in all of those emotions, the anger, the humiliation, the frustration, the immaturity induced tantrum.

There’s more, but I’ll get to that after you watch the video.

Did you hear the people clapping and cheering? Did Lance hear that and take it as laughter? Laughter directed at him as penalty for his failure? Or did it make him bitter because they were applauding his greatness and he is clearly great no more?

So he’s meandering his way back to the bus and this poor old guy in the white shirt happens into his path. The guy wasn’t being a jerk. He wasn’t even hogging the road, as he stuck politely and tightly to one side.

But Lance just saw a target and as he went by he actually leaned toward the guy to shoulder him into the fence (did you get a feeling of deja vu as you remembered the LiveClean Devil Lance shoved into the snowbank last year?). To add insult to injury, Lance turns around and flips the guy off.

Classy, Lance, really classy. It’s also another example of how Lance behaves when he thinks the cameras aren’t on him.

Kind of makes you feel sorry for Team RadioSkank’s Merry Band of Slaves, doesn’t it?

But did you notice what was happening when Lance reached the bus? Ok, yeah, he was getting pushy, telling people to leave him alone, but did you really SEE him? He was as close to tears as a man can be without breaking into sobs.

And that’s not something I in any way want to ridicule. I understand that he was feeling devastated and I sympathize.

But does that excuse his abuse of some poor guy who did nothing but politely share the path home with him?

Lance got off free and clear after his assault of the LiveClean Devil. I hope this guy presses charges and takes Lance’s a** to court, both civil and criminal.

Things go bad for Lance and he takes his toys and runs home. Screw Levi Leipheimer, the team’s best remaining GC threat, let him fend for himself. If Lance isn’t gonna win it all then who gives a shiite about anyone else?

And now we come to our contrast: Saxo Bank’s Jens Voigt.

Read this article and watch the accompanying videos.

Jens is a great guy who doesn’t know what “give up” means.

Last year he crashes out with face and head injuries and before he’s even out of the hospital he’s thinking about how he can reach out to his fans.

This year he comes in from a stage where he’s just suffered another massive crash, rode maybe 20 km on a kid’s bike with toe straps, and he’s joking about what happened and genuinely thankful just to be able to continue racing.

Jens has never known one tenth the glory that Lance Armstrong has known, but he’s ten times the man that Armstrong is.

Just for the heck of it visit with Jens in his hotel room.

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Lance Armstrong Has Earned More Than Bad Press

Lance Armstrong is hated by many people. A lot of them hate him for the likelihood that he is and has always been a doper, that he’s betrayed their trust and the trust of millions, that he’s shat upon the most beautiful of sports and thinks it is his right to do so.

Or at least they tell themselves that.

Fact is that while there is a mountain of circumstantial and anecdotal evidence, there’s not one shred of real, hard physical evidence. Yet.

No, what most of those people, and many others, hate Lance for, is that he’s a lying, controlling, manipulative weasel, that he has enormous power and he gladly and readily uses it to crush not only anyone who is a threat to him, but anyone who so much as annoys him for the briefest moment.

Here’s the story (also linked below) of how Lance unleashed his deceit and malice upon Alberto Contador during the entirety of the ’09 Tour de France.

It happened on Thursday, a few hours before the Annecy ITT.

Contador came downstairs to the entrance of the Palace of Menthon, the luxurious Astana hotel. The Tour was on.

He looked right, then left. Nobody, nothing. No Astana cars or helpers. Cold sweat.

Quick time check. Where are they?

The hotel is several kilometers from the start. There he was, the leader of the Tour, in flip-flops, bag in hand and alone.

He went to the hall looking for an answer: Armstrong had ordered the helpers to go pick up his wife, kids and friends to the airport.

Contador left his room last because he was the last one starting the ITT. Armstrong had managed to take away his means of transportation.

The straw that broke the camel’s back. Hot flashes, he was rabid.

He called his brother Fran. He came to pick him up by car and took him to Annecy in a private vehicle.

He left last and finished first. His best victory. In the ITT. In solitude. The same way he has won his second tour.

Contador’s toughest climb was not recorded in images. It was narrated by others.

It was fought in the hotel and the bus: during one stage, Armstrong sat his guests at the very back of the bus, right in Contador’s usual seat.

One more provocation. Armstrong to the luxury suite. Contador to sleep with Paulinho, the only ally. Same deal during the entire tour.

Mouth shut, listening to Armstrong’s jabs: “It doesn’t take a Nobel prize to figure out what happens with side winds”.

Contador didn’t reply in the hotel. He did on the road. He attacked in the first mountain finish in Arcalis. Without permission from Bruyneel, Armstrong’s DS.

That night the Astana hotel was a funeral. Red eyes from the Texan (anger? crying? not sure).

The first cyclist that stood up to him. And he did it in silence.”

Not in the article – apparently LA did not attend the team dinner in Paris to celebrate Contadors victory.

Anyway, last April was barely something I did to amuse myself.

Back then I had a daily readership of about ten (on a good day). Of those, three were regular, one of those three was a “freebie”, since she’s also a blood relative.

The other seven? They could only have been accidental. You know, people looking for a good website with interesting, well written and well edited articles, who just happened to get a twitchy finger just as their cursor moved over my link.

Sorry, guys. Better luck next time.

When Lance came out of retirement, oh gosh, oh golly, I was nearly wetting myself with excitement. The King was back!

There were days when I’d be on my bike and pumping out a massive 13 MPH avg speed over a 20 mile ride on the local rail trail and my legs would be aching like they were inhabited by evil hammer-wielding midgets trying to beat their way out. And dammit if I didn’t keep on pushing because in my sick little head I was Lance Armstrong fighting my way past rivals and up hills that were all out for my blood. Lance wouldn’t stop, and dammit, I wasn’t gonna stop, either.

For my own amusement and the entertainment of my three loyal readers I began a series of articles titled, simply enough, Lance Armstrong vs Albreto Contador.

Holy jeebus, what a surprise I got. By the time I posted Part 3 I was up to 300 hits a day, almost entirely for those articles.

Included within those 300 hits were multiple hits per day from the same Blackberry IP, which had me truly excited, because I’d read “Lance Armstrong’s War” and knew that 1. Lance was a Blackberry addict and 2. He had EVERY article with his name in it sent directly to said Blackberry.

OMG, OMG, OMG! Lance mofo Armstrong himself was reading MY junk. It was the coolest thing ever (ok, after my daughter).

I come in from work one day just before I’m about to write Part 4 and I check my stats. First thing I notice is that one of my hits if from Capital Sports Entertainment.

I know this because it had not only a static IP, but a dedicated IP. It actually SAID, “Capital Sports Entertainment”!

NOTE: CSE is jointly owned by Lance Armstrong and his agent Bill Strickland END NOTE

So, again, OMG, Lance loved my junk so much that he told Bill Strickland about it and Bill, who I admired no end after reading about the way he stuck by Lance when he had absolutely no logical reason beyond friendship to do so, actually came in to MY blog to read MY articles!

So cool.

Up until then, and I don’t know why, those “Lance vs Alberto” articles were coming up in the top 3, top 5 at worst, in Google searches no matter how I worded the search.

So the next thing I notice, wow, so odd, is that I had just 40 hits for the day and it had been hours since ANYONE had come in.

In fact, within 2 hours of Strickland visiting, the hits dried up completely. I checked the searches and suddenly I wasn’t even in the first ten pages.

Could any of that be a coincidence?

I don’t believe in coincidence.

Damn, talk about devastating and humiliating.

The guy who was my idol was so controlling, so malicious, so petty, that he actually felt the need to crush a tiny blog that a week before hadn’t been noticed by more than three people worldwide.

Could he possibly be so threatened by a small handful of very fair articles that saw equal parts of blame for both he and Alberto?

No, that couldn’t be it. It was simply that what they said against him was found to be an irritation and that was enough. It was simply his personality to attempt to stomp it out without a second thought.

It pleased him to crush me and my little blog. It made him feel strong and powerful and verified to him my utter lack of worth not only as a writer but as a human being. In his mind I totally deserved to have the life smashed out of me and I should be thankful for the abuse.

How many other insignificant bloggers have annoyed Lance and been crushed by him through whatever control or contacts he has within Google?

I completely understand how anyone might be sickened by Lance, not for doping, which has never been proven and may never be proven, but for who and what it is that can and has been proven.

Lance recently said that he’s done too much good for too many people. Ok, he has been inspirational to many thousands of people, and not just cancer patients. His LiveStrong organization has added many more thousands to that.

But if you aren’t a part of Lance’s Cause and you aren’t a member of his Merry Band of Slaves on Team RadioSkank, then Lance has no hesitation in destroying you for no more reason than a whim.

If you help one guy it gives you carte blanche to cause harm to another? I’m thinking that that is not the way the great karmic wheel works, that good deeds and bad deeds are not intended to be a balancing act, that a wealth of one does not mean a licence for the other.

Lance is hated by many, many people, but I don’t think the possibility of his doping has much to do with it. I think a lot of people simply know Lance for what he is: a despicable, self-centered, ego-maniacal, ruthless, malicious, petty, spiteful, immature, controlling, manipulative child with a martyr’s complex.

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Lance RageGate

NOTE: A couple days ago I posted an article that showed Lance Armstrong assaulting some old guy after Stage 16 at the Tour.

Here’s the related links: Lance RageGate and Tour de France 2010: Stage 16, Rest Day #2

Via @Cycletard all of that is now known as “Lance Ragegate” and can be followed in Twitter with #lanceragegate . END NOTE

Here’s the video again:

As a response to those articles “Anonymous” (yes, I do believe that that is really his name, why would anyone lie about a thing like that? Though I suspect he’s also know as @Cycloid who tweeted me something similar) left me this comment:

“Do you even ride? Ever ride a bike at very slow speed?

He didn’t shoulder-check the guy – he overbalanced and bounced off the guy.

Then he stops, looks back to see what the outcome was, and gives some kind of wave or gesture.

It could easily have been a “hi, sorry” wave.

The youtube doesn’t show any middle finger. Unless there’s a better copy somewhere that you have seen I don’t think you can justify all the drama you’re imagining.”

Let’s take a look at that scenario.

1. Lance Armstrong, a guy renowned to be not merely an adequate bike handler, but an extraordinary one, can’t manage to keep his bike upright while traveling at approximately 10 MPH and pedaling.

2. He knocks a guy into a fence, then stops and stares at him. Instead of saying “I’m sorry” or “Are you ok?” he merely tucks his hand in close to his chest so that the guy is the only one with a really clear view of it and then “waves” or “gestures” “I’m sorry”?

3. Lance, unable to ride his bike in a safe and controlled manner, chooses to wobble recklessly through a throng of pedestrians, putting their health, safety and wellbeing at risk, actually managing to “accidentally” knock one of them into a fence.

Well, that’s certainly plausible.

By the way, this has been picked up by The NY Times. Now maybe some responsible journalist AT the Tour will have enough balls to ask Lance for an explanation of his assault on this poor guy.

Why has not even a single “journalist” had the guts to ask Lance Armstrong for an explanation of his assault on that old man?

If it was anyone else there would be questions for the assailant, the victim would be found and interviewed, witnesses would be interviewed. But it’s Lance, so he gets a free pass.

Even if you spin it in Lance’s favor, it’s something deserving of journalistic investigation. Instead all fawning “journalist” Lanceophiles stick their heads in the sand and pretend it never happened for fear of losing access to The Boss.

It’s pathetic and disgusting.

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