The annual pre-Tour de France lull has been punctuated with news that Spanish team Footon-Servetto has unveiled a Tour team containing just one rider with previous Tour experience.
Italian Giampaolo Cheula (pictured) is Footon's only Tour veteran, the 31-year-old having improved on his 110th position from 2007 with a sturdy 85th one year later. Promising stuff, eh?
With a team of Tour debutants boasting an average age of just 25.5 years offering him support, GC hope Chuela will surely target a top-60 finish in Paris. Although if he really draws on the experience of his team-mates, there's no reason why the top 50 should be beyond him.
Joining Cheula on the roster are four Spaniards, a Portuguese, an Austrian and two fellow Italians, including Fabio Felline who, at a tender 20 years of age, will be the race's youngest rider.
Blazin' Saddles would list all of their names but it would be a waste of ink; you won't have heard of them. Well you might think you've heard of Iban Mayoz - but it's not the same one.
Now Saddles is all for youth - he supports Arsenal after all - but this is really pushing grandma into the bramble bushes, as they say in France.
In fact, BS would go as far as say it was a disgrace. While Arsene Wenger may play his young Guns in the Carling Cup (the equivalent of, say, the Tour Down Under), he would never send them out on the pitch for a Champions League final.
It beggars belief that a ridiculous agreement signed back in 2008 means supporters have to watch this dross when they could have their TV sets brought alive by, here's a thought, the explosive combined talents of Vacansoleil.
Given Footon's history with doping - the team is the new incarnation of the Saunier-Duval outfit that gave a platform to the cheating antics of Riccardo Ricco, Leonardo Piepoli and Mayo (not Mayoz) - the team shouldn't even have ProTour status, let alone be trying to keep up with the peloton around the roads of France.
Romain and Brice Feillu, Lieuwe Westra, Borut Bozic and Johnny Hoogerland: these are some exceptionally gifted riders from Vacansoleil who you will not (criminally) be seeing on a screen near you this summer. But don't worry - Footon will be there. Along with their garish gold jerseys (by far the most horrid of all professional cycling teams).
On paper, the decision seems dirtier than the Gulf of Mexico - and BS could harp on about it for about as long as a particularly long fifth set at Wimbledon.
It's a travesty that Vacansoleil have not been invited on any of this season's grand tours. If Saddles had his way, heads would roll. Anyone who saw the impression the Dutch team made in last year's Vuelta - their debut major race - will testify to that.
And yet, having said all that, how hotly tipped were Hoogerland & Co before last September's Vuelta? There is an argument that could be made in favour of Footon. An unknown quantity with largely unproven riders - maybe they can surprise a lot of people (including loudmouth cycling bloggers) in July?
Look at how many maiden grand tour stage winners the Giro threw up in May. If that trend continues, who's betting that Footon won't be there to pounce? Well, Saddles is. Yes, it's a nice thought, but it just won't happen.
Footon can Foot off as far as BS is concerned - which is probably what they'll do: for if more than five of the team arrives in Paris, Saddles will eat his PMU cycling hat.
ALL ROUND RELIEF: Kim Kirchen's cardiac arrest and subsequent medically induced coma was sickening to hear and BS is sure that everyone bar no-one is relieved that the Luxembourger appears to be on the mend.
But at some point, someone has got to ask why it happened in the first place. It was either a totally freak event or someone, at some point, did something wrong and should be held accountable.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "For the record - I don't mind the controls. Part of the game. Test me anytime, anywhere, result will always be the same, nothing to find." Saddles isn't sure if Lance Armstrong was referring to spelling tests or doping tests, but he expects the latter.
NEXT WEEK: Blazin' Saddles previews the Tour de France and gives you his predictions for the biggest race of the year. Before then, what do you want to see in the daily Tour blog? Scribble your thoughts down below
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