Blazin' Saddles

  • One hell of a weekend

    Stage eight's foggy ascent up the
    Terminillo may have not brought the drama of the Tuscan grit tracks on Saturday
    but it capped off a fabulous weekend's racing in the Giro.

    Luxembourgeois Dane Chris Anker Sorensen
    picked up a maiden Grand Tour victory, following the example of Jerome Pineau
    and Matthew Lloyd, two other riders to join the Big Boys' club in this
    enthralling Giro.

    But all eyes were on the select chasing
    group, which contained all of the Giro's big guns except a rather out-of-sorts
    Carlos Sastre. After the brutal heroics of Saturday, it came as no surprise
    that both Alexandre

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  • Brad’s perfect day

    Can Bradley Wiggins do no wrong? The Team Sky leader reserved his very best for Saturday's Giro prologue in Amsterdam as he "mullered" (© David Harmon) his way to pink.

    Wiggo's ride shaved two seconds from the efforts of BMC buddies Cadel "Eyebrows" Evans and Brent "Keepin it real since 1984" Bookwalter, while Alexandre Vinokourov, looking more and more like a James Bond baddie from the Timothy Dalton era, rode through the rain to get fourth.

    It was a superb Giro debut for the unknown 26-year-old American Bookwalter, whose cheesy Frat-boy motivational motto is "No thinking, no drama, just

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  • Chapeau to Pineau

    It happens about as often as a hung parliament, but on Thursday three plucky underdogs defied the peloton onslaught and made it to the end, their slender lead intact.

    The spoils went to Frenchman Jerome Pineau, who won with his head and his legs after breakaway companion Yukiya Arashiro took the initiative and pulled out a full banzai charge on the final straight.

    Bent on being Japan's first ever Grand Tour stage winner, Arashiro's kamikaze attempt was to prove just that, and with his legs turning to sushi, the BBox man was beaten by the experience of 30-year-old Pineau, who followed team-mate

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  • V for Vendetta

    Much was made about Mark Cavendish's childish two-fingered salute in Romandie last Wednesday but for Alejandro Valverde, the race's eventual winner, 'V' simply stands for Vendetta.

    You see, much like Cavendish's anger at being written off, targeted and lampooned by his critics who "know jack s--- about cycling", so too does Valverde think both the media and doping organisations have it in for him.

    Apparently, the International Cycling Union and the Italian National Olympic Committee are displaying "an institutional and personal viciousness" against him. It's nothing short of a symptomatic

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  • In it to bin it

    It's as petty as a famous heartbreaking American singer-songwriter, but apparently an environment group in Belgium has lodged a criminal complaint against three riders for throwing away their rubbish and bidons during last week's Fleche Walloon.

    Team Sky's Chris Froome, Ag2R's Blel Kadri and Benjamin Gourge of Landbouwkrediet have been targeted by La Coalition Nature for littering during the one-day race.

    Throwing away empty food packs and water bottles technically violates Walloonian law, which says: "Any person who holds waste is required to provide or make the management conditions to limit

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  • The Italian Job

    With the carnage of the Netherlands a distant memory, the Giro's return to Italian soil was marked by victory for Italian team Liquigas in the TTT and an all-Italian podium.

    A week ago, Vincenzo Nibali was getting his passport ready to travel across the Atlantic for the upcoming Amgen TofCal. But with team-mate Franco Pellizotti held up at UCI customs for a dodgy bio ID and suspect hand luggage, the 25-year-old was fast-tracked to the Liquigas roster for the Giro.

    Four days in and Nibali is the race's fourth pink jersey after his airtight team beasted the 32.5km TTT in Piedmont. The man known

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  • Greipel loses his marbles

    German Gorilla Andre Greipel went bananas after losing out at the end of stage three of the Giro, won by boy band pin-up lookalike Wouter Weylandt.

    Greipel was caught short on the final bend of another accident-packed stage in Holland, allowing the QuickStep sprinter to take his first victory of the season.

    Incandescent with Teutonic rage, Greipel, who believed Weylandt didn't pull his weight during the closing kilometres of the stage, threatened his generously chinned Belgian rival at the finish line by shaking his fist and, according to Cyclingnews, bellowing the words: "You didn't do

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  • Red-hot Dutch carnage

    Riddled with as many crashes as last year's international stock markets, stage two of the Giro required more bandages than an Egyptian mummy conference.

    New pink jersey Cadel Evans labelled it "one of the most ridiculously dangerous stages I've seen in my career", and said he won the maglia rosa "for best crash avoidance".

    With bodies strewn along the verges as if they were victims of a bloody battle, this was more like a Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe film version of the Giro. At one point, the pile of riders was so dense that their bikes were welded together.

    The thing is, if you have overly

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  • Big Brother on wheels

    Before Alejandro Valverde chose his overall victory in Romandie as a platform upon which to attack his doubters and defend his name, Saddles was unsure about how he'd lead this week's blog, such was his disillusion with the sport he so clearly loves.

    Things got off to a rude start when Mark Cavendish took it upon himself to say a huge "up yours" to the media with a V-sign when any normal-in-the-head self-respecting young man would have been content with a simple arms-aloft celebration after doubling - finally - his tally of stage wins for the season (now one for each finger proffered).

    But

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  • On ya bike, Eyjafjallajökull

    It's been erupting with bile for ages now, isolating individuals, dirtying reputations and sending into turmoil a cycling world which wishes it would just shut its trap and cool down a little.

    No, Blazin' Saddles isn't talking about Mark Cavendish and his verbal explosions but volcano Eyjafjallajokull, which has put Iceland back on the map following last year's financial meltdown.

    Eyjafjalljokull - whose name looks like an Icelandic death metal troupe but sounds more like a Celtic dance routine (BS is sure one of those poncy tap-fests made famous by Michael Flatley of Riverdance fame was known

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