Blazin' Saddles

  • Leopard’s glass scarf full

    The moment
    we'd all been waiting for occurred this week: the Schleck brothers' new team
    Leopard-Trek was unveiled to the world amid much fanfare and sartorial speciousness.

    Of course,
    the first thing we all noticed were the identikit scarves adorning the
    shoulders of the whole squad, all of whom were wearing matching fitted black
    suits and frilly white shirts.

    It was as
    if Team Lux had employed German football manager Joachim Loew as their
    principal fashion consultant.

    The thing
    is, those black scarves with white polka dots made their owners look more like
    fashion victims than the intended

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  • Q&A with Joseph Papp

    This week
    Blazin' Saddles poses some questions to a friend he made on Twitter, the former
    pro cyclist Joseph Papp.

    BS:
    So, Joe, tell everyone who you are.
     JP: I yam what I yam and that's all that I am! Born
    in Ohio, bred in Pittsburgh,
    matured in South America, Europe and a few
    less exotic locales. Book-smart, no-common-sense romantic, imbued with a
    passion for cycling that's inexplicably intense. I started cycling and racing
    in 1989, the day after my father died, the day before my birthday. Tragedy
    turned to triumph, and between stints at university and graduate school, I
    travelled the world

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  • Dog’s dinner

    This cycling blogger choked on his corn flakes when he read on Sunday that a Spanish farmer has come out in defence of Alberto Contador by claiming that the Clenbuterol-contaminated meat the Spaniard allegedly ingested on the second rest-day of last year's Tour de France may, after all, have come from South America.

    The latest development in an on-going saga almost as tedious as the seemingly never-ending Police Academy series comes days after the World Anti-Doping Agency announced that meat tested from the butcher's shop in Irun in northern Spain where Contador's steak was bought found no

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  • Receipt or conceit?

    Four months on and Alberto Contador has finally found the receipt for the alleged contaminated meat which clenbuterolled his blood during this summer's Tour de France.

    Saddles isn't sure where this receipt was discovered - perhaps down the back of the Spaniard's sofa? - but Bertie's people have confirmed to the Spanish media that "the purchase (of the meat) is fully accredited", as if said beef was actually in possession of a Tour press pass.

    Quite how this can form any cornerstone of Contador's defence remains unclear. Four years ago, would Floyd Landis have been let off the hook had he

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  • Who’s going where?

    Who would want to be Bjarne Riis, eh? He's lost three quarters of his Sunguard-Saxo Bank squad and his star investment is on the verge of being sirloined, sorry purloined, by the UCI over some mishap about his eating habits.

    Saddles takes a look at the main movers and shakers in the peloton ahead of the 2011 season.

    TEAM LUXEMBOURG:
    Still yet to be named, the Brothers Schleck project is shaping up nicely, with fellow Saxo Bankers Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt and Stuart O'Grady temped to join with promises of relaxed late-night drinking rules and a decent pension programme.

    Resisting the

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  • Return of the Papp

    In this second
    instalment of "SaddlePapp", Blazin' Saddles talks doping, death threats, prison
    and Spanish cuisine with former pro-rider Joe Papp as he awaits sentencing in US
    federal court for various doping offences that date back to more than four years
    ago.

    To get up to speed, BS
    suggests you read August's first Q&A with a man whose blood was once as
    thick as jam
    .

    BS: Did you get a
    kick from taking drugs, did you do it to win, or was it simply a rite of
    passage?

    Doping was like a tool
    that one reached for when performance had been maximized through all other
    available means. While there

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  • Yeah but no butt

    Zinedine Zidane was given a red card for his infamous head-butt so what makes Mark Renshaw think he merits any different?

    Ramming rivals with your head before consciously trying to run a fellow rider off the road is all "part and parcel of sprinting" according to Renshaw, who obviously follows the Mario Kart code of racing.

    Saddles was intrigued to listen to the reaction of Mark Cavendish's lead-out man just moments after the bruising finale to Thursday's stage 11 - so intrigued that he here dissects his points one by one.

    "Very tough final there, the Garmin rider came across on me."

    He's got

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  • The cows fight back

    Perhaps the saddest thing about this whole tainted meat affair is the negative publicity Spain's cattle have attracted.

    In blaming his positive test for clenbuterol on a piece of meat bought from a Spanish butcher in Irun, three (or is that two?)-time Tour de France champ Alberto Contador never thought about the adverse effect his explanation would have on the fragile mental state of his nation's cows.

    Knowing that your alpha males are regularly tortured and killed for pleasure in front of baying Spanish crowds is one thing, but having the quality of your flesh questioned by the world because

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  • The real McCoy?

    "What was he, a Master of the Universe, doing down here on the
    floor, reduced to ransacking his brain for white lies to circumvent the sweet
    logic of his wife?"

    Such is the predicament of millionaire bond trader
    Sherman McCoy, a self-styled Master of the Universe, in the opening chapter of
    Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, a satire on the decaying class, racial and
    political structure of New York in the 1980s.

    In the light of recent developments, you could
    seemingly replace Alberto Contador for the adulterous McCoy, the doping
    laboratories and baying media for his wife, while the thing

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  • Blazin’ Saddles: Albuterol Clentador

    Is Saddles the only one to think that the latest doping scandal to tarnish cycling contains more hot air than a weekend with the Mongolfier brothers?

    Put simply, Contador's positive is the biggest non-story since Riccardo Ricco decided to store 50 Paracetamols in an unmarked bag at the bottom of a drawer in his house.

    No, honestly: it's ludicrous. The miniscule amount of clenbuterol detected - we're talking 50 picograms (or 0.00000000005 grams per ml) - is consistent with the idea that El Pistelero inadvertently digested the banned substance.

    The Spaniard passed doping tests on the three days

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