Blazin' Saddles

Fat Tuesday

Blazin' Saddles

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Fans of this humble cycling blogger's ramshackle Twitter
will know that Saddles is currently enjoying his own
tour Down Under.

On the back of his good friend Rob the Cog's wedding
in Melbourne, Saddles decided it would be a neat idea to try and get to the
bottom of this whole GreenEDGE malarkey.

So, touched down in Sydney after his 22-hour flight
from London (during which Saddles embarrassingly passed out during the gruesome
arm-severing scene in the film 127 Hours), BS thought he'd do some nosing

It all started rather ominously with a dream that
Saddles was once again in ancient Greece and confronted with a white winged horse
of divine provenance (a reference which will clearly go over the head of most
mere mortals).

Searches around Sydney for the GreenEDGE headquarters
proved rather fruitless - which is odd in a city where every other shop is an
extortionate purveyor of fruit smoothies (and lukewarm coffee-flavoured milk going
by the name of 'flat white').

Ogling at a popular search engine proved rather
helpless too: the only Green Edge in Australia was a vegetarian and vegan deli
in Brisbane.

But then Saddles realised that he hadn't - in a faux
bid to be, erm, edgy - capped up the suffix and written 'GreenEDGE' into the
search box. Once regulated, he then discovered that the team's central office
was actually miles away in Victoria.

Sadly, the GreenEDGE probing will have to wait until
later in the month (former head of Cycling Australia Shayne Bannan
is the guy posing in the pic).

So, you can imagine BS's surprise when, coming down
Oxford Street and on to Taylor Square this Saturday afternoon, he fell upon a
bunch of hairless, muscularly lean men on bikes wearing nothing much but tight
green lycra. Was this a GreenEDGE team training run?

Sadly, not. It was a group of gay men performing in
Sydney's Mardi Gras celebrations. Interestingly, Saddles learnt later in the
day that in Puerto Rico Mardi Gras is referred to as Carnaval de Ponce - but
not for the seemingly obvious reasons; rather, after the town of Ponce, where
said celebrations are held.

Anyway, enough of the trivialities of Saddle's
Antipodean jaunt. What about this week's cycling news?
According to his soigneur, Riccardo Ricco is "an exceptional
person" who only ever accepted massages from him. Flavio Mongiardo, who
oiled up and rubbed the Italian while working at Astana before joining Ricco at
Vacansoleil, also confirmed he was kneading Ricco's sister, Melissa.

"I've been in a relationship with Ricco's sister
since last April. I consider myself Ricco's friend. Sometimes we all go out
together," Mongiardo said, bravely.

The strange thing about this whole thing is not that
there's someone who considers Ricco to be "exceptional" and not even
the fact that someone admits to be a "friend" of the guy. No, what
really struck Saddles on seeing pictures of Mongiardo is that he has white hair
and clearly looks well beyond 45. So either Melissa is many years her brother's
senior, or she has a thing for older men.

Such banalities aside, the only thing newsworthy about
Mongiardo is his claim that Ricco would have been too ill to admit to doctors
that he had performed his own transfusion, as he allegedly did according to
initial reports. Could the Ricco saga be the biggest stitch up since Roseanne
Barr delivered by C-section?

won his
first race since being let off for eating steak with victory in the opening
stage of the three-day Vuelta a Murcia.

The Spaniard is said to have hired a high-profile Belgian lawyer called
Jean-Louis Dupont amid speculation that the UCI will appeal the overturning of
his ban. How does Andy Ramos feel about this? Maybe he's too busy working on
Kolo Toure's case.

Anyway, Dupont has form: he's the guy who shoehorned Tom Boonen into the
Tour de France back in 2009 despite his nose-powdering incident.

Leopard Trek's manager Brian Nygaard has laughed off his new
team's failure to notch a win this year by claiming that "all of our
riders are where they should be at this point in the season". So, you
heard it here before: Daniele Bennati was signed to pick up second
places in the Tour of Oman...

And finally, stage-hungry Mark Cavendish has announced he will ride the
Giro as well as the Tour and the Vuelta this year. Cav, who is based in Tuscany
and (confusingly) used to date an Italian model, said he loved the Giro because
of its "relaxed" nature. He also praised the country's "great
scenery, great food and... the ladies too".

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "There was a lady and she was on her way to a
Valentine's date and she was late. She turned into a driveway and she wasn't
looking. She said, 'sorry, sorry I'm running late for my Valentine's date.' I
said, 'don't worry about it, it's just my knee, make sure you're not late for
cupid's arrow.' She was pretty nice and I just thought, shit happens, let it
go." Australian
Matt Lloyd explains his latest injury scare.

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