Sheldon Brown, R.I.P., RCS Still Alive, Qatar

Feb 6 2008

It was a rough Sunday out here in New England. First was the Pats loss, and then came word of Sheldon Brown’s passing. It’s not so much that without Sheldon’s site I wouldn’t be writing this; it’s that I wouldn’t be on a bike. At all.

Riding a bicycle, especially an entry-level machine, causes stuff to break all the time. Waiting on the local shop (yes, that still says ’06) to fix it simply won’t keep you rolling, and Sheldon’s pages made it so anyone with access to Google and a set of metric Allen keys could keep their ride in order, and learn more than they’d ever dreamed in the process. To say he will be missed is understatement redefined.

Leaping from the loss of an immense societal contributor to the stubborn continuance of a societal leech, Italian media conglomerate RCS announced invitations for the ’08 Giro d’Italia last week. Not invited? A whole fistful of international powerhouses. Invited instead? Local Italian teams! Awesome! Evil media conglomerate’s rationale: “ethics, quality, international character [and] the historical relationship with RCS Sport”. Ah, what lofty criteria from a country so corrupt it’s drowning in its own garbage.

Seriously, though – LPR Brake’s roster features Danilo DiLuca, who spent the runt-end of last season suspended after being mired in at least two dope scandals; one of them even involved suspicious test results from his ’07 Giro victory. Perhaps to ease the obviousness of this contradiction, RCS has now dropped hints that maybe they’ll invite anti-dope pioneers Team High Road as a 22nd squad, because they might bring a little “sporting quality” and “respect for the rules” to the event – no doubt to compensate for RCS’s lack thereof.

But enough bitterness! Time to revel in the flat, sunbaked, sprint-happy glory that is the Tour of Qatar! Slipstream almost won the first stage, which is (IMHO) a fine start for the burrito powered squad. Things went pearshaped a bit when Backstedt broke his collarbone, but the big guy still has hopes for Roubaix. For me, the story of the race was Tom Boonen only winning half the stages. Last year he won nearly every day, missing only a long escape in which a teammate sealed GC victory. Could Tornado Tom be slipping?

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