Mario Cipollini Gets “Punk’d” on Italian TV

Big thanks to Velochimp for this – Apparently Mario Cipollini’s days of being involved with Italian realty TV weren’t limited to his appearance on “Dancing With the Stars.” This one was on Italy’s version of the practical joke show “Punk’d” (which in Italian is Scherzi a Parte). The whole thing is in Italian, but the idea is that he’s out on a training ride when his mechanic (the accomplice) comes to tell him that his house has been broken into and his bikes stolen. Just as he’s riding back to his house, a camper-van drives by with his bikes on the back – it’s the show’s actors, pretending to be the gypsy thieves. Cipo follows them home, amid all kinds of bleeped-out Italian swear words, and tries to get the “gypsies” out of the building they’ve locked themselves in. The Lion King nearly commits a crime before the show’s producers have to step in and tell him he’s been had.

It’s back when he was with Domina Vacanze, as you can see by the striped kit he’s wearing. And you’ve got to love the fact that the woman who’s hosting the show is doing so in a bathing suit and knee-high boots. Why? Well, the Italians would answer – why not?

Robert Millar is No Longer a Man

Image result for Robert MillarJust when you think cycling news can’t get any stranger, what with the bags of blood and asthma drug abuseand admissions of guilt, here’s something that’ll take your mind off of doping for awhile.

Britain’s one-time King of the Mountains Robert Millar is reportedly now a woman.

That’s right, the King has become a Queen:

For the powerful sporting hero who once failed a drugs test for having too much testosterone is now living as a woman under the name Philippa York in a Dorset village.

A neighbour said last night: “Everyone knows Philippa used to be a man but is too polite to speak to her about her previous life.

“She still likes cycling – you often see her on her bike, in all the gear, and with her long hair sticking out the sides of her cycling helmet.”

Apparently Millar disappeared several years ago – an author writing a biography on him wasn’t able to find him after a year’s looking, and when he was chosen to be among those inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame he not only didn’t show up at the induction ceremony, he didn’t even bother to contact the event organizers.

Frankly, I can understand why Millar York would want to be undercover these days, but what I can’t understand is why, when Millar was still Millar, he’d have done this:

Seven years ago, the first inkling of something unusual in his life came when he was seen in pigtails and with a suggestion of breasts under his top. A friend said at the time: “Every time we meet him he seems to have a bigger chest, but he won’t talk about it.”

Seems to me, once the process is started you either tell people what’s going on or you make new friends. The growing breasts could have been written off (perhaps) as a sign of age, but pigtails? Seriously?

Anyway, for those of you who have been kept up nights wondering where on earth Robert Millar has gotten to, you can now stop wondering.

Montreal-Boston Tour – A New North American Race

What the world needs now is more big cycling events on this side of the big pond. Isn’t that how the song goes? No? Oh. Well, it should. And the organizers of the new Montreal-Boston Tour think so, too.

The inaugural Montreal-Boston Tour will run from August 5-12 this year, covering about 1200km, and it’s been given a 2.1 license by the UCI. I had no idea what that meant, either, but it’s a good thing – it means the race is sanctioned for Tour de France-level riders and teams. And since it falls between the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espagna, they might actually get some big names to attend.

The first four stages will take place in Quebec. The fifth will go through Vermont, starting from the Jay Peak ski resort and ending at the Sugarbush ski resort in Warren. The sixth and seventh stages will take the riders through New Hampshire, where they will go from Franconia Notch State Park and through the cities of Concord, Manchester, and Nashua. The final stage of approximately 90 miles will take place on an urban circuit in Boston, with plans calling for the loop to begin and end at Boston Common.

If you’re not able to make it to Europe for any of the grand tours this year, this is a great opportunity to see a race (and some beautiful parts of two countries) in its first year.

Giro Contenders Doing Practice Rides

If you’re one of those people who’s a cycling fan but who hasn’t managed to schedule your vacations to coincide with the big races on the calendar, don’t despair. There are other ways to see cycling greats on legendary roads… In the months before the big races.

Lance Armstrong’s old method of doing recon work on the Tour de France stage routes before the race has caught on – big time – and now it’s rare for a top contender to not do practice rides on the actual route. From today’s CyclingNews:

Yesterday, Discovery Channel’s Basso tested his legs on the 42 kilometre Verona time trial, to take place on the penultimate day of the Giro d’Italia, June 2. Today, Il Varesino will ride Zoncolan two times, then Thursday and Friday he will tackle the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo.

As announced yesterday, Cunego will ride the Zoncolan on Friday.

If I were in Italy right now (oh, would that I were in Italy right now) I’d be camped out on that Zoncolan. If you happen to be near the Zoncolan, would you see if you can nab a Basso souvenir for me? I’d be much obliged.

High Road’s Big Day

Team High Road’s Kim Kirchen won the 72nd and Gregory Henderson won le Tour de Georgia’s third stage as the sun crossed another continent later that same day. Those victories continued the string commenced about a week earlier as sprinter Mark Cavendish repeated as winner of Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. High Road’s success has not quite equaled that enjoyed so far this year by CSC and Quick Step, but the remnants of the former T-Mobile squad evidently has decided to try to prove that it is worthy of a sponsor.

All that bodes well as the Georgia Tour heads into the mountains. In addition to strong Gerolsteiner and CSC (who also is riding hard to win a new sponsor next year) teams, High Road faces an Astana team that still is trying to prove it should not have been left out of le Tour de France and the other UCI events. Throw in highly motivated continental teams like Toyota United and Health Net, and more Georgia fire works certainly are in store.

Quick Step’s Qatar Quest

Team Quick Step sent a very strong team to Qatar, obviously intent to have Tom Boonen leave wearing the winner’s Gold Jersey. They have made their intentions known at every step so far.

David Millar obviously wanted to make a statement with his new team Slipstream/Chipotle. He practically dragged his following four riders across the finish line of the Qatar Prolog with the then-fastest finishing time, five seconds ahead of Skil-Shimano and six seconds faster than the experienced Liquigas Squad. But Boonen was not to be outdone. Quick Step probably found partial seconds in their skilled maneuvering of the several round-abouts on the course and then Boonen muscled his team to the finish to take first place two seconds faster than Slipstream. Matteo Tosatto crossed the line first, but only after Boonen made a long pull up front down the stretch.

Quick Step evidently came to Qatar determined to control every aspect of this race. They have stayed at or near the front in each of the first two stages setting a tempo that has stretched the Pelaton for at least the last 10km, if not longer. Several other teams have tried to establish their trains at the finish, but they either have attacked too early or too late and Boonen has captured the bonus seconds by winning each of the first two sprints.

The hi lites available at definiitely are worth watching because the pressure starts at the beginning of each race day and never relents. It will be interesting to see whether Quick Step can maintain the pace necessary to win every stage because it looks like no one will be able to catch Boonen at this point.

A Cavendish Cavalcade

Mark Cavendish, the Team High Road sprinter from Great Britain who made his name riding indoor tracks, won the second and third stages of the Three Days of De Panne and followed it with a respectable finish in the closing time trial. Cavendish had to sprint from deep in the pack to win the second stage, reminiscent of one of Robbie McEwen’s finishes after a crach or puncture in the Tour de France last year. He had to manufacture a gap near the end of the third stage, barely easing out Liquigas’ Francesco Chicchi, after near constant bumping and pusing among the sprinters in the last 600-800 meters. Rabobank’s Joost Posthuma edged out Manuel Quinziato of Liquigas by two seconds for the General Classification Championship by virtue of his dominating performance in the closing time trial. Any fan would enjoy watching the finish of Stages 2 and 3a of this exciting race.

Big Spill at Revolution 2 in Melbourne!

In the Future Stars Double Kilo Dash, Trevor Griffiths dominated the Under 18 Men’s racing with three wins from three starts, even if much of the field was nursing injuries from the spectacular final lap pile-up in the opening 2000 metre scratch race. Riders tangled at fourth wheel entering the back straight, and slid across the track; causing a chain reaction that left the following riders nowhere to go. In all, thirteen riders came down, with Toby Dite’s double cartwheel and face first rail slide along the track fence sure to feature on TV and internet clips around the world. Amazingly, all riders walked away from the carnage and most were able to resume racing.

Credit Agricole’s Mark Renshaw Wins First Stage of Tour of Australia

The Australian outsprinted Spaniard Jose Rojas of Caisse d’Epargne to take his first tour victory on his native soil in the first stage raced in 2008. broadcast only about 25 minutes of hilites, but here is a link to the official race complete report.

It wasn’t in real time but it certainly was good to see some actual racing again after these past three months of doping and political reports. I am sure all of us hope to avoid a season like last year’s that was filled with repeated, unpleasant interruptions.

Terry McEwen was seen living the true spirit of cycling, taking water bottles up to his teammates in the middle of a stage that almost certainly was going to end in a sprint. Team High Road was hilited by Phil and Paul during their coverage, but they did not play any major parts in the race or the finish today.

A three man break consiting of the Australian Team’s Richie Porte, Cofidis’ Mickael Buffaz, and Dimitri Champion from Bouygues Telecom stayed away for about 75 km and was brought back in about 8 km before the finish. I seem to recall Buffaz took maximun points with Champion finishing second at both of the intermediate sprints. Philippe Gilbert of Francaise Des Jeux won the King of the Mountain points on the one substantial climb of the day.

It sure is good to have the boys back on their bikes.