Lance Armstrong--coming back
Viatcheslav Ekimov--not coming back
Bobby Julich--retired, comeback pending
Dmitry Fofonov--missing, presumed pleasuring himself
Mario Cipollini--contemplating comeback to finance new bathroom vanity
Thanks American Cheese Society!Of course, there are two types of retirement: there's the voluntary kind; and then there's the compulsory, drug-related kind. However, there's only one kind of comeback: the voluntary kind. Until now, that is. With all eyes on Armstrong it appears that there is a magenta-hued groundswell to bring his arch-rival and comic foil Jan Ullrich back to the peloton as well (not to be confused with the magenta-clad swell that is Ullrich's stomach):
Meanwhile, when Lance Armstrong says he's coming back, he means it. After yesterday's press conference he busted out of his suit like Party Boy, shouldered his Trek, hotfooted it to the Jet Blue terminal, deplaned in Vegas, and rolled right up to the Cross Vegas cyclocross race, where he finished in 22nd place out of 69 finishers:
I'm not sure Ullrich actually wants to come back, or if they'd even allow him to if he did, but I do like to imagine that one day we really could have a system whereby any retired cyclist who gets enough votes from the public would be forced to return to racing, no matter how long they've been out of the game. Just imagine an arthritic and very reluctant Eddy Merckx swinging a leg over the bike once again and dropping through the peloton and out the back like a hex bolt through a hamster's digestive tract. Imagine also the excitement of forcing Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon to square off against each-other one more time. (An idea all the more appetizing to many since LeMond/Fignon sounds like a particularly succulent cut of meat.) As of right now the Ullrich petition already has 80 comments. I feel like 100 should be enough to require him to put his juicy LeMond/Fignon sandwich down, saddle up, and start training for Le Tour '09.
Some may scoff, but in my book 22nd place is a solid "pass" and therefore an excellent result. 21 guys may have beat him, but more importantly he beat 47 guys, which is more than double the number of people who beat him. Also, one of the people he beat is Carl Decker, who is the reigning Singlespeed World Champion. (I am the World's Worst Bike Racer but the World's Best Rationalizer.) Moreover, Armstrong was battling not only lack of sleep, exhaustion from a day of press, and a stacked field, but he was also dogged by the haunting visage of doping expert and Carl Reiner stunt double Dr. Don Catlin:
Catlin's constant presence must be irritating to say the least. As Armstrong noted at the press conference, he must do whatever Catlin asks of him, and I can tell by the piercing look in his eyes (if you're not sure which one's Catlin, he's the one with the glasses) that his testing methods probably go beyond simple diligence and cross over into maliciousness. I can imagine Armstrong striking up a coversation with an attractive woman, and then, just as they're about to hit it off, a jealous and vindictive Catlin approaching and demanding he provide a urine sample on the spot. (In the medical profession, I believe this is called "cockblocking.") Just imagine stepping out of the shower, wiping the condensation off the medicine cabinet mirror, and seeing not only your own face but Catlin's as well. That kind of shock can't be healthy. Also, he's getting paid but Armstrong's not. I think that puts the 22nd place into perspective. It wouldn't suprise me if Armstrong also had to pit every lap at last night's race--not to switch bikes but to produce urine for the insatiable Dr. Catlin. I bet Ryan Trebon doesn't have to do that.
And let's not forget the other visage Armstrong is doubtless haunted by, that being the one belonging to Nonplussed Journalist Looking Straight at BikeSnobNYC:
Plus, from Armstrong's vantage point on the podium, he was confronted not only by Nonplussed Journalist Looking Straight at BikeSnobNYC, but also by BikeSnobNYC him(my)self, who was wearing not only dirty cycling shoes but also a sweat-stained cycling cap. It must have been like looking at a two-headed Medusa.
But as I said yesterday, cycling is full of irony, and apparently it's not "cool" to be down with Armstrong's comeback. I mean, he won the Tour seven times--how lame is that? Victory is sooo tacky. You're only supposed to win it like once and then get implicated in a scandal. What is "cool," of course, is all the cutting-edge stuff happening in the world of fixed-gear riding. Check out this Bianchi Pista, which I saw over at Trackosaurusrex:
This "artistic interpretation of a track bike" indeed captures the contradictory nature of the fixed-gear scene in that it not only appropriates the Crass logo (fixed-gear fans just love the way that logo looks, don't they?), but it is also, quite literally, unrideable. I was curious about the artist, so I popular search engined him, and came upon this article in Time magazine from way back in 2002:
Five years ago that may have been true. But with age and experience, Takahashi's work is growing beyond simple expressions of rage and becoming more sophisticated and nuanced. "
Yes, it's nice to see that his work has continued along that trajectory of sophistication and nuance during the six years since that article was written.