For my money, the most exciting thing about cycling’s grand tours is that you never know who’ll win. Even several months after the race is over, it’s still really anybody’s race. Alberto Contador received his two year ban from racing yesterday, and along with it was retroactively stripped of 2010 victories in the Tour de France and the Giro D’Italia. Congratulations to Andy Schleck and Michele Scarponi! Good races, guys. Looked like you’d come up short there for a while, but, upon further review, you each had the biggest moments of your life. Pardon us if we don’t bother to get up.

While probably cleaner than it’s ever been, professional cycling went through the stages “Appalling,” and “Pathetic” a while back, and now never seems to miss a chance to just make itself even more comical. This latest news only twists a knife most of us picked up somewhere along Stage 17, 2006, and haven’t been able to shake since. Ironic that Contador’s suspension fell hard upon the news that Mr. Lance Armstrong was found super-blameless in the World Court of All Final Decisions. Or something. Like many people, by now I sort of want to find out Lance was doping that whole time, just because it would make for an amazing book. If Armstrong really is guilty of doping and orchestrating a mass cover-up, I think it’s safe to say the world hasn’t seen a virtuoso performance of mass mind control and manipulation that impressive since Rasputin. Nobody can resist cheering for a new world record.

As for the future of the sport, I’ve said long ago they should not only give up testing, but have an “open” class. I, who find it tough to watch even the most creampuff of crashes during stage races, and literally avoid seeing crash footage, suspect I’d have no problem tuning in for exploding hearts, spontaneous comas, and whatever else these junkies seem hell-bent on doing to themselves, because, unlike crashes, doping deaths wouldn’t be random and unwarranted. Besides, nothing would finally get Americans interested in the sport like cheering for delusional drug addicts catapulting off mountainsides while waving their arms at imaginary bats. Would certainly pull in the NASCAR demographic.

While we’re at it, I have some ideas for changes to the bikes.

Who doesn’t love rally? Having seen the wireframe Range Rover Evoque bicycle,

it seems obvious that you need a protective cage around your bike, and a co-pilot, you know, to man the weapons system. Besides, if everybody had to pedal enormous metal cages around and survive explosions, flamethrower attacks, and Spartacus chariot wheel-blade assaults during every Grand Tour, Jens Voigt would have already become the winningest pro in the history of cycling. By a lot.

In my more TV-friendly format, the green jersey points would go to the team towing the loudest stereo, the polka dot jersey would (obviously) be awarded to the fastest speed hit on a descent, and the trademark yellow race leader jersey would be replaced by some sweet new Rapha brogue shoes:

You think Thomas Voeckler left it all on the road defending the yellow jersey last year? Imagine a piece of race leader apparel that actually becomes more and more hot, painful, and excruciatingly hip with every second it stays in contact with your body.

Given that I’ve accidentally segued into a new product reveal here, apparently the Rapha shoes will be out by the end of the summer, and will feature deeply depressed repressed recessed cleats for sauntering jauntily into boardrooms with only your general douchiness to set you apart, as opposed to that and the clackings of a uncoordinated tap dancer.

Given that Rapha’s previous partnership with the shoe’s designer, tai­lor Tim­o­thy Ever­est, was apparently a jacket that sold for more than $600, one can only speculate as to the price of the new shoes.

Or one can hold a contest.

I’m hereby announcing the first ever Canootervalve contest:

Guess the Price of Rapha Brogues

Maybe I’ll bother to code up a fancy voting form to make this more formal, but probably not, so email me your guesses or leave a comment.

He or she who comes the closest to guessing the actual price will receive a genuine Surly frame decal emblazoned with the timeless words, “Just Because We Both Ride Bikes, Doesn’t Mean We’re Friends.”

No purchase necessary to enter. In fact, it’s not even recommended.

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