Thursday, January 10, 2013

Good-bye Old Hags

Seems like the year after the Olympics is always a good time to clean house. Get rid of the junk that has stayed around, sometimes far too long. After 2012 the women’s peloton has seen a departure of a few hags that we are shamelessly happy to be rid of.

Let’ start with Anne Samplonius. Very high on the hag factor and she is gone, gone gone.


Okay, so maybe she was good and had a decent (long) career and her second to last season was not so bad for a cranky Canuck – but what the heck did she do in 2012?  Not much. Sure she had Alison “politely mean” Powers on her team in 2012 so she was relegated to a workhorse, but still – her age seemingly caught up to her and she was not the Anne of old, but rather old Anne.  Yep – it was time for this hag to go.

We say thank you Anne, au revoir, and politely we will forget you very quickly – like we do to all ex-women pro cyclists. 

Does anyone even know the name Leontien van Moorsel? How about Julie Young?  Jeanne Golay? All long forgotten. Unless you attach or marry yourself to a man-pro, like Dede Demet-Barry, or Jessica (Phillips) van der Garden, once you leave the female pro ranks you are wiped clean from the slate of women’s pro cycling. Our memories are short, our brains whirled in circles with all that excessive pedaling: it’s not our fault.

Of course, even those who try to return do so in relative anonymity, unless you have red hair and a vibrant personality to match (more on her in a bit). Take for example that pocket-sized Italian, Fabiana Luperini, quite the star in her day, with a list of palmarès that ranks her as one of the best female cyclists ever – so what if she cycled the “Italian way”, eating the breakfast of champions consumed by the likes of Lance Armstrong, et al.  She won, and she won big. But no one even knew she raced the Exergy Tour this year, she hid at the back, not the same Lupi of old where she shot up climbs faster than down.

But I digress.

Who else departed our ranks?  Well Ina-Yoko Tuetenberg teeter-tottered on the fence so long even she was not sure which way she would fall.  Finally she landed back in the peloton, and thus we cannot say gute nacht and send this hag to bed - yet.  Ina your time will come and you too will be hagged.

We did get rid of another German: Judith Arndt.  She is one helluva talented hag and she went out in style by winning the coveted rainbow jersey in the Worlds TT and had lesbians all over the world in tears of joy. However, the beloved rainbow will not be worn with PRIDE in the peloton for 2013 and our condolences go out to the LGBT cycling crowd.  

The best sorority sister in the women’s peloton had to be Kristin Sanders and she departed us early in the season. She will be missed, undoubtedly, by envious female cyclists who always wanted to have that boob job but never had the guts to do it. Sanders made a great PR stab at returning to racing with two legs, rather than the one she claimed to race on for years due to who-the hell-knows-what problem. 2012 was to be her breakthrough, comeback season – she was healed – she had lofty goals – and she promptly fell flat on her ass at Redlands.  Kudos for her to pull the plug ASAP. Not too many hags can do that! She has since entered the world of bodybuilding – and she has the blonde hair, the body and boobs to pull that off. Good-bye hag and good-luck bodybuilders everywhere.

The biggest over-achiever in women’s cycling also left us: Nicky Wangsgard. Perhaps not quite as haggard as the others, but definitely one cyclist who overstayed her welcome (what hag hasn’t?). I am not sure we will find another Nicky – oh such a small engine and oh such big results she pulled out of her arse. Her biggest win was last season in Charlotte, without teammates. But that’s what Nicky did. Like an annoying flu you could not shake (but a decent hill always could) she was sneaky, crafty and held on way longer than she possible should or could– and saved her one and only silver bullet for the end. When it counts. She had enough of a kick to outkick, and outkick she did in Charlotte.  Good-bye Nicky, we will miss you, your determination, grit and overachieving ways. But we will forget you faster than your kick.

Clara Hughes.  She was long forgotten. It’s what we do best in women’s cycling. Then she returned to make sure that some of our memories still worked. They didn’t.  She had to start again and so she did. She won. And won some more. But she did return when her biggest rival in the USA was still carrying baby fat (not the baby fat of juniors - the other kind - the baby fat of those who give birth) and it made her rise to the top fast, bringing the exorbitant, red head back up to the forefront of some of our memories, some of us, that is, that still had deep - albeit pushed way to the bottom of our long-term memory cache - smidges of something talented, big and red. Clara Hughes came rushing back into our peloton - and minds - fast and furious. And briefly.

After she lost the big one at the overblown O, she left as quickly as she came. So fast she could not even finish out the 2012 season. Now we are left with two memories of Clara, years apart (like seven or something ridiculous like that); we are left with two remnants of something preposterously red (the color is a key if you have not noticed) that will just clutter up our long-term memory vault – with the limited storage in these vaults we really need retired hags to stay retired.

And now the best for last: the last hag from the 2012 season, maybe the best there was and ever will be, finally re-retired. Kristin “I am the real” Armstrong came back after birthing a nuisance (aren’t all babies?) just to make our lives miserable again.  She succeeded.  At that, and her goal of winning gold at the big O.  And she just had to try and take the nuisance on the podium with her in London. So cliché. Thankfully saner O heads prevailed and said hell no.

Anyhow, you made your point KA. You already made that point pre-nuisance baby. You did not have to return. We had already moved on – we were oh, so close to forgetting. We knew you were the best TT’er in the world, but before we could completely forget, you came to remind us of your presence one more year, and now we have to re-forget all over again. Thanks. And good riddance.

So bye-bye to the hags of 2012.  But do not fret! The women’s peloton has an abundance, and there’s always up and comers on the horizon to fill your vacant saddles.  

Stay tuned for 2013 when we say ciao to a whole new gaggle of hags.


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