Eight days out from this year's Tour de France, BMC appears to be among the strongest.
Newbie Marcel Kittel will be among the fastest (and if green jerseys were measured in cheekbones, you'd already mark him down for two).
And thanks to the presence of quadragenarians Chris Horner and Jens Voigt, RadioShack-Nissan are the team likeliest to remember the first time Wham!, who are threatening to reunite, first hit the charts. In fact, if anyone in the peloton is able and willing to give a rendition of Wham Rap!, the Broom Wagon would lay money it would be Jens.
The Tour is also the time of year when, for one reason or another, doping scandals tend to bubble to the surface. This week Filippo Pozzato is in trouble after admitting to working with the notorious doctor, Michele Ferrari.
Pozzato faces a six-month ban by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), raising the possibility that Pippo's tattoo 'Only God Can Judge Me' paints an incomplete picture, and in practical terms the Almighty lacks jurisdiction over Italian Olympic sports.
Ferrari was banned by the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) in 2002 on the strength of rider testimony about his activities. The FCI said it would suspend riders who were found to have worked with the doctor, who is famous for telling L'Equipe in 1994: "EPO is not dangerous, it's the abuse that is. It's also dangerous to drink 10 litres of orange juice."
Ferrari is one of the individuals who was last week notified of forthcoming charges by the United States Anti-Doping Agency alongside Lance Armstrong. (Another is Luis Garcia del Moral; a former US Postal team doctor who lacks Ferrari's notoriety but has a better nickname – El Gato Negro, or the Black Cat). Gazzetta dello Sport reports this week that Italian investigators have uncovered a payment of $465,000 made by Armstrong to Ferrari in 2006.
Pozzato was called before CONI in Rome this week. He admitted to allegations he had worked with Ferrari from 2005 to 2009. But according to Gazzetta dello Sport, he claimed to have only received training programs from Ferrari and advice about nutrition.
"I never received any instructions about doping products," Pozzato said. "I only got training plans from Ferrari."
The cost of these training plans, according to La Repubblica, was in the region of €40,000 to €50,000 per year. For that sort of money the Broom Wagon would gladly advise anyone when to knock off the orange juice.
The week in ...
Tip o' the peaked cap to Brit Laura Boyd, who celebrated her hen's weekend, as you do, by cycling from London to Paris. In the spirit of many a newlywed, Boyd, 32, set off utterly unprepared for what was to follow. "I was having real problems with my handlebar grips and my tyres," she said after throwing herself on the mercy of a bike shop 20 miles out of London. "To be honest, we hadn't pumped them up before we set off."
There are no such luxuries for Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal. He fixes his own punctures.
While on the topic of cross-channel rides, a paralysed woman who completed the London marathon on a pair of robotic legs will next attempt to cycle from Paris to London with the aid of a robotic bike.
A Scottish company named Anatomical Concepts has supplied a tricycle for Claire Lomas, who was left paralysed from the waist down by a horse riding accident. Lomas's legs will be strapped into the pedals, with up to 16 electrodes fixed to her thighs. Electronic signals sent to her legs will essentially override her nervous system and prompt her legs to pedal, while Lomas amuses spectators by yelling at intervals: "It's the wrong trousers, Gromit!"*.
Although the electrodes will stimulate movement, Lomas must still rely on her own muscle power. She will switch to a hand-powered bike should her leg muscles fail during the 250-mile ride.
"Claire is taking on quite a challenge," Anatomical Concepts founder Derek Jones said – unnecessarily, on the whole.
*This last detail may exist only in the Broom Wagon's juvenile imagination
... next big things
Here is a four-year-old on rollers.
And here, unless the Broom Wagon knows nothing about the remorseless march of time, is that same boy in 30-odd years.
Dispatches from the Twitterverse
Really cool first ride up here in boulder, some good roads and climbs. And I found $20 #cant complain— Will Clarke (@clarkeywilbur) June 20, 2012
Most women's pro teams supply their riders 4-5 knicks & jerseys per year. Let's guess how many the pro men receive per year?— Rochelle Gilmore (@RochelleGilmore) June 17, 2012
I almost swallowed an almond butter spoon this morning when I hear @taylorphinney and T Van Garderen made the US Olympic team! So happy 4 u!— Marco Pinotti (@marcopinotti) June 16, 2012
Dave Zabriskie was among four American cyclists this week to individually request they not be considered for Olympic selection. That represents one of the more intriguing incidents in Zabriskie's 13-year career, especially in the light of the USADA action instigated last week. But it is not nearly the most disturbing. That honour goes to this commercial. Zabriskie channels the seediest parts of Hugh Hefner plus Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct while addressing the camera in front of a roaring fire. He is promoting a chamois cream named DZ Nuts.