The Valverde show cancelled. No worries, we’ve got a new blockbuster.
After four years of watching Alejandro Valverde escape justice in Operacion Puerto, we must bid a fond adios to the lying and hypocritical Spaniard, his country’s obstructionist cycling federation, the helpless and blustering UCI and the endless trials, postponements and appeals. It was an embarrassingly fantastic show but the Court for Arbitration finally pulled the plug.
Thankfully, there will be no doping void, post-Valverde. There’s an addictive new show thanks to Floyd Landis and his loud, ugly allegations of doping by Lance Armstrong and other riders in U.S. Postal. If you thought Valverde was great theater, you have no idea how fantastic the Lance & Landis Show will be. So far all we’ve seen is the thrilling pilot, now the first season is ready for air and it’s gonna rock your world.
First let’s talk casting because this show is must-see doping con-tro-ver-see. Floyd is funnier, meaner, with far more personality — and hair follicles — than Valverde. He’s already lost everything years ago so there’s nothing to be gained by not telling the entire sordid story. To use one of wild man journalist Hunter Thompson’s old terms, Floyd “sprayed shit mist” over everybody.
The stink is only gonna get worse. Landis has proved time and again he’s all or nothing, a scorched earth kind of guy, a Mennonite on a mission. Livestrong lawyers don’t scare him because he’s already past the destitute, divorced and unemployed stage and probably sleeps in his old bed at mom and dads’ house. Valverde was essentially one dimensional; Floyd is a rich, complex character rife with flaws and contradictions.
Then he’s squaring off against the first and second most powerful men in cycling: Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel. They have more legal forces than an oil company that also makes cigarettes. They will attempt to crush Landis more ways than he can possibly imagine. There isn’t a hole deep enough in Antarctica for Floyd to hide in. Major plastic surgery, a new identity and a CIA safe house in Uzbekistan or Fiji couldn’t save Floyd from the vengeance of Lance.
The Texan hasn’t even begun to tear Landis apart and he’ll work ever media channel, legal technicality and use his own overwhelming popularity to shape public opinion and judicial proceedings. The brilliantly constructed Armstrong brand will not, cannot, be messed with.
In another month nobody will even remember who Valverde is — that’s how awesome the Lance & Landis Show will be. You’re gonna be like a young teen girl who just discovered Twilight. If Lance & Landis opened for Hollywood bidding, the price tag would already be 10 million and climbing.
You want a strong supporting cast? How about the rumor that Armstrong’s ex-wife might testify? That’s right — the tearful and repentant Kristin ready to open up or the tearful and supportive ex-wife still standing by her man in true Texas style. And as an aside, where’s Amber, the former missus of Landis? As subplots go, a good cat-fight ranks way up the charts. A Kristin-Amber dust-up, if ratings are strong, could become its own show.
What if old Postal rider Jonathan Vaughters decides to drop his own bombs? The Argle Genius has made vague admissions of doping off the record but what happens if he decides to take his documented dislike of Armstrong and go public?
Is he mad at Floyd for blindsiding Dave Zabriskie right when Z-Man was trying to win the Tour of California? Or will he decide it’s the ideal time to sharpen the axe and chop down the tallest tree in the forest? Fascinating sidebar — will old Postal teammate Frankie Andrue, who’s finally back on good terms with Armstrong after years in the cold thanks to his own doping admission, be forced to testify again?
What, still not enough action for you? This is a heavy weight drama, not blow-over-in-a-month tabloid nonsense. Again, casting is top notch. We’ve got FDA special agent Jeff Novitzky, the lead investigator in the BALCO case, playing a recurring guest role. This guy worked over Barry Bonds. He’s not the type to knock sheepishly on Armstrong’s door for an autograph and VIP pass to the Shack Party in Paris after the tour ends. This guy is a shark that sees blood and a yellow jersey.
There’s simply no telling or predicting the plot lines on this show. However, here are a few things we think could plus the concept — as if it could get any better! We’d like to see Landis with some play money just to widen dramatic possibilities. Our thought is, Patrick McQuaid takes the foolish $100,000 grand he accepted from Armstrong, triples it to clear his conscience, and donates it to Floyd. Then the Mad Mennonite is free to work his own crazy magic.
He could stalk Lance in the Tour, a constant, irritating and exhausting presence in the Alps and Pyrenees. He could open a small bike shop in Austin right across from Mellow Johnny’s. It’s clear Landis needs a base of operations, a mobile HQ to focus attention and battle-plan. A used Winnebago with a satellite dish, white trash aluminum lawn chairs and barbecue grill lashed to the back is a classic counterpoint to the state-of-the-art Radio Shack tour bus. Unpredictability should be part of the Landis arsenal and that takes dollars.
And where is Robin Williams and Ben Stiller with all this comedy waiting for professional expertise? This is no time to leave the party, fellas. Maybe Landis needs his own comedians on staff to swing public opinion his way. Is Jim Carrey ready to work with Landis — what about crazy man Dave Chappelle? This team gives Landis a serious shot at winning the comedy battle against Lance and Johan. Whatever the legal outcome, the ultimate and final judgement will be public opinion. Landis needs to up the laughter quotient.
Are you ready ready for the Lance & Landis show? We’re betting in one month you won’t even remember Alejandro Valverde’s name. You’ll forget how to spell Operacion Puerto. Danilo di Luca’s farce won’t even register.
Here’s to the greatest, dopest show around. The Lance & Landis Show. Have at it, boys.