And so the number one rated doping team in the peleton comes back full circle. The vulture has returned, Vino is back in the saddle and riding for his old squad Astana. Warm up the blood swirling centrifuge, alert the black market EPO dealers, tell the UCI and WADA they’re working over-time for the foreseeable future.
In the hilarious black comedy novel, Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart, an obese Russian with a love of American hip-hop and Brooklyn mulatto girls tangles with the Russian Mafia, soviet corruption, the US State Department and his own strange and outsize obsessions in a made-up place called Absurdistan. It must share a border with Kazakhstan and its capital city, Astana.
Welcome Vino. Set your blood bags and suitcases in the corner. There are still a few syringes in the secret hiding spot. It’s the Veulta, baby. You’re back riding a grand tour and nobody is giving you the cold shoulder. Say hi to soon-to-be barred Alejandro Valverde; don’t turn a pedal without a wave to Ivan Basso. (At least Basso had the class to admit his transgressions and move on with some shred of honor.)
Doesn’t it all seem a little strange? What would you call this story–Astanastan? A black comedy on two wheels about a disgraced son and congenital liar who returns from exile, thumbing his nose at every drug tester in Europe.
Boxing is one of the most popular sports in Kazakhstan and Vino basically punched out team manager Johan Bruyneel, forcing him to bring him back. No doubt part of the deal was Bruyneel’s escape to Radio Shack to join Lance Armstrong. This team is only going to get weirder. If Alberto Contador plans on staying, he not only needs drug testing but mental counseling.
The UCI targets suspicious riders and Vino has moved to the top of the list. Crazy, weird, bizarre? Nope, it’s Astanastan.