Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A glorious day for Kazakhstan!

Today we have a new leader in the Vuelta a España: Spain's equivalent of the Tour de France. It is none other the charismatic Kazak rider Alexandre Vinokourov. The stage was won by Tom Danielson, a rider a met a few years back when he broke the record at Mt. Washington. But the racer wearing the golden jersey of race leader is the fan favorite affectionately known as "Vino." He now holds a 9 second lead over Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. Vino saw a moment of weakness in the Spaniard who had been so strong throughout the race, and pounced to take the lead.

Now I know what you're thinking. You think he's on the juice, don't you? After all, doping cyclists have been in the news quite a bit lately. There's the two ex-teammates of Lance Armstrong who've admitted doping while riding for Armstrong. (one of them, Frankie Andreau, I've met and done a bike ride with). Another ex-teammate of Lance's, Roberto Heras, is serving a two year suspension after being caught doping then getting disqualified from winning last year's Vuelta. Ivan Basso, winner in spectacular fashion of Italy's grand tour, il Giro d'Italia, is under investigation for his role in Operación Puerto: cycling's version of the BALCO scandal. Because of his implication in the scandal, Basso wasn't allowed to start the Tour de France this year, leaving the door wide open for American Floyd Landis to win ... that is until Floyd is officially disqualified for doping. Speaking of not being allowed to start this year's Tour, Vino was one of those riders who wasn't there to go wheel to wheel with Floyd. No, our Kazak friend wasn't implicated in Puerto, but so many of his teammates were that his entire team was banned from the race.

That was the Tour; this is the Vuelta! I'm sure he's on his best behavior in Spain. Well, except for that small incident three days ago where he and fellow Kazakhstani teammate Andrej Kashechkin missed doping control. But hey, it wasn't his fault. It's still a glorious day for Kazakhstan!

Moving to politics, it seems that Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev will be coming to America to speak with president Bush. Can you guess what important issues they'll be discussing?

President Nazarbayev will visit the White House and the Bush family compound in Maine when he flies in for talks that will include the fictional character Borat.

That's right! It seems the Kazakhstanis are upset about British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, and they're pulling out all the stops to show how upset they are about the new Borat movie.

Anti-Borat hard-liners have pulled the plug on, Borat's Kazakhstan-based Website after his frequent displays of anti-Semitism and his portrayal of Kazakh culture.

Nurlan Isin, President of the Association of Kazakh IT Companies took the action after complaints.

He said: "We've done this so he can't badmouth Kazakhstan under the .kz domain name.

"He can go and do whatever he wants at other domains."

And so that is how Borat has become the subject of a presidential summit. It is indeed a glorious day for Kazakhstan!

UPDATE: Today's stage was won by Kazakh rider Andrej Kashechkin while Vino retained the lead. And yes, that is the very same Kashechkin that missed doping control a few days back. I'm not one to make accusations, so let me just say: It's been another glorious day for Kazakhstan!

UPDATE #2: Vino won Saturday's penultimate stage on his 33rd birthday. With the cushion he just put on his lead, the final stage into Madrid is now pretty much ceremonial. He will be crowned champion on Sunday. Another glorious day for Kazakhstan!

No comments: