Giro d’Italia Grievous Grooming Gaffe

Pavel Tonkov with a scary head of hair at the 2004 Giro d'Italia team presentation.I tuned into yesterday’s riveting mountain-top finish in the Giro (stage 7: Frosinone - Montevergine Di Mercogliano) just as Pavel Tonkov started to let it rip at the front for teammate Stefano Garzelli. As the camera angle switched from the head-on shot to a profile, I was at first puzzled by what appeared to be an absurdly long, Croakie-esque attachment for Tonkov’s sunglasses stretched out limply on his back. I thought, hmmm, that’s pretty geeky for a pro cyclist and then bemusement turned to HORROR when I realized that Tonkov has been coiffurely inspired by Laurent Brochard and Romans Vainsteins, proud aficionados of the mullet. Pavel Tonkov sharply coiffed at the 2003 Tour de Suisse.And then I started to poke around online to find confirmation of Tonkov’s new lid. Holy shit! Check out Tonkov at the Giro team presentation (see picture to the left)! How did this pass by unnoticed? And then I started to dig some more, because hair like this doesn’t appear overnight. There has to be evidence of Tonkov’s lid in some medium-length transition phase. Here’s where it gets a bit weird…Check out the picture of Tonkov taken at the 2003 Tour of Switzerland (see photo to the right) while riding for the Polish CCC-Polstat squad. The earliest date that photo could have been taken is June 16th, 2003 and he’s got some pretty closely cropped hair. Fast forward to May 7th, 2004 to the mullet-mane he’s sporting now. At the most, 325 days have transpired. Is it possible for hair to grow that fast? Or is Tonkov, even more bizarrely, sporting a weave? Fans of cycling, I just don’t have an answer.

I would pay good money for some brazen fan wielding a set of scissors to run alongside Tonkov on a steep climb, ever so subtlely reach over, and SNIP!, liberate that squirrel pelt from his scalp. Maybe if that excess 5 pounds of hair was emancipated from his skull Tonkov could turn the screws in the mountains an extra kilometer or so for Garzelli. Power-to-weight ratio, Pavel, power-to-weight ratio! Who knows, maybe Garzelli has been using it as a handsling device to hurl himself forward once Tonkov gives Paul Reubensup the ghost on a climb…

I went to Tonkov’s personal site searching for answers. And you know what, this guy’s had a pretty interesting life. He was a lieutenant in the Red Army, he’s had 3 years of college (3 more years than most pros), and he exhibits a profound dedication to yoga and sophrology (I had to look that one up in a dictionary). I’m sure he speaks more languages than me, he’s seen more of the world than I have, he can kick my ass on a bike using one leg and one lung, and he could probably give me an old-fashioned, Red Army beat down off the bike. Maybe I shouldn’t be so snarky in my derision of Tonkov’s lid, but the more I look at that Giro photo the more I think of Paul Reubens’ mug shot.

May 17-21 is Bike to Work Week. While every week should be Bike to Work Week, why don’t you leave the car at home and pedal to work instead? Or run an errand on 2 wheels instead of 4?

If you absolutely despise W. as much as I do then you owe it to yourself to read local columnist Hal Crowther’s scathing indictment of Bush’s presidency. Unless you’re a defense contractor or super fucking rich, I don’t know how anyone can re-elect that incompetent, smirking simpleton to another term with a clear conscience.

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