A smattering of side stories from the Super Worlds

Always choose news of poos (and other tales catching our eye from Glasgow.)

In the interests of full and complete transparency, Mathieu van der Poel did not hold up an enormous newspaper front cover from a few days in the future. This is what is known in the trade as a ‘composite image’.

Iain Treloar
by Iain Treloar 09.08.2023 Photography by
Kramon, Cor Vos and Gruber Images
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There’s a lot going on at the Glasgow Super Worlds – heaps of events every day of the week, across a 70-year span of age categories, many of which we care deeply about and some of which (hello, Artistic Cycling!) we are deeply intrigued by. Amongst the attention-grabbing events with big-name winners, there are other results that slide on by in a rainbow (/sometimes brown) blur.

At the halfway point of the championships, I thought it was about time for a Spin Cycle-esque Worlds News Roundup. 

We’re going to need a bigger Kristoff Korner

Cast your mind back to the opening day of the championships, when we got our first glimpse of the twisty-turny Glasgow street circuit. One of the first cabs off the rank was the men’s junior race, which was won in dominant fashion by the next leading light of Danish cycling – 16-year-old Albert Philipsen (who, in addition to being the newly crowned world champion, is currently top of the junior pile as European MTB champion and Danish champion in the road race, time trial, mountain bike, and cyclocross).

Three literal children who are already insanely gifted cyclists.

As impressive as his road race win was – and as frantic a flurry of interest it must have attracted from WorldTour teams looking for their next pubescent prodigy – there was another intriguing result in third place: the Norwegian rider Felix Ørn-Kristoff. If that name sounds familiar, it’s with good reason, as Felix is Alexander Kristoff’s half-brother. The two share a mother, with Felix’s father being Alexander’s stepfather (and long-term coach), Stein Ørn.

Alexander Kristoff has often pointed out that Felix’s trajectory is better than his own: “he can achieve anything. He is well on his way to achieving great things – anything is possible for now,” the Stavanger Stallion told TV2 last year [nobly resisting the temptation to smash a cake in their face]. There’s further proof in the form of a video from NRK last week, which showed Felix putting his big brother to the sword on a hill climb in their hometown. At Escape Collective – your leading English-language source of Kristoff-related news – this bodes well for the future.

The feel-good moment of the championships ?

You know how sometimes you just want an unambiguously lovely result that you can feel great about? One without any tarnish on it, and completely absent of a whiff of cycling’s tainted past? Look no further than the men’s 50-54 year-old Gran Fondo World Championships, won by none other than 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist, Alexander Vinokourov.

‘Vino’, who is currently the general manager of the Astana-Qazaqstan team, has spent the years since his retirement guiding Kazakh cycling through a succession of hideous jersey designs and a later-era pivot to little pranks. Hypothetically, we could ask whether there is some bad with the good. For example: should we talk about his blood-doping suspension? Should we talk about Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2010? Should we talk about his golden bike that he drives around with at the Tour de France, a reminder of a serendipitous look the other way in London? Or should we just relish in the fact that Vinokourov got an amateur rainbow jersey to go along with his pair of professional World Championship bronze medals? Either way, a win’s a win* and it’s great to see wholesome results.

(*unless it’s got an asterisk next to it.)

In a similar vein, a shout-out to Pascal Hervé, formerly of Team Festina circa 1998 Tour de France, for his third place in the 55-59 Gran Fondo Worlds. On the startlist in the same race (although he doesn’t appear to have shown up) was convicted domestic abuser Mario Cipollini.

See, great vibes everywhere! You just need to look for them. 

No, it’s not that dodgy crypto sponsor

With Tadej Pogačar’s third place in the men’s road race came a bit of online chatter about a certain sponsor splashed across the front of the violently green Slovenian national team kit. This chatter seemed to split in two directions – one camp questioning whether the Slovenians were sponsored by a start-up spruiking The Devil’s Lettuce, the other wondering whether the Team Qhubeka-ending NextHash had returned to cycling sponsorship after a very subtle rebrand. 

The short answer to a very long story: NiceHash is a much nicer, more palatable crypto sponsor.  

The slightly longer answer: NextHash and NiceHash are separate entities both based in Slovenia, but inexorably tied in the early days via NextHash founder Ana Benčič. In December 2017, NiceHash was hacked by a team of North Korean military hackers who’d stolen US$80 million of bitcoin, and in a distressed state accepted Benčič’s offer of a stabilising investment in exchange for 35% of the company. The investment never came through, and NiceHash filed a lawsuit leading to her removal from the company by 2019.

From there, the soundalike company NextHash took flight – one of a number of Benčič ventures that included a doomed sex-toy company – before signing with Team Qhubeka for the latter half of the 2021 season, failing to pay a majority of the sponsorship commitments, and quietly exiting stage right. According to multiple Slovenian outlets, Benčič was charged with misuse of company funds last year and could face up to eight years’ jail time.  

NiceHash, meanwhile, has been a major sponsor of the Slovenian Cycling Federation since early 2022. “We just hope people do not confuse us [for NextHash], as we are running a profoundly different kind of business,” NiceHash CMO Joe Downie told me last year.

Mathieu van der Poo

And finally, a hat tip to Scottish tabloid, The Daily Record, for the story (and headline) of the World Championships:

Let me fill you in on the very funny details.

During the near hour-long pause in proceedings caused by climate change protestors early in the elite men’s road race, Mathieu van der Poel “was caught short …  and believed his big race chance could be in tatters. But Mathieu was welcomed into the home – and toilet – of Davie Findlay and wife Shona, where he took care of business.” That’s Davie above standing next to the toilet in question, with the photo caption reading “flush with success”. 

In Van der Poel’s post-race remarks to Dutch TV, he apparently took the time to deliver “a big massive message” to the Findlays [ed. his second of the day]. “I had to knock on the door of a couple’s house along the course. I really owe them and I would like to thank them so much. I couldn’t have carried on racing without their help … it was so kind of these people to let me in their house and let me sit on their toilet,” said a (doubly) relieved Van der Poel.

Not ergonomically exactly the same pose, but you get the gist.

Van der Poel was not the sole Dutch Dumper of the day, according to Davie Findlay. “We did feel that it was a bit of an emergency because the team manager came first and asked if we could let one rider [Van der Poel] use the facilities. He was such a nice guy and extremely polite and he was so grateful. The next thing we knew there was another rider and then another and I think we had four of the guys from the Netherlands in.”

There’s something so minimalistic but evocative in Davie’s storytelling that (at least for this correspondent) you can practically hear the tap of cleats on tiles, the laboured breathing as four Dutchmen extract themselves from their race-fit attire, the strain and splash of a champion poo with the Findlays timidly standing outside the door waiting for the haven of their home to be restored.

To win with a broken cleat is pretty spectacular. But it’s almost as spectacular – and certainly much funnier – to imagine Mathieu van der Poel’s world championship bid being derailed because of a failure to take a shit on the outskirts of Falkirk. Thank you, climate protestors: this was written in the stars.

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