Riding is Life


Spin Cycle: A little dash of hyprocis(k)y

Everyone's coming for Nairo Quintana

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 27.03.2024 Photography by
Andrea Spica, The Washington Post, Cor Vos
More from Jonny +

Spin Cycle is Escape Collective’s news digest, published every Monday and Friday. You can read it on this website (obviously) or have it delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up here.


Welcome back to Spin Cycle, Escape Collective’s news digest.

It’s good to be back, a week out of the cycling news cycle leaves one scrabbling to catch back up to the bunch. Tadej Pogačar and Mathieu van der Poel did what? Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas said that out loud?!

The only thing we have to report from our time away in Morocco that is even close to slightly being cycling-adjacent, is the security staff inside the Majorelle Garden in Marrakesh – which used to be Yves Saint Laurent’s house – is supplied by contractor/worker conglomerate Samsic! So that’s how they paid the King of France Warren Barguil and Nairoman’s salary for so many years … speaking of …

A little dash of hyprocis(k)y

In a sport where even the slightest hint of smack talk between riders is hard to come by, the peloton seems to have made an exception this week for … Nairo Quintana.

First off, Bahrain-Victorious’ Wout Poels was trying to move up the final climb of a stage at the Volta a Catalunya, but no one would let him in so he squeezed in next to Quintana behind Enric Mas.

“That in itself is annoying for him, but I wasn’t riding so close to him that I tried to push him away,” Poels explained on his In Koers podcast that he records alongside Dylan van Baarle. 

“At one point he elbowed me and I got into an argument with him. I said that he was definitely on tramadol again, which is why he was acting so aggressive,” says Poels.

Quintana was, of course, suspended for his 2023 Tour de France tramadol positives (plural), which likely saw him sailing over the cobbles of that first week floating like an ice skater across a rink.

But then, on the Geraint Thomas Cycling Club podcast, when Thomas and Luke Rowe begin discussing potential Giro d’Italia contenders and the idea of Quintana is brought up, Thomas didn’t miss a beat.

“He shouldn’t even be racing,” the Welshman says (you can listen to the audio clip here).

Then a pause before the ever-eloquent Luke Rowe added his own thoughts: “Little f**king rat”.

We’ve never shied away from deriding Quintana for his painkiller positives, but, unless Thomas and Rowe know something we don’t, it’s fairly selective to bash Quintana when the list of riders who’ve come back from actual bans or have had marginal cases lawyered away (anyone remember a former Thomas and Rowe teammate called Chris Froome and his salbutamol case?) seems slightly inconsistent.

And then what about the pair’s former doctor, Richard Freeman, who was struck off after being found to have ordered banned testosterone “knowing or believing” it was to help dope an unnamed rider. Have we heard anything from them on their crusade for clean sport? Not a dicky bird.

A final thing, while Rowe’s words are … strong, let’s say, even for this potty-mouthed newsletter, what made our eyes roll into the back of our heads was that earlier in the episode there was an advert for ketones.

Ketones are of course legal, but they are currently banned by the Movement for Credible Cycling and the likes of Romain Bardet, Guillaume Martin and Thibaut Pinot have previously called for them to be banned. Tramadol was in the same position for years, if you recall.

Thomas waxes lyrical about how fabulous ketones are and how he currently uses them, and that he has a special code you can use to get cheaper ketones! Mine should be in the post. Thanks G.

Keep the rider podcasts coming, everyone. At least then we get to hear the juice as they, like the rest of us in the media, chase attention and headlines like a dog hurtles after the mailman.

Well, Franck, things aren’t looking so bon anymore

With Franck Bonnamour already provisionally suspended by the UCI concerning anomalies in his biological passport, things have gone from bad to worse as his Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale team have fired him with immediate effect, accusing the rider of not having informed the squad of his biological passport issue before signing for them.

“The Decathlon-AG2R team notified me yesterday of my dismissal with immediate effect,” Bonnamour said. “I have always done my job respecting the rules that the UCI imposes on me. I have always complied, of course, with the numerous anti-doping controls that this sport has required of me for years. I have never used prohibited products or any blood manipulation.”

Bonnamour has been suspended since the start of February, and the questions of his biological passport relate to a period between 2016-2022, with the Frenchman signing for Ag2r in 2023, at which point the team say Bonnamour was already aware of his situation and the team’s investigation is said to reveal “several failings” on the part of the rider. “When in doubt, we no longer compromise,” is how Le Parisien describes Decathlon-Ag2r’s attitude (they are an MPCC squad) to any possible situation that could bring their team and sponsors into disrepute.

“With the help of my lawyers and scientists, we are working on my defence,” Bonnamour added. “I have always been an honest, upright and clean rider and therefore cannot be accused of cheating.”

Feed Zone 🥖

😭 Wout van Aert won’t race Flanders, Roubaix or Amstel Gold due to his broken collarbone and ribs sustained at Dwars door Vlaanderen. His American teammate Matteo Jorgenson won Dwars.

😬 Marlen Reusser was disqualified from Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem after using a cycling path.

🐂 Arnaud De Lie has removed all remaining Classics from his programme following an early season disrupted by illness and crashes.

🤕 Both Luke Rowe and Jhonatan Narvaez suffered concussions in their crashes at Gent-Wevelgem and will now “follow a carefully managed ‘return to racing’ policy” under the supervision of the Ineos Grenadiers medical team. Laurens De Plus has subsequently been drafted in for what will be his Tour of Flanders debut, GCN reports.

💸 The CEO of Dstny has told Het Laatste Nieuws he will decide this summer whether to continue sponsoring the Lotto cycling team, with the current deal expiring at the end of the year.

🤑 GCN reports Jasper Philipsen hopes to a sign a new four-year deal this year, with Bora-Hansgrohe, UAE Team Emirates and Tudor Pro Cycling competing with current employer Alpecin-Deceuninck for his signature.

🙏 This summer’s Tour de France has not been ruled out yet for Egan Bernal, with DS Zak Dempster telling Cycling Weekly it’s a possibility.

😴 Arnaud Démare is struggling with “severe fatigue” and will take some time off from racing over the next few weeks.

🇮🇲 A fun story here from Cycling Weekly about Mark Cavendish rocking up to a local race on the Isle of Man, where he finished 29th.

The mainstream media is coming for us. AGAIN 😳

After the New York Times parked their tanks on our lawn with the washing machine imagery section of the media we thought we’d cornered, reader ‘T Simchak’ alerted us to The Washing Post also getting in on the act.

Fixed it. Again.

Cycling on TV 📺

Thursday March 28th

No live racing …

Friday March 29th

Route Adélie
(09:00-11:00 ET/13:00-15:00 GMT/00:00-02:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Saturday March 30th

Volta Limburg Classic
(10:00-12:25 ET/14:00-16:25 GMT/01:00-03:25 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max

Gran Premio Miguel Induráin
(10:30-12:45 ET/14:30-16:45 GMT/01:30-03:45 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max

Sunday March 31st

Tour of Flanders – Men’s
(03:30-11:25 ET/08:30-16:25 GMT/18:30-02:25 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸FloBikes, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Tour of Flanders – Women’s
(08:50-12:50 ET/13:50-17:50 GMT/23:50-03:50 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸FloBikes, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Monday April 1st

Ronde de Mouscron
(07:15-09:30 ET/12:15-14:30 GMT/22:15-00:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Peacock, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Itzulia Basque Country – Stage 1 (ITT)
(09:30-11:45 ET/14:30-16:45 GMT/00:30-02:45 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Agent, weirdly, doesn’t want to make less money of the week 💸

If we had €1 for every time the idea of having a salary cap in professional cycling was mooted, we probably wouldn’t need a salary cap at all.

But the latest to offer their thoughts on the idea is super agent to the likes of Tadej Pogačar, Jasper Philipsen and Cian Uijtdebroeks, Alex Carera. Who, shockingly, doesn’t think the idea of his riders, and therefore him, being paid less is a good one.

 “I think it is a pointless proposal. In every sport, the best people should win. If the best team managers are able to put together larger budgets, it is only natural and fair that these teams are also more successful than other teams,” Carera wrote on Instagram.

“It’s like asking Pogačar, Van der Poel, Evenepoel and Vingegaard if they can from now on appear at the start of a race with weights on their backs, to make races more balanced. While it is much better and fairer to invest in training, nutrition and equipment, so that other riders can grow to this high level. The authorities involved must simply ensure that the safety of riders is guaranteed even better. There is still room for improvement in many areas. Has Lionel Messi ever slept in a two-star hotel – with a shared bathroom – the day before a Champions League final?”

The last is a fair point, it has to be said.

And finally …

Speaking of which, one thing Pogačar doesn’t mind sharing with others is a pee at the side of the road and a subsequent hiding in the bushes until the peloton has passed, making them think he was still up the road. You probably already read about this last week, but it’s too good for us not to share in case you missed it and also to consign it to our archives.

“Nobody really started to pull, Israel Premier-Tech were saying they don’t really want to pull, if they don’t pull then we decided to start to work,” Pogačar said of the second Volta a Catalunya stage, which he won en route to eventual overall glory.

“We came from behind and started to pull at that moment but nobody held our wheel so suddenly we had a gap and then we went a little bit and then we stopped for a pee-pee and hid in the bush so the peloton didn’t know where we were. It was just a little bit of fun.”

See you in Belgium! 🇧🇪

Along with the majority of the Escape Collective staff and the members who’ll be on our Classics trip, we’re off to Belgium for Flanders and Roubaix! There will definitely be a Spin Cycle on Monday, there may not be one on Friday, but there will be plenty of other pre-Flanders build-up in store. If you spot us out and about say hello and if it’s at the bar then beers are on me.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics

Today’s featured laundry image was sent in by Andrea Spica. Thanks Andrea. We are particularly in the market right now for more domestic laundry submissions.

As always, we are accepting your laundry photos (especially ones with the doors open so we can Photoshop riders inside the drum) to star in Spin Cycle. Either send them via the Discord or shoot me an email: [email protected]

Until next time …

That’s all folks! Thanks to T Simchak for contributions to today’s edition and a big thank you to all of you who have signed up already as Escape Collective founding members. If you haven’t there is no time like the present. To smooth the process just click this link here and hit the Join Today button in the top right of the page.

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