Spin Cycle: Am I a bad person?

Good egg or bad egg?

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 08.12.2023 Photography by
Marek Krol, Cor Vos
More from Jonny +

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

What’s on the menu today, you ask? The meat of the meal is the double-threat of Dave Brailsford and Bjarne Riis, both of whom seem to once again be struggling with fairly basic concepts like The Truth, and Doing The Right Thing.

But away from our pious moral-arbiting, we’ve got a smouldering Guillaume Martin picking up a literary award, and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty posting photos of their riders in just their underpants.

It’s all about striking a balance.

Another Brailsford bungle

Dodgy Dave is in the news once again with his latest marginal gain: not seeming to do anything after being emailed about extensive allegations of racist abuse.

To be clear, this happened at the Ineos-owned French football club OGC Nice, where Brailsford, director of sport at Ineos, was living in a caravan in the carpark while helping to run things and presumably clicking ‘delete’ on anything that landed in his inbox marked urgent.

Nice’s sporting director, Julien Fournier, emailed Brailsford describing alleged racist and discriminatory behaviour by the team manager Christophe Galtier, which Fournier sent in order to avoid being accused of covering up criminal behaviour when what was going on would inevitably come to light, and that only happened when the email was leaked to the press in April 2023. By this point Galtier had already left Nice in July 2022 of his own accord to become the Paris Saint Germain manager.

Galtier has been accused of actively excluding black and Muslim footballers and pressuring the latter to not fast during Ramadan, or else they’d be dropped from the team. Beginning next week, he will stand trial on criminal charges of racial and religious discrimination.

But more pertinently to our sport and one of the bigger names within it, the question remains why Brailsford didn’t seem to do anything about this issue when it was raised. The Guardian, who’ve written an interesting piece on the situation, were told by an Ineos spokesperson that the email to Brailsford was “escalated” and that “appropriate workplace processes were followed.” But if the first that anyone heard about the incident was nearly a year later, it begs the question of what these processes actually were, and why they didn’t involve reporting a crime to the police?

The footballing world will take notice of this as Brailsford and Ineos’ Jim Ratcliffe close in on the deal to secure part-ownership of Manchester United. For us, it’s another case of incompetence or worse that flies in the face of the famed attention to detail that was shouted from the rooftops and was supposedly the silver bullet to make Sky/Ineos into world beaters.

While the Ineos Grenadiers pick up the pieces and try to regroup heading into 2024, the wider Ineos sports group and Brailsford, one of the biggest names in cycling over the past decade, will be presented to a wider audience (pending the United deal) and his legacy and methods will face renewed scrutiny. For further reading, this from Rouleur was an interesting piece this week.

That’s a secret I’ll never tell xoxo

While the meme pages may be suggesting Cofidis’ Guillaume Martin looks like he’s seeing his day in court as he actually received a literature prize (yes, he can do it all) we think it’s more reminiscent of our favourite noughties teen drama: Gossip Girl.

Does he indeed not resemble a young Dan Humphrey? Arriving on the scene in the Upper East Side and attempting to fit in with his newly met preppy peers? We’re not sure who’s Chuck Bass in this analogy, or that this isn’t one wild stretch that few of you will even appreciate, but certainly this cyclist-in-civvies photo of Martin was enough to wake us from our wintry December slumber.

We must say, though, Martin doesn’t look overjoyed at the prospect of being awarded for his cycling philosophy book, ‘La Société du peloton: Philosophie de l’individu dans le groupe’. Maybe the ceremony was overly long. Maybe he’s still waiting to hear back after an impassioned plea at the recent Japan Cycle Cup for a publisher to come forward and help translate his book into Japanese, to join the versions that already exist in Mandarin and Korean.

Feed Zone ?

? David de la Cruz (34) has signed a one-year contract with Q36.5 after not getting renewed by Astana Qazaqstan.

? Elsewhere Joe Dombrowski (32), also let go by Astana Qazaqstan, is still looking for a team: “I am still motivated and can still perform at a high level,” he told CyclingNews.

?? Sam Bennett has told GCN his goals for 2024 with Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale: “Ten victories, including one at the Tour de France.”

? In the latest instalment of how doping doesn’t pay, Matteo Spreafico has a contract with Italian continental outfit MG.K Vis-Colors for Peace in 2024 having served his three-year ban for a drug that has the same effects as anabolic steroids.

? Maciej Bodnar (38) has announced his retirement from professional cycling.

?? Chris Froome plans to open his own cycling academy in Kenya after he retires, he’s told the Geraint Thomas Cycling Club Podcast.

?‍♀️ Ineos Grenadiers have shuffled their management in light of Rod Ellingworth’s departure, with John Allert moving from Managing Director to CEO and sports director Steve Cummings becoming Director of Racing. Dane Cash has more on this story here.

?? Meanwhile, over at Israel-Premier Tech, Daryl Impey (39) will transition from being a rider to a sports director for the team.

?? The 2024 Tour Colombia (February 6-11) will feature a stage finish in Egan Bernal’s birthplace of Zipaquirá.

? Tadej Pogačar will race Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo in the spring, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

? Mark Cavendish’s coach has told Portuguese Cycling Magazine that it’s realistic to believe the sprinter can win a stage of the 2024 Tour de France, which is good.

? The Telegraph has found some Shimano bike parts may be ‘made by modern slaves.’ Ronan McLaughlin has a version of the story up here.

?️ UAE Team Emirates, sponsored by a country with the world’s seventh-largest oil reserves, which presumably they’re not going to keep in the ground, have announced they plan to be carbon-neutral by 2030.

?? Bahrain Victorious have unveiled their 2024 jersey, which has taken inspiration from the white kit they wore at this year’s Tour de France.

?? After a 2023 to forget, Richard Carapaz has told GCN he’s focusing on a good GC placing at the 2024 Tour de France.

?? 17-year-old junior world champion Albert Philipsen has signed with Lidl-Trek for 2025; next year he will race for the Danish Tscherning Cycling Academy.

Cycling on TV ?

Saturday December 9th


Exact Cross Essen – Elite Women
GCN+ (07:43-08:45 ET/12:43-13:45 GMT/23:43-00:45 AEST)

Exact Cross Essen – Elite Men
GCN+ (08:58-10:30 ET/13:58-15:30 GMT/00:58-02:30 AEST)

2023 USA Cyclocross National Championships – Juniors and Non-Binary
FloBikes (08:00-15:05 ET/13:00-20:00 GMT/00:00-07:00 AEST)

More details on the Flo schedule for the USA Cyclocross National Championships can be found here.

Sunday December 10th


UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Val Di Sole – Elite Women – also on FloBikes in the US
GCN+ (07:00-08:30 ET/12:00-13:30 GMT/23:00-00:30 AEST)

UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Val Di Sole – Elite Men – also on FloBikes in the US
GCN+ (08:30-10:00 ET/13:30-15:00 GMT/00:30-02:00 AEST)

2023 USA Cyclocross National Championships – U23
FloBikes (09:45-13:30 ET/14:25-18:30 GMT/01:25-05:30 AEST)

2023 USA Cyclocross National Championships – Elite Women
FloBikes (13:30-14:30 ET/18:30-19:30 GMT/05:30-06:30 AEST)

2023 USA Cyclocross National Championships – Elite Men
FloBikes (14:35-15:50 ET/19:35-20:50 GMT/06:35-07:50 AEST)

Monday December 11th

No live racing

Not me guv quote of the week

Just because I did something wrong once doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.

– self-defined good egg Bjarne Riis

In today’s episode of which radioactive 90s cycling star is wishing they wouldn’t keep being held responsible for their actions, it’s … Bjarne Riis!

The rider, team owner, and manager has declared his time in cycling “a finished chapter,” and has moved back to Denmark from Switzerland with his family after recently co-founding Riis Energy, which sells imported Lithuanian heat pumps. He has also become a board member of Nørtec, which sells electric vehicle charging stations and laundry appliances … (hang on a minute, Wade, if you’re reading this, get Bjarne on the phone asap).

“The last few years down in Switzerland, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I should do going forward, and in that process, I’ve come to the point that cycling, where I’ve been – that’s a finished chapter. I think I want to do something else,” Riis told the Danish newspaper Børsen, before adding that he doesn’t think he’d have been able to get through the fallout from his doping confession in 2007 without the help of his family.

“I’ve never hid and I’ve always stood up to a beating over the years. I’ve acknowledged my mistakes and moved on, but just because I did something wrong once doesn’t mean I’m a bad person,” he said. “I can still be a good leader and I can still inspire people.”

We weren’t aware that the definition of never hiding included taking 20 years after the start of your doping in the 1980s for an eventual acknowledgement, a massaging of time frames that also makes doing “something wrong once” difficult to comprehend, as if he once accidentally littered or left the garage door open overnight.

Anyway, good luck to Bjarne and his heat pumps.

Is this really necessary? of the week

As teams tentatively begin preparations for another season, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty put their riders through balance, coordination and reactivity tests to prevent injuries and improve their performances on the bike.

A good idea, no doubt, but is it truly necessary to have them do it in their underwear? Are you telling me that chucking on a pair of sports shorts, or god forbid a t-shirt would significantly alter their results? There probably is a grown-up, science-based answer to this … but we are dumb and not science-based. Obviously.

But another thing, presumably they also asked the rider before blasting a mostly-naked photo of him all over the internet which will now exist for ever and ever? At this stage we have many more questions that answers.

And finally …

Here’s a palette cleanser before we go: dsm-firmenich’s Pavel Bittner trying to wash his bike with the help of his German Shepherd.

? Send us yer laundry pics

“A random laundromat, or rather waschsalon which sounds oh so more exclusive,” writes Marek Krol, attaching today’s featured waschsalon.

“I happened to pass it on the way to a late lunch during a business trip to Essen, Germany. Is it relevant or otherwise significant to Escape Collective? Well, there were posters up around the city that the Deutschland Tour would be passing through on August 26 … Today! [N.B. – this message was when Marek sent the photo in] So cheers to a resurgence in German pro cycling.”

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 …

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