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Spin Cycle: An alternative bumper Christmas special!

It's time for Spin Cycle's alternative review of the 2023 season, duh.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 25.12.2023 Photography by
Nick Blake, Marco Forrer, Cor Vos, thomas81bottom, Jonny Long
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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.


Hello!

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

You are receiving this message from the past! It’s the week before Christmas and so we’re getting all of our festive ducks in a row early and dispatching articles ahead of time. So, if any Earth-shattering news has landed between now and then, that’s why our tone is still so calm. Wait a minute, the guy behind the Lanterne Rouge podcast is now a coach at Jumbo-Visma?! Okay, it’s definitely time to take a break.

The news never stops, and so during this Christmas week, whenever you need to take a break from the festivities and lock yourself in the bathroom for five minutes’ peace, here is our final newsletter of the year. An alternative look back at the news that made us sit up and take notice, laughing until we cry, crying until we laugh, we’re not sure which is the better of the two.

We hope you have a Merry Christmas, and understand that this time of year is sometimes not all sunshine and rainbows, it can be a lot. Whoever you are, wherever you are, know that you are loved and we thank you for being a part of this oddball community-within-a-community, whether that means you’ve sent us in a correction, laundry photo, or simply quietly read along for the past eight months.

From January to March, we were nomads without a website! Yet that didn’t stop Joe Lindsey (who deserves a big shout out for being the secret grown up in the Spin Cycle cutting room) compiling the best of the bizarre from January to May until we’d emerged screaming and hollering from the crèche and were ready to skip straight past walking to running headfirst in whichever direction felt right.

The hyperlinks will whisk you off to any of the individual stories you wish to refresh your memory on. This is a bit of a long one so buckle up, or portion it out for consumption throughout the week. One thing is for sure, it’s been quite the year!

January: Pistol-whipped airport papping

Ivan Sosa gets pistol-whipped by a truck driver in Colombia while on a training ride, and is also then charged after hitting the truck with a rock. Extinction Rebellion protesters are arrested after gluing themselves to a pile of bicycles in the road outside the Adelaide offices of Tour Down Under sponsor and oil/gas company Santos, while some older women also moon the crowd at the race. Protest is a broad church.

Mark Cavendish is spotted at the theatre of dreams that is Alicante airport getting into the back of an Astana team car and is duly announced as joining the team a few days later. Thibaut Pinot announces he’ll retire at the end of the season, while Tom Boonen’s legs (but only the legs) are immortalised in bronze in one of the weirdest sculptures to ever be commissioned.

Mark Cavendish speaking into a microphone.

A team-less Nairo Quintana is linked with Corratec, which the team denies, before rumours emerge the Colombian is considering retirement. Despite the turmoil, the tramadol meant Nairo likely wasn’t feeling a thing.

Discord messages from David Gaudu surface with the climber saying he doesn’t want his sprinter teammate Arnaud Démare at the summer’s Tour de France. Gaudu later apologises (months later, quel surprise, Démare is not picked for the Tour team). At the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, Filippo Ganna is only fined and not DQed for using the puppy paws position (unlike Marianne Vos at the 2022 Postnord Vårgårda), while Fabio Jakobsen luckily avoids a nasty crash after hitting a fan’s outstretched phone during a sprint finish.

February: Are disc brakes worse than cat killers?

A massive crash at Etoile des Bessèges results in a dozen DNFs and leaves TotalEnergies’ Valentin Ferron dangling from the side of the bridge over a ravine. The stage is neutralised after both ambulances were needed to take riders to the hospital, leaving it without necessary medical support. Meanwhile, the UCI releases a tortured statement committing to supporting Ukrainian athletes while opening the door for Russian and Belarussian athletes to race at Worlds under neutral status, if they “have not gone against the IOC’s mission of peace by actively supporting the war in Ukraine.”

Over in the Middle East, a helicopter pilot is kicked off the Tour of Oman for buzzing the finish and knocking over barriers that delayed riders, while Cavendish is back to his surly best before the UAE Tour. Time trial helmets continue to get even weirder and people lose their minds over the video of Tom Pidcock descending.

Chris Froome.

Chris Froome continues his “rim brakes are better than disc brakes” crusade, posting a video of him getting a bit of a slow wheel change at the Tour du Rwanda and effectively blaming that for his being reeled in by the chase as he forced a dwindling sub-minute solo gap with 40 km to go.

Trek-Segafredo’s Antonio Tiberi is convicted and fined for shooting and killing his neighbour’s cat with an air rifle in San Marino. Turns out the neighbour is the former head of state for San Marino. Tiberi films a cringe-worthy segment with Italian show le Iene that fails to convince anyone he’s that sorry. Trek-Segafredo suspend him for 20 days.

March: Back down Boonen

Escape Collective launches, a number of cycling journalists can quickly tidy away the unnerving question of what else they could possibly could be qualified to do …

UCI Vice President Katerina Nash is cleared of a doping violation in a wild case that involved a medication she was giving her terminally ill dog. A horse gets loose on course ahead of Demi Vollering’s breakaway at Strade Bianche. It fell on its side and no update was available on its condition, while Kristen Faulkner’s third-place finish is stripped after she used a banned glucose monitor during the race. At the GP Monseré, the race jury makes a mess of the call and hands the victory to Gerben Thijssen and not Caleb Ewan.

Colnago challenges Tom Boonen to test its bikes after the Belgian says Tadej Pogačar would be quicker on Jumbo-Visma or Ineos Grenadiers’ material, with Boonen subsequently backing down after a couple of days. Silicon Valley Bank is put into receivership by the US government, with concerns of how this would impact EF Education-Tibco-SVB. Primož Roglič wins Tirreno-Adriatico with hairy legs.

Primož Roglič on the winner's podium at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Hugo Hofstetter breaks not one but two handlebars in successive crashes 25 km apart at GP Denain. Word of financial trouble emerges from the Zaaf team. Scicon is shocked that Cavendish doesn’t want to abandon Oakley, and Patrick Lefevere has some lunch.

Marlen Reusser wins Gent-Wevelgem solo despite a late wrong turn, while both Eddy Merckx and Tom Boonen say Wout van Aert shouldn’t have gifted the men’s race victory to his teammate Christophe Laporte.

April: Amstel available on draft

Bahrain Victorious’ Filip Maciejuk has a day to forget at Flanders, causing a mass crash that leaves Ben Turner (Ineos Grenaders) with a broken left arm, Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) with a broken left collarbone, and Peter Sagan with a DNF in his final Flanders appearance. Meanwhile, DSM does their weird go-slow thing on the Kortekeer, Tadej Pogačar’s Ronde ride gets flagged on Strava and, at Paris-Roubaix, Mathieu van der Poel does some seamless Alpecin brand activation in the showers post-victory.

After being spotted training in Andorra, Nairo Quintana confirms he is still searching for a team in 2023. Audrey Cordon-Ragot quits Zaaf after never having been paid a dime and rides Paris-Roubaix days later for Human Powered Health. It’s announced Alejandro Valverde will head up Movistar’s gravel team, having already spent enough time with his family in racing retirement. The Amstel Gold Race boss is adamant he didn’t give Tadej Pogačar a draft: “I’ve raced myself and can’t imagine it.” Oh, ok then. Pogačar then downs his podium beer.

Wout van Aert chooses to unwind from a stressful Classics season with a bikepacking trip, as six more riders leave the increasingly embattled Zaaf team. Rui Costa shears off his entire chainring in the Tour de Romandie prologue after his mechanic mistakenly uses 1x bolts on a 2x setup. A number of teams suffer mass punctures in the TT recon, before the chaos continues on stage 2 as group two on the road gets steered off course by marshals.

Mathieu van der Poel in the Roubaix showers photoshopped behind washing machines.
Photo: Unsplashed/Gruber Images

Stage 6 of the Tour de Bretagne is neutralised after pretty much the entire pack crashes on a narrow, muddy road. Race director Christophe Fossani says it was “bad luck” and that he doesn’t regret the course. “There were 10 meters of mud – 10 meters! It was a nice, dry little road.” In France, two men are jailed for stealing a a €165,000 Richard Mille watch from Tadej Pogačar’s hotel at Paris-Nice.

Ellen van Dijk declares on a podcast that “nobody likes her,” the “her” being Cecile Uttrup Ludwig. GCN releases a Liège-Bastogne-Liège promo poster that makes it look like Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogačar were going to kiss before the cobbles, and the real Jonas Vingegaard finally gives his verdict on AI Jonas Vingegaard. Dogs win the day at Liège and Alexander Kristoff says he feels sorry for his bike because of how much power he puts through it.

Belgian media also finds the time at the end of the Classics season to use a photo of the professional DSM women’s team to display ‘cycle tourists’ in an article. Cat killer Antonio Tiberi and Trek-Segafredo decide to mutually part ways.

May: Send nudes in homage to the Twitter beef of the year

Colnago creates a C68 in real gold leaf to celebrate the Giro d’Italia, which is maybe the point in years to come we’ll look back and realise we’d gone too far.

We might be done with Covid but Covid isn’t done with us, as the virus plays havoc with Jumbo-Visma’s Giro roster before Jan Tratnik crashes out in training. Lance Armstrong announces he’s part of the lineup for the Fox reality series Stars on Mars, alongside former NFL player Marshawn Lynch, McLovin’ from Superbad, professional violent person Ronda Rousey, Real Housewives star Porsha Williams, and Alex from Modern Family!

Demi Vollering and SD Worx call into question whether Annemiek van Vleuten’s attack at La Vuelta Femenina just when Vollering was going for a nature break was actually pre-planned, as Van Vleuten insisted it was. At Tro Bro Léon, Lawrence Naesen accuses the driver of the Groupama-FDJ team car of getting his licence out of a packet of cereal after it drove into the back of him and ends his race.

At the Giro, Mads Pedersen finds a new way to deal with the press, while Astana-Qazaqstan are feeling pranky, doing qwazy stuff with an egg before Samuele Battistella decides to hand out lamb kebabs mid-stage. The temporary pink jersey Andreas Leknessund gets very confused about being presented with an empty box, Geraint Thomas says “goodbye little bastard” to Remco Evenepoel as he had a COVID-y Giro exit, with Jumbo-Visma doing their best impression of North Korea as they invite only one journalist to their rest-day press conference.

Thibaut Pinot, Jonathan Vaughters and Patrick Lefevere in a car park.
Laundrette at Carrefour City in Briançon, France.

After Israel Premier-Tech’s Sebastian Berwick tells his Giro breakaway friends he’s “not doing shit” to help, his sports director Sam Bewley gives him some words of encouragement as they speed towards the finish line: “7 Ks of being an arsehole, that’s not bad.” Jay Vine says out loud that a Grand Tour top-10 overall finish has “no interest to me because it has no monetary value at all,” which is a bit of an odd one. Elsewhere, Astana-Qazaqstan unveils their new secret weapon: the ability to bend space-time.

Jonathan Vaughters, Thibaut Pinot, and Lance Armstrong then have an all-time Twitter beef, while not to be outdone, Patrick Lefevere gets caught liking porn videos on the social media platform. Gross. Eddie Dunbar sums up a wet Giro by saying: “Anyone who says they want to race in bad weather is talking shite, basically.” As Soudal Quick-Step continue to be ravaged by COVID-19 positives at the Giro, Ilan Van Wilder and Pieter Serry are left to advertise Soudals and Quick-Steps all on their lonesome. Staying in Italy, Thibaut Pinot gets mildly upset with Ben Healy. Mathieu van der Poel goes full Fight Club and shaves all his hair off, to the sound of audible gasps from Alpecin head office. Someone writes “send nudes” in the snow at the Giro’s stage 19 finish. Primož Roglič’s time trial slip provides the Giro with a Hollywood-worthy ending. Mark Cavendish doesn’t enjoy his stage winner’s press conference, while Geraint Thomas manages to keep his composure during his despite having the most dreaded thing of all on his lap: a young child with an infinite number of questions.

June: New levels of suck

Bahrain-Victorious unveil a Tour de France jersey that celebrates the country’s “rich pearling history” rather than its continued penchant for sentencing citizens to death, while also drawing a line in the sand when it comes to cat welfare as they sign Antonio Tiberi. Trek-Segafredo announces they will soon be known as Lidl-Trek as the European supermarket giant comes on board as co-title sponsor. Geraint Thomas could only manage half a beer post-Giro as his stomach was so messed up from all of the gels he consumed in the race’s final week. Jumbo announces they will stop sponsoring both their cycling and skating teams at the end of 2024. Patrick Lefevere tells Ineos Grenadiers to stop flirting with Remco Evenepoel.

Pierre Rolland’s bike falls into a canal, David Gaudu decides that along with Arnaud Démare, he doesn’t really fancy having Thibaut Pinot in the Groupama-FDJ Tour de France squad either, and the Slovenian highway authorities use Primož Roglič to try and stop motorists speeding. Modern Family’s Alex (real name Ariel Winter) thinks Lance Armstrong was first man on the moon Neil Armstrong during their Fox reality show Stars on Mars. Alexandre Vinokourov tries to keep the bad thoughts at bay by dominating the Masters category at the Asian Cycling Championships.

The Tour de France documentary series hits Netflix, and Wout van Aert isn’t overly happy with how he is portrayed (but at least the world got to see his massive and lovely kitchen). The CIC Tour de Pyrénées race director Pascal Baudron outs himself as a raging, sexist a-hole, saying riders shouldn’t expect Tour de France-esque treatment, by which he meant they should be okay with sharing the road with civilian cars mid-race. Gino Mäder tragically passes away following a crash at the Tour de Suisse.

Julian Alaphilippe, Egan Bernal and Antonio Tiberi in front of washing machine graffiti.

There is a classic case of early celebration-itis at the Critérium de Saint-Symphorien-Sur-Coise, with two teammates getting diddled out of the victory. Alberto Contador gets more than he bargained for during what was supposed to simply be a nice payday in China, instead copping a black eye from a crash during a group ride.

Rochelle Gilmore tries to flog her €1.1 million “dream” home in Mallorca to fund an expedition to Mount Everest, which then leads us down a rabbit hole to her YouTube channel featuring videos of her vomiting in an apartment block stairwell. After Ineos Grenadiers announces Luke Rowe was about to be competing at the British Criterium Championships, Rowe replies to the tweet informing his team that actually he is in bed.

Miguel Ángel López exorcises some demons by winning eight out of nine stages at the Vuelta a Colombia, securing the overall victory with a time trial win on the final stage by a margin of 38 seconds to the next closest competitor and a gap of 6:17 to second place in the final GC. Richie Porte describes the Australian National Gravel Championships as “a new level of suck.”

July: A lack of beer diplomacy

The Tour de France dominates July, and our favourite moment from the first week of racing is Alberto Bettiol meeting French President Emmanuel Macron and asking him to give the Mona Lisa back to Italy. On the Col de Marie Blanque, Cofidis’ Alexis Renard acquaints himself with the mankini-clad roadside fans. At the Sibiu Tour in Romania, more horses find their way onto race courses.

Back at the Tour, Lawson Craddock celebrates Bastille Day by reminding the French they don’t have “a hero like Joey Chestnut,” the 16-time hotdog-eating champion, who once ate 76 dawgs in 10 minutes. Jumbo-Visma announces they will try to sue the selfie-taker who caused Sepp Kuss and Nathan van Hooydonck to crash on stage 15, while Benoît Cosnefroy and Aurelien Paret-Peintre go full party mode on the Joux Plane.

Benoît Cosnefroy, Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard in front of a mountain backdrop.

On the second rest day, Richard Plugge takes aim at “large beers,” ensuring he never gets invited to a party ever again, while Spin Cycle nabs its first and only exclusive of the year by spotting Michael Mørkøv chatting to Vinokourov and taking a not-so-wild stab in the dark that the Danish leadout man will probably be moving to Astana-Qazaqstan for 2024. Wout van Aert displays yet more perfect timing by abandoning the Tour the day before his second child, ‘Jerome,’ arrived into the world. In Paris, Marc Madiot pouts while holding a sign saying “une petite biere pour la Jumbo,” while Plugge gets a laugh out of telling Lefevere that Vingegaard will be going to the Vuelta to ruin Remco Evenepoel’s title defence.

Nine Tour de France Femmes riders finish outside the time limit on stage 5 but are allowed to continue the next day, it turns out they were halted by a train crossing with 2 km to go. Jasper Philipsen drives a green Porsche with a green bike on the boot around Belgium, probably funded by the Tour bonuses paid out to him by an unsmiling Christoph Roodhooft. Chloe Hosking uses an analogy about her mum leaving dirty dishes out to teach her child that she should load the dishwasher herself as a means to coax the TDFF peloton into letting SD Worx do the chasing. We delight in the St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93 squad’s TT biscuit rear wheels until we learn they were big bad racist biscuits. Demi Vollering says she hopes her TDFF victory would inspire kids to spend less time on their phones and more time outside, which is a bit weird, to be honest.

August: Front pages and doping bans

Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper celebrates Mathieu van der Poel’s rainbow jersey victory with the headline “thank poo very much” as the Dutchman used the toilet of a welcoming Falkirk couple while the Worlds road race was stopped due to an environmental protest. At the Tour de l’Ain, Michael Storer perfectly replicates his 2021 results sheet from the race, finishing 97th on stage 1, 2nd on stage 2, and winning stage 3, as well as winning the overall and points jerseys in both years too.

The former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman receives a four-year doping ban for possession of a banned substance and twice lying to UK Anti-Doping investigators. Jumbo-Visma’s 22-year-old German Michel Hessmann returns a positive test for a banned diuretic in an out-of-competition test in mid-June. Toon Aerts is finally found guilty of his January 2022 Anti-Doping Rule Violation (presence of letrozole metabolite collected in an out-of-competition sample).

Remco Evenepoel, Tom Boonen and Wout van Aert in a laundromat.

Mads Pedersen quaffs a gigantic Erdinger on the podium of the BEMER Cyclassics, while Norwegian 22-year-old Anton Stensby finds a great way to combine his various hustles into one at the Arctic Race of Norway, nipping ahead from the breakaway to nab some blue jersey points, knowing the motorbike camera would then pull up alongside and giving him the opportunity to tell people to subscribe to his YouTube channel.

EF Education-Tibco-SVB announces it will close next year, with the EF Education men’s outfit instead launching a new women’s team called EF Education-Cannondale and signing a number of former EF riders to the new EF squad. We barely kept up too. Tom Pidcock jumps off the back of a speed boat. Another early celebration occurs at the Tour de l’Avenir where Riley Pickrell squeezes ahead of a sat-upright Radosław Frątczak.

At the Vuelta a España, Remco Evenepoel is less than pleased with the conditions of the stage 1 team time trial, as police thwart a plot to pour 400 litres of oil over the race route.

September: Sepptember

Sepp Kuss takes the biggest public chug of his life at the Vuelta, his third Grand Tour of the year, while Ridley are not best pleased that Lotto Dstny are breaking up with them so that Orbea can stuff the team’s pockets with cash as it manages to cling onto the services of Arnaud De Lie. It comes to light DSM-Firmenich punished Marco Brenner for moving his saddle height by not letting him start the Vuelta as planned.

Remco Evenepoel repeatedly calls James Knox a “little wanker” in jest on the Vuelta TV broadcast. Geoffrey Soupe wins the internet with his dancing. At the Tour of Britain an optimistic interviewer asks Olav Kooij if he’s ever been to Wrexham before, to which the Dutch sprinter answers: “No”.

Chaos continued at the Vuelta as a too-low helicopter blows away the barriers before a Cofidis soigneur was manhandled from the finish line after running out to celebrate Jesús Herrada’s stage victory. Wout van Aert and Olav Kooij weren’t keen on sharing … anything at the Tour of Britain, leaving Harry Tanfield and Rory Townsend little else to do but get in the sea.

Sepp Kuss, Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič chugging bottles of champagne in a washing machine.

Rohan Dennis flies out to Canada for the GP de Québec just to ensure Jumbo-Visma don’t get fined for not bringing enough riders to the race. He DNSes what is the final race of his career. Fenix-Deceuninck’s Carina Schrempf celebrates early on stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie, allowing UAE Team ADQ’s Sofia Bertizzolo to snatch the victory. Jumbo-Visma tries to eat itself before common sense prevails and Roglič and Vingegaard stop attacking the red jersey of Sepp Kuss and the American wins the Vuelta and belts out the American national anthem on the final podium, healing the nation once and for all. Cian Uijtdebroeks isn’t happy with Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Aleksandr Vlasov leapfrogging him in the top 10 of the Vuelta GC.

After the distasteful public bashing of Caleb Ewan, Lotto Dstny’s season takes another turn for the worse when a sports director assaults a signalman at the GP Rik Van Looy who wouldn’t allow him to enter the course. Tim Declerq is the latest rider to be snapped up by Lidl-Trek, as seemingly half the peloton makes its way to the big spenders of the 2023 transfer season.

Patrick Lefevere accuses his departing rider Mauro Schmid of decamping to Las Vegas to live it large and foregoing his obligations as a professional cyclist, with Schmid soon hitting back by posting proof of his training rides on Strava and explaining a broken Garmin delayed him in transmitting the information. News leaks that Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step may be planning to merge.

October: Merger merger merger

During her fan day, Lotte Kopecky spots a stag do traipsing around town on a beer bike and hops on board to help them out. Pavel Sivakov’s dog is on hand to lick the sweat off his neck at the Giro dell’Emilia, where the riders who podium receive a vast quantity of mortadella ham as a prize. The Jumbo-Visma Soudal Quick-Step merger rumours continue to drag on, with Ineos Grenadiers continuing to hold out for Remco Evenepoel. Mark Cavendish announces he will race another year for Astana-Qazaqstan, undoing the retirement announcement he made back in May. The Jumbo-Visma takeover of Soudal Quick-Step is formally called off, much to the relief of the riders on both squads who would have been left in the lurch by most other teams already being full for 2024.

Sepp Kuss inside a washing machine drum.

Caleb Ewan announces he will be leaving Lotto Dstny to sign for Jayco-AlUla. Cian Uijtdebroeks publicly criticises his Bora-Hansgrohe time trial equipment after finishing a lacklustre 14th at the Chrono des Nations. Maxim Van Gils of Lotto Dstny is fined €50 and docked some UCI points for smacking the Greek rider Georgios Bouglas over the head in the finale of the Japan Cup. Having (probably) been made to wait around all week at the Tour of Guangxi after DNSing stage 1, Sam Welsford and Andreas Leknessund celebrate finally being free of DSM-Firmenich by bringing a big cool box of beers to the finish line.

Sepp Kuss rocks a red jersey and jeans combo for his Durango homecoming. Greg Van Avermaet settles into retirement by taking part in and winning his first-ever triathlon. Jasper Philipsen gets lifted up over the barriers at the Tour of Turkey by the security guard as if he is a tin of beans being stacked on a supermarket shelf. Riders entertain themselves with rickshaw races at the Saitama Criterium.

November: Arm-wrestling through the off-season

Jumbo-Visma’s Michel Hessmann has his B-sample returned confirming his positive test for masking agents, Ineos Grenadiers finally start renewing rider contracts after realising they can’t sell the house to fund Remco Evenepoel’s signature, and Valentin Madouas watches Champions League football with Thibaut Pinot before setting off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Marcel Kittel cycles around a Japanese school hall high-fiving students to promote cycling in the country.

Cyclocross season gets underway and people resume the annual tradition of getting black-out drunk in a field. Magnus Cort arm wrestles fellow pro Julie Leth on her wedding day. Luke Plapp gets an early release from his Ineos contract and signs for Jayco-AlUla, while Gianni Moscon signs for Soudal Quick-Step. Wout van Aert visits Colombia and watches on in bemusement as Rigoberto Urán gets a facial before the pair dance the night away. Primož Roglič celebrates being released from the austere shackles of Jumbo-Visma by wearing Minnie Mouse ears at Disneyland and then going on Slovenian television to do yet another telemark re-enactment. Rod Ellingworth decides he’s had enough and resigns as Ineos Grenadiers’ deputy team principal.

Marcel Kittel, Valentin Madouas and Michel Hessman inside a laundromat.

Lugworms are revealed and debunked within a matter of days as the latest frontier in doping. Remco Evenepoel divulges his pre-TT meal: a jam (specifically raspberry), honey, and banana sandwich; some slices of chicken fillet and half a litre of Fanta. Movistar sign Nairo Quintana. Jumbo-Visma confirm Lease A Bike will be their new co-title sponsor replacing Jumbo in 2024. Tadej Pogačar throws shapes in a nightclub.

Ag2r unveil Decathlon as their new co-title sponsor next season, and ditch the brown shorts, which was maybe a pre-requisite for acquiring the signatures of Sam Bennett and Victor Lafay.

December: You ciant do that

Egan Bernal accidentally leaks Ineos Grenadiers’ 2024 kit and the fact the team is switching supplier from Bioracer to Gobik. Arnaud Démare holds a sword in a forest to publicise the new Arkéa-B&B kit which looks very Arkéa and not very B&B-y.

Jumbo-Visma announce they’ve signed Cian Uijtdebroeks and 90 minutes later Bora-Hansgrohe announce they definitely have not. Uijtdebroeks turns up to Jumbo-Visma training camp in blank kit and Bora boss Ralph Denk demands €1 million in compensation from Jumbo-Visma.

Ralph Denk, Cian Uijtdebroeks and Richard Plugge outside a dry cleaners.

Miguel Ángel López is so incensed by anti-doping knocking on his hotel room door while on holiday at Disney World that he films an Instagram video decrying the treatment he’s receiving with the magical kingdom as his backdrop. Thibaut Pinot drinks two beers at once at yet another Champions League game. The melons over at Warner Bros. Discovery shut down GCN+ and the GCN app, bringing a golden era of live cycling broadcasting to an end. Tadej Pogačar announces he’ll be doing a Giro/Tour double in 2024.

And finally … a very big THANK YOU 🙏

It’s time to practice some gratitude and drop the snark for one millisecond. Doing this newsletter twice a week since April has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done at ‘work’ and the simple fact of the matter is I wouldn’t be allowed to do it unless people were reading it.

Thanks to everyone who’s been along for the ride, whether that means they’re signed up as a paying member of Escape Collective or sent in a photo of a laundromat and risked the bemusement of family and friends. Thanks to those who’ve made much better jokes in the comments section than I’ve managed to wedge into the copy and subsequently created my favourite micro-corner of the internet. And thanks to the handfuls of you who’ve recently bought a Spin Cycle t-shirt. Economic theory surely dictates them being worth something one day due to the scarcity of their number out in the big wide world … right?

Also thank you all for your patience. Like a teething toddler, you never know what version of us is going to show up in these pages on Monday or Friday. Whether we’ll have a bee in our bonnet about something or if we’ll go a bit too far with a joke. And who could forget the two-month streak at the start of our existence where the corrections corner accounted for an embarrassing amount of the total word count or when we accidentally lambasted paying members TWICE for not being paying members? That was fun. It’s a process and we’ll never be perfect. Thank you for keeping us honest.

Our only rules since the start has been to have the courage of our convictions to call things as we see it, make stupid jokes, and when people shout at us to always listen and take the feedback on board. This thing is yours as much as it is ours, which is something we don’t take for granted.

Basically, thanks for sticking with this dumb newsletter. And Merry Christmas.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics

“I was recently in Baden,” writes Nick Blake, attaching today’s phenomenal washing machine photo that we were saving for a special occasion, “and came across the attached installation for the Badenfahrt festival which is a sort of music and culture festival held once every 10 years and this year is the 100 year anniversary, hence a bar with apparently 100 washing machines. Absolutely no idea why it was washing machines though! Just a shame it didn’t coincide with the Zurich 2024 worlds which will be just down the road!”

In fact, it turns out that two Spin Cycle readers were in Baden (we are everywhere), and Marco Forrer also submitted a photo of the scene.

“I thought you might enjoy this,” he wrote, attaching the below photo. “This was shot at one of Switzerland’s biggest street festivals, the ‘Badenfahrt’. Basically, they built a huge bar, for 4 days, out of washing machines.”

Badenfahrt festival washing machines.

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: jonny.long@escapecollective.com

Until next time …

That’s all folks! 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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