Spin Cycle: Big Jim takes a stand

The UCI is 'walking the walk', says the UCI.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 12.04.2024 Photography by
Julian Allen, Cor Vos
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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.


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

It’s Amstel Gold Race this weekend and you know what that means? Teeny tiny podium beers. Don’t worry, if you miss Sunday’s action we’ll almost certainly have the footage in here come Monday.

But first, everyone has been up on their soap boxes this week: Ineos Grenadiers boss Big Jim Ratcliffe imploring the UCI to do something about incidents that didn’t really involve them, the UCI saying they are doing a lot to combat motor doping, and then Arkéa-B&B Hotels being forced into a grovelling apology after one of their riders criticised bike supplier Bianchi. Just a regular week in cycling, then.

Big Jim takes a stand

Pollution billionaire Jim Ratcliffe woke up on Friday morning, saw the snow had melted outside of his Bond-villain lair in the Alpine ski resort of Courchevel, looked at the weekend’s Premier League fixtures and saw his Manchester United face getting smacked by minnows Bournemouth in the Saturday tea time kickoff, and decided maybe cycling isn’t so bad at all.

In a bit of a nothingburger open letter to the UCI regarding the recent crashes in cycling, Ratcliffe says he wants the sport to follow F1’s lead in dramatically improving its safety. Considering how many top riders were affected by the Basque Country crash, if anything is seriously going to change this may indeed be the moment.

Fair enough adding your name to the calls for increased safety, can’t hurt right? But the two examples he gives of Chris Froome crashing while blowing his nose prior to a Critérium du Dauphiné time trial, and Egan Bernal riding into the back of a bus during a training ride, what exactly is the UCI supposed to do about that? These billionaires, man …

From Homeland Security to waving a big iPad over a bunch of bikes 🕵️

But this week the UCI’s attention was elsewhere, as they dropped a very splashy press release announcing its new ‘Head of the Fight Against Technological Fraud’ is an actual former criminal investigator.

Nicholas Raudenski, the new 'Head of the Fight Against Technological Fraud'.

Meet Nicholas Raudenski, an American living in Switzerland. Here’s the résumé that got him the job as chief waver-of-iPads-over-bikes:

“As a leading International Federation dedicated to upholding integrity in all aspects of its operations, the UCI is ‘walking the walk’ [quote marks and italicisation accurate to the original statement] by intensifying its focus on this crucial issue,” Raudenski said, presumably with a very straight face.

“I’m looking forward to leveraging my expertise and experience to support one of the UCI’s main missions: to guarantee the integrity of cycling.”

Homeland Security, FIFA, and UEFA, those famous bastions of integrity. Welcome Nicholas! You’ll fit right in here.

On a serious note, it’s obviously good that the UCI check for motors in bikes, no matter how farfetched it seems. More transparency from its fight against doping (which is also an issue to lay at the door of doping authorities) would also go a long way to taking the governing body’s self-congratulations seriously. But also UCI President David Lappartient will face an election in 2025, and also probably has half an eye on other, maybe more Olympic-shaped goals. So maybe (probably) there’s some politics at play here.

Feed Zone 🥖

🇳🇱 Laurens ten Dam has been appointed as the first-ever gravel coach of the Dutch national cycling federation.

❤️‍🩹 Jayco-AlUla’s Amund Grøndahl Jansen needs further surgery on a narrowed femoral artery, TV 2 Sport reports.

🙏 The Russian former Katusha rider Alexey Tsatevich has died at the age of 34. The cause of death is currently unknown.

🦵 Kaden Groves skipped Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl so as not to aggravate the knee problems he’s been having with a view to the Alpecin-Deceuninck sprinter’s Giro d’Italia participation in May.

💨 Tim Merlier will be permitted to start the Giro d’Italia for Soudal-Quick Step, his first Grand Tour since the 2022 Vuelta a España.

🌈 Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) will contest the Amstel Gold Race, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Giro d’Italia and participate in the Olympic Games. It’s currently unknown whether she’ll be at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

🔀 Wilco Kelderman has not recovered in time for the Giro d’Italia, having broken his collarbone at Paris-Nice, with Koen Bouwman his replacement for Visma-Lease a Bike.

🇧🇪 Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) won Brabantse Pijl by 41 seconds over Demi Vollering, while Decathlon-Ag2r la Mondiale’s Benoît Cosnefroy sprinted to victory in the men’s race ahead of Dylan Teuns and Tim Wellens.

👶 Is Jan Christen the next UAE Team Emirates wunderkind to roll off the factory floor? The 19-year-old attacked late to steal the Giro d’Abruzzo stage 2 victory.

🇰🇿 Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan) fended off the UAE Team Emirates pair of Adam Yates and Diego Ulissi to take the third stage of the Giro d’Abruzzo and move into the race lead. Lutsenko would go on to win the race overall by half a minute over Pavel Sivakov and George Bennett.

🐝 Wout van Aert will miss the upcoming Giro d’Italia, Visma-Lease a Bike has confirmed, with Christophe Laporte drafted in as his replacement.

🌮 A year on from his crash and concussion at the Tour of Flanders, Taco van der Hoorn is still fighting to make his comeback to racing, and hopes to line up at some point later this season. “Every now and then I doubt whether it will all work out,” he told Sporza.

🐂 Arnaud De Lie will have quite the confidence boost on his return to racing at the Famenne-Ardenne Classic later this month, it’s the race he won last year with only one leg after he unclipped in the sprint finish.

🇫🇷 Julian Alaphilippe has raced this spring with a fractured fibula head sustained at Strade Bianche, the Frenchman told Le Parisien, and says he didn’t tell anyone about it because he didn’t want to seem like he was making excuses for his disappointing performances.

😶 Soudal Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere has apologised for the sexist comments he made about women following the suspended fine handed to him by the UCI Ethics Commission.

🇦🇪 Tim Wellens will renew with UAE Team Emirates until at least the end of 2025, the team told Het Nieuwsblad.

🇸🇮 Primož Roglič will not race La Flèche Wallonne or Liège-Bastogne-Liège as he continues to recover from his Basque Country crash.

Weird cycling tabloid story of the week 🤔

Bit of an odd one this, so take it with a pinch of salt, but what does it say about Jonas Vingegaard’s current condition that his parents have told Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet that they haven’t had the chance to speak to either Vingegaard, his wife or his Visma-Lease a Bike team?

“It’s really hell for us,” Vingegaard’s father, Claus, told the paper. “A week after his fall, my wife and I still haven’t heard from Jonas. We just didn’t get the chance yet. Not with Jonas, but also not with his wife and Visma-Lease a Bike. I don’t know how that is possible, but it has to be that way, right?

“We really only know what we read in the media. It’s not that we don’t want to visit him in Spain, but at the moment I don’t think we should. We are currently only receiving minor updates.”

Earlier this week Vingegaard was still in the intensive care unit at the Basque Country hospital where he underwent surgery on a broken collarbone and treatment for a collapsed lung, and it’s unclear whether he’s yet been moved to a normal hospital ward. All very worrying, to be honest.

Cycling on TV 📺

Saturday April 13th

Tour de Jura
(06:05-09:20 ET/11:05-14:20 BST/20:05-23:20 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Sunday April 14th

Amstel Gold Race – Women
(07:00-08:35 ET/12:00-13:35 BST/21:00-22:35 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺SBS

Amstel Gold Race – Men
(08:35-11:15 ET/13:35-16:15 BST/22:35-01:15 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺SBS

Tour de Doubs
(09:00-11:00 ET/14:00-16:00 BST/23:00-01:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Monday April 15th

Tour of the Alps – Stage 1
(07:40-09:30 ET/12:40-14:30 BST/21:40-23:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸🇨🇦FloBikes

The transfer window isn’t open but here’s the latest transfer news of the week 💸

In the latest death by a thousand cuts to the completely unserious UCI transfer window beginning on August 1, Jasper Philipsen is now apparently closer to renewing with his current team Alpecin-Deceuninck despite interest from Bora-Hansgrohe and UAE Team Emirates.

This is according to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, who also say Philipsen’s management told them his future will be decided before the end of the month, around 100 days before August 1!

Look, we’re not blaming Philipsen, go get your big bag of cash. And, of course, renewals can happen at any time of the year. But with other teams circling, it makes the whole thing a bit of a farce. Why don’t we just do away with a transfer window that is obviously not real.

And finally …

Bike riders basically have two jobs. 1) Win races/help your teammates win races. 2) Don’t talk shit on the sponsors that pay your wages.

For Florian Sénéchal, who criticised the Bianchi bikes his Arkéa-B&B Hotels squad use after having to change bikes four times during Paris-Roubaix, he and the team have now been forced to apologise after Bianchi said specific instructions for the assembly of handlebars had been ignored, which Arkéa-B&B Hotels later accepted.

“The Arkéa-B&B Hotels team, its General Manager Emmanuel Hubert, and all the riders of the three structures would like to reaffirm their total confidence in Bianchi bikes,” the grovelling apology read.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics

Thanks to the moustachioed marvel Julian Allen for today’s featured laundry photo, taken at the Q36.5 team bus at Scheldeprijs during our recent Spring Classics members’ summit!

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 Julian Allen 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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