Riding is Life


Spin Cycle: (Big) Sip Kuss

A cold shower for Ridley, and also probably for Kuss after that chug

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 01.09.2023 Photography by
Richard Birkett, Cor Vos, Eurosport, UAE Team Emirates
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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. You can sign up here.


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

The Vuelta has calmed down a touch, at least in terms of the Grand Tour equivalent of biblical plagues which beset the peloton in Spain over the opening days of the race. You always have to be alert, however, because as soon as you’re lured into a mid-stage siesta, pandemonium will erupt once again.

Fortunately, DSM-Firmenich have stepped into the breach with another instance surfacing of the weird control-y thing they’ve got going on. The level to which we are continually baffled by that team has left us too stunned to even dare to change our saddle height. Maybe a drink would help, speaking of which…

🍾 Big podium beer of the week (champagne edition) 🍾

Somewhere, Jumbo-Visma boss Richard Plugge was watching Sepp Kuss’ Vuelta stage victory podium ceremony take place with a clenched fist, muttering “poison” under his breath. Somewhere else, Marc Madiot was laughing. And yes, because Richard Plugge decided he was going to be the alcohol police, we will continue to report for the record every instance of a Jumbo-Visma rider drinking a beverage. Riding his third Grand Tour of the year, there is no doubt that Kuss deserved that mighty swig of fizz.

‘This is a cold shower for us’

The fallout from the news that Lotto Dstny will be moving on from Ridley bikes in favour of a more lucrative deal with Orbea at the end of the year has begun, with Ridley issuing a scathing statement.

“Ridley feels compelled to respond following ongoing press leaks from new management at Lotto Dstny,” the tirade began, presumably through gritted teeth, adding that a 12-year relationship was now “consigned to the wastepaper bin”.

The crux of the breakdown, as far as Ridley is concerned, is the need for the ProTeam to be able to afford Arnaud De Lie, who is increasingly looking like one of the few absolute star riders the team is able to pin its hopes on.

“In 2021, we were asked by the management at the time to break open the current agreement, something that we as a company went along with to please the team and the riders,” the statement continued. “Two years later, when we are fully investing in optimising the material for the team, we get a cold shower.

“At the end of May, several shots were fired in the press in which the CEO of the team claimed that Ridley’s bikes would not be ProTour-worthy. There would be doubts, especially about the new time trial bike, the new Dean … it is remarkable when you see how many races Arnaud De Lie wins on our new ‘Falcn’.”

Long story short, Lotto Dstny has now found that extra budget by breaking open its current agreement to sign with Orbea, “a new partner who is not even active in the WorldTour!”, in Ridley’s words.

“The management of Lotto Dstny forgets what investments we made again this year so that the riders could also compete at the highest level next year on more than competitive material! This disloyalty and reputational damage and the lost investments will have to be compensated.”


DSM Firm-ly out of their minds-enich

On the Placeholders podcast this week, we discussed the latest DSM-Firmenich debacle, whereby an injured Marco Brenner managed to fix the back pain he was suffering by adjusting his saddle height. Great, you would think, now this promising young rider can crack on and try fulfil his potential. But no, at DSM-Firmenich, you don’t get to decide your own saddle height. There are committees to decide saddle height and a manager who is in charge and has the final say on all rider’s saddle heights.

The punishment doled out to Brenner? He was no longer allowed to start the Vuelta a España he had been building up to. Fine, Brenner accepted, this is how my team runs. I know that. But when he was also then not allowed to line up for his home Deutschland Tour? That was a step too far, and now the 21-year-old think he’s probably better off leaving when his contract expires at the end of 2024.

This latest instalment of ‘what in the Firmenich is going on at DSM?’ made us remember this year’s Tour de France, where Alex Edmondson and Sam Welsford were both late for their stage 16 time trial starts because they were chatting and held up by vehicles at a particularly hectic stage start. Even though the duo laughed it off post-time trial effort, by the next morning when we had finally got to Welsford – under the watchful gaze of his press officer – any humour around the situation had been drummed out of him.

If Brenner was punished for simply adjusting his saddle height, what sort of retribution was to befall Edmondson and Welsford for their indiscretion?

Luckily, Welsford is on the move, to Bora-Hansgrohe next year, where the loving embrace of Ralph Denk’s moustache will keep him warm through the winter and let him know he can have his saddle height at whatever feels most comfortable.

All that’s left to say is hang on in there Alex Edmondson! Nah, we’re sure it’s not so bad, the likes of Romain Bardet seem happy enough, and Warren Barguil is on his way back next year. But it is bizarre! We are absolutely desperate to know more.

Feed Zone 🥖

🛒 After Carlos Verona’s expected move to Ineos Grenadiers fell through, and Movistar decided they didn’t want him back, none other than the unquenchable Lidl-Trek stepped up to make sure he has a home for next season.

👶 Despite being only 20 years old himself, Juan Ayuso has launched his own youth team to help riders from Valencia to make it into the professional ranks.

😞 Tijl De Decker’s funeral will take place this Saturday in Wommelgem, the town where he lived and grew up.

🤕 Bryan Coquard is out of the Vuelta a España following a crash, which also brought down Wilco Kelderman (Jumbo-Visma) and Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious), with Coquard’s Cofidis team fearing the Frenchman has suffered a broken shoulder blade.

🤢 GC hopeful Eddie Dunbar was forced to abandon the Vuelta on stage 5 following a crash in the neutral zone, with further bad news for Jayco-AlUla that same day when Filippo Zana was forced to stop with stomach issues.

↩️ After two seasons at Arkéa-Samsic, Hugo Hofstetter is returning to Israel – Premier Tech.

🌈 Mathieu van der Poel will debut his rainbow jersey at the Bretagne Classic Ouest-France this weekend.

🚗 Tony Gallopin (retiring at the end of the season) and Dirk Demol (Israel-Premier Tech DS) will join Lotto Dstny as sports directors next year.

🏥 Laurens De Plus has successfully undergone surgery for the fractured hip he suffered in the opening Vuelta stage.

👬 Brothers Davide and Mattia Bais have renewed with EOLO-Kometa.

🙏 Magnus Sheffield will return to racing at the Tour of Britain for the first time since his crash at the Tour de Suisse.

😮 Albert Whiten Philipsen, the junior world road race champion, has linked up with the same A&J All Sports Agency that manages Tadej Pogačar, and according to Gazzetta dello Sport, 11 (!) WorldTour teams are already enquiring about the 16-year-old’s services.

💼 Sep Vanmarcke will continue as a sports director with Israel – Premier Tech after being forced to retire immediately in July due to heart problems.

🔧 A report from Thomas De Gendt on the Vuelta’s stage 6: “My chain dropped on the second categorised climb of the day. A fan jumped on the road, put my chain on in five seconds and pushed me up to speed. All this while saying ‘I’m a machina’. Thank you anonymous fan for the great help.”

💨 18-year-old Zoe Bäckstedt has left EF Education-TIBCO-SVB with immediate effect to sign for Canyon-SRAM.

📈 After seven years with Bingoal WB, Ludovic Robeet will step up to the WorldTour with Cofidis next season.

Carlos Rodri-gets his bag 💰

Finally some good news for Ineos Grenadiers, as Carlos Rodriguez has apparently decided to stay with the British team despite supposedly having a pre-contract agreement signed with Movistar.

The 22-year-old has inked a four-year deal, according to GCN, that you’d imagine would be full to the brim with euros that have convinced the rider who finished fifth at this year’s Tour de France to stay put.

Movistar are said to be receiving some compensation and Rodriguez will be given leadership at next year’s Tour de France. Given the never-ending coverage (guilty) of the exodus at Ineos this August, this is a huge get for the British outfit, a new spearhead for the team at the race that defines them. Whether Rodriguez will be able to break the Pogačar/Vingegaard duopoly is another question, but it probably beats having Geraint Thomas chasing the pair around for three weeks calling them whippersnappers, at least from a results-based perspective.

Cycling on TV 📺

Note: Vuelta a España timings are for GCN+ coverage, not Peacock, but Peacock is where American viewers who don’t own a VPN can watch the race.

Saturday September 2

Vuelta a España, Stage 8
GCN+/Peacock (08:30-12:00 ET/13:30-17:00 BST/22:30-05:05 AEST)

Classic Lorient Agglomération Trophée Ceratizit (GP de Plouay)
GCN+ (06:40-11:00 ET/11:40-16:00 BST/20:40-01:00 AEST)

Mountain bike

UCI MTB World Cup Loudenville – Downhill Junior Men
GCN+ (06:30-07:20 ET/11:30-12:20 BST/20:30-21:20 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup Loudenville – Downhill Junior Women
GCN+ (07:10-08:15 ET/12:10-13:15 BST/21:10-22:15 AEST)

Sunday September 3

Vuelta a España, Stage 9
GCN+/Peacock (08:30-12:00 ET/13:30-17:00 BST/22:30-05:05 AEST)

Bretagne Classic Ouest-France
GCN+ (05:45-11:00 ET/10:45-16:00 BST/19:45-02:00 AEST)

Tour of Britain, Stage 1
GCN+ (08:15-11:15 ET/13:15-16:15 BST/22:15-01:15 AEST)

Maryland Cycling Classic
GCN+ (12:00-17:00 ET/17:00-22:00 BST/02:00-07:00 AEST)

Mountain bike

UCI MTB World Cup Loudenville – Downhill Elite Women Semi-Final
GCN+ (04:30-05:15 ET/09:30-10:15 BST/18:30-19:15 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup Loudenville – Downhill Elite Men Semi-Final
GCN+ (05:15-06:35 ET/10:15-11:35 BST/19:15-20:35 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup Loudenville – Downhill Elite Women Final
GCN+ (06:45-07:50 ET/11:45-12:50 BST/20:45-21:50 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup Loudenville – Downhill Elite Men Final
GCN+ (07:50-09:30 ET/12:50-14:30 BST/21:50-23:30 AEST)

Monday September 4

Tour of Britain, Stage 2
GCN+ (07:15-10:15 ET/12:15-15:15 BST/21:15-00:15 AEST)

🚨 Honesty-is-the-best-policy quote of the week 🚨


Too often, riders lie in their pre-stage interviews. Needing to assert calm, they will say the legs feel good regardless of whether their pins are primed and ready to go or about to fall off.

Step forward Primož Roglič, the former suspected fridge-freezer of a man who now treats the media rigamarole with adequate contempt while also providing enough entertainment to keep the lights on.

Asked before the start of the Vuelta’s stage 6 as to how he felt, the Slovenian provided a simple response: “Sleepy”.

Apparently there was a lot of music in his hotel the night before and he stayed up too late listening to it.

But what sort of music, Primož?

“Holiday music.”

We have no idea what holiday music is, but we need to hear it.

And finally …

There are many ways to polish up yet another ultimately dull press release announcing a race line-up. Maybe you’ll hang it on the fact a big star rider will be appearing, or inform people whether the team will be stage-hunting or mounting an assault on the general classification.

For UAE Team Emirates and its seven-man squad for this weekend’s Bretagne Classic? A “robust” line-up will be attending the French one-day race. ‘Strong and healthy, vigorous’ is the dictionary definition for robust, which does seem like the bare minimum for a WorldTour-level event, but we like the originality of the word, like they’ve thumbed through a few different adjectives to spice up the announcement and landed on ‘robust’, thinking, “yes! perfect!”

Up next? Hopefully an avuncular TotalEnergies squad head off for the Tour of Guangxi. And a solipsistic Astana-Qazaqstan octet lumbering over to Canada in a few weeks. We hope so, at least.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics 🧺

Thanks to Richard Birkett for sending in today’s laundrette photo from Assevillers, northern France. The Revolution Laundry brand should really start paying us, or giving us free machine credit at least…

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 …

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