Spin Cycle: Crying over spiked milk

Panic on the streets on Flamanville.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 04.12.2023 Photography by
Ira, Cor Vos, Egan Bernal, Eurosport, @visconti_es
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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.

Today’s theme is PANIC. Panic over posting the wrong thing on social media. Panic that a big French sprinter has somehow come into custody of an even bigger sword. Panic about a rider presumably being dangerous on the road. Panic concerning supposedly radioactive dairy products. Bizarrely, the least panic-inducing thing today is livestock making its way onto a race course.

Egan Bernal gets leaky

In this week’s instalment of “is anyone actually steering the HMS Ineos Grenadiers,” Egan Bernal seems to have accidentally leaked the British squad’s jersey for 2024. And not just that, but he’s seemingly revealed the team is switching manufacturer from Bioracer to Gobik. Yikes.

The Instagram story was swiftly deleted but not before YouTuber Benji Naesen managed to get a screenshot of it.

Egan Bernal's now deleted screenshot showing the potentially new Ineos Grenadiers jersey for 2024.

Multiple media have since reached out to ask Ineos Grenadiers whether this manufacturer change is true, but have unsurprisingly received no response.

Bioracer, however, understandably much more forthcoming in this situation, have confirmed to GCN that they will no longer be Ineos Grenadiers’ official kit supplier. There is a very slim chance Ineos’ PR person will be thankful Bernal has saved them a lot of work readying the announcement of the kit switch, but more likely the Colombian is not the team’s favourite rider this week.

In more kit news, Arkea- B&B Hotels have revealed their new kit for 2024 and it’s clear this will remain a very Arkéa-Samsic-y vibe. The Men in Glaz are dead. Long live the Men in Glaz.

And before you ask about the swords, we haven’t got around to it yet. Maybe Escape Collective’s resident historian Dane Cash (the first of his name) will be able to enlighten us all soon.

? Moral panic of the week

The internet is often a place lacking nuance and general overreaction (yes, we suffer from this too from time to time). Often this comes from a lack of context in things people are getting outraged about.

This week, people are mad about this at-first admittedly concerning video of UAE Team Emirates’ Felix Groß (not to be confused with Felix Großschartner, they’re two different people) hanging onto the back of a truck while out training.

Yes, this is not the sort of thing you want to encourage when you are a professional athlete and have a bunch of people who practice the same sport looking up to you.

“Deplorable and unacceptable,” is how the video was described by UAE Team Emirates’ boss Joxean Matxin, an easier condemnation given the fact that Groß will no longer ride for his team in 2024 and the 25-year-old will instead step down to the Continental ranks with Rad-Net Oßwald.

But to give Groß the benefit of the doubt here (and it feels like he could do with catching a break at the minute) the truck seems to be going much slower than it ordinarily would, and so presumably it knows that Groß, who may have suffered a mechanical miles from home, is hanging onto the back. You would hope that any pro is not stupid enough to do this just messing around on the road and without the driver’s knowledge.

? Crying over spiked milk

Ding, ding, ding, we’ve got a new favourite positive test excuse! Cyclocross riders Toon Aerts and Shari Bossuyt both tested positive for the breast cancer drug Letrozole after racing in the Normandy region of France. Aert’s positive was after the 2022 Flamanville Cyclocross World Cup, while Bossuyt’s followed more than a year later at the Tour de Normandie Féminin in March earlier this year.

Aerts was given a two-year ban, and continues to maintain his innocence, while a definite verdict has not yet risen from Bossuyt’s case.

Last week, ISEA Sport Management, which represents both riders, issued a warning to the athletes on its roster who were racing at the weekend’s 2023 Flamanville World Cup not to consume any dairy products from the region because farmers there could be using Letrozole to sync up cows’ estrus to help with fertilisation. Off the farm and in sporting competition, Letrozole is on WADA’s banned list as it can be used to reverse the feminising effects of anabolic steroids.

Toon Aerts at the 2022 Flamanville Cyclocross World Cup, where he finished second
Toon Aerts at the 2022 Flamanville Cyclocross World Cup, where he finished second.

Unsurprisingly, the Flamanville race organisers have pushed back against the accusations on behalf of their region’s farmers.

“They already brought that idea up in the past and as president of the race organisation, it’s not up to me to take a position on it, but the [anti-doping] analysis showed up certain things,” race organiser Stéphane Leclère told Ouest-France.

“I’m no specialist on the matter, but as a Norman myself, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of this product and to the best of my knowledge no rider from this region has ever tested positive or been accused of doping because of Normandy’s dairy products. God knows we consume enough of them!”

But ISEA are holding strong, saying in their statement: “We still base this on our hypothesis that Toon and Shari tested positive after consuming dairy products in Flamanville. Their files show too many similarities to neglect this.”

Anyway, at the end of this edition you’ll see that cyclocross riders should be worried about a different type of livestock in Flamanville …

Feed Zone ?

? Tour de France course designer Thierry Gouvenou has defended the decision to not include cobbles in the Tour de France 2025 northern Grand Départ. “Due to the choice we made for the start and finish places, the cobblestones should have been in the first stage, they are all located in the south of the region, Gouvenou told L’Équipe. “But we are not crazy enough to send the riders over the cobblestones on the first day. So we put that idea out of our minds. The cobblestones will return, but not in 2025.”

?? Wout van Aert has decided to aim for stage victories rather than any general classification placing at next year’s Giro d’Italia. “It’s not worth the sacrifices,” he told podcast De Rode Lantaarn of the complexity of combining a Giro GC tilt and the Spring Classics.

? Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado was unable to start at either of the weekend’s big cyclocross races in Boom and Flamanville due to illness.

? Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale have a goal for 2024: get more UCI points to avoid a relegation scrap in 2025. “Every week [in 2023] we were told we had to do better,” Oliver Naesen told Sporza of the French team’s focus on maintaining their WorldTour status.

? Jumbo-Visma boss Richard Plugge is back on a banning spree, this time it’s … punctures! “We look at what went wrong there,” Plugge says of this year’s Paris-Roubaix in conversation with HLN. “Wout van Aert suffered a puncture at the Carrefour de l’Arbre. We do not see a puncture as bad luck. We just have to make sure it can’t happen. If Wout doesn’t have a puncture, he will probably win Paris-Roubaix. Getting a puncture is not bad luck.”

?‍?️ In the same interview, Plugge also confirmed his team are interested in Bora-Hansgrohe’s unsettled Cian Uijtdebroeks, who enters his final contract year with the German team in 2024.

? Fem van Empel was victorious at the Superprestige Boom, while in the men’s race Joris Nieuwenhuis beat Cameron Mason.

? At the UCI Cyclocross World Cup round in Flamanville on Sunday, the winners were Lucinda Brand and Eli Iserbyt. Check out our gallery coverage of the weekend’s CX races.

?️ Ellen van Dijk has told AD that as long as her family life does not suffer as a result of her return to the sport after giving birth to her son Faas, she would like to continue after the 2024 Olympics, which are her main goal next year.

? The recently retired Movistar man Imanol Erviti could become a sports director at Ineos Grenadiers, at least according to Diario de Noticias.

?? Israel-Premier Tech have extended the contracts of homegrown riders Guy Sagiv and Itamar Einhorn for a year, meaning the WorldTour team’s squad is now complete for 2024.

?? Uno-X’s Anouska Koster has had her contract with a year still left to run broken open and extended until the end of 2026.

⛵ A cool read here in Cycling Weekly about how track star Ashton Lambie is taking on the role of ‘cyclor’ in sailing’s historic America’s Cup.

Cycling on TV ?

Tuesday December 5th – Friday December 8th

No live racing

? These bikes we are paid to ride are actually really great quote of the week

One of the biggest changes in equipment supply for the 2024 season is Decathlon-Ag2r LA Mondiale welcoming … Decathlon as their sole supplier, with the brand’s Van Rysel bikes replacing the BMCs they’ve ridden for the past three years.

Understandably, the riders were wary of riding machines you can buy alongside bright red rain jackets … or tents.

“When I heard that we were going to ride Van Rysel bicycles, I was a bit scared,” senior rider Oliver Naesen told Wielerflits. “I was also a bit put off by that bike,” new arrival Dries De Bondt added, before continuing, “but that ‘fear’ has now completely disappeared.”

Naesen agrees, saying, “a few guys from the team were given the opportunity to test the bike. Then they really surprised me, I was actually blown away.”

You’d presume the first parts of these quotes would never have been allowed to see the light of day had their opinions not performed a complete 180 following the riders actually getting their hands on the bikes they will ride for thousands upon thousands of kilometres next year. Even new signing Sander De Pestel, making his WorldTour debut in 2024, was allowed to half-stick the boot in to the people who now pay his salary.

“They don’t have that image, but they really work very scientifically at Decathlon,” the 25-year-old said. “I really look at Decathlon in a completely different way now.”

A slightly bizarre marketing ploy in ‘look, we get everyone thinks we kind of suck, but truth is we don’t!’ but we love it. Decathlon is a proper sponsor. Decathlon Ag2r La Mondiale forever.

And finally …

You didn’t think we were going to forget our not-very-weekly-at-all Cyclocross Moment of the Week segment did you? Especially not when there are GEESE on the course.

? Corrections corner

Once again, our readers have unsurprisingly proven themselves to be far more intelligent and better read than us.

“Re grenadier,” commented Raphaël on Friday’s newsletter. “In French, the ‘grenadier’ is the tree that produces ‘grenades’, indeed. But ‘une grenade’ is also a hand grenade.

And the “grenadier” as in the pub, the stupid SUV and the cycling team most probably means the elite soldier from Napoleon’s guard. Their name comes from that of the soldiers who threw grenades in sieges (even if at Napoleon’s time they didn’t specifically use grenades), rather than from the exotic fruit tree.”

Meanwhile, Hans also alerted us to a story from a couple of months ago when a tourist at a Lisbon restaurant accidentally was mistaken to be making a bomb threat while trying to order some ‘grenade’ juice by writing his order down on a piece of paper.

And finally, Will also sent in this Guardian long read all about bikes being thrown in canals, so that’s our week’s reading sorted.

? Send us yer laundry pics

Today’s laundromat featured image comes courtesy of Ira via Discord, the noted non-fan of Gainesville from a few editions back, who also submitted this more modern-looking number that apparently has TVs inside. How revolutionary.

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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