Spin Cycle: Everything’s Gucci, until it isn’t

A weekend away at the Ineos Clubhouse, anyone?

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 22.07.2023 Photography by
Gruber Images, Cor Vos & 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. You can sign up here.


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

Apologies this edition is a day late. We may have spent all day suffering in front of the broomwagon and missed the time cut, but the commissaires were forgiving for once and let us back in the race.

The Tour de France is basically over, all that’s left is a couple of first category climbs and then a procession into Paris. It’s been a great three weeks and there’s a melancholy associated with its ending as we are reminded there another 11 months until we get to do it all over again. Of course, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift follows the men’s race, so that takes one week off the long, arduous wait for French Grand Tour racing.

Before our own processional final Spin Cycle edition from France, here’s your usual smattering of news hits and things we’ve spotted while out on the road.

A pint of poison please barkeep

Richard Plugge drinking a glass of poison x

Jumbo-Visma boss Richard Plugge is doing a great job of winning a second Tour de France with grace and decorum, by using an interview with L’Équipe to disparage another team, saying he spotted them drinking “large beers” on the second rest day at their hotel.

“We saw riders drinking large beers. Alcohol is poison, and especially when you are already tired, you will be even more so,” Plugge told the French newspaper, as part of his explanation as to why his squad are successful. “Us, nobody drank alcohol, because it breaks you. And even those who are not riders should not drink it.”

It soon came to light that the team in question was Groupama-FDJ, and to the surprise of absolutely no-one, their boss, Marc Madiot, didn’t take Plugge’s remarks lying down.

“It makes no sense. We had a drink, yes, like every rest day, but only the staff. It’s a tradition every rest day. But the runners were drinking Perrier,” Madiot responded.

“It’s pathetic, pitiful! It’s small…let him mind his own business, that’s none of his business,” he continued. “He thinks we don’t practice or what? That they are the only ones to be careful, to work? Me, in any case, I’m not going to look at what he has in his bowl to see what his riders are taking.”

We will hold on to a thimble of hope that this debacle will make it into next year’s Netflix series.

? Spotted at the Tour ?

A bumper, maybe final edition of the segment for this year’s men’s race unless we see anything truly remarkable at Le Markstein or on the Champs-Élysées.

Project 2024: Get Cavendish a lead-out

After his untimely abandon of the Tour de France before he was able to win a record 35th stage, Mark Cavendish is apparently close to agreeing a one-year contract extension with Astana-Qazaqstan.

That’s according to Tuttobiciweb, who also reckon Jordi Meeus and Max Kanter could be heading to the team to bolster the sprint lead-out.

It must just be a coincidence, then, that lead-out man extraordinaire Michael Mørkøv and Alexandre Vinokourov could be spotted having a good old chinwag in Moûtiers before the start of stage 18.

The secret economy of the Tour

Every day before the start of the stage we walk up and down the team buses to see what we can spot.

Rarely do we see the Tour promotional caravan pass directly by the buses, but it did before the start of the time trial in Passy.

What we then saw unfold was team staff chucking bidons to the caravan staff in exchange for their most exclusive promotional items. One such exchange was between a team high in the general classification who passed a bottle over and in return received a super-large sausage from a certain French pork brand.

Crucially, these exchanges happened silently, like they had been pre-planned, which got us thinking. Do these trade deals take place every day on the Tour? But we just don’t see them? Are caravan employees and team staff scurrying about every day with their own barter and trade economy? We just wish we had something to offer so we could get involved…

Unruly fans

We’ve been hearing that the fans on the mountains at this year’s Tour have been a lot more unruly than in previous years.

The Tour’s race director, Thierry Gouvenou, has blamed the ‘Netflix effect’ of the Unchained documentary series, but this seems too convenient an explanation. We think it might be some sort of post-Covid hangover where people have forgotten how to act in public.

Some of the videos that have emerged are quite shocking, and we’ve heard first-hand accounts from people who drive the course most days that they’ve feared their windows would cave in from people banging on the sides.

In the Alps we also saw a less rowdy but probably more annoying level of crowd trouble as a stream of cars emerged at the end of the day’s stage with a bunch of graffiti on them.

The Alps are disappearing but everything’s Gucci

Courchevel (which hosted the finish of stage 17) is quite posh. They have Rolex, Dior and Louis Vuitton stores and a lot of the signposts are in Russian.

More to the point, as the Alps sweat and melt, don’t worry! As you can still ascend the slopes in a Gucci-sponsored télécabine.

As we were carried in our very own Gucci pod, what did we spot in and amongst the over-developed mountainside?

Peer in close and yes, that’s an Ineos logo, letting you know that the glass-fronted building you’re looking at is indeed the ‘Ineos Clubhouse’.

Ineos, as a brand, isn’t one that necessarily benefits from being public facing, they don’t have giant swathes of direct customers they need to wriggle inside the minds and buying habits of. Instead, this is the latest in a long line of Jim Ratcliffe’s weird raging against the dying of the light by putting his petrochemical logo on anything that moves.

Au revoir Maxoo

Maxoo is the Tour’s official mascot, has been since 2021. He’s some sort of firefighter/superhero/bike rider thing who dances around the start village generally being a bit of a nuisance, interacting with grown-ass adults who are just trying to get a Senseo down their gullet so they can survive another day at the Tour.

Photo credit: @ruby_roubaix

However, after three editions of terror, word on the street is that focus groups have not been so kind to dear Maxoo, and he could be on his way out, decommissioned as a frightening blip in the Tour’s ceaseless marketing churn. Soon, he’ll just be a suit in a box. Good riddance.

Feed Zone ?

? Boy van Poppel (35) and Rein Taaramäe (36) have both signed one-year extensions with Intermarché-Circus-Wanty.

✒️ Gianluca Brambilla (35) has also agreed to another year at Doug Ryder’s Q36.5, while Lotto-DSTNY have extended with Cedric Beullens, Brent Van Moer and Jarrad Drizners.

? Pascal Ackermann is rumoured to be leaving UAE Team Emirates for Israel – Premier Tech, according to the fellas over at Wielerflits.

? Lucinda Brand (34) has signed an extension with Lidl-Trek and Baloise – Trek Lions (cyclocross) until 2025.

Cycling on TV ?


Tour de France, stage 20
GCN+ (08:00-12:30 ET/13:00-17:30 BST/22:00-02:30 AEST)
Coverage also available for American viewers on Peacock premium

Tour de Wallonie, stage 1
GCN+ (11:30-13:30 ET/16:30-18:30 BST/01:30-03:30 AEST)


Tour de France, stage 21
GCN+ (11:00-15:30 ET/16:00-20:30 BST/01:00-05:30 AEST)
Coverage also available for American viewers on Peacock premium

Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, stage 1
GCN+ (07:00-11:00 ET/12:00-16:00 BST/21:00-01:00 AEST)
Coverage also available for American viewers on Peacock premium

Tour de Wallonie, stage 2
GCN+ (10:30-12:30 ET/15:30-17:30 BST/00:30-02:30 AEST)


Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, stage 2
GCN+ (10:00-13:00 ET/15:00-18:00 BST/00:00-03:00 AEST)
Coverage also available for American viewers on Peacock premium

Tour de Wallonie, stage 3
GCN+ (11:25-13:35 ET/16:25-18:35 BST/01:25-03:35 AEST)

? Inadvertent official Tour de France reference of the week ?

If L’Équipe want to dredge up an old Lance Armstrong headline and basically unfairly give it to Jonas Vingegaard, who has never been proven to have done anything wrong, then that’s fine.

But for the Tour’s official Twitter account, presumably unknowingly, to also cast aspersions, is a bit much. Obviously, they can’t have realised the insinuation, but really, come on.

And finally…

World, meet Jerome van Aert, and his father Wout’s immaculate Rolex watch.

To be fair, the baby having arrived the day Van Aert quit the Tour, the baby is very timely.

Corrections corner ?

Today’s correction comes courtesy of Charles Wannemacher.

“Hello. I’d like to offer a correction to the guest section of this newsletter,” he writes. “As important as it is to be aware of the issues our climate faces, it is blatantly incorrect to state that nitrogen is a potent greenhouse gas. While nitrous oxides have an extremely high global warming potential, Nitrogen gas, the propellant used in the aerosol product, makes up 78% of our atmosphere and does not contribute to global warming.”

Thanks for the correction, this is why we write dumb newsletters instead of doing more important things.

? Send us yer laundry pics ?

We can’t let you lot have all the fun, so today’s laundry photo is homegrown, snapped by us outside a Carrefour at the edge of Bourg-en-Bresse at 8am. While waiting for the washing, we were joined by a Carrefour employee on her early morning break, chugging down an energy drink and choking down cigarettes, in what is maybe the worst breakfast we’ve ever borne witness to.

As always, we are accepting your own 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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