Spin Cycle: Fighting talk

RehabiLAtation, anyone?

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 08.07.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos, Phelan Fretz
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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.


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

We are in Orléans, almost halfway through what has been a spectacular Tour de France already, and loving every minute of it.

While today is a day of rest, Spin Cycle stops for no-one. So here’s all the flotsam (not jetsam, to be clear) from the Tour and the wider cycling world you may have missed, as well as stuff we just very much liked. Dig in.

Fighting talk 👊

The Tour de France gravel stage popped off in a big way, both in terms of the racing action and the fact we had riders and teams expressing forthright opinions post-stage for once. The fighting talk is back, people!

Firstly, there were the fairly lukewarm views of Red Bull-Bora Hansgrohe DS Rolf Aldag and Jonas Vingegaard, who would prefer to never see gravel in a Grand Tour ever again.

Race leader Tadej Pogačar and second-place Remco Evenepoel hit out a number of times, at one point even pulling Jonas Vingegaard away into a podium trio that the Dane refused to pull with, nullifying the move and forcing them back into the reduced peloton.

Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar on the Troyes gravel stage.

“I like racing with my heart, it was a day to do it,” Pogačar explained of his restlessness during the stage and will to attack. “Yes, I think Vingegaard is afraid of me, otherwise he would have taken over. They only think about my wheel, not those of others.”

“I think Tadej and I were not happy with it because maybe the whole Tour could have been decided today,” Remco Evenepoel said after the podium ceremony, following another day spent in the white jersey of best young rider.

“We have to accept race tactics and race situations, but sometimes you also need the balls to race, and unfortunately maybe Jonas didn’t have them today,” Evenepoel said post-stage. Pow! “But it’s no problem – the race is still very long, and I totally accept the reasons why he didn’t pull, why he didn’t race.”

Vingegaard, in his rest day press conference, agreed: “It was not a lack of balls, but just smart racing.”

Now that we have established everyone’s balls are intact, more of this fighting talk please! It’s fun, doesn’t seem to do much harm, and makes the racing even more exciting.

Locked up 🔐

Here’s a weird one, via Het Laatste Nieuws, about a Belgian former pro rider who raced the likes of E3 and Omloop Het Volk, and is now the main suspect in one of his country’s largest-ever fraud cases.

45-year-old Stijn V. has been arrested in Spain under suspicion of a fraud worth €24 million.

Stijn once sprinted against Tom Boonen at an U23 national championships, was awarded a professional contract for his troubles, but then had his career cut short by a crash a few years later.

The former rider has more recently been living on Spain’s Costa Blanca, and is apparently the mastermind behind a crypto fraud, whereby YouTube videos promised huge returns on investment but the coins bought didn’t turn out to be real. Money was allegedly siphoned off through a network of accounts in Norway, Singapore and Hong Kong, before the money was then transferred back to Stijn, which he then used to buy real estate in Spain.

Stijn was arrested on the basis of a European Arrest Warrant, having had 58 official complaints made against him, and then handed himself in to Belgian authorities where he will face trial and potentially up to 10 years in prison.

“My client denies everything,” his lawyer Joris van Cauter said. “It really is nothing, he is not in prison. During his interrogation, he stated that he completely denies all the facts they suspect him of. And these are facts that date back 10 years or more, so the fact that he has only now been asked for the first time says enough.”


Whether you’re in favour or not, the gradual rehabilitation of Lance Armstrong continues apace, as this year his podcast is officially affiliated with NBC, the official US broadcast partner of the Tour de France.

Nestled within their Peacock app, Armstrong and ever-faithful lapdog George Hincapie spin their yarn alongside special guests, including having their buddy Mark Cavendish ‘call-in’ to their post-stage analysis show. Cavendish seems very content to see out his career surrounding himself with the likes of Armstrong and Alexandre Vinokourov, which is … fun …

More peculiar, Matteo Jorgenson has willingly appeared on the programme, showing off his quite gnarly road rash. Maybe the Armstrong issue is just not as big of a deal for the younger American generation? Maybe after all these years it’s now a question of personal taste. We’ll try not to judge but, honestly, will judge a little bit.

On a more positive note, Bradley Wiggins (formally declared bankrupt last month) has been flown in to Armstrong HQ to join the show, which is actually a nice touch from Armstrong. Look, we did it, we said something nice about Armstrong.

Anyway, it’s an interesting thread to follow. Lance on a race moto before the year 2030? Stranger things have happened.

Feed Zone 🥖

✍️ Stevie Williams has extended his contract with Israel-Premier Tech until at least 2028.

😔 It has been reported by Norwegian outlet VG that André Drege’s tyre blew in the crash that killed him.

👋 Astana-Qazaqstan’s Michael Mørkøv (39) has announced he will retire at the end of the season.

💸 Primož Roglič (Red Bull-Bora Hansgrohe) has found himself distanced a few times during the Tour so far but still sits 4th on GC, 1-36 behind Pogačar. “They are riding very strongly, but I will definitely get more chances,” he told FloBikes.

🇬🇧 “It was tough,” Tom Pidcock told ITV after the Tour de France gravel stage. “This morning I was under 57kg. So when you’re averaging 280 watts for four and a half hours, that’s a lot.”

😡 Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez) was taken to hospital after being hit by a car on a roundabout during a training ride. Bici Sport report she hasn’t suffered any fractures but has severe pain in her neck.

🕊️ Legendary French cyclist Raphaël Géminiani has passed away at the age of 99.

🇪🇸 Ion Izagirre has extended his contract with Cofidis until the end of 2025, as has Jonathan Castroviejo with Ineos Grenadiers.

🪨 After saying he often felt like he had “concrete legs” in the first week of the Tour, Wout van Aert said during his rest day press conference that he will look at stage win opportunities in the upcoming second week.

🇮🇹 Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) won the Giro d’Italia’s opening time trial before compatriot Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) beat Lotte Kopecky (SD-Worx Protime) in the stage 2 sprint.

🤕 Aleksandr Vlasov suffered a fractured ankle in his stage 9 Tour de France crash, eventually finishing 25th in the yellow jersey group. He will DNS Tuesday’s stage 10.

🇫🇷 Julian Alaphilippe, Christophe Laporte and Kévin Vauquelin have been selected to represent France at their home Olympic road race.

Cycling on TV 📺

Tuesday July 9th

Tour de France – Stage 10
(07:05-11:25 ET/12:05-16:25 BST/21:05-01:25 AEST) ITV/Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, NBC/Peacock🇺🇸, FloBikes🇨🇦, SBS🇦🇺

Giro d’Italia Women – Stage 3
(06:50-07:50 ET/11:50-12:50 BST/20:50-21:50 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, Max🇺🇸, FloBikes🇨🇦, Staylive🇦🇺

Wednesday July 10th

Tour de France – Stage 11
(05:05-11:30 ET/10:05-16:30 BST/19:05-01:30 AEST) ITV/Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, NBC/Peacock🇺🇸, FloBikes🇨🇦, SBS🇦🇺

Giro d’Italia Women – Stage 4
(06:50-07:50 ET/11:50-12:50 BST/20:50-21:50 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, Max🇺🇸, FloBikes🇨🇦, Staylive🇦🇺

Thursday July 11th

Tour de France – Stage 12
(06:35-11:15 ET/11:35-16:15 BST/20:35-23:15 AEST) ITV/Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, NBC/Peacock🇺🇸, FloBikes🇨🇦, SBS🇦🇺

Giro d’Italia Women – Stage 5
(06:50-07:50 ET/11:50-12:50 BST/20:50-21:50 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, Max🇺🇸, FloBikes🇨🇦, Staylive🇦🇺

Friday July 12th

Tour de France – Stage 13
(07:30-11:20 ET/12:30-16:20 BST/21:30-01:20 AEST) ITV/Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, NBC/Peacock🇺🇸, FloBikes🇨🇦, SBS🇦🇺

Giro d’Italia Women – Stage 6
(06:50-07:50 ET/11:50-12:50 BST/20:50-21:50 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, Max🇺🇸, FloBikes🇨🇦, Staylive🇦🇺

📰 Unbiased patriotic headline of the week 📰

One of the great things about the Tour de France is how it brings together a larger audience than those who regularly watch cycling all-year round.

It also means we get basically insane takes from non-specialist press that see the Tour through only a patriotic lens. Even if João Almeida tried his hardest, I don’t think he could come close to jeopardizing Pogačar’s Tour.

And with the modern state of media, it’s fantastic that the rage-bait has also been designed for the Google algorithm, so you can find out more about Almeida and hate his guts at the same time!

And finally …

A great spot by Cycling Weekly, who noticed Marc Madiot and Groupama-FDJ were auctioning off joining them for a meal at their hotel this Tour de France.

Unfortunately, despite an expert estimate of €1-2k, the auction only attracted five bids and went for a total of €450, which is probably less money than is probably worth the hassle for the team. Congratulations to whoever won this bargain, we wish we’d found out about it sooner and bid €451 … oh well, there goes that dream. Safe to say Iain was beside himself with remorse when I told him.

Correction corner 😖

Yeah, so on Friday we said there was a stage on today (Monday). Obviously, Monday is a rest day. Look, we’re trying our best. Blame the French coffee.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics

“Some laundry pics from Jasper National Park as Laura and I struggled with doing laundry on the road,” writes Phelan Fretz. Yes, that Fretz, while also attaching today’s featured laundromat. “Don’t know if these fit your need.”

If the bosses’ dad can’t get fast-tracked to the front of the laundromat photo queue, then really what was all that raising him right for anyway?

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 Phelan Fretz 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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