Spin Cycle: GCN’s wildest desires may yet save us from the AI apocalypse

Be still, my beating heart!

Laundromat in Blackwood, South Australia.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 21.04.2023 Photography by
Kristof Ramon, Gruber Images, Cor Vos, Trek-Segafredo, GCN, Wout van Aert, Another Dave. AKA, someone out there's dream blunt rotation.
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The Spin Cycle is the 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! The Escape Collective’s news digest.

Now that the AI-pocalypse has reached cycling, historically a conservative world apprehensive to change, you know that it’s definitely game over for the rest of the world and we will all soon be serving at the behest of our robot overlords.

Firstly, we have Jonas Vingegaard meeting the Americanised digital child version of himself, designed to crush all of his real human dreams with generic animatronic ones conceived for the purposes of ?marketing?.

Then, Trek-Segafredo followed that up by using some sort of artificial intelligence image generator to show all of their riders what they will look like in the decades to come as they prepare to slip gracefully off this mortal coil – what better motivation for the men and women about to take on Liège-Bastogne-Liège, right!

But arriving in the nick of time, like all semi-competent superheroes, GCN released a good ol’ fashioned photoshop job, designed by an actual human, creating what looks very much like a tender moment between Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogačar. It is fantastic, and proof that humanity may not be doomed just yet, as even the robots surely don’t have the creative range to dream up such a scenario.


Fade in. Exterior. Unnamed city. Actually, it’s Liège. Gray. Industrial. Daytime. The hustle and bustle is a symphony of progress. We pan past windows, each of which contains a different story, to find Remco Evenepoel, 23, hot, but doesn’t know it. Remco stops when his cleat gets caught in the grating of a sewer. Suddenly a man steps into the frame and points a microphone in his direction. This is not his day. Fade to black.

Title — ‘Three weeks earlier.’

Tadej: Maybe I don’t need a new friend.
Remco: Maybe you’re the only friend I need.
Tadej: Need or want?
Remco: I’ve never been much for wanting.
Tadej: Spoken like someone with needs.

Remco reaches out and touches Tadej’s face. It’s clear. He needs what he wants. The city burns in the background as he takes him in his arms. Fade out.

Title — ‘The End?’

I like to think that everyone in the GCN building this week was so preoccupied with watching every single second from kilometre zero of everyone’s favourite classic La Flèche Wallonne that it was impossible to feel any romantic stirrings whatsoever, leading to the oversight in the graphic design department that meant they all missed everything that was being left unsaid in the promotional poster for Liège-Bastogne-Liège before it was sent to print.

Two star-crossed lovers, separated by their individual ambitions to win Grand Tours. It could never exist. It doesn’t exist, in fact. Except in the mind of GCN’s graphics team.

According to our correspondent Kate Wagner, there is a trove of cycling fan fiction somewhere out there online, but she is yet to share its precise location, which is probably for the best. The replies to our colleague Sadhbh O’Shea’s tweet about this topic are also worth a browse. Cycling has never been so steamy !

Vingegaard, the man, meets Vingegaard, the computer-generated spawn of digital Satan

Elsewhere, in the journey towards the heat death of everything real, including love, Jonas Vingegaard has given his reaction to the AI nightmare fuel child of his digital past (the original video in question delivered from the content mound at just the right speed and height for Iain Treloar to hit a journalistic homer).

“I saw it. It’s something funny they [the team] have done. I think it’s very funny and that it’s very telling that you have to keep dreaming and not give up,” the real Vingegaard (we think) told Danish paper Ekstra Bladet.

“No, it’s the team that made it. It’s a video they made,” the Tour champion said when asked whether he had any part in its creation, putting as much distance as possible between himself and that idea.

“Ha ha, I would also like to admit that the first time I saw it, I thought ‘what is this?’. I didn’t quite understand it.

“It could also be that it might not be me,” Vingegaard pondered. “It must look like, but that it’s like just a general young cyclist who has a dream to ride the Tour de France and maybe even win. Or first of all to become a professional cyclist and then perhaps to achieve some results.”

In conclusion, Vingegaard is as confused as the rest of us.

Feed Zone ?

? Like a (previously) doped-up Lazarus, Jarlinson Pantano returns to professional racing after serving his four-year EPO ban with Colombian squad EPM-Scott.

? World TT champion Tobias Foss will leave Jumbo-Visma at the end of the season, Wielerflits confirms, with Ineos Grenadiers, UAE Team Emirates, Israel Start-Up Nation and Bahrain-Victorious all in the running for his signature.

⛸️ Femke Beuling, who only stopped her professional skating career last year, has signed with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB.

??‍⚖️ New CPA President Adam Hansen has been sharing the results of rider surveys on his Twitter, with 100% of the 171 respondents agreeing with the introduction of a yellow and red card system for riders that cause crashes.

? The first episode of the upcoming Netflix Tour de France series has aired at the CannesSeries festival, and revolves entirely around the Soudal Quick-Step squad.

?‍⚕️ Juan Ayuso will make his season debut at the Tour de Romandie after recovering from injury.

? Like a true gamer, David Gaudu says pollen allergies have so far scuppered his chances in the Ardennes Classics.

Wout and about

This is one of our favourite genres of story: professional bike rider confirmed as real person.

There’s nothing like a bike ride to clear your head…but in Van Aert’s case, it’s bike riding to forget about bike racing, following a strong but ultimately frustrating Classics campaign.

The Belgian took some pals for a 300 km jaunt over two days down to the Champagne region of France, enjoying some beers and delectable-looking little cubes of cheese. Some well-earned recreational time before he begins preparing for the Tour de France in the summer, with the Tour de Suisse set as his warm-up race for the French Grand Tour.

Although, maybe he was just trying to put as many kilometres as possible between himself and the Vingegaard AI…

? Rider enjoys a question at a press conference klaxon ?

“I like that question, it’s a bit better than how do you beat Pogačar.”

Congratulations to PA Media’s Ian Parker who (at 8.30am his local time) managed to wipe the sleep out of his eyes and ask Tom Pidcock in his pre-Liège press conference a question he actually liked!

The question in question: “There’s a slight sense of inevitability around Pogačar at the moment but how do you look at him – is there an aura around him or is he just another rider in the field?”

Pidcock’s response: “I like that question, it’s a bit better than how do you beat Pogačar. He’s the best rider in the world right now, let’s not beat around the bush. Each time we line up we try and figure out how we can beat him. Every time we race against him I think he makes me better, he is the standard that we need to beat.”

Cycling on TV (all times CET) ?


No televised racing ?


• Women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège (10.15am-12.00pm)

• Men’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège (12.00pm-4.30pm)


• No televised racing ? (these are the first two instances in nearly a month of doing this newsletter that there has been nothing to watch, so fair play to GCN for bringing us so much live cycling).

And finally …

Elderly Giulio Ciccone kinda has George Clooney vibes?! Giulio Ciccloney!

Corrections corner ?️?

One of the lines from Tadej Pogačar’s quotes about not wanting to pronounce the climbs of the Amstel Gold Race was duplicated. An error probably as painful as trying to follow the Slovenian uphill.

Primes (for helpful members) ?

The laundromat in the title image of this edition was provided by Escape Collective member ‘Another Dave’. He sent it in with the caption: “This photo was taken about 10 years ago at a Laundromat in Blackwood SA. You can’t tell from the photo but there was always a stack of out-of-date MTB mags on the table in the back.”

Thanks Dave, a nice anecdote and gives us some extra breathing room from exhausting the well of royalty-free laundry stock images. If you’d like to send a photo in of your washing machine or laundromat (in landscape orientation), please do!

Until next time …

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