Riding is Life


Spin Cycle: Get in the sea

Question: how many days will it be until the next nonsense?

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 08.09.2023 Photography by
Danny Roberts-Clarke, Cor Vos, Peacock, La Vuelta, Attila Valter, Dan Deakins
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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.

Well, after pouring a ton of water into the pan, the Vuelta has finally come to the boil.

The good news is that since our last newsletter the Spanish Grand Tour has for the most part managed to let the racing do the talking and bring the nonsense to a minimum, and by a minimum we mean still more than nearly other bike race this year. For the 2024 Vuelta, it’s surely time to bring in Jim and Dwight as race organisers.

Meanwhile, over at the Tour of Britain, Wout van Aert and his apprentice Olav Kooij have been looking at their teammates over in Spain and trying to one-up that dominance with some of their own. It’s left their rivals with little else to do but jump in the sea.

Jesus, not again

The Vuelta has calmed down a touch, with the mayhem politely and finally giving way to the main event of the GC battle.

However, the chaos did momentarily hog the limelight once again as Jesús Herrada sneakily sprinted his way to victory on stage 11 and the TV helicopter flew too low and blew the barriers into the roadside fans and off the road. It was also probably the last thing riders further back behind the Herrada group needed as they completed the final metres of an arduous uphill day in the break.

Now, if we switch to the other angle, we see more nonsense occurring beyond the finish line, as a Cofidis soigneur cheers Herrada home as he closes in on the finish line only to be bundled away rather heavy-handedly by a police officer.

🚨 Geraint Thomas saying it how it is quote of the week 🚨

“It’s stupid.”

“I want to ask you what you think about riding three Grand Tours in one year,” FloBikes’ roving reporter Gregor Brown posed to Geraint Thomas about Vuelta race leader Sepp Kuss.

“It’s stupid,” came the always honest, but obviously playful reply from the Brit before adding that it’s also a very impressive display from the American. But also, it is stupid, isn’t it? Three Grand Tours in a year, Jeremy? THREE? That’s insane.

The Olav Kooij Tour of Britain powered by Wout van Aert

For those who like their bike racing a bit flatter the Tour of Britain has been taking place this week, where nearly every day has been Groundhog Day. It goes like this: usually Jumbo-Visma hit the front of the bunch in the final 10 km, and Wout van Aert leads Olav Kooij out for a comfortable victory. At least until stage 6, when finally another squad took stage honours, with former Jumbo-Visma rider Danny van Poppel (Bora-Hansgrohe) squeezing past Ethan Vernon (GB) to become one of the most obscure pub quiz questions of who was the only non Jumbo-Visma rider to win a stage of the 2023 Tour of Britain.

What’s been even better is that with no bonus seconds awarded in the race, all of the riders were expected to be on the same time until the final stage 8 where at least a few dozen riders would all have the chance of snatching overall victory at the last.

But it turns out that the insatiable Jumbo-Visma had a plan for that too, with Wout van Aert launching, in the words of the swearily loquacious sports director Grischa Niermann, “like a f***ing motorbike” in the finale of stage 5 and stealing a march on the bunch sprint and opening up a three-second gap, which could now prove insurmountable.

Some have been quick to complain about the route, but given that it’s increasingly difficult and costly to persuade local councils to host a stage in their area, as well as the fact, pointed out by journalist Peter Cossins, that the required police for the British stage race costs £600,000 compared to the €0 it costs for the Vuelta’s police (it’s taxpayer-funded), it remains remarkable that the Tour of Britain can even go ahead.

Back to the racing, and after basically an entire working week of the Dutch team not allowing breakaways any breathing room, TDT-Unibet’s British rider Harry Tanfield had finally had enough by the time the peloton arrived in Felixstowe, on the east coast, and promptly got in the sea. Soon to be joined by Irishman Rory Townsend.

A fun way to relax at the end of a hard day’s racing, you would think. Unfortunately, continued sewage dumping by water companies has led to countless beaches around the country being given warnings for raw sewage, supposedly putting off almost a quarter of the UK’s regular sea swimmers after sewage was dumped into the lovely sea for almost 8,500 hours last year.

“How many DNSes are we expecting tomorrow?” commented one person on Twitter after seeing the footage.

Of course, Jumbo-Visma are well within their rights to vacuum up as many wins as they can take, but for those thinking it’s a bit shitty for them to dominate in such fashion against a peloton filled with much smaller-profile squads, don’t worry because there’s always something shittier waiting just around the corner on Big Sad Island!

Feed Zone 🥖

🦷 “Happy new teeth day,” Thymen Arsenman posted on Instagram as he continues to recover from his Vuelta crash, part of which is getting himself some new gnashers. “Thanks to the dentist for the quick fix.”

🇮🇪 Sam Bennett is on his way to Ag2r-Citroën, according to GCN.

🩻 Astana-Qazaqstan’s Javier Romo is out of the Vuelta after crashing on stage 9 and fracturing a vertebra. Ouch.

🇸🇮 Tadej Pogačar has announced his final three races of the 2023 season: Giro dell’Emilia (9/30), Tre Valli Varesine (10/3), and Il Lombardia (10/7).

🇳🇱 Looking back on her career with NOS, in an interview published the week of her final-ever road race, Annemiek van Vleuten believes that as the rider she is, she would only have been able to win the Tour in the era she raced in: “In 10 years’ time I will no longer be able to win the Tour de France, because there will be so many specialists.”

🇪🇸 Miguel Indurain has spoken on how he sees the Vuelta GC fight panning out: “Roglic-Evenepoel, I think that will be the duel for the overall victory.” Guess we won’t be asking him for the lottery numbers any time soon then…

🪨 Canadian former pro for Rally Cycling, Rob Britton, has won the 750 km-long Badlands Ultra Gravel Race in Sierra Nevada, Spain, in a record time of 38 hours and 20 minutes.

🇫🇷 Benjamin Thomas has extended with Cofidis for two more years.

🇨🇦 Amongst the star riders who’ll be present for the Canadian WorldTour one-dayers this weekend: Michael Woods, Jai Hindley, Matej Mohorič, Biniam Girmay, Adam and Simon Yates, Brandon McNulty, Julian Alaphilippe, Neilson Powless, Matteo Jorgenson, Christophe Laporte and Tiesj Benoot.

😞 A very moving interview with the mother of Gino Mäder in the German newspaper Südkurier, which has been helpfully translated and summarised into English here.

👀 “Sepp is increasingly getting the feeling that it is possible,” says Kuss’ Vuelta teammate Robert Gesink.

🇦🇺 18-year-old Australian Hamish Mackenzie, who recently finished third in the Worlds U23 TT, has joined Hagens Berman Axeon.

⌚ Ineos Grenadiers DS Matteo Tosatto will leave the British team after seven years to join Tudor Pro Cycling, GCN reports.

🔁 Davide Ballerini will leave Soudal Quick-Step to return to Astana-Qazaqstan for next season, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

🗣️ If you’re in the market for a very good Sean Kelly impression, this Trinity Racing mechanic has just what you need.

🐮 As Bas Tietema’s TDT-Unibet team prepare to step up to ProTeam level next year, they are swiftly acquiring new riders to fill their larger squad. One is a Dutch rider called Jelle Johannink, who as well as being a cyclist is a farmer on his family’s farm, getting up early in the morning to take care of the cows, working in the stables, mowing lawns and driving tractors. He apparently makes vlogs about these farming exploits but we have searched high and low and can’t dig them out sadly.

✒️ Rory Townsend has signed a two-year deal with Q36.5.

🏆 Arnaud De Lie has his first WorldTour-level victory after sprinting to the win at the GP de Québec.

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 9th

Vuelta a España, Stage 14
GCN+/Peacock (06:30-12:00 ET/11:30-17:00 BST/20:30-02:00 AEST)

Simac Ladies Tour, Stage 4
GCN+/Peacock/FloBikes (08:30-10:15 ET/13:30-15:15 BST/22:30-00:15 AEST)

Tour of Britain, Stage 7
GCN+ (07:10-10:15 ET/12:10-15:15 BST/21:10-00:15 AEST)

Mountain bike

UCI MTB World Cup, Les Portes du Soleil – Downhill Elite Women’s Semi-Final
GCN+ (04:30-05:15 ET/09:30-10:15 BST/18:30-19:15 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup, Les Portes du Soleil – Downhill Elite Men’s Semi-Final
GCN+ (05:15-06:45 ET/10:15-11:45 BST/19:15-20:45 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup, Les Portes du Soleil – Downhill Elite Women’s Final
GCN+ (06:45-07:45 ET/11:45-12:45 BST/20:45-21:45 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup, Les Portes du Soleil – Downhill Elite Men’s Final
GCN+ (07:45-10:00 ET/12:45-15:00 BST/21:45-00:00 AEST)

Sunday September 10th

Vuelta a España, Stage 15
GCN+/Peacock (08:30-12:00 ET/13:30-17:00 BST/22:30-02:00 AEST)

Simac Ladies Tour, Stage 5
GCN+/Peacock/FloBikes (08:25-10:10 ET/13:25-15:10 BST/22:25-00:10 AEST)

Tour of Britain, Stage 8
GCN+ (07:25-10:30 ET/12:25-15:30 BST/21:25-00:30 AEST)

GP Montreal
GCN+ (10:00-17:00 ET/15:00-22:00 BST/00:00-07:00 AEST)

GP De Fourmies
GCN+ (09:15-11:15 ET/14:15-16:15 BST/23:15-01:15 AEST)

Mountain bike

UCI MTB World Cup, Les Portes du Soleil – XCO U23 Women
GCN+ (02:30-03:30 ET/07:30-08:30 BST/16:30-17:30 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup, Les Portes du Soleil – XCO U23 Men
GCN+ (04:30-05:30 ET/09:30-10:30 BST/18:30-19:30 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup, Les Portes du Soleil – XCO Elite Women
GCN+ (06:30-08:30 ET/11:30-13:30 BST/20:30-22:30 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup, Les Portes du Soleil – XCO Elite Men
GCN+ (09:00-11:15 ET/14:00-16:15 BST/23:00-01:15 AEST)

Monday September 11th

No televised live racing 🙁

🚨 Tactical mastermind of the week 🚨

“I’m not going to say that, because there is a man from Jumbo-Visma listening behind your back all the time.”

This week (before it all kicked off) we arrived at the part of any Grand Tour where the anticipation for the GC fight almost becomes too much and the media is forced to just outright ask the protagonists what they’re going to do and when. Of course, no one seriously seeking victory will give away their hand, but Remco Evenepoel added some cloak and dagger showmanship instead of trotting out the usually “we’ll have to see” non-answer.

“I’m not going to say that because there is a man from Jumbo-Visma listening behind your back all the time,” Evenepoel laughed when Sporza asked what he was planning for the Tourmalet stage. The Belgian was speaking both literally and figuratively, as he conducts his interviews in the same area where Sepp Kuss and his Jumbo-Visma minders are also doing media and waiting for the leader’s jersey podium presentation post-stage. Unfortunately, as it turned out, it didn’t really matter who was listening as Evenepoel was dropped long before the final climb on stage 13.

As for Primož Roglič on the other hand, who lies hungrily in wait alongside Jonas Vingegaard behind his teammate Kuss’ red jersey, the Slovenian was borderline ambushed at the finish line by a GCN interviewer post-stage 12, with the journalist absolutely desperate to glean some insight from a man completely not interested in giving an inch.

Tell us about the bonus seconds you just got?

“It’s nice, no? To gain a bit.”

Was the plan already to be up their in the intermediate sprint?

“Not really, but I was there and I went for it.”

How important are these seconds in the Vuelta?

“We’ll see at the end.” [Roglič says, smiling]

Maybe it’s needed because the differences on the Tourmalet will be much more? The interviewer continues breathlessly.

“Yeah, I mean definitely, we will see, uh. Tomorrow is a new day, new challenge.”

You don’t think it costs too much energy?

At this point, Roglič had finally had enough.

“We’ll see; I don’t care really, huh? Thank you,” he finished with a smile before riding off, another day and interview done. We love it.

And finally …

Attila Valter may have finished 32nd in the Vuelta time trial, but he had the number one joke of the day.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics 🧺

“Thought I’d fire these over,” writes Danny Roberts-Clarke, attaching today’s laundromat photo. “I wasn’t aware laundromats could be fun, but here we are. Spotted this in Newcastle, NSW, Australia.”

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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