Riding is Life


Spin Cycle: Go, Wolfpack!

Merging into another week.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 02.10.2023 Photography by
Brian Turany, Cor Vos, SD Worx/@cycloben2, Dan Deakins, Jo Planckaert, Soudal Quick-Step, @medicinexthings
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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.

The cycling news has been awful heavy as of late, so today we’re going to offer you some welcome distraction in the form of beers, dogs, and pork products. Not necessarily in that order, mind.

Maybe we should all take some inspiration from Michał Kwiatkowski and go on a nice gravel ride in vintage kit before rewarding ourselves by long-arming a couple of frothies. The alternative is to get licked to death by Pavel Sivakov’s dog. Each to their own, we’re not judging.

Monday beers

Just what you want after a weekend on a Monday, beer content!

First off, we had world champion Lotte Kopecky spot a beer bike during her fan day in Gent and dash over to get involved. You can sense the sinking feeling of restraint kick in as she sits down and realises she probably shouldn’t go beer-for-beer with her new teammates, and is given what looks like a Coca-Cola. Of course, this is only a small snippet of the footage so we’re going to pretend she downed two beers and then back-flipped off the moving bike to get on with the rest of her day.

Then, we had Michał Kwiatkowski, presumably keeping his head down amidst talk of Remco Evenepoel’s arrival at his Ineos Grenadiers and all of the other craziness. The Polish rider was in full Molteni garb for L’Eroica 2023, and promptly ‘got the beers in’ afterwards. (All we’ll say is thank goodness Kwiato isn’t on Quick-Step as Plugge would have him straight out of the door).

That photo on the right is iconic, but what would it look like if he was actually on Molteni in the Merckx years and got a round in for the Cannibal? Wonder no more!

Here ya go, Eddy!

Pavel’s S(al)iva-dog

Surely the last thing you want after finishing a race is your dog (no matter how adorable) licking the back of your neck clean like it’s a plate and its cleanliness is their solemn doggy duty.

Sure, the salty sweat must have been delightful for ‘Cookie’, with Filippo Ganna helpfully providing the hound’s name in the replies to the tweet, but getting licked to death isn’t the sort of post-Big Exercise recovery we would choose…

This scene took place at Saturday’s Giro dell’Emilia, where Sivakov’s 78th place was likely one of his last results for the Ineos Grenadiers before he arrives at UAE Team Emirates next season. At least Cookie will have a friend there in Adam Yates’ Zoe. They may even know each other from Yates’ Ineos days, which would be nice. See, isn’t this type of news much more fun than existential team-collapsing dread?!

Merging into another week

Right, predictably the weekend provided some developments in the Jumbo-Visma Soudal Quick-Step merger story, so here’s what you need to know.

Patrick Lefevere’s latest Het Nieuwsblad column revealed meetings between the two teams began at July’s Tour de France, ostensibly under the guise of joining forces to increase the power of teams within cycling’s economy. The squads met again on the penultimate day of the Tour in Vienna, this time involving Richard Plugge directly and discussing a potential merger, before flying back to Paris. The proposed new team would see Lefevere sell his shares, and Zdenek Bakala (majority owner of Soudal Quick-Step), Plugge, and Robert van der Wallen (member of the Supervisory Board of Jumbo-Visma) dividing the shares amongst themselves.

Lefevere says he doesn’t know how many of his riders and staff will be absorbed into the new project, but that with Bakala flying into Europe today (Monday) there should be “much more clarity by Monday.” Maybe you’ll know by the time you’re reading this.

Meanwhile, former rider Jo Planckaert, who is a VIP driver for Soudal Quick-Step, posted a photo to Instagram of him ripping the sponsor decals from his vehicle saying: “We don’t need these stickers anymore,” soon deleting the photo, adding in a follow up that he didn’t know anything about the status of the deal.

What about Remco Evenepoel? L’Equipe reports the Belgian will opt for Ineos Grenadiers, quoting someone close to the rider saying “everyone in the business knows that Remco will never race for Richard Plugge,” so maybe Geraint Thomas’ trolling had a hint of truth to it after all. There is apparently an Ineos Grenadiers contract ready and waiting for Evenepoel as soon as he is able to sign it.

Who will the headline sponsors be for the combined team? No guarantees, but Soudal has told Wielerflits it still wants to be a cycling team title sponsor, while we reported over the weekend that the Amazon deal is potentially just based on exposure and not for cash.

Soudal Quick-Step rider Florian Sénéchal has signed a two-year contract for Arkéa-B&B Hotels, although with the Frenchman having an expiring contract, this probably doesn’t relate to the merger. Sénéchal’s compatriot Julian Alaphilippe, meanwhile, spoke of his sadness of the merger, where many of his teammates could see themselves without contracts in 2024.

“It’s a bit complicated for everyone. We try to concentrate on the race and hope that the situation will be resolved, that we will get good news. Because it’s a bit annoying,” Alaphilippe told Cycling Pro Net before the start of Monday’s Coppa Bernocchi.

“It is especially sad, because it is a team that has been at the heart of cycling for years,” the former world champion continued about the Wolfpack’s potential demise. “It is a team with a great history. It’s sad, but hey … It’s not that time yet. We are not going to cry and we are waiting for good news. We are all hoping.”

It also looks like whoever runs Soudal Quick-Step’s Twitter was having a bit of fun with the prospect of unemployment looming over them, titling a photo containing both Soudal Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma riders with “Go, Wolfpack!”

The race, won by Wout van Aert, featured a total of six riders between the two squads in the top 10.

Feed Zone ?

?? Domenico Pozzovivo (Israel-Premier Tech) is back racing after recovering from his crash-induced broken rib and collapsed lung at the Vuelta a Castilla y Léon at the end of July. He finished 14th at the weekend’s Giro dell’Emilia.

? UCI Gravel World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot was forced to miss the European Champs due to coronavirus.

?? Spanish junior time trial champion Markel Beloki, the son of former professional Joseba, has signed with EF Education-EasyPost.

?? The Austrian Hermann Pernsteiner will not receive a contract extension from Bahrain-Victorious, ending his six-year stint on the team.

? Lotto Dstny boss Stéphane Heulot is trying to mend his relationship with Caleb Ewan (presumably as he begins to realise he will still have the sprinter on his books next year). “My phone is always on and if I get a message from Caleb, I will call back immediately ….I regret that it turned out this way. Maybe I should have expressed certain things better internally than in the media.”

?? The Giro dell’Emilia Donne was dominated by team … FDJ-Suez! Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig won ahead of teammate Marta Cavalli.

? Tao Geoghegan Hart is back on his bike after months of rehabilitation following his Giro d’Italia crash that gave him a broken hip.

?? The Mexican winner of the recent Tour de l’Avenir, Isaac Del Toro, has signed a three-year deal with UAE Team Emirates.

? Peter Sagan finished ninth in the final road race of his professional career, the Tour de Vendée. Arnaud Démare won the sprint, the first victory for his new Arkéa-Samsic squad.

? Jasper Stuyven and Lorena Wiebes are the new European Gravel Champions. Tiffany Cromwell won the women’s race (as it was also a Gravel World Series event) but as an Australian is not title-eligible; second-place finisher Wiebes wins the title. Cromwell’s partner, Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas, rode the European Gravel Championships in the amateur category in between the Japanese and Qatar Grand Prixs.

??Stefan Bissegger has won his first-ever Swiss time trial championship. Stefan Küng was missing due to his recent crash in the European time trial championships.

? Here’s a terrifying video of a car pulling out into the middle of the Famenne Ardenne Classic inside the final 4 km of the race. Amazingly, no-one was crashed or injured.

? Marianne Vos is back on her bike after having surgery on her femoral artery at the end of August.

? 25-year-old Brit Charlie Quarterman has called time on his pro career. “The stress just doesn’t stop,” he told Cycling Weekly of the constant uncertainty surrounding getting your next contract as a contributing factor to his retirement.

??????? Matthew Downie set a new North Coast 500 record with a time of 27 hours and 30 minutes despite storm winds and heavy rain.

Cycling on TV ?

Tuesday October 3rd

Sparkassen Münsterland Giro
GCN+ (06:40-12:00 ET/11:40-17:00 BST/21:40-03:00 AEST)

Binche-Chimay-Binche – Women’s
GCN+ (07:00-08:25 ET/12:00-13:25 BST/22:00-23:25 AEST)

Binche-Chimay-Binche – Men’s
GCN+ (08:25-10:30 ET/13:25-15:30 BST/23:25-01:30 AEST)

Thursday October 5th

Gran Piemonte
GCN+ (09:00-10:45 ET/14:00-15:45 BST/00:00-01:45 AEST)

Friday October 6th

Mountain bike

UCI MTB World Cup, Mont-Sainte-Anne – Downhill Junior Women
GCN+ (12:45-13:15 ET/17:45-18:15 BST/03:45-04:15 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup, Mont-Sainte-Anne – Downhill Junior Men
GCN+ (13:15-14:00 ET/18:15-19:00 BST/04:15-05:00 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup, Mont-Sainte-Anne – XCC Elite Women
GCN+ (16:15-17:00 ET/21:15-22:00 BST/07:15-08:00 AEST)

UCI MTB World Cup, Mont-Sainte-Anne – XCC Elite Men
GCN+ (17:00-18:00 ET/22:00-23:00 BST/08:00-09:00 AEST)

? Underwhelming victory quote the week ?

“It’s nice to win again.”

The words of Wout van Aert, victorious at Coppa Bernocchi, after outsprinting a bunch of his current and future teammates.

“It’s a nice feeling, especially after a season in which I often missed out on winning,” Van Aert continued, having only won the E3 Saxo Classic, points classification at the Tour de Suisse, UCI Gravel World Series round at Houffa Gravel, and a stage and GC at the Tour of Britain. To be fair, he’s finished second eight times in 2023 and third another eight times. So we see where he’s coming from.

But just spare a thought for the dozens if not hundreds of pros who go through their careers never winning a thing while Van Aert bemoans the fact he’s only had seven wins this year.

And finally …

Possibly the best prize in cycling this season, as FDJ-Suez will have celebrated their double podium at Giro dell’Emilia with two hunks of mortadella ham (lush) while DSM-Firmenich’s Juliette Labous will have (probably) had hers prised from her tiny arms by the team’s manager of meat products and each DSM-Firmenich employee will have been allotted one very thin slice of their delicious winnings each.

? Send us yer laundry pics ?

“This is Pack Launder,” writes Brian Turany, attaching today’s laundromat photo. “It is a Green Bay Packers-themed laundry located less than ½ a mile from the headquarters of a large bicycle company in Waterloo, Wisconsin, and decorated by someone with a sense of humor.”

An apt metaphor for the NFC North this season where all of the teams, apart from the Detroit Lions (!) are completely washed this year.

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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