Riding is Life


Spin Cycle: GP De-nah

The mainstream media may be onto us ...

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 15.03.2024 Photography by
Bob Green, New York Times, Cor Vos
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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. Sign up here.


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

The cobbles are so close you can almost smell them.

Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix are out fixing up their cobbles, Milan-San Remo is this weekend (another important bellwether indicating April is around the corner) and, well … there are actual cobbled races going on! Thursday saw the GP de Denain, and the inevitable chaos of racing across farm tracks. Year after year, this period of racing never gets less mad.

Of course, our focus should firstly be on San Remo, the first Monument of the season – but the cobbles! But SAN-REMO! It’s all too much. Sensory overload. We need a lie down.

GP De-nah

With the cobbles of the GP de Denain underwater two days before the start of the race, it was little surprise to see things go awry on Thursday.

As the group of favourites, including Stefan Küng and Arnaud De Lie, closed in to within a minute of the three breakaway leaders with just over 10 km to go, the tables suddenly turned as Küng’s front wheel slipped out and brought basically the entire group cascading down onto the wet and muddy cobbles. One spectator was in the right place at the right time to catch on camera an amazing, close-up view of the riders helplessly sliding across the road.

This was to the benefit of the trio out front, with Q36.5’s Jannik Steimle (formerly of Soudal-Quick Step) sprinting to the victory, as De Lie brought the chase across the line 11 seconds later.

“I’m a little confused GP de Denain,” tweeted CPA President Adam Hansen, attaching the photo portrayed at the top of this newsletter of the race’s course coated in thick mud. “I thought your race is register [sic] as a road race or am I wrong and it was a cyclocross race? Please tell me this image is not from your race and the riders were racing on thick much [again, sic – Adam, spell check, buddy – Ed.] over the road?”

The race organisers replied showing the efforts that had gone into trying to make the course as safe as possible.

“The riders informed me there were thick layers of mud over the cobbles,” Hansen continued in another tweet. “It does not matter what category a race is or who is the organiser is [sigh, sic]. I am sorry for the people not happy I follow up the riders request. Just be prepared, I will always do so.”

UAE reveal their tactics? 👀

This weekend’s Milan-San Remo is being billed as an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, which is also known as: Mathieu van der Poel vs. Tadej Pogačar.

While Van der Poel has been known to undersell his form before leaving the rest of the field in his Alpecin-shampoo-scented dust, Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates, fresh from revealing their winning script prior to Strade Bianche, are employing the same tactics once again.

Following the Slovenian’s audacious 80 km solo Strade attack, UAE boss Matxin Joxean Fernández was asked by GCN whether an attack on the Cipressa at San Remo could be possible.

“Why not? For me, the secret here is riding the Cipressa in under nine minutes,” Matxin said.

“Two years ago Davide Formolo did the climb in 9:30 and only 27 riders were left in the front group. Last year when it was 9:50, there were nearly 70 riders left. This year it’s possible to go under nine minutes.

“In my opinion, no more than 20 riders can do this. It is very complicated and there’s still 22 km from the top of the climb but staying away from that point doesn’t just depend on Tadej but also his rivals. Full gas on the Cipressa, full gas to the Poggio, it’s a hard, hard race. But the plan is to win Milan-San Remo. Tadej is a super rider and we have plans for many situations.”

Even though we know the likely plot line, still get the popcorn in for the first Monument of the season. It’s going to be one you won’t want to miss.

Feed Zone 🥖

👽 Due to a slight change to Decathlon’s logo, Decathlon Ag2r La Mondiale have unveiled a new space-themed jersey, consigning their original 2024 strip to the bin after just two months. Benoît Cosnefroy looks very pleased with it.

⛄ Both Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogačar could be spotted riding the currently-snowy stage 20 roads of this summer’s Tour de France.

🇬🇧 Rod Ellingworth has found a job that’s much more fun than being shouted at by Dave Brailsford: he’s the new race director of the men’s and women’s Tours of Britain.

👨‍⚖️ Rohan Dennis made his first court appearance after being charged with causing the death of his wife, Melissa Hoskins. Prosecutors requested an additional five months to complete their major reconstruction of the crash that ultimately claimed Hoskins’ life in late December last year. Matt de Neef has the full story here.

🪨 You know the Classics are nearly here when the Friends of Paris-Roubaix start repairing the cobbled sectors.

🇮🇹 Soudal-Quick Step head to Milan-San Remo with Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen, and Luke Lamperti, while the Ineos Grenadiers will field Tom Pidcock and last year’s runner-up Filippo Ganna.

🇧🇪 Tim Merlier (Soudal-Quick Step) and Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) were the victors at the midweek Nokere Koerse.

🇹🇼 Israel-Premier Tech’s 21-year-old Brit Joseph Blackmore has won the Tour de Taiwan.

✍️ UAE Tour victor Lennert Van Eetvelt (22) has extended his expiring contract with Lotto Dstny until the end of 2026.

🎥 A new Visma-Lease a Bike documentary (coming to Amazon Prime from March 16) shows the tension felt by the Dutch team and its three leaders at last year’s Vuelta a España, but sports director Merijn Zeeman doesn’t allow the cameras into the meeting room when its finally agreed everyone will support Sepp Kuss’ red jersey tilt. Damn it, Merijn!

🤧 In the same documentary it’s revealed Sepp Kuss rode the Giro d’Italia with COVID-19. Dane Cash has more on that here.

😔 Giulio Ciccone is back in training following surgery on a cyst but will be forced to miss May’s Giro d’Italia.

💸 Bora-Hansgrohe are interested in signing Visma-Lease a Bike’s Jan Tratnik and Movistar’s Oier Lazkano, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

🐺 The UCI has found Patrick Lefevere’s “public comments considered as disparaging towards women” breached two articles of its Code of Ethics. His punishment is a forced public apology and a $22,000 fine suspended for three years pending he says nothing else that’s sexist in that time. More on that story here.

The mainstream media is coming for us 😳

“I just saw this article and thought a Spin Cycle column made it to the New York Times,” Bernie posted on EC’s Discord.

Fixed it.

Cycling on TV 📺

Saturday March 16th

Milan – San Remo
(04:30-12:30 ET/08:30-16:30 GMT/19:30-03:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Sunday March 17th

Trofeo Alfredo Binda
(09:30-11:00 ET/13:30-15:00 GMT/00:30-02:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Cholet – Pays de la Loire
(10:00-12:00 ET/14:00-16:00 GMT/01:00-03:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max

Monday March 18th

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya – Stage 1
(10:00-12:00 ET/14:00-16:00 GMT/01:00-03:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Peacock, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Tuesday March 19th

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya – Stage 2
(10:00-12:00 ET/14:00-16:00 GMT/01:00-03:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Peacock, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Wednesday March 20th

Classic Brugge-De Panne – Men’s
(10:00-12:30 ET/14:00-16:30 GMT/01:00-03:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya – Stage 3
(10:00-12:00 ET/14:00-16:00 GMT/01:00-03:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Peacock, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Thursday March 21st

Classic Brugge-De Panne – Women’s
(10:00-12:30 ET/14:00-16:30 GMT/01:00-03:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya – Stage 4
(10:00-12:00 ET/14:00-16:00 GMT/01:00-03:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Peacock, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Friday March 22nd

E3 Saxo Classic
(09:00-12:00 ET/13:00-16:00 GMT/00:00-03:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya – Stage 5
(10:55-12:55 ET/14:55-16:55 GMT/01:55-03:55 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Peacock, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Saturday March 23rd

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya – Stage 6
(10:00-12:00 ET/14:00-16:00 GMT/01:00-03:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Peacock, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Sunday March 24th

Gent-Wevelgem – Men’s
(09:15-12:15 ET/13:15-16:15 GMT/00:15-03:15 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺SBS

Gent-Wevelgem – Women’s
(11:00-13:30 ET/15:00-17:30 GMT/02:00-04:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺SBS

La Roue Tourangelle
(11:00-13:00 ET/15:00-17:00 GMT/02:00-04:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya – Stage 7
(07:25-09:25 ET/11:25-13:25 GMT/22:25-00:25 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Peacock, 🇦🇺SBS, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Monday March 25th

No live racing …

Tuesday March 26th

No live racing …

Slightly accidental victory of the week 🏆

Alberto Bettiol won Wednesday’s Milano-Torino with a scintillating attack from 30 kilometres out, a race finale really worth watching the replay of (you can probably put it on concurrently alongside the start of Saturday’s Milan-San Remo …).

“I started it so early because I felt good. I also wanted to test my legs after Tirreno-Adriatico and before Milan-San Remo,” Bettiol said, matter of factly, after his win. He then went on to make an accidental humblebrag/express his bemusement that he’d actually managed to pull off such a victory. “I didn’t expect to make it,” he said. “It was very tough, but I didn’t mean to suffer so hard today.”

And finally …

As one commenter below the video put it: “At least he can tell his buddies he rode in front of a professional peloton once … “

We’re skiving off work again 👋

In the rush to use up our annual leave before the cobbled Classics and Grand Tours kick into gear, we’re off next week. The next edition should hit your inboxes on Wednesday March 27. Don’t touch anything while we’re gone.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics

“Washing kits, reading Spin Cycle, dreaming of riding,” writes in Bob Green of Poughkeepsie, NY, attaching today’s featured laundromat. “It’s the life!”

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 Bernie 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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