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Welcome back to Spin Cycle, Escape Collective’s news digest.
Well, it feels like January has already been going on for three weeks, doesn’t it? At least that’s how I feel, surrounded either by colleagues in Australia living up their southern hemispheric summer, or my work pals in the Land of the Free crushing fresh pow in Colorado.
A lot has happened in the past few weeks since our last proper edition. The death of Melissa Dennis (née Hoskins) was gut-wrenchingly terrible and was covered very thoughtfully by Matt de Neef in his latest Down Under Digest. Our thoughts are with her family.
Meanwhile, Mathieu van der Poel has been spitting at fans and then driving gold supercars around, which is quite the combination. And to be honest, we’re still thinking about the fact that Miguel Ángel López got drug-tested at Disney World. Some things will just be funny forever.
Riding is your entire life
The start of the new year means the book on 2023 is shut, obviously. And so finalised figures from Strava are now in. As reported by blogger Lukáš Ronald, Wout van Aert had 325 active days, meaning on only 40 did he not ride a bike (352 activities) or go for a run (48 activities).
Ineos Grenadiers’ Michał Kwiatkowski has him beat with 336, as does the retired Alejandro Valverde, who managed 328 activities but will presumably be held up on beating that number in 2024 after breaking his collarbone over the New Year. The Spaniard still found the time, however, to share this creepy Telefonica advert of two digital people having a virtual snog. Weird.
To mere mortals, with regular lives and jobs, these numbers are astounding. There is enjoying heading out on your bike and then there is the life of a pro cyclist.
The biggest number we’ve seen, although we’re sure there’s bigger out there, is from Arkéa-B&B Hotels’ Łukasz Owsian, who clocked more rides than there are days with 373 (yes, some of them may have been warm-ups and warm-downs … but still) and even more shockingly he covered 39,336 km over 1,172 hours and 45 minutes. That is 13% of his time in the year being spent riding the equivalent of just under the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference.
Find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life, they say. But riding for three hours a day every single day of your life surely, surely, must feel like work after a while? The pros are nuts.
Not much Wiggle room
It’s time once again to ask the question “Is the cycling industry okay?” and respond with the obvious answer of “No.”
After Wiggle/Chain Reaction Cycles entered administration last October, a report published this week details who is owed what by the fallen cycling retail company.
A Taiwan-based manufacturer – Axman Enterprise Ltd Co., Taiwanese supplier Ideal Bike Corporation, and German distributor Internetstores are all owed north of £1 million, while a number of familiar brands are owed sums in the hundreds of thousands.
The list goes: Garmin Europe Limited (£853,762), Saddleback Ltd (£815,082), Science in Sport (£662,558), POC Sweden (£507,968), Selle Italia (£400,922), Endura (£387,329), Kask (£260,604), Assos (£255,982) and Vittoria (£208,920).
The figures make for shocking reading. How are things allowed to get this bad? What will the knock-on effect be for these other brands?
The only small measure of whimsy that can break the back of this bad news (although it’s more the laugh until you cry/cry until you laugh type of stuff) is one further company that Wiggle CRC owe £20,000 to: Haribo.
“Kids and grown ups love it so … Twenty GRAND to Haribo!!!” as cycling artist Rich Mitch put it. For years, Wiggle have literally sweetened the deal for customers by including one of those tiny 16 g bags of Haribo Starmix with each purchase.
“£20k worth of Haribo packets, they are what, about 5p trade price,” author Simon Warren tweeted, doing the sums. We also estimate the packets work out somewhere between 5p-10p ($0.064-$0.128). “That’s 400,000 packets,” he continued. “400,000 sales. How did Wiggle not make money?”
We’re sure there are many answers to that last question, none of which will likely make the situation any better. Maybe it all started going wrong when they included TWO packets in sports psychologist Dr Josie Perry’s order back in 2019.
Road.cc, who have been covering the story closely, state that the administrators are hopeful they’ll be able to sell the business, especially after a strong trading period from Black Friday through Christmas, adding some companies owed money have been paid in full and that some of the stated figures will be less due to contractual stipulations.
Tadej Pogačar blows up an amateur’s spot
A certain Slovenian has woken from his winter hibernation and is back to his meme-ing ways.
When 17-year-old Magnus Pedersen posted on his Instagram story that he would be cycling a kilometre for every 10 new people that followed him, he would never have guessed he would have caught the eye of Tadej Pogačar, who subsequently put the post in front of his 1.3 million followers in order to “make [Pedersen] sweat a bit”.
At the time of writing Pedersen is up to 11,000 followers, with the cut-off being January 6. The young rider, who says he one day hopes to turn pro, now has to figure out how to take on the mammoth challenge that’s been set for him. One estimation is that he’ll have to ride at least 714 km, which is quite far. Unless you’re Łukasz Owsian, of course.
Feed Zone 🥖
📏 DSM Firmenich-PostNL has officially announced the departure of 21-year-old Marco Brenner, posting some goodbye quotes from him to their Instagram that didn’t mention the falling about between the two about the rider’s saddle height. He has signed a contract with Tudor until the end of 2026.
🤕 Giacomo Nizzolo broke his tibial plateau (the load-bearing part of his shin bone – ouch) in an accident on December 23, his new Q36.5 team has announced.
📝 Fresh off his transfer to Visma-Lease a Bike, Cian Uijtdebroeks will ride O Gran Camiño (February 22-25), Tirreno Adriatico (March 4-10), and the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (March 18-24) in the lead up to May’s Giro d’Italia.
😷 Uno-X’s Anders Halland Johannessen and Jonas Hvideberg were hospitalised with go-karting induced carbon monoxide poisoning. Iain Treloar (of course) has the story here.
🇫🇷 Remco Evenepoel spent the last few days of 2023 doing recons of the seventh, eighth and ninth stages of the 2024 Tour de France, which include the time trial through Burgundy and the Troyes gravel stage.
🧴 Recent retiree Jens Keukeleire has become a sports director at Alpecin-Deceuninck.
🌻 Simon Yates will focus on the 2024 Tour de France this season, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
🇮🇲 The Italian newspaper also reports that Mark Cavendish will not ride Milan-San Remo in what will (probably ) be his last professional season.
😮 More San Remo news, Geraint Thomas was spotted taking part in an MSR recon with some of his Ineos Grenadiers teammates … surely not, right?
🤒 Tom Pidcock will not compete in the Hexia Cross Gullegem on Saturday due to illness, Wielerflits reports, meaning we miss out on a ‘Big Three’ bout, while Pidcock will also not be at the Zonhoven World Cup round leaving the door even more open to Mathieu van der Poel and his saliva.
🇦🇺 Luke Plapp and Grace Brown are the 2024 Australian time trial national champions. Our Matt de Neef was there and has a wonderful piece you can read here.
Shirin van Anrooij’s rib fracture means her cyclocross season is now over.
😢 Simon Geschke (37) has announced this will be his final season as a professional.
🏆 Fem van Empel won the X2O Trophy Koksijde ahead of Lucinda Brand who outspirinted Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado to second place. In the men’s race, Mathieu van der Poel extended his unbeaten cyclocross winning streak to nine ahead of Pim Ronhaar and Wout van Aert. Our gallery coverage of the Kerstperiode wrapup is here.
💂♀️ Imanol Erviti has confirmed he will be an Ineos Grenadiers sports director this season, working under the new Director of Racing Steve Cummings.
🥳 Caleb Ewan won the Australian Criterium Championships in Ballarat, his first win back in a Jayco-AlUla jersey. Jensen Plowright (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Sam Welsford (Bora-Hansgrohe) rounded out the podium, while Ruby Roseman-Gannon won the women’s event.
📸 Cyclocross photos of the week
A quartet of photos from Lewis Askey that makes cyclocross look like the exact opposite of a fun time.
Cycling on TV 📺
Saturday January 6th
Hexia Cross Gullegem – Elite Women
(07:40-08:45 ET/12:40-13:45 GMT/23:40-00:45 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+, on FloBikes in the US
Hexia Cross Gullegem – Elite Men
(08:55-10:20 ET/13:55-15:20 GMT/00:55-02:20 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+, on FloBikes in the US
Sunday January 7th
UCI World Cup, Zonhoven – Elite Women
(07:30-09:00 ET/12:30-14:00 GMT/23:30-01:00 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+, on FloBikes in the US
UCI World Cup, Zonhoven – Elite Men
(09:00-10:15 ET/14:00-15:15 GMT/01:00-02:15 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+, on FloBikes in the US
Monday January 8th
No live racing
And finally …
Mathieu van der Poel has decided his 2024 vibe and it is: gauche.
He rocked up to Wednesday’s X2O Trophy Koksijde looking like he’s Bruce van der Wayne in a gold Lamborghini. Maybe, like Jasper Philipsen’s post-Tour green jersey Porsche (with green jersey bike on the back), it was lent to him by a local dealership. After all, there must be some perks of being road World Champion and winning nine cyclocross races in a row apart from probably getting piss thrown at you.
One idea, though: the boot/trunk under the hood feature could be turned into an oversized spittoon the next time Van der Poel feels the overriding urge to launch a wad of phlegm at some unfriendly Belgians.
🧺 Send us yer laundry pics
“I recently snapped the attached on a holiday to Buenos Aires, Argentina,” writes Luke Droney, attaching today’s featured laundromat photos. “Unfortunately all the laundromats in Buenos Aires are full-service/staffed laundromats and my Spanish isn’t sufficient to wander in and advise the proprietor that I need photos with the drums open so a cycling site can photoshop Wout van Aert into the machine.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time …
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