Nuno Ribeiro, Tadej Pogačar and Sepp Kuss photoshopped inside a distressed clothes machine.

Spin Cycle: Heroes and villains

Transfer news fans, start your engines ... again.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 10.11.2023 Photography by
Clayton Paradis, @pogacarfanclub/Tadej Pogačar, Omar Di Felice
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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.

Some things in cycling are eternal. The doping bans, the transfer speculation far ahead of the window’s August 1 opening. Other things not so much. Such as Omar Di Felice attempting, for the second time, to become the first person to traverse Antarctica by bike.

It’s a big old world out there, and amongst the badness and the madness, Tadej Pogačar is somewhere, being himself and having a good time.

60 days, 2,000 kilometres of ice and desperate loneliness

42-year-old Omar Di Felice is about to embark on a journey that no-one has ever done before: traverse Antarctica by bike.

The Italian, who earlier this year won the 7,000 km Trans Am race across the US, will hope to spend the next 60 days making his way from west Antarctica across the South Pole and over to the Leverett glacier. He will be unsupported, riding a “fatbike” and battling temperatures as low as minus 38° Celsius. For those who don’t have a calculator to hand, that’s an average of 33 km per day.

This is Di Felice’s second attempt, having set off on the expedition in December 2022 but stopping eight days and 100 km in after a close family member back home was having health problems and he felt it was impossible to continue and stay focused on the task at hand.

The biggest challenge will not be the cold, or anything physical, according to Di Felice. Instead, the mental battle is where his attempt will be won or lost.

“The biggest challenge is in the mind,” he told the Guardian. “Physically, you have to face the ice and the strong winds. You must carry everything you need – equipment, food, clothes. But that’s something I’ve trained for all my life. But mentally it is something different to any other place in the world, because you are really, really, really alone. You cannot talk to anyone – it’s just you and the thoughts in your mind.”

The extreme loneliness was certainly a factor during his first attempt when he found himself trapped in his tent for 72 hours sheltering from 100 km/h winds.

This time of year, as Antarctica approaches its summer, is the only period when land-based crossings of Antarctica are possible – and the weather should hopefully improve as he progresses into the trip.

It’s a fascinating story, and if Di Felice accomplishes it, a remarkable achievement. His Instagram is here if you want to dig into the story more, and we’ll be sure to bring you updates as they come.

A big old ban

The thermonuclear reactor that was the W52-FC Porto team, decommissioned at the end of 2022 after 10 riders were suspended and seven received bans for doping, has one final trophy to hang on their mantlepiece: their sports director has received one of cycling’s longest-ever doping bans!

Nuno Ribeiro, 46, who was a former pro who’d already tested positive for EPO in 2009 and stripped of his Volta a Portugal title, has been banned for 25 years (until 2047) for “trafficking, possession, and supply” of illegal substances such as testosterone, corticoids, and steroids.

José Rodrigues, who was a soigneur and assistant DS at the squad, was banned for a similar amount of time last year, as the pair were caught up in a large anti-doping sting called “Clean Test” that targeted 26 individuals. The case is yet to reach the Portuguese courts but it’s safe to say both men are going to have a lot of time on their hands for the foreseeable future.

Although, this ban is probably the least of Ribeiro’s worries, as in the lead-up to the 2022 Volta a Portugal, he was living under police surveillance after receiving a shotgun cartridge in the post amongst various other threats. Moral of the story: stay on the straight and narrow, kids!

Feed Zone ?

?? Egan Bernal has set his sights on winning the Vuelta a España to complete his Grand Tour trilogy as he continues his post-crash fight to get back to the top of the peloton’s pecking order. “For me, to be really happy with my career, it is just the Vuelta that is missing,” he told CyclingNews.

??The criminal investigation into the death of Gino Mäder at the Tour de Suisse has ended and, as expected, the Swiss Public Prosecutor will not prosecute any third party.

? Ben Hermans (Israel-Premier Tech) and Kenny Elissonde (Lidl-Trek) will both move to Cofidis next year on one-year deals, while Davide Cimolai and André Carvalho will leave the French team.

? Carmen Small will leave Jumbo-Visma to become a sports director at EF Education-Cannondale.

? Matej Mohorič’s 2024 goals are Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, he’s told CyclingNews.

? Luke Plapp (22) has left the Ineos Grenadiers a year before the expiration of his deal with them and signed a four-year contract with Jayco-AlUla.

?? Mark Renshaw will become a sports director for Astana-Qazaqstan in 2024.

? Victor Lafay has confirmed to L’Équipe that he will ride for Ag2r Citroën next season.

? The future of the Tour of Britain hangs in the balance, as British Cycling has ended its agreement with race organiser SweetSpot, which are said to owe the federation £700,000 in unpaid fees, Cycling Weekly reports.

? Rigoberto Urán (36) has announced he will retire after the 2024 Paris Olympics.

? Gianni Moscon has signed for Soudal Quick-Step.

? Expected to be stepping down to Continental level due to Bolton Equities stepping back from being the team’s main financial backer, unfortunately it looks like Bolton Equities Black Spoke will stop altogether.

? Having signed a new partnership with the Abu Dhabi-based company MyWoosh, the UCI has announced that next year’s eRacing World Championships will take place in Abu Dhabi in October.

⛈️ Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne will start in Kortijk for the next three years. “A black day for our municipality,” said the Kuurne mayor upon hearing the news.

Cycling on TV ?

Saturday 11th November


Superprestige Niel – Jaarmarktcross – Elite Women
GCN+ (07:30-08:40 ET/12:30-13:40 GMT/23:30-00:40 AEST)

Superprestige Niel – Jaarmarktcross – Elite Men
GCN+ (09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST)


UCI Track Champions League, Round 5 – Grand Finale: London
GCN+ (12:30-16:00 ET/17:30-21:00 GMT/04:30-08:00 AEST)

Sunday 12th November


UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Dendermonde – Elite Women
GCN+ (07:30-08:50 ET/12:30-13:50 GMT/23:30-00:50 AEST) Also on FloBikes in the USA

UCI Cyclcocross World Cup, Dendermonde – Elite Men
GCN+ (09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) Also on FloBikes in the USA

Monday 13th November

No live racing

? Transfer news fans … start your engines

Here we go! No sooner has the 2023 off-season opened that we’re already talking about things that could happen this time next year!

Sepp Kuss’ Jumbo-Visma current contract expires in 13 months’ time. Of course, new deals are decided well in advance in spite of the official opening of the transfer window on August 1, but the American will go into this latest negotiation process with much more leverage than he would have thought at the start of 2023.

“I’m going to look at it calmly. There are other options where I could have more freedom. At the same time, what I have at Jumbo-Visma is unique,” ​​Kuss told De Telegraaf. “To win the Tour I would simply have to cycle in the best team in the world. I can pursue my own opportunities at Jumbo-Visma and fulfill the domestique role at other times. I get satisfaction from both roles.”

His sports director, Merijn Zeeman, is hoping the current juju that is making Jumbo-Visma vastly outperform their rivals will be enough to convince Kuss that the team remains the best place for him.

“If you reason from how we approach the sport, nothing will change for Sepp. He can certainly win another Grand Tour with us, just as well as we let him do it now,” Zeeman previously told Wielerflits. “Sepp knows that he can win a Grand Tour at Jumbo-Visma, rather than being outplayed as the only leader somewhere else.”

There is, of course, now a Roglič-shaped hole at Jumbo-Visma that gives Kuss some extra room in the upper echelons of the team’s hierarchy, but are we being greedy if we kind of want a Vingegaard/Pogačar/Roglič/Evenepoel/Kuss Tour de France GC battle? (The answer is yes, we definitely are).

And finally …

This one doesn’t need a caption. Tadej Pogačar just gets it.

? Corrections corner

Clearly, we were so comprehensively rattled by our terrible and misguided advertising pitch over the past week that the wheels began coming off of everything else.

Harrie Levreysen won the Keirin at the fourth round of the Track Champions League, rather than both losing and winning the Sprint, while our second brainfart was Michael Vanthourenhout became the European Cyclocross Champion and not Jente Michels, who won the U23 championship.

In more subjective clarifications, Escape Collective member Gilberto argues that Gainesville, FL, actually has a fantastic cycling community with great roads, excellent infrastructure and a fun racing scene.

Additionally, while we postulated on the El Chapo of the Cotswolds potentially being the first criminal on Strava, it turns out data from the app incriminated a former NFL player for quite a hideous crime. So maybe we should be advocating for more criminals to be logging their exercise.

? Send us yer laundry pics

“I was recently in Houston, TX for business and came across a ‘distress machine shop!'” writes Clayton Paradis, attaching today’s laundromat(?) photo. “Not sure if this qualifies for Spin Cycle?”

Customers bring new clothing/shoes and chuck them in the machine for that ‘distressed’ look! New to me!? Reminds me of the old Carrerra ‘denim’ bibs from the late 80s!”

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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