Spin Cycle: I’m Guinea need to see your passport

Ball is life, but make it cycling.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 31.05.2024 Photography by
Nuru Lawal, JAYZWELLING, Ralf Roletschek, Cor Vos, Gruber Images, Rugile Kaladyte
More from Jonny +

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.

Today we have Rick Zabel living the best retirement a 30-year-old could have, an odd story from the Guinea-Bissau cycling federation, and typo-eraser/real adult and journalist Joe Lindsey drops by with an obituary for Bill Walton, an NBA legend who also loved cycling and was a literal big part of the USA cycling scene.

Something doesn’t add up here …

An odd one picked up by Spanish outlet Marca. The Guinea-Bissau cycling federation contacted the Vuelta a Andalucia Women asking to participate in their race (May 29-June 1) as it lined up with other Spanish races they planned to race later in June. The organisation obliged and added the West African team to public start lists and booked them hotels.

However, when organisers received the list of riders who’d be representing Guinea-Bissau, the names seemed to match the UCI licences of male athletes. Organisers tried to contact the team but couldn’t get through to them. The latest is that the team disappeared from the start list and didn’t travel to Spain, where Liv AlUla Jayco teammates Silke Smulders and Mavi García have taken the first two stages.

A weird one for sure. Don’t worry, we’ve got our Head of Weird Investigations Iain Treloar sniffing around to find out more.

RIP Bill Walton 🕊️

by Joe Lindsey

When basketball hall of famer Bill Walton passed away on Monday at the age of 71 after battling cancer, most of the tributes to him focused on his contributions to his first sport. As the starting center for three national title-winning UCLA teams, and a two-time NBA champion, Walton’s court vision and cerebral approach to the game was a premonition of sorts to the play of modern stars like Denver Nuggets’ center Nikola Jokić.

But a surprising number of eulogies also mentioned his second chosen sport: cycling. And rightly so. Walton was an unmistakable presence on the road, his 6’11″ (2.11 m) frame towering over his bright orange custom Holland road bike, with a head tube longer than some bikes’ seat tubes. Invariably clad in a brilliantly colored tie-dye top evoking his beloved Grateful Dead, Walton was a reliable sight during stage races like the Tour of California and USA Pro Challenge, where he could be spotted riding parts of the route ahead of the race and at the finish, typically surrounded by other race fans.

Walton’s enthusiasm for cycling was, like his enthusiasm for pretty much everything, as prominent as he was on the court. Years ago, he attended the now-defunct Interbike trade show and could be seen wandering the aisles chatting up delighted (and sometimes confused) industry showgoers about gear, nutrition, pretty much everything. Whether working basketball games as a commentator or just on a sportive, Walton always had time for anyone who wanted to talk. He was a regular attendee of Challenged Athletes Foundation events, active in bike advocacy events in Portland (where he won his first NBA title), and founded the nonprofit Bike for Humanity.

But he was arguably happiest on his bike. Walton never raced that I know of, but he began riding as a child like many of us, and continued throughout and after his NBA career. He rode through at-times debilitating chronic pain and 36 orthopedic surgeries, including two that fused his ankles and eventually stopped him from using clipless pedals. He rode because, like all of us, riding was simply a joyful, inseparable part of his life.

Walton referred to himself as a “joyrider” and there is probably no more accurate description of his relationship with cycling. When introduced at events, he’d often walk forward with both arms raised high and wide, that astounding wingspan spread almost in a racer’s victory salute. And it was, again, perhaps the most evocative and appropriate expression one could associate with him. Bill Walton won at a lot of things, but what he won at most was loving life.

Feed Zone 🥖

🇪🇨 Ecuador have selected Jhonatan Narváez over defending champion Richard Carapaz for their sole Olympic road race spot at the 2024 Games. Dane Cash has more on the story here.

🖼️ Jan Ullrich has opened his own eponymous museum in Bad Dürrheim, Germany. It will be open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

🐶 Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) returned to racing this week at the Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes, his first race since suffering a scaphoid (wrist) fracture at Tirreno-Adriatico.

🇸🇮 Tadej Pogačar round-up: UAE boss Mauro Gianetti told L’Équipe that Pogačar’s Giro-Tour attempt is already going better than expected, while the team also wants to break open the Slovenian’s current contract (which runs until 2027) to sign him until 2030, Gazzetta dello Sport reports. This would keep him at the team for the 2028 World Championships, which will be held in Abu Dhabi. Pogačar would see his salary rise to €8 million a year, and feature an increase on the €150 million release clause to €180 or €200 million. Pogačar has also told Eurosport the Vuelta a España isn’t on his 2024 calendar as it seems unrealistic to win all three Grand Tours in the same year.

🇦🇹 Salzburg are working to bring the the Giro d’Italia to the Austrian city, ORF Salzburg reports. Apparently it costs €500,000 to host a start or finish of a Giro stage.

🎵 Évita Muzic (FDJ-Suez) is not happy to have been omitted from the French Olympic road race team. “I can only accept this decision bitterly and with regret,” she posted on social media.

🙏 After eight weeks in a neck brace following his crash at the Tour of the Basque Country, Jay Vine can take it off and also train outdoors again.

👏 Harry Sweeny (EF Education-EasyPost) has become the first active pro to publicise his ASD diagnosis in an interview with Escape Collective. You can read it here.

🐝 Visma-Lease a Bike have scooped up another promising young Brit, signing 17-year-old Elliot Rowe to their development squad for two years.

🫠 The Ineos Grenadiers brain drain continues as the team’s Head of Racing Roger Hammond swaps the British squad for Bora-Hansgrohe with immediate effect.

🤨 Miguel Ángel López has been suspended for four years (until 2027) after being found guilty of doping with the hormonal drug Menotropin during the 2022 Giro d’Italia. The Colombian continues to maintain his innocence and will appeal the decision.

🏔️ In the latest hint that he is indeed Tour bound, Jonas Vingegaard is in Tignes for an altitude camp.

🇳🇱 Dylan van Baarle and Daan Hoole have been chosen as Mathieu van der Poel’s lieutenants for the Olympic road race.

🇺🇸 Unbound is this weekend, with Matej Mohorič and Greg Van Avermaet notable inclusions on the start line. We’ve got more on Unbound here.

😢 Peter Sagan has now officially failed to qualify for the Olympic Games mountain bike race after missing out on an IOC wildcard spot.

😘 Big snogger David Gaudu (Grouapama-FDJ) has told L’Équipe he dreams of a Tour de France podium.

🤞 Despite her heavy fall in the recent Vuelta a Burgos, Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek) still hopes to compete in this Summer’s Olympic Games.

🍺 Pint-sized Valentin Paret-Peintre (Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale) is on his way to Soudal-Quick Step next season, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.

Retirement done right 👴

While a bunch of retired WorldTour pros have set off to spend the weekend in Kansas doing pretty much exactly what they used to do for a living but with extra mud and America, we reckon Rick Zabel has figured out post-pro life almost instantly.

Having retired after Rund um Köln last Sunday, the 30-year-old set off a couple of days ago from Germany to ride the 600 km to London for the Champions League final featuring Germany’s Borussia Dortmund taking on Real Madrid.

A big ride but with the reward of £15 beers in the heinous Wembley BOXPARK bar (because all the stadium tickets are for corporates, obvs) and eating an overpriced dinner out of a cardboard box. Maybe Kansas was the better choice after all. Also, speaking of big rides …

Ah, my delicate soul, gently crushed under the weight of economically necessary self-promotion 🌎

Aha! Yes! You’ve made it to some sneaky self-promotion! We’ve launched a new video podcast limited series called Ultra, where we’ll be covering stories on people doing big things in the bikepacking and Ultra scene.

Our first guest is Lael Wilcox, who set off this week to try and break the women’s Around The World record. We’re cooking to order too, so there is a YouTube version, a normal audio podcast in the main feed on your preferred podcast player and a written article. If you ask nicely I could even come and bellow out the broad strokes of the story outside your bedroom window if you live locally. Just say the word. But yeah, give Ultra a try so Caley lets me do more of them. Ta!

Cycling on TV 📺

Saturday June 1st

No live racing …

Sunday June 2nd

Brussels Cycling Classic
(07:35-10:00 ET/12:35-15:00 BST/21:35-00:00 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, FloBikes🇨🇦

Critérium du Dauphiné – Stage 1
(09:00-11:00 ET/14:00-16:00 BST/23:00-01:00 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, Peacock🇺🇸, SBS🇦🇺, FloBikes🇨🇦, ITV highlights show🇬🇧 19:00-20:00

Monday June 3rd

Critérium du Dauphiné – Stage 2
(09:10-11:10 ET/14:10-16:10 BST/23:10-01:10 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, Peacock🇺🇸, SBS🇦🇺, FloBikes🇨🇦, ITV highlights show🇬🇧 19:00-20:00

Tuesday June 4th

Critérium du Dauphiné – Stage 3
(09:10-11:10 ET/14:10-16:10 BST/23:10-01:10 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, Peacock🇺🇸, SBS🇦🇺, FloBikes🇨🇦, ITV highlights show🇬🇧 19:00-20:00

In case you missed it …

In further proof that all sports stars really just want to be riding their bike, Charles Leclerc spun home after winning his home Monaco Grand Prix last weekend. It’s not quite Yves Lampaert riding home after winning the Belgian national TT title but we’ll take it!

And finally …

Last summer, Remco Evenepoel stood idly by and said nothing as rumours swirled that he was leaving Soudal-Quick Step. And to be fair, he had been in talks with Visma-Lease a Bike due to the potential merger (remember that whole thing?!).

But this season, the 24-year-old is having absolutely none of it, saying in a swiftly deleted Instagram story that an article claiming he could be off to Bora-Hansgrohe is not true. The clown emoji is maybe a tad strong and could have been why the post was pulled, presumably following a frantic text message from a Soudal-Quick Step press officer.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics

“I was on holiday in Seoul last week with my partner, minding my own business, as you do,” writes Nuru Lawal, attaching today’s featured laundromat. “When I saw this absolute showroom-worthy laundrette & honestly first thought was, ‘look at all those open doors, perfect for EC!'”

“As a first time visitor in Seoul, they put London’s Pret/Costa density to shame, every third shop is a cafe, nice to find a very random laundrette amongst these.”

Plus, a bonus laundry submission from Julian Allen. PSA, if it’s needed. If there’s a bear in your laundromat, don’t go in.

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]

See you next Tuesday 👋

We’re off on Monday so the next Spin Cycle will be dropping in your inboxes on Tuesday. Speaking of which, we’ve fixed our newsletter sign-up page, meaning if you signed up to any of Escape Collective’s other excellent newsletters after signing up to Spin Cycle and didn’t re-click the Spin Cycle box, you would have been unsubscribed. So if you’d rather read this via email than on the website you can click here to rectify that.

Until next time …

That’s all folks! Thanks to Nuru Lawal, Julian Allen and Joe Lindsey 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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