Spin Cycle: It’s a Mad(ouas) world

All around me are familiar faces, worn-out faces. Going nowhere, going nowhere...

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 03.11.2023 Photography by
Patrick Garland,
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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.

Sometimes the news isn’t fun. You know that. We don’t mean to bring the Friday/Saturday vibes down, but today we’ve got confirmation of Jumbo-Visma rider Michel Hessmann’s B-sample (it was positive), and retired Tour stage winner Pieter Weening has been acquitted of assault after a rather nasty incident on Christmas Day a couple of years ago.

With the dark you need some light, of course. And this week we’ve got French champion Valentin Madouas showing everyone how to off-season properly, while Marcel Kittel is riding around school halls and handing out high-fives.

What a mess-man

Jumbo’s Hessmann has had his B-sample come back to confirm his positive test for masking agents, according to German newspaper Badische Zeitung. That positive test was almost forgotten between the ruckus of Vuelta-gate and then merger-gate.

News broke mid-August that the Dutch team had suspended the 22-year-old rider after he had tested positive for a banned diuretic in an out-of-competition test on June 14 in Germany.

“This is sufficient proof of an anti-doping rule violation,” a spokesperson for the German Anti-Doping Federation said.

Hessmann could face a four-year ban according to World Anti-Doping Agency rules, while doping is also a criminal offence in Germany, although no athlete has ever been incarcerated after being found guilty of doping.

Michel Hessmann leads the Jumbo Visma team in Rome during the final stage of the 2023 Giro d'Italia. Maglia Rosa Primož Roglič is two spots behind.

At the time of the positive test, Richard Plugge wrote in his column for RIDE magazine that the day the news broke was a “black day for our team” and that Jumbo-Visma “have to look in the mirror ourselves, are we doing everything right?”

This positive test is the most high-profile of the year, and comes off the back of a season where Jumbo-Visma dominated the sport, winning all three Grand Tours and closing out the entire podium at the Vuelta a España. A positive test within their ranks means that renewed scrutiny is very much justified and answers must be given as to what’s gone on for people to trust the team and its management that everything is above board.

We now wait for further explanation from Richard Plugge, and more intriguingly from Hessmann himself, on how this positive test came to be. A delay on that accountability pours possibly unfair scrutiny and mistrust upon the two dozen-plus other Jumbo-Visma riders. Is this the proverbial canary down the coal mine or was Hessmann a lone wolf who has now caused a lot of damage to his employers and colleagues? Or does the answer lie somewhere in between?

Conveniently, or coincidentally (you are free to choose your own level of cynicism) with the uncertainty over title sponsorship at the time teams have to submit their 2024 names to the UCI, Jumbo-Visma were registered as the name of their holding company: “Blanco Pro Cycling Team,” a name that was used in 2013 as Plugge sought to rebrand his team away from its doping days as Rabobank in the 1990s and 2000s.

Weening’s conviction overturned

Retired Tour de France stage winner Pieter Weening had his conviction reversed on charges of threatening his ex-girlfriend and assaulting her brother. Weening was convicted last year and sentenced to 80 hours of community service in connection with a 2021 Christmas Day incident, but appealed the verdict and was acquitted on Wednesday.

Weening was visiting his then-girlfriend’s family in the Dutch village of Kootstertille for Christmas dinner when a conversation about the childrens’ education got out of hand and Weening tackled the child his partner had with her ex-husband.

The brother-in-law of Weening’s then-partner (are you still with us?) then punched Weening and broke his jaw. Weening then chased the brother-in-law while threatening to stab everyone. Weening called the police and when they arrived he told them to hand over their firearms: “Give me your gun and I will shoot them.”

Dutch cyclist Pieter Weening shown wearing a Dutch national team jersey and vest with matching orange helmet.

Police officers had to restrain Weening from going at his in-laws, and the ex-pro was soon taken to hospital by his sister who had arrived on the scene as well as his brother-in-law.

Weening’s partner then went to the house she shared with him and their family to collect some personal items and leave with the kids, and Weening returned home before they had left. In the ensuing confrontation, Weening armed himself with a bottle. During the trial, Weening said: “I defended myself from more harm. I felt extremely threatened in my own home.”

After appealing his conviction, Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reports that the court on Wednesday acquitted Weening, ruling that the situation in his own home was threatening to him. Weening’s conviction is therefore overturned and he will no longer have to do any community service.

Feed Zone ?

?‍♀️The Ineos Grenadiers have finally sorted out whatever could have possibly been going on over there for the past couple of months and announced a raft of contract extensions, here are the latest renewed riders and the length of their new deals in brackets: Laurens De Plus (3), Ben Swift (2), Kim Heiduk (2), Luke Rowe (2), Brandon Rivera (2), Salvatore Puccio (2), and Omar Fraile (2). New deals for Geraint Thomas (2) and Carlos Rodriguez (4) were previously announced.

? Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (31) is returning to DSM-Firmenich as a sports director next season.

? Amaury Capiot has extended with Arkéa-Samsic for two more years, while Bert Van Lerberghe has penned a two-year extension with Soudal Quick-Step.

?? Burgos-BH have signed 27-year-old Mongolian rider Jambaljamts Sainbayar from Malaysian Continental outfit Terengganu Polygon. He’s a climber who packs a bit of a punch in the finish as well.

? Jeffrey Hoogland has set a new kilometre world record in Augascalientes, Mexico. The Dutch track sprinter took almost a second off of the previous record with a time of 55.433 seconds.

?? While Pauline Ferrand-Prévot is focused on next year’s Paris Olympics, she hasn’t ruled out a return to the road in the future as she would like to race the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, she’s told Geraint Thomas’ podcast.

? Jelle Wallays (34) has announced his retirement from the peloton.

? Jack Bauer will not continue with Q36.5 next year, and neither will Alessandro Fedeli, Antonio Puppio, or Corey Davis.

? Tadej Pogačar reckons his spring Classics preparation potentially cost him the Tour de France, but he’s not prepared to only focus on the Tour at the expense of other races, he told FloBikes.

?? Campbell Stewart and Kelland O’Brien have signed new two-year deals to remain with Jayco-AlUla until the end of 2025.

?? After Alpecin-Deceuninck decided to not renew his contract, Kristian Sbaragli will race for Corratec-Selle Italia next year.

? Patrick Lefevere has told Het Nieuwsblad he has doubts as to whether Remco Evenepoel can match up to the likes of Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard at the 2024 Tour de France.

?? Astana-Qazaqstan have given Harold Tejada a one-year contract extension.

? Sepp Kuss has shed some light on how this year’s Vuelta a España went down, saying Primož Roglič wanted to race for the win despite Kuss being in the red jersey and that Jonas Vingegaard felt he was then left with no choice but to also protect his personal interests. It’s an interesting interview with FloBikes that’s worth a watch.

?? Mathieu van der Poel has unveiled his upcoming cyclocross programme. He will contest a total of 13 races starting with the Exact Cross Mol on December 22 and finishing with the World Championships in Tabor on February 4.

? Paris-Roubaix Femmes runner-up Katia Ragusa as well as Silvia Zanardi and Linda Zanetti will all ride for Human Powered Health next year.

Cycling on TV ?

Saturday November 4th


UCI Track Champions League, Round 3: Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (Paris)
GCN+ (11:30-15:00 ET/16:30-20:00 GMT/03:30-07:00 AEST)

Sunday November 5th


UEC Cyclocross European Championships – events cancelled due to storm Ciarán, moved to Sunday, times TBD


Saitama Criterium
GCN+ (1:45-3:15 ET/5:45-7:15 GMT/15:45-17:15 AEST)


NOTE: this is the original schedule for Sunday. As of this newsletter, French authorities have cancelled Saturday’s racing at the European Cyclocross Championships due to storm Ciarán and moved events to Sunday, but there’s no word yet on the new schedule or if Sunday will need to be cancelled as well. Check GCN+ for updated schedules.

UEC Cyclocross European Championships – Women’s U23
GCN+ (07:20-08:50 ET/12:20-13:50 GMT/23:20-00:50 AEST)

UEC Cyclocross European Championships – Men’s Elite
GCN+ (08:50-10:25 ET/13:50-15:25 GMT/00:50-02:25 AEST)

Monday November 6th

No live racing

?‍♂️ Doing the off-season correctly of the week award ?‍♂️

The off-season is a time for many things. Riders get some needed time off the bike, a beer and pizza or two. Some will turn their attention to cyclocross, others with families will re-familiarise themselves with the school run, but Valentin Madouas? He’s climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

An Instagram post from Valentin Madouas, showing packed backpacks and hiking boots and the caption "Depart pour l'ascension du Kilimanjaro."

And before he set off on his hike, he also went to watch Lens play in the Champions League with none other than fellow member of French cycling royalty Thibaut Pinot, where the pair were papped by the TV cameras. Presumably, most football fans watching would have thought “Who the hell are these two?” What a life, though. Maybe this is Valentin Madouas’ world and we’re just living in it?

And finally …

We can’t come up with a better joke so we’ll let the Inner Ring take a pull on the front and just repurpose his caption.

“How was school today?”

“Cool, I high-fived Marcel Kittel as he rode his bike through the school hall.”

The context? Kittel, who remains popular in Japanese cycling circles even since retiring in 2019, is the ambassador for the Tour de France’s Saitama Criterium this year and thus was part of the annual trip to visit high schools in the local area to encourage kids to get interested in the sport.

? Send us yer laundry pics ?

“This is in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro,” writes Diego Garay, attaching today’s featured laundromat. “While waiting for my laundry, I opened the doors for the picture.”

Big thanks to Diego for the attention to detail. We’re pretty sure this is the first submission from South America unless we’re mistaken? Which means we now only need Africa and Antarctica to tick off a laundry photo from every continent. Come on, one of you must be up for a bikepacking trip to the South Pole?!

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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