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Welcome back to Spin Cycle, Escape Collective’s news digest.
The middle of October is an odd month for bike racing. The WorldTour calendar is finally over and to be honest it’s nice to have a bit of a break, you can have too much of a good thing.
The problem is, the Tour de France route announcement a week later completely punctures our week of possessing brains emptied of thoughts to do with bike racing and we go back to daydreaming of races to come. 2024 looks like a corker: the backloaded mountains of the women’s race, including Alpe d’Huez(!) and of course the Italian aperitivo of the men’s race ahead of a double-helping of Alpine goodness. We are not worthy.
Eternal Sunshine of the Golden Greg
It’s a sort of insanity baked in to top-level WorldTour athletes that even after retiring from professional exercise, they still haven’t had their fill.
But there’s a way to do it. One way is Alejandro Valverde’s path of trying to keep the demons at bay by crushing the field at gravel races, another is Greg Van Avermaet’s approach, where he’s turned his hand to triathlon and won his very first event.
While this may be slightly demoralising to the others on the start line who will have dedicated a lot more of their time to being good at swimming, cycling and running, there must be a certain acceptance when you see a Greg Van Avermaet-shaped figure running away from you up a hill decked out in full Ag2r Citroën jersey, brown shorts, and team-issue socks. After all, it’s important to stay loyal to your sponsors in order to cash those last few paychecks.
As the gravel scene becomes saturated with retired WorldTour pros, we would like to see more of them enter the triathlon world and (hopefully) dominate. Along with Tom Dumoulin’s recent fast half-marathon, maybe we should set up an advisory board to place these former pros into other endurance sports they can dominate to bolster road cycling’s status. For what purpose? We don’t know. But we imagine it functioning sort of like the Latter-day Saints sending young Mormons out to various corners of the Earth, but with the promise that our missionaries will stop fewer people in the street who are simply minding about their own business.
‘I have to smile’
The big news of the week is the route announcement of the 2024 Tours de France. The annual October tradition where we sit and wait patiently through umpteen speeches from a number of people buoyed with the spirit that everything is absolutely fantastic. We also get to meet a series of local mayors whose faces we’ll scarcely remember as soon as they depart from our screens yet insist on making the most of their five minutes in the Tour’s limelight.
Finally, we were presented with not just the soul-grabbing recap montages of this year’s races, but then also treated to the swoopy animation-spectacular of the 2024 race routes. In case you missed it, here’s the men’s route while Abby has a thorough look at the women’s race here.
The reactions are the same each year even if the mouths the answers are coming out of change. A GC rider, usually the defending champion, will say how the course suits him as an opening show of defiant intent. A sprinter will take one look at the mountain stages projected on the vast screen in front of him and declare the race “hard,” while team managers will invariably find something not quite to their liking.
With a backloaded GC race and no final-day sprinter’s world championship, Jasper Philipsen seems to already be facing a moral quandary. “The last chance for sprinters is stage 16. Do you need to continue to Nice after that? The last week is tough and there are other goals after Le Tour. However, I wouldn’t let go of a green jersey to participate in the Olympics,” he fretted to Het Nieuwsblad. Philipsen was speaking with the confidence of a man coming off the back of four Tour stage wins this year. Mark Cavendish, meanwhile, who is currently having an Astana-Qazaqstan squad built around him for next year, is already contemplating the long, heavy hours in the saddle chasing the front of the race up and down mountains. “I’m in a bit of shock,” he told Radio Cycling at the presentation. “This is perhaps the toughest course I have ever seen during a Tour de France.”
Jonas Vingegaard, meanwhile, dressed like the reincarnation of Steve Jobs that Richard Plugge wishes would throw money at his Jumbo-Visma squad, doesn’t like the look of the 30 km of gravel on stage 9, while his boss Plugge was moaning to Wielerfits that he doesn’t understand why it’s been included at all. “You introduce the bad luck factor too much into the course,” Plugge argued.
Tadej Pogačar was more ebullient for a man who’s been beaten by Jumbo-Visma the past two years. “When I see the stage profiles, I have to smile,” the Slovenian told L’Équipe.
Never content to let others dominate the limelight, Soudal Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere is back on his trolling BS, telling Het Laatste Nieuws that Remco Evenepoel is considering combining the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
And where was Primož Roglič in all of this? Off skiing with the Bora boys, of course.
⏰ Impeccable timing of the week ⏰
Look, we don’t profess to be PR experts, but surely releasing decently-sized news slap-bang in the middle of the 2024 Tours de France route announcement – literally the only thing that was going on in the cycling world this week – isn’t the way to get maximum eyeballs on the the announcement that you’ve signed an exciting young American prospect?
Andrew, or AJ, (AJ is way cooler, and a name only Americans can pull off, so let’s go with that) August is an 18-year-old who impressed the team at a January training camp earlier this year with a Vo2 max of 92, his junior team manager told GCN. That junior team, the fantastically named Hot Tubes, is also where his new American teammate Magnus Sheffield graduated from, and not only that, but the pair are from the same town of Pittsford, NY, with a population of just over 1,000 people.
Alongside Joshua Tarling and Michael Leonard, AJ also makes it three riders on Ineos born after Geraint Thomas rode his first junior World Championships (in 2003!).
Feed Zone 🥖
🤝 Jayco-AlUla have extended the contracts of both Felix Engelhardt and Jesus David Peña.
🔎 Jumbo-Visma are still working to sign the last few riders to complete the team’s 2024 roster, sports director Merijn Zeeman has told NOS.
🌳 UCI President David Lappartient has spoken in depth about how to make racing more sustainable in an interview with Cycling Weekly.
📝 Lotto Dstny have broken open the contract of Jasper De Buyst to give him a new, improved deal until 2026.
♻️ In news that feels like it was already announced weeks ago, Carlos Rodriguez has signed a new contract with Ineos Grenadiers through 2027. Geraint Thomas has also renewed for two more years until the end of 2025 and the British squad have signed Oscar Rodríguez from Movistar.
🇫🇷 UAE Team Emirates’ João Almeida wants to make his Tour de France debut next year, he told the Portuguese cycling federation in an interview.
🏅 Tour de France winners Jonas Vingegaard and Demi Vollering scooped up the 2023 Velo d’Or prizes. “What else does he have to do?” was Philippe Gilbert’s reaction to Mathieu van der Poel’s runner-up spot in the competition, the Dutchman having won Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, and the World Championships this year.
🚲 The women’s Jayco-AlUla squad will be called Liv AlUla Jayco going forward as part of a larger agreement between GreenEDGE Cycling and bike manufacturer Giant.
😔 Some sad news to report as 20-year-old Dutch Continental rider Mark Groeneveld collapsed in public on Sunday night and has passed away from a suspected heart attack, although the official cause of death is still under investigation. Our José Been wrote a nice piece about it.
🇳🇴 Uno-X have broken open the ongoing contract of Rasmus Tiller and given him a new deal until the end of 2027.
🚗 The recently retired José Joaquin Rojas will become a sports director at Movistar.
💨 Astana-Qazaqstan have signed Rüdiger Selig from Lotto Dstny to form another piece of Mark Cavendish’s leadout train.
🇪🇸 Egan Bernal will focus on the Vuelta a España next year, he’s told the Tachalo podcast, while Geraint Thomas said in The Guardian he may return for another crack at the Giro d’Italia.
🇹🇼 Benjamin Dyball (who rides for Continental outfit Victoire Hiroshima) has smashed Vincenzo Nibali’s Taiwan KOM record. The 34-year-old Australian completed 103 km-long race (of which 87 km are uphill) in a time of 3 hours, 16 minutes and 9 seconds, nearly four minutes faster than Nibali’s time seven years ago.
Cycling on TV 📺
Saturday October 28th
Superprestige Ruddervoorde – Elite Women
GCN+ (07:30-08:40 ET/12:30-13:40 BST/22:30-23:40 AEST)
Superprestige Ruddervoorde – Elite Men
GCN+ (09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 BST/00:00-01:30 AEST)
Really Rad Festival, Falmouth, Day 1 – Elite Women
GCN+ (14:30-15:42 ET/19:30-20:42 BST/05:30-06:42 AEST)
Really Rad Festival, Falmouth, Day 1 – Elite Men
GCN+ (15:42-17:00 ET/20:42-22:00 BST/06:42-08:00 AEST)
UCI Track Champions League, Round 2 – Berlin
GCN+ (11:30-15:00 ET/16:30-20:00 BST/02:30-06:00 AEST)
Sunday October 29th
Prudential Singapore Criterium – Elite Men
GCN+ (04:20-06:35 ET/08:20-10:35 GMT/19:20-21:35 AEST) – on FloBikes in the US
UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Maasmechelen – Elite Women
GCN+ (08:30-09:50 ET/12:30-13:50 GMT/23:30-00:50 AEST) – on FloBikes in the US
UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Maasmechelen – Elite Men
GCN+ (10:00-11:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) – on FloBikes in the US
Really Rad Festival, Falmouth, Day 2 – Elite Women
GCN+ (15:30-16:42 ET/19:30-20:42 GMT/06:30-07:42 AEST)
Really Rad Festival, Falmouth, Day 2 – Elite Men
GCN+ (16:42-18:00 ET/20:42-22:00 GMT/07:42-09:00 AEST)
Monday October 30th
No live racing
🐔 An old quote coming home to roost quote of the week 🐔
Did a Landis
George Bennett’s “did a Landis” reaction to Chris Froome’s turning of the tables at the 2018 Giro d’Italia will forever be one of the most iconic post-race interviews in cycling. The initial bewilderment on his face, the chuckle, it’s all-time.
But now as Bennett transfers to Israel-Premier Tech, he joins the squad of the sport’s foremost Landis impressionist. How does he think that will go?
“Look, a lot of the guys at the team are already my mates. There are Brits, Aussies, and Canadians,” Bennett told GCN when asked the question. “So I train with a lot of those guys. I’m sure me and Froome will have a laugh about it. If you look at his social media, it’s clear that Chris is a funny guy, and I’m pretty sure he’s good at taking a joke. I’m sure it will be fine.”
Let’s hope so!
And finally …
As we scrabble about on the internet for even a hint of racing action, we came across this clip of Jasper Philipsen receiving a lift over the barriers from a security guard so that the sprinter could make his way to the podium at the Tour of Turkey.
It’s a comical scene of a grown man lifting a child-sized grown man with such consummate ease that even Philipsen can’t help but smile.
The only problem is the security guard kind of ruins it with the Big Man don’t-worry-about-it-pal slap on the back. Nothing’s ever perfect.
📬 Mailbag 📬
“I was hoping the news article link halfway down this promotional email was a Pogačar or Roglič reference in the most unlikely of places,” Matthew Crimp writes in of an email he’d received from a florist on the UK’s Isles of Scilly. “And was already thinking to send it to you for the Spin Cycle as I opened it, but my hopes were dashed!”
Turns out it’s just a nice update about a pair of Slovenian employees returning to the shop after a summer away. I wish this newsletter was just as wholesome but we all have our part to play.
It’s probably for the best it wasn’t Pogačar or Roglič-related, anyway, as it would have been an insertion of Slovenian cycling into a topic that’s so unrelated it would make even our own Kate Wagner blush (we love you Kate!) but alas, no Primrose Roglič’s to be found here.
“Back when I was in university,” E. Wilson wrote in the comments section last week in reference to the Blake Quick/Konstantin Fast anecdote in our ongoing fascination with excellent names, “My school’s (North American) football team had a pair of players (defensive linemen, I believe) with the last names Boink and Bonk. Hearing the announcer call a play with them making a tackle was very amusing.”
Maybe if they joined forces to create a stockbrokerage that expands its operations to the Benelux region, they could one day sponsor a bicycle race. Maybe they could call it the BoinkBonk Tour. Just a thought.
If you spot something you think might be of interest to Spin Cycle and want to send it to us in return for the infamy of having your name digitally printed in these pages, please drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
🧺 Send us yer laundry pics 🧺
“It might have taken more than 6 months and a 60-minute diversion but I went back and got real photos of the Mudgee Laundromat!” writes David McCook, having trekked back to the New South Wales town after his photo of the miner’s laundromat was too low resolution for us to use when he originally submitted it back on May 31. Such dedication to the craft has rarely been seen around these parts.
“It was fun,” he continued about his day out. “We went to a winery for lunch.”
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@example.com
Until next time …
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