Spin Cycle: Prove your worth

The Ruta del Lol was this week, except I'm crying on the inside.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 16.02.2024 Photography by
Richard Birkett & Cor Vos
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.

We are back from our week of training in Oman where, like the riders, we were trying to find our legs ahead of the season proper. Our findings? Yes, our microphones still work. Yes, our questions are still mostly meandering and formulaic. Yes, we still know how to absolutely destroy a hotel breakfast buffet and tell ourselves it’s because we’ve got a long and hard day of work ahead and need the strength.

Back in Europe, however, away from the law and order of the Sultan and his Sultanate, where races can suddenly just be put onto the highway for 75 km at a moment’s notice, the farmers are on the loose, shutting down the Ruta del Sol, and causing the Belgian classics to hold their breath as they await their own potential agricultural revolution.

Visma-Lease a Bike to Prove your Worth

We’re putting this one down to being lost in translation, but there is a certain je ne sais quoi, an “ah shit, here we go again” to Visma social media declaring that Sepp Kuss “proved his worth” with his sixth place at the Clásica Jaén.

A screengrab of a Visma-Lease a Bike social media post showing Jan Tratnik at Clasica Jaen with the caption "Tratnik and Kuss prove their worth with third and sixth places in Clasica Jaen."

But come on, how much more must Sepp do to be valued properly? A Vuelta a España victory isn’t enough; Richard Plugge needed that sixth place in the Spanish Strade Bianche to finally realise he’s on to a winner with the Eagle of Durango.

The same applies to Jan Tratnik for that matter, a man so nice and tolerable that Mark Cavendish supposedly allowed the Slovenian, and only the Slovenian, to accompany him in his personal car to and from stage starts at the 2020 Saudi Tour.

Ruta del Lol (crying on the inside)

Okay, maybe that headline is a bit insincere given the huge headache race organisers have had to deal with and the annoyance of the teams and riders who’ve gathered at the race, but come on, a five-stage, hundreds of kilometres-long race being reduced to just 5 km is kind of funny in a if this happened to me I would scream and probably just walk into the sea and never emerge again type way. For the proper news story, real reporter Dane Cash has all the info you need, as Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) won the overall with a huge total time of eight minutes and 17 seconds, 10 seconds quicker than UAE Team Emirates’ Juan Ayuso.

But we’ll bring you the extra detail that the ProCyclingStats guy, who usually has all the bad takes, also decided to go all thanks a lot Rachel, presumably because he’d already parked up somewhere on course and was readying to deploy the little campervan emoji to denote where he was on his website’s live coverage.

Uno-X Mobility boss Jens Haugland, meanwhile, gets it and is now a confirmed Good Guy (until and unless we find out something terrible about him; don’t hold us to this take).

Extra important question: with which group will the peloton’s premier tractor enthusiast, Yves Lampaert, side?

Feed Zone ?

?? This year’s Milan-San Remo will start in Pavia, meaning a slightly shorter 288 km route compared to 2023’s 294.

?? Tour de France director says the One Cycling project “doesn’t interest [him].” You can read the full story here.

?? Laurens ten Dam won the non-stop Colombian bikepacking race Transcordilleras 2024 in three days, setting a new fastest time for the race.

? Marianne Vos and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak returned to action at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana this week, with Vos finishing second twice in a row behind Elisa Balsamo and Marlen Reusser.

? Nairo Quintana is struggling with a coronavirus infection and so will miss what was supposed to be his European comeback race at O Gran Camiño later this month.

? Patrick Lefevere is sticking his beak in once again, dishing to Het Nieuwsblad that he knows Lotte Kopecky will have a new team for 2025, a claim which the rider’s management have denied.

?Sam Oomen (Lidl-Trek) has pulled out of the Volta ao Algarve after suffering a knee injury in a crash on stage 2.

?? The Vuelta a España has dished out its wildcards: Israel-Premier Tech and Lotto Dstny get their automatic invites, while Equipo Kern Pharma and Euskaltel Euskadi beat out Burgos-BH and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

?? Magnus Sheffield has posted a blog on the Ineos Grenadiers website where he discusses the Gino Mäder crash.

? Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) won the stage 2 sprint of the Volta ao Algarve after Dani Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe) bested Remco Evenepoel in the uphill sprint on the opening day.

Early celebration of the week ?‍♂️

These never get old, do they? In this instance, at the Classic Var, Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X Mobility) is the unwitting victim as the Norwegian rider thinks he has the win in the bag before Groupama-FDJ’s Lenny Martinez sneaks through to snatch victory at the last.

“I just sprinted all the way to the line. It’s such a surprise to win,” Martinez said. “It was a really, really hard race with the attacks. I wanted to try an attack but it was so hard I had to wait. Then he was slowing and so passed him.”

As GCN reporter Matilda Price points out, potentially saving Johannessen’s blushes: “You can’t tell from the head-on but you can tell from the behind shot – there is a gantry over the road at NOT the finish line at Classic Var.”

Cycling on TV ?

Saturday February 17th

Tour des Alpes-Maritimes, Stage 1
(08:30-10:30 ET/13:30-15:30 GMT/00:30-02:30 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ?? Max, ??FloBikes

Volta ao Algarve, Stage 4 (ITT)
(09:20-11:00 ET/14:20-16:00 GMT/01:20-03:00 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Max

Sunday February 18th

Tour des Alpes-Maritimes, Stage 2
(09:10-11:10 ET/14:10-16:10 GMT/01:10-03:10 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ?? Max, ??FloBikes

Volta ao Algarve, Stage 5
(09:20-11:00 ET/14:20-16:00 GMT/01:20-03:00 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ?? Max

Monday February 19th

UAE Tour, Stage 1
(05:30-08:00 ET/10:30-13:00 GMT/21:30-00:00 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Max, ??FloBikes

Can I copy your homework of the week ?

We don’t know how it happens, but somehow there is a fashion monoculture tainting the peloton, whereby every year a handful of teams all rock up with similar-looking kits. Are they all being hoodwinked by the same design agency? Is this some rouse to confuse fans and TV commentators alike, as they all blend into a same-y navy sea, with a vast swathe of the peloton electing for majority-deep blue jerseys this year.

However, the most egregious apparent copy/paste job was revealed this week, as Alpecin-Deceuninck belatedly showed off their new kit that they will be wearing at the UAE Tour, which looks almost exactly like a denim knock-off of Soudal-QuickStep’s 2024 number.

‘First they came for my title sponsor, and I did nothing,” Patrick Lefevere mutters under his breath at dinner as he chews his gristle and tops up his wine glass.

“Then they came for my jersey, and still I did nothing.”

Are the Roodhooft brothers trolling their rival? We can’t see another explanation for it.

And finally …

Behold Oier Lazkano’s giant golden olive trophy he got for winning the Clásica Jaén. Look how happy he is.

We’re gonna rock. down. to. addendum avenue

“I’m sure people have told you this,” emails in Nathan Hewitt about our question on Monday of what Remco Evenepoel’s phone celebration meant. “But the Remco celebration is from Ben Shelton, who was then copied by Novak Djokovic in tennis.”

The celebration, according to Shelton, shows that he is 100% dialled in and, evidently, still using a corded phone from the 1990s. Are they considered vintage now like vinyl record players are?

? Send us yer laundry pics

Today’s featured laundrette comes from Richard Birkett, who decided to let his photography do the talking.

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 …

That’s all folks! 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.

Every edition of Spin Cycle is available for free on our website in order for you to be able to share it with your friends, so please do! You can give them this link to take them to our most recent edition.

And if you’ve been forwarded this email from someone else and want to receive it straight into your own inbox while it’s still hot, you can sign up here.

What did you think of this story?