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Spin Cycle: Someone you can build a house on

While someone else at the Tour of Guangxi's got the zoomies.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 13.10.2023 Photography by
Kar-Soon Lim Cor Vos, Tour of Guangxi & Feargal McKay
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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.


Hello!

Welcome back to Spin Cycle! Escape Collective’s news digest.

An emphatic Ni Hao from a Starbucks adjacent to the finish line of the Tour of Guangxi’s stage 2, where the wifi is good and the air con is protecting us from the heat of the mid-October sun. Outside the crowds are Tour de France-esque in size and there is a semi-party/bemusement atmosphere at the last WorldTour race of the season. And no, I’m not being made to say any of this.

In fact, I’ve had no run-ins to speak of (yet), even after finding myself absent-mindedly down a Wikipedia rabbit hole the other night reading about some quite mad stuff that happened in this region back in the 1960s. I won’t go into it in any more detail for now, but if you can’t find out what I’m referring to via Google it’ll have a mention in the feature I’ll be writing once I have left.

Anyway, now for this week’s news. A satisfying end to the Caleb Ewan saga, and we hear from Nathan van Hooydonck properly for the first time since his medical incident. Also if there are any accountants out there we need your help (don’t worry, Spin Cycle is still solvent. We have very low overheads here).

Ew’ll never see me agaaaaain…

Made official just after Matt de Neef’s Down Under Digest was sent out earlier this week, Caleb Ewan’s annus horribilis is finally over and he’s heading back to the warm embrace of Jayco-AlUla. It’s a slightly different vibe this time Caleb; now you’ll be promoting Saudi Arabian tourism rather than Gerry Ryan’s wines.

“It is clear that things have not gone well for Caleb at Lotto Dstny since things changed in management there,” Jayco-AlUla boss Matt White matter-of-factly told Wielerflits. “It is important for us to get him back into his strength, that means winning races.

“He certainly still belongs to the sprinters’ guild, even though he has not had the most successful year. But in the Tour de France he still showed that he can compete, and he is certainly not old yet. Sprinting is really about confidence. We want to turn back time and get him back on the podium.”

It’s a welcome end to Ewan’s purgatory, where Lotto Dstny certainly didn’t pay the Australian the respect he deserved. Even if they had buyer’s remorse after a string of misfortune for Ewan, no-one held them at gunpoint and made them stump up the lucrative contract they gave the sprinter. Lotto Dstny CEO Stéphane Heulot’s diatribe during the Tour de France was pretty classless, and his recent backpedaling attempt to mend the relationship as the prospect he’d have to continue paying Ewan for a year dawned on him was an adequate serving of humble pie. 

Caleb Ewan speaks to a journalist before a race.

The one question that remains is what sort of deal was struck? Did Lotto Dstny partially pay out his remaining contract in order to save some money and move Ewan off their books, making the deal attractive enough for Jayco-AlUla to make something happen? Or, was Ewan so done with the Dstny of his remaining time at Lotto that he agreed to mutually terminate his contract and take a significantly cheaper deal at a team where he’ll likely be treated with at least a smidge more respect? We’d guess something more along the lines of the former, but you never know.

More interestingly, Jayco-AlUla will look to combine the sprinting prowess of both Ewan and Dylan Groenewegen next year. Who will get the nod for the Tour?

Matt White says that decision has not yet been made but that Groenewegen’s reaction to the news of Ewan’s transfer was “very positive.”

“We were very clear right away about our goals for those two,” White explained. “Dylan will not compete with Caleb for a spot. They both run their own program, with their own train and get along well with each other. It can work out well for both, if one rides in Paris-Nice and the other in Tirreno-Adriatico. There really is no doubt about that.”

Nathan van Hooydonck: Someone you can build a house on

With the wild late summer period Jumbo-Visma have had, Van Hooydonck’s story was almost at risk of getting lost amongst the mayhem. Thankfully, the Crystal Bicycle Gala offered the perfect chance to honour him with the award of best domestique of the year, richly deserved after being present for both of Jumbo-Visma’s past two Tour de France victories as well as a whole host of other triumphs.

It also gave Van Hooydonck the chance to speak more in-depth about the incident and what was going through his mind at the time.

“I don’t really remember anything about the accident,” Van Hooydonck said. “It was sad, because even before the doctors told me, I knew my career was over. It was a terrible week in the hospital, even though I received good help from the medical staff and especially my family, who were there every day.”

Remco Evenepoel and Lotte Kopecky pose with their best male and female rider awards from Het Laatste Nieuws' Crystal Bicycle Gala. The awards are quite modernist expressions of bicycles that honestly look like a Philippe Starck pizza cutter or something. Evenepoel and Kopecky look varying degrees of thrilled to "what's this?"
Those will look…great…? on the mantlepiece.

The fact that two days later his son Alessio was born brought the situation into even greater focus. “I realise very well that I might never have been able to hold him. I realise that more and more every day.”

Wout van Aert paid tribute to him in a heartwarming video message shown at the ceremony, in which he said: “Nathan, I’m going to miss you. You are someone you can build a house on. Always positive and completely professional.”

Elsewhere at Belgian cycling’s answer to the Oscars, Remco Evenepoel and Lotte Kopecky won best male and female rider, while Jasper Philipsen was left to celebrate becoming the rider with the most professional victories of the year as he took his tally to 18 at the Tour of Turkey, which highlights that maybe he should have got the nod ahead of Evenepoel. “It may not mean much,” Philipsen said of his record-setting number in 2023. “But it does to me.”

Alpecin-Deceuninck boss Christoph Roodhooft also came away with silver crystal(?)-ware, scooping the surliest general manager award! Not really; he received Best Sports Manager of the Year alongside his brother Philip. Presumably they were sat at the same table as Philipsen so they could berate him in between courses to warm themselves up for their next Netflix documentary appearances.

Feed Zone ?

? Movistar’s PR department have clearly been reading The 4-Hour Workweek or something as they announced 12 contract extensions all in one go on Tuesday morning. Fernando Gaviria, Iván Garcia Cortina and Will Barta are among those who will be in yet another series of unexpected days next season.

? Chris Froome has told FloBikes he will continue to ride for Israel-Premier Tech next year and his aim will be to get into the Tour de France squad. “I made some adjustments to my cycling position. It was quite different from my previous position, at Sky and Ineos. I feel much better on the bike now,” he said. “I had problems with my lower back in the run-up to the Tour. I found out that this was because of how I sat on my bike. Somehow the position changed when I moved from one team to another.”

✍️ Kristen Faulkner will trade Jayco-AlUla for EF Education-Cannondale, having reportedly signed a three-year deal with the American team.

? Jelle Wallays is out of contract with Cofidis at the end of this year and hasn’t found another team yet.  “It seems as if teams are only looking for 17 to 20-year-olds,” the 34-year-old told Wielerflits.

? 40-year-old Domenico Pozzovivo is in a similar boat. Only signed to Israel-Premier Tech in March this year, the Italian doesn’t have a contract for 2024 and if one doesn’t materialise by the end of the month he’s told Wielerflits he’ll retire.

? Another setback for Jay Vine, who fancied himself for the monster 18 km summit finish – averaging 10% and often hitting pitches of 20% – on the Tour of Turkey’s stage 3, but the Australian suffered from stomach problems. “I also rode up with the best riders, until my stomach suddenly managed to liquefy everything. I started kicking squares and all I could do was crawl up the mountain and try to get to the team bus as quickly as possible,” Vine said afterwards. Alexey Lutsenko won the stage and leads Bora-Hansgrohe’s Ben Zwiehoff by 26 seconds in the general classification.

?? Dorian Godon (Ag2r Citroën) beat Lotto Dstny’s Florian Vermeersch to take the Giro del Veneto.

?‍♂️ 34-year-old Shane Archbold is currently racing his final race at the Tour of Guangxi but will continue as a sports director at Bora-Hansgrohe next year.

? Antwan Tolhoek will not be renewed by Lidl-Trek so the 29-year-old is looking for a new team.

? Madis Mihkels and Gerben Thijssen have apologised for their racist gesture before the start of the Tour of Guangxi. “We are extremely sorry for what happened on Wednesday morning. We realize that the post in question on social media was wrong and hurtful. We feel very comfortable in a multicultural environment and it was never our intention to offend/hurt anyone,” the pair said in a statement. “We would like to apologize for our behavior and lack of knowledge about Asian culture. We apologize to anyone who was offended. And especially to the Chinese cycling fans and all parties involved in the organization of the Tour of Guangxi. It is a valuable lesson for us and we will certainly be more humble in the future.”

?? Rui Costa will no longer race for Intermarché-Circus-Wanty but the 37-year-old has signed a contract with a team for next season.

? Jumbo-Visma are weighing up which riders to add to their team to take them from 25 to the UCI minimum of 27 squad members.

? Filippo Pozzato is trying to set up a professional cycling team; he told Wielerflits he’s got a meeting with a big Italian company next week who may be interested in sponsoring the project.

Cycling on TV ?

Saturday October 14th

Gree Tour of Guangxi – Stage 3
GCN+ (01:00-02:30 ET/06:00-07:30 BST/16:00-17:30 AEST)

Tour of Chongming Island – Stage 3
GCN+ (01:05-02:50 ET/06:05-07:40 BST/16:05-17:40 AEST)

Tour of Turkey – Stage 7
GCN+ (06:30-08:30 ET/11:30-13:30 BST/21:30-23:30 AEST)

BMX

UCI BMX Racing World Cup – Round 10, Day 2, Santiago del Estero
GCN+ (14:45-16:35 ET/19:45-21:35 BST/05:45-07:35 AEST)

Sunday October 15th

Gree Tour of Guangxi – Stage 4
GCN+ (01:00-02:30 ET/06:00-07:30 BST/16:00-17:30 AEST)

Tour of Turkey – Stage 8
GCN+ (05:45-07:45 ET/10:45-12:45 BST/20:45-22:45 AEST)

Veneto Classic
GCN+ (09:15-10:45 ET/14:15-15:45 BST/00:15-01:45 AEST)

Monday October 16th

Gree Tour of Guangxi – Stage 5
GCN+ (02:20-03:50 ET/07:20-08:50 BST/17:20-18:50 AEST)

Cyclocross

UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Waterloo – Elite Women
GCN+ (13:20-14:50 ET/18:20-19:50 BST/04:20-05:50 AEST) and on Flobikes in the US (13:20)

UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Waterloo – Elite Men
GCN+ (15:00-16:30 ET/20:00-21:30 BST/06:00-07:30 AEST) on Flobikes (15:00)

? Calling all accountants ?

We came across this posting of Ineos’ most recent financial statements and though the person who tweeted is claiming there are certain things not being said, which maybe one of Britain’s richest men (and Knight of the Realm – which is an awesome title to have regardless of what you think of the monarchy) should be held accountable to, but to be completely honest we don’t have the foggiest what any of it means.

https://twitter.com/fmk_roi/status/1712008062167400773?s=46&t=Hv9kzoJ8OCsJMqWZV_m72g

As we write a newsletter for a living, it should come as no surprise that our financial literacy is lacking. If there are any accountants out there who can tell us what all this means, and specifically how it pertains to what is usually expected from huge UK companies as to their published accounts, we’d love to hear from you to help explain to us as if we were five years old if there is anything interesting going on here. Bean counters, stand up and be counted yourself, your time is now. It’s the off-season, we will grow increasingly desperate until the Tour Down Under raises its mullet-clad head for any semblance of an interesting cycling story. Let’s all try and ‘do a journalism’ together.

If you can help please email me: [email protected] or alternatively message me on Discord/Twitter/Instagram, wherever is easiest.

And finally …

While the riders pedal their final kilometres before at least one well-earned beer, the cameramen are clearly already on the frothies.

? Send us yer laundry pics ?

“We are on holidays in Japan and walked past this laundromat near the Hiroshima Peace Park,” writes Kar-Soon Lim, attaching today’s laundromat photo.

“My wife and kids thought I was very strange when I went inside to take a photo!”

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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