Spin Cycle: Straight pluggin’

Eden Hazard in an Intermarché-Wanty kit has broken our brain, slightly.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 04.06.2024 Photography by
Alex Collie, Eden Hazard, Cor Vos
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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. Sign up here.


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

Things are hotting up as we speed towards the Tour de France in three and a half weeks’ time. We’ve got a bit of denied beef between Chris Froome and Michael Woods, Richard Plugge back to his Machiavellian best, a side quest for footballer Eden Hazard, and Patrick Lefevere is Elmer Fudd.

Froomedog days aren’t over?

In a rare example of why Twitter is still good, Chris Froome and Michael Woods both said an emphatic ‘fake news’ to L’Équipe’s report that there’s been somewhat of a power struggle within Israel-Premier Tech between the two riders for Tour de France team leadership.

The article alleges that while Woods won out and got the spot for the 2023 Tour, and went on to win the Puy de Dôme stage, the Canadian’s abandon and concussion from the Giro d’Italia means that Froome is apparently set to return to the Tour this summer, much to the delight of the team’s sponsors.

“This reframing of sponsors’ [power] made it clear to some of the sporting directors who allowed themselves to publicly raise their doubts about Froome that they will still have to deal with him until the end of his contract in 2025,” ended the L’Équipe piece.

Froome and Woods wasted little time denying the validity of the claims, even if Woods’ emoji-less response provides a, shall we say, cooler tone that we have absolutely read into his tweet and does not necessarily convey his true feelings on the matter.

Who knows, maybe it is codswallop or perhaps the pair do hate each other after all. What is undeniable is how peculiar it is the two riders battling for dominance atop a pro outfit are 39 (Froome) and 37 (Woods).

It is quite remarkable, as pointed out by one person on Twitter, that nearly half of the Israel-Premier Tech squad are above the age of 30.

A list of Israel-Premier Tech riders from oldest to youngest.

Pluggin’ the gaps and drowning out the noise

As anticipation for season two of Netflix’s Tour de France: Unchained series grows (we still don’t get how they landed on that name as the one), a few interesting morsels are beginning to fall from the laps of those media entities fortunate enough to be blessed with an early screening.

GCN reports of apparent disquiet between Tom Pidcock and Carlos Rodriguez in the Ineos Grenadiers bus as the two youngsters vie for supremacy within the team, but we are much more into the Richard Plugge sparknotes from Le Parisien.

Jonas Vingegaard’s dominant time trial win at Combloux, which pretty much sealed his title defence, made for uneasy viewing despite the Dane’s openness and willingness to say phrases like “I am 100% clean,” and “I wouldn’t take anything I wouldn’t give my daughter.”

Marc Madiot has another opinion: “At some point, the truth emerges. I answered you,” while Vingegaard’s response captured on camera is: “I’m clean. Even in a hundred years, nothing will be found in my samples.”

Most interestingly/annoyingly/Richard Plugge-y, is the Visma-Lease a Bike’s self-congratulatory victory lap at having diverted attention away from Vingegaard’s performance by spilling the beans about Madiot’s Groupama-FDJ apparently drinking beers on a Tour rest day.

“We diverted people’s attention with this story when we were only talking about Jonas,” Plugge says of his manipulation.

You know what, fair play, it worked. We’ve thought and written of little else since. But more seriously, should you ever, really, be psy-opsing when coming from a professed place of honesty and integrity? Furthermore, how can your ego override the idiocy of admitting as much after the fact? We’re sure Vingegaard wont be thrilled at this whole saga rearing its head again, especially in his race against time to be fit in time for the Florence Grand Départ.

Feed Zone 🥖

✋ UAE Team Emirates’ Ivo Oliveira suffered a hand injury at the Boucles de la Mayenne that could prevent him from representing Portugal in the Olympic road race.

🇩🇰 Mikkel Bjerg will join Michael Mørkøv and Mattias Skjelmose as Mads Pedersen’s supporting cast for the Olympic road race. Both Bjerg and Skjelmose will contest the time trial for Denmark.

💬 While the 2026 Vuelta a España start will take place in Monaco, the 2025 ‘Gran Salida’ location has not been officially announced, although race director Javier Guillén has told AS discussions are in place with the Italian region of Piedmont to try and agree a deal.

🏆 Lachlan Morton outsprinted Chad Haga to claim the Unbound Gravel 200 while Rosa Klöser won the women’s race with all four of the most recent champions failing to make the top 5. You can read our report here, look at our photo gallery here, or watch extended highlights of the racing action here.

🫣 “We’re going to stick to road racing,” said Bahrain Victorious’ Matej Mohorič, who DNFed Unbound Gravel 200 after suffering punctures and mechanical issues while resplendent in the gravel rainbow jersey.

🇧🇪 Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility) won the Brussels Cycling Classic ahead of Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) and Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck).

🇨🇭 Cian Uijtdebroeks (Visma-Lease a Bike) will start the Tour de Suisse this weekend, his first race back after DNFing the Giro d’Italia, reports Het Nieuwsblad, while DSM Firmenich-PostNL’s Oscar Onley will also make his comeback in the stage race following recovery from a third collarbone break in eight months.

🇦🇪 Juan Ayuso is aiming for overall victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné as UAE Team Emirates’ leader, but told Cycling Pro Net he hopes illness last week won’t hold him back too much.

🐝 30-year-old Femke de Vries will immediately join the Visma-Lease a Bike women’s team.

🇬🇧 Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes will star for SD Worx-Protime at the Women’s Tour of Britain, which begins on Thursday.

✈️ Despite his serious crash before Unbound, Dutch rider Ivar Slik was able to fly home to the Netherlands earlier this week.

Cycling on TV 📺

Wednesday June 5th

Critérium du Dauphiné – Stage 4
(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

ZLM Tour – Stage 1
(12:30-14:30 ET/17:30-19:30 BST/02:30-04:30 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧

Thursday June 6th

Critérium du Dauphiné – Stage 5
(06:45-08:45 ET/11:45-13:45 BST/20:45-22:15 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, Peacock🇺🇸, SBS🇦🇺, FloBikes🇨🇦, ITV highlights show🇬🇧 19:00-20:00

Tour of Britain Women – Stage 1
(08:00-09:45 ET/13:00-14:45 BST/22:00-23:45 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, FloBikes🇨🇦

ZLM Tour – Stage 2
(08:30-10:30 ET/13:30-15:30 BST/22:30-00:30 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧

Friday June 7th

Critérium du Dauphiné – Stage 6
(09:25-11:25 ET/14:25-16:25 BST/23:25-01:25 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, Peacock🇺🇸, SBS🇦🇺, FloBikes🇨🇦, ITV highlights show🇬🇧 19:00-20:00

Tour of Britain Women – Stage 2
(08:00-10:30 ET/13:00-15:30 BST/22:00-00:30 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧, FloBikes🇨🇦

ZLM Tour – Stage 3
(08:30-10:30 ET/13:30-15:30 BST/22:30-00:30 AEST) Eurosport/Discovery+🇬🇧

🐰 Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun of the week 🐰

Patrick Lefevere gets a taste of his own medicine!

In his weekly Het Nieuwsblad column, where the Soudal-Quick Step manager consistently airs the laundry of his riders and team for the public’s delectation, he moans about the fact news of his team’s imminent signing of Giro d’Italia stage winner Valentin Paret-Peintre got out.

“I suspect the source is in our team. And then I would have expected more discretion,” he said.

But what’s drawing even more ire from the Belgian boss is the fact he’s currently making a habit of approaching riders he wants to sign before they then go and win a decent-sized race, therefore pushing their asking price up. “It’s almost unbelievable,” he balked.

Elsewhere, Julian Alaphilippe’s agent has been in touch with Lefevere to re-open contract negotiations, with the Frenchman also likely worth a chunk more after his exploits in Italy. “I especially hope that I can sit with him again. Face to face, without brokers and without a negotiating agenda on my part,” Lefevere said, potentially spinning yarn.

One thing is for sure, Alaphilippe will not be at the Tour despite his Giro performance, wishing to focus fully on taking gold in the Olympic road race. What a story that would be …

In case you missed it …

The jokes came too easily when a cat was spotted darting across the road of the Critérium du Dauphiné, where renowned cat lover Antonio Tiberi was racing post-Giro d’Italia.

Perhaps fortunately, Tiberi had already dropped from the peloton, meaning himself and the feline would not cross paths. Unfortunately, the Italian pulled out of the French stage race prior to the start of stage 3.

And finally …

Following Friday’s bumper edition of stars from other sports loving cycling, we have more! Retired Belgian footballer Eden Hazard, in some sort of collaboration/friendship with Intermarché-Wanty, donned the team’s colours and cycled up Mont Ventoux.

Video footage shows the former Chelsea talisman/Real Madrid expensive mistake tackling the gradient, with a line of text trailing some of documentary (we’re guessing) soon to be shown on DAZN? We’re as confused as you are.

The more the merrier as far as we’re concerned with global superstars getting in on some road cycling action. Did we expect this genre to include Hazard in an Intermarché-Wanty kit? Not at all.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics

“I took these photos on a family holiday in Kanazawa, Japan, this week while strolling around seeing the sights,” writes Alex Collie, attaching today’s featured laundromat image. “My wife and kids couldn’t quite understand why i suddenly ran into a coin laundry, opened all the doors and started taking photos. Luckily there were no locals in the laundry so I didn’t need to attempt an explanation in my very broken Japanese.”

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! Thanks to Alex Collie 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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