Riding is Life


Spin Cycle: Thanks, phone dude

Stradej Pogačar is Monumental.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 04.03.2024 Photography by
Gruber Images, Lucian Stănescu, Eurosport, 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.

Today’s edition, understandably, is mostly dedicated to the best bits orbiting the world of Tadej Pogačar’s emphatic Strade Bianche victory.

We would have included more on the women’s race, but some guy held his phone in front of the finish line TV camera so we don’t know who won.

Thanks, phone dude

There are very few bike race finishes that can hold a candle to the Strade Bianche finale in Siena’s Piazza del Campo. The crowds throng amongst buildings older than a very old thing, the sun cascades off of the bricks in a way that makes you feel connected to the universe, and two very dusty riders get to soak in the ethereal feeling of victory.

At least, that’s broad the plan, until some bozo joined hundreds of others in capturing the moment on their phone, which is all well and good (everyone does this from time-to-time) until it turns out you’re blocking the hundreds of thousands watching on television to see World Champion Lotte Kopecky cross the line first.

This wouldn’t have been as much of a problem in the foregone conclusion of the men’s race, as Tadej Pogačar revealed the script for the race before the start, informing Eurosport’s Philippe Gilbert that he intended to attack on the Monte Sante Marie and then did just that, soloing away to victory.

Luckily, photographer Ashley Gruber found a vantage point far away from any potato-quality phone cameras and snapped this glorious image of Pogačar’s victory. Speaking of which, Matt de Neef has put together a wonderful photo gallery from Strade Bianche that’s worth checking out.

Remco-ho-ho ?

Paris-Nice sees Remco Evenepoel undertake his first-ever professional race in France, an anomaly he has said is just a coincidence, and comes ahead of his debut Tour de France this summer.

However, as a junior he did race the Trophée Center Morbihan in May 2018, where his then-national coach Carlo Bomans witnessed Evenepoel’s tenacity in competition first-hand.

On the very first stage, Evenepoel hit out to take the mountain points at the top of the first climb, with the Italian Andrea Piccolo (now at EF Education-EasyPost) following and refusing to pull through before sneaking his wheel just ahead to steal the points, which irritated Evenepoel immensely.

“At first Piccolo didn’t want to take over, but then he couldn’t take over anymore,” Bomans explained to Het Nieuwsblad, as Evenepoel increased the pace for the duo following the climb.

“He was [like] ‘ho ho ho!’ the whole time, shouting [at Remco] to ride more slowly. Whereupon Remco turned around [and said to him]: ‘Ho ho ho? It’s not Christmas, is it?’ I told Remco to hold it, but he really wanted to ride away, which also worked. Piccolo exploded during his second attack.”

Nothing like some retributive stage-racing pettiness, and Piccolo was presumably unaware of just exactly whom he was crossing … and is unlikely to have made the same mistake again since.

Feed Zone ?

? Adam Yates will miss Tirreno-Adriatico as he continues to recover from the concussion he suffered at the UAE Tour.

? Stefan Küng was forced to miss both Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico for personal reasons.

? Visma-Lease a Bike’s Tom Gloag (22) will remain sidelined until at least June after being hit by a driver and suffering a serious knee injury last year, the Dutch team told Wielerflits.

? Mathieu van der Poel’s reaction to Pogačar’s Strade Bianche performance? “Mate, I’m getting a bit scared,” was his reply underneath a post on Pogačar’s Instagram account.

? More bad luck for Julian Alaphilippe, who followed up his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad crash with another fall at Strade Bianche, suffering “several abrasions” according to his Soudal-Quick Step team. Luckily, the Frenchman was well enough to start Tirreno-Adriatico on Monday.

?? Felix Gall has added another year onto his contract with Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale, now staying until at least 2026.

? Arnaud De Lie will start Paris-Nice pain-free after his crash and angry abandonment at Le Samyn.

?? Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease a Bike) bested Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) in the sprint on the opening stage of Paris-Nice, while Arvid de Kleijn (Tudor Pro Cycling) was the best of the fast men on stage 2.

? Over at Tirreno-Adriatico, Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) was just one second faster than Ineos’ Filippo Ganna on the opening 10 km TT.

?️ Some new UCI cyclocross regulations have been brought in, including riders only being permitted to throw away rubbish in designated areas, or else face fines and possible disqualification.

⛰️ La Vuelta Femenina (April 29-May 5) has dismissed rumours via Relevo that its 2024 course will feature a summit finish atop the Angliru, with the actual route set to be unveiled this Friday.

? Stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia has been altered, with the climbs to Aprica and Forcola di Livigno taken out and replaced with the Mortirolo and Passo di Foscagno. This is after the Ministry of Infrastructure, Energy and Mobility of the Swiss region of Graubünden refused the passage of the Giro d’Italia due to the expense involved.

? Following a crash at Oostmalle on February 25, Toon Aerts has undergone minor surgery to straighten his nose after breaking it in the fall.

?The UCI has announced it will be investigating the use of hookless rims on tubeless tyres.

Cycling on TV ?

Tuesday March 5th

Tirreno-Adriatico, Stage 2
(07:05-10:05 ET/12:05-15:05 GMT/23:05-02:05 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Max, ??FloBikes

Paris-Nice, Stage 3 (TTT)
(08:50-09:50 ET/13:50-15:50 GMT/00:50-02:50 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Peacock, ??FloBikes, ??SBS

Wednesday March 6th

Tirreno-Adriatico, Stage 3
(07:05-10:05 ET/12:05-15:05 GMT/23:05-02:05 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Max, ??FloBikes

Paris-Nice, Stage 4
(08:50-09:50 ET/13:50-15:50 GMT/00:50-02:50 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Peacock, ??FloBikes, ??SBS

Thursday March 7th

Tirreno-Adriatico, Stage 4
(07:05-10:05 ET/12:05-15:05 GMT/23:05-02:05 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Max, ??FloBikes

Paris-Nice, Stage 5
(08:50-09:50 ET/13:50-15:50 GMT/00:50-02:50 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Peacock, ??FloBikes, ??SBS

Friday March 8th

Tirreno-Adriatico, Stage 5
(07:05-10:05 ET/12:05-15:05 GMT/23:05-02:05 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Max, ??FloBikes

Paris-Nice, Stage 6
(08:50-09:50 ET/13:50-15:50 GMT/00:50-02:50 AEST) ??Eurosport/Discovery+, ??Peacock, ??FloBikes, ??SBS

Crunching the numbers of the week ?

So comprehensively was Tadej Pogačar’s dismantling of the Strade Bianche field (and possibly so long was his resulting 80 km solo breakaway) that ProCyclingStats somehow allocated the Slovenian 325 breakaway kilometres on their website, which is mightily impressive seeing as the race was only 215 km.

And finally …

Being filed straight into our swearily-magnificent “Hey buddy, enough of the curse words alright?” folder is Tom Pidcock’s reaction to Pogačar’s victory.

Pidcock’s coach Kurt Bogaerts had told Cycling Weekly before the weekend that Pogačar’s presence on the start line didn’t change much, and that every rider just had to try their best.

He was right, in a way, apart from the obvious fact that if Pogačar isn’t on the start line everyone else actually has a chance of winning.

? Send us yer laundry pics

“As the real season started in Belgium today, and there’s even Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne tomorrow,” Lucian Stănescu wrote last Saturday, attaching today’s laundromat image, “here’s a photo of a very basic Brussels laundromat.”

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]

?️ Shout outs

Readers and colleagues often send us in tip-offs of interesting bits for the newsletter, so it’s only fair they get their due credit. Thanks today to Kit.

If you spot something you think we’d like to include, you can reach us at the above email or on Twitter @iamjonnylong or Instagram @jonnyylong. Grazie!

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?