Spin Cycle: The anomaly in Guangxi

It's not quite the Thrilla in Manila but it'll have to do.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 16.10.2023 Photography by
Kevin Hoon, Cor Vos, Japan Cup
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Welcome back to Spin Cycle! Escape Collective’s news digest.

We’re still plugging away in Guangxi, and we actually (shock) have some original reporting for you instead of the usual layering of snark on top of the biggest stories of the week (okay, there is still a bit of snark but come on, what else would you expect).

We chanced our arm and asked some real hard-hitting questions of Olav Kooij in the aftermath of merger-gate, which he deftly swiped away like a lazy bear would a fly not worth his time (his judgement is correct). Then, we got deep inside the numbers of the race and found some correlations that will shock, delight and surprise (in exactly that order).

And as if that wasn’t all, we had the great and the good of the accounting world (AKA, accountants who are subscribed to this newsletter and took pity on our lack of smarts) look over the Ineos accounts, or at least what exists of them. Unbeknownst to us when we made our call out earlier in the week, there wasn’t a huge amount to glean from them. And anyway, looks like Jim Ratcliffe is about to buy another sports team for a price that is likely around 20 times the annual running of his cycling team (which is therefore equivalent to a rounding error). Madness.

Hayte the player, not the game

A bizarre stat came across our desk after the end of the Tour of Guangxi’s third stage. Ineos Grenadiers’ Leo Hayter, younger brother of Ethan and returning to racing after a “daunting” few months out with an illness that was expected to end his neo-pro season, managed to come 40th on each of the first three stages in China.

How is this possible? Is this some sort of inside bet within the British team as they twiddle their thumbs of an evening in their hotel? Or maybe, it’s just a ridiculous coincidence. Of course, amongst the other potential storylines at Guangxi, this was the one we had to get to the bottom of.

After finding Hayter beneath his team’s marquee at the start line on stage 4, we grabbed a quick word, and as we began asking about the Statistical Anomaly of Guangxi (not quite the Thrilla in Manila, but it’ll do) he cut us off.

“I have bad news,” Hayter admitted. “Yesterday Molano got relegated to the end of the group so I actually came 39th yesterday.”

Leo Hayter gives a thumbs-up at a press conference. He's wearing a Team GB skinsuit and looking peaked from an effort, while holding a can of Fanta.

Fortunately, we’d seen the results sheet prior to it being updated to include Molano’s relegation and so got to believe a world existed where three 40th-placed finishes in a row was possible. Unfortunately, it didn’t last the evening.

Now, the big question. Was he trying to to get 40th on stage 3? Regardless of how difficult that may actually be in reality.

“No, no, I actually noticed it after the first few stages and I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll try come 40th the next day,’ and then it slipped my mind and it just happened,” Hayter said.

“If the result had stood, it would have been a significantly easier job getting 40th yet again on stage 4’s uphill finish than in the sprint finales of the opening three days,” we followed up.

“Today I’m looking for a bit better than 40th to be honest,” the climber said. Fighting talk, and he did come a decent 15th place. Another time, then, for the triple, or even quadruple, 40th. We’ll be waiting.

Olav, don’t be Kooij

When Olav Kooij won the third stage in Guangxi, he was the first Jumbo-Visma rider to win a bike race since his team’s potential takeover of Soudal Quick-Step collapsed (a span of eight whole days). A winner’s mixed zone followed and the chance for this ham-fisted hack to use that meaningless and tangential piece of trivia to ask him if there had been any communication from the team since the merger fell apart.

“We all follow the news of course, but we didn’t as riders really have any influence on a situation like that so we just had to stay calm. And yeah, see what would happen in the end,” Kooij said.

MIlan Vader and Olav Kooij walk to sign-in at the Tour of Guangxi.

“And it’s probably better this way, right? Your team carrying on as it was last season,” the next question came.

“Yeah I mean, for us it doesn’t change much,” he replied, batting away the question. “We just keep like we’re going now.”

Absolutely fair enough, half of him is probably already on the beach after a very successful season for the 21-year-old (11 individual victories, plus the GC at the ZLM Tour) and the other half isn’t about to let us inside the current inner workings of Jumbo-Visma. But just like at all of our normal jobs where we also aren’t involved or made aware of high-level decisions, in hindsight it felt kind of silly asking one of the youngest riders on the team about what’s going on.

Luckily, Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman gave Het Nieuwsblad an interview over the weekend where he claimed Jumbo-Visma have sorted their sponsorship issues.

“Whether I say that the future is ensured?” Zeeman repeated the question back to the interviewer. “Yes absolutely, although I can’t go on the details.”

We didn’t have to wait long for further details, as Wielerflits then broke the news on Monday morning that apparently the new sponsor will be ‘Lease a Bike,’ Pon’s bike leasing scheme for businesses. Yes, the same Pon that supplies a lot of Jumbo-Visma’s equipment and played a part in putting a stop to the takeover.

Kooij’s future at Jumbo-Visma is ensured too, after he unexpectedly signed a contract renewal with the squad. It would seem part of the deal was that the sprinter will be given his own opportunities at a Grand Tour next year, although you’d presume it won’t be at the Tour de France…

Feed Zone ?

⏱️ Vittoria Bussi is the new Hour Record holder, becoming the first woman to break 50 km and set a new longest distance of 50.267 km. Ellen van Dijk’s previous record was 49.254 km.

?? The Italian climber Kevin Colleoni will move from Jayco-AlUla to Intermarché-Circus-Wanty next season. He’s signed a two-year deal.

? Some redemption for Jay Vine who won stage 7 of the Tour of Turkey with a solo move. “That was 90 per cent anger and 10 per cent happiness,” he said afterwards.

?‍♀️ Mountain bike World Cup series winner Puck Pieterse will lead Fenix-Deceuninck’s expansion into cyclocross and mountain biking, with four more riders from the women’s road racing team coming over to compete in these off-road disciplines as well. Pieterse was second in Sunday’s cyclocross World Cup opener in Waterloo, Wisconsin.

?? Rui Costa is on his way to EF Education-EasyPost, reports Danish outlet Ekstra Bladet, with the Portuguese rider signing off his time at Intermarché-Circus-Wanty with a win at the Japan Cup.

?? Jumbo-Visma’s Milan Vader took his first pro victory on the queen stage of the Tour of Guangxi and now looks likely to seal the overall victory. Cofidis’ Rémy Rochas is currently second and EF’s Hugh Carthy is third.

? Astana-Qazaqstan’s Manuele Boaro (36) has announced his retirement from professional cycling.

⏳ Olympic champion Anna Kiesenhofer won the Chrono des Nations, while in the men’s time trial Josh Tarling beat Remco Evenepoel by 13 seconds over the 45 km-long course.

? Tom Dumoulin ran the Amsterdam half marathon in an hour and 10 minutes. Impressive.

? The 2024 Giro d’Italia route has been unveiled, with race boss Mauro Vegni hinting a less difficult third week could make it more feasible to race the Giro and Tour de France, and therefore maybe attract the likes of Tadej Pogačar. “A few riders, only the very best, might be able to do the double in 2024,” Vegni told Cyclingnews . “The route is not designed for Pogačar. We simply changed our philosophy on how to design the course. But this route does give Pogačar the opportunity to do the double.”

? Cian Uijtdebroeks has lashed out at his Bora-Hansgrohe time trial equipment that he says cost him a better placing in the Chrono des Nations after he came 14th, four minutes down. He suffered a mechanical problem in the opening 10 km and then his replacement machine turned out to be “completely out of order.” We wonder what it said to him.

⛰️ The Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift could have a stage finishing atop Alpe d’Huez next year, reports Le Dauphiné Libéré.

Cycling on TV ?

Tuesday October 17th

Gree Tour of Guangxi – Stage 6
GCN+ (01:30-03:00 ET/06:30-08:00 BST/16:30-18:00 AEST)

Wednesday October 18th Friday October 20th

No live racing 🙁

? What the Ineos accounts mean ?

Thank you to the financially literate readers who emailed in with their explanation of the published Ineos accounts. Maybe this of no interest to others or blindingly obvious to everyone else what the numbers mean, but it’s rare that we see any sort of official numbers attached to a cycling team, so we reckon it’s worthwhile.

Because Ineos, or Tour Racing as they are referred to, meet two out of three of: having a balance sheet of less than £5.1m, fewer than 50 employees and a turnover less than £10.1m, it is classed as a small business and therefore exempt from publishing its profit and loss account.

The value of their tangible assets (things they own such as buildings, properties etc.) has gone up, maybe based on different valuations in 2022 and 2021. And we were also told it was interesting the registered address is in the UK but that the accounts are in Euros due to “Brexit and all that.”

Obviously, cycling teams are different to normal business, and it’s not usual to have your current liabilities vastly outstrip your current assets and for it to be so “upside down” as one accountant told us.

Another money man called Greg added:  “The accounts of professional sports teams are more like a bucket of cash with a large hole in the bottom constantly being topped up. You [would] see that more in the profit and loss report detail which has not been lodged.”

Either way, it’s a drop in the ocean for Ratcliffe, who is closing in on acquiring 25% of the Manchester United football club, for a sum which will like be around the billion-with-a-b mark.

And finally …

Maxim Van Gils of Lotto Dstny has been fined €50 and docked some UCI points for smacking the Greek rider Georgios Bouglas over the head in the finale of the Japan Cup, won by Lidl-Trek’s Edward Theuns.

Benji Naesen posted the footage to Twitter, and having thousands of people who likely didn’t watch the race in real-time seeing you being a bad person is likely the biggest punishment the Belgian will receive. Van Gils has apologised and said he regrets his actions. But really, everyone needs to stop hitting each other in bunch sprints. We think a good remedy could be – and this is admittedly quite an eye-for-an-eye method of retribution – but to have what you’ve done to someone done back to you. In our example, we’d have a video posted to social media of Bouglas giving Van Gils a clip round the ears for all to see. The shame would be enough that no-one would ever lash out in a bike race ever again.

A GIF of Maxim Van Gils smacking Georgios Bouglas. Van Gils whacks Bouglas in the back of the head as, ahead, Edward Theuns holds up four fingers to signify something about his victory in the Japan Cup.

? Send us yer laundry pics ?

“A laundromat pic from a hotel in Fukuoka, Japan,” writes Kevin Hoon, attaching today’s laundromat photo. “As ubiquitous with Japan, there’s a vending machine as well. Perfect combo for a liquid companion whilst killing time watching the spin.”

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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