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Spin Cycle: The Belgians are at it again

What a week for cycling's Aussie Ewok.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 04.08.2023 Photography by
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. You can sign up here.


Hello!

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

The combined Glasgow World Cycling Championships are upon us! Track racing, mountain bikes, BMX, road racing and time trials all crammed up in wee bonnie Scotland. A celebration of cycling where world champions will be crowned, while for many the goal was just getting to the start line in the first place. For those who come from a stuffy road cycling perspective, it gives a more Olympic feel to proceedings, good vibes and flag-based shenanigans that don’t fill us with dread for a change.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Road World Championships without the Belgians on hand as ever to try and deliver some schadenfreude at their own expense, while transfer season sees the WorldTour continue to turn and prepare us to adjust to seeing riders in unfamiliar kits next year.

Fake news

The transfer season is upon us, and the social media managers of the various professional cycling outfits whirr into action to announce their employer’s new acquisitions with a series of hashtags, general salutations, and at least one of these emojis: ✍️🤝👋🤩💪.

But in amongst the often identikit announcements, there are some funny games afoot. Blending in seamlessly, able to predict how the signing proclamations would be made, are some fake tweets announcing what would be remarkable rider moves.

A screenshot of tweets from fake accounts announcing fictional transfers like Remco Evenepoel to Ineos Grenadiers and Mark Cavendish to Israel-PremierTech.

Meticulously prepared, from the use of expressive language written straight-faced to the strict adherence of the in-house Photoshop style.

When shared on Slack, as the above screenshots were, there is nothing to reveal their inauthenticity, as you can make your Twitter name anything you want. The giveaway, however, after minutes of looking at the images trying to decide whether you’ve been got or it’s real, is the @ handle. The fake Israel-PremierTech account was @IsraelPremTech_, when the real one is @IsraelPremTech, while @INEOSGrenadiier was more of a giveaway, and that account has reverted back to @team__info, and its most recent tweet before the Remco tomfoolery was another of the genre announcing Mark Cavendish had signed for B&B Hotels.

But who is behind this? After asking around the cycling twitterati, all roads seem to lead back to the Radsport bubble, the Twitter group of German cycling memeschen. Troublesome youths who no doubt cause a lot of ire to the marketing departments of cycling teams. We wish them godspeed on their internet travels, and maybe a light and friendly suggestion that whoever is doing the excellent Photoshops instead use their talents more productively by getting a real job.

That’s numberwang

Cycling’s Australian Ewok doppelganger Michael Storer has had quite the week, winning the overall of the Tour de l’Ain for the second time in his career, despite his finish line crash on stage two, going on to win the final stage three by two minutes to take the GC.

More impressively, the 26-year-old managed to exactly replicate his results from 2021 and 2023, finishing 97th on stage 1, 2nd on stage 2, and winning stage 3, as well as winning the overall and points jerseys in both years too. There should be an extra prize for that, we’re not exactly sure what, but it’s the sort of cosmological coming together that can’t be purely coincidental.

Feed Zone 🥖

🇳🇴 Magnus Cort and Andreas Leknessund have signed for Uno-X, until 2025 an 2026 respectively.

🇺🇦 Arkéa-Samsic and their Ukrainian rider Andrii Ponomar have terminated his contract by mutual consent so that Ponomar can ride for an Italian team to be closer to his family.

🫅 Warren Barguil is likely on his way back to DSM-Firmenich, L’Équipe reports.

👶 19-year-old Jan Christen will immediately step up to race for UAE Team Emirates (who he had a contract with until 2027) after half a year at Axeon Hagens Berman.

🔀 Torstein Træen is switching Uno-X for Bahrain Victorious, according to Norway’s Landevei.

👬 Mads Pedersen’s younger brother Martin has joined Lidl-Trek as a stagiaire.

👋 Uno-X’s Hannah Barnes will retire at the end of the season.

🤒 Elisa Longo Borghini will not participate in the Glasgow World Championships and take a break from racing as she deals with a deep skin infection in her thigh.

🎞️ The ‘Never Enough’ Mark Cavendish Netflix documentary went live on the platform this week.

🇳🇱 Rotterdam apparently wants to end its interest in hosting the Tour de France Hommes Grand Départ after missing out on 2024 and the race going back to France for 2025, but the Hague wants to continue the lobbying process.

🇨🇭 Mauro Schmid will leave Soudal Quick-Step at the end of the year after signing a three-year deal with Jayco AlUla.

🇦🇪 UAE Team Emirates has captured Pavel Sivakov from Ineos Grenadiers on a three-year deal, as well as Nils Politt from Bora-Hansgrohe.

🧀 Cees Bol has extended with Astana-Qazaqstan until the end of 2025.

📈 Women’s cycling will have a ProTeam level from 2025.

⌚ The Tudor team are making moves, snapping up six WorldTour-level riders in Matteo Trentin, Alberto Dainese, Florian Stork, Michael Storer, Alexander Krieger and Marius Mayrhofer.

😖 A nasty incident at the Tour of Poland, where a TV motorcycle crashed into four spectators, two adults and two children, who were taken to hospital. Thankfully, none suffered serious injury although one of the children was kept in overnight as a precaution. Race leader Matej Mohorič was left quite shocked by the incident, saying the peloton almost wanted to stop the race, as they didn’t know how serious the incident was.

🌍 The 2028 Road World Cycling Championships and 2029 Track World Cycling Championships will both be hosted in Abu Dhabi.

🤔 The disgraced Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman is not defending himself against a likely doping ban, which would see him become the first staff member of Dave Brailsford’s to receive a doping ban. Weirdly, when we asked the Ineos Grenadiers for comment on this matter, they didn’t get back to us.

🇬🇹 Burgos-BH have signed 22-year-old Sergio Chumil, who will become the first-ever Guatemalan in the men’s peloton.

🇦🇺 Caleb Ewan won’t race the Glasgow World Championships road race due to doubts in his form, CyclingNews reports.

Cycling on TV 📺

Saturday 5th

Audi Denver Littleton Twilight Criterium
GCN+ (21:30-00:10 ET/02:30-05:10 BST/11:30-14:10 AEST)

Saturday 5th – Sunday 13th

Thanks to our wonderful weekend editor and resident Scot Kit Nicholson, who compiled this Glasgow World Championships event guide to help you make sure you don’t miss any of the action (and saved us the mammoth task of typing out all of the events and going cross-eyed with the various time zone implications).

🚨 Retired Belgian great criticising Belgian World Championship selection quote of the week 🚨

“I would never take Philipsen and Van Aert together. Never.”

One of the most underrated parts of every World Championships is the inevitable Belgian psychodrama that is foisted upon the nation’s riders and predictably makes it harder for them to perform (which only makes Remco Evenepoel’s victory last year even more impressive).

Tom Boonen has once again stepped up to the plate this year, questioning the sense of bringing two world-class fast finishers in Jasper Philipsen and Wout van Aert to a race that may end in a sprint finish from a small group. With a men’s road race line-up containing not just Philipsen and Van Aert, but also defending champion Remco Evenepoel, Tiesj Benoot, Victor Campenaerts, Yves Lampaert and Jasper Stuyven, it should be difficult for any Belgian to find anything to complain about.

“They both deserve it,” Boonen told the fantastically named Wielerclub Wattage podcast. “That’s not the point. But that it will be tactically difficult? Absolutely. The task of a selection manager is to eliminate conflicts before the race. And take it from me: there will be those conflicts. Take two riders with the same profile to ride the final and there’s bound to be something somewhere that isn’t comfortable for one of them. You don’t want that.”

The response of the Belgian national coach, Sven Vanthourenhout? “I can already say that there will be no conflicts here.” Glad that’s sorted then!

All we know is that defending champion Remco Evenepoel will no doubt come out swinging.

And finally…

Let’s end with a caption competition for the website readers. What is being said between Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel here? Just doing our best to assist the Belgian media in their ongoing quest to stir controversy at every turn. Answers in the comments section if you fancy, the best we’ve seen so far from @CycleSystemsAc:

“Let’s get a bottle of Buckie and smash something up!”

Hopefully the ‘something’ is the competition for Sunday’s road race. For those fortunate to be in Scotland this week, make sure to sample some Buckfast tonic wine. You won’t might regret it.

Wout van Aert engages in a hearty handshake with Remco Evenepoel during Belgian preparations for World Road Championships.

Corrections corner 😖

Martyn Lunn writes of Monday’s TV Guide:

“Tour de l’Ain looks like my sort of race. Stage 2 on Tues, Stage 3 on Weds and Stage 1 on Thurs. Repeat: ‘everybody hates a smart a***’.”

On the contrary Martyn, you let us off lightly. Let’s put it down to being a clerical error (what even is a clerical error??). Maybe we need a break … speaking of which …

See you in a bit 👋🌴

You may have noticed today’s TV Guide was a bumper edition, and that’s because Spin Cycle is off on its holidays next week. Some much needed time on the beach, away from doomscrolling social media for funny little things that momentarily keep the spicy thoughts at bay.

We’ll be back with an edition on Tuesday 15th August, and from then the regular scheduled programming will continue ad infinitum (if we’re lucky).

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics 🧺

“Some laundry pics contribution for Spin Cycle,” writes Kevin Hoon. “These ones are from a laundromat in Doncaster East (Melbourne) in Australia.”

Can only imagine how different Doncaster (Melbourne) is to Doncaster (UK).

As always, we are accepting your own 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: jonny.long@escapecollective.com

Until next time …

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