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Welcome back to Spin Cycle! Escape Collective’s news digest.
That’s it for the 2023 Grand Tours! Now the days of ‘no televised racing’ begin to pop up with more and more frequency, and soon we’ll be left with nothing, simply dreaming of the start of the Tour Down Under, searching up highlights on YouTube, trying to watch cyclocross which is great in its own way but also not road racing.
For now, we’ll hold on to what we have. Namely, Jumbo-Visma being themselves for the billionth time this season.
The Jumbo-Visma Vuelta wrap
Blimey, thank the sweet lord baby Jesus it’s over. Sepp Kuss has won the red jersey. America rejoices and the stateside members of the Escape Collective payroll were feeling very pleased with themselves on Monday’s Zoom meeting – can only imagine what it was like in the Lance years.
Perhaps pre-empting this sentiment, Jumbo-Visma seeded some subtle barbs (we’re kidding, obviously) for their super domestique who had the temerity to ride the race of his life and win the whole thing, re-branding every inch of team equipment they could get their hands on, and going with the slogan “colouring history”. Not only is this the English spelling of the word, but also there can be another interpretation of that phrasing beyond taking all three coloured leader’s jerseys at Grand Tours this year.
They also leaned into the ‘GC Kuss’ meme by sticking it on his stage 21 bike and posted a bizarre GIF of a dog eating a rather unappetising meal that we’re only going to link to in case you don’t want to be put off your dinner.
After the racing was done Kuss, Vingegaard and Roglič got on the podium, Kuss sang along to the anthem, spraying their champagne everywhere (wiping it out of their eyes while their sunglasses remained resolutely perched upon their caps throughout the whole thing) and then took huge, Richard Plugge-defying chugs, deserved after a job well done.
Maybe that is what Plugge means when he told Eurosport that the team is already looking at what they can do to be even better next year.
Whatever it is, there’s one area where drastic improvements can be made: their PowerPoint presentations.
I mean, fair play, they’ve ticked off nearly all of their lofty targets but also what’s the fascination with being top of the WorldTour team ranking? Lidl-Trek have also outlined that as a goal for next year, which seems appropriate, but for Jumbo-Visma? Surely winning the Grand Tours is the end goal, not a means to an end. And don’t get us started about the graphic design going on here, we don’t what to have to get Kate Wagner on the case for a full appraisal.
So that’s it, except it won’t be. I guess we owe some thanks to Jumbo-Visma, for this Vuelta and the whole season, for being a frankly quite mad, mad bunch while also winning nearly everything they want.
Another intra-team drama Vla-solved
Just when the Belgian press were getting ready to pack up and go home following nearly a month of stalking Remco Evenepoel around Spain, the highest-placed Belgian on GC, Cian Uijtdebroeks, gives a stonking interview that provides a team rivalry dessert to the Vuelta a España’s near-fratricidal main course.
The issue stems from Uijtdebroeks being just one place and very closely ahead of Aleksandr Vlasov, his Bora-Hansgrohe teammate and co-leader for the Spanish Grand Tour.
“He would rather finish in front of me, even though that doesn’t really matter to me,” Uijtdebroeks told HLN on Saturday morning before the start of stage 20.
“Gaining a place in the standings will be difficult [with Mas more than four minutes ahead in 6th], so I especially want to hold on to seventh place. Even though the competition comes from my own team, as we have seen in previous stages. Hopefully everyone is correct and we don’t do anything stupid. It would be stupid to let João Almeida gain another place because Vlasov would attack me.
“I’m young and I think that plays a role. I just think we should try to secure it [his 7th place] today. I also thought the previous stage [when Vlasov attacked in the end with teammate Nico Denz] was a bit ridiculous.
“I feel there is a certain tension. He would rather end up in front of me, even though that doesn’t really matter to me. Do I dare to hit the table? I sometimes say my thoughts, yes, but this is also part of cycling. It is also the case in Formula 1.”
After Vlasov finished in the group containing Mas, Juan Ayuso and Mikel Landa, and Uijtdebroeks arrived a minute behind, the teammates did end up switching places. Cue huge meltdown?
Not at all, reports GCN‘s Matilda Price, with Bora director Bernie Eisel telling her “there is no beef” and that the team didn’t think there was an issue before Uijtdebroeks gave the interview.
Remember the days when racing was simple and teams raced other teams? Let’s hope that returns again soon.
Teams that could do with the season ending tomorrow: Lotto Dstny
Despite the rebrand, Lotto Dstny will likely be thinking that there is some nefarious power secretly pulling the strings as their first season in the second tier goes from bad to worse.
The Belgian team has been forced to suspend their sports director, Carl Roes, from the Devo team after he assaulted a signalman at the GP Rik Van Looy who wouldn’t allow him to enter the course.
“This is a very unfortunate and unacceptable incident,” Lotto Dstny CEO Stéphane Heulot said in a statement. “As soon as we heard this news we have put the sports director on leave. There is no excuse for such behaviour, it simply should not happen in a race. We would also like to express our apologies to the signalman and the organisation.
“Carl realises he has made a mistake. He already spoke to the signalman and apologised. We take this matter very seriously and are doing all the necessary things to investigate this further. Until then, Carl is put on leave.”
What further investigation is necessary? Maybe they need to measure the size of the bruising left on the signalman to equate the adequate punishment?
Elsewhere, the team’s sprinter Caleb Ewan has spoken for the first time since Heulot dug him out publicly after the Australian abandoned this summer’s Tour de France, with his agent coming to his defence at the time.
“I really want to compete. Otherwise I would be idle from July to January and that is far too long. I want to keep the peloton feeling to start the season well next year. Regardless of where that is,” Ewan told Het Nieuwsblad, who was then asked where he will be racing next year.
“[Right now] I assume that I will still be riding for the team next year,” he says, referring to Lotto Dstny. “But I don’t know what’s going to happen. The team has made it clear that they would prefer me to leave, but I still have a contract.”
If no other opportunities materialise, Ewan is clearly choosing his words carefully, and rightly so, in order to not jeopardise the final year of his presumably lucrative contract.
“What happened happened. What’s said is said. Sometimes those things happen in professional sports. It is what it is. Have we talked yet? Stéphane and I don’t speak that much, but we didn’t do that before either.”
Heulot, meanwhile, has tried to tone it down as best he can … by which we mean he now leaves things left unsaid while making it very clear what he means in between the lines.
“He has his idea about it, I have mine,” Heulot explained. “As team boss, I said what I wanted to say. But we’re both professionals, it’s not like we’re at war with each other. The intention is not to further damage Caleb’s career. We both want Caleb to end up in the best possible situation.”
Feed Zone 🥖
🇮🇹 Alberto Bettiol has re-signed for EF Education-EasyPost but in true EF fashion, the team have not stipulated how many years the deal is for.
🙅♂️ “Ineos Grenadiers is a closed chapter, which never actually was one,” says Patrick Lefevere of Remco Evenepoel’s potential movements (or not, as it seems) in his latest Het Nieuwsblad column.
🤕 The Jumbo-Visma soigneur who was manhandled at the Vuelta by police officers suffered a severe concussion and has filed a complaint against the officers, HLN reports.
🤷♀️ “I wanted Marlen Reusser to win but it didn’t work out,” said Demi Vollering after winning the GC at the Tour de Romandie.
🙏 A Nathan Van Hooydonck update from Jumbo-Visma DS Frans Maassen: “They are conducting investigations. They must demonstrate what the cause was. Considering the circumstances, he’s doing pretty well. It is of course very intense what has happened,” he told HLN.
🌈 Mathieu van der Poel took his first victory in rainbow on the road at the Super 8 Classic. Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) was second and Lotto Dstny’s Florian Vermeersch was third.
😵 Reflecting on his Vuelta, and echoing the words of Lefevere last week, Evenepoel told Sporza he’s happy with his Vuelta performance but maybe bit off more than he could chew this season and that’s what let him down in his GC tilt.
🇵🇹 The 2024 Vuelta will begin in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon on Saturday August 17, with three stages taking place in Portugal before the peloton hops over the border to Spain.
💪 Sjoerd Bax took his first victory for UAE Team Emirates at the Trofeo Matteotti.
💨 Jasper Philipsen edged out Olav Kooij and Dylan Groenewegen to win Gooikse Pijl.
😮 Matteo Moschetti (Q36.5) outsprinted Mads Pedersen to take GP d’Isbergues, with Arnaud Démare (Arkéa-Samsic) third.
🤩 Thymen Arensman (Ineos Grenadiers) posted a photo to Instagram showing he’s back on his bike three weeks after his nasty crash at the Vuelta.
📝 Kim Cadzow has swapped Jumbo-Visma for EF Education-Cannondale next season.
Cycling on TV 📺
Tuesday September 19th
No live racing
Wednesday September 20th
UEC European Road Championships – Elite Women ITT
GCN+ (08:30-10:05 ET/13:30-15:05 BST/22:30-00:05 AEST)
UEC European Road Championships – Elite Men ITT
GCN+ (10:15-12:00 ET/15:15-17:00 BST/00:15-02:00 AEST)
Skoda Tour de Luxembourg – Stage 1
GCN+ (09:00-11:10 ET/14:00-16:10 BST/23:00-01:10 AEST)
Thursday September 21st
Skoda Tour de Luxembourg – Stage 2
GCN+ (07:15-09:30 ET/12:15-14:30 BST/21:15-23:30 AEST)
UEC European Road Championships – Mixed Relay TT
GCN+ (09:30-11:30 ET/14:30-16:30 BST/23:30-01:30 AEST)
Friday September 22nd
Skoda Tour de Luxembourg – Stage 3
GCN+ (08:45-11:00 ET/13:45-16:00 BST/22:45-01:00 AEST)
🚨 Former Jumbo-Visma riders not being fans of Jumbo-Visma’s dominance quote of the week 🚨
“I don’t expect we will see much of this in the future. At least, I hope not.”
Despite previously being employed by Jumbo-Visma, Tom Dumoulin hopes his former team’s dominant year is a one-time thing. Speaking to NOS, the Dutchman said we have seen more exciting Vueltas and more exciting Grand Tour seasons in general, calling the final week “lacklustre”. He has a point about the results sheet on paper, but was he watching the same races we all were in 2023?
And finally …
Call… someone … because Geraint Thomas is forcing Hawaiian pizza upon the Italian Filippo Ganna.
“Delicious,” Ganna jokes. “Good, right?” Geraint Thomas then urges. “Si …” replies Ganna, clearly not wishing to be a party pooper. Het Nieuwsblad have the whole video and if this isn’t a pizza-based hostage recording then we don’t know what is.
Addendum area ✏️
The brother of Correction Corner rears its less ugly head to add in extra reporting to previous editions.
Eric Blodgett commented on last Friday’s newsletter to let us know more about that day’s laundromat location:
“Tidbit: Michael Matthews’s father owns the butcher shop at Mawson, where the laundromat pic was taken.”
🧺 Send us yer laundry pics 🧺
“Hope this laundry pic comes in useful sometime,” writes Simon Stead, providing today’s laundrette photo. “Taken in the English town of Cheddar on a recent cycling holiday, perhaps a one-two-three theme is at hand. Say cheese!”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time …
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