Spin Cycle: The week that was

Enough, now.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 15.09.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos, GCN/Eurosport, Tour de Romandie, Dan Martin, La Vuelta/@cxcling, NairoInGreen, Marcelo La Gattina,
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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.


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

They say a week is a long time in politics, but this week politics came to cycling. And not any politics: office politics. The best kind. Well, only the best when it’s other office’s drama that you have a front row seat for.

In Monday’s edition we had Geraint Thomas’ sage forewarning that Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard would likely attack Sepp Kuss’ red jersey, but nothing would prepare us for what was to follow.

It was a week of high drama and intrigue. The clash of champions that fed a media hungry for narrative and plot, that divided fans and captured cycling’s attention completely. It was concerning, slightly discombobulating, and kind of thrilling. We’ve dissected the whole episode to death by this point, so all that’s left to do is to tie up the loose odds and ends, the smaller side quests that got missed amongst the main thrusts of pandemonium.

This should be it, the rest of the Vuelta will (hopefully) go off without a hitch and we can slowly wind down into the off-season. The riders, teams, fans, the whole of cycling, deserve a break from the 2023 season. It’s been exhilarating, but enough, now.

?‍♀️ Early celebration of the week ?‍♀️

Another gem to add to the pantheon of early celebrations. Fenix-Deceuninck’s Carina Schrempf took a flyer with 2.5 km to go on stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie and looked to have stolen a march on the rest of the field…

At least she would have had she not sat up to celebrate with literally a metre until the line, at which point UAE Team ADQ’s Sofia Bertizzolo snuck past and nicked the victory off of her.

The tidbits that got lost in the chaos

Right, where to start. To be honest, we’re already exhausted, but here goes. While we’ve covered the broad strokes of a ridiculous week in bike racing that will live long in the memory, there were a few minor points, finer details, that got lost amongst the quotes, red jersey-dropping antics and general this-is-too-much-for-my-small-brain-to-comprehend-ness of the Vuelta’s third week.

In no particular order, early in the week, a comment from JasonB on an Escape Collective article alerted us to the fact that while Sepp Kuss’ bike had been adorned with red bar tape, his fork was still a jarring yellow. Did this speak to Jumbo-Visma’s lack of support for their red jersey by not putting their full aesthetic weight behind him? After consulting the archives, it seems that in Primož Roglič’s successful 2021 Vuelta campaign, he had a yellow bike with red bar tape right up until the final podium.

The day after his Bejes stage win, Jonas Vingegaard was the first rider of the Vuelta to be awarded the solidarity jersey (for dedicating his victory to Nathan Van Hooydonck), which was just an all-time (and we presume non-ironic) move by the race organisers.

Spare a thought for Mikel Landa, whose brain was maybe the most broken by the Angliru antics: “I told Kuss that the race was slipping through his fingers but he didn’t give me a relay,” the Spaniard said post-stage. “He said he had nothing to lose. I don’t know what is their plan, and honestly, I don’t care. I feel great.” Kuss then went up to Landa to apologise for sprinting him on the line and that he only did it because he needed the bonus seconds, to which Landa says spoke volumes of the American and that he appreciated the gesture.

As Kuss fought back on the Angliru, Jumbo-Visma’s latest signing, the American Matteo Jorgenson, tweeted “GOOO SEPPPPPPPP,” so maybe Kuss has recruited his first domestique for next year as he looks to galvanise support behind his own Grand Tour GC bids (we’re kidding).

As the riders decamped the Angliru, Kuss, already in the front seat of a team car, started getting out of his seat to give it to Roglič instead, so the Slovenian didn’t have to suffer the indignity of sitting in the back. Roglič waved his offer away, quickly hopping into the back, but to be honest if this wasn’t some sort of 4D PR chess from Kuss at the height of the leadership tumult and it’s just Kuss’ usual geniality, this obscene level of deference may have been part of his problem this week.

Throughout the palaver, the Dutch team’s PR and media arm whirred into action, posting a photo of Roglič and Vingegaard crossing the finish line on the Angliru with the caption: “What a demonstration of teamwork!” A couple of days later after a detente had finally been called, Jumbo-Visma tweeted a race update 40 km into the stage: “There’s a breakaway group of fourteen riders at the moment. Our guys remained in the peloton, where we are protecting our red jersey ?.” You’ve got to respect their commitment to posting their way through the mayhem without a second’s hesitation.

After Roglič’s wife Lora Klinc was spotted liking Instagram posts saying Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma’s tactics were unacceptable, she absolutely went off on internet pundit Benji Naesen for posting about it and to be honest that was the moment we feared the whole mess was starting to reach the point of no return.

In less good news that took the shine off Vingegaard and Roglič finally backing Kuss on stage 18, one of their soigneurs was effectively assaulted by police, and according to journalist Dan Benson who was present at the scene the police were being unnecessarily heavy handed (what’s new there).

But even away from the Vuelta, Jumbo-Visma continue to not have a normal one. There are some rumours going around that Dutch cryptocurrency firm Bitvavo are considering stepping in to become the squad’s new sponsors (they are already very prevalent in the Netherlands with numerous other sponsorships). Finally, Jumbo-Visma thought it was the right time on Friday to announce the cycling and skating teams were going their separate ways as the ice skating squad seeks a national sponsor and the cycling team goes more international. Couldn’t have moved this one back to next week, gents?

Oh, and Spanish commentators speaking during stage 19 were quite sure that Primož Roglič will be moving to either Ineos Grenadiers or Lidl-Trek next season. It. Literally. Never. Stops.

We didn’t even get the space or mental bandwidth to discuss why João Almeida was riding to protect his 10th place on GC this week instead of providing assistance to his higher, fourth-placed teammate Juan Ayuso. To be honest, UAE, one possible mutiny at a time, please.

And we’re done! Let’s all try manifest a normal week next week, please!

One of the few times Remco Evenepoel has been upstaged

In amongst all the madness, the usual man towards whom the spotlight hopelessly gravitates has been left as merely a side character.

Following his GC bid collapsing on the Tourmalet, Remco Evenepoel spent 125 km off the front to secure a comeback stage win the very next day, and that has only continued in the final week as he looks to take further stage honours and capture the polka dot jersey.

On stage 15 he was fourth after a day off the front, stage 16 he took off (sensible), stage 17 on the Angliru he tried one of his textbook solo missions but became unstuck as Jumbo-Visma turned up the heat on their near-self-immolation. But then on stage 18 he got in the day’s early break and won the day at a canter. In total he’s spent 478 km in the break over the past week and secured the king of the mountains jersey. After Sepp Kuss, it’s hard to argue for anyone else who’s had a more successful third week.

A stage win atop the Angliru would have been the biggest statement, but Evenepoel is likely just glad he didn’t have any run-ins with livestock like he did when he reconned the route before the Grand Tour.

“I did a recon of the full stage, I know what to do,” Evenepoel said before the start of the Angliru day. “I was chased by a herd of bulls, so I had to hide behind a rock to make sure they wouldn’t attack me.”

Luckily, this time on the course, the oddest thing he encountered was an old gentleman making sure the Belgian knew he was going the right way.

Meanwhile, Patrick Lefevere has been given his opinion on Evenepoel’s Vuelta, saying he thinks his rider had too many big goals this year and eventually it all got a bit much for the 23-year-old. Re-confirming Evenepoel’s expected debut Tour de France next year, the team boss says they will need to prepare a bit differently to make sure their rider is in as good form as he can be. He’s also drawn a line under all the August transfer rumours, too.

“The polemic of the last few weeks was unnecessary,” Lefevere told Sporza. “That must have weighed mentally. I spoke with Remco’s father/manager. I think many things have been cleared up.” In further good news for Soudal Quick-Step, Mikel Landa looked impressive in this final week, as did Mattia Cattaneo, so maybe Evenepoel will have the support he needs at next year’s Tour.

In a last desperate bid for the limelight at the Vuelta, Evenepoel has turned his hand to some juvenile tagging, although if you’re graffiti-ing your own graffiti artwork, we think it’s probably allowed.

Feed Zone ?

?? George Bennett’s new team has been revealed and it’s Israel-Premier Tech, where Brit Jake Stewart will also be moving from Groupama-FDJ.

?? Richard Carapaz returned to racing for the first time since his fall on the opening stage of the Tour de France at the Giro della Toscana and finished second, while Tadej Pogačar also lined up and came fourth as Pavel Sivakov took victory.

?‍? Alexandre Vinokourov’s 21-year-old son Nicolas has signed for Astana-Qazaqstan for two years, graduating from the WorldTour squad’s development team.

? More Vino news, Alexandre is still trying to fill that big hole inside him by becoming the Ironman World Champion in the 50-54 age category.

?? Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar) beat Dylan Teuns to the GP de Wallonie on Wednesday, with Mathieu van der Poel finishing 4th and Biniam Girmay 7th. Van der Poel is thinking of calling his road season earlier than expected to have a rest before cyclocross season: “Just riding around for the sake of riding around isn’t of much use,” he said.

?? EF Education EasyPost have signed 20-year-old Brit Jack Rootkin-Gray from Saint Piran.

✒️ Mauri Vansevenant has re-signed with Soudal Quick-Step until the end of 2026, while Jordi Warlop will also join the team.

? Mathieu Burgaudeau will be staying with TotalEnergies for at least two more years, enough time to eventually be joined by Julian Alaphilippe and provide body double services to the former world champion.

? Giro d’Italia stage winner Stefano Oldani will move from Alpecin-Deceuninck to Cofidis next year.

? Davide Ballerini returns to Astana-Qazaqstan next year on a one-year contract.

? Cofidis’ 32-year-old Wesley Kreder suffered a heart problem at home at the end of August. His family provided him with first aid before he was taken to hospital where he was stabilised. It was found he was suffering from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. Cofidis say it is still to early to know whether he will race again.

Cycling on TV ?

Note: Vuelta a España timings are for GCN+ coverage, not Peacock, but Peacock is where American viewers who don’t own a VPN can watch the race.

Saturday September 16th

Vuelta a España, Stage 20
GCN+/Peacock (05:30-12:00 ET/10:30-17:00 BST/19:30-02:00 AEST)

Tour de Romandie, Stage 2
GCN+/Peacock/FloBikes (06:35-08:05 ET/11:35-13:05 BST/20:35-22:05 AEST)

Super 8 Classic
GCN+ (09:45-12:30 ET/14:45-17:30 BST/23:45-02:30 AEST)

Sunday September 17th

Vuelta a España, Stage 21
GCN+/Peacock (10:45-15:00 ET/15:45-20:00 BST/00:45-05:00 AEST)

Tour de Romandie, Stage 3
GCN+/Peacock/FloBikes (08:10-09:40 ET/13:10-14:40 BST/22:10-23:40 AEST)

Monday September 18th

No live racing

? Grand Tour winners going down in history quote of the week ?

“I did a Dumoulin.”

For Tom Dumoulin, after all the years of hard work and bike racing victories, including a world time trial title and Giro d’Italia GC win, the fact he will be remembered most in the sport’s lore for the time he jumped off his bike and un-bibbed himself to take a massive dump at the side of the road on live television must be a bit of a disappointment.

Even more so when your former teammate is helping further its use in common parlance, with Jonas Vingegaard explaining that during the first week of the Vuelta he was more sick than he had let on.

“I did a Dumoulin,” he told TV2, referencing his former teammate needing to take an emergency toilet break mid-race. “It wasn’t the proudest moment in my career.

“I had more problems with stomach bacteria than I let on. Now it doesn’t bother me anymore, but then I had no strength anymore.”

And finally …

No, enough now, Dan Martin.

Corrections corner ?

Thank you to the many people who let us know the man handing a slightly suspect-looking bottle of water to Romain Bardet and Remco Evenepoel in Monday’s edition was in fact Romain Bardet’s dad!

? Send us yer laundry pics ?

“Please see attached photo of ‘All Fresh Laundry’ at my local shops in the suburb of Mawson in Canberra, Australia,” Lisa Neumann emailed back in June, attaching a photo of today’s laundromat.

“Not only is it a great laundry, they have Jumbo dryers which I know you will be able to use at a relevant point in time.”

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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