Spin Cycle: Unchain yourself from reality

Cheque, please

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 17.05.2024 Photography by
Mick Dunne, Cor Vos, USA Cycling
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.

The Giro d’Italia is simmering along before it’s brought to the boil next week, but in the meantime we have drama brewing stateside, while Netflix are asking you to once again dissociate from reality in order to Grow The Game, and we even have a surprise sighting about a mile from where I’m currently typing this intro in London.

Back in Italy, however, Jonathan Milan is proving himself to be a certified Polite Young Man, while Attila Valter is fighting boredom any way he can.

Atill-ya what, it’s getting pretty lonely on the team bus … 🚌

When your GC and sprint leaders have abandoned the Giro d’Italia, and you’ve run out of conversation topics with your three remaining teammates in Jan Tratnik, Edoardo Affini, and Tim Van Dijke, you begin to look for other things to pass the time.

For Visma-Lease a Bike’s Attila Valter, now part of a meandering four-man Giro squad, he celebrated being awarded the stage 11 combativity prize by logging his trip to the podium on Strava. That’s not a bad average speed, to be fair.

Cheque, please

There is disgruntlement from some corners of the USA cycling community that a professional triathlete in Taylor Knibb will represent the USA in the Olympic road race and time trial by virtue of her winning the berth via the USA national TT championships.

To be clear, that discontent isn’t directed at Knibb (congrats, btw), but we currently have a piece in the works explaining the puzzling-to-fans approach that USAC takes to its Olympic qualifications, mostly because medals = funding, but which ends up – in this case, at least – not serving the female American road racers currently paving the way in Europe, by putting the Olympics out of reach.

But we’re not here to get too into the weeds with that. Instead, we’d like to look on the bright side momentarily, which is to gaze upon the gigantic, charity-cheque-sized boarding passes given to Knibb and the men’s national TT champion, UAE Team Emirates’ Brandon McNulty!

How much was spent on making two of these bespoke photo props? Which corner of the athletes’ homes will they be put in to gather dust and be obnoxiously in the way for a couple of years before they are chucked in the bin trash. You guys do pageantry like no one else, love it.

Unchained to reality 🍿

Wahey! It’s back! The second season of cycle to bycle, err, we mean, Tour de France: UNCHAINED.

For some, the over-dramatisation is too much. Fine. And yes, the trailer for the second season includes footage of Lucas Hamilton crashing at the 2022 Tour of the Basque Country for … reasons … while one line of the voiceover also decrees “this Tour goes from one scandal to the next,” which I don’t necessarily remember. Do you?

But we also get Thibaut Pinot seemingly asked whether he thinks another rider (presumably one of the big GC stars) is doped or not and we also get this gem from Julian Alaphilippe … who on the same day of the trailer’s release goes on a stage-winning 100 km+ breakaway at the Giro d’Italia.

The series may not be to your taste, dedicated cycling enthusiast, but is it really that bad a thing to ramp the allure and intrigue up to 11 to try and coax some potential new fans to watch the series and hopefully then the sport? We shake our heads when real-life races and events we like disappear and so we do need new eyeballs to make them viable.

Surely, the above Alaphilippe line alone is worth all the over-dramatisation and factual inaccuracies?

Feed Zone 🥖

💈 Having been left out of Bahrain Victorious’ Giro d’Italia squad, Wout Poels said on his In Koers podcast the he now hopes to ride the Tour de France.

🚵 Mathieu van der Poel has decided to ride the Tour de France and Olympic Games road race but will not compete in any mountain bike events at Paris 2024. “This year the combination is simply too difficult,” he said.

🇧🇪 His Alpecin-Deceuninck teammate, Jasper Philipsen, will ride the Baloise Belgium Tour and the Belgian National Championships as preparation for the Tour.

☘️ Sam Bennett won back-to-back stages 2 and 3 at the Four Days of Dunkirk, his first two victories of the season and for Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale. “I want to get back to the Tour de France and show that I can handle it. That’s why I’m here. People on the internet can say whatever they want. I believe I can come back; if I didn’t believe in it I better stop.”

🐱 Lidl-Trek’s Dario Cataldo (39) has announced via RAI he will retire after Il Lombardia later this year.

🦅 Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) won the American National Time Trial Championships to book his Olympic ticket, defeating Project Echelon’s Tyler Stites by 58 seconds with EF Education-EasyPost’s Neilson Powless narrowly behind in third. In the women’s event, half-Ironman world champion Taylor Knibb beat EF Education-Cannondale’s Kristen Faulkner by 11 seconds on the 33.7 km-long course.

🤕 Fabio Jakobsen (DSM Firmenich-PostNL) has abandoned the Giro d’Italia after crashing hard in the finale of stage 11.

🏊 Visma-Lease a Bike have found their replacement for sports director Merijn Zeeman according to Wielerflits: swimming coach Jacco Verhaeren. The 55-year-old Dutchman will take charge of “the entire top sports policy” of the team. Verhaeren is currently employed as the French national swimming team coach for the 2024 Olympics.

🚩 Tim Merlier (Soudal-Quick Step) was declassified for his maneuver in the Giro’s stage 11 sprint. “I was quite surprised,” the Belgian reacted to Sporza. “I certainly didn’t expect it.”

😡 In the same finale, Hugo Hofstetter (Israel-Premier Tech) criticised Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ) for steering in and failing to brake on a narrowing road 5 km from the finish.

🇫🇮 Lotta Henttala (EF Education-Cannondale) won the opening stage of the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas ahead of Carina Schrempf (Fenix-Deceuninck) and Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx-Protime).

🩻 In that sprint, Lidl-Trek’s Elisa Balsamo crashed hard, fracturing her nose and hand as well as suffering a concussion.

💸 Bora-Hansgrohe are once again pursuing Tom Pidcock, reports Gazzetta dello Sport, and they are apparently trying to sign him for 2025 despite his contract with Ineos Grenadiers until 2027. “Talks in progress, difficult but not impossible we understand,” says reporter Ciro Scognamiglio. Blimey.

Cycling on TV 📺

Saturday May 18th

Giro d’Italia – Stage 14
(07:00-11:45 ET/12:00-16:45 BST/21:00-01:45 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺SBS

Vuelta a Burgos Feminas – Stage 3
(08:30-10:00 ET/13:30-15:00 BST/22:30-00:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸🇨🇦FloBikes

Four Days of Dunkirk – Stage 5
(09:00-11:30 ET/14:00-16:30 BST/23:00-01:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺StayLive

Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic
(09:00-11:25 ET/14:00-16:25 BST/23:00-01:25 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺StayLive

Sunday May 19th

Giro d’Italia – Stage 15
(04:00-11:45 ET/09:00-16:45 BST/18:00-01:45 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺SBS

Vuelta a Burgos Feminas – Stage 4
(08:30-10:00 ET/13:30-15:00 BST/22:30-00:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸🇨🇦FloBikes

Four Days of Dunkirk – Stage 6
(09:30-11:30 ET/14:30-16:30 BST/23:30-01:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺StayLive

Antwerp Port Epic
(09:30-11:30 ET/14:30-16:30 BST/23:30-01:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸Max, 🇨🇦FloBikes, 🇦🇺StayLive

Monday May 20th

Ronde Van Limburg
(09:00-11:30 ET/14:00-16:30 BST/23:00-01:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇨🇦FloBikes

Rider with the patience of a saint of the week 🙏

You’ve just punctured for the second time on a stage. As you stop to change your tyre, a fan darts out into the road to put his arm around you while their friend snaps a photo. Instead of lobbing the man half your size over the horizon, you summon the sort of patience that Not Even Jesus Christ Himself could have conjured up and gently, but forcefully, brush his arm away, sending the message for him to politely fuck off at once.

Jonathan Milan: confirmed good guy.

And finally …

This is how Americans imagine the UK to be and now I can’t cry foul at their stereotyping because it turns out they were absolutely right all along. I don’t have an explanation, but surely the food will be arriving cold? And are you supposed to tip with shillings? So many unanswered questions.

But before I go, I need you to know that, actually, this is British culture.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics

“I was onboard the volunteer hospital ship MV Africa Mercy last week, berthed in Madagascar,” writes Mick Dunne, attaching today’s featured laundry photo. “We have a crew laundry so I snapped a few pics late Friday evening when it was in low demand with as many doors open as I could.

“Mercy Ships is a Christian NGO that operates two surgical hospital ships in Africa providing free surgeries. I lived onboard the Africa Mercy for seven years with my family. We had two years in Toamasina, Madagascar 2014-2016 at the end of which the crew had about 100 bicycles for getting out and about town. We gave away most of these to locals at the end of our field service before we sailed. I was just back visiting solo for a few weeks so grabbed some photos of the crew laundry for Spin Cycle.

“The crew laundry onboard is used by 450 crew and can be a source of frustration, conflict and community.”

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 …

That’s all folks! Thanks to Mick Dunne for contributions to today’s edition and 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.

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