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Spin Cycle: When life gives you Lemmens

The big three pinballed around Benidorm.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 22.01.2024 Photography by
Sarah Boman, 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. Sign up here.


Hello!

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

Things feel like they’re returning to normal as the 2024 race season slowly begins to blossom. Comical crashes, French sports directors stressing about other teams’ use of ketones, and a post-race interview gaffe. Cycling is healing!

Whatever you do, however, do not mess with Bart Lemmen …

Heading into Monday like …

Ignore the catty tagline of the above video edit, which shows a dramatic day out for cyclocross’ “big three” in Benidorm, which more closely resembled a Benidorm Big Night Out as Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, and Tom Pidcock did their best impressions of Brits abroad staggering to their hotels after a zillion warm lager beers in their favoured Spanish resort of Peter Kay fame. (There’s also a version of the above video with an accompanying Benny Hill theme if you are so inclined).

Mathieu van der Poel’s pinballing between post and barrier robbed viewers of a WvA/MvdP showdown, while Wout van Aert’s almost-calamitous trip on remounting after the final set of barriers saw him lose sunglass and saddle but still make it over the line to claim a satisfying third and final win of his cyclocross season.

Ketones and I

We’re back on the topic of ketones, as TotalEnergies boss Jean-René Bernaudeau (10/10 French name) tells CyclingNews their use in the peloton is bad for cycling’s “credibility and attractivity,” adding they are a “grey zone” seeing as they are not banned but have a UCI-issued “notice of non-recommendation” starting in 2021.

“Everyone is aware ketones are in use among several teams but nobody knows what they really are. It’s ironic,” Bernaudeau explained. “Teams who say they take ketones pretend they’re not enhancing performances. So why do they take them?”

“The UCI isn’t acting as a governing body. [The] UCI should follow the recommendations of the MPCC [the Movement for Credible Cycling, which TotalEnergies is a member of alongside eight WorldTour and 15 ProTeam outfits]. The MPCC pushed the UCI to ban Tramadol. Now it’s a great time to solve the ketones case.”

Jean-René Bernaudeau at the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné.
Jean-René Bernaudeau at the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné.

Jumbo-Visma are the highest-profile users of ketones, having publicly admitted in 2019 to doing so, although there are other teams out there who also use them, yet do so more quietly.

“I meet quite a few CEOs who are concerned about ketones, CEOs of very, very important companies in Asia, who are strict about rules, ethics and transparency,” Bernaudeau continued. “TotalEnergies came into cycling when they bought my former sponsor Direct Energie in 2019. I feel a great responsibility toward them. The Management Board is very sensitive about ethics issues and it’s great to have sponsors with strong values.”

It’s good to finally know where TotalEnergies draw the line. Being the biggest non-Russian buyer of Russian liquified gas: fine. Bike racers using questionable-how-much-they-actually-work ketones: disgraceful.

“It’s time for sponsors to play a role in clean cycling,” Bernaudeau concluded. “They have the power to tell their team managers and riders to stop using ketones.”

“Word,” agreed Uno-X boss Jens Haugland, quote-tweeting the CyclingNews article, and who’s clearly also trying to bring back a relic of 1990s slang. “Not be found in our bus and we’re proud members of the MPCC.”

Feed Zone 🥖

🇪🇷 Biniam Girmay will race the cobbled Classics, Tour de France, and Olympic Games, reported by Wielerflits from Intermarché–Wanty’s media day, and that he also “wasn’t mentally ready for what happened after my win in Gent-Wevelgem.”

👨‍⚕️ The Belgian doctor, Toon Claes (68), who operated on Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel after their crashes in, respectively, the Tour de France and Il Lombardia, is retiring.

😬 Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Jason Osborne was forced to abandon the Tour Down Under on stage 5 after a crash in the Willunga Hill feed zone that snapped his bike into four pieces. He says he stood by the side of the road but no-one stopped for him, meaning he couldn’t finish the race.

💨 GCN were at the Willunga Hill time trial where Sarah Gigante beat her previous QOM of 8:13 by setting a new fastest time of 7:53, while the retired Richie Porte came close to besting his 6:34 KOM with a time of 6:47. By the time the men’s peloton raced the climb on the Tour Down Under stage 5, Oscar Onley’s winning ride saw him come within one second of taking the KOM off of Porte.

😴 Michael Vanthourenhout won Saturday’s Zonnebeke Exact Cross ahead of Gianni Vermeersch and Tim Merlier. He then had to get up at 4 am on Sunday to make his way to the Benidorm World Cup round, where he finished second behind Wout van Aert. “Maybe I should get up at four o’clock every weekend,” he said after the race.

🏆 Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado secured overall Cyclocross World Cup victory after placing third in Benidorm behind Fem van Empel and Puck Pieterse, the latter of whom has been suffering from knee problems after a fall in training.

🤩 Noemi Rüegg won the first European cycling race of the women’s season at the first round of the Challenge Mallorca, the Trofeo Felanitx, which was also the first-ever race for the EF Education-Cannondale squad. They followed up this win a day later at the Trofeo Palma Femina with the young Canadian Magdeleine Vallieres taking the victory for the team.

🍊 Jayco-AlUla’s Dylan Groenewegen was the fastest in the sprint finish of the Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969, beating Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) and Tim Torn Teutenberg (Lidl-Trek).

💍 There was another win for Jayco as Michael Matthews took victory at the Gran Premio Castellón ahead of Pierre Gautherat (Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale) and Alex Aranburu (Movistar).

🐺 Julian Alaphilippe has taken confidence from his sixth overall placing at the Tour Down Under, saying he feels he’s slowly getting back into better shape. His next race will be Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 24.

Cycling on TV 📺

Tuesday January 23rd

No live racing …

Wednesday January 24th

Challenge Mallorca – Trofeo Calvia
(09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Thursday January 25th

Challenge Mallorca – Trofeo Ses Salines
(09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Friday January 26th

Challenge Mallorca – Trofeo de Serra Tramuntana
(09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Saturday January 27th

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – Women
(22:30-01:00 ET (Friday)/03:30-06:00 GMT/14:30-17:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸 FloBikes
note: due to time change, race starts evening of January 26 in the US

Challenge Mallorca – Trofeo Pollença
(09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Cyclocross

Trofee Veldrijden, Hamme – Elite Women
(07:40-08:45 ET/12:40-13:45 GMT/23:40-00:45 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸 FloBikes

Trofee Veldrijden, Hamme – Elite Men
(08:55-10:20 ET/13:55-15:20 GMT/00:55-02:20 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸 FloBikes

Sunday January 28th

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – Men
(21:00-00:00 ET (Saturday)/02:00-05:00 GMT/13:00-16:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸 FloBikes
note: due to time change, race starts evening of January 27 in the US

Challenge Mallorca – Trofeo Palma
(06:45-08:15 ET/11:45-13:15 GMT/22:45-00:15 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Grand Prix La Marseillaise
(09:00-11:00 ET/14:00-16:00 GMT/01:00-03:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Cyclocross

UCI World Cup, Hoogerheide – Elite Women
(07:30-09:00 ET/12:30-14:00 GMT/23:30-01:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇺🇸 FloBikes

UCI World Cup, Hoogerheide – Elite Men
(09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+,🇺🇸 FloBikes

Monday January 29th

No live racing …

Tuesday January 30th

AlUla Tour Men – Stage 1
(06:30-08:30 ET/11:30-13:30 GMT/22:30-00:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇦🇺 SBS

Wednesday January 31st

AlUla Tour Men – Stage 2
(06:30-08:30 ET/11:30-13:30 GMT/22:30-00:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇦🇺 SBS

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana – Stage 1
(09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Thursday February 1st

AlUla Tour Men – Stage 3
(06:30-08:30 ET/11:30-13:30 GMT/22:30-00:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇦🇺 SBS

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana – Stage 2
(09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Friday February 2nd

AlUla Tour Men – Stage 4
(07:00-09:00 ET/12:00-14:00 GMT/23:00-01:00 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+, 🇦🇺 SBS

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana – Stage 3
(09:00-10:30 ET/14:00-15:30 GMT/01:00-02:30 AEST) 🇬🇧Eurosport/Discovery+

Wrongly being told you’re in the race lead of the week 🤦‍♂️

Live television broadcasts are of course complicated things (and we should definitely be the last people to pull others up on their mistakes … ) but it is undoubtedly cruel to tell someone they’re in the race lead when they are not, even if they’ve just taken victory on Willunga Hill.

“And the ochre jersey, race leader with one day to go,” interviewer Matthew Keenan asked the Scot as he was trying to catch his breath, with Keenan presumably being fed the information via earpiece by a producer back in the TV truck.

“I didnt know that,” Onley responded, laughing. “That’s nice.”

Oscar Onley being interviewed after his Willunga Hill stage win.
Oscar Onley (foreground) and Matt de Neef (background).

It would have been nice, but seeing as second-place-on-the-stage-and-fellow-Brit Stevie Williams picked up six bonus seconds to Onley’s 10, it was decided on overall stage placings, with Williams’ number lower at 111 than Onley with 140. Very fine margins indeed.

In the end, it didn’t matter too much as Onley finished 10 seconds adrift on stage 6 to Mount Lofty, and stage winner Williams took home a deserved overall victory. Still, for a minute Onley knew what it felt like to be the race leader. Guess that’s nearly as good as the real thing.

And finally …

The wonderfully named Bart Lemmen (who also now has a yellow Visma-Lease a Bike jersey to match his name) was one of the surprise names to announce his talents at the Tour Down Under, finishing fifth on Willunga Hill, fourth on Mount Lofty, and therefore sealing himself fifth overall in the general classification.

Bart Lemmen sitting next to Robert Gesink in a team bus before the start of a Tour Down Under stage.
Bart Lemmen (left), sitting next to Robert Gesink before the start of a Tour Down Under stage.

28 years old, Lemmen only started racing at professional level in 2023 with Human Powered Health, having only raced one year in the peloton before that at Continental level with Dutch outfit VolkerWessels.

What was he doing before that which meant he came to racing so late? Just the small matter of being a captain and platoon commander in the Dutch air force. Human Powered Health did a nice feature on Lemmen’s time in the forces when he signed for the team last year if you want to read more. Note to self: do not mess with Mr. Lemmen.

👋 See you next week

Taking inspiration from former Manchester United right back Gary Neville, we will be taking a mini-retirement (read: a long weekend), meaning the next edition of Spin Cycle will be showing up on your shores on Friday February 2nd (we’ll miss you).

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics

“Here’s a photo from an animal shelter in  Phoenix, Arizona (aka the future hellhole of global warming and one of the fastest-growing cities in America,” writes in Sarah Boman, attaching today’s featured laundromat.

 “These shiny new machines will launder the blankets and toys for all the very good dogs who will hopefully have a very short stay while waiting for new homes.”

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: jonny.long@escapecollective.com

Until next time …

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