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Spin Cycle: You just got influenced!

Feat. another doomed breakaway?

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 31.10.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos, O País Do Ciclismo, Rigoberto Urán, Soudal Quick-Step, Singapore Criterium
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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.

As we approach winter the urge is to fall into a hibernatory state and log off from all things road racing for a while. All of the bad tweets, all of the ‘news’ stories about things that may or may not happen six months from now.

However, if we want to eat over the next few months, these are the scraps we must feed on. We consume it all so you don’t have to. Even if we have to become a bit more like your dad who sends links to tweets you saw a week ago. Maybe we’ll embrace this new manner, and start overusing the thumbs up emoji to respond to any and all messages. Maybe that’s what fatherhood is, one long off-season where you’re expecting to get a break but never do.

Luckily, the Tour de France Singapore Criterium is here to help us acclimatise to full-on silly season mode, where everyone pretends a proper bike racing is happening and the riders go along with it due to the heavier feeling of their wallets.

If only Richard Plugge would chill out for one single second everything would be good.

Another doomed breakaway?

As well as owning a fridge full of 0.0% beers, Jumbo-Visma boss Richard Plugge seems to also possess 0.0% chill, and has more than a couple of the Patrick Lefeveres about him as another a week couldn’t get by without news emerging that he’s once again Very Busy.

This time, it’s a cycling Super League. According to Reuters, Plugge has enlisted the backing of Ineos Grenadiers as well as a handful of other teams to try and re-shape the sport and its business model. The idea, generally, is to seek outside investment to repackage and simplify the current racing calendar, in order to redistribute both power and revenue toward the teams.

The presumed two biggest obstacles to this are the UCI (who are the ultimate authority in the sport) and the Amaury Sport Organisation (who own and run the Tour de France, the most lucrative event in the sport). Why would either relinquish what they currently have?

One rumoured idea to wrench control away from these two parties, reported by RadioCycling, is to acquire the financial backing of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which has already changed the landscape in other sports such as football, golf and boxing.

While Plugge and Saudi Arabia will no doubt see eye-to-eye on manners of alcohol prohibition, it would seem that other teams are less keen on the idea, presumably as instead of having more power themselves, they would just see Plugge’s position strengthened.

The big drawback with plans such as these, and other previous ones that Joe Lindsey mentioned in his report on our site, is the reason power and money resides with the Tour de France is because there are more people who are fans of the Tour than, say, Jumbo-Visma. In cycling you’re usually a fan of races over specific teams and riders. You may enjoy rooting for Hugh Carthy and the EF Education-EasyPost fellas at the Giro d’Italia, but you’re less likely to be tuning in as they turn the pedals at the Ruta del Sol earlier in the season with the same vigour.

We are all fans of cycling in the same way that the right-minded folk of Birmingham are fans of Aston Villa. And is the idea to package up Paris-Nice and Liège-Bastogne-Liège slightly differently really the key to solving cycling’s financially precarious business model? Would this really result in a better deal for the riders themselves? We’re not convinced.

🫵 You Just Got Influenced! of the week 🫵

Look, we all have to constantly tell ourselves little lies to help us get through the day, we get that. Each one slowly chips away at your soul and before you know it you’re dead, and then you don’t have to worry about it anymore. And to be honest, there’s something nice about completely detaching from reality; it must be freeing. Is it even possible to live a life that has truth in it anyway?

So maybe we are in fact jealous of the Soudal Quick-Step social media manager just barefaced lying about Julian Alaphilippe being held at sponsor-point and having a facial expression of someone who exactly doesn’t love his cool Safety Jogger shoes. But if LouLou has managed to get them on his pieds without retching then they must be at least serviceable, right? Consider myself influenced!

Feed Zone 🥖

🚵 Despite retiring from professional road cycling, Peter Sagan will likely compete in some lower-level road races next season in preparation for the Olympic mountain bike event. Ideally, this would be for the Continental RRK Group-Pierre Baguette-Benzinol squad where his brother Juraj is a sports director.

🇦🇺 Lawson Craddock has signed a one-year contract extension with Jayco-AlUla while his teammates Christopher Juul-Jensen and Michael Hepburn have penned new two-year deals.

😓 Ex-pro Maurits Lammertink, who was forced to retire after being hit by a scooter in the summer of 2021 while eating an ice cream with his family, is still suffering from the effects of that accident, he’s told TV Oost. He has a headache every day, can’t handle stimuli well and often has a short temper. He also can no longer watch television.

☕ Movistar will provide support to the boys and girls of the 40-year-old Cafés Baqué junior teams to help produce the future stars of Spanish cycling.

🛒 Burgos BH have acquired two riders from the beleaguered Bolton Equities-Black Spoke outfit in Aaron Gate (32) and George Jackson (23).

🪨 Remco Evenepoel has told Het Laatste Nieuws he agrees with Richard Plugge’s disdain for the gravel stage that’s been included in next year’s Tour de France, yet course designer Thierry Gouvenou reckons it could be a day for either Evenepoel or Tadej Pogačar.

⌚ 21-year-old Marco Brenner has traded DSM-Firmenich for Tudor Pro Cycling.

🏁 In cyclocross, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Eli Iserbyt emerged victorious from the Superprestige Ruddervoorde, while Fem van Empel and Lars van der Haar were the winners of the Maasmechelen World Cup round. We have gallery coverage here.

🫢 Mathieu van der Poel presumably had to dig real, real deep to win the Madrid Criterium ahead of Juan Ayuso and Omar Fraile.

🇪🇨 Jhonatan Narváez won the Pan-American Games road race, in part thanks to his Ecuadorian teammate Richard Carapaz, who crashed and then lent his services to the Ineos Grenadiers rider. The USA’s Lauren Stephens won the women’s title with a solo attack.

🦅 Sepp Kuss told the press conference at the Singapore Criterium that he won’t ride the 2024 Giro d’Italia due to the number of time trial kilometres, thereby ruling out a repeat of the “all three Grand Tours in one year” season he had in 2023.

🗞️ Don’t read that, read this 🗞️

You may have noticed that we’re spawning newsletters at a considerable rate of knots at Escape Collective. Thankfully, these others are much more highbrow and rigorous than what you’re currently reading.

Card-carrying Australian (AKA he has a passport) Matt de Neef writes the Down Under Digest, the DUD for short, because who doesn’t like an acronym. If you’ve guessed what it is from the name then one gold star for you, and for the slower amongst us yes, it brings you the biggest news and talking points from the Australia and New Zealand cycling scene, racing or otherwise. We’re going local. Just like the fruit and veg at your farmers market. You get interesting information and a smile on your face. What’s not to like.

Then we have the irrepressible Abby Mickey, the journalist in women’s cycling and easily in the top 10 people in life I would never cross. She now does a Wheel Talk Podcast for your eyes called the Wheel Talk Newsletter. It’s focused on the women’s peloton, has both spicy and correct takes, anecdotes to take you inside the world of women’s racing, and there is often some Taylor Swift chucked in there since Travis Kelce made her famous and put her on Abby’s radar.

I am – obviously – professionally obligated to also tell you that both newsletters are great, but do you think I’m so tied to furthering my own financial preservation that I would dare lie to you? Have you not been reading this very newsletter closely enough to realise what a reckless enterprise I’m presiding over? The Siberian permafrost is melting and we are all seemingly doomed. This whole charade is merely something to pass the time with until the destruction of the planet is complete.

And just to prove my complete impartiality to you once and for all, there’s also Dave Rome’s Threaded newsletter. I couldn’t tell you if it’s good or not because I don’t understand a word of it. The first edition was all about hex keys apparently? Me neither. But rather than trust my ignorance, trust that Dave Rome would know how to put together the first media publication specifically dedicated to tools since Jake Paul was on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The best part is there is just this one link you need to click in order to subscribe to any or all of them if you haven’t already. Your email inbox is already filled up with loads of other shit, so why not fill it up with good shit? Checkmate.

Cycling on TV 📺

Tuesday October 31st

No live racing

Wednesday November 1st

Cyclocross

X20 Trofee Oudenaarde, Koppenbergcross – Elite Women
GCN+ (06:45-08:00 ET/10:45-12:00 GMT/21:45-23:00 AEST)

X20 Trofee Oudenaarde, Koppenbergcross – Elite Men
GCN+ (08:55-10:15 ET/12:55-14:15 GMT/23:55-01:15 AEST)

Thursday November 2nd – Friday November 3rd

No live racing

🤝 Yay team friendship of the week 🤝

Tadej Pogačar and Jasper Philipsen were clearly having a whale of a time at the Singapore Criterium, although Mark Cavendish didn’t look overly impressed with Chris Froome’s power as the four-time Tour winner pulled the Manxman along when they got their turn in the rickshaw.

But before Pogačar definitely ran out of steam in the Singapore Criterium race following his final-kilometre attack, and Philipsen gave it his all to outsprint Cavendish to claim the victory, Philipsen and Pogačar had a moment for a Brodown Throwdown, clearly with half an eye on winning this week’s “yay team friendship of the week” award.

“We have grown together,” Pogačar said, referencing their 2019-2020 seasons together at UAE Team Emirates. “Jasper and I immediately clicked, actually right away during the first preparations for the road season.

“We no longer drive for the same team, but we still often send each other messages.”

Yay, cycling friends.

We are also absolutely, continually obsessed with the Singapore and Saitama Criteriums. And although we unfortunately weren’t deemed Big Time enough (sobs internally) to receive a place on the press trip for this year’s event, we may still be in attendance in Tokyo next week to see the spectacle for ourselves … watch this space.

Will Cavendish manage to get his own back and beat Philipsen this time? Will Chris Froome launch a long-distance attack that manages to stick? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out on the road on the day, isn’t that right, Tadej?

And finally …

A video from Rigoberto Urán of how road race drone footage could look. We need it, immediately.

And if that doesn’t float your boat, Urán is having a máximo off-season, singing and dancing on stage in a pink bowtie.

🧺 Send us yer laundry pics 🧺

“Last week I had the pleasure of being back in my home town Vienna, no cycling though,” writes Johannes Schulmeister. “And passing by this wash saloon I obviously thought of you! Hopefully you find them suitable and useful.”

Thanks also to Patrick Garland for the supplementary laundromat photo used to house Matt and Abby.

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 …

That’s all folks! 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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