A composite image of all the stories we reference in the piece.

The stories we didn’t get around to writing at the Spring Classics

Plus, some new rider songs to add to the canon.

Iain Treloar & Jonny Long
by Iain Treloar & Jonny Long 10.04.2024 Photography by
Iain Treloar, Will Tracy, Remco Evenepoel, Cor Vos
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The harsh reality of bike racing is that there are always, always more stories to be told than there are hours to write them. You start out with the best of intentions, of course, but day by day the list piles up: one jotted-down idea in the notebook becomes two, and then three, and all of a sudden you’ve got a Sisyphean task ahead of you to clear things before another day’s racing and even more stories come along.

That doesn’t make them bad ideas (although in this case, they very well may be), and besides, maybe there’s some value in releasing them into the ether, even if they weren’t worth a full story on their own. These are the stories we didn’t get around to writing this Spring Classics.

The greatest name in cycling? A chat with Lars Craps

On the startline of the Tour of Flanders men’s race, as tends to be our wicked way, we found ourselves scanning the start-list for signs of life. There were the big names, of course, and the medium names, but the name that most had our attention was Lars Craps (Team Baloise-Flanders). 

This realisation came a little late before the start, so we resolved to speak to Craps at the finish. But the weather turned, and the riders late in the standings snuck through the back of the press tent straight to their buses for a shower, a change, and a return to civilised society. 

Our search for Craps continued at Scheldeprijs, but our man wasn’t on the startlist. So at Paris-Roubaix, I finally tracked down the Baloise-Flanders bus in a carpark next to a palace in Compiegne, asked for Lars Craps, and waited. 

Finally, he emerged – a tall, lean and blonde 22-year-old from Belgium. We had a lovely chat about what it meant to ride his first Monument on home roads in Flanders (“it was special to me”), whether he was excited or nervous about Roubaix (“it is maybe the furthest from my dream race I can think of – it’s so hard, it’s so long”) and his goals for the rest of the season (aforementioned dream race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege). Then, at the end of our conversation, I let slip just how enchanted we were by the fact he was called Lars Craps. “Oh,” he said, not visibly perturbed. “And you do a good job pronouncing it!” 

“How can you mispronounce Lars Craps?”

“Oh the French do sometimes…”

“Like what, Lars Crepes?”

“Something like this.” 

-Iain Treloar

I walked a mile in Iain Treloar’s shoes

Jonny in Iain's trainers outside the theme park in Kortrijk.
A big thumbs up for Iain’s trainers.

Having left the one pair of shoes I’d brought with me in the van whilst we rode between hotels from Gent to Kortrijk, and with that van now parked underground somehow at the other hotel where the members who signed up for our Spring Classics trip were staying, I found myself utterly shoeless.

Step forward Iain Treloar, not only a generous man, but also one who brings THREE pairs of trainers away with him for a 10-day trip. I pulled them on and went about my day as normal.

The idiom soon crossed my mind of how one should walk a mile in another’s shoes before casting judgement, and seeing as Iain has a mind predisposed to the uncanny, I thought maybe I had a chance of seeing things through his eyes, of fully imbibing his creativity and chaos.

“I walked a mile in Iain Treloar’s shoes.” That’s a headline people would want to click on, I thought. I even got a cover image for the article taken in front of the fair ground ride in front of our hotel that was so loud that it rattled the windows of Matt de Neef as he tried to get some shuteye.

The missing ingredient, and a key one at that, was some substance for the article. After 5.5 miles of walking around before I was reunited with my own footwear, I gained no new insight into the inner workings of Treloarism. Would it have worked the other way around? Probably.

-Jonny Long

Flemish Stew comparison

Congratulations to the marketing department for “Cycling in Flanders” for their Flemish stew-flavoured gel. You’d see them dotted all over the place during Holy Week, so when Iain suggested a taste test, it came as no surprise. Nor did it to many other cycling outlets, who did that exact story.

Cycling in Flanders' Flemish stew gel.

This, however, would be no normal taste test. It would be unfair to compare the stew gel to a piping hot plate of regular stoofvlees, or indeed to a regular gel. Instead, the plan was to buy said plate of piping hot plate of stoofvlees, mash it up into a gel-like paste and then contrast this created abomination with the gel in order to provide accurate tasting notes.

Does anyone really want to spend their finite time on this Earth mashing up a plate of food for an internet gag? Did we find the floor beneath which we would not lower our self-respect? Did we maybe just not want to eat the gel?

-Jonny Long

Goat Man interview

You’ve likely read Iain’s piece about our day out on the Roubaix recon with Shimano neutral service, featuring omelettes, cobbles, and goats. But one part of that story that didn’t make the cut was an attempted interview with the man who was looking after the goats that were grazing on the Arenberg cobbles.

As we wander around, Iain stroking the goats, staring through their eyes into their souls, perilously close to a tender moments as he touches temples with one particular creature he’s taking a liking to, we find ourselves standing next to the goats’ custodian.

He is a tall man in a hi-vis jacket. He is muttering to the goats in French as they stray from their fenced borders, trying to get a taste for the non-cobble grass which undeniably looks far tastier.

The man to our left is not the goat man. That is Jonathan from Shimano.

“Shall we talk to the goat man?” Iain suggests. I mentally try and untangle a semblance of an actual French sentence and ask the man whether he is indeed the man who looks after the goats.

“Oui,” he nods, desperately trying to look anywhere else at us.

“Ask him if he has a favourite one,” Iain suggests.

I ask the question.

“Oui,” he says again, shuffling his feet, offering nothing more. Presumably, he doesn’t understand what I’m saying and is trying very politely to tell us to go away. We leave, having conducted probably the worst interview any journalist has at the Classics this week.

-Jonny Long

Lidl pumping competition

In Oudenaarde town square at the finish line of the Tour of Flanders, there are numerous tents within which untold numbers of brand activation events take place. Really, it’s impossible to know exactly how many, and that’s how the marketing industry keeps itself chugging along year after year.

One particular stall that drew our attention was the Lidl stand, where punters were invited onto the stage to pump bicycle tyres in order to raise the level of a gigantic vertical gauge. Depending on the final level, you could win prizes from a single apple to free shopping for the entire year.

The compère was a blond Belgian man whose fresh produce-inspired suit said everything you needed to know about him before he’d even opened his mouth.

Immediately, the man sprang into action after realising we weren’t Dutch, but from the various English-speaking corners of the world. He notices our press passes and says he thought it meant a vegetable press but that we “cannot win vegetables because they are on holiday” and only apples and bananas are up for grabs at this kiosk.

“What…?” Iain replies, utterly confused at this bizarre character he’s been presented with.

“Journalists in Belgium,” the man hits back, “they went to school and stuff … nice to meet you Iain!”

Iain is interviewed by the Lidl man on stage.

We begin frantically pumping the three bicycle pumps.

“This is not a tomay-to, this is a fruit. It’s an apple, Iain, it is an apple.” the vegetable man drawls mockingly. “This is a banana,” he points to the banana on the gauge as we mash the pumps as hard as we can. “It’s not French fries, it’s a banana, Iain … it’s also a fruit … Iain.”

Our attempt at the Lidl bicycle pump game.

After our allotted 30 seconds we have barely moved the needle. Caley reckons by not synchronising, we were working against each other instead of against the vegetable man and his bicycle pump contration.

“It’s okay because you tried,” the vegetable man concludes, thoroughly enjoying himself. He hands us three apples and we trudge off, humiliated.

-Jonny Long

Remco Evenepoel pizza

For a couple of years, I have found the fact that Remco Evenpoel is sponsored by Pizza Hut very funny, and for most of that time I’ve been trying to think of the best way to really grapple with this particular editorial problem. But there’s a problem: every time I threaten to write about his pizza something goes wrong

During last year’s Giro d’Italia, I prepared to make my own Remco Pizza in honour of Evenepoel’s debut at the Italian Grand Tour – and then he got COVID, dropped out of the race, and it would’ve made no sense whatsoever as an article, and have been even less tasteful than a Remco Pizza. 

In Belgium, meanwhile, there were reminders of Remco Pizza everywhere: billboards, those rotating signs at bus-stops, and the real deal itself being cooked in Pizza Hut branches across the country. This year, Remco was schilling a new Bearnaise bacon and pulled beef one, which, impressively, looked much more disgusting than the Beyond Pizza Remco Edition that the sponsorship had launched with. 

All of which is to say that, in the heartland of the Remco Pizza, I intended to go to a branch, eat a Remco-approved pizza, and assess it on its merits. But our run of bad luck continued: Remco crashed out of Itzulia Basque Country, we ran out of time to go to a Pizza Hut, and the Remco Pizza story goes unwritten for another race.

-Iain Treloar

Waiting for Godart

Very much starting with a headline and working backwards, we found ourselves blasted with wind on the coast in the Netherlands at the start of Scheldeprijs, scouring the startlist (once again) for anything that might’ve been interesting. Half-heartedly, we noticed the quite minor Tarteletto–Isorex continental team’s Belgian rider, Bo Godart. 

“Should we wait for Godart?”

“We could wait for Godart.”

We did not wait for Godart.

-Iain Treloar

Addendum: Some new ditties

I don’t know if this is a universal phenomenon for the bicycle cycling journalist, but whenever Jonny and I find ourselves together at a bike race, somewhere around day two or three, we start coming up with little songs. Sometimes they make it on to the podcast – as was the case with our 2022 smash hit ‘Mathieu Burgaudeau’ (sung to the tune of Uptown Funk) – but often they’re just a dumb little way that we communicate amongst ourselves. 

This year, we are pleased to announce the latest additions to the canon: Gleb Syritsa (to the tune of Rock the Casbah), Shirin van Anrooij (to the tune of Eleanor Rigby), and, of course, Lars Craps (Love Shack). Good luck getting those earworms out of your head: I know I haven’t managed it. 

-Iain Treloar

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