[07/24] This Week In Cycling

Prepare your eyes: Alpecin-Deceuninck may make them bleed this week, but if you suffer from chilly ears then ugly helmet modifications may be just what you’re searching for.

Lots of racing related stuff this time around, from fast descents to grandpas in the peloton telling us how it ain’t like it used to be.

As ever, if you want to read last week’s news round up then click here.

Otherwise, let’s ride on in.

Ever Gone 118kph On A Descent?

Kim Heiduk Volta ao Algarve stage 1 118kph descent strava

At the Volta ao Algarve, riders have taken racing to electrifying speeds, particularly on a descent where they hit nearly 120kph.

This year’s stage 1 showcased the butt clenching pace, with racers tucking into aero positions and glancing at their bike computers in disbelief at the speeds achieved.

A strong tailwind and the threat of cross-winds added to the velocity as the race descended towards the coast.

Geraint Thomas and Kim Heiduk, among others, posted remarkable speeds, with Heiduk reaching 118kph.

Despite the high speeds, concerns over safety were minimal, with a greater focus on the potential impact of high winds on subsequent stages.

More on this one from GCN Racing.

Sir Chris Hoy’s Optimistic Journey Beyond Cancer

Sir Chris Hoy's Optimistic Journey Beyond Cancer

Six-time Olympic cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy has shared an optimistic update on his cancer diagnosis, revealing his treatment is progressing well and he remains positive, surrounded by love.

Despite the shock of the diagnosis without prior symptoms, Hoy continues to work, cycle, and embrace life with the support of his family and fans.

He aims to keep his battle private, focusing on his wellbeing and looking forward to an exciting year, including the Paris Olympics.

Hoy, a legend with six Olympic golds and 11 world titles, remains the second most decorated Olympic cyclist, continuing to inspire as he faces his toughest challenge yet.

Unsurprisingly, pretty much every news outfit, major and minor, picked this one up. I saw it first at the BBC.

Can SD Worx-Protime Juggle Lotte Kopecky and Demi Vollering?

Lotte Kopecky secures overall UAE Tour win, Lorena Wiebes finishes second in final stage

Lotte Kopecky’s impressive climbing prowess poses a dilemma for SD Worx-Protime as her ambitions align with those of teammate Demi Vollering, with both riders nearing the end of their contracts.

Kopecky’s recent triumphs suggest a shift from her classics and track specialisation to a formidable climber, raising questions about her role in upcoming races like the Ardennes Classics and the Tour de France Femmes.

However, with Vollering also eyeing these targets, tensions may arise within the team.

The prospect of one rider leaving is becoming increasingly likely, considering the financial strain of retaining multiple top talents.

While the idea of Kopecky and Vollering competing on separate teams is enticing for fans, both riders have flourished under SD Worx’s support and infrastructure, complicating potential departures.

Interesting times ahead.

Bernal’s Back on the Bike

(warning: loud video if you click play)

Egan Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France champion, has shown promising signs of a significant comeback during the Tour Colombia 2024.

With a series of aggressive performances, including a fourth place on the Alto del Vino summit finish and a daring attack in the final stage, Bernal has been making headlines.

Despite a brutal crash two years ago that left him with multiple serious injuries, his recent efforts in Colombia, including assisting his teammate Jhonatan Restrepo to a stage win, signal a bright season ahead.

Bernal’s journey from a near-fatal accident to standing on the podium at the Colombian national championship road race, and his solid performance in the Tour of Colombia, are hopefully a strong a positive indicator for the upcoming European season.

Catch this one over at Velo.

Grumpy Grandpa Geraint

Grumpy Grandpa Geraint

In a chat on Red Bull’s Just Ride podcast, Ineos Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas shared his observations on the evolving dynamics of professional cycling.

The former Tour de France winner notes a marked decline in respect among riders, likening current races to junior levels where the peloton’s hierarchy has blurred.

Thomas reminisces about a time when racing was more orderly and social, contrasting it with today’s intense, every-man-for-himself atmosphere.

Reflecting on his 18-year career, he discusses the increased professionalisation of the sport, the impact of technology, nutrition, and training advancements, and how these changes have deepened the competitive field.

Despite these challenges, Thomas embraces adaptation, maintaining a competitive edge against much younger riders and keeping a light-hearted rapport with contemporaries, including a saucy nickname for Remco Evenepoel.

I heard about this one at GCN.

Mollema Shows Running Pace in Rapid 10k Time

Mollema Shows Running Pace in Rapid 10k Time

Bauke Mollema, the Dutch veteran cyclist from Lidl-Trek, showcased his versatility by clocking an impressive 31:40 in a 10km race in Monaco, securing fourth place overall and winning his age category.

Sporting a bright yellow Lidl running shirt, Mollema’s podium finish marks a strong start to his season, hinting at a promising year ahead.

With his eyes set on upcoming bike races, including the Faun-Ardèche Classic and Ardennes Classic, Mollema’s enduring athleticism defies his age, positioning him as a formidable contender in both cycling and running circles.

To put this into real term figures you might relate too, this is running at 18.92 KPH, for 31 minutes 40 seconds.

I’ve been getting into running myself since Christmas, and am currently averaging a 5K in 28 minutes 30 seconds, at around 10.9 KPH.

The current world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge, ran a marathon (that’s 42.195 kilometres) at an average of 21 KPH.

Basically professional athletes are so far ahead of the average human it is insane.

Rigoberto Urán’s Final Lap

Rigoberto Uran wins on stage ten at the 2013 Giro d'Italia

Rigoberto Urán, the vinegar bathing Colombian cyclist, has announced his retirement at the end of the 2024 season, concluding a remarkable 19-year career.

This decision was revealed following the Tour Colombia.

Throughout his tenure, Urán has achieved 14 professional victories, including prestigious stage wins at all three Grand Tours and a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Read this one at GCN.

The OneCycling Series

Another week, and another mention of The OneCycling Series. I think this might be a regular occurrence this year.

Rouleur explores the ambitious OneCycling project, aiming to revolutionise professional cycling with a model inspired by LIV Golf’s transformation, backed by a Saudi investment.

It should be noted, for those who don’t follow golf, that the LIV split from the PGA has – eventually – led to something like positive change. Of course it all boils down to money, but at least it has led to the players receiving a far higher share of the revenues they generate.

Right now the comparison with LIV Golf would be that the ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) and RCS (owners of the Giro d’Italia) are like the PGA, and ‘everyone else’ is LIV.

What races the ASO control

Initiated to make cycling financially sustainable and less dependent on the Tour de France, the project seeks to unify the cycling calendar, increase global appeal, and ensure more regular competition among top riders.

Despite its innovative approach, OneCycling faces challenges from historical failures, stakeholders’ reluctance, and the complexity of reshaping the sport’s commercial landscape.

Yet, with high-profile support and, perhaps more importantly, bucket loads of cash to throw at the project, I think OneCycling is one to watch this year.

Read in full at rouleur.cc.

Red Bull Takes the Wheel

Velo’s Spender Martin loves his bullet points. This week he takes us on a deep dive into Red Bull’s recent acquisition of the Bora-Hansgrohe cycling team.

There are questions around the timing of this acquisition. Could the people behind Red Bull know something we don’t about, say, the OneCycling series?

Another angle might be just Red Bull doing Red Bull things – going after the big talent, and buying their way to the top of yet another sport.

My take on this sort of thing in the context of cycling is that the riders should, in theory, end up being paid considerably more than they already get. That’s a really good thing.

However, that’s not to say all the riders will see this pay rise. Far from it. The top people in both male and female cycling will stand to do best – the Pareto Principle at play – but will this mean the other teams forever consist of the bit players? It’s certainly happened in other sports… cough, Premier League Football, cough.

The Race Against Cycling Club Extinction

The Race Against Cycling Club Extinction

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan keeps the golf theme going this week by highlighting the existential threat facing traditional UK cycling clubs, often seen as “golf clubs on wheels,” due to their elitist, exclusionary nature.

She contrasts this with the rise of more inclusive, ‘hip new face’ cycling clubs aiming for a welcoming ethos.

However, she warns against the disappearance of traditional clubs, noting their essential role in the grassroots racing scene and the development of future WorldTour riders.

As someone who has transitioned from aspiring racer to juggling work and parenting, Arthurs-Brennan calls for a balance between competitive edge and inclusivity, ensuring cycling clubs cater to all, from beginners to the next generation of cycling stars.

An interesting opinion piece, as is often the case over at Cycling Weekly.

Team Ear Flaps Education-Cannondale

Team Ear Flaps Education-Cannondale

This week saw another Team EF Education-Cannondale outing of their ‘interesting’ Poc aero helmet, turning heads at the UAE Tour Women 2024 with its ear-covering design.

Originally spotted in January’s Australian Tour Down Under, this helmet isn’t just about looks; it’s a potentially strategic move towards more aerodynamic gear.

Comparisons with Poc’s traditional models reveal significant material addition, suggesting a focus on reducing drag—even if it means a heavier head load.

A big question for me is around ventilation. Sporting just three front vents, you have to winder how well this cools the noggin, especially in warmer climates, and with a full head of hair (something I do not have to worry about).

A distinctive feature is the integrated visor which is something we have seen before, but not for a good long while (as best I can remember) outside TT races.

The helmet’s off to a good start all the same, with one outing and one win for Noemi Rüegg at the Trofeo Felanitx-Colònia de Sant Jordi.

Velo ran with this one, and have a few more shots to see.

Factor’s Ostro Zooms Ahead with UCI Rule Revamp

Factor's Ostro Zooms Ahead with UCI Rule Revamp

Cycling Weekly led with Factor’s unveiling of the new Ostro VAM aero bike capitalises on recent UCI rule relaxations, allowing a slimmer, faster design.

After its victorious debut at the Santos Tour Down Under, the bike’s refined features—such as a super skinny seatpost and aerodynamic tweaks to the head tube, forks, and seat tube—promise enhanced speed (legs dependant) and lighter weight (wallet dependant).

Factor maintains the bike’s beloved ride feel, while technical upgrades, including a narrower seatpost and optimised airflow around the fork and head tube, aim to slice through the air more efficiently.

Factor’s rigorous testing, albeit in-house, suggests the Ostro VAM outperforms rivals at higher yaw angles, with overall system weight savings and a drag reduction equating to seven watts at 48 kph.

Factor’s updated range, including the Ostro VAM, is now available, with prices reflecting the premium engineering and performance enhancements embedded in this cutting-edge road machine. In other words, think around about 10 grand, and you won’t be shocked.

Pedal to Paris: Josh Tarling’s Olympic Dream

Pedal to Paris: Josh Tarling's Olympic Dream

Josh Tarling, turning 20 this week, emerges as Great Britain’s shining hope for the upcoming Olympics in Paris, aiming for medals in both road and track cycling.

As a European time trial champion and a member of the Ineos Grenadiers, his recent triumphs—including a victory at the British nationals, a third place at the World Championships, and winning the WorldTour time trial—cement his status as a favourite.

Tarling’s focus is sharp on the 34.2km time trial course, a perfect match for his strengths, with plans to recon the route post-Classics.

His potential inclusion in the team pursuit on the track adds another layer to his Olympic aspirations, supported by GB’s strategic selection process and his versatile performance on road and track.

Read more about Josh at Cycling Weekly.

Branson’s Bumpy Ride in Paradise

Billionaire Richard Branson encountered a rough patch during a cycling trip in the British Virgin Islands, suffering injuries after a nasty fall caused by a hidden pothole.

Sporting a hematoma on his hip and a severe elbow cut, Branson’s misadventure reminds us that anywhere ‘British’ is likely suffering from terribly maintained roads.

Perhaps if these billionaires were taxed as aggressively as the rest of us proles then the roads would be in better shape?

Road.cc picked up on this one.

Adrien Petit’s Humanity

In a very close finish of the Clásica de Almería, Olav Kooij sprinted to victory, narrowly edging out Matteo Moschetti.

However, the race’s final moments were marked by a dramatic crash, sending three riders tumbling.

Manuel Peñalver bore the brunt, with a concerning fall.

Amidst the chaos, Adrien Petit halted his own race to aid the fallen Peñalver, bridging the gap until medical help arrived.

Fortunately, Peñalver was later seen on his feet.

No report of this one on either Intermarché-Wanty or Team Polti Kometa’s official websites, which is a shame. However the picture most shared of this story came via Intermarché-Wanty’s twitter.

I picked this one up on Cyclist.co.uk.

Hue’s That In The Smart Kit?

rapha.cc cycling jerseys

An interesting one from a different part of the retail scene this week, with Cycling Weekly’s Adam Becket delving into the intricate process behind selecting the season’s cycling kit colours, blending flair, fashion, and functionality.

Le Col’s Rosalind Borwick and Rapha’s Georgia Kasmin share insights into their inspiration, often drawn from art exhibitions and broader cultural trends, but not strictly dictated by them.

The challenge lies in balancing core, seasonal, and trend colours, ensuring they cater to the brand’s identity and the practicalities of performance fabrics.

Material sustainability and the adaptability of colours to different cycling conditions play a crucial role.

Forecasted trends and customer preferences guide but do not dictate the final palette, with an emphasis on longevity over fleeting fashion.

A fairly short, but nevertheless interesting for kit collectors such as myself. I’m a sucker for a new jersey.

Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Double Denim Kit Unveiled

Alpecin-Deceuninck has embraced a daring double-denim kit, stirring memories of the 1990s Carrera team.

Unveiled for the 2024 season, the ‘interesting’ look, inspired by what should have been left on the pages of a Levi’s catalogue, marks a vibrant shift post-cyclo-cross season and is set to debut at the upcoming UAE Tour.

Despite the denim appearance, the kit uses innovative materials, including ‘denim-effect’ fabrics from Kalas, and features such as aerodynamic ‘Stripes’ material on shoulders and sleeves, with the rest of the kit boasting stretchy and breathable qualities.

Accessories like gilets and casquettes extend the denim theme, paying homage to cycling’s historical flirtations with real-life clothing designs, including the iconic faux-denim Carrera team kit and Castorama’s dungarees look.

Given everything I just said above about collecting jerseys, this one is a firm no from me. But what do you think?

Unsurpisingly, this one got picked up absolutely everywhere.

Crankset Crunch: Shimano’s $18M Recall

Crankset Crunch: Shimano's $18M Recall

Cycling Weekly reported that Shimano’s recall of 11-speed Hollowtech road cranksets is set to cost the company $18.5 million, following a 24.6% dip in revenue and a 52.3% fall in net profits.

Initiated due to potential fall and injury hazards, this recall affects 2.8 million units sold between 2012 and 2019, with a global free inspection program launched last September.

In the USA and Canada, 760,000 cranksets were recalled after 4,519 incidents led to injuries including bone fractures and lacerations.

Shimano’s financial woes are compounded by a significant decrease in net sales and an anticipated further decline in revenue for 2024, especially in the European market.

As best I am aware, the potentially impacted cranksets are:

  • ULTEGRA FC-6800
  • ULTEGRA FC-R8000
  • DURA-ACE FC-9000,
  • DURA-ACE FC-R9100
  • DURA-ACE FC-R9100-P

Balfe’s Bikes have a really good guide for identifying affected cranksets.

BMC Shifts Gears Amidst Demand Dip

BMC Shifts Gears Amidst Demand Dip

BMC is adjusting to a post-pandemic slump in demand by applying to reduce its staff’s working hours.

After a surge in interest during the pandemic, the Swiss-based bike manufacturer finds itself recalibrating as the industry’s enthusiasm wanes.

The company, once a fixture in the WorldTour, has seen changes in sponsorship and is now supporting Tudor Pro Cycling’s upcoming Giro d’Italia debut.

Despite the downturn, BMC’s management remains optimistic, believing in a gradual recovery for the bike sector.

This story echoes the broader industry trends that we have covered many times, with other Swiss companies like DT Swiss and Flyer also facing ‘adjustments’, underscoring the widespread impact of shifting market dynamics and the quest for resilience in uncertain times.

Among several others, Road.cc reported on this one.

I Wouldn’t Want To Be That Guy

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Guy Opperman MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Guy Opperman MP

The UK Government’s Minister for Roads and Local Transport, Guy Opperman MP, met with the Association for Cycle Traders (ACT) to discuss the Cycle to Work scheme at the latest All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Cycling and Walking.

Despite ongoing talks about reform, the Department for Transport (DfT) remains unmoved, emphasising the voluntary nature of retailer participation and leaving commission fees to individual scheme providers.

Over 650 businesses, primarily independent retailers, are pushing for change, citing administrative burdens and intermediary profits. ACT is rallying members to engage local MPs, with director Jonathan Harrison urging wider participation.

While some MPs, like Labour’s Fabian Hamilton, advocate for reform, the DfT’s stance suggests resistance.

Personally I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting this government to change anything any time soon. And that goes far beyond cycling.

This one courtesy of GCN.

The Long Ride to 2025 Recovery

2024 long road to recovery for uk bike market

A new report suggests the British bike industry won’t pedal back to prosperity until at least 2025, grappling with the worst sales slump of the century due to post-Covid stock surpluses and lacklustre demand.

Despite heavy discounting, consumer interest remains tepid, with the industry overstocked and awaiting a balance restoration.

Last year’s sales dipped across most mechanical bike categories, except for road and gravel bikes, which saw an uptick of 8% and 11% respectively. I’ve cheekily commented before about how all UK roads are gravel roads, so perhaps the stats do reflect that.

E-bike sales also declined, yet they continue to outperform their pre-Covid sales figures, increasingly dominating the market share.

Early 2024 predictions hint at challenging year ahead, yet a slow recovery is anticipated.

Perhaps not the most surprising news, but you can read this one in full Cycling Weekly.

Cycling Video Of The Week

Mark Caendish just chilling out, taking a selfie with a fan mid race at the Tour Colombia 2024.

The way the fan skips off at the end, talk about making someone’s day 🙂

Love it.

Bike Of The Week

Wout van Aert’s Cervélo S5 pro bike GCN

Pro bikes always manage to look far better than consumer tier equipment. A bit like how rally cars look 1000x better than the stock production vehicle they are based off.

Of course if you’re dropping £9,000+ on a bike, it better look amazing. But the thing is, the consumer purchasable version of the Cervélo S5 only comes in either a black on black colour scheme, or a purple and white variant that – for me – doesn’t do the frame justice.

This particular bike is the one being ridden by Wout van Aert at this week’s Volta ao Algarve.

That seat tube is insane, isn’t it? And the V-shaped handle bars (not very clear above, but better shown below) are wild, too.

If you have very deep pockets then head over to Cervélo’s website where they have a waiting list open to buy a replica in a slightly different special edition pink, yellow and red colour scheme which I think looks fantastic.

As a heads up, I can’t get the page to load when using the UK / en-GB site, so I’ve linked to the USA page instead.

cervelo s5 special edition S5 frameset–with pink, yellow, and red livery

That wraps us up for this week. Enjoy your ride if you’re out today. And see you this time next week for more.

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