[10/24] This Week In Cycling

The big news from last weekend was Tadej Pogačar’s stand out performance at Strade Bianche. Absolutely unreal.

Unsurprisingly, that story dominated the cycling news for the first half of the week. After that we saw Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group finally put Wiggle out of one set of misery, and – if opinions are to be believed – put into a whole new world.

There were comical doping scandals over in Spain, and the UK’s hopes of kick starting the Tour de France in 2026 were dashed. Pretty standard stuff really 😀

As always, you can read last week’s news round up by clicking here.

Otherwise, let’s dive right in, shall we?

Pogačar Dominates Strade Bianche

Unless you have been living under a rock, or simply don’t follow bike racing, you will no doubt know all about Tadej Pogačar’s utter dominance of this years Strade Bianche.

As best I am aware, Pogačar actually called this before he even set off. It reminds me of how Ronnie O’Sullivan famously called a 147 on potting his first black of the frame. Pogačar said he would attack at the Monte Sante Marie gravel section (approx. 80km remaining in the race), and then actually went 1km earlier than he predicted.

Bearing in mind, that was 120km into an already gruelling and weather impacted race, to then solo break for 81km is, well, mind blowing.

By the end, the Slovenian phenom had solidified his status with a near three-minute lead, crossing the line 2 minutes 44 seconds ahead of second place Toms Skujiņš racing for Lidl-Trek, and three seconds behind him came Lotto Dstny’s Maxim Van Gils.

After that, the bookie’s second favourite Tom Pidcock crossed the line 3 minutes 50 seconds behind Pogačar, and most of the rest of the top ten came in about a minute later.

A pretty bold opening, and boy does it bode well for the grand tour events in 2024. Well, unless you find this kind of thing boring…

Of course this race was covered everywhere, but the first tab I had open on Sunday morning was Cycling Weekly.

Kopecky Conquers Strade Bianche Again

Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky, of SD Worx-Protime, clinched her second Strade Bianche title, outpacing competitor Italian Elisa Longo Borghini with half a kilometer to go and already half way up the brutal Via Santa Catarina climb to the finish line.

It was a decisive move 10.5 kilometres that helped her lead to victory, amidst a tactical and fierce final. First there were five, then very quickly four, then down to the final two by the 10km mark.

Kopecky credited her team’s strategy and effort for maintaining control and setting her up for the win despite feeling fatigued.

For those looking for closer, dare I say more exciting racing, the Women’s WorldTour is (for me), where it’s at in 2024.

ProCyclingUK is easily my favourite place for women’s pro cycling coverage.

Alaphilippe Crashes Out Early Doors

Away from Pogačar’s Strade Bianche headlines, Soudal Quick-Step faced continued challenges in their start to the Spring Classics.

The team’s lead, Julian Alaphilippe, crashed out early, affecting their performance severely.

Despite previous successes, the team could not manage a top 30 finish, with Kasper Asgreen finishing best at 40th, nearly twelve minutes behind Pogačar.

Both Alaphilippe and teammate Paul Magnier, who also crashed, are expected to recover without serious injuries.

Will we be hearing again from Team boss and all round de-motivational speaker Patrick Lefevere this week?

Read in full at GCN.

Visma Lease A Death Star

Visma-Lease a Bike has launched an extraordinary time trial helmet at Tirreno-Adriatico, pushing the boundaries of cycling aerodynamics to Star Wars proportions.

Behind the scenes footage of wind tunnel testing at Visma | Lease a Bike

Developed with Giro, the innovative but appallingly named Aerohead 2.0 boasts a unique, futuristic design aimed at cutting through air more efficiently.

The helmet features a large triangular shape and an oversized visor to minimise drag and enhance the rider’s field of vision.

Team Visma | Lease a Bike launches new time trial helmet

Despite its bulky appearance, the helmet is designed to streamline the flow of air over a cyclist, significantly reducing ‘dead air’ pockets that increase resistance.

Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard tested the new gear, finishing ninth in the time trial stage.

The helmet is part of Visma’s strategy for defending their Tour de France title, with more trials expected throughout the season.

Its one saving grace is it covers the blushes of the rider wearing it.

Plenty more pictures at Velo.

Helmets Under Scrutiny

Only a day after Visma-Lease a Bike’s new Giro time trial helmet revealed at Tirreno-Adriatico, the UCI initiated an ‘in-depth analysis’ of time trial helmet regulations.

The Specialized head sock, recently popular with teams like Bora-Hansgrohe, faces a ban starting 2 April 2024, shaking up pre-race preparations for major tours.

The UCI’s crackdown includes a review on recent TT helmet innovations by Giro and Rudy Project, aiming to balance performance with safety.

Amidst evolving helmet designs, the governing body seeks to reconcile rapid technological advances with essential safety standards.

Plenty more pictures of this one over at GCN.

Women’s WorldTour Bike Showcase

Photographer James York went behind the scenes at Strade Bianche to unveil the cutting-edge bicycles and gear of the Women’s WorldTour.

Lotte Kopecky’s World Champion edition Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8
Image credit: https://teamsdworxprotime.com/en/equipment/

This year’s tech reveals include the sleek silver S-Works Tarmac SL8 and a plethora of gadgets from the teams.

The spotlight shines on popular choices like Vittoria Corsa Pros tyres, the aerodynamic Orbea Orca Aero, and the lightweight Orbea Orca ideal for tackling the challenging Tuscan terrain.

Unique to the women’s field, the Fizik Argo remains a favoured saddle, while advanced technology like 3D printing is becoming more prevalent in equipment such as the Sella Italia saddles.

If you like ogling gorgeous looking road bikes, this post from Cyclist.co.uk has you absolutely covered.

The Birth of Ribble Revolution

Ribble Cycles introduces ‘Ribble Rebellion,’ a fresh force set to revitalise British criterium racing with a global team of seasoned racers.

This new squad aims to disrupt the global crit circuit with a diverse line-up, including former development riders and national champions.

Spearheaded by Joe Laverick and featuring talents like Jim Brown and Matt Bostock, the team represents a mix of nationalities, ready to tackle major criteriums worldwide.

Ribble’s ambition is underlined by their investment in high-performance, aerodynamically optimised bikes, with the Ultra SL R leading their charge, uniquely customised for each racer.

Ribble CEO Andy Smallwood talked of the significance of this move, envisioning success in top international events and showcasing Ribble’s prowess in front of a global audience.

And as Ribble HQ is only 10 miles away from my house, I will always do my bit to support them.

Read in full at Rouleur.

Welay Hagos Berhe: From Peril to the Peloton

Rouler ran a really interesting interview this week with 22 year old Jayco-Alula rider Welay Hagos Berhe.

There are plenty of colours in the pro peloton, at least when it comes to jerseys and bikes. But skin colour is a far whiter affair. And I’d argue that isn’t just the case with the pros, either. It’s really uncommon in my day to day riding to see non-white males.

Welay Hagos Berhe: From Peril to the Peloton

It’s easy to forget just how advantaged we are here in the west. Sure, there are many problems right now – and likely always will be – but they pale in comparison to escaping a war ravaged country, having to learn a new language, and adapt to an entirely different culture, all so that you can do what you love.

I really enjoyed reading this one.

UK’s Tour de France 2026 Dream Deflated

UK's Tour de France 2026 Dream Deflated

The British bid to host the 2026 Tour de France’s Grand Départ has been called off, as UK Sport shifts its focus to 2027.

Despite previous enthusiasm and planning, political and economic uncertainties have put a halt to immediate ambitions.

The initial excitement fuelled by governmental support and the prospect of showcasing Glasgow and Edinburgh has fizzled out amidst a cost of living crisis and political turmoil.

The future of a significant funding package remains unclear, and international competition for the event is stiff, with Rotterdam and Barcelona in the running.

British Cycling remains hopeful for the national scene, undeterred in their efforts to revive domestic Tours, despite the setback on the international stage.

My hot take is that the Gov saw the bill to fix up the God awful road surfaces and thought we aren’t paying that to help our own citizens, let alone the Frenchies! No chance!

Read this happy story at Cycling Weekly.

The £2.6m Tour of Broke Britain

The £2.6m Tour of Broke Britain

SweetSpot, once the driving force behind the Tour of Britain and Women’s Tour, has skidded into liquidation with a debt mountain exceeding £2.6 million, leaving 20 creditors in the lurch.

Among the hard-hit are HSBC (£600k) and government fund Sport England (£1.3m), nursing substantial losses from secured loans.

The reality of almost all of stories like this is they don’t stand much of a chance of ever seeing their money back, because if SweetSpot were sat on £2.6 million quid, there wouldn’t be any problems, now would there?

This is one of those stories that – for a regular bod on the street – it really makes you think what the management must have been thinking, taking out £800k in ‘loans’ whilst the ship was very clearly sinking.

Shake your head in disbelief as you read along at Cycling Weekly.

130 Riders Bolt as Doping Testers Arrive

Easily one of my favourite stories of this week.

An eye opening event at the Interclub Vinalopó amateur cycling race in Alicante, Spain, saw a massive dropout rate as 130 out of 182 participants abandoned the race, coinciding with the arrival of anti-doping testers.

🙄 Speculation swirls that this exodus was due to the riders’ fears of being caught doping. 🙄

Anti-doping control in Villena = pricks and withdrawals. It’s not a mathematical formula, it’s pure reality. Let’s see if measures start being taken because this is a damn joke. By the way, I’ve passed the test! It’s the 3rd one I undergo. Let’s see if they give me the results and I’ll publish them. #foracleanersport

Translation of one local rider’s thoughts

The article I read came from GCN, but they got it from a Spanish website called Ciclo21. I guess that came via the GCN en Español team at some point. As result the original article – and race coverage – is in Spanish so I have no easy way of finding out more.

Funny, but for all the wrong reasons.

New Stuff Drops Taipei’s Cycle Show

The Taipei Cycle Show took place this week at least a short walk from my house, over in Taiwan, with plenty of new tech being unveiled on the show floor.

GCN had the best coverage I could find.

The stuff that caught my eye was firstly Shimano’s new gigs, the Technium and Twinspark sunglasses. Honestly, I had no idea Shimano were even in the glasses market…

Another company I had never heard of, Digirit, revealed a new 60 and 70 tooth chainring, which I’m sure will please the pros but would never be something my legs could handle.

Giant TCR Advanced SL 2024 Taipei Cycle Show

Then Giant had the biggest launch to pique my interest with their 2024 TCR bikes. Surprisingly for one of these trade show type events, you can actually pick these up right now… if you have a spare 10 grand or so. I don’t, personally, but it’s nice to window shop.

Swag it up at GCN.

Frasers Group Snaps Up WiggleCRC for £10m

Frasers Group Snaps Up WiggleCRC for £10m

The Frasers Group, led by Mike Ashley, has added another feather to its cycling cap by acquiring WiggleCRC for under £10 million.

This latest purchase expands their sporting empire, which already includes big cup seller Sports Direct and high-street bike shop chain Evans Cycles.

The move comes after WiggleCRC faced financial turmoil last October, entering administration with a whopping £26.7 million debt owed to 400 creditors.

The acquisition not only includes the retailer itself but also scoops up valuable intellectual property, ensuring Vitus Bikes, dhb, and Lifeline brands pedal on under new ownership.

While the future of WiggleCRC has been uncertain, this acquisition could mark the beginning of a new chapter for the cycling retailer, albeit with Frasers Group’s track record of restructuring, such as the Evans Cycles acquisition where 300 employees were affected.

The deal continues Frasers Group’s cycling market expansion, following previous acquisitions like ProBikeKit and a German chain called SportScheck.

My thoughts are: say goodbye to Wiggle as you knew it.

Plenty of sites covered this one, but I saw it first at GCN.

A further follow on piece landed on Cycling Weekly called “What the story of Evans Cycles can tell us about the future of Wiggle“. It’s an opinion piece, but seems pretty bob on.

Trek’s 10% Descent

Trek Bicycle is embarking on a journey to ‘right size’ itself by cutting spending by 10% amidst slow sales and high inventory levels, as confirmed by President John Burke.

Trek's 10% Descent

In a significant move, the company will also slash its stock keeping units (SKUs) by 40% for model year 2026, compared to model year 2024.

This decision comes in response to what Burke describes as “turbulent times” and a “chaotic” global bike market, marked by high inventory levels and extensive discounting. Retail sales have also dipped below expectations, missing monthly targets for over a year.

Burke’s strategy focuses on reshaping the business to better align with market realities, including reducing overall spending and simplifying product lines.

Bicycle Retailer brought us this one.

And a little later in the week, they followed up with thoughts from those inside the industry in this one.

Bike Video of the Week

Something a little different this time around.

It’s a touch on the short side at 33 minutes, but it turns out that Ukranian YouTuber Artem Shcherbyna has a whole channel with videos just like this one.

Think of it as cycling inspiration. Cycling ASMR, if you don’t mind wind noise.

It’s not something I do every ride by any means, but sometimes it’s nice to put on a video like this one and watch along on the turbo as you grind out the sweaty indoor kilometres.

Bike Of The Week

bike of the week reddit pietc87 DOGMA F 2023

When I get a few minutes to myself each day, I love to browse Reddit’s /r/BikePorn. Unsurprisingly, that’s why so many of the ‘Bike of the Week’ shots come from there.

One thing I really like about the Bike Porn subreddit is you see actual real bikes. It’s one thing to gawp over the top end rides on the manufacturers websites, or shots from the pro teams, but it’s far more fun to see regular riders rides. Maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, as best I can tell – because specs not provided – this is the 2023 Pinarello Dogma F in Crystal White. It looks to have replacement tyres in the form of the Vittoria Corsa Pro’s. I do love the yellow / tan sidewalls, but I know they aren’t to everyone’s tastes.

The Dura Ace C60 wheels are standard to the factory spec bike as best I can tell. The other two tweaks appear to be the oversized Ceramic Speed pulley wheel (a tasty £520 itself), and a Stages power meter crank – which looks to be the dual sided version, so I’m guessing that’s on the other side, too. The giveaway is the blue logo on the crank.

Be super nice had redditor, and lucky owner PietC87 made lined his crank up horizontally. Also the stem needs a trim, but who am I to comment?

Lovely stuff.

OK, see you all next week!

Leave a Reply