[12/24] This Week In Cycling

It would be easy to sum up this week’s news in a single name: Mathieu van der Poel.

He was everywhere.

Well, maybe not everywhere, but if you were going to look for him, somewhere right at the front would be a great place to start.

There was other news though. My favourite non MvdP story of the week was the Pope selling off his gifted Pinarello Dogma. Unsurprisingly that one makes my Bike of the Week.

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

Otherwise, we’ll start with the one everyone expected him to win…

Easy Spin With Some Friends

Milan-San Remo, notoriously dubbed the “hardest race to win,” lived up to its reputation with an electrifying finale leading to an unexpected sprint victory, shattering all predictions.

The bookies, along with most pundits, got their predicted result of this one quite wrong, with Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Jasper Philipsen winning in a photo finish.

Most everyone thought this was going to be a battle between Tadej Pogačar and Mathieu van der Poel, and indeed it was as the race slithered down the Poggio.

But the 20m gap was soon closed, and a sizable bunch eyed the finish line with about 500m to go.

If you watch the replay really carefully, around the 5m 18s marker you will see what we now know to be Michael Matthews’ sunglasses, slipping, shattering, and potentially costing him a victory.

Honestly, if you can keep up 46kph for 6 hours, you are not human.

For me, Velo had the best post race coverage.

Mathieu van der Poel Signs For 10 Years

Mathieu van der Poel Signs For 10 Years
Image credit: Canyon.com

Early in the week, Mathieu van der Poel pledged his future to Alpecin-Deceuninck by signing a five-year contract, alongside a unique 10-year deal with bike manufacturer Canyon, dividing his time between competing and ambassadorial roles.

Despite foregoing his Milan-San Remo title defence to support winning teammate Jasper Philipsen, he eyes personal glory in the upcoming Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

With the summer Olympics as his season highlight, his new commitments mark a significant turning point, showcasing the rarity and impact of long-term deals in the cycling world.

This one made all the cycling sites, but I saw it first at the Independent.

I bet they felt pretty good about that considering…

Mathieu van der Poel Does What Dad & Grandad Couldn’t

The 2024 E3 Saxo Classic, held (yesterday, at the time of writing) Friday 22nd March in Flanders, Belgium, was a tale of two fates as Mathieu van der Poel seized the moment for a solo victory when his main rival, Wout van Aert, went down with about 44km to go.

This incident allowed Van der Poel to extend his lead under challenging wet and windy conditions, marking a significant win against his rival in the season’s first cobbled classic.

Despite not initially knowing about Van Aert’s fall, Van der Poel had already initiated a decisive attack, making the crash a pivotal moment that widened the gap between him and the pack.

The chase was intense, with Van Aert closing the gap from 30 seconds to just 11 seconds at one stage, but ultimately, Van der Poel’s dominance was undeniable as he finished ahead, leaving Van Aert and others trailing in his wake.

Post-race reflections revealed Van Aert’s acknowledgement of the crash as a game-changer, lamenting his “stupid mistake” and its impact on his performance.

For Mathieu van der Poel it was a chance to do something his dad and grandad couldn’t, which was to win the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, or as they knew it, the Harelbeke–Antwerp–Harelbeke first, and then the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen for papa vdP.

Oi, Gerrof Mah Bike!

Bahrain Victorious faced unexpected drama just before the Milan-San Remo race when a group of ten youngsters attempted to steal their Merida bikes.

Former Paris-Roubaix winner and the team’s sports director, Sonny Colbrelli, turned hero by thwarting the theft, ensuring Matej Mohorič could compete, eventually securing a sixth-place finish.

The incident led to an unusual night where team members ended up sleeping with their bikes for security.

Despite not replicating his previous year’s victory, Mohorič’s efforts were noteworthy in the race’s final moments, with a sixth place finish on the day.

UCI Green Lights Visma’s Star Wars Prop

UCI Green Lights Visma's Star Wars Prop

A couple of weeks back, at the Tirreno-Adiratico, Team Visma | Lease-a-Bike made the headlines with their rather Star Wars Death Star staff-tier helmet.

Then very shortly after, the very helmet that was supposedly UCI approved made the headlines for a sudden UCI investigation.

Anyway, lo-and-behold, the already approved, and unusually named Aerohead II has once again been deemed to meet all safety and competition standards.

And that’s good news, I guess, because it clears the bonkers lid for sale to the road going public, by no later than January 17th 2025.

No indications given as to the price, but you couldn’t pay me less than a grand to ride around sporting that.

Read in full at GCN.

Dame Laura Kenny Bids Farewell

Dame Laura Kenny, the most successful British female Olympian, announced her retirement from cycling at 31.

With a trophy cabinet boasting five Olympic golds and numerous world titles, she reflects on an illustrious career filled with monumental highs and personal battles.

Her journey saw her return to top form after motherhood, tackling the challenges of balancing family life with elite sport. Yet, the lure of family time has trumped the quest for more Olympic glory.

Laura’s departure marks the end of an era in British cycling, leaving behind a legacy of triumph, resilience, and a trail for future champions. 🏅

This one was on all the major news sites here in the UK, but I saw it first at the BBC.

Wheeling Into Equality: Ineos’s Milestone Marred by Lack of Women’s Team 🚴‍♀️

Ineos Grenadiers celebrated their 500th victory last weekend, achieved by Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, yet Cycling Weekly was asking why they still lack a women’s road cycling team?

Image credit: Ineos Grenadiers

Despite being one of the wealthiest teams, they stand out for not having a female equivalent in an era where others like Visma-Lease a Bike and UAE Team Emirates are progressing.

The spotlight shines on Ferrand-Prévot, a world champion across disciplines, who remains the sole woman in a team of 29 men.

As her contract ends this year, there’s growing speculation about Ineos’s future and their commitment to women’s cycling.

With women’s cycling growing, Ineos’s hesitation could be seen as a missed opportunity for expansion and equality in the sport.

Wheeling Into the Future: Schweinberger’s Orbea Orca Unveiled 🚴‍♀️💨

Ceratizit-WNT are a new team to the Women’s WorldTour in 2024, flaunting their Orbea arsenal.

Kathrin Schweinberger’s choice, the Orbea Orca Aero, exhibits advancements from its 2017 origin, especially in aerodynamics, mirroring traits from Orbea’s time trial bike, the Ordu.

The team’s 2024 bike color scheme is understated, at odds with the usually vivid WorldTour peloton.

It was the paint job that pulled me in actually. I think that bike is so cool.

Lots more pictures and a detailed write up at GCN Tech.

Uno-X’s Dare-Devil Design

Team Uno-X Mobility unveils a prototype aerodynamic bar and stem set, pushing the boundaries of UCI’s updated equipment regulations.

Under the new UCI rules, which promote more aerodynamic innovation, the prototype showcases a super deep profile without breaching the revised maximum depth of 80mm.

As these bars approach production, they’re slated for action in upcoming Classics and the Tour de France.

Personally, I really don’t like them. I think they look deeply uncomfortable and will no doubt be hugely expensive.

GCN Tech brought us this one.

Sagan’s Swift Shift from Surgery to Saddle

Sagan's Swift Shift from Surgery to Saddle

Peter Sagan, the three-time road world champion, faces a brief break from qualifying for the Paris Olympics due to his second heart surgery this year but remains optimistic about returning to training after a 15-day rest.

Shifting his focus to mountain biking, Sagan encountered issues with abnormal heart rhythms, leading to the implantation of a cardiac recording device.

This recent health scare caused him to miss the MTB French Cup in Marseille, but he underwent successful surgery and plans to be back on the bike soon.

With Slovakia currently ranked 35th and striving for Olympic qualification, Sagan’s comeback is crucial.

His training resumption is scheduled just before a key UCI Mountain Bike World Cup event, raising questions about his participation.

The upcoming races are vital for gaining points and ensuring Slovakia’s place in the Olympics.

This one made various news outlets, well beyond the world of cycling. I saw it first at MSN.

Strava’s Best Efforts

Strava launched a new feature this week which they call Best Efforts for Ride.

The idea is to help cyclists track and benchmark their progress in new categories, including distance, elevation gain, and power outputs.

Strava’s Best Efforts

According to their own internal research, 77% of Strava’s active cyclists achieved new personal best last year.

Available exclusively for mobile subscribers, the tool allows athletes to review their top three efforts in five different areas, offering deeper insights into their cycling journey.

By tapping into historical data, cyclists can now visualise their performance over the years, aiding in goal setting and performance evaluation.

Following its success with runners, Strava continues to innovate, providing tools for athletes to chase their personal bests indoors and outdoors.

This one came via an official Strava press release.

Tour of Britain Women’s Edition May Spin Into Wales

Talks are currently underway to introduce the Tour of Britain Women to Wales this June, starting potentially with every American’s favourite soccer city Wrexham hosting the second stage.

Tour of Britain Women's Edition May Spin Into Wales

Discussions between Wrexham County Borough Council and British Cycling are in progress, with no final agreements reached yet.

Similar negotiations are happening for the opening stage to finish in Llandudno, starting from mid-Wales.

This year marks British Cycling’s first organisation of the event after taking over from the previous promoter.

The race aims to replicate the success seen when stages four and five previously unfolded in Wales, with notable achievements by Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini.

The former Ineos Grenadiers deputy principal, Rod Ellingworth, has been appointed as the new race director, indicating a new direction for the events under British Cycling’s management.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

British National Road Championships Grand Return

British Cycling announces the return of the British National Road Championships to Tees Valley and North Yorkshire, spurred by a new partnership aimed at promoting cycling and tourism.

The region’s inaugural event last year saw champions Pfeiffer Georgi and Fred Wright taking home the titles on the challenging Saltburn Bank.

The 2024 championships will kick off with time-trial events in North Yorkshire, where last year Josh Tarling became the youngest-ever elite men’s national time-trial champion, alongside Lizzie Holden’s impressive performance in the women’s category.

Darlington town centre will host circuit races, showcasing its rich cycling history, with Megan Barker and Ollie Wood defending their titles.

The road races, starting and ending in Saltburn, promise scenic routes with fewer climbs.

Champions Wright and Georgi are set to defend their titles, sharing their excitement and commitment to the sport.

This one came via ProCyclingUK.

Pedal Powered Ponzi Schemes

Pedal Powered Ponzi Schemas

Bicycle Retailer let us know that Samuel J. Mancini, the CEO of Outdoor Capital Partners, was sentenced to 71 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to securities fraud, following his 2020 arrest in Denver.

Mancini’s fraudulent scheme involved raising over $10 million from investors for the acquisition of legacy Italian cycling brands, such as De Rosa Cycles and Limar Helmets, without completing any acquisitions.
Prosecutors described Mancini’s operations as a ‘Ponzi-like’ scheme, misappropriating funds for personal use and to repay earlier investors.

In addition to prison, Mancini is ordered to repay the $10,615,000 defrauded from 32 people, starting with a modest deduction from his prison wages, followed by larger payments upon release.

The case highlighted a faux affiliation with West Point, exacerbating the betrayal felt by investors, some of whom were West Point graduates led to believe Mancini was a fellow alum.

Despite claims of remorse, victims remain sceptical of Mancini’s sincerity and fear potential recidivism upon his release.

Bike Video Of The Week

Something a little different this time around.

Personally, camping in any form is not for me.

However, I love watching camping videos on YouTube as a way to relax.

One of my favourite camping YouTuber’s is Bushman and Blue. Blue is the name of his dog, and doesn’t make an appearance in this video, for likely obvious reasons.

If you’re at all curious about what is involved in Bike Packing, this ones as good an insight as any.

Bike Of The Week: The Pope’s Holy Roller

For Sale: The Pope's Holy Roller

I saw this on Monday and it was immediately the undisputed “Bike of the Week”.

A special edition Pinarello Dogma F12, previously owned by Pope Francis and gifted by cyclist Egan Bernal, went up for auction this week and is expected to fetch up to €30,000.

The bike, representing Argentina’s national colours and fitted with top-notch cycling gear, was a token of victory and solidarity from Bernal, symbolising a momentous occasion surpassing his Giro d’Italia win.

At the time of writing (Tuesday, midday GMT), the bid stands at €8,500, with the auction closing on Sunday at 19:01 – which I believe is Italy time, so GMT+1.

Alongside the bike, a signed maglia rosa from the Giro d’Italia is also listed, carrying significant sentimental value from the Colombian community.

It’s uncertain if the Pope ever took this frankly gorgeous looking bike for a pedal around the Vatican cobbles, but judging by its immaculate condition, I’m going to say that he didn’t. And apparently it’s not the first time he’s sold off a gifted bike, either. Peter Sagan gifted Pope Francis a Specialized Venge in 2020, and he flogged that one for €30,000.

I do love how it’s photographed against what appears to be an altar cloth.

My guess is this one’s selling for more than €30,000. I’m guessing €43,000. Let’s see how close I am.

Several sites picked this up, but I saw it first at Cycling Weekly.

OK, that’s it from me this week. See you next time!

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