[14/24] This Week In Cycling

Last weekend was all about Mathieu van der Poel’s dominance at the Tour of Flanders.

Grabbing most of the headlines this week in the pro peloton has been plenty of crashes, and the resulting injuries. Fingers crossed for speedy recoveries all round.

We hit on April Fools, albeit with not so many hilarious memes and what have you to ‘enjoy’ this year.

At the time of writing, the countdown is very much on to the Paris-Roubaix – but that race will have finished by the time this post goes out. On that front I am thinking of moving the post day for the weekly review to be Thursday to Thursday. One to think about for me. I just think it would be better to cover the upcoming races, rather than go back a week when the world has moved on.

Anyway, as always you can see last week’s post by clicking here.

Otherwise, let’s crack on!

Women’s Race More Action Packed Than The Mens

The 2024 Women’s Tour of Flanders was hailed as the weekend’s most electrifying race, with the notorious Koppenberg climb proving pivotal in the dramatic outcome.

Surprisingly, more women conquered the entire climb compared to their male counterparts, which does detract somewhat from the spectacle of pro men’s riders having to run up the climb rather than pedal.

Despite World Champion Lotte Kopecky facing challenges throughout, her tenacity saw her fighting back to contention towards the race’s climax.

Demi Vollering, 2023 Tour de France Femmes winner, demonstrated unwavering loyalty and professionalism, dedicating her efforts to support her teammate.

The race’s final 10km was intensely competitive, with Elisa Longo Borghini, Kasia Niewiadoma, and Shirin van Anrooij brilliantly maintaining their lead against a strong chasing pack.

Elisa Longo Borghini’s victory marked her second triumph at the Tour of Flanders, while Kasia Niewiadoma celebrated her best ever result in the event, dispelling any doubts about racing post-altitude training.

Looking ahead, the Paris-Roubaix predictions stir excitement, with Mathieu van der Poel leading as the favourite for the men’s race, while Marianne Voss’s experience is tipped for success in the women’s event.

Read in full at Velo.

Van der Poel’s Triple Tour of Flanders

Mathieu van der Poel described the Tour of Flanders as one of the toughest races he’s ever competed in, following his historic third victory.

Amid challenging conditions with rain-soaked cobbles causing chaos, Van der Poel showcased his exceptional handling skills to break away from the pack and claim a solo win.

His victory marks him as the seventh man in history to win the Tour of Flanders three times, a feat he achieved while donning the world champion’s rainbow jersey.

It’s pretty crazy that the press outcome of this one was a little like Pogačar’s dominance at Stade Bianche, questioning how much fun it is for us, as spectators, to watch races end like this. For me it feels like witnessing history, and to know just how far ahead of us the pros are generally, it makes van der Poel’s achievements even more astonishing.

Wout Goes Walkies

Wout van Aert, recovering from a severe crash, shared a 2.47-mile walk on Strava, titling it ‘Standing still is going backwards’.

The accident during Dwars door Vlaanderen left him with multiple fractures, sidelining him from the Classics season.

Despite his injuries, there’s buzz about him possibly considering the Giro d’Italia as Belgian media hints at a ‘serious option’.

His team, Visma-Lease A Bike, remains tight-lipped about his return, while the decision ultimately rests with medical advice.

With the Paris Olympics as his season’s main goal, opting for the Giro d’Italia over the Tour de France seems to be a strategy to avoid interfering with his Olympic preparations.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Vingegaard, Roglič, and Evenepoel in Itzulia Basque Crash

Jonas Vingegaard, Primož Roglič, and Remco Evenepoel were caught in a major crash during stage 4 of the Itzulia Basque Country, leading to several riders being taken down.

The crash occurred on a descent from the Olaeta climb, initiated by a rider sliding on a tight corner, causing a chain reaction.

Vingegaard was severely impacted, requiring stretcher assistance, while Evenepoel and Roglič also faced significant setbacks.

In total, 12 riders were involved, with six needing hospital treatment; the race was neutralised with 27.9km to go, following Vingegaard’s evacuation.

Race organisers decided the six leading riders before the crash would contest the stage finish, but stage times wouldn’t count towards the general classification.

At the time of writing Vingegaard appears to have a broken collarbone, joining Wout Van Aert on that list this week. We’re still waiting on news of the others.

Read in full at GCN.

Kämna’s Training Ride Takes a Nasty Turn

Tour de France stage winner Lennard Kämna is in intensive care but stable after being hit by a car during a training ride in Tenerife.

The incident occurred as Kämna was preparing for the Giro d’Italia, with the extent of his numerous injuries still unknown.

His team, Bora-Hansgrohe, confirmed that family members are with him in the hospital, offering support.

Kämna’s collision was with a driver who veered into his lane, though he was the only one from his training group involved in the accident.

Team manager Ralph Denk expressed relief at Kämna’s stable condition and emphasized the team’s commitment to his full recovery.

Kämna, who had previously taken a break from cycling due to stress, has made a name for himself with stage wins at major cycling tours.

Regardless of the country, riding out on the open roads is seemingly as dangerous as it is rewarding. A really sad state of affairs.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Longo Borghini Swerves Paris-Roubaix for Hilly Classics

Longo Borghini Swerves Paris-Roubaix for Hilly Classics

Elisa Longo Borghini of Lidl-Trek, fresh off her Tour of Flanders win, has chosen to bypass the Paris-Roubaix Femmes to concentrate on the Ardennes Classics.

This decision diverges from earlier speculations of her filling in for the injured Lizzie Deignan at the Paris-Roubaix, following a strategy to stick to her original season’s objectives.

Longo Borghini’s 2024 season has been notable with podium finishes and a victory at the Tour of Flanders, her second win at the race.

Despite fans’ disappointment over her absence from Paris-Roubaix Femmes, Longo Borghini’s focus is firmly on the Ardennes, with preparations already underway in Italy.

Read in full at ProCyclingUK.

Pithie To Bora-Hansgrohe in 2025

Laurence Pithie, the 21-year-old Classics revelation, is set to join Bora-Hansgrohe in 2025 after an impressive stint with Groupama-FDJ.

Despite interest from several WorldTour teams, Pithie has agreed to a multi-year deal with the German squad, a move understood to be confirmed by GCN ahead of the official UCI transfer window.

Pithie To Bora-Hansgrohe in 2025

The New Zealander turned professional in 2023 and quickly made his mark, claiming victory at Cholet-Pays de la Loire and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, alongside notable performances in the Spring Classics.

Pithie’s move comes amidst a backdrop of investment in Bora-Hansgrohe by Red Bull, and the team’s strategic focus on bolstering its Classics and Grand Tour line-up.

His addition is expected to significantly strengthen Bora-Hansgrohe’s roster, complementing the performances of teammates like Matteo Sobrero and adding depth to their Classics campaign.

Read in full at GCN.

Tom Pidcock’s Post-Crash Recovery

Tom Pidcock is currently unable to bear weight on his right leg following a crash at the Itzulia Basque Country during a time trial recon.

After being pulled from the race by his team, Ineos Grenadiers, scans at the hospital showed no fractures but Pidcock awaits further scans to assess potential injuries.

A social media video captured Pidcock being carried to an ambulance, while he shared on Instagram his current condition and appreciation for supportive messages.

The crash, caused by a gust of wind, has put Pidcock’s participation in upcoming races like the Amstel-Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in doubt, affecting his preparation for the Tour de France.

Having finished second at last year’s Liège and third at Amstel, Pidcock was considered a favourite for these races, making his recovery crucial for his season’s ambitions.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Paris-Roubaix Chicane

GCN reported that the Paris-Roubaix race organisers have introduced a tight chicane before the notorious Arenberg Forest cobbled sector to improve safety and reduce crash risks.

This change follows a request from the CPA, the pro riders’ association, aiming to slow down the peloton’s entry into the challenging cobblestone stretch.

Adam Hansen, the president of the CPA, said that the modification would lead to a slower, more strategic entrance into the Arenberg, potentially making the race even more challenging.

The chicane, which consists of sharp turns and a 180-degree bend, is strategically placed to minimise the speed of the riders before hitting the cobblestones, reducing the likelihood and severity of crashes.

From a racing perspective, this alteration is expected to cause a significant accordion effect, leading to potential splits in the peloton and larger time gaps between riders.

Not all riders were impressed.

The Latest Tech from the Tour of Flanders

The Tour of Flanders showcased an array of cutting-edge bike technology, with teams refining their setups to tackle the unique challenges of cobbles and climbs.

The Latest Tech from the Tour of Flanders

Cyclist.co.uk photographer Xavier Pereyron provided a sneak peek into the latest bike tech used by the pros, including the return of Eddy Merckx bikes and the adoption of carbon chainrings.

If you’re a fan of top, top end bikes, this one should be worth a gander.

Max Pedersen’s Trek Madone SLR

At the Tour of Flanders, Danish cycling star Mads Pedersen showcased his Trek Madone SLR, equipped with an impressive SRAM Red eTap AXS drivetrain and a hefty 56/43T chainring setup.

Despite Trek having a model dedicated to classics, the Madone’s aero design and comfort have made it Pedersen’s choice for most races.

Interestingly, Pedersen opted for tubular tires over the prototype Pirelli tubeless tires used by the rest of his Lidl-Trek team, and his bike featured staggered Bontrager Aeolus RSL wheels.

The bike’s setup included a one-piece handlebar with TT tape, flaring from 37 cm at the hoods to 40 cm at the drops, and various other components like a K-Edge handlebar mount for a Wahoo Elemnt computer, Time XPRO 10 pedals, and a Bontrager Verse Pro saddle.

Alvin Holbrook and Will Tracy from VeloNews provide a detailed look into Pedersen’s gear, highlighting the bike’s aerodynamics, massive chainrings, and the unusual choice of tubular tires.

See this one in full at Velo.

Hoofing It

At the Arden Challenge in Belgium, pro cyclist Lars Daniels showcased not just his bike-handling skills but also his horsemanship by bringing a runaway horse under control.

The incident occurred within the final 10 kilometres of the race, when Daniels, familiar with horses from his youth, grabbed the reins of the saddled but riderless horse to prevent potential chaos in the peloton.

Daniels, riding for the Antwerp Cycling Team Kontich, managed to calm the horse and bring it to a stop, avoiding what could have been a catastrophic collision with the peloton or support vehicles.

His quick actions were praised by onlookers, with footage from a car showing the impressive feat and comments commending his expertise.

Despite the interruption potentially affecting his race placement, Daniels was able to rejoin the peloton and finish with the group, prioritising safety over competition.

This is not the first time a horse has caused a stir in professional cycling, with SD Worx rider Demi Vollering having a narrow escape from a similar situation just over a year ago.

Trot on over to Road.cc for the rest of this one.

Campagnolo Unveils Its First Power Meter

Campagnolo has finally entered the power meter market with the launch of the HPPM (high precision power measurement / meter), a spider-based power meter.

Campagnolo Unveils Its First Power Meter

The HPPM features 16 strain gauges for a claimed accuracy of +/- 1%, designed to complement the high-end Super Record Wireless groupset.

This eagerly-anticipated release fills a gap in Campagnolo’s lineup, competing directly with rivals Shimano and SRAM’s integrated power systems.

Retailing at an alarmingly high $2,449, the HPPM Super Record Wireless crankset is available in various configurations and aims to deliver supremely accurate data for training and racing.

The system, which integrates torque and real-time angular velocity data, claims exceptional data interpretation thanks to a tailored algorithm and operates at a frequency of 200 hertz.

It also features Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, a companion app for system calibration, and promises over a month of riding on a single charge.

Frankly I think it’s way over priced.

Read in full at GCN.

Airbag Bib Shorts

Airbag bib shorts, designed to inflate upon impact during a crash, are being touted as a potential game-changer for cyclist safety.

The concept, which has moved past prototyping and is set for field testing, was developed with the aim of blending seamlessly with cyclists’ attire while providing crucial protection.

Designed by SID Sport Innovation Design, the airbag is discreetly integrated into the bib of shorts, offering coverage to vital areas without hindering movement or sponsorship visibility.

Despite its innovation, the airbag system cannot prevent all injuries, such as Wout’s broken collarbone.

The system’s activation relies on sensors that monitor various factors, inflating the airbag in 0.03 seconds upon detecting a crash.

Challenges include determining the precise moment for airbag activation to avoid false positives, given the unpredictable nature of cycling crashes.

My concern? How do they wash.

Read in full at Road.cc.

CEO Drama at Scott Sports

CEO Drama at Scott Sports

Beat Zaugg, an industry veteran and a key figure at Scott Sports since 1998, has refuted claims of his dismissal as CEO, amidst a controversial announcement by the board.

Zaugg accused the announcement, purportedly made by Scott’s majority shareholder Youngone’s PR agency, of aiming to destabilise the company.

The conflict is attributed to a ‘culture clash’ between Youngone and Scott Sports, with Zaugg maintaining his position against the board’s decision.

In response, a statement from the Scott Corporation board, backed by Youngone, confirmed Zaugg’s termination, citing board majority decision as legally binding.

God what a mess, LOL.

Read in full at Bicycle Retailer.

Evans Cycles Filled with Discounted WiggleCRC Gear

Evans Cycles stores are now hosting a treasure trove of discounted WiggleCRC stock, following the acquisition of Wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles by Frasers Group, owned by Mike Ashley.

Evans Cycles Filled with Discounted WiggleCRC Gear

Shoppers have spotted deals on a variety of brands, including DHB, Giro, and Fizik, with items such as premium footwear available for as low as £50, despite their original price tags reaching up to £300.

The sale was first noticed at the Evans Shirebrook store in Derbyshire, but leftover stock is also available on the Evans Cycles website, offering significant discounts on a wide range of cycling gear.

WiggleCRC, which faced financial difficulties leading to its administration and subsequent buyout by Frasers Group for less than £10 million, had a substantial stockpile of unsold items now finding new homes through Evans Cycles.

Despite the physical sale being spotted in Derbyshire, Frasers Group’s strategy includes online sales, with discounts on DHB kit and other cycling essentials, indicating a broader effort to liquidate the acquired stock.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Visma-Lease a Bike’s Lead Director Pedals Off to Football

Visma-Lease a Bike's Lead Director Pedals Off to Football

Merijn Zeeman, the strategic mastermind behind Visma-Lease a Bike’s rise to road racing stardom, including two Tour de France victories, is set to leave the cycling world for a role at AZ Alkmaar football club in 2025.

After 13 years with the team, transforming it from a lower-tier squad to a grand tour powerhouse, Zeeman expressed his mixed emotions about moving on but looks forward to embracing new challenges.

Team CEO Richard Plugge and the rest of the team have expressed confidence in their solid organisational structure and are ready to adapt to Zeeman’s exit, with plans to further structure the team for the future already underway.

Read in full at Velo.

Bike Of The Week

I seem to feature more gravel than road bikes as my Bike of the Week. Maybe that says something about me. To be honest, I strongly believe I would be better off with a gravel bike for the UK roads anyway.

Now, I don’t know much about gravel bikes at all, but I saw this one over on Reddit, posted by pile_of_holes, and am reliably informed it’s a Cannondale Topstone, but they don’t say exactly which model and it’s sufficiently tweaked such that I can’t work it out.

What I love is the paint job and matching bar tape. Apparently the honeycomb work is done with homemade decals, so this is definitely a one-of-a-kind.

Very cool. More pictures here.

OK, enough from me, see you next week!

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