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Wednesday Shorts

There are so many races all of a sudden and many on TV. With a VPN your browser can hop around the world allowing you to watch races in Colombia, France and Italy in the space of a few hours. Whether you need to is another matter but there’s now a huge choice and so far the quality has been good, the Tour Colombia’s TV coverage was an improvement on last year.

The European Broadcast Union has renewed its deal with ASO to show the usual races on TV in Europe and beyond. Brexit Brits need not worry as the EBU is not part of the EU and has members channels in Algeria, Belarus and Switzerland. Without knowing the price paid, the main story is one of continuity with the addition of the women’s Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège too.

Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège have long been the preserve of Alejandro Valverde and there have been a few versions of “Valverde is getting old, he wasn’t won a race this season” doing the rounds. But it’s normal, we’re only 49 days into the new year and after his ban it’s been common for him not to win by now. The chart shows how many days into the new year he’s taken his first win and the red line marks today. The test is whether he can win in the coming days, the Ruta del Sol is where he’s often got his first win.

Will Valverde win this week? You could place a bet but the UCI has moved to tighten up the betting regulations this year. New rules mean that betting sponsors have to abstain from offering bets on races where their team takes part if they are directly in control of the team or event, ie Circus from Circus Wanty Gobert and Bingoal from the Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles teams could be are concerned but can probably demonstrate that the sponsor’s bookmaking is at arm’s (leg’s?) length from the team. Then if these sponsors they do want to offer bets it has to be on classic things like the winner, a podium etc. They can’t offer odds on who might finish 100th or last etc because this could be easier to fake and manipulate. Such bets can still be offered by bookmakers, but not if they sponsor a team, a race etc.

Only one World Tour team has yet to win so far this season: CCC. They’ve been likely candidates for this given the lack of prolific winners and their calendar but it’s still not a big deal. It gets more stressful if it’s like this by April and it wasn’t that long ago that Ag2r La Mondiale didn’t win a single race until late May in the Tour of California. UAE top the table with ten wins, already more than Sunweb, CCC, Dimension Data and Katusha-Alpecin won in all of 2019 and habitual table-toppers Deceuninck-Quickstep are second on eighth, as are EF Education First.

One team pleased with a win is Arkéa-Samsic thanks to Nairo Quintana in the Tour de la Provence. Is he back to being a Tour de France contender? It’s too early to say but his win is all we’ve got to go on, plus a strong ride in the Colombian TT championships. It just makes July potentially more exciting.

Onto more certain ground, literally. It’s official, the Poggio is part of the Milan-Sanremo route putting to bed a story that refused to go away. There was storm damage last December but the road was reopened soon after, apparently initial measures of the damage were over-stated leading to a brief panic and headlines on slow news days despite the Poggio being open to all traffic as usual.

As mentioned the other day here, Ag2r La Mondiale have 18 riders with their contracts up for renewal including leaders Oliver Naesen and Romain Bardet. Naesen’s already being cited in the Belgian press about a move with CCC mentioned and concerns over the Ag2r Eddy Merckx team bikes, this time last year they were on rebadged Ridleys (Ridley now owns the Merckx brand).

Wanda Sports could be putting Ironman, the triathlon business, up for sale. The significance for cycling is that Wanda started buying up cycling assets like Infront, the owner of the Tour de Suisse, launched the Tour of Guangxi and doing a deal with the UCI. Owner Wang Jianlin, a Chinese billionaire, even looked at buying the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia but was politely rebuffed. Wanda then put all its sports assets into one company called Wanda Sports Group and floated this on the NASDAQ stockmarket but the company value has almost halved since with fears over its debt burden. Selling Ironman would be unloading its prime asset and marks a big retreat.

Embed from Getty Images

Someone who has been acquiring assets seems to be Juan Miguel Mercado, a double Tour de France stage winner and winner of the Tour of Catalonia in the 2000s. Only the assets were smaller and crucially, police say he acquired them illegally. Local newspaper reports say Mercado has been on a burglary spree in his home region of Granada, Spain. He’s not the first ex-pro to turn to crime, just the latest example.

Finally a reminder if you want a calendar of all the pro races for your phone or diary, see inrng.com/calendar.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • hoh Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 2:54 pm

    Mr Wang ran a foul with the Chinese government in recent years as the latter move to curb outwards investment in recent years (capital movement out of China is almost 100% banned now and that certainly does not help Wanda).

    There’s rumour of his personal travel being restricted and his private jet got stopped on the runway departing China.

    Well, testing time even for billionaires.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 4:04 pm

      Yes, there’s quite a long story here. Investment in sport seems to have been encouraged but there was a big switch for the wealthy to back domestic soccer in China. Wanda Sports is a good way to place these assets further beyond the reach of Beijing but things are struggling and as you say Wanda himself has been the subject of various reports about his status.

  • Larry T Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 3:20 pm

    It’s much too soon to be worrying about races won. The season doesn’t start for real until Milano-Sanremo and it’s great to finally read those “chamois-all-in-a-bunch” hysterics about the Poggio were just that. What team wouldn’t give back every 2020 win-to-date in exchange for a win at MSR?
    What’s a “rebadged Ridley”? Do you mean the same made-somewhere-in-Asia frames they usually paint and sticker with Ridley logos were simply done up with Merckx logos instead? What’s wrong with the current “made-somewhere-in….” bikes with Merckx logo’s on ’em? Perhaps someone should send a Ridley and/or Merckx branded frame to Hambini so he can tell us what pieces of shite they probably are 🙂
    I’m not surprised the Wanda thing has fizzled out – I never for a minute thought this operation would end up owning much of importance in the world of pro cycling.

    • CA Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 5:40 pm

      For what it’s worth, I ride a Ridley Fenix (the basic frame) and love it. It’s super responsive and very comfortable. I don’t have a lot to compare it with mind you, as it’s the only frame I’ve ridden on that was made in the 2010’s haha.

      • Vieux chnoque Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 11:40 pm

        Your just a couple of clichés short of winning bicycle bingo ( suggestions: corners like on rails, 2 k faster than my old bike, filters all vibrations, every input is converted to more speed, stiff and comfortable, etc)😁😁

        • Sam Thursday, 27 February 2020, 8:48 am

          Laterally Stiff but Vertically Compliant

    • Louis Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 7:10 pm

      I’m also the happy owner of a Ridley Fenix and could echo what CA wrote word for word. I’d like to add that even though Ridley frames are built in Asia just like almost all carbon frames are, this doesn’t mean that they are just generically-built with the brand’s logo slapped on them and thus interchangeable with Eddy Merckx or any other brand’s frames. Ridley was founded by a frame builder and their frame have a unique shape that sets them apart. It’s also not the first time I read about Eddy Merckx bikes not being up to snuff, I remember Tom Boonen complaining about them and being very happy when Quick Step switched from EM to Specialized a few years ago.

      • Morten Reippuert Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 8:47 pm

        B.Holm complained about the Merckx MX Leader frames in the early 90’ies when Meerckx sponsorded Histor-Sigma 🙂

        Sounds like gossip or that he wants to switch team …Ridleys are good enough for Lotto’s Wellens, Evan, Gilbert etc, they are proberbly good enough for Naesen as well. Cervello’s on the other hand has horrible reputation in regs to lousy tolerances and stupid propriotary ‘tech’.

        • TDog Thursday, 20 February 2020, 7:08 pm

          In defense of Cervelo, I rode a 2007 R3 for 8 years. Over cols, dirt roads, crap tarmac, wind, cold, snow. As they say, rode it like I stole it. Snappy and comfortable. Loved it so much I bought a 2009 R3 SL – 13.5lbs build. Awesome climbing bike – still my go to ride. Perhaps more recent vintages have lost their way but my original R3 received a Viking funeral and resides in my Velo Valhalla.

          • Kevin K Thursday, 20 February 2020, 8:12 pm

            You put your original R3 on a boat and set it on fire?!?

          • Cedrik Thursday, 20 February 2020, 9:42 pm

            I’m still riding and loving my 2007 Cervelo Soloist Team. Hey it won some big races, back in, well, a long time ago 😂

      • Larry T Thursday, 20 February 2020, 8:32 am

        But “Eddy Merckx” bikes were good enough for Eddy, no? My point was, just as it was back then, bikes with “Eddy Merckx” on the downtube were no more made by the man whose name was on the downtube than they are today. ..so a “rebadged Ridley” isn’t really accurate. Ridley is merely a name used because someone else owned the rights to Scott, so their favorite film director’s first name was slapped on ’em instead and this same company now owns the rights to slap Merckx’ name on whatever they ship in from Asia to paint up and sell. I made the Hambini reference because he’ll share his opinion (based on some engineering knowledge) pretty freely if he gets his hand on a Ridley or Merckx. I personally have no idea whether they’re any good or not.
        Your reference to QS’ team move to the Big-S brand is interesting: I recall when they switch was made from the Time bikes they’d used before not everyone was happy, particularly Paolo Bettini who was sent the wrong sized frame and ended up swapping it out for the correct size at his Italian LBS while none of the Big-S’ t-shirts size frames would properly fit Tom Boonen, so Dario Pegoretti was called in to quickly whip up something in aluminum that was then painted and badged as a Big-S product while the Big-S’ Asian supplier (Merida I’d guess?) carved up a mold to make him a frame with the proper dimensions. Rumors were they liked the Time branded bikes a lot better, but of course sponsor obligations kept a tight lid on any complaints or comparisons. Money talks, as they say.

        • Michael B Thursday, 20 February 2020, 2:33 pm

          “Ridley is merely a name used because someone else owned the rights to Scott, so their favorite film director’s first name was slapped on ’em instead”

          Made me laugh, anyway.

          I don’t understand the old skool hatred for “t-shirt” size frames. With the death of the quill stem there are so many ways to adjust bike size now in marginal ways (seat post, stem, handlers, crank length) that the idea that a frame needs to be MM perfect for every rider is obsolete. Reduced costs mean someone on a budget, like me, can afford an amazing bike that wouldn’t have been possible via a more bespoke or independent bike builder (even if I do think they are a “good thing”).

          • Chris E Dub Friday, 21 February 2020, 8:57 am

            …you do know that story about how Ridley got its name (ie as a nod to Ridley Scott) is true?

          • Larry T Friday, 21 February 2020, 9:24 am

            OK here goes: 1. How are there more ways to adjust a frame that’s the wrong size with a stem clamped onto a steerer tube vs the old quill type? Changing modern stems is certainly easier and faster, but the dimensions are unchanged – frames either fit or they don’t. Look at the pro team bike photo galleries and note the insanely long stems, backwards-facing seatposts and other butchery done to make a choice of “too small, too big and close enough” work for those not big enough stars to a) have the sponsoring brand come up with a special mold b) go off to a “builder of trust” to get a bike that looks just like the team issue but is made-to-measure.
            2. How are the cost savings from making 5 sizes vs 16 passed on to the consumer? In many cases this has resulted in more choices because those same 5 sizes are painted up in more color options which costs the importers/distributors nothing compared to the cost of all those extra molds. No matter how well the paint-job matches your kit, if the bike’s the wrong size, it’s the wrong size.
            The bike industry has spent a fortune destroying the idea that fit starts with the frame – going back to the Giant/ONCE daze when the t-shirt sizes were first shoved down the rider’s throats. Nobody talks much about the fact (just like Tom Boonen) the riders complained until some S.5 or M+ frames were quickly and quietly welded up to actually fit them as that works counter to the massive profits produced by cutting the offerings down to just t-shirt sizes.
            This has all spawned another industry, the so-called “bike fitter” embraced by the industry. They hand off the fitting problem (or sell various fitting schemes themselves) to be dealt with in the same way a tailor might hack up an off-the-rack suit to fit rather than take your measurements and sew you a made-to-measure one that fits perfectly. The benefits all go to them, not to you and the real irony is quite often a made-to-measure frame will cost no more, since the big brands have to include the massive marketing expenses involved with pro team sponsoring into the price of every t-shirt sized frame.

          • Michael B Friday, 21 February 2020, 10:22 am

            “Changing modern stems is certainly easier and faster, but the dimensions are unchanged – frames either fit or they don’t.”

            That’s just not true though is it?! There’s a vast difference between a minus degree 140mm stem or a giraffe like 80mm stem when it comes to reach of rider. And that’s before you make micro adjustments with spacers or handlebar width and reach! Ditto seatpost layback, saddle position etc.

            You might not like how that looks but to pretend you can’t get a “t-shirt” frame to fit almost any rider doesn’t stand up to scrutiny in my view and has a whiff of snobbishness to those who can’t afford a bespoke frame build. I looked into the latter and believe me, it was at least twice as expensive for a bike that I wouldn’t be able to even test ride until I’d handed the cash over. I went for a t-shirt size frame, swapped out the stem, removed a spacer, and it fits perfectly.

          • Larry T Friday, 21 February 2020, 2:11 pm

            Sorry, frames either are the correct size or they aren’t – no matter when they were made or from what material or who made them. If you’re going to dispute that simple fact, I’ll apologize for bothering to help you understand.
            As to made-to-measure, I’ll continue to claim one can get a made-to-measure frame for the same (or less) than the big brands because I’ve a) done it myself b) done it for clients.
            http://cycleitalia.blogspot.com/2017/03/new-full-carbon-rental-bicycles.html

          • Michael B Friday, 21 February 2020, 2:25 pm

            “As to made-to-measure, I’ll continue to claim one can get a made-to-measure frame for the same (or less) than the big brands because I’ve a) done it myself b) done it for clients”

            I got a brand new Giant TCR Advanced 1 full Ultegra groupset (and acceptable training wheels) for €1200 last year as it was on sale and through the UK’s bike to work scheme. It’s a sub-8kg bike in t-shirt size XL (i.e. 61cm frame) and easily good enough for the level I ride / race at.

            There is no way any independent framebuilder can compete with that, sadly. So what should I do? Quit riding my bike because I can’t afford your high end custom build? Nah. I’ll keep riding my t-shirt frame and you keep sneering Larry 🙂

          • Michael B Friday, 21 February 2020, 2:30 pm

            PS – just to be 100% clear, I’m not having a go at anyone with a bespoke high end frame. If I could afford it I’d love one, but that’s not the case unfortunately. I just like to see people enjoying riding their bike, whether that’s a £200 MTB or a £10k S-Works.

          • hoh Saturday, 22 February 2020, 8:43 pm

            Wowowo, some very fashionable bashing of “made in China” that “opinion piece” there. Don’t you guys ever get tired of the cliche and stupid myth? The west dumped all the dirty work to China when it suits. When it doesn’t, the standing of “moral high grounds” begins.

            For quite a few industrial processes, the west has lost the expertise and currently China is the best place for them. A few true masters aside, a good proportion of the so called artisan makers with made in US/UK/Europe stickers, spilling nonsenses such as “we put our heart in it” or “it’s made for just you”, are just losers who are profiting from prejudice.

            The Chinese technicians put as much heart into their work, use same if not better techniques. They are better than these so called artisans because they produce far more of the products (spent far less time drinking beer) and get much more practice as a result. All they lack is the ability to spin up some branding BS. I believe that makes them more honest.

            P.S. @Larry, it looks like your rental fleet is successfully trying to install different spacers and sterns to make bikes in a few sizes to perfectly fit everybody. I believe that proves the T-shirt size fit approach proposed by the few other guys?

          • Larry T Friday, 21 February 2020, 3:05 pm

            OK, go ahead and compare what I was writing about to a close-out model scored at a blow-out price and subsidized by the UK government. It would seem nobody could compete with that, wouldn’t you admit? I wasn’t sneering, just trying to explain why “t-shirt” sizes are great for the bike industry but not so great for you. If you like the fit on your current bike and believe you’re on the best bike for the budget you have, no problem, but I’ll never apologize for countering claims that either are misleading or total fabrications as were yours that somehow modern bicycles fit better because (as you indicated) the old quill stem has been replaced by one that clamps onto the steerer tube. The fact is they don’t – anymore than an off-the-rack suit hacked up by a tailor fits better than one made-to-measure.
            If a 42R suit fits you well (and you can get a close-out subsidized by the UK govt) you’re lucky, but don’t sneer if size XL doesn’t fit me nor does my government subsidize the purchase, so I have one made-to-measure that fits properly. Same with my bicycles.

          • Eskerrik Asko Friday, 21 February 2020, 5:16 pm

            A small point, but since you made so much of what you called government subsidy. The Giant didn’t cost a penny less than if you or I had bought it. In other words, the bike shop didn’t receive a tax exemption, a VAT return or a check from the government under the Cycle to Work scheme.

            (Show me the cyclist who buys the latest model and at full price and I’ll show you someone with a large amount of disposable income – or a fool. It isn’t too difficult to find a previous year’s model at what must be called a bargain price in comparison. Unfortunately (or fortunately for them) I haven’t had much luck looking for a season sale or a year-end offer from any custom frame maker.)

            As for bikefitting: in my experience the general idea or the point of the whole thing – if you do it right – is to find out the geometry of the frame that would be truly made-to-measure for you. The custom frame maker may or may not be knowledgeable and experienced to produce a frame that (as you say) fits simply based on a set of body measurements (which you better get right if you don’t have the opportunity to get measured by the frame maker), but I fail to see how a bike fitter (who may rely on his experience and his eye as much as on what his computer running this or that brans of bikefit system software) should by definition be worse at the task just because he might not be in the business of selling bike frames.

            Granted, bike fitters get many customers who are uncomfortable or just feel inefficient on the frame they’ve already bought – and some of those frames no doubt are frames that “didn’t fit” – but it doesn’t mean a bike fitter is there only to sell you a new stem, a new bar, and a new saddle post:-)

          • Larry T Friday, 21 February 2020, 5:59 pm

            Eskerrik Asko – I’ve been in and around the bike biz for a long time. More and more the money is made (just like most consumer industries) by sales to the “early adopters” as I think the marketing-mavens call them. Those who just gotta have the newest-latest. Cycling’s more and more “the new golf” and that chunk of disposable income is the goal, wrongly or rightly. Obviously you’re not gonna score a deal on a “close-out” from someone who creates frames (or suits) made-to-measure and anyone in that category is not his (or the bike industry in general’s) target customer.
            To me, a made-to-measure frame-maker better damn well know how to properly size a frame in the same way a tailor measures you up for a bespoke suit, though I admit (and have seen first-hand) that’s not always the case. Bike-fitters (sadly) have become the industry cop-out as way-too-often there are no options to create a decent fit on the bike from the maker or from the retailer – they seem more and more happy to just hand this task off to someone else to make “too big, too small or close enough” work for the rider. And then they wonder why people buy bicycles online from Canyon, etc. and cut out some of the middlemen?

          • Larry T Sunday, 23 February 2020, 11:26 am

            hoh wrote: ” I believe that proves the T-shirt size fit approach proposed by the few other guys?” What it actually proves is that approach is just as I described it – a choice of “too small, too big and close enough.”
            By swapping stems and spacers my goal is to duplicate the position a rental client has on his/her personal bicycle based on a spec sheet they provide. I choose a “close enough” size bike from our fleet and adjust it to duplicate those dimensions, but I would never claim the result is a perfect fit, as plenty of times I’ve set up two different sized frames to match their specs and waited to see how they look and feel on each before helping them making the final selection.
            Back when I was in bike retail I had potential clients ask why we were such sticklers for proper sizing. “Why do you care so much about me having a properly-sized bike?” Our reply was “Perhaps YOU don’t care if you ride around on an ill-fitting bike, but our reputation for expertise and care for the customer is on display as you’re riding around. YOU may not care how you look on a bike you bought from us… but WE do!” It’s the same with our rental operation.
            As I wrote before, “close enough” may be just fine for most folks, but the real benefits of having just 5 sizes to choose from instead of 16 go to the makers and sellers rather than to the end users.
            Finally, I’ll admit to having to tell a potential rental client more than once that I’m unable to duplicate his/her riding position (based on their spec sheet) on any bike in our fleet. If they show up with their own bike, about half the time they’re right, we have no bike to fit them while about half the time it’s due to errors in measuring their own bike and completing the spec sheet.
            I created a video to help in the process. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clDuDe-CcC8 which has reduced mis-measuring a great deal 🙂

        • Morten Reippuert Friday, 21 February 2020, 11:07 am

          QS rode many years on Time, after that on Merckx for a short while util they switched to Specialized. I seem to recall that all Boonens early wins and Bettinis best yeares was on Time.

      • Gabriel Friday, 21 February 2020, 1:38 am

        You don’t get it. It’s not a an Italian brand so for him it’s dirt.

    • Kjetil Haaland Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 9:02 pm

      Just stop it, Larry. The season starts at Openingsweekend, gets rolling at Strade Bianche, and by Via Roma we all fall of our chairs.

      • Larry T Thursday, 20 February 2020, 8:14 am

        Sure, sure, I love some of races that go on before the real season starts…but they’re just that, even when “the circus comes to town” as it will in April when Il Giro di Sicilia starts a 5 minute walk from my front door. It’s all fun, but I don’t start paying a lot of attention to results until they line up in Milano every March. That’s my “green flag” for every season and you know what they say happens “when the green flag drops…”

        • Gabriel Friday, 21 February 2020, 1:41 am

          What do they say? You finally go away?

      • Anonymous Thursday, 20 February 2020, 10:36 am

        It’s an inner ring annual tradition.

    • SYH Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 11:19 pm

      Incidentally, has there been any word on the current health crisis in China affecting supply lines for carbon? Electronics are certainly affected, and I imagine that given the reliance on China for carbon manufacturing, bicycles might not be spared either.

      • DaveRides Thursday, 20 February 2020, 2:52 am

        There will definitely be some impact, it’s too early to say how much though.

        Much of the high end stuff should be protected as that side is centred in the Republic of China (aka Taiwan).

        • The Inner Ring Thursday, 20 February 2020, 11:03 am

          It’s very difficult to say because the supply chains are so long. That American brand jersey with “made in Italy” could have fabric spun in China, the “made in Vietnam” rear mech could include jockey wheels with bearings made in China etc etc and one bottleneck and the whole thing gets problems. But it seems so hard to judge the impact, people whose day job is to measure these things are still scratching their heads for the big picture.

          • hoh Saturday, 22 February 2020, 8:12 pm

            The latest figure is that between 70-80% of export oriented capacity has resumed in most of China aside from Hubei.

            I doubt bike shops would have Tim Cooks around. So I imagine most would have 3 month stock pile. That should last us up to May. By then the Coronavirus had better be under control.

          • thesteve4761 Tuesday, 25 February 2020, 8:26 am

            Bicycle Retailer (US trade publication) had this to say on the topic a few weeks ago:

            https://www.bicycleretailer.com/international/2020/02/06/major-supplier-warns-delays-due-coronavirus-vietnam-strikes#.XlTIk3uIZPY

            The weeks/months directly after Lunar New Year are typically when the earliest “next OEM model year” bikes are slated for their first production run, to hit US/EU showroom floors by late spring/early summer. It’ll definitely slow down some of that first wave.

        • Larry T Thursday, 20 February 2020, 12:48 pm

          “Much of the high end stuff should be protected as that side is centred in the Republic of China (aka Taiwan).” This trope again? How many shipments of stuff made in mainland China and shipped to this tiny island for relabeling “Made in Taiwan” have to be discovered before this myth will die? http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2019/05/16/2003715204

          • Louis Thursday, 20 February 2020, 7:19 pm

            Interesting article, especially given bicycles and bicycles are specifically mentioned.

          • thesteve4761 Tuesday, 25 February 2020, 8:57 pm

            Myth? Cmon, really?

            Of course COO (“Made in XXX”) labels can be misleading or confusing, but it is still accurate to say that many of the Taiwanese made parts and frames are superior to those coming out of mainland China. Further, I think it would be a little disingenuous to complain about misleading COO in TW without recognizing that it occurs regularly in Italy as well. On top of that, “Made in Italy” likely comes with a higher marketing value than “Made in Taiwan”, and as a result leaves brands even more incentivized to engage in the CN/IT bait and switch than the same for CN/TW where many people fail to see the differences between the two anyhow.

            There’s a reason we all know what a “Chinarello” is, no?

            Also, COO is a vast over simplification anyhow. I have direct experience working for a well known (for the industry) maker of high end wheels. In the case of just one of their wheel models, the COO for various sub-assemblies can be as below. Knowing all of that, the COO slapped on the wheel changes depending on various national laws, assembly points, etc.

            I can think of one specific bike brand who spec’d these wheels on their bikes. In order for the wheels to be ready in time, and to meet the production method the brand chose, factories all over the world were used. Hubs and hub parts came from Taiwan, Japan, China, Germany, and Switzerland. Spokes came from the USA, with EU wire (though they could have also been made in EU). Nipples came from Poland. Rims came from Taiwan, with their raw materials from China. Wheel assembly was done in the USA, then shipped to Germany for bike assembly (though the same wheels are also assembled in Taiwan and Poland). This is just for the wheels, and the complexity is only magnified once the rest of the components and the bike itself are tossed into the mix. None of which matters a lick in terms of the product’s performance.

            Long story short, who cares where it is made? Shouldn’t the judgement be on HOW it is made, and how the brands behave in terms of human and environmental relations? Even more, if you are going to harp on about this type of marketing deception, pointing the finger at TW while ignoring how common it is in IT is a bit of a glass house situation, no?

    • Gabriel Friday, 21 February 2020, 1:36 am

      There you go again with italo-centric ridiculousness.

      • Larry T Friday, 21 February 2020, 9:03 am

        Who? Me? The self-described “unabashed Italophile”? But in my own defense in this case I mentioned nothing about Italy in any of my comments on the subjects covered here, except for the mention of a race in Sicily and Paolo Bettini’s issues with a Big-S bike, so where is the “ridiculousness”?

        • Michael B Friday, 21 February 2020, 2:52 pm

          “ But in my own defense in this case I mentioned nothing about Italy in any of my comments on the subjects covered here”

          You did also link to your Cycle Italia blog and reference your custom frame builder (who I’d hazard a guess is Italian) so that’s three or four mentions of Italy, despite your claim not to have mentioned Italy.

          Not that I mind, since it’s a great country, but it made me laugh anyway.

          • Larry T Friday, 21 February 2020, 3:48 pm

            Those were posted only AFTER the “ridiculousness” snarky comment was made and in response to your baseless claim that modern bikes with clamp-on stems somehow fit better than those with quill stems, remember? You might have noticed this if you’d bothered to look at the date/time on the comments but I understand being snarky and clever is more important to you than accuracy. I’ll end this as it’s gone far away from the simple question about a re-badged Ridley as noted by Mr. Inrng.

          • Michael B Friday, 21 February 2020, 5:21 pm

            Haha, relax Larry and stop taking yourself so seriously. I find your Italian-obsession oddly endearing, even when you are at your most know-all and internet angry.

            PS – I never claimed modern stems were a better fit than quill stems, but they are easier and cheaper to swap in order to find a better fit. You keep rocking your quill stem though Larry as they do look better, admittedly. Peace.

          • Larry T Friday, 21 February 2020, 5:45 pm

            “With the death of the quill stem there are so many ways to adjust bike size now in marginal ways (seat post, stem, handlers, crank length) that the idea that a frame needs to be MM perfect for every rider is obsolete.”
            Is simply false. There are no more ways than there were before though (and I pointed this out) it’s now easier when it comes to swapping stems.

      • D Evans Friday, 21 February 2020, 10:50 am

        “Ridiculousness”? Is that a word?
        Reminds me of the old joke, “Sometimes I wake up Grumpy, other times I just let him sleep”
        Perhaps you should have had a lie-in…

  • Kjetil Haaland Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 8:59 pm

    The Mercado paragraph just made my day.

    • Francisco Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 9:09 pm

      And appreciation for the wordplay increases when one realises ‘mercado’ means ‘market’.

    • spicelab` Thursday, 20 February 2020, 8:33 am

      Classic stuff! One of the many reasons Monsieur Inner Ring is still my favourite writer in cycling.

  • SilverSurfer8 Thursday, 20 February 2020, 6:25 pm

    I don’t know if it’s the time of year, or just me, but I have a great feeling about this year in cycling. With so many great riders, it seems to have increased parity. I’m even excited about sprint finishes this year!

  • Paul Moran Thursday, 20 February 2020, 7:00 pm

    Tom Justice was once a cyclist chasing Olympic gold. Then he began using his bike for a much different purpose: robbing banks: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/February-2019/Bicycle-Bank-Robber-Tom-Justice/

    • Kevin K Friday, 21 February 2020, 8:57 am

      Fascinating article. Sometimes it is about the bike. (Though was it really a “12-speed”?)

  • plurien Sunday, 23 February 2020, 12:03 pm

    With the cancellation of La Liga matches, Milan Fashion Week ‘closed shows’, lockdown of several townships around Codogna and in Lombardy it’s starting to look like these threads of debate are all coming nastily together.
    Will there be a 2020 MSR at all, if coronovirus takes further hold?

    On T-shirt sizing of bikes. The lay-up of a carbon frame is not at all like the brazed or TIG welded frames of before. Tensioning the fibre, its direction of twist, torsion and linear pull determines the ride and feel of a frame. You cant just vary the tube length equivalent at time of manufacture unless/until someone comes up with the vacuum/pressure form tooling to allow this. And anyway, would it really make such a huge difference when just about everyone wants what used to be called a compact frame, with its benefit of stiffness and final fit, thanks to an improved range of finishing kit? You can get your contact points exactly where you want them and you can have a highly reliable platform.
    Eddy Merckx always carried a piece of string or a tape measure to keep a consistent saddle height. It was that sophisticated.

    • Larry T Monday, 24 February 2020, 8:15 am

      Two otherwise equal bicycles, one with a long toptube and short stem, the other with a short toptube and long stem will feel and handle identically as long as the distance from the tip of the saddle to the handlebar remains the same. True or false?

      • plurien Monday, 24 February 2020, 12:08 pm

        False – which is why you need to get the right size frame, and why you will choose one model/make in the first place.
        Riders choose to tune their fit differently, so straight or layback seatpin, long or short stem, stack height, bars and levers, saddle…
        Cost remains the overwhelming factor. With fewer sizes to tool, make and fulfil into stock with your distribution chain, it’s possible to gain economy that knocks the custom made out of the market for most people simply on grounds of cost. Selling more is how the brands win the argument about custom vs off-the-shelf in any sector.

        Frame size is important but so is feel, mechanical performance, geometry, BB type, headset bearings, disc/caliper brake mount type, QR/thru axle, paint job, availability, brand image and.. price. Mass production wins on the last three of these, and we all know how important it is to put the final ticks on any check list.

        One thing that still gets very rare mention in bike fitting is Q. The distance between the feet is essential in attaining optimal mechanical effort from the human frame. How many riders do you see with anything other than a standard crank set and pedals? -Possibly it’s down to people spending too long considering their frame fit in the 2-dimension side-on view…?
        – Within reasonable parameters provided by T-shirt sizing and fitting kit, does nth-degree frame size matter most?

        • Larry T Monday, 24 February 2020, 1:09 pm

          My argument is not that t-shirt sizes can’t (or don’t) fit plenty of riders, my argument is how and why someone swallows the industry kool-aid marketing BS that somehow fewer choices in frame sizes is better and that it somehow brings the cost to the consumer down. The first assumption is as false as the statement above while I have never seen any evidence for the second.
          As to the made-to-measure vs overpriced big-brand name, I like to use the cost of a Big-S SWORKS Tarmac frame/fork as my example: for that kind of loot I know of a couple of artisan-builders who can make you something that equals that (and might be better if some of the riders who have rented our carbon bikes can be believed) and fits perfectly because it’s made-to-measure. I think one of them has done just that in the past for a few big stars whose teams were sponsored by the Big-S, but I can’t prove it as it usually takes a decade or so for that stuff to become public.

  • David Monday, 24 February 2020, 7:56 am

    As an old guy seeing Valverde win gives me hope. Hope he is on the top step again soon 😉

    • cd Monday, 24 February 2020, 7:49 pm

      As an old guy seeing Valverde regain hair always gives me hope.

  • Downunder Tuesday, 25 February 2020, 5:51 am

    “There are so many races all of a sudden and many on TV. With a VPN your browser can hop around the world allowing you to watch races in Colombia, France and Italy in the space of a few hours. Whether you need to is another matter but there’s now a huge choice and so far the quality has been good”
    If only we had easy access to Eurosport here in Australia. Has gone from Foxtel, which has quite a lot of subscribers, to an almost unknown, obscure provider called Fetch who requires you to purchase a PVR box to stream. Sadly Eurosport will not make their Player available to Australia and as far as I can tell you can no longer VPN in due to tighter geo location and payment card country. And due to time difference to Europe we need to record so have to buy the $449 box and record it. Is only $8.99 a month for the Eurosport package but there is no video on demand option like the Eurosport Player.

    • Larry T Tuesday, 25 February 2020, 8:24 am

      It ain’t much better in the USA based on when I was last there (2018) as we had problems with geo-location thwarting VPN’s along with the country-of-issue credit card payments.
      Reminds me of the fairy-tales spread during the development of the world-wide-web, everyone could get everything everywhere and anywhere, they promised – until streaming rights were sold and bartered in the pursuit of ever more profit with the result things are probably more chopped and channeled than they were in the bad-old-daze when video tapes and discs from Europe wouldn’t play in the USA and vice-versa. I’m sure there are tech wizards out there who can easily thwart all of this but it really sucks if all ya wanna do is watch a pro bike race!