Thursday Shorts

Remco Evenepoel is going nowhere, at least when it comes to his contractual future. But the story of interest from Ineos is revealing as making it public can destabilise things, the mere act of having to say he’s staying put is awkward just when his programme for 2023 is being decided and has generated a lot of column inches in Belgium. The plan seems to be the Giro but of course the Tour is a temptation.

Evenepoel is central to Quick-Step’s project and also a personal matter for team boss Patrick Lefevere who pledged to the Evenepoel family to treat him like a son and he represents the chance to win the Tour de France before retirement, the ultimate triumph for someone who’s won almost everything else so far.

In the meantime Evenepoel’s supposed to ride the Giro. It seems he’s already pizza cognoscente but RCS is said to be dangling three time trials to win over Evenepoel. But is this a winning recipe? It might bring added media interest from Belgium but doesn’t it mean that he’s likely to run away with the GC and that the result is baked in from the start? It feels so, but any Giro is very different from the Vuelta, the climbs are much longer. We’ll have to see what the mountain stages bring as well as the amount of time trials.

The Tour de France route leaks gather pace with the local press as ever a reliable source. La Montagne reports a big visit to the city of Clermont-Ferrand in central France, including the nearby Puy-de-Dôme summit finish and it’ll also host the start of the Tour de France Femmes.

From one Ferrand to another, and Ineos are said to be making a big announcement next week. Is it the announcement they’re signing Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, the launch of a women’s team, a big signing to the men’s team? Wait and see.

…but one less announcement by them is the publication of their accounts. Ever since the start of the Team Sky days they’ve filed annual accounts, a regulatory requirement in Britain. But the disclosure has now shrunk to the minimal requirements and the latest set of accounts don’t include the income statement, so there’s no headline budget figure and it’s not worth doing a blog post about any more. While the budget figure was the headline, being able to see the accounts allowed us a good look at the workings of a team and their disclosure over the years has been quite instructive to understanding how teams work in part because few other teams published accounts and so many estimates of team budgets were just that, guesses at best and even the numbers for Sky and Ineos didn’t match the published, audited figure. Teams that do file accounts, as in are obliged to, are Lotto-Soudal, Ag2r Citroën, Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ and we can get headline figures and a bit more but not huge details. We’ll take a closer look over the winter.

Another team due to make an announcement is B&B Hotels-KTM, the news of their replacement sponsor with it, their increased ambitions is due soon too. They said this in the Tour de France too but L’Equipe reports this week something’s coming soon, although the same article said Nairo Quintana was talking to a French World Tour team and that’s been disproved. B&B have to say something soon given the UCI Licence review process is underway and besides…we’re only three months away from the new year.

Talking of things rushing up quickly, the UCI’s gravel worlds are fast approaching. It’s a fun activity to partake in but doesn’t necessarily make for great sport to watch on TV or read about although we’ll see how this weekend’s action is covered. But we should note the interest from manufacturers, they’re keen to have their bikes in the shop window and so want their best riders showing off the wares. With the money going into this side of the sport, the UCI wants in there too, in part because it to get a slice of the action but also because the more at stake, the greater the need for a rulebook, for officials, anti-doping and so on.

Others are still racing on on the road, they’ll be a Lombardia preview here shortly. ASO have their celebrity criterium in Saitama but several riders are making a longer trip to Japan to compete in the Japan Cup, the international race with a 1.1 rating which is a week before. The likes of Cofidis, EF and Israel are racing, perhaps the points tempted them although this relegation battle has fizzled out so instead of chasing points, meeting the fans can still pay off and it’s a rare chance to race in front of big crowds. And then there’s the exhibition criterium. Saitama’s known as a dormitory commuter city outside Tokyo so the race can bring a bit of Euro glamour for the day. For any riders going, or readers who ever find work or life takes them to Saitama, the hills to the west beyond it offer fantastic riding.

Looking to next season now and one question for 2023 and beyond is what do Canyon do? Assuming the promotion-relegation system happens as planned – and that’s not certain – the German brand will supply three of the men’s World Tour teams with Alpecin-Deceuninck, Movistar and Arkéa-Samsic, plus they’ve got Canyon-SRAM for the women too. Now they could keep all three men’s teams, after all each has reach into different markets. However a big season by Mathieu van der Poel probably covers a lot of the publicity and marketing. Still Specialized have Quick-Step, Bora-Hansgrohe, Total Energies and SD Worx so a big brand can back several teams. This is a bit like like washing powder retail where you might see lots of different brands on the shelves but they typically belong to two or three companies; now many of the bikes in the peloton could come from a handful of brands too.

Until now the UCI has allowed teams to change their jerseys once a season. This has helped avoid clashes with the yellow jersey – think Jumbo-Visma adopting their “mastepiece” kit in July – or just for marketing and a fresh look for the fun of it. New for 2023 is a rule tweak (1.3.036) allowing teams to have up to three alternative jerseys during the season. Now just because you can doesn’t mean you should, teams will need to consider it carefully, the novelty factor can wear off but there’s room for more creativity here too.

One bike brand hoping for exposure and a new kit in action this weekend sees Pinarello and Bio Racer backing Filippo Ganna’s track machine. He’s going for the Hour Record this Saturday and while we’ve had 25 attempts since the rule revision in 2014, with seven records, the Hour seems to work in a symbiotic manner with the record holder. It’s a prestigious record it itself, yet its prestige is also derived from record holder. Ganna is the prime rouleur of his generation and so if he’s in form then you imagine both him and the record will gain from this.

33 thoughts on “Thursday Shorts”

  1. How much does it actually cost a manufacturer to supply bikes to a team? I’m assuming the supply of bikes and components is fairly negligible if they are a big firm like Canyon. Do they pay a decent amount for the privilege of supplying them?

    • A WT team with thirty or so riders must require with road, TT, backup and breakages at least 150 frames. Even given that providing frames does not equate to the retail price, that’s a lot of material and a lot of money. Are they, at least for a WT team, all new every season, and what happens to last season’s bikes?

      • Sometimes they can be handed down to an in-house development team. Often they’re sold in an end of season sale from the team’s service course and the cash goes back to the team*. Buying a used bike is risky as it’s bound to have been crashed, ridden hard, and jet washed many times over so it can require a good eye and some rebuilding.

        (* Once upon a time teams sold their bikes and because the cash received was untraceable / didn’t go via the books, the money was used to buy doping products)

      • One of my riding buddies has some close links to a protour team and has one or 2 or there old training bike frames. At least one has the riders name on it and although he purchased them i suspect he got them reasonably cheaply.
        An additional note BEX sold all there old spare scott frames (unused i think) on of course the bike exchange trading website last year. They had lots to sell.

  2. Canyon also supply the women of Movistar, a deal that is particularly good for them in 2023 as one of their riders earned a certain stripy shirt (and therefore matching bikes?) a couple of weeks ago.

    • Yes, both parts to the teams. I wonder which gets more publicity for the brand. There’s a lot more coverage of men’s racing via TV but this doesn’t mean automatic publicity for bikes, vs the high profile coverage for Van Vleuten this year.

  3. “In the meantime Evenepoel’s supposed to ride the Giro. It seems he’s already pizza cognoscente”
    Three words for Pizza Hut…”world’s-worst-pizza” though Domino’s might give them a run-for-their-money in the awful, pizza-like substance category. Makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.
    Not just in cycling, an advertising endorsement guarantees only one thing…the endorser got paid. Far too often we’ve seen endorsers actually using/consuming something else, despite the marketer’s efforts to conceal the fact. One of my faves was watching MOTOGP where TV (accidently) showed a team helper pouring water into a famous energy-drink can so the star endorser could take a big gulp for the TV cameras in the winner’s circle.
    Right up there with Mollema’s hearty endorsement of the components his team forces him to ride with.

  4. One of the quirks of the UCI getting involved in Gravel (TM), is that they’ve taken a discipline which has had a tradition of parity (men and women do the same course) and put their stamp on the race – which means that women are now doing a shorter race than the men.

  5. As a gravel “racer” here in the US, I like the idea of a UCI Worlds’ race. It’s going to be like a road race but on gravel with real competition, as it should be. This is unlike what the gravel “pros” in the US have done, which is taken non-competitive fondo like events and tried to put some meaning onto getting to post-ride party first. It’s no wonder most of them aren’t going to Veneto as they wouldn’t be competitive most likely. Kudos to Haas for going. Should be an interesting race.

    • Just don’t call it ‘Gravel Worlds’ as that copyrighted name belongs to the US organisers of the so-named race;-

      -they say they weren’t in contact with UCI but there is a story which goes they were warned off issuing their own rainbow jersey in a nasty way and decided it would be sweet to get the name as their own.

      Elsewhere there has not been a lot of love for the UCI international gravel series so it seems the authentic races will not lose their dominance and UCI finds itself late to the party again, just like it did with MTB, or le Tour if you want to go back that far.

  6. Did anyone else see the finish in Zagreb on the CRO tour (one of the riders tweeted about it), it was crazily dangerous. There was a serious chance of a career ending crash. Not sure how something like that gets signed off given the safety protocols etc.

    • The only way I see this changing is if the Rider’s Union (not the CPA; wolves/henhouses and all that) get some real leverage and a representative to actually ride through proposed finishes beforehand. It’s one thing to look at a race parcours on a map, another thing entirely to have someone who understands how races unfold actually inspecting it. It would require investment on the part of the teams as well as the UCI surrendering control (which is probably the biggest obstacle), but it could be done. If all the riders threatened a strike the week before the Tour, I bet negotiations would open up very quickly…

        • Unfortunately it’s nothing new (just think of the recent incident with a speed bump in the last km) but if the authorities do nothing then possible lethal finishes will continue (Tour de Suisse is a well known road furniture nightmare).

          • If you’re referring to the Stage 2 crash in Vuelta a Burgos, it wasn’t a speed bump, it was a zebra crossing. An elevated passage, admittedly, but the riders were warned about it in the road book and it was not unmarked.
            Just to get the facts straight. The organisers weren’t quite as stupid and without regard for the riders’ safety as the popular version of the story led us to believe.
            But I agree that there shouldn’t have been an elevated passage in the final km in the first place.

  7. The team managed by Lefevere is officially called Decolef Lux SA.

    You can see the basic yearly accounts they filed until 2020 here:
    (I assume the 2021 numbers weren’t filed yet, or at least not a final version.)

    Remember that this does not necessarily include the whole “budget”, as some things like portrait rights might be handled through a different legal entity. Also, some sponsors give performance bonuses (for things like major race wins) directly to the riders instead of going through the team for those. And of course some sponsors pay riders as brand ambassadors.

  8. +1 for Cd’s comment! I’ve read lots of “pooh-poohing” of this event on Anglophone websites – reminds me of the 1990’s when the big bad UCI took over MTB’s. Plenty of whining but that didn’t stop guys like Tomac or Overend from taking part, but when so much of the US gravel scene seems to be made-up of WT pros past their sell-by dates or guys who couldn’t quite make it to WT, it’s easy to understand why they’d not want to come to Italy to get their butts kicked and instead downplay the importance of a real rainbow jersey.
    My guess is that might change once they see the fat checks the rainbow jersey winners get from the people who put their brand-name on the winner’s bike’s downtube, unless these guys are already making fat stax as product shills, etc?

  9. The Remco transfer seems to be a typical Don Patrick PR stunt. He stirred the pot by leaking the message himself. After generating quite a bit of controversy and publicity then called it stupid. If he ended up shooting himself in the foot, he won’t get much if my sympathies.

    • Perfect reply from Ineos team management would be to play him at his own game:

      “Well we hadn’t really thought about recruiting Remco until Pat suggested it, but we’ve had a think about it and we reckon that wouldn’t be a bad idea. We look forward to catching up for an informal chat some time soon.”

  10. Just a quick comment about British Cycling’s new sponsorship with Shell UK. Reading Shell’s press release, it seems this is mainly aimed at 2024 Olympics in Paris (surprise, surprise), but “Shell UK and British Cycling will also share expertise to develop an innovative new chain lubricant for the Great Britain Cycling Team, with initial trials set to start in the coming months. This work will aim to create a bespoke chain oil to help the nation’s best riders to achieve even more at the 2024 Paris Olympics.” Shell are going to put money into a “people with disabilities” programme but no money details yet.

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