Monday Shorts

News isn’t exactly coming thick and fast at the moment but there are some issues to explore. The fate of the B&B team hangs in the balance this week and with it, the team Mark Cavendish will ride for in 2023. Today is one of the deadlines cited by team manager Jérôme Pineau for a sponsor to say yes or no.

If that sponsor says “non“, Pineau says are two more paths with deadlines next week. Technically they could be too late because this week – tomorrow actually – is also the UCI’s licence application deadline. But the governing body is likely to be flexible here if there’s a deal to be signed, it can review other files first. Regardless of the various dates, all things have to fall into place very quickly. For a more practical view, word is riders have been invited to the team’s training camp on the week beginning 12 December. Things will surely have to be settled in time for this.

Still no es un ciclista: Nairo Quintana’s talking up his chances of returning to the peloton and a World Tour team no less. In a way though this is his best route back. Join a smaller ProTeam and hiring a guy disqualified from the last Tour de France may not be a great calling card when trying to get a wildcard invitation. Now Quintana’s been sanctioned, there’s no double jeopardy here so you could imagine a team that might probably get an invite anyway like Israel signing him. But a World Tour team is still easier as it removes this risk. But which team? Movistar are full with 30 riders but this isn’t absolute, they could pension a rider off to another team if they really tried. Bahrain have room but have gone on the record to say no. Intermarché maybe, it suits the moneyball/misfit angle? Astana have said no in the past but need more riders for next year, because as of this morning’s news of signing of Gleb Syritsa they’re at 25 riders and the minimum is 27 but they’ve said no about Quintana in the past.

New and old signings: as well as the hulking Syritsa, a stagiaire, Astana have also signed sprinter/leadout rider Martin Laas from Bora-Hansgrohe when normally deals are done in the summer. Now teams are still making some signings. Some of these are just announcements, for example riders renewing have to be offered a contract for next year by the end of September… but the news of this can be delayed, there are a few of these stories. But there does seem to be space in the market for signings among those out of contract. Some of this is with a view on the B&B team scenario. co

Charter: To signings of another kind now and the UCI announced 80 signatories to its “Climate Action Charter” last week. Big race organisers ASO, RCS and Flanders Classics are on board, as are several pro teams: Jumbo-Visma, Bahrain, Bora-Hansgrohe, Canyon-Sram, Cofidis, EF Education, UAE, Israel, BikeExchange, Trek-Segafredo, Caja Rural, Uno-X and Novo Nordisk. Some of it is vague and just the sort of thing you’d expect from a sports governing body that gets pushback when it tries to stop littering. But there’s also some hard aspects in the charter, things that are absolute. One of the core points is that all signatories must measure and report their climate footprint using so-called Scope 1,2 and 3 emissions by 2024, where 1 includes things like the fuel burned by the team vehicles but 3 is wider and includes things like fans driving to see a race. This is interesting on two levels: first, a shared set measurements designed to be comparable here so we’re not left trying to weigh up initiatives by different parties in the sport; second, a public commitment so we’ll be able to measure, report and compare what different parties are doing over time. How easy it’ll be to get the data remains to be seen but it’ll be an avenue to explore.

Warming up: one place where global warming’s being felt faster is the Alps where things are warming up faster than the plans. One bit of news missed in the summer was the opening of the “Col de la Tougnète” in the French Alps. It’s not actually a col, a mountain pass in French, more a peak but it’s a sister road to the Col de la Loze and essentially another ski run that’s been turned into a cycle path in order to attract tourists in the summer. It links the ski resorts of Méribel and Val Thorens. The Tougnète is the equal if not harder than the Loze, it reaches 2,434m. The idea is to connect more ski resorts in the area so that visiting cyclists can ride across from one valley to the next, rather than just go up and down. It shows the increasing value of cycle tourism. Just as the Loze needed the Tour de France to put it on the map, it’s probably a matter of time until the Tour tackles the Tougnète.

From highs to lows: the collapse of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, has hit the whole sector. Whether you see any need for this asset class or not, what’s certain is that cryptocurrency has been a huge driver of ad spending in recent years, from billboards to celebrity endorsements… and sports too with many teams taking sponsorship, even naming rights. It wasn’t long ago that some were calling for pro cycling to get a slice of the action. For various reasons – supply your own hypothesis, one here is that the archetypal European cycling fan is older and poorer than the target demographic – the sport didn’t, it barely got a crumb of the action. It probably dodged a bullet here.

Run for it: finally running is popular with many riders now, especially in the off-season. Flanders podium and Tour top-10 finisher Valentin Madouas gets another finisher label: he has just done a half-marathon for fun, finishing 25th in Deauville, France with a time of 1h14m. Once upon a time running was frowned upon by cycling coaches as it developed the “wrong” muscles and the impact heightened injury risks. Now it is supported as it develops underused muscles and the impact can help reinforce bone density. From the memory of a Twitter debate, the fastest marathon from a pro cyclist is probably ex-Cofidis pro Daniel Atienza who did 2h29m and now works as a pundit for Swiss TV.

56 thoughts on “Monday Shorts”

  1. Thanks for the roundup IR! Iljo Keisse hung up his competetive wheels this weekend as well, The 6 Day gave their famous son of Ghent a good send off. I spoke with his Dad in their family bar on Saturday night about THAT Your of turkey stage win, and he said that he’d been driving home from somewhere that day, and his wife called to say Iljo was in the break with 20km to go. He decided not to pull over and stop as it was a sprint day and he assumed he’d be caught. Got to home to find everyone going crazy. Was great to hear another side of what is a very famous story. Merci Iljo for a great career and a couple of fine wins

  2. NextHash is a current Official Series Sponsor for the UCI Track Champions League. According to the website: “NextHash are proud partners with major sporting properties and offer NFT sports collectibles and other exclusive NFT’s, focusing on developing new asset classes in the crypto world.” Are these the same products that are bringing Outside+ down? Let’s hope the UCI got paid in advance using traditional cash.

    • Hmm, I found the introduction muddled proof with hypothesis (aka the scientific method). Then I saw the website itself seems intently political, eg it has headings for “Brexit” and “culture wars” in the way this blog has “roads to ride” or “book reviews” at the top, and recent articles are anti-vaccine and pro-Trump. Readers can probably guess what stance it takes when it comes to climate change.

      Nobody will change their views on climate science reading the comments of a cycling blog… but if you think the climate change debate has it all wrong, you might still be interested to see races and teams compare their emissions, or put another way which teams use the most resources?

      • Ian Plimer is a professor emeritus at the university of Melbourne. Given his position on these matters his article is hardly likely to appear in a left leaning journal.
        His background is geology so he does bring a macro view to this subject … as, it seems to me, most geologists do.
        Yes waste minimisation is a good idea but having the climate fanatics put their nose inside the cycling tent is not.

          • This blog was quite frankly the last place I would have expected to stumble upon this kind of discussion – and I must say I’m very much of the opinion that there was absolutely nothing in the blog post that gave adequate ground or reason to start it.

            Anyway, it is my experience or as one might put it, something that life itself has taught me that intelligent people who are educated in one branch of science and trained in its ways of reason ing and thinking about concepts, proofs and all that jazz are often the worst people to listen to when it comes to matters pertaining to another branch of science.
            They tend not to recognize it when their thinking is astoundingly stupid or when they are insufficiently informed or downright ignorant and since they are accustomed to being the one who are right about things in their own field, the idea that this could not be the case in another field never crosses their minds.

            Back to cycling, everyone, please!

          • In case of Ian Pilmer it’s worse: aside from being a professor, he also was the director of multiple mineral exploration and mining companies, and of course those companies are directly implicated in this discussion.

      • “Hmm, I found the introduction muddled proof with hypothesis ” — quite generous of you Mr Rng. I found it a farrago of nonsense (since when does a scientist demand “proof”?!? This is science, not mathematics. That 97% natural flux? It’s balanced by a natural uptake flux — surely an earth scientist would know that and that it’s the net flux that matters. Etc. etc.)

        Anyway, I see the usual suspects in support — Cofidis, EF, BEX — but also … Bahrain and UAE? Is this a case of greenwashing so blatant it’s awkward or do the managers really feel strongly about this while the sponsors are ok with it happening and happy for the laundering?

        Also, why do there have to be any long transfers? The distance from Brest to Strasbourg is ~1000km, Calais to Perpignan maybe 1300, so it seems you could design challenging courses every year without the need for them. Paris-Tours this year was 213 km, a circle with radius 200 km from Paris covers a lot of northern France and into Belgium, so the final stage doesn’t have to cover the same ground every year.

        • I would be happy to see the number of vehicles on the road halved to make things look more like a bike race than a convoy. The motor bikes are particularly irritating as they seem to be going continually back and forth for no reason.
          … and I would probably pay money to see Macron following the peleton in a Messerschmitt.

          • Me, too, for safety reasons as well. Not just the motorbikes though, the cars are often just too big to get through some of the roads and leave room for the cyclists. Just ask Alaphilippe. And motorbikes get into the act as well. Just ask Roglic.

          • I wonder about the motos too. But which ones aren’t really needed? One could say the photog’s as they seem to be constantly zooming ahead after the photos are taken to get to the next good photo spot. But are THEY the ones interfering in the race, or worse, hitting the riders? I wonder if the crew who zooms ahead to wave flags at critical places is more to blame? Do they really need to do that? There seem to be plenty of local authorities and is there any real proof these people prevent more incidents than they cause? But in the end, the idea of big cycling races somehow being eco-friendly is a pipe-dream anyway.

          • I wrote “local authorities”, not whatever drunks can be found at the local pub and pressed into service. The point is people who are there ahead of time vs the moving crew that has to zoom past the race caravan repeatedly, each time risking interfering with the race or worse, a collision. I question what the guy hopping off his moto to wave a flag really does when it comes to safety vs the risks of getting him there? I can’t say for sure but when LeTour entered Switzerland it seemed like the French moto gendarmes were stopped at the border? All the choke/danger points seemed to be manned by people already there or in the case of road furniture, well-padded and highlighted. I don’t remember any big incidents so again, is the moto crew really needed?

          • It probably depends on the area you go through, but many rural municipalities in France have very little personnel (and little inhabitants too), and gain nothing from the TdF. If you tell them they have to provide the security, they will tell you to go elsewhere with your circus, and the gendarmes (national police) are not going to send in a thousand officers that would all have to be paid a full day to protect 1 spot for a peloton that zaps by within 1 minute…

            In Belgium the motorbike police that block off roads in some parts of a parcours will try to take alternative routes off the race parcours, and I think that is true in France too, but sometimes that is not possible.

            And it’s different in start/finish places of course, or other places that can somehow benefit from a race like the TdF passing through (e.g. when there is a famous climb and many fans will drink & eat locally).

        • I don’t want to get too stuck on the climate debate, like I say few will change views or compromise because of a cycling blog comments.

          As for transfers, ASO have been saying the 2022 route has short ones and playing up how good this is. The test is whether they can keep doing this rather than whether it works one year.

          I’d like to see if they can use a train like they’ve done in the past for the transfers to Paris rather than flights, there’s a TGV station in Colmar for example near the Markstein. But it’s said that ASO are worried about strikes on the rail network so they’ve opted for the flights. There’s a lot to gain from going back to the train, including showing how the French rail network isn’t halted by strikes that often either.

          • There have been plenty of strikes at airports & airlines too recently…

            And I assume they could make an agreement not to strike on that day (with very little exception, strikes tend to be planned & announced weeks beforehand).

    • Unbelievable.

      I expected a few bros would pop up to defend cryptocurrency, but never in my life did I expect to see someone promote Ian Plimer with a straight face on these pages.

    • That counts, even faster. I’d been wondering if Laurent Brochard had gone faster, the former world champion from the 1990s has really got into distance and trail running. Madouas’s time from above impresses because he’s presumably close to his lowest fitness of the year and all that.

    • I came to competitive cycling from marathon running. Not very good at either with just a sub-3 hour marathon while the cycling club boys would push me up the hills when dropped because they knew I’d still be strong on the flats on the way back home. I found other than pure endurance the two sports weren’t too complementary and gave up the running for the most part.

        • Yes but at world class level it’s purely sprinting no endurance whatsoever.

          You could imagine a converted, entire 8, leading out or leaning out over years and mountain trains. Controlled by their cox, I mean ds.

        • See Jason Osborne who is with Alpecin and the e-bike world champion. He was still a rower when he took the Strava KoM for Monte Serra and started getting a lot of attention for this. But he’s not the first, far from it. Rebecca Romero did it on the track. Away from rowing but in kayak Elise Chabbey comes to mind; Ganna’s father was an Olympic kayaker too as it happens.

          But the big source could be anyone. The bus driver, the librarian, anyone who might not know it but has some massive Vo2 Max.

  3. Considering the massive carbon footprint of crypto, I would think that the UCI would want to prohibit teams from being sponsored by any crypto firms. Not just because of the inherent instability of the sector, but also because it is completely at odds with their professed goals on climate action. I don’t know if the UCI can impose these kinds of limits on what sponsors teams can accept, but honestly, they really should.

    • The carbon footprint of Ethereum (the main cryptocurrency for most of these companies) was equivalent to Netflix. Not Netflix + Disney + Prime + HBO + Paramount + Eurosport etc. Just Netflix

      Since Ethereum’s recent upgrade, it dropped its energy consumption by an estimated 99.95% You should feel more guilty about using an EFTPOS machine 😉

      Massive footprints aside, it was good that pro cycling side-stepped the crypto crashes. We have enough issues!

    • Being a team sponsor seems mostly about either publicity or personal vanity. Musk’s companies (Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter) hardly need publicity, and he celebrates his personal vanity almost moment-to-moment on Twitter, so I’m not sure what’s in it for him. If Twitter had already been sponsoring a team, I imagine killing that venture would have been one of his first acts. He wants people to pay him for advertising or access; he’s not interested in paying for advertising or access.

    • Please gawd NO! Tinkoff was bad enough though we still have Israel, bankrolled by the Canadian/Israeli version of Donald Trump. Pro cycling does NOT need more megalomaniacal kooks like these, no matter how much money they have.

    • I am sure there are exceptions but mostly the rich man who own these teams seem to have a passion for cycling. Elon musk seems mostly to have a passion for Elon Musk.
      I could just imagine the scenario. Team has a bad day and musk tweets some disparaging to a rider who tweets something back so musk calls him a pedo and then fires him.
      Team has an expected life of about a month.

  4. Not sure if you covered this before, but why don’t riders get saddle sores like they used to? bib materials, medical advance, other caretaking issue? seems they would have problems, even surgery that would upturn careers.

    • They still do, I remember reading about some problems not too long ago and wondering the same thing with all the modern oh-so-much-better technology the marketing mavens go on about so endlessly.

    • It’s hard to poll but it is an issue, eg Jai Hindley left the Giro last year because of one. One common cause in the past which wasn’t appreciated as much was having different leg lengths, something we all have to varying amounts. It can mean an imbalance when it comes to sitting and pedalling. Now this is both easier to identify with more comprehensive bike fits, and if necessary, correct. If any readers get a saddle sore in the same spot, often then this could be an avenue to explore.

  5. Teams are never (well you can point out the exceptions below) going to do KYC on sponsorship sources properly. If someone offers them a million squid, they’ll take it. Very few questions asked, just witness the state sponsorship and greenwashing that is happening. It’s a dodgy business.

  6. there were a few pros and teams shilling NFTs earlier in the year- what’s fun is to go look them up now and marvel at how few were actually bought, with several collections from the likes of Geraint Thomas, Peter Sagan and more selling zero.

  7. According to “another place” (as said in Westminster) Monday is the start of the UCI World Tour Forum in Monaco for two days. Maybe we’ll get some clarity on the WT points system which would be good to know.

  8. I can’t wait to see a team in the tour told to stop the support car and bus because they used up all their carbon credits for the day.

    Self reporting your carbon foot print?

    When do the bike makers get to put green stars on their carbon frames for “green production” processes?

    Will this expand to report the carbon used by Taj vs Remco in prep for the tour?

    Another overreach by cycling to try and market itself as “greener.”

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