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.