That’s the Paris-Nice prize list, make if it what you will. As ever these sums are almost anecdotal for the teams and riders given the money is levied, taxed and shared. Instead the interest of these prize lists is how they can correlate with activity and visibility in the race. Israel-PremierTech had a rough time of things but they only finished with two riders.
Talking of all things Nice, after a promising start with the stages in Italy, yesterday saw the two final stages of the 2024 Tour de France announced and they look enticing as well. Stage 20 is mountainous and crucially uphill from the start which should enliven the stage as the climbs of the Braus, Turini, Colmiane and Couillole aren’t steep by themselves but if things get lively from the start it’ll be much hard. The 34km time trial on the final Sunday is a hard effort but will we get the suspense of the GC and overall result in doubt? We can’t say. Knowing the start and the finish, what else can we imagine? Well a 34km time trial is long for Tour standards, could it be the only TT stage? Maybe there is a team time trial held by “Paris-Nice” rules but this would have to come very soon after the announced grand départ stages, especially as these Italian stages reach the foot of the Alps which pre-supposes some kind of Alpine stage although it’s possible to have one crossing via a gentle pass and then a team time trial. Or how does the race get to Nice, will there be more Alpine stages on the way there, or an air transfer to Nice airport. Answer at the presentation in October of course.
Staying in Italy, this Friday sees the annual general meeting of the CPA, the Cyclistes Professionels Associés rider union. Gianni Bugno is stepping down as president and members will elect a new head of the CPA. The difference this time is that professional riders are able to apply in person to vote whereas before there had been a system of block voting where the head of any national riders’ union cast their vote on behalf of all the pros in their country. The upshot could be a more responsive and representative rider union but we’ll see, one vote at a time.
From cycling politics to gender politics now. An usual leap here but it involves Soudal-Quickstep boss Patrick Lefevere. He was a curious guest for Flemish TV’s talkshow De Afspraak (“The Appointment”) last week to discuss International Women’s Day. Surely in no other country would a cycling team boss take part in a comparable panel discussion? At one point Els van Doesburg, a politician, was talking about women’s emancipation and being able to wear clothes they want without fear of harassment and host turned to Lefevere for his opinion and he said harassment of women is an issue but, and he uses the word for but “maar”, more women are getting drunk and sometimes they tread on thin ice. The women in the studio were giving him looks but before he dug himself any further into the looming crater the presenter warned him, “watch out, you are also on thin ice” is the translation of subtitles in the screengrab above. Lefevere seemed to jolt and suddenly stopped this line and pivoted to asking whether women civil servants get the same pay as men in Belgium.
If he wanted to discuss clothing, Lefevere could have instead talked about women being able to wear Soudal-Quickstep kit and how the AG-Soudal-Quickstep team that he’s backing is poised to join the World Tour. The story for the Women’s WorldTeam promotion/relegation contest is whether the teams that had a relatively meagre haul of points like AG-Soudal-Quickstep but have hired over the winter can overhaul those teams that did well last year but look likely to score less this time, think Lifeplus-Wahoo. With the women’s Vuelta establishing itself, RCS taking over the Giro for women and the Tour de France Femmes taking off, getting a licence in the top tier for next year and beyond brings a lot of assurance for sponsors.
One team in potential trouble is EF Education-TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank because of the third title sponsor. Depositors are being rescued but the bank’s future as an institution is in doubt to put it mildly, so therefore is its marketing budget. It may not be the case here but sponsors often pay in quarterly instalments and a cycling team is not a priority creditor which would leave the team short of funding for the months to come.
Staying with women’s cycling and the Strade Bianche result has been revised after Kristen Faulkner was disqualified for wearing a blood glucose monitor during the race and the Jayco-Al Ula gets replace on the podium ex post by Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. Now some might not like the rule but park that. It’s black and white in the rulebook that using a glucose monitor = disqualification, here’s the screengrab:
So the inevitable outcome has happened to the race result, presumably after some kind of investigation or hearing, a chance to check Faulkner is not a diabetic given these devices are allowed in such instances, just as diabetics are exempted in part from the UCI’s “no needles” policy when it comes to insulin injections. Only it’s all be whispered out, there’s no official statement from the UCI despite a World Tour podium being changed because of the UCI’s rules.
Finally did you know Remco Evenepoel’s taken a Strava KoM in Tenerife? Quite possibly yes if you’ve read a cycling news website today. As it happens many pros get KoMs in training but it’s not often news. Evenepoel though only has to do something in training for it to become news in the Belgian media and this is in turn copied by other English-language websites. It does tell us about Evenepoel’s form and while Tenerife’s south coast is notoriously windy – it has wind/kite surfing hotspots – he did the climb to Taucho which snakes up via many hairpins meaning it’s hard to have a wind-assisted ride… and it wasn’t windy on the day either. Just as we had Pogačar vs Vingegaard last week, we’ll get the pre-Giro Evenepoel vs Roglič test next week in the Volta a Catalunya and the race features three summit finishes.