Tuesday Shorts

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.


77 thoughts on “Tuesday Shorts”

  1. Can always bank on Lefevere for a good quote … “more women are getting drunk”, jeez.
    Is there some new TdF rule about stages not exceeding 140 km if it goes uphill?
    Volta a Catalunya’s prov. start list is interesting, possibly Bernal & Thomas for Ineos, Carapaz & Uran for EF, plus Jumbo’s & QS’s Giro teams.

    • Nice for Don Patrick to take a cue. Usually he got worked up more. On the other hand, did the producer do any homework before inviting him? Surly they know he might not be the best guest in cycling for the subject of the day?

      • On the other hand, maybe the producer had done their homework only too well, reckoning that Lefevere would almost certainly say something controversial that would get the programme discussed in the press and on social media for the next day or so (and probably generate some polarised debate to boot) … If so – success; they’ve got a Flemish talk show being discussed on an English language blog!

        • Up to a point yes, but if the panel host had let him develop his thoughts a sentence or two further it would have turned into a far bigger story. My story here is how he almost did it, rather than he did it. You could see where he was going with his train of thought… but he didn’t get there.

        • It’s not a talk show that targets a big audience; more like have a good & preferably civilised discussion about various topics related to recent news/events.

  2. SVB does not have an uncertain future. It has no future. It ceased to exist as of Friday, so EF won’t be getting any more sponsorship money from SVB. Rumour has it that the CEO was a big cycling fan, so that was probably driving the sponsorship, and he is definitely fired. FDIC does not play nice when they have to take over a bank.

    • According to WSJ, While none of the largest U.S. banks bid on SVB during a failed auction on Sunday, at least one offer was made by another institution, but it was declined by the FDIC. The UAE were interested in the UK branch of SVB, but no word on the US parent company.

      • HSBC have bought the UK arm of SVB – they used to sponsor British cycling, so possible they’ll want to continue sponsorship of EF…very unlikely though

  3. A TTT with the paris nice rules and 80 – 90 % flatish with 10 – 20% steep uphill would be an interesting prospect. There would be scope for different tactics and the propect for the GC teams of a big lead out on the climb with rider after rider peeling off.

  4. It’s funny, when I read you were turning to gender issues, I thought you were going to bring the issue of Hannah Arensman’s untimely retirement. Turns out it wasn’t that. Not funny, actually. Very sad.

      • What exactly makes you think Beryl Burton wouldn’t be protestong loudly right now for the likes of Hannah Arensman? Why wouldn’t anyone, actually, but especially Burton?

          • I hope not, it’s difficult and complicated enough already!
            Besides, whose religion would we be talking about, Arensman’s, Burton’s – or those trans-women she competed against? 🙂

          • Arensman’s factors in heavily (I suspect). Not necessarily so, but that sort of strong beliefs sometimes shape a *neater* world vision with more and more strong beliefs in other fields, too. Whatismore, other fields tend to stop being “other”:

            “(Q) What inspired you to become a bike racer?
            (AH) I felt God calling me to race and my sister Allison Arensman”.

            As an Italian papist, albeit one of those who constantly wonders whether is it the best religion to die (and live) with 😉 , I don’t mean to blame her for holding religious views of sort; only, I find it peculiar, as a postfreudian, how overdetermined the complaints in her public letter are.

            Of course, she’s entitled to do as she feels better, but if her leaving the sport is to be perceived as a loss, I’d defend that such a loss probably depends more on the compelling power of the systems of belief she belongs to (besides religion, the whole way some social and political parties are trying to frame the “debate”), rather than on the personal stories and attitude of her competitors.

            That said, yes, it’s a hell of a matter, and it would be more than worth a serious debate – yet, note that it’s not like academy hasn’t spent a good number of decades delving into the subject. Not enough to establish any sort of safe ground, sure, yet more than enough to understand that people referring to women who have gone through a gender transition plainly as “men”, well, should perhaps form themselves a little before becoming part of the “serious debate” itself. But I guess they don’t like the “serious” part, it would involve too much reading of the wrong books.

        • I’m not sure Steve’s comment was meant to be taken all that literally, I read it as more of as a bow of appreciation who “had a simple motto. “Anything lads can do,” she told herself, “I can do.” And then she got on her bike and showed the world the truth of her assertion.” By, for instance, racing against men in a 12-hour race and winning in record distance,
          It is not for me to say that Arensmann should have simply tried harder next time instead of choosing to stand by something she quite apparently strongly believes in and making a decision accordingly, In fact I wouldn’t dream of saying she should’ve – and I don’t think that’s what Steve implied, either.

          • It’s funny how people, including Katerina Nash, are avoiding the issue Arensman is protesting about. Not funny. Sad. And impossible to believe, really.

    • [Please excuse any ‘incorrect terminology’ that I use – I am in no way an expert on the trans issue.]
      A trans woman is a woman in every way.
      If you feel you are a woman, you’re a woman. It’s your choice. Nobody else has a right to tell you what you are or are not.
      You are a woman. Except physiologically.
      You cannot change the biological reality that if you grow up as a ‘biological man’ then you have bigger bones, bigger muscles, etc. Those advantages – when it comes to sport, and only sport – remain, even after you transition. And no amount of hormones taken/removed can change that anatomy sufficiently for your anatomy to be the same as if you had grown up as a ‘biological woman’.
      I think it’s detrimental to the ‘pro-trans’ argument to continue to pretend that this is not the case – denying biological fact.
      There is plenty of research that shows that men have an advantage over women when it comes to physical activity – not that it is really necessary; you only have to look at every sport where physiology comes into it.
      Liberals won’t touch this issue because if you are a public figure and you say what I have said here, you will be labelled ‘trans-phobic’ and endure a storm of hatred and invective.
      But I think this is one issue – probably the only issue when it comes to trans issues – where the argument is pretty much black and white. Anyone who is even faintly objective knows that a trans woman has an advantage over a woman in a physical contest.
      Conservatives use this simple issue (the sporting issue) in order to whip up anti-trans sentiment because their goal is to demonise these people – because they have been propagandised by capitalists (in order to encourage them to vote for capitalist governments) who say that they will stop this terrible tide that is ‘trying to change the sex of our children’.
      I don’t know what the answer is – I can only see having separate competitions for trans athletes, although that is far from a simple ‘binary’ issue. However, I do think it is unfair on non-trans females in sport. Denying that is simply grist to the right-wingers’ mill.

      • Minded to close the comments as somehow it’s got into a discussion about a trans cyclo-crosser which has nothing to do with the post. I could be wrong but have yet to see a comments section on the internet where trans issues are debated calmly and bring elucidation, usually things deteriorate quickly. It’ll save bandwidth and tempers.

        • ‘I could be wrong but have yet to see a comments section on the internet where trans issues are debated calmly and bring elucidation, usually things deteriorate quickly.’


          But you never know, this could be a glorious exception – you don’t know if you don’t try. (Granted, it’s highly unlikely with this issue.)

          • “But you never know, this could be a glorious exception”.

            No, it isn’t ROTFL
            I’ll second the closing as soon as inrng feels so, unless we turn the debate into if Focus wheel are really Campagnolo, and if you can have them on with a Campy groupset.

      • No, it isn’t that black and white.
        You transform statistical estimation into single cases “a trans woman has an advantage over a woman”. Feel assured that most if not all current pro athlete women have a physiological advantage over approximatedly any man writing here. That they haven’t such an advantage over some 0,000001% male freak doesn’t mean as much as we might feel. The nature of elite sport amplifies (and so ends up distorting) the nature and meaning of the phenomenon. It’s probably meant to do so, to foster synecdoche (and hence nationalism, racism, local identity… gender identity).
        Previous personal history – depending on a variety of measurable and identifiable factors – having an impact on subsequent fisiology doesn’t normally lead to separate categories for those being related to such variables.
        OTOH, the meaning of separate gender categories in the sport has a very specific history, which should’t be maintained unchanged as our understanding of reality shifts. It needs to be *thought again*. That painful process, thinking (with a good deal of empathy both towards the Arensmans and their competitors) is what we collectively need to now face this subject, I’m afraid. Not here, I suppose.

          • Define “compete” (winning or playing a meaningful role in a competition? Like, not being among top 50 but say among top 200 who make a pro cycling bunch?), *and* in what competition. I guess you know that precisely in cycling women have been repeatedly absolute winners (regardelss of gender) in several competitions, both in the present and in the past. So, such a short phrase is simply a false one, hence not useful for any debate (besides analysing thought process of the participants in the debate itself). Why writing it?

          • Gabriele, where would Annemiek van Vleuten be in the male peloton?

            I don’t know.

            But I strongly imagine that she would rather be winning races against people who at least don’t have an innate physiological advantage based on their sex instead of being an also-ran, at best, in an ‘all people’ race.

            And it’s the same in all physical sports.

            Why would women want that? And why would they not be annoyed at having to compete against people who used to be physiologically male?

        • Note that apparently the race which meant Arensman was up with cycling had her prevail over a competitor who had been a man, and lose to another only through reportedly incorrect behaviour which went unsanctioned a number of times (dare I say a separate issue, although some interference is well possible). None of them competed for the final victory against the life-long women who got the first two spots. So, personal history didn’t place those competitors out of the expected range of fair competition. In this case (not in general) it’s all about “what they would theoretically *deserve* in sporting terms if they had had a different life, and what had Hannah deserved had she entered the sport when it had diffrent rules”. Quite philosophical, indeed, not at all B&W.

          • It’s not about particular individuals, or individual cases that one can bring up, it is a general fact: top female athletes cannot compete with top male athletes.
            And this is the case at all levels: junior female cyclists cannot compete with junior male cyclists. Amateur female weightlifters cannot compete with amateur male weightlifters.

  5. I cringed when I was listening to the Cycling Podcast and they mentioned noticing Faulkner wearing what appeared to be a Supersapiens device (whom TCP is sponsored by),and they reached out to the UCI for comment, effectively outing her.

    • I would imagine that the quite visible device was spotted by a multitude of others, too – including an UCI functionary whose job it is to keep an eye for these things.
      The mystery to me is why Faulkner wore it and why it wasn’t given as a responsibility for someone in the team to check that the riders are not only ready to race but also legal to race.

      PS Are diabetic riders really exempt from the rule that prohibits the glucose monitor during competition? Is that part of the rule just hidden somewhere in the regulations?

      • I ask why stop with the glucose gizmo? Get rid of ALL of this crap! Bike racing is essentially simple when it comes to equipment…bicycles go nowhere unless the rider pedals ’em. The sport doesn’t need (but perhaps commerce does?) electronic shifting, power-meters, radio earpieces, Garmin-type gizmos, heart-rate monitors, automatic tire inflation systems, etc. so why is all this “progress” allowed and even encouraged other than for the obvious fact there’s profit to be made from sales? More sport, less commerce please. Climbing down from soapbox now…Milano-Torino today 🙂

        • It won’t happen but I would like to see them on equipment that is more robust. Riders are regularly taken out of the equation because of punctures or dropped chains.
          It’s accepted as part of the sport but in my mind it detracts from it.

          • Agreed, but it goes back to commerce IMHO. I remember one race where a guy (Basso?) suffered an equipment failure – a superlight single rail post/saddle they were using broke. At this time ballast was being added to bikes to get ’em up to the minimum weight so this superlight combo served ZERO purpose in the race other than promo value for the punters out there who might rush out to buy one for their own bike.
            I’ve said a million times Joe or Jill Crankarm would be much better served with a bike optimized for Paris-Roubaix than to race up Alpe d’Huez but Joe/Jill still opt for the latter way too often. So far, throwing some unpaved sections into roadraces hasn’t changed much in that regard either so…

        • You’re totally right all this progress has ruing cycling! I wish they would ban Lycra, horrible invention. I know lets scrap those pesky new fangled helmets too while were at it and go back to leather sausages.

          • Ask Bobet!
            Yeah, perhaps synthetic fibres should be questioned, too. But dare I say more such in everyday clothes than in cycling ones (though…).

          • I have no problem with synthetics … just find the mountain biking pants more relaxing to ride in. It is a question of styling and functionality.

          • The problem with synthetics is that your favourite piece of kit can be bad for the enviroment. Either during the manufacturing process or when you wash it or when it’s time to say goodbye to it. Microplastics, fluor carbons. you name it…

          • Getting rid of certain technologies because you think cycling might be better without them is not the same as getting rid of all technologies.

        • Road cycling would be a pioner then, wouldn’t it? I certainly don’t know any endurance sport where HRMs are not allowed in competition.
          But, yes, I could live with a rule banning all those, Riders could still wear them in training and the best among them could learn to listen to what their body and mind are telling them better than their competitors.
          OTOH I am very much of the opinion that electroni shifting, cycle computers and power meters would still be purchased by keen amateur and hobby cyclists. There are other, way more weighing reasons why cyclist like them than the wannabe factor of “I gotta have what the pros have”.

          PS There’s also Nokere Koerse today, in my opinion a more interesting race. But it is indeed one of the beauties of cycling that we can enjoy different kinds or races!

          • Nokere Koerse is indeed better than Mi-To, today, the latter is really being sacrificed by RCS in terms of calendar, route and, as a consequnence, startlist, too; whereas it had found a great place near Emilia and Lombardia. I don’t need it to be a great Classic for climbers (well, it’s not we have heaps of those, but whatever…), yet a course suited that mimics Sanremo might make more sense than this pan flat farce. Be it a bunch sprint, but offer some terrain to make it a challenge, too – it’s not a GT stage!

            Re: electronic shifting, I still can’t see why people want it. Seriously, can somebody explain? I know a handful of people who use it and all of them had issues of sort, while I struggle to perceive any serious advantage not only against equally expensive groupsets, but also against some cheaper ones. Sure, you need, ahem, to “learn” (???) some basics in order to use mechanical shifting, but the learning curve is so mild that most people aren’t even aware that they have had to learn anything: clip-in pedals or even “braking” imply a way tougher learning process in comparison (and, no, it isn’t tough, either).

          • Horses for courses and gears for cyclists or something like that.
            For some reason, some people – like me, for instance – find that learning curve too steep and they seem to constantly battle with small but immensely irritating small niggles or imperfections. For them electronic gears are a gift from heaven: every gear change is perfect, there is no cable that breaks down when you’re 80 km from home and, last but not least, the sound of the engine is music in their ears.
            Whereas for some people adjusting the gears and installing a new cable and pre-empting problems on the road is child’s play and who can not feel any improvement to mechanical gears. Mysteriously these are often the same people who – when they have finally decided to go eletronic – forget to charge the battery in time. Or they have issues that other people have not once experienced in tens of thousands of kms…

          • It’s a very interesting subject, indeed. I’ve never even heard of a bike cable breaking, not even any friend of a friend of friend, in some three decades of riding, and not only am I an avid cyclist, I’ve also lived within several cycling fond communities through different countries.
            Which to me does *not* mean that the above is a myth or “didn’t happen”, rather that probably – I must imagine – it depends on a broad number of social factors concerning the way bikes are used, maintenance, maybe climate, materials and so. For example, I’d say that the vast majority of cyclists I’ve been riding with do count on expert but affordable (until now) maintenance of the bikes by some mechanic in the local shop at the very least 3-4 times a year, or even way more often. You always have the mech freak who does it all by himself or herself, but it’s not as common as one might imagine. Such a premise also means that a decent mechanical groupset (Ultegra or better) will be kept in good conditions and fine-tuned, and that is enough to have it working as perfectly as it goes (I also absolutely hate niggling little sounds in the bike, not to speak of slow or lss than precise gear changing etc.). You can add up the conditions of the roads, the climate, as I said, and other factors… at the end of the day, the difference in experience and perception between what you and I have lived looks really huge.
            I happened to ride an Ultegra Di2 a couple of times (not my bike), which I suppose is good enough, and I had no complains… but no reasons of special enthusiasm when compared to my usual mechanical Campagnolos, either. Disclaimer – I suppose that the various special buttons you can use really add up for the pro sprinter or so, the one I used had nothing of that.

          • Feel free to scroll past anything with my name on it, OK?
            OTOH…you wouldn’t want to go back to watch Fausto Coppi if you could? I laugh at those who choose a period and insist that I (or anyone else) who wants to see the ban of electronic gizmos and the like want to go all the way back there, whether it’s the 50’s or more often the era of wooden wheels and single-speeds. I think they call that a “straw-man” argument?
            Finally, explain to me how/why the electronic gizmos make the sport more competitive, more exciting, etc. vs the bad old daze before electronics became so ubiquitous.
            You might hate the attitude of Henri Desgrange who famously said “I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft… As for me, give me a fixed gear!”..but would there be LeTour otherwise? 🙂

      • I think we’re in danger assuming too much of the UCI who will be checking for everything although the video commissaire during a race checks social media as much as the TV production in order to crowdsource these things. Also for the team as well to review it all, there’s a lot going on during the morning of a race, staff are busy fretting about where the spare wheels will be etc. It’s probably taken a case like Faulkner to remind everyone. Also what chance she or others have worn this device before but because they weren’t solo with a lot of coverage on TV it wasn’t spotted?

        I’ve done a blog post about the do’s and don’ts in a race before, probably time to update this with all the rule changes since.

      • Far from an expert, but I think the device is placed on your body and then always kept there for a relatively long time (dunno, but say 2-3 weeks), not something you wear for the race, and I also think that once you take it off, it’s to the rubbish bin… Faulkner said she was quite aware about the issue but thought that it was enough to have it offline, not connected to any reading device during the race, which can be supposedly tracked well by any informatic investigation.
        The rules are clear, anyway, so…

      • @Wednesday, the regulation that governs these onboard devices (art. 1.3.006) has the following option for excemption:
        “The UCI may grant derogations to any envisaged use of onboard technology which is
        not authorised by the present article. Derogation requests shall be assessed, inter alia,
        in consideration of criteria of equal access to equipment, sporting fairness and integrity,
        and shall also comply with articles 1.3.001 to 1.3.006. Derogations may be limited to
        specific events and riders or teams. ”
        So for a diabetic rider to be excempt, he/she/whatever will have to apply for the ecxcemption. It is not granted as is.

  6. “The mystery to me is why Faulkner wore it and why it wasn’t given as a responsibility for someone in the team to check that the riders are not only ready to race but also legal to race.”

    I’m sure Geraint Thomas asked the same question of Ineos when he set off on his TT with his warm up gilet on…..!!!!!

    • According to CN, she was a late call up and just put one on her arm before race. These things usually are good for a fortnight. As she paid for it herself, she was a bit reluctant to take it off prematurely (they are expensive). She thought it was okay as long as she wasn’t reading data from the device during race.

      You kind of can understand why the UCI didn’t distinguish between whether the device is connected to something that can output readings. You can never be sure. You can “easily” program a head unit to hid the data in some pages that are only shown after some complicated key strike combinations and no-one would be the wiser that you are using the data during race. That said, they could register these devices pre-race and put some signal scrambling devices next to it to make sure it can’t transmit anything.

      • We’ve been told the PED’s found in the rider’s house were “for the dog” or the bag o’blood in the fridge was indeed the rider’s…but he wasn’t (didn’t ever) re-infuse it, etc. Having an instrument attached to your body in violation of the rules but claiming you weren’t using the data it provides during the race seems pretty much the same thing. It’s the rider’s responsibility to know the rules so any way you look at it she should be DQ’d at the very least.

  7. The final TT in the TdF looks an interesting way to finish the race. Stage 20 is disappointingly – and predictably – short. Variety is what makes grand tours interesting, and a full test of all capabilities of a rider – and that includes at least one long (a good bit over 200km) day with multiple mountains. The dogma nowadays is that those kinds of stages are dull and ‘always neutralised because they’re too difficult’, but history doesn’t bear that out. Last year’s TdF featured laughably short mountain stages. Don’t we want to see how Pog, Vin, etc. compare against each other in all kinds of stages, and not just short ones?

  8. But there are usually many crashes and lots of chasing in the similar final stage of Paris-Nice. Roglic for one will be relieved he’s doing the Giro and won’t be involved in this Stage 20. It could get frenetic for the podium places. And I bet you there will not be a gridded start…
    The 35km ITT could be a thriller with the run-in to Nice but I guess ASO has to do something to make the following year’s return to the Champs Elysées seem exciting.

    The ‘Pa-Ni TTT’ could get really interesting if it has a climb at half way as well as at the end

    • As it’s next year’s Tour (2024) then we’re not sure where Roglic will be, but the TT could well suit him, and after Prudhomme’s comments, I think we can be pretty sure there’s more TT km’s to come.
      Personally I hope Pogacar does the Giro next year, but I suppose the team will want him at the Tour.

  9. I’m surprised the show’s host stopped Lefevere from digging himself any deeper – surely, the only reason you have a sexist on a show such as that is so that he can say something controversial. And it would have been nice to hear his full views and then – one would hope – hearing one of the other panel members explain to the public precisely how he is wrong.

    • Agreed very much with the first part. Not sure about the latter. It’s an useful social ritual to make clear that some views aren’t acceptable to the point that you simply can not utter them publicly. There’s a time when the moment of explicit and basic pedagogy must be left behind, or better said for schools and family life, while the public arena is dedicated to tackle issues which *can still be* controversial… “in the good sense”, so to say. You’ll always have some cultural leftover, be it only for generational reasons, but it’s unclear if it must be deemed otherwise than a thought fossile (to be kind),

      • No, I would very much allow (and welcome) them to be uttered publicly – I’m 100% against censorship (including ‘cancel culture’). That way, it can be explained to that person (as slowly as is necessary) that a person’s state of inebriation or attire are in no way whatsoever relevant to any harassment or assault that they are on the receiving end of. The perpetrator is 100% to blame – always. And the more that is said, the better – which is why censorship is a bad idea.

        • Assuming that persuasion works through explications, language, discourse… which it normally doesn’t.

          Many if not all opinions being legitimate in private (once they don’t imply action of sort as a consequence, of course) doesn’t mean they’re in public. You can shout insults at Lefevere on TV from your couch, but if you do that publicly, you *might* have a problem (even if he isn’t present in person). And although our societies often pretend that the difference between public and private is useless and must be dismantled only because it’s becoming more porous and generally less clear, I think that it’s still worth working on and about it.

          Generally speaking, many subjects require more conceptual work, data, references and so on to be explained the adequate way (plus, as you said, you really need to do that very very slowly), otherwise it’s just auctoritas – and many people might even think Lefevere has more of that! So, in practical reality you won’t just have fitting time and resources, more often than not. Besides, the Lefevere of this world often defend positions which do capitalise on long-term power structures which long imbued culture and society, and that often means that they start the “debate” from a position of advantage *among that same public* which you might want to receive the explication – whereas the rest of the public just doesn’t need it. So, you end up spending collective time fostering a polarised debate which *at this point* is better set (in social terms) just making clear that there’s no room for any debate on such a basis.

          Racist insults in a football match? Go home and goodbye. We don’t need to have an academic there ready in the VAR room who in case of need jumps in the field and explains everybody why race doesn’t exist with a TED talk. Although, ehi!… now that I think about it… 🙂

      • I don’t think this –
        ‘It’s an useful social ritual to make clear that some views aren’t acceptable to the point that you simply can not utter them publicly.’
        – works.
        People continue to have these views, they just know they can’t say them publicly. But the views remain.
        For me, being in the UK, the most obvious example is that racist and xenophobic views were not publicly acceptable a decade ago. However, they clearly persisted, and once the people who held them felt emboldened by an increasingly nationalistic/racist government and media, those views all came out – and now we are enduring the consequences of this on a consistent basis.
        I don’t think you deal with a problem if you silence it.

        • It’s not about silencing, it’s rather dealing with it appropriately and in the appropriate context. Explicitly silencing Lefevere, and with a manifest evaluation, because of what he’s hinting at… is not silencing the problem, quite the other way around!

          And re: racism it’s also to be seen if people were emboldened or just *received* those same ideas again.

          However, it’s a very complicated matter and we’re going quite much OT, so I’ll leave it here. I even refrained from commenting on Hannah Arensman above in order to avoid this sort of derailed debates (interesting as they can be!) 😉

  10. “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?”

    Lefevre was there because of the VRT documentary series about him, ‘Patrick Lefevre: Godfather van de Koers’ (which apparently is not the same documentary series as the upcoming Soudal-Quickstep documentary on Prime, which is supposedly more in line with their Jumbo-Visma one.) Broadcasters in The Netherlands and Flanders have developed this “Stammtisch” talkshow format where all guests sit at a big table at the same time. Everybody gets their own segment, but the guests that are there for another topic often chime in. This often results in loudmouths like Lefevre putting their foot in their mouth, which is not good for the quality of the discussion, but is good for controversy and therefore ratings.

    • I get the panel discussion aspect and that he’s got a documentary coming up which the channel wants to promte… but of all the people to invite that day, the theme throughout was women’s issues and they had a panel of guests picked just for that. Presumably he was part picked in the hope he would say something outrageous.

      I stress though the host pulled him back from disaster, he quite didn’t go as far as some other write-ups I’ve seen suggest. But it was like watching a car without the handbrake on parked by a cliff, or maybe that’s the wrong analogy as Lefevere clearly engages reverse gear but is pulled back from the edge by the host.

      • It’s generally not the intention of that talk show to go for “outrageous” stuff.

        And I hope the series about Lefevere somehow makes it to a foreign audience later (although it would surely require a lot of subtitling, translating & overdubbing).

  11. To change the subject, credit to INRNG for the item about Evenepoel’s KoM – not the KoM itself but highlighting the flimsy ‘copy and paste’ journalism of far too many cycling websites.
    In this case it’s the supposed market leader, which now insists on payment to read such thin gruel.
    I should declare an interest: I am in the specialist business publishing market, with publications behind paywalls.
    The quid pro quo for charging is delivering valuable and unique news and insight.
    Ripping off other publications and ‘copying into best’ is a hopeless strategy that insults readers – especially in this age of instant and pretty good quality online translation.
    Het Laatste Nieuws is no long Dutch (or Flemish) to anyone.
    With competition like those cycling news sites, INRNG stands head and shoulders above them for its assured and elegantly written reporting.

    • Thanks, it’s the ease of doing a blog. No need to do news on everything, chase ratings etc. Can just cover a small niche. Or not, there can be things to cover but not enough time.

      It’s interesting to see how much coverage Evenepoel gets in the Belgian newspapers, especially as he straddles both sides of the language divide in the country. By contrast browse the Slovenian newspapers and there’s much less on Roglič and Pogačar, their results get decent coverage but there’s not the focus on their training, whether they’ve got new shoes, private life etc.

  12. “INRNG stands head and shoulders above them for its assured and elegantly written reporting.”
    Hear, hear! Second that.
    As something off topic, what does Mr Ring think of the chances of Brittany and Western France getting the Tour again? The current trend of stage parcour away from long stages and flat ones would seemingly put it at a disadvantage, that’s without the financial considerations of course.

    • The aim is to visit each area at least once every 4-5 years although this typically applies to parts of France that are half-empty to start with, think Creuse or Lozère. Brittany being a big area where cycling is very popular means a queue of mayors to host stages but as you say, how to visit but not have repeat stages of the peloton trundling along flat roads? Especially as two stages in Brittany means at least two more, one on flat terrain to arrive there and then another flat ride to somewhere else.

      They’ve tried to spice things up with coastal roads and some hills but it’s often not been hard enough, there’s Mûr-de-Bretagne but this works better early in the race. Which brings us to the “ribinou” of the Tro Bro Leon, maybe? Or embrace the flat terrain and stick in a TT?

      Not to be too down on it all, the big crowds are guaranteed and the people often really know their cycling, the local newspapers have cycling news on their front pages. It’s just the geography that’s the challenge.

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