GCN+ is stopping. Subscribers have been informed that the live racing streaming service will halt in December, staff were told by Zoom just before.
Down the plughole
GCN remains, the website and Youtube channel. But the live TV service is gone with Warner Bros, owners of Discovery and Eurosport, pulling the plug.
Not to be too self-referential but when doing a race preview here the last line says where you could watch it on TV. With GCN+ this was practically redundant, it was rare to find a race on TV not on GCN+ so here all that was left to do was to list the start and finish times. Now things get more complicated. GCN+ was near seamless, fans around the world could tune in, indeed you could subscribe and travel around the world and watch too. It was also priced to attract, even the headline rate was tempting, promo codes made it a bargain.
Frustratingly it’s in part to move subscribers to Discovery+ or Eurosport but GCN+ made the closure notice with no accompanying message where GCN+ subscribers could migrate with an introductory offer to a new service. In part probably because any new offering is totally location dependent, it’s not easy. British views can subscribe to Discovery+ but this TV offering isn’t available in, say, France. For many in Europe they can subscribe to Eurosport but the channel has just hiked prices, it could cost four times as much now. Yet being able to complain about big price hikes is almost a luxury a the rest of the world doesn’t even have a chance to open your wallet as there’s no equivalent on offer. At best many will be back to juggling a portfolio of subscriptions, VPN log-ins and pirate feeds.
Hold the front page
Ineos manager Rod Ellingworth has gone with The Telegraph (£) first to break the news. The jokey side is that Dave Brailsford was supposed to move to football with Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe’s any-moment-now purchase of a stake in Manchester United, only here football has arrived in cycling with the “sack the manager” gambit. But wait, he’s resigned rather than been fired. With no more news the reasons behind are a mystery. One to watch.
Hole in one
A Dutch team searching for a co-sponsor? Yes, DSM-Firmenich has landed PostNL as a title sponsor, it’s quite the coup. A home sponsor and a company that doesn’t have a bad reputation although perhaps there are stories of low wages or temporary contracts but if so we’re not talking jailing people for critical tweets, beheading opponents or ransacking the environment. It’ll see the team budget increase and this is interesting as several teams are doing deals to bump up their budget in response to the likes of UAE, Ineos and Jumbo-Visma’s spending. The kit already looks very visible compared to the plethora of black and blue in the peloton. PostNL-DSM-Firmenich is a tongue twister where mentioning the team’s name as Fabio Jakobsen is about toe launch his sprint is to use up 50 metres in verbiage. Jumbo-Visma must be sore seeing Lidl hook up with Trek, and now Post NL with DSM-Firmenich.
Talking of Jumbo-Visma… Wout van Aert is riding the Giro. Not news? La Gazzetta went to print with the news, only for some to say the Dutch team was going to sit down later and plan things and ask why was this newspaper getting ahead of itself. Only it seems the program of at least one rider here was in place already and perhaps the team wanted to make the announcement. No surprise that the head of cycling at the newspaper in the same building as the Giro got the scoop.
Holding back the news
Staying with pending news, one team that’s not announced any new signings for 2024 is Ag2r Citroën. Victory Lafay and Sam Bennett are joining, that’s an open secret and indeed while at the Saitama criterium Lafay was asked about his new team and said, or rather wrote, as the screengrab from Twitter, that you will have the answer on 27 November.
Down the wormhole
Finally a fascinating story from L’Equipe (€). Lugworms bury themselves in the sand on tidal coasts where they can remain underwater for hours without breathing. This means they’ve evolved to have special haemoglobin which can absorb 40 times the amount of oxygen than the human version and in a molecule that’s 250 times smaller. A French researcher stumbled upon the prodigious oxygen-delivery capacity of these sandworms and started a biotech company to commercialise the chemical, the freeze-dried can be stored at room temperature and can be used in various medical situations, such as keeping transplant organs oxygenated. Cycling fans who remember the 2000s can see where this is going…
L’Equipe reports that all along Franck Zal and his company Hemarina have worked with WADA to inform them about their products and a test has been developed for the wonder protein. Most interestingly for readers “a known cyclist, with a foreign-sounding name, whose team takes part in the Tour de France, contacted me because he wanted some of the product” said Zal but given he has been working with the anti-doping authorities for a long time he contacted OCLAESP, the French policy agency that oversees public health whose remit covers doping and unregulated medicine. So it’s presumably a non to any cyclist trying to get this but it’s interesting to learn that one rider at least is trying to manipulate their blood, and that their name has gone to the police. The news of a test is good but it’s only valid for a few hours after use so there’s a small window to catch riders but a blood test pre or post race ought to do the business.