40 questions… and now 40 answers from ex-pros locked up in castles to the case of one rider punished by the UCI but featuring on chocolate bars as a result.
1. Who is the strong rider above capable of pulling (a sleigh) all day?
It’s Elmar Reindeers, sorry Elmar Reinders of Jayco. As well as jamming in some Christmassy wordplay, there’s a story here because he’s a strong rider who joined the World Tour aged 30, an exception but it shows there are different routes to the top of the sport. While rightly a lot of effort goes into detecting the next Tour de France champ, they need a rider who can toil all day too. Reinders didn’t just make it to the World Tour, he was a part of Jayco’s Tour de France team.
2. Dressed in red and white he makes his way through the snow. Which pro cyclist is this?
Felix Großschartner, via his Instagram. He’s one of several pros to have been handy at winter sports. Yes there’s Primož Roglič but there are plenty more.
3. Name a pro cyclist born on 25 December?
Luke Plapp came to mind but take your pick from more.
That Was The Year That Was
4. Cite two pro cyclists who were married to each other in 2023?
Team mates at Lidl-Trek Jacopo Mosca and Elisa Longo Borghini were among the right answers.
5. Who changed teams this year after they’d shot and killed a government minister’s cat?
Antonio Tiberi, now with Bahrain. Yes it’s a weird and sad story but it was picked as well in the light of Cian Uijtdebroeks’s transfer. Tiberi moved teams mid-season, so how come he did this outside of the transfer period? Because he was sacked by his old team, not only for executing a cat but apparently the team only learned of the case via the news. This meant there was no dispute between teams.
6. Who sowed the seeds of Discord and played a part in a team mate swapping squads mid-season?
David Gaudu and Arnaud Démare didn’t get along at Groupama-FDJ and when the team lined up behind Gaudu for the Tour Démare was disappointed and looked for an exit. In fact L’Equipe reported he had been thinking about ways out of his contract before but in the end the August switch to Arkéa-Samsic suited everyone. Gaudu went a bit far online here but his use of Discord and Twitch is interesting as he enjoys this and it reaches new fans.
7. Who won a sprint with only one foot clipped into the pedals?
Arnaud De Lie, the Famenne Ardenne Classic and notable because of the ease of which he won the sprint. That power is winning him races but at times costing him, he’s crashed before because his back wheel has spun.
8. Who was lanterne rouge in the Tour de France?
9. Who was lanterne rouge in the Tour de France Femmes?
Marjolein van’t Geloof.
10. What happened at the place above?
That was the corner where Mathieu van der Poel slid out in Glasgow. Away solo he had time to get up, get going and win the World Championships and the moment probably caused a wave of heart palpitations in the Netherlands.
The Bleak (North Hemisphere) Winter
11. Is cyclo-cross eligible for the winter Olympics?
The winter games have to be held on snow or ice, which is why they haven’t held other winter sports such as cross-country running… or even football or rugby which tend to be sports conducted over winter and with an off-season at least in summer. You could have a CX race in the winter Olympics if it’s held on snow… but it’s unlikely ever to be picked given the audience demographics.
12. Is there a set temperature for the UCI’s Extreme Weather Protocol to kick in if things are cold?
No. It’s not a bad thing as cold but dry conditions are manageable on the bike but if conditions are wet then everything changes, and even before it gets icy. This does mean a big grey zone.
13. Many are riding indoors. What’s the world record for the longest single ride recorded on Zwift?
2,500km by Chris Hopkinson which is a long flight or car journey. On a bike it’s tough but many times more so indoors as ride outside and the environment prompts you to move positions here and there, whether it’s unclipping at traffic lights, standing on the pedals or just shifting your hips for a corner or descent. Indoors there’s less of this.
14. How many hairpins are there between the foot of Alpe d’Huez and the regular Tour de France finish line?
There are the famous 21 hairpins, each named after a champion who has won there and now some have signs with more than one name given the amount of times the ski resort has hosted the race. But past the 21st there’s still over two kilometres to go to the Tour de France finish line on the Avenue du Rif Nel and along the way there are two more hairpin bends in town, therefore there are 23 hairpins… presumably the last one could be named after a pedant.
15. List three pros who share their name with a regional capital city.
Jonathan Milan, evergreen Oscar Sevilla and Pello Bilbao came to mind… but the latter’s surname isn’t a regional capital so there are other choices… at random why not Filippo Colombo of Q36.5 as his name is shared with the capital of Sri Lanka and of its Western Province but unlike the city, he’s won an Olympic medal in the mountain bike.
16. Name a race called off in 2023 because of snow or ice.
The O Gran Camino race came to mind. The road cycling season starts very soon… arguably too soon Europe?
17. Can a rider on one team help a rider from another team during a race, such as giving them a drink or a spare wheel?
Yes to sharing a drink, no to a spare wheel. Richie Porte got done for this in the 2015 Giro d’Italia when Simon Clarke patriotically lent a spare wheel. Porte got a two minute penalty and arguably his Giro GC bid fell apart here… Clarke though was celebrated in Australia and the moment immortalised on a chocolate wrapper.
18. What determines the order of team cars in the race convoy in a Monument?
The startlist is sorted by the men’s or women’s individual UCI rankings. This matters as getting a spare wheel from the first car in the convoy is a hassle, getting it from the 24th car can be ruinous. Using the rankings makes sense but you could argue for team managers to draw straws etc.
19. What’s the penalty for a “sticky bottle” during a grand tour?
200 Swiss Francs, a proverbial slap on the wrist and probably less strain on the wrist than the tow from the car.
20. A rider is leading the mountains competition in a stage race and shows up with polka dot shorts, is this allowed?
It’s often a crime against fashion but one of those “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” moments, especially in a sport reliant on publicity. Now there’s a bit of ambiguity in the rules here, it seems rule 1.3.054 hasn’t been updated this century. It says “The wearer of the leader’s jersey shall be entitled to match the colour of his shorts to that of the jersey”, using both “the” as in definitive and also “his”. But the previous paragraph says leaders are of classifications rather than just the GC so it’s ok.
Away from the bike
21. Which World Tour team manager has a large stamp collection?
Aleksandr Vinokourov, probably not everyone’s first pick as a philatelist. Hopefully the family collection includes stamps with his image on it issued to commemorate his Olympic win in 2012.
22. Name a race where two qualified doctors stood on the podium this year?
The World Championships team relay event, where the Swiss team had medics Marlen Reusser and Elise Chabbey. Many women have started other careers before opting to turn pro but as a full-time pro career becomes more and more lucrative this might be rarer.
23. Which Paris-Roubaix winner entered politics this year?
Sonny Colbrelli was on the Forza Italia ticket, probably more for celebrity than conviction and proved to be an electoral DNF.
24. Which of the last two editions of the Tour de France have seen the overall leader change on the final day?
Badly phrased question, apologies. But the idea was the 1989 and 1968 editions of the Tour de France. Interestingly both had a time trial on the final day, and 2024 sees the same feature. Will we see the same scenario?
25. The Col de la Couillole is the final climb of the 2024 Tour de France, when did it first feature in the Tour?
1974 1975 Tour de France. Hyping up the 2024 Tour further, the Couillole played a part in sapping pre-race pick Eddy Merckx as Bernard Thévenet took the race lead that day and dethroned Merckx for good. Will it prove decisive again?
26. Which of the five Monuments didn’t start as a newspaper publicity stunt?
Paris-Roubaix because it was a marketing stunt for a new velodrome.
27. Lotto have been sponsoring a Belgian pro cycling squad since the 1980s. But which sponsor has the longest unbroken run in the World Tour?
This meant team title sponsors and Cofidis goes back to 1997, pipping Ag2r by one year.
28. No it’s not an AI image. Can you name the two ex-pros on the front?
Mauri Gianetto and Emmanuel Hubert, respectively the team bosses at UAE and Arkéa-Samsic, find time for a rest day ride at the Tour de France. It’s not uncommon to see staff in team kit on rest day rides, sometimes amusingly signing autographs and posing for photos with fans who have probably mistaken them for riders in the race.
29. Which retired rider – hint: a World Tour stage race winner – recently spent a month jailed inside a castle?
Christophe Moreau in a domestic abuse case, it made the news almost a year ago and he was subsequently jailed during 2023, a sad story but with a curious twist as he served time inside Porrentruy castle.
30. Name a pro cyclist who became more famous for their non-cycling achievements rather than their sporting career.
An open-ended question and among the reader picks Hubert Opperman was a good example. The pro vs amateur distinction is a bit more blurred but Albert Champion founded the eponymous spark plug company and Ludwig Opel started in sewing machines before venturing into vehicles. But the question was posed with Jacques Marinelli in mind, the oldest living wearer of the yellow jersey who celebrated his 98th birthday two weeks ago. He had a brief but decent career as a pro, two stages in the Dauphiné and third overall in the 1949 Tour de France including a spell en jaune. He opened a bike shop, started selling other items like household goods from it and one thing led to another during France’s boom years. He a retail millionaire via Conforama, a large chain of retail shops which he didn’t found but he became a director and helped the company’s expansion. He also became mayor of Melun, a large town outside of Paris.
31. What’s the top rate of income tax in Andorra?
10% so you can see the incentive for some riders to move. But it’s also advantageous in other ways, there’s the altitude – an inconvenience as well given the snow and ice, don’t be surprised for many to have second homes in Girona – and for non-Europeans, a dedicated visa regime to attract athletes which gives them a base inside the EU.
32. Which World Tour team sponsor makes additives to turn farmed salmon pink?
DSM-Firmenich, the company makes all sorts of “life science” chemicals. Unless you’re a purchasing manager looking to buy bulk it’s hard to actually buy DSM-Firmenich products so it’s a sponsorship deal designed to make the public aware of the company’s existence and used for managers and corporate hospitality. But even if you haven’t gone and bought their products chances are your home and workplace has some of its products from food additives to flavourings and if you use soap or deodorant, whatever the brand there’s a strong choice the scent is from the company.
33. Guimeng is a manufacturer that has supplied teams over the years with what?
It makes KMC chains under its own name but has supplied Shimano. It’s a big OEM manufacturer. Known as Guimeng in the western alphabet, the KM stands for Kuei Meng.
34. Maria-Elizabeth Schaeffler-Thumann controls which team equipment supplier and Tour de France and Giro sponsor?
Continental, the Germany tire company has just done a deal with the Giro and seems to be on the way to becoming as visible in the sport as Skoda, owned by VW Group, is. The Schaeffler-Thumann family were big in the ball bearing business – supplying cars but also bikes – and have grown their industrial holdings and now control Continental.
35. Whose cat is this?
The French champ jersey is a big clue but with hindsight is the giveaway the laminated flooring? It’s Rémi Cavagna, French TT champ, cat owner… and Quick-Stepper.
36. Which national road race champion keeps a horse?
Filippo Zana, we touched on Reinders above, but Zana is another good signing by Jayco.
37. Who has a husky called Houna?
David Gaudu. Him again. He says he doesn’t like the heat, much like his pet. Gaudu recently took part in a big trail race in France, doing a relay with a former French running champ as they ran overnight and amid snow in the hills behind Lyon… conditions to delight a husky dog.
38. Name the rider suggested above
Jack Haig. He did the Giro-Tour double, and then some, with the Dauphiné in between and the Tour of the Alps prior to the Giro.
39. Name the rider suggested above.
Julius Caesar and Madonna Louise Ciccone, Guilio Ciccone, this year’s Tour de France mountains competition winner. He beat Roglič and Evenepoel for a stage in Catalunya, missed out on the Giro because of Covid, got married and rode the Dauphiné in June winning a stage and then had a great Tour de France.
40. Name the rider suggested above.
Matt. Tao. Jaw. The Chinese character for root, “gen”. Sun. Matteo Jorgenson, and yes, it is Jaw-genson most of the time, he’s not Danish. Maybe not the revelation of 2023 but if we did a list of top-10 improvers he’d be there, no? He had a great season and landed a role at Jumbo-Visma and mentioned during the summer how he’d personally spent money on his own training camps and performance improvements. Movistar don’t have an infinite budget, nor do other teams, but it shows how riders can invest in themselves.