Thursday Shorts

Is Paris-Roubaix the last of the cobbled classics or a race apart? Surely both, it’s so different from the previous cobbled classics as the pavé are bigger and rougher. If someone came up with the race today it would never happen.

Paris-Roubaix’s weather forecast for the weekend is still uncertain. What’s sure is that the region has endured months of winter rain and severe flooding in places so even the light rain expected today can leave the ground soaked for the weekend. Indeed the extent of the damage over winter means worrying about the weather for a bike race feels a bit picky but the conditions make such a big difference.

This Sunday’s big favourite for the win is Mathieu van der Poel. It’s probably worth doing a preview tomorrow, he’s a strong pick but not quite Pogačar-to-win-Giro levels. Unusually he has run his career via a company VDP Sports. It’s a Belgian company and under the law required to file annual accounts with the Belgian Central Bank…

The latest set of accounts for the 12 months ending September 2023 has been uploaded and the company took in €1.95 million in revenue, there were costs of €471,000 and out of the sum left he paid himself a dividend of €1.286 million (highlighted). Nice… but of course this is much less than the likes of Tadej Pogačar, Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert and others collect. However we don’t know if there’s also any personal salary he receives outside of the business accounts. Above all he’s renewed with Alpecin-Deceuninck and signed a deal with Canyon so next year’s accounts should show a much bigger number.

Keys, phone, wallet, passport…. scales?
From bean-counting to bean-weighing now and Mitch Docker’s podcast has long been interesting. When launched it was almost unique as it featured active riders discussing their sport and often in a relaxed an unfiltered view. He’s retired now so this angle is harder but it’s still going and the recent “race communiqué” episode was a good one as it featured Luke Durbridge and Tom Southam (an EF DS) discussing the big change in diets – something explored here before – but they gave it more colour with riders weighing their food to the point that many riders are have travel kitchen scales with them for races to measure out the right portion of food every evening in the hotel.

Weighing food isn’t new but the ability to track calories and teams using apps to prescribe exact portion sizes and then requiring riders to record portions is becoming more widespread. The first-hand description of this in the podcast are amusing, even one team even weighing ice cream portions. It works both ways, Visma rider Christophe Laporte told Vélo magazine earlier this year there are days when it means he can’t eat as much as he wants but other times he’s got to shovel down more than he’d like.

Wisdom teeth
As well as food, Docker’s discussion went to teeth… and the rising use of 56T chainrings. It wasn’t long ago that using a 54T chainring was seen as muscular, now this is standard for the pro peloton and in the flatter races a 56T is becoming the norm. Speeds are higher but also with 12 speed gearing at the back there’s a wider range, but only just if you look at gear table. Expect to see plenty this Sunday for Paris-Roubaix thanks to a forecast tailwind.

Staying with chainrings, Campagnolo has just launched its own power meter (pictured). The cranks come with three chainring options but the largest version is a 50T. Now presumably you can fit larger if you want with aftermarket options but it suggests the Italian firm is deliberately positioning itself outside the pro peloton and that the absence of the company’s products in the World Tour isn’t an accident.

Don’t try this at home
Talking of hot things that are being adapted by many in the peloton… heat training. There’s long been an adaptation component where it can prepare riders for hot weather. But recent sports science studies (like here) suggest that training in hot conditions or hot environments like a sauna or a hot bath can boost red blood cell count. So it can replace, or complement, altitude training for some. It’s not as pleasant as it sounds, it is not the same as riding on a warm day. Instead it’s riding indoors without a fan… while wearing rain gear or plastic sweat suits like some 1980s fitness craze but very 2024 (the picture above is from Core, makers of the body temp sensor). Tougher still, the idea is often to do this on return from a long ride. All this requires monitoring and supervision as you can easily imagine copycats overdoing things.

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To cooler climes now and the Région Pays de La Loire Tour. It’s got a long name but is the old Circuit de la Sarthe but now ranges beyond France’s Sarthe départment and goes around the wider Pays de la Loire région, a tier above in terms of local government. Another race whose identity changes because of local government and so another dollop of evidence that local government makes the wheels go round. Marijn van den Berg took the opening stage, the Dutch rider was part of Groupama-FDJ’s Conti team but the team couldn’t take all their riders and even after winning a stage of the Tour de l’Avenir he didn’t have a job offer, his victory salute was a “call me” hand gesture. EF did and he’s the versatile house sprinter covering the role vacated by Magnus Cort… just the sort of signing Cofidis missed and you can see their struggles with Bryan Coquard having to work on the front before he gets to sprint. Red kit rivals Arkéa-B&B are faring better as Ewen Costiou took his first win yesterday, there are probably more to come as he’s a rising talent.

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Roglič back on track
The Itzulia Basque Tour is on this week, a race with the firmest of local identities. This year’s edition feels like a survival contest. Tom Pidcock crashed out on the way back from his recon ride and several riders fell in the opening TT. Remco Evenepoel has also fallen since while race leader Primož Roglič crashed hard but starts today, as does Juan Ayuso. Carlos Rodriguez is another with a nasty injury who’ll start as well and that’s just some of the team leaders.

For Roglič his TT win means another leaders jersey in a stage race, like he’s done every time in every stage race since 2018 except for the 2022 Tour which he crashed out of, then last year’s Vuelta where team duties got in the way and, inexplicably, this year’s Paris-Nice. Does he keep the jerseys? They can’t all fit in his Monaco apartment.

Finally having discussed Van der Poel’s business above, the firm’s address is mentioned in the accounts and the street name translates as “High Hair”. A good place for a rider sponsored by a shampoo seller, no? The Alpecin development team has Simon Dehairs on its roster. They’re just missing Lars van der Haar (haar is Dutch for hair) and Elisa Balsamo (Elisa “Conditioner”).

75 thoughts on “Thursday Shorts”

  1. It sounds like Mathieu van der Poel is going to have a hairy race with Paris-Roubaix. Expect Van der Poel to unlock the howitzers with a hair pin trigger.

  2. Paris – Roubaix. If the rumour of chicanes or some form of artificial speed restraints before the wonderful 70 km/h dash into the Arenberg Forest are correct, then the lunatics are definitely out of the asylum! Do these people really not think there will be an instructed rush to be at the front for the new chicanes?

    The race is the riders, course and the weather. Introducing measures that make the race no safer make little sense, and are not a good idea.

    A better idea would to be to remove the car – rider radios, which to most astute observers are the cause of far too many incidents.

    • I’ve deliberately avoided this chicanery as the addition of three corners to the course seems to generate plenty of noise online yet it’s hard to tell if it’ll make a difference or not.

      Saturday and Sunday could see a bloodbath of hot takes.

      • It will make a difference in quite a few ways. Firstly the enjoyment of the viewer will be reduced. That was always a highlight of the season for me. As genuinely spectacular as anything in sport. If you’re happy reducing the enjoyment of the viewer then you have to ask what is the object of the exercise. Secondly it might lead to a change in the perception of classics and classics riders. They have always been perceived as the hardest races undertaken by the hardest riders. If these riders start putting their hand up saying ‘actually, can we not do this bit? I find it a bit scary. And my mum has said if I come home with any more bruises I won’t be allowed out on my bike again’ these perceptions might change. It’ll also change how the race unfolds, riders will now have to accelerate back up to speed there. There will be bigger gaps earlier. Van der Poel will probably ride off solo from there.

        • Good points both, Richard S and BC.
          MVDP says, ‘Is this a joke?’
          Adam Hansen, as usual, claims that a majority of riders were in favour but that they wish to remain anonymous (weird that this is seemingly always the case).
          How much longer is this man and his bizarre notions on safety going to be allowed to harm the sport?
          Meanwhile, the riders are allowed to ride on tyres that seemingly remove themselves from wheels at will.

          • I’m going to put more faith in the word of a guy who completed 20 straight Grand Tours than anyone in this forum when it comes to racing matters.

          • You really have a bee in your casquette about him don’t you? The man is a representative, he is doing what the riders have collectively requested him to do, that’s his job. The anonymity is to protect the riders from being singled out by teams and race organisers, that’s how unions work. Van der Poel is just one rider, maybe he is disappointed because his race plan involved attacking on the approach to the Arenberg.

          • Wasn’t there only one incident of a tyre removing itself from the wheel that the manufacturers looked into and found the reasons were external not a fault? Sorry I may have missed something, but I thought it wasn’t an issue any longer following investigation?

            Also re Adam Hansen, I thought the issue was the riders had next to no representation or person standing up for their rights so Hansen was actually doing a good thing by asserting his presence? Whether every decision is correct or not, by taking on battles and creating a space for riders to be listened to finally, I just thought that was a positive?

            I have to admit, rider safety is a big issue for me as a fan and some of the needless crashes into road furniture that should have been removed in recent years have really made me reconsider my love of the sport, obviously alongside the deaths of Bjorg Lambrecht and Gino Mader. I’ve long felt the sport simply doesn’t do enough to protect riders and we’ve been fortunate not to have more deaths, so generally I’m in favour of any changes the riders request as well as any union representation/leadership with the power to be listened to.

          • I’m all for removing pointless danger. Like courses that have bollards in the middle of them etc, or downhill sprint finishes, or fast descents on roads with ripples caused by tree roots (apparently the issue yesterday). But the whole point of Paris-Roubaix is tackling bits of horribly rough roads on largely inappropriate bikes at speeds that we couldn’t imagine. If you aren’t going to do Arenberg at speed are you still going to do Carrefour de l’abre in the wet? Are you still going to do the descent off the Cipressa? Would it not be safer to avoid all the nasty narrow streets and furniture and just take the bike path along the coast into Sanremo? Where do you draw the line? Nobody has to do any of this. If some riders or teams don’t fancy it don’t ruin it for everyone else, step aside. I’m sure there’d be a queue a mile long of Belgian teams who’d bite your hand off for the chance.

          • As is often the case with these instances, there is nothing to back up Hansen’s claims that he is representing the views of a majority of riders – we just have to take his word for it. A real union has verified voting. How many people is he actually speaking to?

            In previous cases, I’ve read riders disagreeing with the decision, as in this case, but there never seems to be anyone agreeing.

            Also like previous cases, this has been done at the last minute. Why?

            Yesterday is another example: he came out and said that the TV shouldn’t show the riders on the ground after a crash. He may have a point, but a rider’s parents came out and said, ‘When our son crashed, it was much better to see how hurt he was than to not know’. Again, he seems to be making decisions on the hoof (and on twitter). Where’s the discussion?

            A lot of the ‘dangers’ that Hansen focuses on seem to be not very dangerous, such as the weather being a bit cold.

            The charge into the Arenberg forest is one of the iconic moments in a cycling season. And – with little or no discussion – it’s gone. And it won’t come back – because now it’s been deemed ‘unsafe’, so anyone who tried to being it back would be pilloried.

            Bike racing is at its best when it’s epic, and yet we’ve already seen races where it’s decided it’s too cold or too wet, we’ve seen people complain that the Koppenberg is too slippery, now Arenberg is too dangerous… it just goes on.

            These decisions lessen the sport – and we don’t even know if they are being made largely at the whim of a minority who just don’t want to do this sort of thing. And that may include Hansen: yes, he’s an ex-pro, but he doesn’t seem to like these aspects of cycling – and there an awful lot of other ex-pros who did like that sort of challenge, but who are not in positions of power. It’s always a good idea to hold those with power to account.

          • oldDave – from CN:
            Most teams will forgo the comfort of ‘Roubaix’ bikes this year and ride their usual road bikes on Sunday, fitted with 32mm tubeless tyres.
            Aerodynamics and speed are preferred over comfort, shock absorption and better bike handling. Tubulars have been sacrificed for the speed of tubeless, despite them offering better safety and slower deflation in the case of a puncture.
            Special inserts can help reduce the impact of a tubeless puncture suddenly going flat but if the tyre and insert then come off, it can cause a sudden crash or destroy a carbon fibre rim.

          • Agree with most of the above.
            They’ve known all about the course for years. Arenberg is either in the race or not. If it’s in you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Prepare.
            I’ve spent most of my life telling people those guys in Lycra are not pansies. They’re all tough guys.
            But lately it’s too hot to ride, it’s too cold to ride. That part’s dangerous we don’t wanna do it.
            And they shorten or cancel races or stages for this??
            Now Roubaix is too bumpy???
            Maybe try those magical disc brakes that everyone was forced to get.
            A part of the increased danger is that they’re just plain going faster. I get that. Slow down if it’s dangerous.
            Traffic control islands Etc are also worse lately.
            But I think the biggest problem is no respect between riders.
            They’re turning pro so young now.
            And they don’t have as much experience as a seasoned pro.
            And they don’t listen.
            They need intimidated by someone like Kelly or Hinault.
            Is there a true patron these days to lay down the law??
            Radios are a problem too. Everyone knows when to be at the front. Or they sure should know.
            Maybe we can figure how to put the riders brakes on from the team car. Since they can’t do it themselves….

          • This feels like a slightly bizarre conversation?

            In his article on Cyclingnews Cancellara states he doesn’t know why the change was so late and whether that was ASO or the CPA but it feels like everyone here does know?

            I’m confused how we’re all so certain this can all be lain at Hansen’s doorstep? Especially as even, outside this story, the context of what he’s working with politically is tough for us to know? As in how much push back and underhand dealings is he getting/dealing with from ASO, the UCI, the teams, the riders, even the CPA itself? Politics, notably when you’re coming from a place of weakness as his position traditionally has been, is murky and complex and I feel like we’re jumping to snap decisions?

            He’s also relatively new to the job and may be making innocent mistakes that we would all make in a similar position which given a chance to learn from will see him be effective in the future?

            I guess this Hansen hate is news to me as of today and I just can’t see the evidence that it’s all his fault and we should dislike him? As for making a sanitised sport devoid of risk where all cyclists are ‘pansies’… I mean… he rode 20 consecutive grand tours? That sounds like a hard man to me?

          • olddave, see last year’s Giro where last minute changes were made because it was raining. this was down to the CPA – i.e. Hansen.

        • I just don’t think we’re there yet – you’re at defcom5 when we’re barely at 1.

          As far as I see it we’re in a place where rider safety is low priority and I don’t think this is good enough for a sport that is as dangerous as cycling – if the riders and their representatives feel the need to have some skirmishes like this to assert themselves, which is what this feels like, then I don’t mind, they’ll be enough reactionary voices down the line to halt the slide you describe so I wouldn’t worry.

          For me nothing is more important than the riders, especially that the youngest who are putting their lives at risk effectively for our entertainment, feel that there is someone vocally looking out for their safety. Which till now there has rarely been.

          I understand your slippery slope argument but for a simple corner it sounds hysterical, apologies if that sounds rude – I very much enjoy speaking with you here and this is only a simple disagreement where I’m not meaning to antagonise – the truth is however much we love Roubaix if it’s not the entry to Arenberg we look forward to it’ll be somewhere else, we’re lucky enough that this generation seem to start racing so early they’ve created whole new points of interest and I will happy to keep calm and carry on watching the endless joy they serve up without worrying about at change here and there.

          • Are riders the most important thing? I don’t want to sound like a WWI General but there are literally loads of them. I would wager more want to have the opportunity to ride through the Arenberg at full tilt than the handful in Hansens ear. How many retired pros would give an arm for one last blast through there?
            I would argue that fans are the most important thing. If you don’t have fans, you don’t have sponsors and then you don’t have professionals. If you don’t have professionals you don’t have a union and this wouldn’t be happening so maybe that’s no bad thing!

        • I am usually strongly against riders demanding the courses to be eased, and I don’t think it’s a good principle. In this case, nevertheless, I am not quite sure it’s a bad idea. But, at any rate, the “Hansen movement” (not especially the guy, although he’s certainly not the most brilliant one, but the riders’ opinions behind him), has basically squandered its credibility by pretty systematically trying to get a more comfortable (and shorter) ride pretexting “safety” (always remember Morbegno). Now the fans are going to be unforgiving, especially when Hansen tends to despise their views with his very wasted and disrespectful “cycling has changed and you want to go back to tubulars across rider shoulders?” blab.

          • I have to agree with most of the comments regarding Hansen. Why if you are serious about safety leave this matter to the very last minute?

            Nobody but nobody likes to see riders injured, but unfortunately this aspect of the sport has been part and parcel its history since bikes were first raced or even ridden. I remember Roger Riviera’s terrible accident in the Tour many years ago, and how we were all very concerned about his future.

            If people like Hansen have their way, the sport would become so sanitized as to be unrecognizable. The truth of the matter is that bike racing by its very nature is a dangerous occupation. However many Hansen’s pop up, you can’t change that basic fact!

            Hot weather. cold weather have always been part of the sports many challenges. The course and riders decide, not people like Hansen!

            If this fellow were so concerned about safety, he would be onto the dangers of mass radio controlled riders all doing the same thing at the same instant in time. That he is not, tells you all you need to know.

          • I rather see people like Hansen have their way, than anay armchair hooligan who wnts to see dangerous sort, cause they’re all pussies and what do a n ex-pro like Hansen know better than dude in a basement.
            Hail to all keyboard heros, uber alles

      • Got a feeling I’m with INRNG here that first we should wait and see, and second it will be one of those things we all forget about really quickly after a great race.

        I have a hunch it’ll be a good one on Sunday, after someone dominates one of Flanders/Roubaix it usually means the other is excellent, plus Roubaix is harder to dominate.

        • @Anonymous. If your rant is directed at me, then you are way, way of the mark, No surprise!
          You are talking to someone who has witnessed first hand the ‘flash’ of death directly in front of them from a break of three, raced all over Europe for many years. Never, ever called riders ‘pussies’. Oh, and I don’t even have a basement for my keyboard!
          Insults add nothing to what is a serious debate. I suggest you desist unless you have something useful to contribute.

      • I very much hope it does make a difference – one way or another – or else we’ll all be saying what a lot already think. That it’s pointless!

        • This made me laugh, I’m with you, something better happen there now otherwise it’ll be a big disappointment! This entire conversation has shocked me, I keep saying to myself… are we really just talking about corner/hairpin/chicane (or whatever it is)!? Roubaix is still going to be great and no one is a weakling (I’m really not sure either ‘pansy’ or ‘pussy’ are or should be socially acceptable terms but fully prepared to be shot down on that too) nor is cycling about to be ‘sanitised’ (whatever that even means) let’s just keep calm and carry on!

    • I get why they have done this but is the solution is any good . Its not really the mad rush it’s the fact that at 100-150 going at 60 – 70 km/hr is inevitably going to result in a dangerous crash. Of course its a dangerous sport but this spot even in comparison to the other sections is an almost guaranteed crash with the associated danger and removing just about every competitor behind the crash from the race.
      The big difference with Arneberg is the speed, roughness and the fact that almost the entire peloton is still in the race. Regardless of how exiting it is to the viewer it possibly does need some mitigation. If the risk can be reduced without affecting the race in a major way its worth considering.
      But the solution is a bit late in the day and perhaps heading to the side road so they do a 90 degree turn would make more sense.
      But in any case the race will show all. Remember they have removed this section completely in the past due to safety and condition concerns. Better to have it a bit slower but keep it.

    • Crash at the chicane whilst on pavement or on the cobbles – which would the commenters here prefer? Riders can accept the crashing, it’s the uneccessary risk of hitting the cobbles at unprecedented speed, and with fewer options to ride off onto the side due to the safety fences added in the past few years.

      Easy to armchair the idea of introducing a chicane but it doesn’t detract from racing, only the spectacle of seeing some more broken knees and faces in the inevitable high speed pile up

      • VD Poel – “The most dangerous part of cycling is the riders, we take the risks.”
        “Last year, the Tour de France finish on the motor racing circuit was, for me, one of the most dangerous finishes I’ve ever seen. So that’s also not the solution. I don’t know if there is one.”
        “In my opinion, the chicane is not the way to go. And doing it the week before is also maybe not the best option.”
        “the chicane is going to be even more dangerous.
        If you go into Arenberg in front, you’re still in the race but if you enter the chicane in 20th position, you’ll be standing still and you’ll lose half a minute.”

  3. I can’t get my head around the idea of Campagnolo actively wanting not to supply the pros, why on earth would they want that?

    • The thinking seems to be that they want to go really up market, a luxury brand where pro cycling is the wrong shop window. But there were assurances they’d remain in the World Tour peloton and this hasn’t happened; they still supply VF-Bardiani but the new chainring options suggest a more niche future.

      I’ve got a stack of cycling magazines from 1989 as that year’s Tour is a side interest and it’s striking how all these road magazines have MTB adverts, much like you find gravel bikes today… Campagnolo also went into the MTB market but flopped and it cost them. Will their gravel Elkar group work for them today?

      • I still don’t get it, Its a bit like saying nobody will see Mercedes, Aston Martin or Ferrari as luxury cars because they have F1 teams? If thats really their business plan I predict failure.

        I remember the Euclid and Centaur MTB groupsets, they were massively overbuilt and overengineered, some interesting design ideas but not really practical and heavy in an era of weight obsession when MTBs were more like flat bar cyclocross bikes with 50mm tyres instead of 33. The Record OR group was better but it was too late, the reputational damage was done.

      • Side note: back in the 90s I had a Campag group set on my Raleigh Dynatech MTB. Switched back to Shimano on the next MTB though…

    • I’ve always rode Campag. I do not approve. I may not always ride campag in future if they insist on making stuff I can’t afford and turn themselves into some Louis Vuitton on wheels style manufacturer of carbon tarts handbags.

    • Not wanting to supply the pro’s is no big thing but i doubt any restriction to 50 teeth chain ring is a deliberate decision. They are removing to big a part of the target audience of highly motivated riders and triathletes for that to make sense. It feels more like a technical reason that affects the accuracy or something so they have erred on the side of caution. Possibly when they become available someone will test it and find it works good enough with bigger chainrings.
      When i was still doing masters racing i often used a 50 tooth chain ring with my power metre. I did find on my TT bike it was not enough. Crouched over like you are on a TT bike affected the max cadence i could maintain and therefore on downhill runs a 50 tooth was to limiting. I replaced it with a 56 but even a 60 would have been better.

      • I’m pretty sure SRAM have a 50 tooth maximum on their standard setup too: both they and Campag now have the 10 tooth cassettes.
        Personally, I’m still riding (and loving) 11 speed Ultrashift: this latest Super Record is everything I hoped it wouldn’t be 😬

  4. On the subject of Itzulia crashes, between yesterday’s stage and both the men’s and women’s Scheldeprijs yesterday, I was shocked how many crashes there were. Just brutal. Maybe I’m watching more closely or I’m just seeing more coverage but I don’t remember so many in the past. There used to be some near the end of a race, maybe two riders touching wheels but seems like there are many more pileups with riders looking really hurt. Makes me uneasy watching it, the screws in my collarbone aching.

      • Increasing braking capacity will lead to later braking, and more comfort with much higher corner entry speeds just cause you have it in your mind that you can brake quickly.

        This is trivial to verify – just ride a vintage bike for a while. When I’m descending on a vintage bike, with cork pads and ridiculously flexible calliper arms (weight saving!), I have no choice but to brake much, much earlier for corners. And then to brake to a slightly lower cornering speed to leave extra margin. This is purely due to the brakes. The vintage frame and wheels (my vintage Campy Record hubs run better than most modern hubs!) would corner beautifully, as well as a modern bike on similar compounds. But the brakes don’t let you.

        The better the brakes, the more you can push the limit. And disc brakes really are good. Unfortunately though, if/when something really goes wrong, you’re going at a higher speed.

        • Oh, and I’ve noticed a similar counter-intuitive effect commuting on my fixed-gear. I have to be much smoother and “flow” in traffic than when on a normal road-bike. Even though my fixed has brakes, it still can’t quite emergency brake as well the road bike, cause I’ll lock the rear (and it’s more expensive, burning rubber 😉 ).

          So, because of the slightly worse, in emergency situations, braking situation, I actually end up riding more carefully and safely overall.

          This is the well documented effect of “risk compensation”, where additional safety devices cause pilots/drivers/riders to just take on more risk – resulting in safety events occurring at similar, sometimes worse, rates than before.

    • I have to admit I don’t see any change in the amount of crashes between now and previously.

      There should definitely be a proper statistical investigation and I hope the UCI keeps that data so it’s easy to see, as you may be right and they may also be happening earlier in stages – but to me it seems this conversation recurs regularly – following the monster crash at the Tour midstage in around 2015/6 where Dumoulin broke his collarbone and around fifty riders went down there was a similar feeling there were more crashes then, and likewise a decade before and before that…

      But I’m not saying they can’t do something about it and I think every effort should be made to.

      I’d be interested in INRNG’s take here and some of the other old timers of whether there’s more crashes now than before.

      • The crashes we are seeing in the classics have been increasingly common in GT’s for a while now. And for the same reasons: more pressure to be at the front, and much higher speeds throughout the entire race, vs key sections as in the past. There’s no denying an increase in big crashes across the calendar now.

  5. Crashes today (and Lennard Kämna in hospital after being hit by a car on a training run) show just how dangerous bike racing is (nothing new here I can remember race stopping crashes at the Tour long before disc brakes). Obviously not good for the riders but also will change various assumptions about likely riders competing for honours later in the year. One rider’s misfortune is often opportunity for another.

    • Unlike you I think the sport has become more dangerous – certainly compared with the seventies when I started following pro cycling. Even before today I was thinking the UCI can’t continue to tolerate such a level of lost-time accidents. The probably incomplete PCS list gives 117 since January (though one is illness and several are training).

      Higher speeds, a more closely packed pelotion and traffic calming measures must all contribute to that though the solution is far from obvious.

      • Agree. It was interesting to hear Skjelmose’s interview after shitshow today. His thought regarding abundance of crashes in Itzulia vs relative lack in P-N in much worse conditions, was the easiness of courses. The very high overall level of peloton means that if course is easier, there are no points to shed some riders and then it gets very crowded and dangerous with constant fighting for positioning.
        As one of Basque riders explained, the road in question had some bumps due to tree roots, so if you are on hoods rather than drops a single bump at high speed in the corner will too easily result in what we unfortunately saw. Now the question is why no padding or other safety measures were in the particular place.

        • There was a yellow safety feature with chevrons on the apex of the bend, don’t know if it was padded or not, but I did wonder how much that stuff costs per metre, another 20m and the outcome would have been much less serious. Same old same old though, impossible to make hundreds of kilometres of open road totally safe.

      • Quite possibly racing was less dangerous 50 years ago, not sure helmets make that much difference (they make some and maybe have saved some lives but crashing at 50km/h is likely to cause serious injury). I am looking back 10 – 15 years and dont think much difference over that period. However agree that higher speeds (whether from kit, training or nutrition) does increase the risk. Increased road furniture is an issue too.

        • “Everyone is looking for explanations for the numerous crashes. This might be a good time for our “oils” to get things moving! The 36 handlebars, the radio, no sanctions (financial/suspension) for bad behaviours by a rider and of course the famous “final bottle 🧪” that 80% take.”.
          From Lilian Calmejane in X.

        • The UCI is keeping a record of all or as many crashes as possible, the “race incidents database” but it’s not available to share.

          It’s not easy even to record crashes, commissaires can’t be everywhere nor TV cameras so some falls can’t be observed. Plus it is subjective, is a rider who serves to avoid some street furniture in the middle of the road and collides into another rider to blame or is the street furniture? The same if they swerve and still hit the object? It’s still good to try and log all of this and a host of safety measures are coming in 2025.

  6. It feels like all the air is being sucked out of what was shaping up to be a great classics season and TDF. I’m not sure how many more months of Pogacar and VDP winning everything I will continue to find interesting. Maybe the Vuelta will be interesting?

    • I wouldn’t bet against a Giro-Tour double for Pogacar at this time. Today’s accident may change how he races the Giro to save as much as possible for the Tour.

      • Yes likewise.

        Although Vin has time to make it back as does Remco and seems Roglic wasn’t that injured.

        But as a hypothetical, were all of those riders subpar and Pog tired from the Giro… who would you see as the next in line to win?

        I don’t want to dance on the wounds of others so maybe not a fun hypothetical but I couldn’t help wondering – Yates? Rodriguez (where is he this season?) Ayuso? Maybe even a returning to form Bernal?

        All unlikely but made me wonder.

        • Although I should add – I hope most of all the riders in yesterdays crashes recover well and in time. It was horrible to see. Especially worried for Jay Vine with vertebrae fractures. Extremely scary.

          I hope Paris Roubaix is kind to the riders this year, not sure I can handle a third horror crash in just over a week.

      • This is definitely Pog’s chance to do the double. And if he does so, potentially his best shot ever at joining the very rarefied triple-GT-in-1-season club.

  7. To me, the Campagnolo power meter looks a lot like SRM, with only slight modifications
    It looks like two companies are joining forces that were once innovative and influential in the industry, but have lost touch a bit.

    • That occurred to me too. I’d hate to think Campagnolo has lost touch as badly as it currently appears. I have ridden with their components for over 20 years and currently have the SR EPS (rim brakes) and SR mechanical (disc brakes) on my two main road bikes as well as Ekar on my gravel. I am continually impressed with the EPS performance while the Campy disc brakes are the best I’ve ever used. Ekar’s performance is far superior to the SRAM I had on my previous gravel bike. SRAM shifting was always sluggish and the brakes always rubbed and squealed. That being said, I have zero interest in the new wireless groupset, which seems to have been hamstrung by SRAM having that interchangeable battery patent. I’m not certain how well this power meter will entice more people to choose Campagnolo. The fact that many frame and wheel manufacturers aren’t even making Campagnolo compatible equipment is a huge hurdle for the company. As is the fact that they’ve totally missed the boat on the OEM side of things. You almost have to be a committed, long time Campy user and willing to go through the process of putting your bike together from scratch (something I love to do) to have a Campagnolo equipped bike. Quite sad to see.

      • I can really understand what you write. I’ve also been a Campa user for many years and have built most of our bikes myself. I also have very mixed experiences with SRAM, functionality basically not bad, but lacks durability and spare parts supply for older parts is sometimes difficult. Campa has long been behind Shimano in terms of market share for road bikes. The success of Sram has further accelerated the decline. It looks as if the strategy now being discussed of turning the brand into some kind of luxury product is something like the last lifeline. I don’t know what the economic situation of the company is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the brand disappears completely in the medium to long term.

        • Just wanted to say I’ve enjoyed this Campag chat. Thanks for above posts. I’ve ridden campag previously and intensely dislike the bulky Shimano hoods but have been priced out of the Campag game more and more recently which is quite sad and Italian bikes and components are my preference. But I guess that’s just the way of the world.

  8. I recommend the Real Science of Sport podcast if you’re interested in sports physiology and nutrition – good recent episode on current fuelling stategies (titled “the sporting diet”) and a lot of good special episodes if you go back through the archives on things like what is fatigue and how to increase fatigue resistance. They are cycling fans so use cycling as an exemplar quite often.

    Also a lot of cycling relevant content on doping and concussion – the latter of which the main scientist on the show works for world rugby implementing use of smart mouthguards for concussion studies.

  9. With regard to safety issues at Paris-Roubaix, I am stunned to see 18-year old AJ August on Ineos’s starting roster for the elite race. Hard to believe that they would even consider putting him on the start line of such a dangerous race based on, what, his power profiles? There are no other 18 year olds on the last 30 years of previous P-Rbx startlists, and the only one that is even close is Josh Tarling (for Ineos last year). In my opinion, this pursuit of precocity is irresponsible and exploitative. I felt compelled to bring it up with the simple hope that some ripple of pressure in the world will compel Ineos et al. to stop doing this (though I know how naive that sounds). Have we forgotten how ill we all felt seeing 20 year old Remco’s bike leaning up against that bridge when he was pursuing Nibali on that descent in Lombardia? I wish Mr.August all the best on Sunday, though, and hope all the riders get through safe and sound.

    • I don’t think it’s inherently dangerous for him but you can see Ineos’s team and they’re short of riders. Viviani the sprinter is carrying bottles, Cam Wurf is called up to work and so on. Normally a young rider like him would have done smaller races, he’s done the Nokere Koerse so he could do, say, Dwars as well.

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