WTFotD2; Video of “Behind closed doors” Paris-Nice Stage 2 as France fights coronavirus; UCI investigating sexual abuse claims; Champagne + Crepes as Groupama-FDJ land in France after UAE quarantine; Ruby Isaac in IWD shout-outs + more on the live blog

Welcome to Monday's live blog, with Jack Sexty as your blogger-in-chief today and Liam Cahill chipping in where possible. Simon MacMichael shall take over later this evening.....
09 March 2020, 21:07
An objective view of one of London's most contested cycle lanes

Black cab drivers telling porkies about the Tavistock Place bike lane? Say it ain't so ...

09 March 2020, 21:02
World champ van Vleuten takes her first Zwift ride ... with 1,200 others

World road champion Annemiek van Vleuten took her first ever Zwift ride yesterday ... and the Mitchelton-Scott Dutch rider had 1,200 fellow Zwifters to keep her company.

With coronavirus continuing to hit the racing calendar at a key point in the season, we expect to see a lot more pros taking to the virtual cycling platform in the coming weeks, though perhaps not in the rainbow jersey.

09 March 2020, 20:55
Video: Paris-Nice Stage 2 played out "behind closed doors"

Stage 2 of Paris-Nice today was played out effectively "behind closed doors" after France's sports minister banned crowds of more than 1,000 from events in the latest measures taken to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

Morevover, spectators are not allowed within 100 metres of riders at the start of stages, and have to keep a distance of 300 metres at the end of them.

Here are the highlights of today's stage, played out in the rain and the win ... yes there were echelons ... and more drama on the way to the finish.

It's worth noting that the weekend's finale takes place in Nice... just 40 kilometres west of the Italian border, with the neighbouring country tonight going into total lockdown against the virus.


09 March 2020, 14:35
Laurens ten Dam takes up full-time gravel riding with Specialized after road racing retirement

When they're not flogging 11 grand e-bikes, it seems Specialized are busy signing up ex-pro road racers to race on dirt, with recently-retired Laurens ten Dam partnering with them for his move to the gravel scene.

The Dutch climbing specialist is taking on events such as the Dirty Kanza and Belgian Waffle Ride in 2020, and will mostly be using Specialized' Diverge and Roubaix models for his gravel adventures with their Roval wheels and helmets. 

Ten Dam discovered gravel while living in California, and began racing events in the off-season to build up to World Tour racing in 2016. Specialized say of the partnership: "Laurens is the perfect fit for Specialized. Like us, he wants to ride fast, but it’s the community and lifestyle that has drawn him to gravel. He’s started his own events, LtD Gravel Raid and LtD Gravel Fest, which we are also proud to support, as well as pioneering his own gravel movement with Live Slow, Ride Fast."

In what could be turning into the equivalent of pro footballers heading off to China or the MLS to see out their careers, former Katusha–Alpecin rider Ian Boswell recently signed a deal with Wahoo Fitness to compete in gravel and endurance mtb events as part of the brand's Fronteirs campaign. 

09 March 2020, 15:31
Alexander Vinokourov confirms Astana riders haven't been paid fully for two over two months

After Spanish newspaper AS reported that Astana Pro Team were yet to pay full wages to their staff in 2020, team manager Vinokourov confirmed it was true in a statement today. 

Vinokourov insisted that the funds had been guaranteed by their main sponsor Samruk Kazyna, but there was simply a delay from the state-funded backers. He said: “We confirm that Astana Pro Team was not able to pay all wages in 2020 yet. The payment was done partially.

"We also want to confirm that the total budget of the main sponsor Samruk Kazyna has been successfully approved.

“It is also worth mentioning the fact that Astana Pro Team has already started its 15th season and during all these years our main sponsor Samruk Kazyna duly provided us the necessary funds. As we are being sponsored by official government organization sometimes there is a delay of payment due to slow administrative processing of the funds approval.”

It's not the first time Astana riders have been left with unpaid wages, after a similar incident two years ago in which Vinokourov reportedly had to intervene to get salaries paid. Like many teams, Astana have pulled out of a number of races and have suspended their schedule until 20th March due to coronavirus, and insist this is nothing to do with their financial situation. 

09 March 2020, 13:31
WTFotD2 - fluro gilet, chrome helmet, blue and white umbrella, eSkateboard unicycle thing

WTF of the Day - Weird, wonderful and WTF stuff captured on bike cams

Blink and you'll miss this commuter casually rolling through the rush-hour rain in the most stylish way we've ever seen.

There is so much going on here. In fact, we're not even sure what they're riding. It's some sort of one-wheeled skateboard contraption with its own front light. 

How does it cope with potholes?

If you've got a submission for WTFotD then send it to info [at] Thanks to Adrian for this one.

09 March 2020, 14:54
Nominations open for Cycling UK'a 100 Women in Cycling awards

Ahead of the Women’s Festival of Cycling between 11th-31st July, Cycling UK are asking for nominations to celebrate female cycling role models who promote cycling and encourage others to take part.

"Women from all walks of life and every corner of the cycling world can be nominated, from mountain bikers and endurance cyclists to community group leaders, cycling school-run mums and industry entrepreneurs", say Cycling UK. 

If you want to make a nomination, you can do so here

09 March 2020, 14:31
"You could by a car for that": Specialized Turbo Creo SL video review

This time you really could buy a car for that, and a decent one too... as the new Specialized e-road bike we got our hands on for review comes in at an eye watering £10,999. Video version above, words here

09 March 2020, 14:08
ASO reportedly decline to comment on Paris-Roubaix

The Telegraph's Tom Cary says that ASO (the organisers of Paris-Roubaix) won't comment on potential cancellations or rescheduling of the race due to the latest French coronavirus precautions. If indeed no more than 1,000 spectators are allowed to watch, there would be no cheering crowds at the velodrome and possibly no fans lining the cobbled sections; although we're unsure how crowds congregating in public places could be 100% policed without a full curfew in place. 

09 March 2020, 13:58
Coronavirus: French sports minister announces all events behind closed doors until 15th April (with Paris-Roubaix set for the 14th)

Roxana Maracineanu has announced that all sporting events in France have to be either behind closed doors or take place with an audience of no more than 1000 spectators. This will last until 15th April, and with Paris-Roubaix set for the 14th, this could have have serious implications for the famous cobbled classic. 

09 March 2020, 13:25
The Wolfpack now have friendship bracelets

In a move straight out of a Year 5 classroom, Deceuninck – Quick-Step now have special wristbands to show that you're part of 'The Wolfpack'.

The wristbands are available on the team's webshop and thankfully, they look a bit better than the ones you'd have made as a kid.

The leather bracelets have the Wolfpack's logo imprinted along with their 'creed':

“For the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack”

Order yours here

09 March 2020, 12:15
Tom Pidcock teams up with MTB legend Florian Vogel for Cape Epic race

The British cyclocross star, riding for Trinity Racing, will join household MTB name Vogel for the Cape Epic, an eight-day, 700km XC MTB stage race in South Africa.

Pidcock passed on the chance to join a World Tour team last year in favour of setting his own calendar and allowing a mix of disciplines that may not have been possible on a team like Ineos.

Explaining his love of multiple disciplines, Pidcock said: “I just enjoy riding my bike, everything from road bikes to downhill bikes. Thankfully a lot of people are starting to realise how mutually beneficial riding all disciplines can be, largely down to MVDP [Mathieu van der Poel] and Wout van Aert. They have set the standard on what is possible, and it is a great blueprint for me to try to follow. And, hopefully, be successful.”

The race will form part of his summer calendar which looks set to feature a mix of road and MTB as he prepares for another season of cyclocross.

09 March 2020, 10:17
French Cycling Federation asks UCI to investigate misconduct claims

The French Cycling Federation has asked the UCI to launch an investigation after two female riders on the Doltcini-Van Eyck team made allegations of inappropriate conduct against Marc Bracke. The riders claimed that they were asked to send pictures of themselves in underwear to their male DS so that he could check that they weren't "too fat". 

Marion Sicot and Sara Youmans have made separate allegations, the former in an interview where she admitted to taking EPO.

Speaking to L'Equipe, Sicot claimed that “he said I was too fat. I had to send pictures of myself in underwear every week. Front and back. He said he’d delete them afterwards but I can’t be sure".

France tv Sport reports that Sicot, "in the face of threats and blackmail", was forced to dope using EPO which she was subsequently banned for using after testing positive at the French TT championships last year.

While we can't say for certain that the male riders aren't asked to provide similar photos, it seems highly unlikely when other methods such as body fat calipers, or simply weighing scales offer a far more scientific approach.

More to follow.

09 March 2020, 09:34
Ruby Issac name-checks her most influential cyclists for International Women's Day

Using her crazy roller skills, Ruby Issac has celebrated International Women's Day by casually listing the women that have inspired her most in cycling.

First up is Dani Rowe, winner of the team pursuit at the London 2012 Olympics and 2011 World Championships.

Helen Wyman gets a mention as one of the UK's pioneering and most successful cyclocross riders. Wyman has gone on to set up the Helen100, an initiative that earlier this year received Rapha Foundation funding to help the development of Junior and U23 women's cyclocross.

Finally, Ruby mentions two teams of women taking on their own Tour de France in the absence of an official women's race. InernationElles and DesEllesauVelo will be riding the full 21 stages from Brussels to Paris (via a few mountains) in July. 

> Tour de France organisers say they are looking to launch major women's race

09 March 2020, 09:12
It's not all Champagne and...errr...crepes

Well, it seems that it is if you've just got back from being quarantined in a hotel and your boss is Marc Madiot.

Groupama-Francais des Jeux was one of the teams held in quarantine in the UAE after coronavirus stopped the race. They had some big names in isolation including classics specialist Arnaud Demare.

The flamboyant DS was so happy to get his star riders and staff back that he turned up to the airport arrivals with a bottle of Champagne (obviously) and a stack of crepes. As you do.

09 March 2020, 08:35
French National Champ Warren Barguil disqualified from Paris Nice

After what looked like a very painful crash just as it was all kicking off in the first stage of Paris Nice, Warren Barguil was deemed to have drafted behind his team car for too long.

The commissaries weren't best pleased and disqualified the Frenchman.

Given the amount of drafting that happens during a race, we wouldn't be surprised if Barguil thought the decision was a bit harsh. 

09 March 2020, 07:37
JIC you didn't know... cycling is faster than driving in most major UK cities

Traffic data experts Inrix have released the findings from their annual Global Traffic Scorecard for 2019, which rates cities worldwide for congestion, last mile speed and compares between various modes of transport. 

As you may have guessed, UK cities rank as some of the worst in the world with London the eighth-worst for congestion. London drivers lost 149 hours sat in traffic in 2019, and crawled along at an average speed of 10mph for their last mile. Other cities in the top ten (in order of worst ranking) are Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, Southampton, Nottingham and Hull. The fastest average last mile speed in the ten cities is Birmingham at 16mph, meaning for the vast majority of us - depending on the traffic lights and various other factors - cycling will be faster than driving in all of these cities. 

Inrix also say that congestion is costing our economy £6.9 billion a year, with road users spending an average of 115 hours stuck* in traffic. Trevor Reed of Inrix TOLD The Daily Mail: "Across the UK's most congested cities, average driving speeds of 10-16mph mean cycling is actually a quicker option for many people. Congestion costs drivers, businesses and the economy billions of pounds each year."

Inrix recommended big improvements to public transport (which is only quicker than driving in London and Edinburgh) and investment in rail could reduce car use, and also said safer roads could go a long way to encouraging more people to cycle. ​​

It's not all bad news, with Nottingham seeing congestion falling by 17% and London dropping from the third-worst to the eighth-worst city in the world for congestion. London's congestion levels also dropped by 9% compared to 2018 according to the Scorecard. Here are some vital stats in picture form... 

*If you're driving to work when you could be cycling or walking... you're not stuck in traffic, you ARE the traffic (but you knew that). 

09 March 2020, 07:24
Max Schachmann bags first Paris-Nice stage victory... as reported by Peter Sagan

Despite coronavirus concerns the show goes on in France, and Peter Sagan's teammate Schachmann won stage one in a sprint finish. Sagan actually took to his website to give a little race report, here it is in slightly broken English... 

"It is nice to be back at Paris-Nice, the race that gave me my first professional victories ten years ago but it sure was a tough first stage. The rain, cold and winds made it hard for everybody but we worked very well as a team and got the win and yellow jersey. Congratulations to Max."

After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake. 

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