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What if cyclists paid 'road tax'?; “Get on the rubbish cycle path!”; LNER upgrades bike storage, but is it good enough?; Tour of Britain host regions announced; Cav misses out; Don't try this at home, bike maintenance edition + more on the live blog

It’s Thursday, Cav’s kicking off his season in Oman, and Ryan Mallon is back for the penultimate live blog of the week
10 February 2022, 17:15
Back in Black: Tour de la Provence leader’s jersey honours Bernard Tapie

After winning today’s prologue of the Tour de la Provence in dominant fashion, Filippo Ganna will wear this slick looking leader’s jersey, designed to honour the memory of businessman and former cycling team owner Bernard Tapie, who died in October last year after a long battle with cancer.

Tapie, a businessman famed for rescuing bankrupt companies, made his first foray into the sport as the mercurial and controversial owner of La Vie Claire, the all-conquering squad led by Tour de France winners Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond.

Since 2019 the Tour de la Provence adopted a Piet Mondrian-inspired jersey as an homage to La Vie Claire and Tapie, one of the race’s co-organisers.

Tapie has been credited with bringing a sense of drama and flamboyance – along with astronomical wages – to cycling in the 1980s. At the 1984 Tour he famously attempted to persuade LeMond to join his new team by arranging a clandestine, Bond villain-esque meeting with the American at night, and subsequently declared his new signing cycling’s first ‘million dollar man’.

Tapie wasn’t just an enigmatic figure in cycling circles, of course. A former colleague of mine, a Glasgow Rangers fan, still hasn’t forgiven him for 1993 and all that…

In any case, this design has reminded me to restart my petition to bring back the white Paris-Nice leader’s jersey. Come on, ASO, sort it out…

10 February 2022, 16:37
Updates from the Tour de la Provence: Filippo Ganna is still very, very good

Top Ganna’s Ineos Grenadiers teammate Ethan Hayter also put in a very strong performance to finish 12 seconds behind the Italian in the 7.1km prologue, becoming the second British rider to finish second today, after You Know Who in Oman

10 February 2022, 16:20
Real mature...
screenshot-2022-02-10-161225

When a potential road.cc user applies for an account, we ask them what they ride. Looks like a future comedian from Y7 happened across us during an IT class! 

10 February 2022, 16:17
Peloton: We’re doing great actually, membership is booming…
10 February 2022, 16:05
Drafting Dumoulin

Yesterday on the blog, we shared a heart-warming video of a young cyclist training with Tom Dumoulin and Rigoberto Urán in Colombia. 

The day after, however, the wrong sort of training video emerged when Dumoulin and a few of his Jumbo-Visma teammates were filmed racing onto the back of a lorry to draft behind it.

While that particular move is something most cyclists have done at least once, Dumoulin’s spot of drafting was sure to provoke the ire of some on Twitter, especially in the wake of Egan Bernal’s horror crash in Colombia two weeks ago.

Juan Clavijo, a commentator for Spanish Eurosport, wrote: “After what happened with Bernal, it is surprising to still see these videos of professional cyclists.

“Clinging to the truck to take advantage of its 'slipstream', with zero visibility and a sudden stop from having a good scare.

“Dumoulin is just one example, unfortunately.”

10 February 2022, 14:45
Hill climb graffiti Pay your road tax (Image Ali McLean)
What if cyclists paid 'road tax'? A professional spreadsheet jockey crunches the numbers…

Fancy some more ammunition for when your cousin at Christmas or some faceless online troll next grumbles on about cyclists not paying the mythical beast that is ‘road tax’?

Well, look no further, as numbers nerd Matthew has gotten in touch, after he applied his spreadsheet skills to calculate how much ‘road tax’ cyclists would pay if the government decides to introduce a road user charging system in place of vehicle excise duty, as recommended by MPs on the Transport Committee this week

If road pricing is introduced, which would charge motorists nationwide for using the roads, it will of course only add more weight to the oft-repeated cry of “cyclists should pay road tax” (despite cyclists being more likely than average to also own a car).

Basing his figures on curb weight and miles driven or ridden, Matthew worked out if a typical cyclist paid £10 a year under a new road pricing system, the average motorist would have to pay £5,250.

Using the same comparison, if a driver paid £180 a year, a cyclist would only have to 34p in ‘road tax’.

Road Tax figures (Matthew Kerry)

“Thought you might like to use this the next time someone says, ‘pay your road tax’”, Matthew told road.cc. Indeed…

10 February 2022, 13:10
Bike maintenance: don’t try this at home?

On the subject of looking after your bike...

Replying to Joe’s tweet, ex-Cannondale rider Ted King says he works on his bike “now more than ever”, even as technology has evolved: 

 Meanwhile, former racing nomad, Strava bandit, and current Jukebox pro Phil Gaimon appears to have a very appealing golden rule when it comes to fixing his own bike:

 What do you think?

Has new technology put you off tinkering with your machine, or did the pandemic turn you into an expert bike mechanic?

10 February 2022, 12:49
Paris-Roubaix or a Scottish summer?

As someone who spent a year riding his bike around the East Neuk of Fife, I can assure you he’s not wrong... (I'm joking! I'm joking!)

10 February 2022, 12:41
Much Off Ebike drivetrain tool 2
Muc-Off launches new eBike drivetrain tool

Some tech news for you e-bikers this lunchtime: Muc-Off has launched its eBike Drivetrain Tool (£19.99) for easier lube application, with the bike care brand saying that not only does its solution make maintenance quicker, it’s safer on parts too.

The motor on an e-bike means the chain doesn’t spin backwards with the crank arms as it does on a regular bike and so Muc-Off’s new tool is designed to lock firmly into an e-bike sprocket bolt which allows the drivetrain spin backwards freely, Muc-Off explains. No more needing to flip your bike upside down or wheel it forwards to apply lube to the chain.

“Due to the force generated by the motor, an eBike drivetrain is subjected to significantly higher torque loads than that of a traditional bike, so chain lubrication becomes a vitally important part of the maintenance regime,” explains Muc-Off.

“An eBike drivetrain which is either not lubed, or that is lubed with a non eBike specific lubricant, can lead to snapped or stretched chains, as well as increased wear to expensive components such as cranks, cassettes, and derailleurs.“

Muc Off ebike drivetrain tool 1

The tool is said to be compatible with most e-bike chain rings (excluding spiderless), thanks to the supplied 5mm, 6mm Hex & T30 Torx bits which are designed to snap into place with a magnetised connection.

Is this the solution for all your e-bike chain-related woes?

10 February 2022, 12:12
Tour of Britain announces 2022 host regions – and shoots down complaints

Bear with me here, but the Tour of Britain organisers must feel like rock stars sometimes.

And no, I’m not talking about the swathes of adoring fans on the roadside, nor am I referring to drugs (though the race in its current form has been running since the mid-2000s, so I’m sure there were some knocking about back then…).

No, I’m talking about how when every rock band announces a tour, no matter how big it is, there’s always some wise guy popping up in the comments to ask, “why aren’t you playing my town?”

It seems the ToB now has the same problem.

This morning, the organisers announced the host regions for the 2022 race. Starting in Aberdeen on Sunday 4 September, the race will travel through Scotland, before taking in the north-east of England, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, first ever full stages in Gloucestershire and Dorset, and finishing a week later on the Isle of Wight.

A few fans, however, weren’t happy with the route and took to Twitter to express their disappointment. “Play Cardiff!!!,” I hear them cry.

The organisers, who seem to be acutely aware of the neediness of some British cycling fans, promptly slapped down these complaints with a pre-prepared FAQs page and some excellent, withering responses:

The race’s FAQs page, which outlines the financial and logistical factors that shape the Tour of Britain’s route, reads: “Hopefully, for many, many people, today’s announcement has whet the appetite for what promises to be eight unforgettable days of racing in September.

“We appreciate that our annual route reveal is an emotive day for cycling fans in the UK. Believe us when we say that we’re sorry for not visiting your hometown or the climb you’ve been riding up for years. However, this has nothing to do with us ignoring places: sadly it’s not possible to visit every part of Britain in just eight days.

“Putting together each year’s route is a logistically and strategically challenging task.

"Unfortunately we cannot cover every part of Britain during an eight-day bike race. It’s impossible and unfortunately the nature of the beast when it comes to organising events. Take this year’s Tour de France route, for example: look how much of the country that doesn’t cover in 21 days of racing!

“Under the rules set by the UCI, the sport’s governing body, we cannot have any stage above 240 kilometres in length. Also, the maximum average daily distance permitted is 180 kilometres, so from starting out in Aberdeen city cente, we’d have to take the most direct route to get riders to the Isle of Wight within the rules. Even then, that would be a push!”

Nevertheless, cycling journalist and author Ed Pickering did make one suggestion that I’m sure the organisers will happily take on board:

10 February 2022, 11:41
Oh man, Oman… Gaviria pips Cav to first sprint win of 2022 – not that you would have seen it…

Mark Cavendish missed out on the win on his first day of racing of 2022, as UAE-Team Emirates’ Fernando Gaviria held off the fast-finishing Manxman on stage one of the Tour of Oman.

Not that we could tell from the coverage, however. Watching the live feed on OmanSports TV, the helicopter pilot sped away right on the line, losing our footage, just as it looked like Cav was about to overtake the fading Colombian.

I couldn’t understand a word the commentators were saying, but their exasperated reaction spoke for all of us watching.

Gaviria Tour of Oman (via Twitter - Tour of Oman)

Hopefully the cameras will stay trained on the riders tomorrow when Quick Step’s Cavendish, who looked very sharp in the final kick, will seek to open his account for 2022 as he gears up for a probable/possible/impossible [delete as appropriate] tilt at that record-breaking win number 35 at the Tour de France.

10 February 2022, 10:42
Cambridge CYCLOPS junction (Camcycle)
Cambridge: the cycling capital of England

A recent survey carried out by cycling retailer Sigma Sports has found – rather unsurprisingly – that Cambridge is the most bike-friendly area in England (details weren’t available for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland – typical). 

According to the figures, 51.2% of adults cycle at least once a month and 44.8% once a week in Cambridge, a number no doubt helped by all the students rushing about to their classes.

As if to illustrate that point, Oxford came in second with 43% of the city’s adults riding their bikes once a month.

Six of the top ten, however, belonged to London, with Hackney beating Lambeth to the final podium place behind the Oxbridge duo.

Here’s the top ten, including the breakdown of the numbers:

Sigma Sports - bike friendly areas in England

As the cycling capitals of England, it will again come as no surprise to readers that Cambridge and Oxford also sit on top of the pile of areas with the most bike thefts. They’re just used to striving for excellence, I suppose. 

10 February 2022, 10:10
LNER upgraded bike rack (credit- Martin Cox, Twitter)
LNER’s upgraded bike racks spotted… but many still aren’t happy

Nearly two-and-a-half years since London North Eastern Railway (LNER) vowed to upgrade cycle storage on some of its new trains – after Cycling UK said the system the company had in place was “downright dangerous” – the first newly upgraded bike rack has been spotted in the wild (well, on an LNER train, but you know what I mean).

The latest generation of high-speed trains rolled out by LNER and Great Western Railway (GWR) featured limited space for bikes (road.cc’s Jack Sexty even reviewed GWR’s offering on this very blog back in 2019 – let’s just say his critique was blunt…). 

Due to the limited storage space on the new trains, it was also necessary to hang bikes vertically from hooks that were unsuitable for wheels wider than those of a typical road bike.

Cycling UK dismissed the system as “downright dangerous” and said: “Lifting a bike to reach an overhead hook, on a moving train and with other passengers around you, is simply not safe.”

Following this criticism, LNER accepted the need to go back to the drawing board and improve their bike storage.

Fast forward to 2022 – it feels like we have, I know – and the new upgrades are in on LNER services, which will finally accommodate wider wheels and contain new tracks to hold the bike in place.

Commuter Martin Cox was cautiously optimistic about the changes:

 But others weren’t as impressed:

 So what’s the solution?

 And, finally and most importantly, what was Jack Sexty’s view on the whole thing?

“They still need ripping out.” Blunt as ever, Jack.

10 February 2022, 09:05
Cycle Path, Preston (credit - Phil Wrigley)
“Get on the bike path!” “Eh, what bike path?”

We saw some particularly unconvincing examples of cycling infrastructure on the blog yesterday – one was a national cycling route that effectively turned out to be a bog, and another was a simple lick of paint flagrantly ignored by a certain Brad Wiggins. Who does he think he is, a Tour de France winner?

Well here’s another lamentable piece of UK cycling infra to shake your head at today (with a bonus near miss thrown in too). Yesterday, road.cc reader Phil told us about a recent encounter with a bus driver who, after giving Phil a scare with a close pass, told him to “get on the bloody cycle path”.

Cycle Path, Preston 2 (credit - Phil Wrigley)

Eh… does he mean that bit of dirt by the hedge? I think I’ll take my chances on the road, mate.

“I recently had a run-in with a Stagecoach bus driver, who close passed me through a pinch point where there is a pedestrian crossing island in the centre at Red Scar, Preston,” Phil told us.

“He almost brushed my arm, he was that close. I caught up with him at the next bus stop. Before I could say anything he opened his window and told me to ‘get on the bloody cycle path’.

“Here is the cycle path. Great, isn’t it?”

Cycle Path, Preston 4 (credit - Phil Wrigley)

Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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