With Nicolas Roche making his Dancing with the Stars debut last night, I thought I would mark the occasion by casting our minds back to the other pros who swapped the peloton for the ballroom. Can Nico do any better than these lot?
1. Victoria Pendleton (2012)
Following on from a successful farewell Olympics in London, Pendleton signed up for the tenth season of Strictly that autumn, where she was partnered with loudmouth Aussie Brendan Cole (I’m sure she wasn’t used to that kind of character at British Cycling…).
Despite never setting the dancefloor alight in the same way she did the track, Pendleton finished a respectable eighth in the competition.
2. Mario Cipollini (2005)
Before making a short-lived comeback with the ill-fated Rock Racing team in 2008 (remember those kits?), the self-styled Lion King took to the floor – often with very little clothes – for the second edition of the Italian Dancing with the Stars.
The controversial sprinter lasted until week six of the competition, but packed in quite a few memorable routines before being eliminated (including one where he dangled from some very long scarves for the entire dance). This is one of the, ahem, tamer routines he performed.
3. Michael Rasmussen (2010)
The controversial climber (you’ll start to see a pattern emerging here) entered the Danish version of Strictly three years after he was ignominiously expelled from the Tour de France while wearing the yellow jersey.
He only made it to week six too, but it wasn’t all bad news for the Chicken. He struck up a friendship with fellow celebrity dancer Christina Hembo during the show, and she agreed to sponsor a new professional continental team, which was used as a vehicle for Rasmussen’s return to the peloton in 2011.
4. Bernhard Kohl (2021)
I have a confession. For a very brief period in 2008 Bernhard Kohl was my favourite pro rider (give me a break, it was the summer of Ricco and Saunier Duval – Kohl looked like a choir boy in comparison).
So I was actually really pleased to hear that the disgraced former King of the Mountains had made the final of the Austrian show Dancing Stars this winter.
His final show dance even featured references to his career and subsequent fall from grace. Unfortunately for Bernie, like the 2008 Tour, he had to settle for the lower steps of the podium.
Let’s just hope he wasn’t using EPO this time round…
This morning’s photo of the Hull cycle lane started a bit of a discussion in the road.cc office (most of us are at home but you know what I mean) about ‘murder strips’.
For the uninitiated, murder strips are painted, unprotected cycle lanes which leave the cyclist almost entirely at the mercy of passing motorists.
Incidentally the Dutch for murder strip, moordstrookje, was Belgium’s word of the year in 2018.
Last week on the blog we featured a motorway cop who defended Jeremy Vine for refusing to use a local murder strip, and in 2019 we shared a video of the moment a cyclist was hit by minivan driver on a New York City example of the genre.
Here are a few more hair-raising examples of murder strips that the people working in infrastructure thought were completely acceptable:
Brighton & Hove cycling types, what’s the point of this narrowing murder strip on Dyke Road Ave? I was really surprised to see something quite so terrible. pic.twitter.com/2B1XQNorge
— Bill Hulley (@billhulley) November 14, 2021
— Jeff Tindall (@CurlingJeff) September 26, 2019
— Adriansyah Yasin Sulaeman (@adriansyahyasin) August 1, 2020
Our story on plans to create a 750km network of bike lanes in Milan garnered quite a lot of attention over the weekend. Could a cycling spiderweb like this be the future of transport in the UK?
This is the future, or at least it is if we choose it.
As apposed to insults, or short sighted anger, be genuinely interested to hear of any alternatives that can forecast the same benefits. https://t.co/8Slg5aD2Ax
— Chris Boardman (@Chris_Boardman) January 9, 2022
Both cost effective and transformational. Possible in the UK too if we genuinely commit to allocating the road space we have more effectively. https://t.co/pk2Utwdy50
— Dame Sarah Storey (@DameSarahStorey) January 10, 2022
Earlier today we featured on the blog one very ill-conceived cycle lane in Hull (which was, if not a murder strip, at least a “dooring/ABH strip” as one reader called it).
Now for another classic of the genre: the might-as-well-be-invisible bike lane (courtesy of cycling writer Rob Ainsley).
Why Don't Cyclists Use Cycle Lanes, Pt 94: Monks Cross Shopping Centre, York. 3pm yesterday. 'Segregated' path blocked in both directions... pic.twitter.com/YEbqQSGx8Z
— Rob Ainsley (@realcycling) January 9, 2022
Seriously, what’s the point?
✒️ 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟔 🖋️
New Year. New contract. Same goal 🏆
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) January 10, 2022
On the subject of precocious grand tour contenders, the Ineos Grenadiers have just announced that Egan Bernal has signed a new contract, tying him to the team until 2026.
The Columbian’s future at Ineos appeared uncertain before Christmas, with the reigning Giro champ linked to a move to Israel Start-Up Nation amid reports of a falling out with the British team.
Perhaps this new deal will signal the rebirth of the ever-so-slightly sleeping giant, and a refocused and concerted effort to dislodge the current Rog and Pog dominance in the grand tours?
Imagine you’re Tadej Pogačar for a moment (I know that might prove difficult for most of us). You’re planning out your objectives for 2022. How do you even attempt to equal a season in which you won the Tour de France and two monuments?
Well, I suppose you could try and do the Tour-Vuelta double. Pogačar announced from his UAE-Team Emirates squad’s training camp in Pedreguer, Alicante, that he would aim for both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España this year, the first time he has ridden both grand tours in the same season.
If he wins the Tour and Vuelta in 2022, he will become the first rider since Chris Froome in 2017 to do the elusive double. Froome is also the only rider to achieve that feat since the Vuelta moved from April to its late-season slot in 1995.
"I hope to do two Grand Tours this year, the Tour and the Vuelta," the 23-year-old Slovenian superstar told the media. "You never know what can happen through the season but that's what I'd really like.
"The Vuelta was my first Grand Tour, and I was third place. I have really nice memories and I want to live those memories again."
Tadej Pogacar set today a new record time on Coll de Rates (Strava segment). 23.5 Kph @ 6.5 % avg. gradient is serious one. Do not have better things to do on Sunday night, so gonna calculate VAM and est. power by reameasuring the climb. pic.twitter.com/YAQMVwnBIH
— ammattipyöräily (@ammattipyoraily) January 9, 2022
Pog’s chances of making history once again look good, if his recent training is anything to go by. Yesterday he set a new Strava record on the Coll de Rates, a classic climb for riders training on the Costa Blanca.
The double Tour winner covered the 10km, 6.6% climb in under 25 minutes, at an average speed of 23.5 kph. He crested the climb just over 90 miles into a rather hilly 120 mile loop. My legs hurt just thinking about it.
Going by those numbers, you’d be quite foolish betting against Pogačar wearing both yellow and red this summer.
After 5 years of being closed to through traffic, @CityWestminster have opened Riding House Street to cars. Situated between a residential building and a primary school it could have been a great pocket park / parklet etc… https://t.co/c1wyECZ1fk pic.twitter.com/TSmeV39uJ5
— Jack Pritchard (@jack_pritchard) January 6, 2022
In more traffic versus children news, a London street which has operated as a pedestrian and cycle zone for five years has been opened to cars as part of the government’s “school streets programme”.
Riding House Street in Fitzrovia was originally closed to through motor traffic after construction began on a nearby building, but stayed as a traffic-free street even after the works had been completed. The street is home to a residential building and a primary school.
However, the bollards which closed the street have now been removed, with only signs remaining to tell motorists not to use the road during school hours (between 8am and 5.30pm on weekdays).
The group Westminster Cycling Campaign said the decision to open the street was “bad news for the school, bad for residents and opens up a new rat run for drivers – so bad for congestion and air quality too.”
The council responded, claiming that a consultation found that local residents did not support keeping the street closed, and that a further consultation on the school streets programme was still ongoing.
Within hours of the victim contacting us with information about the theft of their bike, the team utilising local knowledge and teamwork recovered the bike and arrested the suspect. #localpolicing pic.twitter.com/9PgdPWvjqe
— Homerton Police (@MPSHomerton) January 9, 2022
Here’s a heart-warming tale to cheer you up after that cycle lane fiasco in Hull.
Yesterday Taz Johnston reported that her a bike, a Specialized Allez, had been stolen on Thursday in London Fields.
— Taz Johnston (@XOandQuin) January 9, 2022
The police were able to find and arrest the suspect within hours, and Taz was reunited with her bike last night. Excellent work! If only it were that simple all the time…
@Hullccnews have just put this and others the same in for #school #children to use🤷🤦 Beggers belief, they wouldn't hear of moving the cars out as they didn't wish to upset anyone, ain't that right @MytonDKirk @Jonestheregen #cllrHale
40mph down there aswell... pic.twitter.com/sv8eG0l10F
— RANDOMoriginals... (@RandomOriginals) January 10, 2022
A new “cycle lane” installed by Hull City Council and purportedly designed for school children, no less, has come under fire on social media.
The lane in question forms part of a scheme the council hopes will “encourage those who have reservations about using busy routes to consider taking up cycling.”
WTAF?! Why does a local authority want to kill the children?
— Paul Campbell (@PauloCampbell) January 10, 2022
Unsurprisingly the lane – or ‘murder strip’ to use the terminology adopted by some Twitter users – has been severely criticised.
Jeremy Vine questioned, “Who in their right mind would create a cycle lane like this for children?” and told the council to “beware the law on corporate manslaughter”.
Others pointed out that the lane must have been “designed by someone who has never ridden a bike”, or “for the next episode of Squid Game”.
To make matters worse, the lane is situated in a 40mph zone. In the council’s defence, the nice new green paint is surely protection enough from a car at that speed?
The Saudi Tour, set to take place at the beginning of February, may join the Tour Down Under and Vuelta a San Juan in the list of cancelled early-season races in 2022.
However, unlike the Australian and Argentinian events, the Saudi Tour may fall victim to a renewed terror threat in the region, rather than Covid restrictions.
Saudi Arabia also plays host to the Dakar Rally, which is scheduled to conclude on Friday. Last week, an explosion outside a hotel seriously injured French driver Philippe Brouton, who was placed in a medically induced coma.
France has demanded transparency from Saudi Arabia amid accusations that it covered up the cause of the explosion. Saudi Arabia is currently in conflict with Houthi rebels from Yemen, who carried out over 20 terror attacks in the kingdom last year.
The Saudi Tour was held for the first time in its current guise in 2020, when Bahrain-McLaren sprinter Phil Bauhaus beat Nacer Bouhanni by two seconds to claim the overall title. The race was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Both the Saudi Tour and the Dakar Rally are owned by Tour organisers ASO.
I’ve never been to New York, but I’m sure its cycling community is welcoming and warm, as evidenced by this video, shared half a million times on TikTok (I don’t really know either).
In the video Bailey Kenworthy, a 24-year-old from Texas, loudly announces from her hotel window that she has gotten engaged.
And what was the reaction from a passing cyclist to this touching news? “Shut the f**k up!”
As someone organising a wedding this year, with lots of friends who are recently engaged, I can confirm that this was indeed the appropriate response. Well played that cyclist.
Thomas Mein in a fight with the barriers, leading the very muddy british CX nationals pic.twitter.com/D1dR2uscHN
— Tormans Cyclo Cross Team (@tormanscross) January 9, 2022
If you’re struggling to gee yourself up this Monday morning, take some inspiration from new British national cyclo-cross champion Thomas Mein.
Even a malevolent barrier (it really put up a fight, didn’t it?) couldn’t stop the Tormans rider going on to win yesterday’s super muddy national championships in Crawley ahead of Cameron Mason.
In the elite women’s race, Harriet Harnden of Trek Factory Racing beat Annie Last and Anna Kay to retain the title she won on debut in 2020.
Dance one done ✔️
Though one. Definitely taking me out of my comfort zone.
Finally managed to get a smile out. Constructive feedback from the judges. Bring on dance two.
Lets go @karendwts 🕺💃@dwtsirl @rteone @shinawil_ltd pic.twitter.com/gj1r1GEQKU
— nicholas roche (@nicholasroche) January 9, 2022
It’s only been three months since he hung up his wheels for good after the Irish Championships, but Nicolas Roche is already back in action… on the dancefloor.
Last night the former DSM rider, who also rode for Sky, Saxo-Tinkoff and Ag2r during a stellar seventeen-year career, swapped his Shimanos for a pair of dancing shoes on the first episode of the Irish version of Strictly, Dancing with the Stars.
Roche will be up against the likes of comedian Neil Delamere, social media star Missy Keating (Ronan’s daughter), Love Island contestant Matthew McNabb and former jockey Nina Carberry.
Partnered with former series winner and Aisling Bea-lookalike Karen Byrne, the visibly nervous Irishman performed what I reckoned was a suave, sophisticated jive to The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’. Okay, the kicks and flicks lacked the retraction I normally look for – but it was week one people, and the jive is a hard dance!
Unfortunately for Nico, the judges were a tad harsher than I was, and criticised his timing, his stiffness, a lack of energy and his “pigeon toes” – giving him a paltry combined score of 11 out of 30.
— Ré (@PinkEye31033312) January 9, 2022
Those scores meant Roche finished bottom of the leader board after the first six couples had danced (the remaining six will compete next week). It was also Karen’s joint-lowest score ever in the series’ five-year history. Ouch.
The former pro took to Twitter after the show to thank the judges for their “constructive feedback”. Vincent Lavenu must have been one hard taskmaster if Nico thinks those remarks were constructive!
In all fairness, as much as I didn’t mind his jive, Roche’s best moves were probably reserved for the macarena he performed in full cycling gear in the pre-dance VT.
When asked by presenter and Westlife singer Nicky Byrne why he wasn’t drinking a glass of wine at home in Monaco, Roche said “I wanted to be challenged, and the judges gave me a good challenge tonight!
I didn’t want to retire and take it easy. I just straight away wanted a new challenge.”
The online response was a lot more forgiving than the judges, with Journal Velo tweeting that “this completely erases Victoria Pendleton’s Strictly journey from history.” Some appeared to be more focused on, ahem, other aspects of Roche's perfomance:
The women of Ireland are rolling their tongues back in after watching Nicholas Roche. #DWTSIRL
— Christine (@cbbrown35) January 9, 2022
Roche’s dad Stephen (who you also may have heard of), said “Well done Nico, no heart monitor, no power metre but I’m sure your heart was pumping fast, good show. Looking forward to Stage 2 next Sunday.”
As I’m sure we all are. Allez Nico! If he can battle as hard on the dancefloor as he did on the world's toughest climbs, the only way is up.
After years of watching @nicholasroche pulling it out of the bag on the bike when you least expect it. He's gonna come back stronger and stronger. Free prsi eye exams for the judges -thought the scores were grossly unfair. Watch this space- Nicos coming for ya !! #DWTSIRL #RTE
— 🚑вιℓℓу (@peoplesrepcork) January 9, 2022
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.