Drink it in folks… It may not be 2012 anymore, but a cyclist has finally made it back to the top of the BBC’s Sport page.
And no, I’m (unfortunately) not talking about Mathieu van der Poel or Alison Jackson. Apparently sporting chaos, gripping underdog stories, and existential, devastating drama aren’t enough to secure that coveted spot on the Beeb’s website – especially when there are managerial changes and transfer rumours, as well as some golf, to be had, of course.
But at least one cyclist did manage to make national sporting headlines in the UK this Easter weekend…
Ben Foster’s dramatic last-gasp penalty save against National League promotion rivals Notts County at the always sunny Racecourse Ground has put Wrexham – and the club’s Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney – within touching distance of a long-awaited return to the Football League.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 10, 2023
An England international and former Manchester United, West Brom, and Watford player – but better known to road.cc readers as the Cycling Goalkeeper off YouTube – Foster postponed a retirement of riding his bike in the Alps and Pyrenees last month to star in a Disney show and meet Mac from Always Sunny… I mean, help his old club in their quest to return to the footballing promised land.
However, despite his two decades of success at football’s highest level, within some circles he’ll always be known as the Cycling GK:
YouTuber saves crucial penalty to put Ryan Reynolds' Wrexham top of the National Leaguepic.twitter.com/i84TQYvPUF
— Dexerto (@Dexerto) April 10, 2023
— WrighteousJ (@wrighteousj) April 10, 2023
Been a professional goalkeeper for 22 years but don’t worry he’s a YouTuber 🤣
— Ty Bracey (@TyBracey) April 10, 2023
It’s always nice to see our old contributors doing well for themselves…
While this morning’s trip to Belfast showcased the plethora of wonderful things that can be used to obstruct an apparently protected bike path (bins, skips, and cars being the main examples), road.cc reader IanMK’s Easter spin through Buckinghamshire proved that even off-road cycleways are susceptible to being blocked by all manner of culprits… such as pubs, apparently.
Errr, there’s a pub in the middle of the cycleway
Ian’s intriguing cycleway prompted some speculation in the comments about how best to tackle such a quintessentially British off-road section:
And before you ask, yes, he did stop for a pint.
And now in the gossip section of today’s live blog…
Taylor and Kasia, Lizzie and Phil, move over – because is this cycling’s newest power couple?
Yesterday, the Ineos Grenadiers’ multi-discipline star Pauline Ferrand-Prévot posted what may well be the first photo of her and Dylan van Baarle as a couple (a photo of Van Baarle first appeared on the French rider’s Instagram back in February, for those paying attention), after the Jumbo-Visma classics specialist crashed heavily in the Arenberg Forest during Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix.
“Well, I guess we didn’t want to have a boring and well-planned life. But together stronger and always keep fighting (and smiling…),” the 10-time world champion – across road, cyclocross, and mountain biking, posted.
“The Hell of the North earned its name (too) well... Endless wait yesterday to hear of Dylan’s health. He suffered fractures in his left hand and right elbow. But what a fighter (and boxer).”
Van Baarle, who was defending his Roubaix title (won in the colours of Ineos last year), told the AD-In Koers podcast that he was “doing okay given the circumstances” following his high-speed spill on the brutal cobbles of the Arenberg, which saw him suffer serious cuts to his face as well as fractures to his left hand and right shoulder.
— Sporza 🚴 (@sporza_koers) April 9, 2023
“Falling is part of the race in one way or another,” the 30-year-old Dutchman, who also missed the previous week’s Tour of Flanders due to illness, told the podcast. “I was tenth or eleventh into the Forest of Arenberg, then Fred Wright had a flat front tyre in front of me. I hoped to stay upright but his bike went to the right and his body to the left and I rode over his bike and landed on the ground.
“I immediately noticed that my whole body was hurting and my face was bleeding badly. I told the team mechanic, ‘This is not going to work anymore, dude.’ Then I was quickly put in the ambulance and driven to a crazy hospital in France.
“The two and a half hours that I lay there seemed so long. I was in the emergency room with no phone, no family, so I couldn't contact anyone. Then a French doctor said I could get in touch with some people via his Instagram account to let them know I was okay.
“The French wanted to stitch up the three cuts on my face, but our team doctor said we could glue them. He took over and so the team doctor glued my face together.
“I have a new scan in the Netherlands on Thursday. For the time being I have to do as little as possible and wait. That will be fine, because I really can’t do much right now.”
Van Baarle’s injuries unfortunately mean that my concept of a cycling power couples two-up time trial just before the Giro will have to wait for another year…
Now here’s a scoop that has Fabrizio Romano’s name written all over it…
Following Ben Foster’s heroics at the Racecourse Ground yesterday, former Barnsley, Torquay, and Preston North End midfielder Nicky Wroe has hinted on social media that he’d be interested in joining the bike-mad goalkeeper in road.cc’s illustrious Cycling Footballers XI:
@nickywroe How have you not made this article 😜?
— Ashley Marsh (@ashley_marsh) April 10, 2023
— nicky wroe (@nickywroe) April 10, 2023
However, according to our well-placed sources, co-managers Roberto Mancini and Neil Warnock are still contemplating whether they should acquiesce to current midfield general Remco Evenepoel’s astronomical contract demands, with Wroe potentially lined up as a ready-made replacement for the former PSV playmaker (and road race world champion).
Not sure what Roy Keane, currently languishing on the bench, giving off about Lycra shorts, will make of falling even further down the pecking order, mind you…
Leith Walk cycle lane explained at last. https://t.co/BjaiC8sSce
— 𝙾𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚍𝚎𝚛 (@overlandertheb1) April 11, 2023
No extra bar tape, motor-pacing behind a quad… It’s safe to say that former world champion Mads Pedersen isn’t scared of taking his own, original approach to preparing for one of cycling’s oldest, most revered races.
— O País do Ciclismo (@opaisdociclismo) April 11, 2023
In any case, it worked – with the Dane putting in a quad-like assured ride over the rough stuff to finally and definitively crack the top 50 at Roubaix, outsprinting Stefan Küng and Filippo Ganna in the velodrome for fourth.
I’m sure a few quad hire shops in northern France are rubbing their hands in glee now…
While the weekend undoubtedly belonged to Alison Jackson and Mathieu van der Poel, the post-Hell discourse on Monday focused on a rider who finished a lowly 128th in the Roubaix velodrome on Sunday.
Professional triathlete Cameron Wurf, who dabbles in a bit of domestique work for the Ineos Grenadiers on the side, set the internet ablaze on Sunday evening when he posted details of what some may describe as a pretty excessive warm down after 260km over the bone-shattering cobbles of northern France during the fastest ever Paris-Roubaix on record.
Nobody: “Might go for a 20km run after finishing #ParisRoubaix”
Cam Wurf: “Hold my bike!” pic.twitter.com/FFR5IwCpbn
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) April 10, 2023
While Alpecin-Deceuninck were plotting which disco they were heading to next on Sunday evening, 39-year-old Australian Wurf was completing the equivalent of a half-marathon, and in a jaw-droppingly fast time too:
Or maybe he was just using the same GPS tracker as Tom Pidcock? (Though judging by Wurf’s Ironman results, I’d say not…)
To continue with the ‘Using the hardest bike races in the world as training for triathlons’ theme, Wurf then went out for a relatively casual 50km spin on his bike yesterday, before completing a 3,000m, 52 minute “limb loosening” swim this morning.
Alongside riding a few stage races and classics for Ineos, the Australian – the oldest rider at this year’s Paris-Roubaix – has also notched up a top five at an Ironman in South Africa, as he builds towards the world championships in Nice in September.
Cameron Wurf went for a 20 KM run AFTER finishing Roubaix? Is this man actually okay pic.twitter.com/wGNSni0wfI
— Issie 💙 (@IssieAtch) April 10, 2023
Apparently Cameron Wurf ran a half marathon after racing Roubaix, I struggle stretching after a 2 hours ride, but ehi I am really good at crosswords
— Ginevra (@ginevragarga) April 11, 2023
While most fans have expressed their amazement at Wurf’s multi-tasking ability, GCN’s statsman Cillian Kelly, rather mischievously, pondered on Twitter whether Ineos leader Filippo Ganna, who battled to sixth in the Roubaix velodrome, may have benefitted from the support of a rider not treating the Hell of the North as phase one of his Sunday training plans:
Down over 20 minutes by the end of the race, but if I was Ganna, finding out that Wurf had enough energy left to go running 20km after Paris Roubaix, I would be wondering why Wurf was selected for the team in the first place.
— Cillian Kelly (@irishpeloton) April 10, 2023
Though, let’s face it, most of us would be confined to the sofa for a week after riding one-third of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles…
Wurf also found time before the race on Sunday morning to crack a few jokes with the motor-doping checkers, with whom he pleaded for some leniency based on his geriatric status in the bunch:
Cameron Wurf telling the UCI officials to stop scanning his bike because as the oldest guy he needs all the help he can get is sending me 🤣 #ParisRoubaix
— Issie 💙 (@IssieAtch) April 9, 2023
I’m sure those pleas will fall on deaf ears when they see your Strava profile, Cameron…
Well, what a weekend of racing that was at the Queen of the Classics. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve fully recovered from the edge-of-your-seat drama of the women’s race…
Recency bias may be creeping in here, but I can’t think of a better final 50km than that epic, archaic, confusing, baffling, chaotic, drama-filled spectacle we witnessed on Saturday.
And has there ever been a more deserving winner of a one-day classic than Alison Jackson? Incredible stuff.
Obviously, Wout van Aert’s ill-timed puncture on the Carrefour de l'Arbre robbed us of a showdown for the ages in the men’s race, but that long-range move by the Magnificent Seven, who eventually coalesced after the Arenberg, proved that the template for racing monuments has been well and truly ripped up in recent years.
And who could argue against a Mathieu van der Poel victory, which saw the Dutchman become only the fourth rider in history to win Milan-Sanremo and Roubaix in the same year, after the desperately unlucky John Degenkolb, Sean Kelly, and Cyrille van Hauwaert?
To celebrate one of the best weekends of racing ever, here’s a gallery of some of the images that sum up the beauty and cruelty of Paris-Roubaix.
First up, the ecstasy:
... And the agony, epitomised by Marianne Vos nailing the trademark Roubaix thousand-yard stare:
And Degenkolb’s sense of what might have been…
Though maybe Silvan Dillier was just contemplating the Alpecin afterparty?
I really wish the above number were just a mildly amusing exaggeration, but I feel like we’re swiftly approaching those lofty heights of bike lane blocking on the live blog…
In Belfast, where cycle lane obstructing is becoming a national sport (along with not sitting in government), bike lanes aren’t actually designed for people on bikes, you see.
They’re really storage units for bins and skips, while the bollards – far from keeping cyclists safe from encroaching drivers (ha!) – provide a handy marker for motorists who’ve spotted a lovely sideways parking space near the city centre:
"Why do cyclists never use cycle lanes?"
The cycle lanes: pic.twitter.com/8taXrPpaiJ
— The Belfast Urbanist 💚🚋 (@BelfastUrbanist) April 10, 2023
And just around the corner.....🤦♀️ pic.twitter.com/BKMYx5tPuz
— North Belfast Cycle Campaign (@NBCycleCampaign) April 10, 2023
It is so very frustrating. There is so little cycling infrastructure in the city, so to see it treated like this is really disheartening.
— North Belfast Cycle Campaign (@NBCycleCampaign) April 10, 2023
From a scintillating weekend at the Queen of the Classics, which featured a surprise winner, chaotic racing, shocking crashes, and untimely punctures, to dodgy stout delivery drivers and good old-fashioned council backtracking, here’s what you may have missed from the cycling world while you were scoffing all those eggs over the Bank Holiday weekend…
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.