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The King versus Strava KOMs: Sean Kelly admonishes focus on Strava times, says he doesn’t “really take any interest in them”; Are cycle circuits the “only option” to save British bike racing? Fancy a job as a postie on Alpe d’Huez? + more on the live blog

It’s Monday and Ryan Mallon would like to thank the Academy for another day of cycling news and views on the live blog

SUMMARY

11 March 2024, 09:07
Sean Kelly and Felix Großschartner’s Strava times for the Côte de Peille
The King versus Strava KOMs: Sean Kelly admonishes focus on Strava times, says he doesn’t “really take any interest in them”

Oh, you spent your weekend topping up your growing list of Strava KOMs, did you?

Well, that don’t impress Sean Kelly much.

Because, while we love a Strava-related story here on the blog – especially if it involves some degree of intrigue (looking at you, Tom Pidcock and your twitchy, deleting thumb – oh, and Dan’s traumatic motorbike-induced dethroning back in 2022) – it appears that the King himself isn’t as keen on your regal ride sharing titles.

> Tom Pidcock claims famous Strava KOM... but quickly deletes ride

Of course, the Irish classics legend-turned-iconic commentator does belong to the most ancient of cycling old schools. After all, this is a man who once, when asked to detail his pacing strategy for time trials, simply offered up: “Start fast, go faster in the middle, and ride flat out at the end.”

So, it should come as no surprise that when Eurosport commentator Rob Hatch informed Kelly during yesterday’s final stage of Paris-Nice – just as then-race leader Brandon McNulty’s UAE Team Emirates domestique Felix Großschartner began to set the pace on the Côte de Peille, in an ill-fated bid to ward off Remco Evenepoel’s soon-to-be race exploding attacks – that Großschartner held the Strava record for the climb, Kelly’s response was characteristically unequivocal.

Felix Großschartner, 2024 Paris-Nice (A.S.O./Billy Ceusters)

Großschartner putting all that Strava KOM-hunting to good use yesterday (A.S.O./Billy Ceusters)

“Bahh, these Strava times!” he exclaimed, about a notch or two above his usual analytical tone.

“You go out there and you’re fresh, and you just warm up into it. Then you just blast it up it.

“These Strava times, I don’t really take any interest in them. Because in a week-long race like Paris-Nice, when you’re riding full gas, and in bad conditions, it’s a different game.”

Sean Kelly wins 1984 Paris-Roubaix (credit - Cycling Archives)

No Strava KOMs on the road into Roubaix back in ’84, anyway…

Well, there you have it, the King has spoken – your KOMs are all worthless.

I wonder if he’ll change his mind about Strava when he hears about its new dog activity tracking feature? Somehow, I doubt it…

11 March 2024, 16:14
Wilco Kelderman finishes Paris-Nice eighth overall… with a broken collarbone

Visma-Lease a Bike are on such a rich vein of stage racing form that it appears one of their domestiques can break his collarbone in a crash on the last day of Paris-Nice and still finish 21st on the stage and eighth on GC.

Though if I were Wilco, I’d have been straight to a bar on the Promenade des Anglais for a cocktail, none of this suffering through the pain nonsense…

11 March 2024, 15:31
France Télévisions “thinking about” using drone footage during Tour de France time trials and gravel stage after Paris-Nice success

They’ve become an increasingly common presence at cyclocross races, and they captured some pretty cool shots during Paris-Nice’s team time trial last week. But could the use of drones make its way to this year’s Tour de France?

Well, according to Anthony Forestier, the broadcast director at France Télévisions, which provides the Tour feed, the success of their Paris-Nice experiment – which saw remote-controlled drones follow and capture the riders during the TTT in Auxerre, the first time they’d been permitted in a WorldTour race – has encouraged the television company to sit down with ASO and the UCI over the use of the technology at cycling’s biggest race.

“Based on the feedback we got [from the Paris-Nice team time trial], everybody loved it,” Forestier told RMC Sport today. “Some teams even got in touch with us to ask us to share the footage with them.

“The idea is to show that they are super pros with a touch of madness. We want to make all the people in front of their TV understand that they are gladiators. We want to tell those who know nothing about it: ‘go ahead, take your bike, go at 40 km/h and you’ll see how it blows. There they are at 93km/h. Take your car and see what 93 km/h is like. But the riders are on tiny tyres.”

“Cycling needs these innovative images,” Décathlon-AG2R La Mondiale’s DS Julien Jurdie agreed. “I love it, it’s done in skiing in particular and it’s great. We must take advantage of this technology, it is essential.”

Asked about the possibility of incorporating drone footage as part of their Tour coverage in July, Forestier said: “Nothing is in place, but we’re thinking about it. There are two time trials in the Tour this year, and then a stage around Troyes with gravel roads which is going to be spectacular.

“We’re going to sit down soon with the UCI, ASO, and the teams to discuss if it’s worthwhile. That seems to be the case, so we’re going to think about how to do it in a safe way.”

While safety is paramount – I’m not sure how Jonas Vingegaard would feel if his Tour chances were scuppered by a drone running out of battery and following into his front wheel – Forestier also believes that any use of drones will be merely to complement the normal TV footage, putting the viewers in the “rider’s shoes”.

“We need to think about the best way to put them in place,” he said. “But, whatever the case, drones are an excellent way to make the product as beautiful as possible.”

11 March 2024, 14:56
How Taiwan became the hub of the bike industry

Why is the East Asian island of Taiwan such a massive player in global bike manufacturing, and what does it mean for the rest of us? Steve Thomas investigates…

2024 Taiwan bike industry Steve Thomas - 8

> Go East! Find out how Taiwan became the hub of the bike industry

11 March 2024, 14:24
More celebrities taking on epic cycling challenges for Red Nose Day: The Saturdays member and Radio 1 DJ Mollie King sets off on 500km ride from London to Hull (via Manchester)

But can Mollie make it to Hull in time for Saturday(s)?

Alright, I’ll get my coat.

Well, let’s just hope the former Strictly semi-finalist receives a warmer welcome from the Great British public during her 500km charity ride north than the young fella (and Jermaine Jenas) who took part in a similar charity cycle for Children in Need back in November…

> Cancer-surviving young cyclist takes on Children in Need charity ride – and gets branded a “selfish a***hole” by motorists for riding three abreast

11 March 2024, 13:54
So Remco, how’d you spend the day after Paris-Nice?

Something tells me yesterday won’t be the last time we’ll see Evenepoel fighting for the win on the hills around Nice this year…

(And yes, before you point out how well Vingegaard and Pogačar are going, I could just be referring to the Tour’s final time trial stage, and not the overall GC battle. But then again, who’d rule him out of being in contention for yellow after three weeks in France?)

11 March 2024, 13:17
Irish police officer suspended for three years cleared of wrongdoing having given unclaimed bicycle to “vulnerable and isolated” elderly man for transport during the pandemic

A police officer in Ireland has been cleared of five disciplinary charges at an inquiry having been suspended for three years after giving one of many unclaimed bicycles at his police station to a “vulnerable and isolated” elderly man who was struggling for transport during the Covid pandemic.

Garda (wikimedia commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

Read more: > Irish police officer suspended for three years cleared of wrongdoing having given unclaimed bicycle to “vulnerable and isolated” elderly man for transport during the pandemic

11 March 2024, 12:56
Ah, so that’s how you tape hundreds of bars a day…

It may be lightning fast, but is it the right way? (Ducks for cover to avoid bar tape debate…)

11 March 2024, 12:24
Greater Manchester bikes on trams trial
“Supervised” bikes on trams trial begins in Greater Manchester

Three months after cycling and walking campaigners complained about the apparent delay in introducing a trial enabling people to take bikes on trams in Greater Manchester – which mayor Andy Burnham promised would be brought in by the end of 2023 – a “supervised” guided pilot scheme has finally been launched.

Since the introduction of Greater Manchester’s tram network in 1992, only folding bikes have been permitted. But, as part of his 2021 election manifesto, Burnham committed to introducing trials that would allow dogs and bikes on trams, with dogs being permitted to travel on Greater Manchester’s tram network from August 2023.

> Active travel campaigners “disappointed” at apparent bikes on trams trial delay in Greater Manchester

Transport for Greater Manchester’s new “supervised” bike trial will last for four to six weeks and will see invited volunteers bring their bikes and non-standard cycles on board during off-peak times and under test conditions.

The trial will also assess the accessibility of adapted bikes used as mobility aids, scooters, and a broader range of mobility scooters that are not currently permitted, as well as studying possible accommodation for bikes at stations and stops.

Announcing the trial, Dame Sarah Storey, Greater Manchester’s Active Travel Commissioner, said in a statement: “I would like to thank Transport for Greater Manchester for progressing with the bikes on trams trial and I am looking forward to observing the study myself in the coming weeks.

“Not only will researchers carry out their study on a range of Metrolink lines and services, they will also trial different types of cycles, including non-standard ones used as mobility aids.

“A follow up report on how it’s gone will be brought to the Bee Network Committee this summer and I will be interested to read their analysis and learn more about how volunteers and tram users have found the experience.”

11 March 2024, 11:56
ICYMI: The latest episode of the road.cc Podcast has dropped, and we’re talking Wigle CRC’s “shock” demise, how the retail giant was “too good” to fail, its staff’s “hard and fast goodbye”, and – oh, those weird Visma-Lease a Bike helmets, naturally
11 March 2024, 11:29
Bourne CiCLE Festival 2019 (Cllr Martin Hill/Twitter)
Are “dedicated cycle racing facilities” our only option to save British domestic cycling? road.cc readers react to organiser’s claim that spiralling police costs and bureaucracy led to race’s cancellation

The cancellation of the National A-level Bourne CiCLE Festival race, on what would have been only its second ever edition, has once again raised the issue about spiralling police costs, road safety, local bureaucracy, and the seemingly increasingly untenable (and unsafe) nature of staging a bike race on open British roads.

Speaking to road.cc, Bourne CiCLE organiser Brian Moran said he was forced to pull the plug when informed that police costs for motorbike outriders to marshal the race would cost £35,000 – ten times the cost from five years earlier, despite the 2024 route being “simpler” to police.

> "I can't think of any British bike race that would run at a profit": Another organiser cancels cycle race amid spiralling costs

This was due to Lincolnshire Police, who provided support for the race in 2019, no longer being able to provide escort cover for the race, meaning the Central Escort Group was called on instead.

However, for the CiCLE Festival race to go ahead, the police wanted 30 police motorbikes and command cars involved, a similar level of policing as to what is used for the Tour of Britain or past RideLondon events, leading to ever spiralling costs and Moran’s sobering conclusion that he “can’t think of any bike race that would run at a profit” at the moment in Britain.

Down in the comments section, road.cc reader Cugel offered a rather thoughtful reflection on the current direction of the British domestic racing scene, and what may be needed to save it:

Now a decade or three ago, I used to road race in many club events around Northern England. It was relatively easy to organise such events then; less bureaucracy (although not free of it) but also back roads – and even town centre Sunday roads – that were extremely low-traffic, with some (such as for town centre Sunday crits) so low-traffic that it allowed road closures for a couple of hours or so.

But even then, there were traffic incidents, even when the routes were well-marshalled and the riders very considerate and adherent to the rules for such racing in traffic. It was inevitable, given the nature of racing and the nature of some loon drivers.

These days, the racers often seem less disciplined, as club etiquette and behaviours seem more me-my-I these days. In addition, traffic is heavier and the general standard of driving more aggressive in many places. Add the now large costs and additional bureaucracy and it’s easy to see why road racing on open roads has become untenable.

There is an obvious solution, which is to build dedicated cycle racing circuits. When I raced there was (and still is) a good crit circuit on the riverside in North Lancaster. The whole area is closed to traffic but is part of a wider sports facility that also has car parking and changing facilities. There’s a good case for including such dedicated cycle racing facilities in any newly proposed sports facility – built from scratch or as part of an upgrade to existing sports facilities, if land is available.

Yes, I know, not a big priority in today's broken and bust Britain. Yet it looks like the only option. And, after all, no one would propose a car racing event on open roads, would they?

What do you think? Are dedicated, safe, closed bike racing circuits the “only option” to save Britain’s flailing cycling scene? Let us know in the comments…

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for a long-form story I’ve been working on concerning the future of British cycling, coming soon!

11 March 2024, 11:11
Cyclist seriously injured in crash has bike stolen by two men who stopped to help

Police in York are investigating an opportunistic and callous bike theft which saw a young cyclist’s bicycle stolen after he crashed and suffered serious injuries.

Water End, York (Google Maps)

Read more: > Cyclist seriously injured in crash has bike stolen by two men who stopped to help

11 March 2024, 10:56
Dream Job Alert: French postal service advertising postie post… on Alpe d’Huez

Now, that would be living the dream – riding your bike up those famous 21 hairpins every day, dropping off the occasional letter, pretending you’re Pantani, or Geraint Thomas, or that mad swathes of Dutch fans are willing you on, ‘just one more parcel, you’re nearly there’…

I’d imagine it would be pretty grim in winter to be fair, especially with all the skiers.

But who do we know who’s currently unemployed (apart from obligatory white guy podcasting duties), has an intricate knowledge of Alpe d’Huez – and knows how to deal with angry customer service complaints while riding very fast up the iconic climb – and has previous experience serving another country’s postal service with unblemished distinction? (Alright, maybe I’ve gone too far there.)

alpe d'huez.jpg

Lance, get that Word document fired up, I have just the job for you…

11 March 2024, 09:53
Weekend round-up: Spiralling costs for race organisers, Paris-Nice and Tirreno recaps, renewed calls for rat-run ban, more budget reaction, e-bike fires, and more…

Well, that’s one of my favourite weekends of bike racing over for another year…

Down on the Côte d’Azur, the Race to the Sun finally, and rather belatedly, lived up to its billing, as the sodden conditions that greeted the riders for much of Paris-Nice’s closing weekend relented just in time for California-born Matteo Jorgenson to soak up the sun on the Promenade des Anglais, along with the biggest win of his career so far.

Remco Evenepoel and Matteo Jorgenson, 2024 Paris-Nice (A.S.O./Billy Ceusters)

(A.S.O./Billy Ceusters)

The 24-year-old, who moved from Movistar to Visma-Lease a Bike over the winter (draw your own conclusions there), backed up the tactical nous he displayed on Friday’s ultimately race-defining move to La Colle-sur-Loup by showing he had some of the strongest legs in the bunch, dropping his ol’ mucker and yellow jersey Brandon McNulty on the following day’s modified summit finish to La Madone d’Utelle by 19 seconds to close the gap between the American pair to just four seconds ahead of yesterday’s always explosive final stage around Nice.

And, as Remco Evenepoel Remco’d the bunch to pieces on the series of short, stinging climbs, Jorgenson (after they’d finally dispatched Aleksandr Vlasov) was the only one who could follow, as an isolated McNulty – his UAE Team Emirates squad having a badly timed off day – toiled almost two minutes behind.

Remco Evenepoel and Matteo Jorgenson, 2024 Paris-Nice (A.S.O./Billy Ceusters)

(A.S.O./Billy Ceusters)

By the final steep climb of the Col des Quatre Chemins, Evenepoel – who started the day over half a minute back on his American rival – was resigned to his fate (a stage win in this case), as the Visma rider held tight to swap his white jersey for a yellow one, and cement his stage racing credentials in the archetypal stage racing team.

And speaking of which – Jorgenson’s Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard blew everyone away again on Saturday’s summit finish at Monte Petrano to wrap up his first ever Tirreno-Adriatico GC title by almost a minute and a half over Juan Aysuso. Watch out, Pog.

Jonas Vingegaard, 2024 Tirreno-Adriatico (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

(Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

And away from the glamour of the pro peloton, the organiser of the National A-level Bourne CiCLE Festival race, which was supposed to be reappearing on the calendar for the first time since its inaugural edition in 2019, has confirmed the event’s cancellation, citing spiralling police costs and bureaucracy, as yet another British bike race bites the dust.

Bourne CiCLE Festival 2019 (Cllr Martin Hill/Twitter)

> "I can't think of any British bike race that would run at a profit": Another organiser cancels cycle race amid spiralling costs

Brian Moran's event, part of the wider Bourne Festival of Wheels first held in the Lincolnshire market town in September 2019, will not be returning this year, the organiser being forced to pull the plug when informed that police costs for motorbike outriders to marshal the race would cost £35,000, ten times the £3,500 cost five years earlier, that despite the 2024 route being “simpler”.

Meanwhile, another shocking close call incident in Richmond Park, involving a young family this time, has led to renewed calls for through traffic to be banned from the London park.

Richmond Park close pass (@ohbee07/Twitter)

> "Disgraceful that vulnerable road users have to put up with this": Renewed call from cyclists for drivers to be banned from using popular park as rat-run

New figures have also revealed that e-bike fires led to 11 deaths in the UK last year, amid calls for tighter regulations, while the co-founder of Frog Bikes joined the line to criticise Jeremy Hunt’s budget, which he says did little to encourage children to cycle.

> "It is almost like having an unexploded bomb in your house": New figures reveal 11 deaths from e-bike fires in UK last year, as MPs call for tighter regulations

> "We would have liked to see more going towards cycling": Frog Bikes co-founder disappointed by little "encouraging kids to cycle" in budget

> Cyclist injured by homemade nail trap, warns local riders of hidden danger on popular trail after suffering puncture wound

> Near Miss of the Day 895: Cyclist close passed by multiple drivers in space of seconds, including shocker from lorry driver

> Storck claims Aerfast.5 is the "fastest road bike ever released", Prologo's 149g 3D-printed saddle and G's new Quocs + train with pros on BKOOL, Merida, MAAP and MET

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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14 comments

Avatar
don simon fbpe | 3 months ago
0 likes

Quote:

But can Mollie make it to Hull in time for Saturday(s)?

Alright, I’ll get my coat.

I took an educated guess but had to Google for confirmation. This makes me happy.

Avatar
Steve K replied to don simon fbpe | 3 months ago
0 likes

Not sure what route she's taking, but it can't be a very direct one if it's 500km.

Avatar
don simon fbpe replied to Steve K | 3 months ago
1 like

I suspect it will be passing all the major conurbations for as many people to see her and dip into their pockets to subsidise the government.

Avatar
dubwise | 3 months ago
0 likes

So yesterday's race, Ronde Van Drenthe, Canyon Sram only have 4 riders in it.

The question is why were they not be excluded from the race as Cynisca Cycling at the Argenta Classic race were?

(https://road.cc/content/news/womens-cycling-team-suspended-uci-fraud-306967)

Is it the usual?  One rule for the big teams and a different one for the small teams?

Avatar
Paul J | 3 months ago
4 likes

If you have a palmares like Kelly, Strava KOMs are going to be laughable. Why would someone of that stature want to waste any mental energy on Strava KOMs?  1

Avatar
Hirsute | 3 months ago
27 likes

Nothing to do with cycling but had to post this gem

"Lee Anderson defects from the Conservatives to Reform, a move that has the rare effect of boosting the average IQ of both parties."

Avatar
Steve K | 3 months ago
3 likes

Quote:

Well, there you have it, the King has spoken – your KOMs are all worthless.

I don't think that's what he is saying at all.  He is just saying the conditions in which a KOM are set are likely very different to the conditions you are riding in a week long stage race, so they are not a good guide to what's likely to happen.

(I realise I am taking a tongue in cheek article too seriously.)

Avatar
Kapelmuur replied to Steve K | 3 months ago
4 likes

A few years ago I watched the Tour of Britain peloton riding a short but steep climb in Cheshire.   I recognised Niki Terpstra, an early example of a pro who made his Strava public.   He was riding sitting up chatting to a teammate and holding a bidon in one hand and an energy bar in the other.

Some weeks later I was in a café near the climb listening to a guy on an adjacent table telling his pals how he was quicker on the climb than the Paris-Roubaix winner.

Avatar
Jakrayan replied to Kapelmuur | 3 months ago
5 likes

I unwittingly nabbed a KOM on a section of cobbles used by the TdF the following day, albeit ridden in reverse. The KOM was previously held by Romain Bardet, so there for the world to see (if they cared) was me in 1st place and a rather well-known WT pro and French darling relegated to 3rd as my teammate rode it with me. 

Of course, he had almost certainly been on a recce of this important stage and riding slowly back to the start of the sector before riding it harder the 'proper' way, but I didn't care, I was definitely going to have that one!!

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Steve K | 3 months ago
2 likes

Steve K wrote:

I don't think that's what he is saying at all.  He is just saying the conditions in which a KOM are set are likely very different to the conditions you are riding in a week long stage race, so they are not a good guide to what's likely to happen.

(I realise I am taking a tongue in cheek article too seriously.)

I've long thought that Strava segments should record the prevailing wind conditions for KOMs

Avatar
Steve K replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
0 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

Steve K wrote:

I don't think that's what he is saying at all.  He is just saying the conditions in which a KOM are set are likely very different to the conditions you are riding in a week long stage race, so they are not a good guide to what's likely to happen.

(I realise I am taking a tongue in cheek article too seriously.)

I've long thought that Strava segments should record the prevailing wind conditions for KOMs

I - and I think Kelly - more meant the difference between "just blasting up this hill to try and set a KOM" and "racing up this hill after 6 back to back racing days".  But I agree with you.

I also wish the weather data on strava would do more than just give the weather when you set off.  If you set off at 8am in the morning and ride 100 miles from point to point, then the weather for most of the ride will be very different.

Avatar
Paul J replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

I've long thought that Strava segments should record the prevailing wind conditions for KOMs

Sounds like you need to subscribe to something like mywindsock. It can do the relevant calculations and add some relevant stats to your strava ride note.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Paul J | 3 months ago
0 likes

Paul J wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

I've long thought that Strava segments should record the prevailing wind conditions for KOMs

Sounds like you need to subscribe to something like mywindsock. It can do the relevant calculations and add some relevant stats to your strava ride note.

I've got https://www.activitybot.cloud/ set up so that it records start and end weather conditions and puts a weather emoji onto the ride description, but I was thinking it should be more for KOMs.

e.g.

Night Ride ⛅

Start: Mist, 5°C, Feels like 2°C, Humidity 90%, Wind 11mph from E
End: Mist, 6°C, Feels like 2°C, Humidity 91%, Wind 11mph from E

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
2 likes

Nice to see no nonsense about internal cable routing for the King!

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