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“I’ve been drunk 12 out of the last 14 nights”: Geraint Thomas on winter “blowouts” and “avoiding the scales”; Cyclocross rider casually pops his shoulder back in after crash; UCI threatens worlds ban for World Cup skipping riders + more on the live blog

It’s a stormy start to the week for many of us, so why not settle in alongside Ryan Mallon for a cosy day of cycling news and views on the Monday live blog?

SUMMARY

13 November 2023, 09:06
Geraint Thomas Charitable Trust (Press release)
“I’ve been drunk 12 out of the last 14 nights”: Geraint Thomas on winter “blowouts”, normality, and “avoiding the scales” during the off-season

While pro cycling’s new breed of super talents appear to have opted for a monk-like existence all year round, with the winter months punctuated by staggeringly fast runs and stints on the ‘cross bike (more on that later), it’s fair to say that grand tour veteran Geraint Thomas belongs to the more old school variety of bike racer.

Because, when he’s not supporting 5,000 children, many of whom are disabled or from disadvantaged backgrounds, to get into cycling, there is nothing – as avid readers of his According to G series of literary masterpieces will know – the 37-year-old former Tour de France winner loves more than going out on the lash in Cardiff once the cycling season is over.

> Geraint Thomas to support 5,000 children to get cycling by 2028, with projects to deliver cycling programmes to disabled children, young carers as well as for those in deprived areas

“The last two weeks, honestly, I think I’ve been drunk 12 out of the 14 nights,” Thomas, who recently signed a new two-year deal with the Ineos Grenadiers, told the Times recently.

“Since coming back to Cardiff, it’s been mad. That’s the way you meet your mates. Like, ‘Oh, do you wanna catch-up? Yeah, let’s go for dinner, or just go down the pub’.

“I don’t drink during the season, apart from the odd drink, but in the off-season you let yourself go. For sure, the tolerance [to alcohol] is lower at the start, but I feel like I have a good drinking condition now,” he added, which – let’s face it – is the kind of sporting condition most of us are more likely to aspire to during the depths of winter.

“I don’t know if it’s a British, or an Aussie mentality, the culture of just going out and getting drunk when you’re young. That sticks with you and that’s the way I socialise. You go to the pub, meet your mates, have a few pints and go home. And it’s a knock-on effect – you have a few drinks, get the munchies and the next day you’re hungover and you want something salty, bacon or something.

“That blowout – that real normality – is what I need, because now I’m like, ‘Mate, I really need to just get on my bike and get structured.’”

Ah Geraint butt, he really is just like us.

Geraint Thomas (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

 (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

“To have those periods of real intensity, focus and dedication from November to whatever the big goal of the year is, to do that I kind of need these blowouts, where I switch off from the whole cycling world,” he continued. “I speak to some cyclists because they are my mates but I don’t think about cycling. I don’t have anything to do with it, really.”

In the interview, Thomas also noted the generational divide that has opened up between the hyper-focused Gen Zers now dominating the pro scene, and the old timers who need to switch off from cycling’s relentless pressures for at least a few weeks a year – a potentially pivotal factor in obtaining the career longevity the likes of Thomas have achieved.

“I feel like I’ve been able to enjoy my time,” he said. “It’s rare now that a young rider actually has a drink. Not that you’ve got to have a drink to have a good time. It just shows the difference in the mentality — everything is measured, and they’re all on it 12 months of the year. Even in the off-season they still ride their bikes or they’re running marathons.”

> Cyclists who run: From Pidcock and MVDP to Yates, Ovett, and, naturally, Chris Froome

Of course, winter blowouts also mean one thing: winter weight gain, something Thomas described as his “old foe”.

He told the Times that he reaches 75kg five weeks into his off-season, seven kilos heavier than his ideal grand tour condition, which he hopes to attain once more in May for another crack at the “tempting” Giro d’Italia, the scene of his agonising last-gasp defeat to Primož Roglič on Monte Lussari earlier this year.

Geraint Thomas, stage 20 of the 2023 Giro d’Italia (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

(Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

“Now I’m at my biggest, I avoid the scales,” he says. “When you get older, I think it feels like groundhog day. Here we go again, another year where I’m going to have to knuckle down. The first bit is OK, say when you get to 70/71 kilos. It’s the final kilo and a half which is the hard bit.

“It’s not like you can just do it over a couple of weeks and, bam, it’s gone. That makes it harder. If it was like Ricky Hatton, nail it and then it’s off… it’s the fact that you’ve got to keep it. Even in the race you’re watching what you’re eating. It’s a mental fatigue.”

However, Thomas also pointed out that the days of mental anguish brought about by Team Sky’s penchant for infamous low-carb five-hour rides fuelled by only an omelette are now a thing of the past.

“Having a bit of a crazy diet back then definitely affected your mood, but that’s a big change. We still have a few low-carb rides, but now I tend to fuel the rides a lot more. Then I’m not as hungry off the bike, so I eat less. When you’re riding, that’s when your metabolism’s working and you’re just burning [weight]. That’s the new thinking, it has been working,” he says.

“It’s the last two years that it’s really changed. In most races we are eating 80 to 120 grammes [of carbohydrates] an hour. The mindset is the biggest challenge. Having that old-school approach for so long, you’re now eating quite a lot and to get your head around it was a challenge. Being able to adapt and move on with innovations, that’s allowed me to stay competitive.”

13 November 2023, 15:55
Miguel Angel Lopez on his way to winning Stage 17 of the 2020 Tour de France (picture credit Alex Whitehead SWpix.com)
Ivan Basso confirms Miguel Ángel López will NOT be joining Polti-Kometa in 2024

Well, it was a fun few hours while it lasted, but the rumours that emerged over the weekend linking currently banned and exiled climber Miguel Ángel López with a move to Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador’s Polti-Kometa team for next season have been definitively quashed by the squad’s Italian boss.

While the Tour de France stage winner’s signature would have cemented the team’s commitment to upholding the 1990s pro cycling heritage of its new title sponsor Polti, Basso – who knows a thing or two about doping bans – today firmly denied the rumours, telling Tuttobiciweb: “We all know Miguel Ángel López is a good rider and a very strong climber, but he was never part of our plans. Within Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team we never spoke about him as a team.”

Ivan Basso leads the charge, Vuelta 2013 S8 (© Unipublic:Graham Watson)

Basso drives the group, including a young Thibaut Pinot and a struggling Nico Roche, at the 2013 Vuelta (Unipublic:Graham Watson)

So that’s our hopes for a Quintana-López redemption duel at next year’s Giro down the drain then…

The news also means that López’s exile from European racing continues, after the grand tour podium finisher was provisionally suspended by the UCI in July due to a potential doping violation allegedly committed in the weeks before the 2022 Giro d’Italia.

> Miguel Angel López victim of kidnap and robbery

The mercurial Colombian climber was sacked by Astana in December last year after the team claimed that it “had discovered new elements” linking him to alleged doping doctor Marcos Maynar.

These “new elements”, Spanish newspaper ABC reported at the time, relate to a document claiming that López received a dose of menotropin, a human growth hormone that increases muscle mass and eliminate fluids, before the start of last year’s Giro in Hungary, a race he withdrew from on stage four.

López was initially, and briefly, suspended by Astana last July after reports emerged claiming that the Colombian was being investigated for his alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring in Spain, led by physiologist Maynar, who was arrested in May and charged with crimes against public health, drug trafficking, and money laundering as part of the Spanish police’s Operation Ilex investigation.

López was welcomed back into the Astana fold a few weeks later, and finished fourth overall at the 2022 Vuelta a España. He was eventually sacked when the fresh allegations emerged in December and has spent 2023 dominating the South American racing scene for Team Medellín–EPM until his suspension.

13 November 2023, 11:10
Lance Armstrong’s former boss Johan Bruyneel brands David Lappartient a “dictator” after UCI president threatens to ban cyclo-cross riders who skip World Cup events from world championships

Folks, Johan Bruyneel has been on his phone again this morning – and he’s been pretty scathing of UCI president David Lappartient’s latest controversial comments on cyclocross riders picking and choosing what events they wish to target (the nerve!), comparing Lappartient’s threat to exclude riders who skip World Cup events from the world cyclocross championships to the actions of puppy-gifting Turkmenistan dictator Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

Yep, just a normal day in cycling.

UCI president Lappartient has been fiercely criticised over the weekend for what many perceive to be an attack on the sport’s up-and-coming young star Thibau Nys (son of legendary ‘crosser Sven), who missed Sunday’s World Cup race in Dendermonde citing tiredness following his first full pro year on the road with Lidl-Trek.

Thibau Nys (Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

(Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

“Nys had a bad result at the European Cyclocross Championships and says he is tired, but why would you ride in Niel [the Superprestige event] on Saturday?” Lappartient said in an interview with DirectVélo.

“If you're tired, you don't ride. Now Thibau Nys is someone who needs cyclocross, but he is not the only one who ignores World Cups. The World Cup is not a ranking from which you can simply choose to your heart's content.”

The Frenchman continued: “If a cyclo-cross rider prefers a national competition while there is a World Cup, he will not participate in the next World Cup and therefore also not the cyclocross World Championships.

“The World Cup is not a competition where you can choose what you want to ride. Everyone just has to participate.”

While many on social media criticised Lappartient’s focus on the likes of Nys, while the sport’s two biggest names Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert are yet to even glance at a knobbly tyre this winter, with a limited ‘cross campaign scheduled in for the two multidisciplinary riders at the moment.

“As far as I understand, David Lappartient wants to massacre the concept of multidisciplinary riders, after all. It is inhumane to oblige the Nys-WvA-MvdP trio to do a mandatory 14-round World Cup after 70-80 race days and countless road training sessions at full intensity,” cycling fan Bence wrote.

Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel at the 2009 Tour Down Under (licensed CC BY 2.0 on Wikimedia Commons by Paul Coster)

Former US Postal DS Bruyneel – who knows a thing or two about cycling dictators – went even further, writing on the social media platform this morning: “[The UCI president] starts to show personality traits similar to the former Turkmenistan dictator Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow (whom he awarded the ‘UCI Order’ in 2020, the highest possible honour in cycling!).

“Or is it perhaps possible he is too confused and gives comments in interviews on subjects at moments that, due to his extremely busy agenda (holding an official leading position at 10 different organisations!), he isn’t able to see the forest for the trees anymore? Working 85 hours a week takes its toll on the mind after all…”

Shots fired by the Hog.

13 November 2023, 15:17
More random pro cycling content: Rick Zabel auditions for the Barbie Movie sequel

Margot Robbie, eat your heart out…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rick Zabel (@rickzabel)

13 November 2023, 14:55
Cyclist and Palace of Westminster (copyright Simon MacMichael)
“We’re sorry to hear Jesse Norman will no longer be championing cycling as part of the government”: Cycling UK react to active travel minister’s departure during reshuffle

While ‘sadness’ may not be the first word that springs to mind when describing this morning’s cabinet reshuffle, Cycling UK has expressed its disappointment at the resignation of decarbonisation and technology minister Jesse Norman from the Department for Transport, who the charity described as one of the government’s cycling champions.

“We’re sorry to hear Jesse Norman will no longer be championing cycling as part of the government,” Cycling UK’s director of external affairs Sarah McMonagle said in a statement today.

“Jesse has overseen significant changes in the government’s cycling policy – both the past highs and the recent lows. While delivering current policy has been compromised by recent funding cuts, his commitment to cycling has never been in doubt.

“On behalf of everyone at Cycling UK, I’d like to thank him for his work and we hope he’ll continue to be a strong champion for cycling from the backbenches.”

13 November 2023, 14:28
Strictly Wout Dancing

After first being spotted on Friday taking in the Colombian soaps during his busman’s holiday at Rigoberto Urán’s gran fondo, Wout van Aert  graciously decided to supply us with even more random pro cycling content over the weekend – by showcasing his best awkward dad dancing skills at a black tie function the night before the EF Education-EasyPost rider’s hotly anticipated Giro de Rigo group ride:

Wout for Strictly 2024?

13 November 2023, 13:55
Bereaved partner of rising cycling star killed in collision warns roads are “like a war zone” for cyclists

The partner of a rising star of the Irish racing scene killed in a collision with an oncoming driver at the start of summer has spoken out about the “incredibly difficult” aftermath of her death, and said that even before the crash he saw the roads as “like a war zone” for cyclists.

Gabriele Glodenyte, winner of the 2022 Cycling Ireland National Road Series, was killed while training with her partner Seán Landers near Garristown, north Co Dublin, in May. The pair had stopped at the roadside away from each other, with Landers arriving on the scene moments later to see a driver getting out of their car alongside Gabriele’s “really messed up” bike, and the cyclist nowhere to be seen.

In a tragic and moving interview with The Irish Times, Landers recalled finding Gabriele in a ditch and doing CPR during the wait for an ambulance, his motivation for telling his story a desire to see the devastating impact of road collisions laid bare.

Gabriele Glodenyte wins a stage of the Newry Three Day in 2022 (credit - Sharon McFarland)

Read more: > Bereaved partner of rising cycling star killed in collision warns roads are “like a war zone” for cyclists

13 November 2023, 13:11
Cycling commentators during an early season race 🤝 Political commentators during a cabinet reshuffle
13 November 2023, 12:56
Just in case you were wondering what Geraint Thomas having a “winter blowout” looks like…
13 November 2023, 12:33
“Keen cyclist” active travel minister Jesse Norman loses position in cabinet reshuffle

It may not reach Braverman or Cameron levels of news worthiness, but one notable casualty (at least to us cyclists) of Rishi Sunak’s not-desperate-at-all cabinet reshuffle this morning is Jesse Norman, Minister of State at the Department for Transport whose responsibilities included, until today anyway, active travel.

A self-proclaimed “keen cyclist”, today’s reshuffle brings an end to Norman’s second stint at the DfT, the first of which saw him accused of “headline grabbing hypocrisy” by road.cc contributor Laura Laker for announcing a review into dangerous or careless cycling laws in the wake of the Charlie Allison case.

Just last month, Norman confirmed in parliament that the government has no plans for cyclists to be subject to compulsory registration, pointing out that such a move would “restrict people’s ability to cycle” and “mean that many would choose other modes of transport instead, with negative impacts for congestion, pollution, and health.”

13 November 2023, 11:58
Mixed fortunes for British champions at Dendermonde World Cup, as Zoe Bäckstedt takes first elite podium and Cameron Mason rues broken spokes

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s third round of the UCI World Cup (you know, the cyclocross series everyone wants to ride all the time, eh David?) in Dendermonde, 19-year-old Zoe Bäckstedt continued her seemingly inexorable rise to the top of the sport by comfortably hanging on for her first elite podium place, the British champion finishing a minute and a half down on the rampant Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado.

Boosted by her increasingly strong performances at the highest level, Bäckstedt reiterated her desire to take home the U23 rainbow jersey in Tabor in February.

“Worlds have got to be on the cards for under 23,” she said after yesterday’s race. “I’d like to win the under-23 [World Cup] overall as well. But we’ve got to see how it goes first, see if I have some good races, maybe some more elite podiums, and see what it is at the end of the season.”

Things didn’t as quite to plan for the other wearer of the British bands in Dendermonde, Cameron Mason, whose impressive start to the ‘cross season (including a silver medal at last week’s worlds) was frustrated by a series of broken spokes early on in the men’s race, which forced him to run to the pit from the very first corner.

Nevertheless, the 23-year-old once again demonstrated his strength by rapidly riding himself back into contention, before eventually fading to 11th, a minute down on winner Pim Ronhaar.

“Two things are constant, you can’t control everything but you can control your attitude towards it,” Mason wrote on social media after his eventful race.

“Lost a lot of spokes in the start. Long run to the pits, then catch up game. Came as close to the front as I could then the lights went out. I know what’s possible, now we wait.”

13 November 2023, 11:47
Council insists cycle lane extension will make “popular route” safer, as resident accuses local authority of misleading usage figures

Ah, don’t you just love it when residents take it upon themselves to count the number of cyclists using a bike lane? 

Clifton Drive North cycle lane (Lancashire County Council)

> Council insists cycle lane extension will make “popular route” safer, as resident accuses local authority of misleading usage figures

13 November 2023, 10:25
How to casually pop your shoulder back in after a crash at a cyclocross race, Lars van der Haar style

For most, let’s face it, normal people, a crash during a cyclocross race – especially one that leads you to suspect that your shoulder may no longer be located in its rightful position – usually results in a swift exit from the course, a nice hot shower, and some extra time stewing on the sofa at home.

But not for Lars van der Haar.

The two-time European champion enjoyed a rapid start through the horrendous, soul-destroying mud and ridiculous mounds of Saturday’s Superprestige Niel race.

However, a heavy crash on a particularly deep mud pool saw him lose the lead to Baloise Trek Lions teammate Joris Nieuwenhuis and eventual winner Eli Iserbyt.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, another crash on the third lap prompted one of the more bizarre moments of the cyclocross season so far, as Van der Haar calmly pulled over to the side of the course before using his bike frame to casually pop his shoulder – which had been partially dislocated in the fall – back into place.

“He’s gone full Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon there!” exclaimed Eurosport commentator Marty McDonald, as Van der Haar nonchalantly continued on his way following his impromptu mid-race self-examination.

The Dutch champion would eventually, mercifully DNF, later describing the race on social media, in typical understate fashion, as “not my day”. Clearly, Lars.

Don’t try this at home, kids.

13 November 2023, 09:53
Heading into the week like…

Or: David Cameron desperately attempting to reverse the Conservative Party’s fortunes…

(Alright, that’s my last political comment of the day, I promise!)

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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15 comments

Avatar
bikeman01 | 8 months ago
0 likes

“The last two weeks, honestly, I think I’ve been drunk 12 out of the 14 nights,”

“..but I feel like I have a good drinking condition now,” 

Pretty irresponsible comments for a public figure. 

Avatar
Hirsute | 8 months ago
3 likes

Especially for wtjs !!

https://youtu.be/70Ee7zqQxx8?t=549

Avatar
wtjs replied to Hirsute | 8 months ago
1 like

Especially for wtjs !!

I haven't caught any bad police driving on camera, or you'd have seen it! I've only seen one example in Lancashire- before I got the camera.

Avatar
Tom_77 | 8 months ago
3 likes

Jesse Norman resigned as transport minister. No word yet on who will replace him.

Avatar
mattw replied to Tom_77 | 8 months ago
2 likes

Mark Harper is Secretary of State for Transport.

Jesse Norman was I think the sidekick - Minister of State.

About 10x as sensible as Mark Harper, however.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Tom_77 | 8 months ago
5 likes

What about another spin of the roundabout and bring back Suella for this? I mean, folks love a knockout on the subject of roads! And it's so easy to yank people's chains!

Or if we're having Cameron from beyond the grave of politics again why not Eric "rubber knickers" Pickles?

Avatar
Rome73 replied to chrisonabike | 8 months ago
2 likes

Isn't Cameron technically an 'unelected bureaucrat' ? Bit ironic really.  But then so was David Frost - the ultimate irony of the unelected bureaucrat complaining about 'unelected bureaucrats'. 

Avatar
IanMK replied to Tom_77 | 8 months ago
9 likes

Therese Coffey also gone. I think they'll struggle to find somebody that knows less about environmental issues that Coffey, but I'm sure they'll give it a try.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to IanMK | 8 months ago
2 likes
IanMK wrote:

I think they'll struggle to find somebody that knows less about environmental issues that Coffey, but I'm sure they'll give it a try.

Hopefully she's moving to Health?

Avatar
SimoninSpalding replied to chrisonabike | 8 months ago
4 likes

She'd already failed at that one too. Obviously didn't like what she was offered and is gone!

 

Avatar
IanMK replied to SimoninSpalding | 8 months ago
1 like

Turns out that if you do a shite job at health and social care you get a chance to try the environment.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to SimoninSpalding | 8 months ago
0 likes

Yep!  The number of twerps* who get sicced on the public is remarkable.  You wonder... is it only an odd combination of the "dead hand of bureaucracy" (as a brake on the "bright ideas" of e.g. a Matt Hancock) and the fact that people are barely in some of these positions long enough to get their name cards printed which keeps the system going?  (Coffey and health is a case in point - and the Big Issue does a good job of pointing out that ministers with responsibility for housing come and go faster than fast food outlets; albeit we've had some repeat performers).

Presumably it's mostly down to the people actually doing the job who're willing to martyr themselves...

*  Actually almost all clever people but overconfidence is a major liability when dealing with the complex.

Avatar
bigwheeler88 replied to Tom_77 | 8 months ago
1 like

Probably the next idiot working his way up the political ladder.

Avatar
henryb | 8 months ago
2 likes

Quote:

...but I don’t think about cycling. I don’t have anything to do with it, really

Reminds me of a while ago G was asked in an interview what bike he rode at home, and it turned out he didn't own a bike; he just rides whatever the team give him when he goes to a training camp or a race

Avatar
the little onion | 8 months ago
7 likes

At last, I have something in common with a Grand Tour cyclist!

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