Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Cycling boom continues as insurance claims for entry-level bikes increase; Pogačar’s team explains Netflix absence; How's my driving?; All the young Merckxes; Carlton Kirby: popstar?; Yates and Becks; Fast and Furious 2022 + more on the live blog

It’s Tuesday and Ryan Mallon is back for another stint in the live blog saddle before Dan takes over for the rest of the week
15 March 2022, 17:35
Battle of the tridents: Pogačar versus Formolo

You versus the guy she tells you not to worry about…

15 March 2022, 17:08
Remco Evenepoel (screenshot Belgian TV)
Lefevere: Pogačar is the new Merckx, not Remco

As Sam Bennett will attest, Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl boss Patrick Lefevere isn’t particularly known for publicly defending his riders during difficult moments.

The breakdown of the Irish sprinter’s relationship with his team manager last year was played out in the column pages of Het Nieuwsblad, where Lefevere repeatedly questioned Bennett’s mental strength, even comparing his move to former team Bora-Hansgrohe to “women who return home after domestic abuse”.

Controversy never seems to stray too far from Lefevere, who co-founded the Quick Step team in 2003. In September last year he eschewed the idea of running a women’s pro team, saying “I’m not the OCMW” (a Belgian welfare organisation) – a quip later contradicted by his investment in development team NXTG Racing in December.

At the start of Remco Evenepoel’s career in 2019, Lefevere suggested the then-19-year-old was “too fat”.

Despite Evenepoel’s success since then, including the Clásica San Sebastián, the Tour of Poland, two GC wins at the Tour of Algarve, and medals at the world and European TT championships (not forgetting his horrific crash while favourite at Il Lombardia in 2020), Lefevere has again criticised the young Belgian prodigy after a relatively disappointing performance at Tirreno-Adriatico last week.

Evenepoel looked in fine form for most of the week in Italy, and was only nine seconds behind Tadej Pogačar heading into the final weekend. However, he struggled on the tough Monte Carpegna climb and was dropped with 35km to go, eventually losing over four minutes to the flying Slovenian.

Remco Evenepoel at Tirreno Adriatico 2022 (picture credit RCS Sport).JPG

Though Lefevere, along with many in the cycling world, has long tipped Evenepoel to be a future grand tour winner, this week the Quick Step boss told Het Laatste Nieuws that he now thought that the long, hard climbs that characterise the three-week tours are beyond the 22-year-old.

“They will probably never become Remco’s best friends,” Lefevere said of the high mountains.

“He keeps questioning himself and everything he does, handles the situation very well and has one thing in mind: to keep working hard.

“Whether there is a strong classic one-day racer in him, rather than a Grand Tour rider? That should become apparent very soon. But what if he is also dropped in Flèche-Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège? What are they going to make of it then?”

Lefevere also seemed keen to downplay the stratospheric expectations placed on Evenepoel’s shoulders since he burst onto the scene as a junior, especially in comparison to the sport’s current superstar Pogačar.

He said: “The fact is, anyone who made him ‘the new Merckx’ was grossly mistaken in person. Not him, but Tadej Pogačar is ‘the new Merckx’. That’s clear now, I think.”

Ah, at least that’s cleared up one thing Patrick. Can we send Tadej his ‘New Merckx’ mug now?

What do you mean, Yaroslav Popovych still has it?

15 March 2022, 16:19
Any plans for Saturday?

Speaking of sitting on the sofa all day watching Eurosport:

Of course we all know that – most of the time (2013 and 2014 being notable exceptions) – you can tune into Milan-San Remo for the final two hours or so, safe in the knowledge you haven’t missed much.

But, like Katy, I have set Saturday aside, plans postponed, snacks prepared, for all 300 kilometres of La Classicissima. And then maybe a quick spin on the bike afterwards before it gets dark…

15 March 2022, 15:21
Eurosport and Cry: the new pop masterpiece, feat. Carlton Kirby

If you sometimes think ‘you know what professional cycling is really missing? An emo rap/Euro dance/sad boy pop anthem about watching races on Eurosport, featuring the dulcet tones of Carlton Kirby’ – you’re in luck.

This atmospheric little ditty is the brainchild of Killow, who says he made it as a joke for his university course before later posting it on Reddit.

However, the tasty track (these are all words the cool kids use these days, right?) garnered wider attention yesterday when Killow – who posts bike-related tweets under the puntastic name Clément Shampoossin – shared it on a Twitter thread about cycling content creators.

The song’s surprisingly earworm melody and very relatable lyrics – centred on the chorus ‘I don’t wanna get drunk, I don’t wanna get high, I just wanna watch Eurosport and cry’ – have ensured that the tune has already become an anthem for the cycling Twitterati.

Even Carlton himself, whose commentary features heavily throughout the song, called it ‘pop-tastic’. And there’s no higher praise than that.

Apologies to everyone who, like me, now has the song stuck in their head for the rest of the day.

‘When my favourite riders get dropped, oh my, 40k to go, GC goodbye…’

15 March 2022, 14:15

Reminds me of my old winter bike and its horribly mangled bottom bracket. It’s still on the turbo, mind you… 

15 March 2022, 14:10
Tadej Pogacar, Stage 19 of 2021 (picture credit Tour de France A.S.O./Pauline Ballet)
Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates squad explains reasons behind Netflix omission

When it was announced earlier this month that the 2022 Tour de France could potentially become the subject of a behind-the-scenes Netflix documentary, the cycling world was shocked to find that UAE Team Emirates – the home of double Tour winner and the sport’s dominant rider Tadej Pogačar – would not be one of the eight teams featured in the series.

The teams reported to be in talks to participate in the documentary – which many have likened to Netflix’s successful Formula 1 Drive to Survive series – include AG2R Citroën, Alpecin-Fenix, EF Education EasyPost, Ineos Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma, Movistar, Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl, Movistar, and Alpecin-Fenix.

Last week, Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevre confirmed that his team would be taking part, with filming already having started at its service course. The Belgian said the series had the potential to take the sport “to the next level”. 

2021 Tour de France Luz Ardiden Pogacar ASO:Charly Lopez - 1

However, UAE Team Emirates’ chief operating officer Andrea Agostini has cited logistical concerns and an indifference to the potential for added publicity as the main reasons behind the decision to decline Netflix’s offer, though he did leave the door open for involvement in future series.

Speaking to VeloNews, Agostini said: “What I can say is that it’s a really good project. It could bring a lot of benefits to the cycling world but it throws up a lot of complications for us. 

“We agreed with our owners that this wasn’t a priority for us, but maybe in the future, if Netflix leaves the door open for us, then we could jump in. But at this moment it’s not our priority.

“It’s also a matter of logistics. To have a cameraman around you all the way through the Tour de France, before the race, too, and when every team is already full. We have our own camera person, photographer and media person, so the space on the bus isn’t so big. Sometimes having people from outside, it’s not so easy to manage. There’s no one particular reason, so maybe next year.”

> Netflix and cols: Tour de France docuseries on the way? 

While a Tour de France docuseries missing the sport’s biggest star may seem incongruous, Agostini pointed out that Mercedes and Ferrari, two of Formula 1’s most recognisable brands, did not appear in the first season of Drive to Survive, before joining the show later.

He also argued that Pogačar’s position at the top of the sport, and the likelihood that the Slovenian will once again be fighting for (and let’s face it, probably winning) the yellow jersey in July, meant that UAE Team Emirates were not as desperate as other teams for the exposure the series will inevitably bring.

“It’s the same with Mercedes and Ferrari in Drive to Survive. We have a great balance right now with staff and riders, and everyone is super happy and motivated.

“Sometimes introducing something new could be dangerous. We pay a lot of attention to things like this because we’re a perfect machine and the atmosphere is so good,” he said.

“A lot of teams jump in because they need that kind of visibility. We honestly don’t need it. If we’re lucky enough to fight for victory at the Tour again, we don’t need that visibility.

“I spoke to colleagues [in other teams] a lot before we made a decision and they had the same doubts as me. There’s obviously nothing to hide but it’s really important to have that balance inside the team. Other teams said to me that they understand our position but they don’t have the visibility that we do.

“There are teams in the Tour de France who have not had the same exposure as us in the last two years, and for them it’s really important.”

15 March 2022, 12:43
“Oh that’s my dad”: Geraint Thomas’ two-year-old son spots a mural of his famous father while out for a spin
15 March 2022, 12:10

Top tip – never try to ride a Boris Bike the wrong way down a one-way street while holding a coffee in one hand…

Looks like he didn’t spill a drop though.

Top marks for the delicious irony of this reply, from a self-proclaimed ‘outspoken and opinionated car loving golfer’:

He must have been hungry when typing that. 

15 March 2022, 11:36
Yates and Becks

How about this for a photo?

Just think of all the world-class sporting success achieved by those in it: GC wins at the Vuelta a España, Tirreno-Adriatico, Catalunya, UAE Tour, top fives and stage wins at the Tour and Giro, best young rider at the Tour, San Sebastian… oh, and some bloke from Chingford who used to kick a ball about.

In all seriousness, I’m a bit annoyed at Simon and Adam. We’re born only a few months apart, we’re United fans, and we all love cycling.

Yet they got to meet David Beckham as kids and went on to become two of the best cyclists in the world. Life isn’t fair sometimes…

15 March 2022, 10:33
How’s my driving? Eh, not that great actually…
15 March 2022, 09:53
Cycling boom continues: Specialist cycle insurer Bikmo says 57 percent of claim pay-outs in 2021 were for bikes worth under £500

It seems that the great national bike boom which began during the first Covid lockdowns looks set to continue as more and more people take to two wheels on entry-level or lower-value bikes.

That’s according to specialist cycle insurer Bikmo – the company’s data for 2021 shows that the number of claims made increased by eight percent from the year before, and that 57 percent of claim pay-outs were for bikes and gear worth under £500.

Those figures represent a huge shift from 2020, when the highest percentage of claims (33 percent) were in the £1,000 to £2,500 bracket.

The number of commuter bikes, including e-bikes, dealt with by the insurer also increased significantly during 2021, which Bikmo says is down to people returning to their places of work, and seeking “a more sustainable and convenient way to do so”.

Of course, as the popularity of cycling continues to rise, so will the number of thefts – stolen bikes and gear accounted for 53 percent of claims in 2021, up from 48 percent in 2021.

“2021 was another huge year for cycling, as more people got out and experienced the convenience and joy of travelling by bike,” Bikmo’s CEO David George said.

“As cycling continues to soar in popularity we will inevitably see thefts continue to rise as the dominant reason for cycle claims.

“However, with the increase in both long-life tracking technology such as the AirTag and electric bikes that can both power and store tracking devices, we hope the UK will follow the experience of the Netherlands where up to 80 percent of tracked bikes that are stolen are recovered.”

15 March 2022, 09:18
Fast and Furious 2022: Oudenaarde Drift (starring Vin PowerGel)

I’ll confess – I don’t think I’ve ever sat through more than five minutes of a Fast and Furious film (shocking, I know).

But I could be talked into watching this one:

Perhaps Netflix could launch it alongside the much-anticipated upcoming Tour de France doc

Full marks for reader chrisonatrike for this terrific casting suggestion:

Looking forward to seeing Vin Powergel appearing in a new Fast and Furious.

Ryan joined 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.

Latest Comments