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“Attack, attack!”: Wout van Aert and Co cheer on Australian junior racers; Bike thief sentenced to 16 years; Police investigate Jumbo sponsor fraud – cycling team ‘not involved’; Movistar doc returns to Netflix; Swift joins Ineos + more on the live blog

Nearly there… The longest week in human history is slowly drawing to a close and Ryan Mallon is in the hot seat for Thursday’s edition of the live blog
15 September 2022, 15:50
Another star in the making: Archie Ryan takes first pro win at Tour of Slovakia

Remember this date, as we may have witnessed the birth of a future star today on stage three of the Tour of Slovakia.

Ireland’s Archie Ryan, riding his first race for the Jumbo-Visma WorldTour team after moving up from the Dutch squad’s development set up, simply rode the likes of Mauri Vansevenant and Lorenzo Fortunato off his wheel on the tough cobbled ramp to the finish in Banská Štiavnica to secure what may well be the first of many pro victories.

The 20-year-old, after a few years blighted by injuries, finished an impressive fourth at last month’s Tour de l’Avenir, earning himself a call up to Jumbo-Visma’s first team for the five-day event in Slovakia. He was then strong enough to make the select front group on today’s hilly stage (while the rest of his teammates floundered in the chase) and simply proved irresistible during the uphill sprint to the line.

Judging by the response on Twitter to Ryan’s sensational debut win, Irish cycling fans have reacted to the emergence of a new star with typical composure and pragmatism.

Or not…

15 September 2022, 15:18
Belgies on Tour, episode two: Coffee stop

The boys in blue seem to be enjoying their trip Down Under so far…

… While Wout looks determined to make the most of his birthday, with his team certainly pulling out all the stops: Balloons! Biscuits! Signs! Cake!

The fact that he’s just turned 28, however, fills me with existential dread…

15 September 2022, 14:43
“We still have such a long way to go in Ireland”: Fingal bike path vandalised

This is definitely not what you want to come across on your morning commute:

The motive behind this seemingly senseless, but extremely frustrating, act of vandalism is currently unknown. While some Twitter users have suggested that it was the work of either a simple fly tipper or a particularly staunch opponent of the Green Party (whose local TD serves as a Minister in the current administration), others have pointed the finger at the anti-cycling brigade:

15 September 2022, 14:02
Man sentenced to 16 years in prison for role in bike theft ring

A bike thief in Colorado has been sentenced to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to an organised crime charge following a spate of bike shop burglaries last year.

According to Bicycle Retailer, 23-year-old Austin Butler was one of eight people indicted by the state attorney general as part of an investigation imaginatively titled ‘Operation Vicious Cycle’.

Originally charged with 25 counts, at a hearing last week Butler pleaded guilty to one count of violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, one count of second-degree burglary, and one count of aggravated motor vehicle theft.

According to the indictment last year, Butler was charged with recruiting participants into the organised crime ring.

It read: “Members of the enterprise had specified roles and responsibilities. Butler recruited burglary participants in the days leading up to each burglary. Often, these participants were friends and acquaintances of his. This was usually done by using Facebook messenger.

“Once a burglary crew was assembled, one or more of the participants would steal a vehicle, which was then used to surveil the chosen bike shop and commit the burglary.”

Prosecutors say that the ring would then use the stolen vans to drive through the front windows of bike shops, before loading the van with stolen bikes. The bikes would then be transferred to other accomplices, who would sell them and abandon the stolen vans.

The crime spree affected bike shops across the Denver and Boulder areas between December 2019 and June 2020, with the value of the stolen and damaged property totalling approximately $1.5 million.

Butler admitted to investigators that he had participated in a number of the break-ins and associated vehicle thefts. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Four co-defendants are scheduled for arraignment later this month.

“I am proud of our prosecutors’ tireless work and collaboration with local law enforcement to hold the defendant accountable for the significant harm he caused to several individuals, businesses and non-profit agencies from this vehicle and bike theft criminal enterprise,” said Colorado’s Attorney General Phil Weiser.

“We are committed to ensuring others charged in this criminal enterprise will be held fully responsible for their actions, and to sending the message that property theft will not be tolerated.”

15 September 2022, 13:45
‘Why don’t cyclists use cycle lanes?’, Irony edition
15 September 2022, 13:32
‘Bloody cyclists, ruining my morning coffee with their races’

Simon also bumped into Eolo–Kometa boss, two-time Giro winner and Operación Puerto alumnus Ivan Basso this morning before the race got under way:

Now, did he actually take that photo, or did he just intend to take it?

15 September 2022, 12:54
It’s back! Movistar documentary makes glorious return to Netflix

It’s been a long, hard year, but finally we’ve all been presented with something to sustain our morale throughout the winter… or at least long enough for a Netflix binge over the bank holiday weekend.

Because the third series of Movistar’s sensational (I may be editorialising here) behind the scenes documentary ‘The Least Expected Day’ – hitherto languishing on Spanish streaming apps – has finally made its way around the world via its old home, Netflix.

As the four-parter explores the 2021 season, expect to see more shenanigans from everyone’s favourite 28 going on 13-year-old Marc Soler before he departs for the UAE, as well as THAT Miguel Ángel López incident at the Vuelta.

And don’t forget that great theme song: ‘I’m making my way home, I’m making my way…’

Fetch me the popcorn…

15 September 2022, 11:50
Ethan Vernon’s expanding his wardrobe nicely at the Tour of Slovakia

Two days, two stage wins and three jerseys. Not a bad start at all for the precocious Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl rider…

15 September 2022, 11:17
British Cycling: “We’re sorry – we got this one wrong”

Read our full story on British Cycling’s latest Mea Culpa here:

> “We’re sorry – we got this one wrong”: British Cycling apologises for advising cyclists not to ride their bikes during state funeral

15 September 2022, 10:31 at the races

While it’s nice and sunny here in Co. Down,’s own Simon MacMichael is currently braving grey skies and some light showers over in Pisa, as he awaits the arrival of the Coppa Sabatini one-day race (I know, poor fella).

Coppa Sabatini (credit - Simon MacMichael)

Simon, who was also spotted milling around the buses at yesterday’s Giro della Toscana, has managed to nab himself a perfect spot on the picturesque – and extremely steep and narrow – climb through the hill-top town of Peccioli, where he’ll be able to watch the likes of Egan Bernal, Esteban Chaves and Emanuel Buchmann slog up the ten percent slopes six times from the comfort of his café chair…

Coppa Sabatini, cafe view (credit - Simon MacMichael)

It’s a tough life, eh?

15 September 2022, 09:57
Ironic Twitter comment of the morning

Ah, drivers and their many brains…

15 September 2022, 09:44
Connor Swift, 2021 British national road race championships (Simon Wilkinson/
Connor Swift to join Ineos Grenadiers for 2023

Former British road race champion Connor Swift is set to join forces with his cousin Ben in 2023, after penning a two-year deal with the Ineos Grenadiers.

The 26-year-old Yorkshireman has made his name in recent years riding for French second-tier squad Arkéa–Samsic. After winning the British champs as a 22-year-old in 2018, Swift turned pro with Arkéa the following year, developing into a strong and versatile rider.

In 2021 he won the tough Tro-Bro Léon one-day race, held over ribbons of Breton farm tracks and often described as a mini-Paris-Roubaix, and the overall classification at the five-stage Tour Poitou-Charentes.

He has also earned a reputation as a valuable stage race bodyguard for Nairo Quintana on flat stages and in crosswinds, riding the last three Tours de France in support of the diminutive Colombian.

Swift’s move to Ineos in 2023 will see him stepping up to WorldTour level for the first time in his career.

“I am super excited to be joining the INEOS Grenadiers,” he said. “The way the team is evolving at the minute, with the next wave of young guys coming through and the dynamic approach to racing, is really refreshing and it will be special to be a part of the journey.

“This is a team I have always looked up to with many riders who have inspired me. To be pulling on that Ineos jersey next season, taking that step up and getting stuck into the races with these guys is something I am really looking forward to.”

The British squad’s deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth said: “It’s great to have Connor join the Grenadiers at such a critical point in his development. He’s already shown his talent in some big races, so he’ll add significant depth to the team and I am confident he’ll be an excellent fit for the team and our ambitions for the future.

“His path to this point of his career has been a consistent progression and if he maintains that upward trajectory then I have no doubt that we will see some great racing from him.”

15 September 2022, 09:27
Jumbo-Visma, stage 21 of the 2022 Tour de France (A.S.O., Pauline Ballet)
Jumbo distances itself from CEO in wake of money-laundering investigation concerning motorsports sponsorship – though cycling team believed not to be involved

Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo has distanced itself from CEO Frits van Eerd after his house was raided in relation to a large-scale investigation into money laundering and fraud which revolves around, among other things, sponsorship contracts in motorsport.

Jumbo is the co-title sponsor of this year’s Tour de France winning men’s team Jumbo-Visma, as well as the Marianne Vos-led women’s team and a development squad, with their trademark yellow and black colours becoming a mainstay of the pro peloton since they invested in the Dutch team formerly known as Rabobank in 2014.

The company also has sponsorship deals across a range of sports, including speed skating and motocross.

On Tuesday’s live blog we reported that the house of Jumbo’s CEO, Frits van Eerd, was raided by Dutch police and the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) as part of an investigation into money laundering and fraud, with several arrests made across the Netherlands.

In a press release, the Public Prosecution Service said: “This laundering was done through real estate transactions, car trading, unexplained cash deposits, and motocross sponsorship contracts. In addition, there is a suspicion of VAT fraud in the car trade.”

Jumbo has distanced itself from the investigation, which it says “does not focus” on the company. “However, questions are being asked to Frits van Eerd in the context of the investigation,” a spokesperson said.

Jumbo-Visma is yet to respond to this week’s raids, though it is currently believed that the cycling team is not involved in the investigation.

15 September 2022, 07:42
“Attack, attack! There are two guys up the road”: Wout van Aert and Co cheer on the peloton at the Australian junior championships

Picture this – you’re 16-years-old, racing in the junior national road championships, a race you’ve travelled hundred of miles for, and one you’ve been building towards all year while training on local roads and racing against grizzled club veterans.

The going’s tough, you’re struggling to hang on to the wheels in the fast-moving bunch. But then, from the side of what appeared at first to be a long, straight, empty road, you hear the faintly Flemish sound of encouragement, willing you onwards, inspiring you to attack.

When you look to your right, you realise the cheers are coming from none other than half of the Belgian elite men’s team: Wout van Aert, Yves Lampaert, Jasper Stuyven and Stan Dewulf, who share ten Tour de France stage wins and ten major classics between them.

Well, that was the sight which greeted the best of Australia’s teenage talent earlier today, as they competed in the road race event at AusCycling’s Masters and Junior Road National Championships.

The road race championships are being held in Marshall Mount, about 20km south of Wollongong, the site of next week’s road world championships where Van Aert and Co will be aiming to take the rainbow stripes back to Belgium.

And while they’re getting acclimatised to the Aussie roads and conditions, Wout, Jasper and the boys took some time out of their worlds build-up – and celebrating WVA’s 28th birthday today – to inspire the next generation of promising U15 and U17 boys and girls.

After all, we’re all just cycling fans at the end of the day…

Though, judging by his demanding instructions from the side of the road, God help his riders if Yves Lampaert ever decides to become a DS when he retires…

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.

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