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Town needs ‘proper infrastructure, not cheap and easy 20mph signs’; St Patrick's Day: Kelly on the Poggio; Book a MTB tour to help Ukraine; Cycling UK's 145-mile Kent route; Bikepacking; Coffee or petrol?; Loulou races Cheltenham + more on the live blog

Happy St Patrick’s Day! To celebrate, Ryan Mallon’s here for a special green edition of Thursday’s live blog
17 March 2022, 18:18
Happy St Patrick's Day everyone!
17 March 2022, 18:07
How do you solve a problem like Tadej?

With Tadej Pogačar widely expected to blow Milan-San Remo apart on Saturday, some riders are coming up with ingenious plans to outfox the Slovenian superstar:

While it seems as if many within the peloton, including Julian Alaphilippe and defending champion Jasper Stuyven, are trying to avoid yet another hiding at the hands of the 23-year-old by simply not showing up: 

Though for anyone jumping the gun about Pogačar’s perceived ‘boring’ dominance of the sport, check out this thread by former Procycling editor Ed Pickering: 

I know you didn’t ask, but here are my thoughts on the whole ‘Oh, Pog is going to ruin cycling’ debate:

I’m not at all convinced by the arguments that the sport is in danger of becoming predictable at the hands of a rider who is contributing to the most exciting and attacking racing we’ve seen since the 1980s, who is trying to win every race he enters (a real novelty in the sport’s modern era), and who hasn’t even won many of the races fans are willing him to fail at, for fear the sport will become boring.

Perhaps when Pogačar has captured his fifth Tour in a row, second Giro, third Vuelta, fourth Liège and Lombardia, third Flanders, San Remo and Roubaix (you get the point), then the critics will have a point.

But until then, we should just appreciate – with a healthy dose of scepticism instilled through years of watching cycling – a generational talent winning and racing in a manner which we never thought we’d see again.

And if he rips Saturday’s race to pieces on the Turchino, then even better…

17 March 2022, 17:43
Mark Cavendish wins Milano-Torino (Image credit: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images/ Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl)
Cav: No-one from the team talked to me about Milan-San Remo

Despite an impressive win at the newly sprint-ified Milano-Torino yesterday, Mark Cavendish won’t be lining up at the start of Milan-San Remo on Saturday, a classic he won in scintillating fashion back in 2009.

After Julian Alaphilippe was ruled out with bronchitis, Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl called up Fabio Jakobsen to fill the Frenchman’s spot at La Primavera.

Jakobsen also appears to be the Manx rider’s biggest rival for a place on Quick Step’s Tour de France team, amidst reports that the Dutchman is currently the squad’s preferred option for the sprinting berth in France.

Speaking at the post-race press conference yesterday, Cavendish said he hadn’t spoken with the team about riding the first monument of the season.

“You'll have to ask the team,” Cavendish said. “No-one from the team talked to me about it, so I don't know, I don't know. Obviously, I have won it. I'd like to do it, but nobody talked to me so...

“I'm on a separate programme this year. I don't really do any big races, though I'll be back in Italy for the Giro d'Italia.”

There go our hopes of one last trademark Cavendish sprint on the Via Roma then…

17 March 2022, 17:12
Inter x Cinelli 1
Inter X Cinelli: the great football-cycling crossover continues

The other day we featured on the blog a throwback to one of the all-time great football and cycling collaborations: namely, an old photo of the Yates twins as children with a floppy haired David Beckham.

Well, someone at Inter Milan (the city rivals of Becks’ old club AC) must have been inspired by the idea of a football-cycling crossover, as the three-time European Champions have teamed up with another venerable Italian brand, Cinelli, on a limited-edition joint range of cycling gear and bikes.

Basically, if broadcaster James Richardson has been a fundamental part of your sports viewing life (on Channel 4’s Football Italia and Eurosport’s Tour de France coverage), or if you had posters of both Marco Pantani and Roberto Baggio in the 1990s, then this is right down your street.

Inter Cinelli

The first part of this collaboration, the ‘Made in Milan’ collection, was released today and features a jersey, bib shorts, socks and cap all inspired by the city’s industrial history and art.

Inter and Cinelli have also worked together on a very cool range of bikes, including two Vigorelli track bikes, a Nemo Tig gravel bike and a very classy Nemo Tig road bike.

Inter Cinelli Nemo Tig

The collection all forms part of Inter’s aim to show “that the club is capable of thriving in worlds beyond football and forging ever deeper bonds with iconic Milanese brands.”

Speaking of Milan icons, the collaboration will be officially presented in the city’s famous old Vigorelli velodrome (just down the road from Inter’s San Siro home), on Saturday before the start of Milan-San Remo.

The above video features players from Inter’s U19 women’s team and men’s Primavera Youth team (another nod to Saturday’s classic), as well as the Cinelli racing team, further underlining this “meeting of the worlds”.

The collab’s second round will feature colour variants (woohoo!) and will be launched in June.

I wonder if this footballing-cycling mashup will catch on. If it does I for one can’t wait for the Wolves-Le Col crossover…

17 March 2022, 16:21
‘Drunk cyclist’ arrested after collision in West Derby

A man was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of cycling while drunk after a woman was knocked down in a collision.

Merseyside Police attended the scene on the Eaton Road in West Derby after reports of a crash involving a man on a bike. The woman was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

The cyclist was arrested at the scene and taken into custody on suspicion of riding his bike while drunk.

17 March 2022, 15:56
Rog impresses on the cobbles

With stage five of this year’s Tour de France featuring 11 sections of bone-jarring cobblestones on the way to the finish in Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, Primož Roglič took to the start line this morning of the GP de Denain – the French semi-classic known as the ‘mini-Paris-Roubaix’ – to hone his skills on the dreaded pavé.

And boy, did the Slovenian not disappoint. With 30km to go, Roglič followed an enterprising move on a cobbled section by a trio of Ineos riders, Magnus Sheffield, Jhonatan Narváez and Ben Turner, along with AG2R’s Damien Touzé.

Though the group was caught with just over a kilometre left – Max Walscheid taking the win with a strong sprint – the Jumbo-Visma rider showed he was more than capable of handling himself over the rough stuff come July. Or at the very least, of holding on to Wout van Aert for dear life…

17 March 2022, 15:02
20mph sign (CC licensed by EdinburghGreens via Flickr)
Town needs ‘proper infrastructure, not cheap and easy 20mph signs’, cyclists say

A town council has proposed to make all speed limits 20mph in a bid to reduce the number of collisions and to promote cycling and walking – however, the plans have been met with a mixed response from cyclists in the town.

Building on the recent ’20 is plenty’ campaign, Wantage Town Council has applied to Oxfordshire County Council to implement a 20mph speed limit across the town.

According to the proposal, speed limits will be reduced to 20mph in all residential areas, outside schools, and in the town centre.

The town council said: “It is hoped by reducing the speed limit on roads that the traffic will flow more steadily, there will be less accidents and it will give more people confidence to cycle and walk.

“It is also hoped that this will help make the town safer, easier to navigate and as a result more attractive and friendly.”

However, one cyclist has claimed that the council’s proposal to lower the speed limit in Wantage has been suggested simply because it is a cheaper alternative to building ‘proper cycling infrastructure’.

Tama Javorfi told the Herald that the 20mph limit was not enough to keep cyclists safe.

“If the authorities really cared about cyclists and pedestrians then they would have built the new roads wide enough to allow safe overtaking,” he said.

“[Lowering the speed limit] is cheaper this way, and also putting out 20mph signs is easier than building proper infrastructure that is safe and efficient for all.”

The chair of Cycling UK Wantage John Tranter said the new speed limit proposal was a good “starting point”, but also called on the council to implement additional safety measures in Wantage, such as the introduction of more segregated active travel routes to replace the current painted cycle lanes.

“Any experienced regular cyclist such as myself will tell you that you see near misses pretty much every day,” Tranter said.

“Many motorists are polite and courteous, and some are impatient and careless, but unfortunately sometimes that kills people.”

17 March 2022, 14:10
Mistakes you only make once

Canyon-Sram’s Kiwi Ella Harris was left red-faced on her second trip to the team car in as many minutes during yesterday’s Nokere Koerse:

17 March 2022, 13:02
Wild about Bikepacking

Stunning Scottish scenery? Check. A great mix of gravel tracks, cycle paths, and lovely quiet roads? Check. Some of the world’s finest distilleries? Double check.

If all of those things are on the list for your next bikepacking holiday, check out Markus Stitz's newest short film, Wild About Bikepacking, where the long-distance cyclist explores the new Bikepacking Argyll's Islands route.

Commissioned by Wild About Argyll and CalMac Ferries, and created by Bikepacking Scotland, the route maps a 496-kilometre trek across the Isles of Mull, Jura, Islay, and Bute, offering plenty for new and experienced bikepackers alike.

“For me, boarding a ferry to an island is the perfect start to a bikepacking adventure, and this route includes some of the most scenic ferry journeys in Scotland,” Stitz says.

“A gravel bike is the perfect bike to cycle the Bikepacking Argyll’s Islands route. What I really like about it is the combination of great cycling, culinary offers and accommodation.”

Great cycling, places to stay, and top-notch food and drink? Sign me up. Though I better start doing some proper training…

You can read more about the route over at off.road.cc

17 March 2022, 12:37
Cantii Way map (via Cycling UK)
Cycling UK announces new 145-mile route in Kent

Cycling UK announced yesterday that it plans to launch a new long-distance cycling route in Kent, which it says will be ready for the public to ride from Kent Day on 26 May.

Named the Cantii Way, after the Iron Age Celtic tribe who lived in Britain before the Roman conquest, the route comprises a 145-mile loop starting and ending in the village of Wye, close to Asford in Kent.

According to Cycling UK, it is designed to be ridden over three to four days in one go, but can be split up over several weekends thanks to the number of train stations along the way.

Using a combination of quiet ways, country lanes, byways and bridleways, the route passes through Canterbury, Whitstable and Dover and is designed with cyclists of all abilities in mind. For the foodies amongst you, it also promises to be “equal parts culinary and cycle tour”.

The charity’s campaigns officer behind the route, Sophie Gordon, said: “Kent is rich in history, rich in culture and rich in cuisine – all of which make it a perfect destination for the cycling tourist. At Cycling UK we feel with the Cantii Way we’ve struck the right balance between each of these.

“Routes like the Cantii Way aren’t just great fun to ride, but they also bring a real benefit to the local rural economy.

“The people cycling through Kent’s network of paths and quiet ways will quite literally be fuelling themselves from the local shops, pubs and tea rooms they pass through – and many of these will be off the beaten track.”

To help prepare for the expected boost in cycling over the summer, Cycling UK is also providing accommodation and hospitality businesses with guidance and free equipment bundles worth up to £400, as part of its Cycle Friendly Places initiative.

The new route in Kent is part of the charity’s broader aim to see the creation of a national network of long-distance, off-road routes, taking in “amazing places and wild landscapes” across Britain.

The Cantii Way is the fifth long-distance cycling loop Cycling UK has launched since its riders’ route for the North Downs Way was unveiled in 2018. A sixth route is expected to be unveiled at the end of the summer in Norfolk.

17 March 2022, 11:56
Bonus St Patrick’s Day content: Chain Rattle and Hum
17 March 2022, 11:35
Book a mountain bike tour and help Ukraine

A Ukrainian bike mechanic is using his mountain bike tour business to raise funds for his country’s defence and evacuation efforts.

Yurii Panchenko fled Ukraine with his wife and daughter after a Russian missile exploded near their home. He runs a mountain bike company which offers cycling tours in and around Kyiv using Airbnb.

With the Ukrainian capital on the receiving end of indiscriminate missile strikes and shelling by the Russian army, Panchenko was astonished to find that someone had booked a tour in the city last week.

“First, I didn’t understand. Then I read a note from the customer, where they said they didn’t want to take the tour and they just wanted to support us,” he told ABC News

That gave Panchenko an idea – he changed the name of his tours from ‘Mountain Biking in Kyiv’ to ‘Support Ukrainian Army Mountain Bike Tours in Kyiv’, and the number of bookings suddenly skyrocketed.

In the past week he’s received 500 tour bookings, raising over £11,000 – even though he dropped his prices to allow more people to donate.

“People from all over the world have booked tours for several months ahead just to support us,” Panchenko said. “Except for Russians. We haven’t had bookings from there yet.”

The money will be used to buy fuel and medicine in support of evacuation efforts in Ukraine, as well as body armour, helmets and special devices to be used by Ukrainian troops.

Panchenko’s family are now living in Vienna, after travelling for four days through Romania with a single bag of clothes and essentials and under £800 to their name.

They managed to find temporary housing in the Austrian capital, where Panchenko has also found work as a mechanic in a bike shop.

He said: “We’ll be here for at least three weeks. We’re faring much better than other families who are still stuck in Ukraine. We’re trying to help those in need as much as we can.”

17 March 2022, 10:47
Horses for courses

I know they say he’s an all-rounder, but this is ridiculous… 

Also, in honour of St Patrick’s Day, it seems as if Alaphilippe has declared for Ireland today at Cheltenham. If only…

17 March 2022, 10:21
At last, some perspective on rising fuel prices…

Speaking of which, almost time for a coffee... 

17 March 2022, 10:05
But what about when it rains?
17 March 2022, 08:46
St Patrick’s Day special: Kelly on the Poggio

Just in case you hadn’t already noticed on social media, it’s St Patrick’s Day – the day the good people of Chicago, for some inexplicable reason, dye their river a radioactive shade of green.

So to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint – and the fact that Milan-San Remo is just 48 hours away – let’s start the day by looking back on one of Irish sport’s greatest moments: Sean Kelly’s daredevil descent off the Poggio to win the 1992 edition of La Classicissima.

Kelly’s second Milan-San Remo win is legendary. One of the dominant riders of the 1980s, by 1992 the man from Carrick-On-Suir was 35 and in the autumn of his career. Despite taking Il Lombardia the year before, the future Eurosport commentator wasn’t considered a big favourite for Milan-San Remo, a race he had last won in 1986.

But with old rival Moreno Argentin looking set to take the victory as he led by eight seconds over the Poggio with three kilometres to go, Kelly launched his iconic move off the front of the peloton.

Even now, thirty years later, Kelly’s descent is something to behold. Sprinting out of every corner, he practically bounces off the walls and greenhouses that line the descent of the Poggio to catch the Italian at the bottom with just one kilometre left – prompting an audible groan from the home fans at the finish as they hear the ominous news.

The tifosi were right to groan. Kelly duly dispatched Argentin in the sprint, taking his second victory at La Primavera and the last big win of his illustrious career.

You can relive it all here, complete with the brilliantly idiosyncratic commentary of the late, great David Duffield:

Is Kelly’s breakneck descent of the Poggio your favourite Irish cycling moment?

Or is it Phil Liggett’s iconic cry of “That looks like Roche. It’s Stephen Roche!” at La Plagne in 1987?

Perhaps it’s Dan Martin being chased by a panda on his way to the 2013 Liège-Bastogne-Liège? Or even Paul Kimmage’s infamous appearance on RTÉ’s Late Late Show after A Rough Ride was published?

Pour yourself a Guinness and let us know in the comments!

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.

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