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“Bloody kids cycling on the pavement!”: Internet misses point of bike lane tweet; Is pro cycling boring to watch? Cash incentives to cycle to work; That’s how you celebrate a rainbow jersey; Cyclocross is back; Oblivious driving x2 + more on the live blog

Happy Another New Chancellor Day – I mean Monday! Ryan Mallon’s here with all the latest cycling news and views to ease you into the week on the live blog
17 October 2022, 08:07
“Bloody kids cycling on the pavement! Why on earth do they do this?”: Internet misses point of sarcastic bike lane tweet

Road safety campaigner Adam Bronkhorst is something of a regular on the live blog. For example, just last week we featured his dismay at the barrage of anti-cycling Facebook comments which followed a post about a child being struck by a motorcyclist while riding their bike to school.

> “This is what happens when you ‘other’ cyclists”: Facebook users engage in “depressing” anti-cycling rant… under post about child struck by hit-and-run motorcyclist while cycling to school

However, it appears that a fair chunk of the internet isn’t quite as familiar with Adam’s stance on cycling and road safety – or, indeed, the concept of irony – judging by the reaction to his latest submission to our ever-expanding ‘Why don’t cyclists use cycle lanes?’ collection:

The replies were, let’s just say, interesting…

On a serious note, the fact that so many Twitter users completely missed the sarcasm in Adam’s post perhaps gives us, after last week’s grim game of anti-cycling bingo on Facebook, another fascinating and rather frightening insight into the current state of online discourse surrounding cyclists and safe active travel infrastructure: 

17 October 2022, 15:55
Cycling is still exciting! According to the majority of road.cc readers, anyway

So far, it looks like there’s still some hope for professional bike racing (phew), with a strong 77 percent of road.cc readers – at the time of writing – arguing that cycling isn’t, despite Dan Martin’s claims earlier today, “boring”.

'Is cycling boring?' poll result

The comments, on the blog and on social media, have been somewhat divided, however, and have ranged from ‘Not sure what Dan’s been watching’ to ‘power metres need to go!’

thisismyusername (yes, that’s their username) wrote: “Hmm, not sure what racing Dan has been watching this year. I mean, just a couple of weeks ago Mas and Pog were taking chunks out of each other at Il Lombardia, Remco vs Primoz was just hotting up till the latter crashed out and what about all the Spring Classics, and so on and on!”

However, while most of those who have participated in the poll so far seem to agree with those sentiments, the comments section was very much pro-Dan…

alexuk said: “I agree with Dan. The worlds are the only event, where things can still be unpredictable. Radios and power metres have made things a bit more boring than in previous years. It’s still entertaining, but just not as entertaining as it was.

“I would support the removal of power metres. Pros now are just climbing with their heads glued to the numbers, not responding to attacks etc. Most GC groups roll in together, with only a few exceptions. Thank heavens for Pog, as Dan says, but one guy isn’t enough.”

Rendel Harris was another who argued that the widespread use of power metres was behind the perceived lack of unpredictable excitement.

“I think the genie is probably out of the bottle as far as power meters are concerned, training is so based around them that most pros will have a very good idea of what they're putting out anyway,” Renedel wrote.

“I've only had one for a year and I’m about as far from a pro as you can imagine but if I look at my speed and the incline I’m on and the direction of force of any wind I can guess my power within about +/-25W. It wouldn’t do any harm to remove them, but not sure it would make an enormous difference.”

Pogačar and Vingegaard descend the Galibier on the way to their Tour-defining showdown on the Col du Granon (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

Zac Williams/SWpix.com

With the 2023 Giro d’Italia parcours about to be announced this afternoon, squired also blamed race organisers for what they viewed as the plethora of insipid routes in recent years, writing: “I agree too. We did have an excellent and attacking Tour this year. However, the Giro and Vuelta were both extremely mediocre and defensive. Similarly, none of the shorter tours or one day races really stood out. 

“There are a few young guys who are seemingly willing to risk it all to get the win, but the large portion of the peloton rides extremely defensively and in a controlled manner. I would argue though that often the selected routes are not good. A 5 percent 20km climb to the finish, for example, is sadly never going to produce exciting racing. The level is just too high now.”

Ouch. Don’t go too far now... 

17 October 2022, 15:37
2023 Giro d’Italia route due to be unveiled
17 October 2022, 15:03
Remco Evenepoel wins 2022 World Championships in Wollongong (@cauldphoto/Specialized)
Greg Van Avermaet: “It’s impossible to put into words how good Remco Evenepoel is”

Speaking of exciting young talent wrongfully (in my opinion) categorised as boring, the new king of Belgium, Remco Evenepoel, has been praised by one of his country’s elder statesmen, Greg Van Avermaet, who described the world champion as “of a different order”.

In a special interview for Het Nieuwsblad alongside former pros Dirk De Wolf and José De Cauwer, the former Olympic champion and Paris-Roubaix winner was gushing in his praise for the 22-year-old Evenepoel, who stormed to victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the world road race championships, and the Vuelta a España – Belgium’s first grand tour win for 44 years – during a remarkable 2022.

Greg Van Avermaet at 2021 Tour de France (Copyright ASO, Fabien Boukla)

ASO/Fabien Boukla

“It’s talent. One that is only born every so often,” the 37-year-old AG2R Citroën rider said. “He has performed a lot of songs, but I especially thought the World Championship was incredible. Wow, two minutes, and riding away from the whole pack. Really, I can't get my head around that.

“I also won some races, but that was trying to finish it in the sprint and trying to do everything right beforehand. Few people really get away with that.

“When you’re on the front with Evenepoel, you don’t recover in the wheel. Riding someone off the wheel on the flat, who can do that?

“He suffers less than anyone else. I have met many riders, including super talents, but Remco is of a different order.”

Echoing comments made by Dan Martin in an interview with the Guardian – though the Irishman’s praise was directed at Tadej Pogačar, not Evenepoel – Van Avermaet concluded: “Honestly, I thought such a thing was no longer possible. Racing has become so controlled, there is so much team play, and then to make a difference on your own... Actually, it is impossible to put into words how good he is.”

17 October 2022, 14:44
Copy and Paste in overdrive at British Cycling…
17 October 2022, 13:52
A day in the life of a cyclist… and 4x4 driver
17 October 2022, 13:14
Dan Martin at 2017 Tour de France (licensed CC BY 2.0 by Filip Bossuyt on Wikimedia Commons).jpg
“Cycling is quite boring to watch now. Racing has become quite prescriptive,” says Dan Martin. Do you agree?

Professional cycling is boring to watch.

And no, that’s not the opinion of your next-door neighbour, asking how you could possibly insist on watching that ‘Giro de France rubbish’ when the third test of the Ashes is on, but Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Tour of Lombardy winner Dan Martin.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Guardian – to promote his recently-published autobiography Chased by Pandas – the retired Irish pro touched on, among other things, his desire to prove British Cycling and Dave Brailsford’s track-focused approach wrong early in his career, doping in the peloton (”throughout the history of testing, the cheats have always been ahead of the testers”), the physical and mental sacrifices required to stay at the top (citing the early retirements of Tom Dumoulin and Fabio Aru as examples of burnout), and the excesses and extremes permitted by teams if it means winning (Martin deplored the ‘eating is cheating’ mantra prevalent in the bunch and claimed that Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas had even deprived themselves of salads during the 2018 Tour, lest they retained “excess water” in their digestive tracts).

Dan Martin wins Il Lombardia 2014 - picture Gian Mattia d'Alberto, LaPresse

Martin wins Il Lombardia 2014 (Gian Mattia d'Alberto, LaPresse)

One of the more controversial points made by Martin in the interview, however, was that pro bike racing has become boring in recent years.

A prominent example of swashbuckling, aggressive racing throughout his career, the former Garmin rider told the Guardian how he had rejected a move to Team Sky in 2018, because he didn’t want to join a squad he says had “sucked the joy out of cycling”.

“That’s why I stopped riding this time last year – because the sport was becoming so controlled,” he said. “I’d lost my advantage because every cyclist now is told exactly what they’re doing and each team’s methodology is the same.

“I want to be able to decide why, when and what training I do and what tactics I use. If I had gone into that [Sky] team, I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself.”

Martin then claimed that the Sky effect – of imposing negative, controlled tactics on the bunch through an army of powerful domestiques – had infected the rest of the peloton in recent years.

“It’s the freedom of expression as well. That freedom to attack. Racing is quite boring to watch now as nobody makes mistakes any more.

“Everything is so fine-tuned you don’t see guys having bad days. Everybody is nutritionally perfect, training is perfect, and it’s lacking that human element. Racing has become quite prescriptive.”

Dan Martin after his crash on 2013 Vuelta Stage 7 (copyright Unipublic:Graham Watson)

Unipublic:Graham Watson

That comment may surprise cycling fans, who have been rushing over themselves in recent years to proclaim the advent of a new golden era for road racing, but the 36-year-old says any excitement in the men’s sport comes as a result of one rider only.

“Even though people say it’s the best racing ever, it’s really down to Pogačar. He is the loose cannon who attacks whenever he feels like it, whereas the rest of the racing is so scripted and controlled.”

What do you think? Is Martin right? Has the men’s side of the sport become too controlled, to the point of no return? Have race radios and finely-tuned nutrition and training plans drained road racing of its colour, turning the riders into pre-programmed robots?

In this humble writer’s opinion, the answer is no. While a brilliantly inventive and attacking racer himself, the high points of Martin’s career – the early to mid-2010s – represented a particular nadir for exciting cycling (with the exceptions of occasional standout performances from the likes of Boonen, Cancellara and Sagan, and the odd free-for-all at the Giro or Vuelta).

During that period, in the biggest races at least, teams rushed to emulate Sky’s patented mountain train, which suffocated grand tours to the extent that it made US Postal’s Playstation racing of the early 2000s feel like the height of panache, while the sprinters’ teams were so dialled in that breakaway merchants needn’t have bothered getting out of bed on the morning of a flat Tour stage.

Chris Froome and Dan Martin, 2017 Tour de France (Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

But since the Covid-era (though there were certainly rumblings of it beforehand), a new generation of male riders has emerged, keen to rip up the script and throw away the old formula by attacking, often recklessly, from distance and racing to win throughout the year, on any terrain. And it’s not just Pog either: Jumbo-Visma – who at one point seemed destined to become the Sky of the 2020s – won their Tour this year by throwing caution to the wind and, dare I say it, attacking. That’s before we even get onto the sheer 1980s-style madness of the likes of Evenepoel, Van der Poel, and Van Aert.

It may not be perfect, of course – and many have already deemed Remco’s long-range attacks ‘boring’. But just thank your lucky stars it’s still not 2012, eh?

However, not everyone in the office agrees with me. road.cc co-founder Tony Farrelly thinks Martin has a point, “apart from sprint finishes and nice helicopter shots.”

Tony says, “It’s one of those sports (like tennis) that’s better to play than to watch.

“Or as a member of the Who once said, like heavy rock, fun to play, but he wouldn’t want to listen to it.”

What do you think? Do you agree with Dan? Has the men’s side of professional cycling become too boring? Or have we truly entered a new golden age of swashbuckling, unpredictable racing?

Let us know!

SuperSurvey

17 October 2022, 11:55
Alex Dowsett after winning 2019 TT nat champs (picture Zac Williams, SWPix.com)
“Cycling is still going to be my life”: Alex Dowsett bows out of the peloton at Chrono des Nations

It’s perhaps fitting that Alex Dowsett – a Giro d’Italia time trial stage winner, a six-time British champion against the clock, and a lover of a good old-fashioned club 10 – would end his professional cycling career riding alone, propped on a set of aero bars.

While the former Hour Record holder (see, more solitude) couldn’t live with the pace of Stefan Küng on the Chrono des Nations’ 45.4km course around Les Herbiers yesterday, finishing 23rd in the end, the 34-year-old from Essex still enjoyed his last outing as an elite pro road racer.

> Alex Dowsett retires from top-level professional cycling

“57 minutes of me time today that brought a lot of thoughts and emotions up: uphill headwind sections thinking ‘I’m not going to miss this’, downhill tailwind sectors thinking ‘I’m going to miss this’, and everything in between,” Dowsett wrote on social media following his final race.

“It’s been a privilege to have been a pro at the highest level for so long. I’ll miss competing at the highest level, but I’ve missed being able to compete with the best for a while now, which is what made the Tirreno result earlier this year [where he finished fifth in the opening time trial] pretty special. Thanks to the Chrono des Nations and people of Les Herbiers for a warm welcome and making my last pro race such a memorable day.

“It’s going to take a while to process this fully, it’s been my life since I left school at 18. I’d imagine there’ll be times I’ll wish I was still in it and times where I’m happy I called it.

“Cycling is still going to be my life but in a different direction now and I’m excited for it. And I know I’ve got some great people around me for when I’m struggling with the change.

“Thanks to all of you here for the support, through the good, the bad, and the period where we had to post reels every day to pay for an Hour Record.”

Alex Dowsett at Yorkshire 2019 (picture credit Zac  Williams, SWPix.com)

Dowsett on his way to a career best fifth place at the 2019 world time trial championships in Yorkshire (Zac Williams, SWPix.com)

Several of Dowsett’s former teammates and colleagues took to social media to congratulate the two-time Giro stage winner on his 12-year professional career, which included stints at Team Sky, Movistar, Katusha and Israel-Premier Tech.

“Congratulations Alex! Enjoy your much deserved retirement and family time,” wrote former world champion and Paris-Roubaix winner Lizzie Deignan.

Austrian Marco Haller, a teammate of Dowsett’s at Katusha, described the British rider as “arguably the best roommate ever. One of the best teammates definitely. Some achievements I can only dream of. I take my hat off to honour you career. Congratulations mate! All the best for whatever comes next!”

“Very grateful we crossed paths in our careers mate. Thanks for being one of the good ones,” said Irish time triallist Ryan Mullen, before offering this sage piece of career advice: “Just promise me you won’t do commentary, your voice is far too boring for commentary.”

Congrats on your career Alex, and best of luck for your retirement!

17 October 2022, 11:34
I’ll see your panda suit, and raise you an actual monkey…
17 October 2022, 10:51
Commuters (CC licensed image by kube414_Flickr).jpg
Cash for Cycling: Employees offered financial incentive to commute to work by bike

Staff at a Ministry of Defence site in Shropshire are being offered incentives to commute to work by bike in a pilot scheme designed to “lead the way in showing others what’s possible”.

The 20 employees at the military base in Donnington, Telford, have been asked to walk or cycle to work 10 times during October – and if they do ditch the car, they will be given £50 in supermarket vouchers, the BBC reports.

The project is being piloted by Telford and Wrekin Council’s Health Protection Team, with the aim, if it proves a success, of expanding it across the region next year.

Councillor Richard Overton, who described the pilot as a “super scheme” said: “I very much hope it will nudge these individuals into reducing their reliance on cars over the longer term, supporting our vision to make Telford and Wrekin carbon neutral by 2030, improve their health and local air quality, and lead the way in showing others what's possible.”

“The ride into work is great, all downhill with the wind in my hair. However, the journey back not so much – this is where the hard work comes in,” Rebecca Thomas-Nye, one of the pilot’s participants, told the BBC.

“I am hopeful that with each ride back it will get easier and the benefits will show in how I feel.”

17 October 2022, 10:20
“Totally oblivious driver posts clip of another bad driver not realising he also was a bad driver”

Thanks to road.cc reader AlsoSomniloquism for flagging this double dose of oblivious driving, which caused the cyclist on the receiving end to cry out in frustration. 

Not that the motorist who submitted the footage could hear the cyclist's shouts over his own smug critique of the driver in front…

As hirsute astutely pointed out in the comments, “Don’t think either driver had any idea of the cyclist’s existence”.

17 October 2022, 09:55
Tekkers

The nights are getting longer, the tracks worlds is done and dusted, and the road season is clinging on by its finger nails, which mean only one thing – the greatest sport in the world, cyclocross,* is back!

*This statement may not accurately reflect the views of everyone at road.cc, though it definitely should.

17 October 2022, 09:27
“The best singing of a national anthem by a winning athlete in the history of winning athletes singing national anthems”

Now, I’m not typically one for overt displays of patriotism, but this brilliantly jubilant performance of La Marseillaise by 20-year-old Marie-Divine Kouamé – after winning the 500m time trial ahead of six-time world champion Emma Hinze – has to go down as one of the defining moments of last week’s world track championships in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines:

“Yesterday, when Mathilde [Gros] won [the women’s sprint], we were in front of the telly crying," Kouamé told the media after claiming her first rainbow jersey on Saturday. “We thought it was incredible, and honestly I dreamed of this race.

“Now I just want to get back to training to come back and win the 500m, the keirin, the sprint, everything.”

Now, you certainly wouldn’t bet against Kouamé singing her heart out in the same velodrome, with an Olympic gold medal around her neck, in the summer of 2024…

17 October 2022, 08:47
Sir Chris Hoy, 2022 world track championships (screenshot - BBC Three)
Weekend catch-up

If you were out on your bike enjoying the rather changeable weather (I think it’s safe to say that the turbo trainer is looking like an increasingly enticing prospect, for some of us anyway), you may have missed some of the latest developments in the cycling world featured on the site this weekend.

So, here’s a Monday morning tea break catch-up session especially for you, featuring everything from Chris Hoy’s defence of that Shell deal to Cav’s 2023 teaser, hit-and-run videographers and a rather sweary – and gloriously stubborn – cycling pensioner:

> “Stick it up your a*se”, 82-year-old tells council officer after being fined £100 for cycling in town centre

> Teenager arrested after hit-and-run motorist filmed ‘deliberately ramming’ cyclist

> Chris Hoy: British Cycling deal can ‘put cycling on Shell’s agenda’

> ​“I’ve got a big year next year”: Mark Cavendish hints at new team for 2023

> Deliveroo cyclist attacked by knife-wielding teenager after collision

> “I have a career to finish”: Audrey Cordon-Ragot looks to the future, a month after suffering stroke on eve of world championships

> ​“Crazy” plans to scrap key cycle lane – because of flash floods – shelved by council

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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