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Charges dropped against driver accused of "deliberately ramming" cyclists; Extinction Rebellion targets Santos Tour Down Under; Flood causes dramatic crash; Only Connect does cycling; Designer builds world's tallest bike + more on the live blog

It’s Tuesday on the live blog and Ryan Mallon is here to guide you through the weird and wonderful world of cycling before he hands over the reins to Dan for the rest of the week…
18 January 2022, 18:34
Jooperstars

When Trek-Segafredo’s Latvian champion, and wearer of the coolest kit in town, Toms Skujiņš posted this image of him lifting weights over the weekend, it got me thinking (naturally enough) – how would today’s gym-going generation of professional cyclists fare on a modern version of Superstars?

While Superstars may be best known these days for a certain perm-tastic footballer crashing spectacularly onto a cinder track during the bike race, cyclists themselves never really made a mark on the show.

Because, let’s face it, cyclists – remarkable physical specimens, yes, but not traditionally known for their all-round athletic ability or indeed upper-body strength – tended to perform poorly when pitted against athletes from other sports in what was essentially a televised sports day.

In 1980 Joop Zoetemelk – who would go on to win the Tour de France later that year – finished dead last in the international version of Superstars, a whopping 45 points behind British judoka and Superstars legend Brian Jacks.

The Dutchman came last in the 100m sprint, basketball competition, swimming race, obstacle course, and gym test, before – perhaps wisely – sitting out the weightlifting contest.   

In the gym test, each athlete had to complete as many parallel bar dips and squat thrusts as they could in the allotted time. Jacks scored a staggeringly impressive total of 80. Poor old Joop’s score? One. Yes, that’s right. One. At least his Tour win later that summer gave him some consolation.

JOOP ZOETEMELK

Fortunately for Joop, other leading lights of the 1970s peloton didn’t quite cover themselves in glory either on Superstars. In 1976 Raymond Poulidor finished bottom of his heat behind winner Bjorn Borg. Walter Godefroot and Freddy Maertens also came last when they took on the Superstars challenge.

Cyclists have fared significantly better, however, in modern iterations of the show: Chris Boardman finished second behind rugby player Austin Healey in a 2002 revamp, restoring cycling’s reputation somewhat, though Lizzie Deignan failed to lay a glove (excuse the pun) on Helen Glover in a 2012 Olympic special.

So how well do you think the more rounded pros of today such as Van der Poel, Alaphilippe and Vos would cope in a game of basketball against the likes of Rafa Nadal, Adam Peaty and Lucy Bronze?

Maybe I need to get out more...

18 January 2022, 16:46
Charges dropped against driver accused of “deliberately ramming innocent cyclists”

Police in Adelaide have dropped all charges against a motorist accused of deliberate and “aggressive driving towards cyclists” in August last year.

The 25-year-old was arrested last year on suspicion of targeting three cyclists in separate incidents while driving a stolen car early in the morning on Lady Gowrie Drive, North Haven. The driver knocked two of the cyclists off their bikes and forced another one off the road, causing minor injuries.

Cyclist Sam Beveridge captured one of the incidents on camera. He told Australian television at the time that he first witnessed the driver heading in the opposite direction on the other side of the road. According to Beveridge, the driver then performed a U-turn on the road and immediately began to drive towards him, “ramming” him from behind and throwing him off his bike.

Beveridge subsequently handed the footage of the incident to police, who later recovered a stolen white Ford Fairmont, which matched the vehicle description given by the victims.

In Adelaide Magistrates Court today, however, prosecutors unexpectedly dropped all charges against the accused man. No explanation was offered in court.

18 January 2022, 16:20
Go on Joe, you know you want to...
18 January 2022, 16:02
French ‘doctor’ Bernard Sainz convicted of doping offences… again

Bernard Sainz, the infamous self-styled ‘naturopath’ known in cycling circles as Dr Mabuse, has been sentenced to a year of house arrest after being found guilty of the illegal practice of medicine and incitement to doping.

Sainz, who will have to wear an electronic tag throughout the course of his house arrest, was convicted after an undercover investigation by France Télévisions and Le Monde showed the 78-year-old providing riders with guidance on how to dope. He has also been banned from working in medicine or sport for five years.

Despite not holding a recognised medical license, Sainz has treated bike riders and racehorses for half a century. His clients in the peloton have included Raymond Poulidor, Cyrille Guimard, Philippe Gaumont and Frank Vandenbroucke.

Sainz claims that he only gives his clients “homeopathic treatments” which have “allowed some people to recover their health on the margins of conventional medicine.”

He’s been arrested on suspicion of drug-related offences in every decade since the 1980s and has been convicted on three previous occasions for aiding doping in both cycling and horseracing. Sainz was last seen at the Tour de France in 2015, holding an official accreditation from the race organisers.

“We have known him for 30 years and he is still at large," French Cycling Federation lawyer Paul Mauriac told L’Équipe. “The damage is done, it is irreversible. Mr Sainz is a cat that always lands on his feet, unfortunately.”

18 January 2022, 15:18
“Stop building bike lanes – nobody uses them!”
18 January 2022, 15:06
There was a lot of chatter on yesterday’s live blog about Panorama’s ‘Killer Roads’ investigation, some of which we've collated together in this story. Did anyone watch it? Personally, I was too busy catching up on Junior Bake Off and Only Connect...
18 January 2022, 15:00
Sneaky bit of drafting there, Jakob…

Israel-Premier Tech are currently training in Girona, which meant a chance to test out the team’s time trial equipment for new signing Jakob Fuglsang (I can hear Carlton Kirby say “birdsong” as I type).

Unfortunately for the Danish veteran, his session was rudely interrupted by the Spanish branch of Extinction Rebellion – or should that be Extinction Re-baaaaaa-llion? (I’ll get my coat…)

Some on Twitter were quick to point out the flagrant contravention of traffic laws going on in the clip, with one user writing: "Five abreast, holding up the traffic, probably don’t even stop for red lights."

Typical sheep, think they own the road. Bet they don’t even pay road tax…

18 January 2022, 14:16
Introducing the future of the school run: the bicycle bus

A community group in Evesham has embraced a green, healthy version of the school run – a ten-seater ‘bicycle bus’.

Evesham Adventure Playground Association bought the bike bus from a Dutch company, and it has been used since Christmas to transport children from three different schools to their after-school club. The passenger-powered bike, which will be used by other community organisations when needed, replaces the group’s old nine-seater minibus.

"We thought instead of using the diesel miles, let's have a pedal mile," the association’s Dave Bowker said.

The community group’s main aim is to help cut pollution in the town and to encourage schoolchildren to be healthy. Though don’t worry – the new mean machine features a pedal-assist battery, so little Jimmy won’t have to push MVDP-esque watts on the last hill home…

18 January 2022, 13:17
Custom bike designer builds world’s tallest rideable bicycle

 Even Conor Dunne might struggle on a bike this big.

While the Irish ex-pro’s frames measured at a nosebleed-inducing 62cm, they pale in comparison to this 7.41 metre monster designed by renowned bike builder Adam Zdanowicz and officially designated by Guinness World Records as the world’s “tallest rideable bicycle.”

Zdanowicz, who has built bikes for celebrities such as Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, constructed his record-breaking model from 30 damaged bikes which had been donated by a local primary school as part of their ‘Rubbish for Some, Treasure for Others’ project.

Adam described riding the bike as “a challenge and a great adventure”.

Impressive, though I’m not sure how useful it would be for cyclo-cross…

18 January 2022, 12:35
Tweet of the day?

Yesterday we published a story about a particularly aggressive driver who took exception to a cyclist challenging him over his phone use behind the wheel – and then proceeded to try to ram the bike rider into oncoming traffic.

When a Twitter user defended the motorist by arguing that the cyclist “was in his blind spot”, Mat Burnham responded with this absolute cracker:

Mic drop. 

18 January 2022, 12:00
Extinction Rebellion to target Santos Festival of Cycling

The South Australia branch of Extinction Rebellion has announced that it plans to disrupt the upcoming Santos Festival of Cycling in protest against the event’s sponsor.

The group says they will put up road blocks to peacefully stop the men’s and women’s stage races, which will take place between 21 and 29 January. These races form part of the Santos Festival of Cycling, held for the second successive year in place of the elite-level Tour Down Under due to ongoing Covid restrictions.

Gas and oil producer Santos, which has sponsored the Tour Down Under since 2010, is one of Australia’s worst greenhouse gas emitting companies. Its status as the race’s naming rights sponsor has long been viewed as one of cycling’s most egregious forms of ‘greenwashing’.

Announcing their protest, Extinction Rebellion tweeted: “One of the world's worst carbon polluters, Santos continues to pursue massive oil and gas expansion in Australia and around the globe. Their actions will drive global emissions to tipping points from which there is no return. They must be stopped.”

“We understand that people will be frustrated by this action, but we cannot continue to give Santos our social consent,” said Anna Slynn, one of the group’s leaders. "We intend to stop the race safely. We are declaring our intention today so that race organisers are prepared for when this happens.”

For a mode of transport so intrinsically associated with green living, professional cycling’s environmental track record (spoiler – it’s not great) has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.

Growing pressure has been placed on teams and races to avoid sponsors intent on ‘greenwashing’ their earth-damaging activities by associating with an environmentally friendly activity such as riding a bike.

At the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire anti-fracking campaigners protested petrochemicals giant Ineos, the sponsor of a team, lest we forget, which wore a special rainforest rescue jersey at the 2011 Tour de France. In 2012 the Australian GreenEdge team, set up with the apparent aim of promoting green travel (the clue’s in the name), also came in for a lot of flak when it incongruously accepted mining company Orica as its title sponsor.

When asked last year about the race’s relationship with Santos for a Procycling article on the sport’s environmental impact, Events South Australia executive director Hitaf Rasheed said: “While none of our sponsors have any direct involvement in the organisation or running of [the Tour Down Under], we value these partnerships as they allow the race to continue to grow and elevate the event to a world-class offering.”

18 January 2022, 11:01
Bike thieves target Israel Cycling Academy

Israel Cycling Academy announced yesterday that 17 of the team’s Factor bikes have been stolen during the squad’s training camp in Girona.

The UCI Continental team, which features British rider Mason Hollyman, acts as a development team for the top-level Israel-Premier Tech outfit, fronted by Chris Froome, Michael Woods and Jakob Fuglsang.

Bike thefts have become a worryingly common occurrence on the professional scene in recent years, with thieves recently targeting the Italian track team at October’s world championships, while Team BikeExchange had to rely on borrowed equipment to finish the Tour de l'Ardèche in September after their bikes were stolen before stage 5.

18 January 2022, 10:30
Roots_Project
Brooks is inviting three cyclists to ride from northern Italy to Birmingham

Ever dreamt of cycling from Italy to the West Midlands (what do you mean you haven't)? Well, Brooks England could make all your dreams come true.

The historic saddle manufacturer is running a three-week cycling adventure in late April this year from northern Italy to the historic factory near Birmingham where the brand was founded and where each Brooks England leather saddle is still produced today.

The riders will be following a set course which is aimed at highlighting aspects central to the Brooks brand, such as the traditions of handmade craftsmanship, wanton exploration, and unwavering authenticity.

This initial trip, which is meant to be the first in a series of such journeys, will welcome three riders from around Europe, each chosen through an online application process.

To commemorate the ride, each member will receive a unique saddle stamp in recognition of their effort.

Wanna be part of Brooks’ first ‘Roots Journey’? You can apply on their website
 

18 January 2022, 10:23
Only Connect: the cycling edition

Cycling nerds the country over were shouting in unison at their television sets at around 8.20pm last night. And no, it wasn’t because the BBC aired a repeat of last year’s SPOTY…

On last night’s episode of Only Connect – the best quiz on TV, by far – viewers may have immediately recognised four famous bike brands hidden in the connecting wall. Unfortunately, the quizzers had no clue what a Cervelo was, but at least one of them did recognise Raleigh.

The question setters also included Teide (the preferred altitude haunt for the pro peloton these days), no doubt as a bonus treat for us bike geeks.

It’s not the first time that cycling has been featured in this series of Only Connect. On an earlier episode the 1999 Tour de France was provided as an example of an event with no winner (the sport’s existential questioning aside).

Here’s another one that was included this year: What comes fourth in this sequence?

2: e.g. Nicolas Frantz

3: e.g. Greg LeMond

4: Chris Froome

Answers in the comments! First to answer correctly wins a knowing nod of appreciation from me (what more could you ask for?).

Most importantly, who would have buzzed in straight after Nicolas Frantz for a five pointer?

18 January 2022, 09:51
Flood causes spectacular crash in Argentinian race

The Revancha de la Doble, a race held in the Argentinian city of Bragado, must have watched last year’s Paris-Roubaix or 2019’s sodden world championships in Yorkshire and thought “hold my beer”.

Because a short and sharp storm, which flooded towns and cities across the province of Buenos Aires, had an even more devastating effect on Sunday’s race, held for the first time since 2019, than the mud in the Arenberg forest or the saturated streets of Harrogate (though I was there in Harrogate that day, and I don’t think I’ve ever been completely warm since…).

Despite the commissaire’s decision to reduce the length of the race by an hour due to the harsh weather conditions, the finishing straight in Bragado remained completely flooded as the riders entered the final kilometre. In scenes reminiscent of a Cat 4 sprint finish, six riders fell in the melee and three were taken to hospital (although none were seriously injured). How the whole peloton didn’t go down, I have no idea.

Agustín Martínez, a former Argentinian U23 time trial champion, survived the chaos to triumph in the race’s fifteenth edition.

“It was an unexpected victory for me in this historic race, although it was a very unusual race with a lot of rain,” Martínez said after the race. Maybe he was just happy to still be upright after all that carnage…

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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