World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says it is "entitled to ask certain questions" and will investigate why a drug commonly used to treat multiple sclerosis was found in the hair sample of three riders competing at last year's Tour de France. Tizanidine is not a banned substance, but was found during the raid of a team hotel during the race, and three riders were subsequently found to have it in their hair samples.
Olivier Rabin, scientific director of WADA, said the organisation will study its effects to try and work out why it might be used by cyclists. He told L'Equipe: "It is not a substance considered to be prohibited at this time. That said, in view of the latest events, we have put it on the agenda of the 'list committee' for the month of January.
"We do not know this substance too well because it is used for therapeutic purposes. What is interesting by looking at his profile is that we can legitimately ask ourselves the question of what could be the use for doping purposes.
"In the profile of tizanidine, except when there is an excess of muscle tone, as can be seen in certain degenerative pathologies, one can ask the question of its use. An effect on a normal muscle seems inconclusive."
Tizanidine is normally used to treat multiple sclerosis as a muscle relaxer. Shortly after a report was published saying three riders were found to have it in their hair samples, Team Bahrain Victorious, whose hotel was raided during the race, published a statement saying...
Team Bahrain Victorious and any of its riders have not been officially or unofficially notified about any findings related to tizanidine or other substances.
The team would like to stress that the authors of the scientific article to which all allegations refer have unambiguously pointed out that tizanidine is not a prohibited substance in sport.
North Yorkshire County Council is aiming to make it easier for people to swap cars for bikes by mapping all the area's non-public right of way cycle routes for the first time. Richmondshire Today reports the move will see a cycle route map spanning covering England's largest county.
An officer said: "We recognise it is not that easy to find out where those routes are. We are moving towards making that more accessible."
Another cool story popping up from Wielerflits and well worth a read is the tale of junior rider Nathan Smith winning bronze at the weekend's UCI Cyclocross World Championships on the bike of legend Sven Nys.
Nico Dick reports the UCI rejected Smith's Ribble bike for being the incorrect dimensions, before Nys stepped in to save the day. "When we saw that happen, we came to his aid. Nobody wanted an 18-year-old boy, who is an outsider by the way, to miss his first World Championships," Nys told the news website.
Nathan's father Andy said it shows "how great the cyclocross community is"...
"We were very concerned. We thought his World Championships, which he had worked so hard for, was over. We are very grateful to Sven."
Greg Van Avermaet has no concerns about not being allowed to race, despite rules introduced by the French government. The Belgian, who rides for French team AG2R Citroën has delayed his booster vaccine until after the Classics campaign, leading to some dubbing him the Novak Djokovic of cycling...
Last autumn the 2017 Paris-Roubaix winner said he suspects the Covid vaccine was the cause of his poor form..."My body is fighting an unknown enemy and it could be the vaccine," he said.
The 2016 Olympic champion now hopes his positive test from November will act as a substitute for the booster in his vaccine passport paperwork, required to race in France from February 15.
Van Avermaet is racing the opening stage of Étoile de Bessèges in France as we speak, and told reporters yesterday that he is "fine" and "clear" to race without the booster vaccine until after Paris-Roubaix (the end of his spring campaign).
"I don't know why I'm always getting these questions about vaccination," he said. "I'm fine. I have my Covid passport. I'm clear. I'm vaccinated. No worries.
Replying to a question about him being like Serbian tennis star Djokovic, who missed the Australian Open after refusing the vaccine, Van Avermaet replied: "I just don’t understand, because I’m vaccinated. So I don’t understand. I don't know why people ask me. It's probably because I said that I was having lesser performances after my vaccination."
At the Saudi Tour this lunchtime, Santiago Buitrago of Bahrain-Victorious won stage two and takes the lead of the race, winning atop a punchy climb. Notably Caleb Ewan was sixth, climbing well and still a couple of months away from San Remo...ominous.
He may have got the SPOTY snub from the BBC, but Mark Cavendish is up for a prestigious Laureus World Sports Award. Cav's been nominated in the Laureus World Comeback of the Year category alongside US gymnast Simone Biles, Tom Daley, eight-time MotoGP champion Marc Márquez, Annemiek van Vleuten and British Olympic bronze medal-winning skateboarder Sky Brown.
Other cyclists nominated for gongs alongside Cavendish and Van Vleuten include Dame Sarah Storey and Jetze Plat in the Sportsperson of the Year With a Disability category, and BMXer Bethany Shriever in the Action Sportsperson of the Year category.
We're biased but it's got to be a win for the Manx Missile, right?
The winners will be revealed in April, after the categories have been voted on by the Laureus World Sports Academy, a group of 71 of the "greatest sporting legends of all time"...
For me, the main thought reading all this vile stuff, is that while there are bad/inconsiderate road users everywhere in the world, the vitriol, frustration and bile directed towards cyclists feels particularly British.
I'm not sure if it's about cycling at all really. https://t.co/w6MdMzVPwV
— Jeremy Whittle (@jeremycwhittle) January 31, 2022
Australian cycling apparel brand MAAP has once again collaborated with performance eyewear specialists 100%, this time for some ultra-light shades that are available in two new exclusive shades, silver and copper.
With the UltraCarbon frame, and weighing in at just 23 grams, the new MAAP x 100% Hypercraft sunnies are said to be "lighter, stronger and more dynamic than any performance shield on the market".
Designed in California and Australia, the sunnies feature a wide-wrapping oversized lens for an increased peripheral view and protection. The lens has been manufactured in France from shatter and impact-resistant polycarbonate materials and has been given an hydrophobic and oleophobic lens treatment for repelling water, oil, and dirt.
You can find more details and get yourself one of these limited edition sunnies for £185 at maap.cc...
G made a thing of uploading delightful looking ocean vistas and sunny training snaps this winter, often titled with nods to Wales. Obviously us, being gullible, and many of his followers, took this as G enjoying some unseasonably lovely Welsh weather. Eventually, we cottoned on to the joke...
But now we have proof...you're not in Tenby, G...but California...
Turned onto Mulholland today about to start a 5-min max interval when I saw @GeraintThomas86 in front of me on what looked like an easy spin. Was embarrassed to be the guy blowing past a Tour de France winner so I went the other way. Still funny, though.
— Phil Gaimon (@philgaimon) February 1, 2022
Promise there's some non-Ineos content, and non-pro cycling, coming next...just so happens they've got a lot of big names doing notable things...
Ineos Grenadiers climber Egan Bernal remains in intensive care this week and will undergo a second operation on his spine.
The 25-year-old is set for another surgery on the cervical section above the thoracic vertebrae, following further examinations by doctors at Clínica Universidad de La Sabana hospital in Bogotá.
Hospital director Juan Guillermo Ortiz Martínez said...
After moving forward in the recovery of the areas involved in his polytrauma (musculoskeletal, respiratory, hemodynamic and neurological systems), new diagnostic images were performed and it was determined, in an interdisciplinary manner, that the patient will undergo surgery on the cervical spine. This intervention will favour the process of rehabilitating him. This intervention will take place tomorrow [Wednesday] afternoon.
We move forward with the patient in all his recovery processes, confident in his prompt improvement. We will be reporting the post-operative evolution of the athlete at the time the procedure is finished.
Bernal told fans he is grateful for the hospital's help after having a 95 per cent chance of being a paraplegic following the collision with a parked bus...
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) February 1, 2022
Too bad he's heading straight onto the road...but at least we can look forward to seeing this next winter.
Catch all the reaction from Pidcock's win on Monday's live blog...there are memes, amusing childhood anecdotes and all the stair-running content you could ever wish to see.
Topical for today:
Van Driver ".... You're in the middle of the road...."
Cyclist "... Read the Highway Code..."
Court = 4 points + £364#highwaycode #3rdpartyreporting#greatestthreatofharm #driverbehavior@roadcc @markandcharlie @MikeyCycling @theJeremyVine @HantsPolRoads pic.twitter.com/bsETNhCnt0
— Copnor Cam Cyclist (@CopnorCyclist) January 29, 2022
"Read the Highway Code!"...if ever a phrase summed up the past week as a UK-based cycling journalist...
This performance, from last February, earned the driver four points on their licence, £220 fine, £110 costs and a £34 surcharge. Totally worth the impatience...
— Copnor Cam Cyclist (@CopnorCyclist) January 30, 2022
Hampshire Police, unsurprisingly, took a dim view of the driving, concluding "you're [not actually] in the middle of the road" is never an excuse for an aggressive close pass.
CyclingMikey was one of the many to comment on the clip, replying to someone having a pop at the rider for hitting the van: "Don't threaten someone's life with potentially three tonnes of van, and you won't have to worry about someone banging on the van. It's completely normal to bang on any vehicle coming that close."
Jeremy Vine also chipped in with congratulations for the outcome from the police.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.