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Is that Cav on a Wilier? British champion ‘spotted’ in Spain riding Astana-liveried bike; Motorist says contraflow cycleway “won’t work in real world” – because cars might be scratched; Terry Hall’s love for folding bikes; New kits + more on the live blog

The festivities continue on the live blog this week, as Ryan Mallon returns for your Tuesday helping of cycling news and views
20 December 2022, 08:55
Mark Cavendish at Gran Torino 2022 (copyright Simon MacMichael)
Is that Cav on a Wilier? British champion ‘spotted’ in Spain riding Astana-liveried bike

Mark another day off on your green and rainbow-themed advent calendar, as the most eagerly anticipated social event of the year is almost upon us.

It’s nearly ‘Mark Cavendish signs for new team’ day! (Well, maybe…)

According to reports over the weekend, the 37-year-old sprinter had reportedly signed a deal with Alexander Vinokourov’s Astana-Qazaqstan and was set to join the team yesterday at their pre-season training camp in Calpe.

But until the cycling world is treated to a carefully choreographed poolside rap battle between Cav and Vino, we’ve been forced to live off the kind of scraps usually reserved for the dog on Christmas day.

Cavendish 'spotted' on Wilier Astana bike (credit - Kyosuke Takei)

Which is exactly what I’ve got for you this morning!

A grainy clip posted to Twitter last night by one cyclist/part-time sleuth currently getting in the miles in the south-east of Spain appears to show a rider with a familiar stocky build, wearing what appears to be a British champion’s jersey, riding what – if you squint hard enough – appears to be a Wilier bike, decked out in that distinctive Astana shade of blue…

While several cycling fans have welcomed the video as concrete evidence that the ink is currently drying on Cavendish’s new deal, some aren’t as convinced:

Others, meanwhile (mostly those who own Wiliers themselves) are excited about the possibility of the former world champion sprinting to Tour de France glory aboard one of these Italian beauties:

In any case, Cavendish’s fraught, rumour-laden December has prompted many onlookers to embrace their inner online football fandom – ‘Come on Vino, announce Cav!’

20 December 2022, 10:28
South Road, Bournemouth (Google Maps)
“I don’t see many cyclists in the area so there isn’t a need for a cycle lane”: ‘But my car’ motorist says contraflow cycleway “won’t work in real world” – because cars might be scratched

Speaking of completely rational and coherent takes on proposals to install some rudimentary cycling infrastructure…

Down in Bournemouth, BCP Council is currently working on plans to introduce a contraflow system for cyclists on two of the coastal town’s residential roads which, naturally, have provoked some festive outrage from angry motorists in the local newspaper.

While they won’t see the installation of any actual safe or protected cycling infrastructure (don’t get carried away now), the council’s plans will allow cyclists to ride in both directions on Boscombe Grove Road and South Road – both one-way streets – in a bid to provide “a more direct route” for people on bikes, and according to the government’s guidelines for “low speed, low flow” roads.

Boscombe Grove Road, Bournemouth (Google Maps)

Boscombe Grove Road, Bournemouth

However, one local driver has blasted the proposals, which he says might lead to cars being scratched. God forbid…

“It isn’t practical. I understand it has worked in other areas, but it won’t work here,” Mark Elkins told the Daily Echo, who helpfully published a photo of the motorist giving the plans the ‘thumbs down’ from his car, just in case you were confused about what side of the debate he was on.

“The government say there must be 4.6 metres of road to allow for a contraflow cycle lane,” added Elkins, who appears unaware that a cycle lane won’t actually be installed on the roads in question.

“But in reality South Road barely allows cars to go up, let along people on bicycles. A medium size car, such as a Honda Civic, is 1.8m wide from the edge of the car to the kerbside.

“Double that and it’s 3.6m, leaving a metre free, but you can’t have cars up against each other because there would be scratches.

“If you’re lucky there is half a metre left for bikes to go in the opposite direction, but that’s not always the case as lorries and vans come up here too.”

He continued: “I also don’t see many cyclists in the area so there isn’t a need for a cycle lane on the roads.

“When they are on the road, nobody will be able to overtake them and it will lead to a farcical situation. It seems the council has been given money by the government and the reality is it is a waste of public money.”

Responding to Mr Elkin’s well-reasoned argument, a BCP council spokesperson said: “There are no plans for a new cycle lane on Boscombe Grove Road or South Road.

“However, we are planning to allow cycling in both directions on Boscombe Grove Road and South Road (which are one-way roads) as per government guidelines for low speed-low flow roads. These will not be marked cycle facilities, although there will be signs indicating that cycling in both directions is allowed.

"The plans to allow cycling in both directions on Boscombe Grove Road and South Road fully comply with national highway guidelines, including required road widths, which encourage contraflow cycling as it provides a more direct route for cyclists.”

20 December 2022, 16:55
South Road, Bournemouth (Google Maps)
Reader reaction: A late entry for the NIMBY of the Year award and Cav’s replica Astana kit

A bit of reaction to end the live blog this evening (my last blog of 2022, as well, so let’s go out in style)…

eburtthebike reckons Bournemouth resident Mark Elkins – who dismissed the possibility of a contraflow cycle system near his home with the classic line, “I understand it has worked in other areas, but it won’t work here” – is deserving of a late entry for 2022’s NIMBY of the Year award.

“Straight into the top three,” says the reader.

“I think the Daily Echo chose the wrong photo of Mark Elkins – I prefer this file photo,” writes OnYerBike.


They continued:

He seems to have completely misunderstood what the council plan. Permitting contraflow cycling means putting up a few signs – no paint, no lanes, no change to the road layout. Just ‘Except cyclists’ under the No Entry and a few contraflow signs on lampposts.

He is right that there is unlikely to be much room for a bike and a car to pass in some places, but that's no different than many other similar roads. In practice, it's not an issue (and no, there's nothing about the ‘reality’ of those particular roads that make them different). It's a rare occurrence anyway (given low flows of both) but when it does happen the road users simple manage to negotiate past, even if it means one pulling right over to let the other past.

As for ‘When they are on the road, nobody will be able to overtake them and it will lead to a farcical situation’ I'm not quite sure what he means. If he's talking about cyclists travelling with the flow of traffic, I agree those roads are not wide enough to permit safe overtaking. The motorist will simply have to wait behind until they reach the end of the road (Google Maps estimates a typical cyclist will take ~1 minute to travel the 0.2 mile length of South Road), which is hardly "farcical". And it's also already permitted so the new plans don't change that.

Unless of course he is simply worried that the new plans will encourage more cycling and therefore increase the chance of being mildly inconvenienced...

I would also point out that the contraflow system might actually mean you are less likely to be ‘stuck’ behind a cyclist - if you encounter a cyclist coming the other way, as per the above, you negotiate past each other and then both carry on your merry way.

Others had questions about how the new contraflow system would work in practice.

“Whilst his initial reasoning is wrong, are they going to signpost cyclists have ‘priority’ if cycling up ‘against the flow’? Because I can't see a driver relenting otherwise,” says AlsoSomniloquism.

Mattw asked: “Does low speed zone, birectional cycling and one way for motor vehicles mean that they will be putting in a 20mph speed limit (which is currently not there)?”

Cavendish 'spotted' on Wilier Astana bike (credit - Kyosuke Takei)

And finally, onto everyone’s favourite unsolved mystery…

“I reckon Cav is just going to start wearing Astana kit he's bought from a shop, turning up at training camps and races and everyone will just run with it and assume that someone else made the decision to actually sign him,” says ShutTheFrontDawes.

“Basically, just bluff his way through. He's got nothing to lose at this point.”

If that’s what it takes to get that 35th stage win, I wouldn’t put it past him…

Have a great Christmas everyone!

20 December 2022, 16:21
Looks like someone was told to use up all the white paint by the end of the year…

Just when you thought Salford’s tragic roundabout for cyclists couldn’t get any more ridiculous, the city’s Labour-run council – fresh from defending the new, some might say ‘unnecessary’, piece of active travel infra – decided that what the whole thing actually needed was even more road markings:

20 December 2022, 15:29
“I’ve seen more convincing pictures of Bigfoot”: Internet reacts with cynicism to Cavendish sighting

Grainy videos and photos, speculative reports of tyre tracks tracks near Benidorm, unconfirmed sightings in Calpe, whispered rumours on Twitter…

It’s safe to say that the ‘where is Cav?’ gossip has reached fever pitch today (it’s Christmas, there’s not much else on I suppose).

However, this morning’s latest shred of ‘evidence’ that the British champion is in Calpe, putting pen to paper on a deal with everyone’s favourite Kazakh WorldTour team, Astana – that will almost certainly guarantee his place at next year’s Tour de France – has been greeted with more than a touch of cynicism on Twitter:

So, what will we get to see first this week? Sasquatch or Cav in an Astana jersey?

20 December 2022, 15:02
Teenage unicyclist rides entire US east coast on 3,000km bike path to highlight need for safe cycling infrastructure

There’s ultra-cycling, then there’s ultra-cycling… on a unicycle.

19-year-old Avery Seuter is showing Mark Beaumont and the rest how it’s done, by riding a unicycle from his hometown of Wells, Maine, the most north-easterly of all the United States, to Key West, Florida (the country’s south-eastern-most tip), in a bid to highlight the need for safe cycling infrastructure and to raise funds for the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000km pedestrian and cycle path connecting the two states.

“I’ve been commuting by unicycle to work and school in my hometown and I noticed that the infrastructure has a bit of a deficit for people walking and cycling,” he told the Guardian from South Carolina, 1,600 miles and over three months into his epic trip.

“It’s not super accessible to people outside of a car so I was curious [about] what kinds of infrastructure were out there.

“Right now our bike lanes… are pretty typical of what you see in the US. They’re right on the road and they might be painted in but there’s no separation between cars and cyclists and pedestrians. So, it’s fairly unsafe compared to having a separated trail.

“By going out and seeing what kinds of infrastructure have been implemented throughout the country, it would help me to better advocate when I go back to my town.”

Seuter, who covers 20 to 30 miles a day over six hours on his unicycle, expects to arrive in Key West in February, though admits the trip’s early days were a struggle.

“I wasn’t really prepared to start doing so many miles every day, so the first couple days – until I got some muscles built out – was kind of a struggle,” the 19-year-old said.

“It’s consistent because the wheel doesn’t have any gears, so you have to constantly pedal… but at this point it’s sort of the same each day so there’s not a ton of extra exertion that might make me sore and I’m not going superfast. It’s not terrible.”

Fair play to you, Avery.

Now, I reckon Jeremy Vine riding the Transcontinental on his penny-farthing would help further the cause of cycling infra in the UK and Europe. Come on Jez, you know you want to…

20 December 2022, 14:18
Jumbo-Visma reveal new old kit

Over the border into the Netherlands now, where Jumbo-Visma have become the last squad to unveil their new kit for 2023:

At least, I think it’s their new kit – could just be a leftover from this year…

Apparently, the coloured border around the jersey’s black midsection – look closely, you’ll see it – is there to mark the 38-year-old Dutch squad’s tenth anniversary (bear with me), with blue representing the rather classy sponsor-less Blanco kit of 2013, while the green signifies the Belkin era, and so on.

Unfortunately, by the looks of things, there was no room for that famous Rabobank orange. I’m not sure why…

20 December 2022, 13:21
Less WorldTour, more orange and teal for Lotto-Dstny

After being relegated from the WorldTour and dropped by co-title sponsor Soudal in favour of Belgian rivals Quick-Step (it’s like Omega Pharma all over again), one of the peloton’s longest-standing squads is heading into 2023 with a refreshed outlook and a lot more blue in their kit.

That delightful shade of teal comes courtesy of Belgian cloud communications provider (and Only Connect answer) Dstny, while Caleb Ewan, Thomas de Gendt and Arnaud de Lie will also be sporting a flashy orange strip, giving the kit some ‘Bahrain-Victorious (or 2023 Ineos) swimming in the sea’ vibes.

I quite like it. Pity we won’t see it at the Giro though, as Lotto say they’re giving the Italian grand tour a miss next year in order to avoid stretching their youthful squad.

20 December 2022, 12:51
Davide Rebellin (licensed CC BY SA 2.0 on Flickr by Tete de la Course).PNG
Davide Rebellin post-mortem confirms that Italian’s death was caused by impact with lorry

Davide Rebellin’s funeral will take place on Friday morning after a post-mortem confirmed that the Italian’s death was caused by the impact with a lorry, the driver of which allegedly stopped immediately after the collision, only to then drive off, fleeing back to Germany.

Rebellin, who had just recently retired from professional cycling after 30 years in the peloton, died on 30 November, aged 51, after he was struck while out training by a lorry driver on a roundabout near his hometown of Lonigo, northern Italy.

> Lorry driver who killed Davide Rebellin reportedly got out of cab, looked at dead cyclist, then drove off

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, no underlying medical conditions were discovered during the post-mortem which could have contributed to the fatal collision.

In January, Italian police – who are considering issuing a European arrest warrant for the German lorry driver – will carry out a dynamic reconstruction of the incident, as well as surveying the damage to Rebellin’s bike and using photographic and video evidence supplied by witnesses and local CCTV cameras, to fully understand what happened at the time of the collision.

Rebellin’s funeral will be held at 10am on Friday at Lonigo’s cathedral. A chapel of rest is expected to open on Thursday for those wishing to pay their respects to the Italian classics star.

20 December 2022, 12:11
Cees Bol beats Jake Stewart on stage two of 2022 Tour of Britain (Will Palmer/SWpix)
Yet more Cav gossip as potential lead-out man posts Strava ride with Astana pros

Until that Cav v Vino rap battle video arrives – or, as someone suggested on Twitter, a ballroom dance-off, befitting the sprinter’s adolescent penchant for a rumba – there’s still plenty of tantalising titbits to keep us entertained.

Former DSM sprinter and 2022 Tour of Britain stage winner Cees Bol, who was rumoured to be lining up alongside Cavendish at the ill-fated B&B Hôtels squad, added some Strava fuel to the fire last night by uploading his 113km training ride around Calpe (where Astana are currently based, cough, cough), which he appears to have undertaken as part of a group of Astana riders (even bigger cough).

According to VeloNews, sources have confirmed that both Cavendish and Bol joined the Astana pre-season training camp yesterday, but the team continues to remain silent on the matter.

As Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part…

20 December 2022, 11:37
“It’s not about just getting around quickly. It’s about seeing the world”

As you can tell from this rather cool video, cyclist Boru McCullagh is now almost a third of the way through his 34,000km bikepacking trip around the world, which he hopes will help raise money and awareness for the mental health charity Mind.

You can donate to Mind through Boru’s JustGiving page.

20 December 2022, 10:59
“It’s like origami”: Terry Hall’s love for folding bikes

As the music world remembers Terry Hall, The Specials’ frontman who died at the weekend after a brief illness, we thought we’d pay tribute to the 2 Tone pioneer by sharing a heart-warming story he told BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Mary Anne Hobbs about overcoming depression and finding joy in even the simplest things in life – like a folding bike.

“I didn’t realise I was spending the first 50 years of my life in this bubble called depression,” the ska icon said during the 2019 interview.

“And people told me about it, but I had no idea what I was doing. Then ten years ago, I had to get attention because of an incident, and I found a doctor. And she’s got me out of this bubble, and said, ‘you’ve got an illness’, but we can deal with it.

“For the last, at least, five years, have been unbelievably brilliant. And appreciating things on a different level, which I never thought I would.

“Like really simple things – on the way in here I saw a folding bike. And that has made my day, that you can fold a bike to that size. It’s like origami.

“But if I can get one thing like that every day, then I’m so happy… People always say to me, ‘you’ve got a number one record, you were handed this, why didn’t you smile?’

“And I don’t know why I didn’t smile. But that folding bike made me smile.”

20 December 2022, 09:57
“When the council submits plans for a bike lane”
20 December 2022, 09:26
More transfer rumours (not really)

Intermarché strikes again:

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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