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New cycle lanes blamed for parking chaos, road rage, and children almost getting hit by drivers; Pidcock for Prime Minister; “Confusing” new cycleway branded a “dangerous mess”; Motorists getting mistakenly angry at cyclists + more on the live blog

Happy Friday! Ryan Mallon’s back in the hot seat for the final live blog of a rather eventful week
21 October 2022, 15:46
“A dangerous mess”: Cyclists blast “confusing” new Belfast cycleway

Northern Ireland’s active travel infrastructure has come under scrutiny in recent months – not least from Cycling UK, who expressed concern in September that Stormont’s inactivity was “locking us all into a fossil-fuelled dark age” – and, most of the time, it’s not hard to see why.

This video, posted on Twitter by cyclist Anne, depicts – astonishingly – one of Belfast’s newer and better examples of cycling infra, located in the east of the city near the Harland and Wolff shipyard and boasting a rather confusing layout which then, helpfully, spits its users out at a massive junction:

Several Belfast cyclists chimed in to agree with Anne’s assessment of the cycleway, which was branded a “dangerous mess” and designed purely to “not disrupt cars”:

21 October 2022, 16:57
Rigoberto Uran Poc.jpg
Rigoberto Urán postpones retirement, extends EF Education-EasyPost contract

In a year where it seems like an entire generation of pro cyclists have decided to step off the bike, it may not have been a total surprise to learn that Rigoberto Urán was almost ready to follow in the wheel tracks of Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde and Philippe Gilbert into retirement.

However, despite toying with the idea of leaving the sport throughout 2022, the enigmatic Colombian, who will turn 36 in January, has finally agreed to a contract extension with EF Education-EasyPost, the team where he has spent the last seven years and with whom he achieved second overall at the Tour de France in 2017.

“I decided to keep racing because I like it. I have a lot of passion for what I do. My life is on the bike,” Urán, whose decision to retire was put on hold following a stage win at the Vuelta and a good run in the Italian autumn classics, said in a statement released by EF this afternoon.

“The most important thing is family support,” he continued. “My family likes being here in Europe. They spend a lot of time away from Colombia so if they like it here, that’s important. Me, I love it here, I love riding, so I want to keep going for a few more years. I get to combine my life in Colombia with sports here in Europe and I have my family’s support, so I decided to continue racing for a few more years.

“I’ve been racing for many years. You don’t always find a team like this. EF Education-EasyPost is like a family. I really get on well with the team. Everyone is very professional. It’s a team that gives you a lot of opportunities. It’s a team that allows you to try a lot of things. You have opportunities to show your talent in grand tours and in other races. You don’t find this with a lot of teams so I knew I wanted to continue with the team. It’s a team that I love.”

21 October 2022, 15:12
Luis León Sánchez returns to Astana after year-long sabbatical at Bahrain-Victorious

Cycling commentators, who have spent all of 2022 struggling to understand why Spanish veteran Luis León Sánchez was wearing a red kit, will be relieved to hear that the 38-year-old will be returning to the familiar light blue colours of Astana next season.

Sánchez – who, following compatriot Alejandro Valverde’s retirement, is one of the few Operación Puerto alumni left in the peloton – initially signed with Bahrain-Victorious on a two-year deal until the end of 2023, but appears to have opted out of that contract to return to Alexandr Vinokourov’s squad, where he spent seven years between 2015 and 2022 (as well as the second half of 2006, but that was for… reasons).

“I am incredibly happy to return to the Astana team, in fact, to return home,” Sánchez said in a statement. “I have great feelings, having signed a contract with the team again, for me it is a great joy and a huge motivation. I want to thank Alexandr Vinokurov and the entire management for this opportunity. It happened that at the end of the last year we had to part ways, but I used this season as productively as possible, I worked hard, gained new experience, tried to improve professionally.

“Of course, I am grateful to my current team for the great opportunity to spend the 2022 season together, but now I am looking forward to reuniting with Astana Qazaqstan Team to continue moving towards new goals together.”

The former Caisse d'Epargne and Rabobank rider had a solid if not spectacular sole season at Bahrain, finishing 13th and 16th overall at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España respectively, and has signed a one-year contract with Astana, possibly with a view to retiring at the end of 2023.

21 October 2022, 14:20
French football fans cycling from Paris to Doha for World Cup, all in the name of sustainable travel

We’ve got another football-cycling mashup for you on the live blog today (I’m having flashbacks to when Tadej Pogačar visited Manchester City’s training ground), this time focusing on the upcoming not-at-all-controversial World Cup in Qatar.

Reuters reports that two France fans are cycling 6,500km from Paris to Doha for football’s quadrennial celebration of greed, excess and boring group stage matches – all in the name of sustainable transport.

Mehdi Balamissa, a documentary filmmaker, and TV producer Gabriel Martin came up with the idea of riding their bikes to Qatar after cycling the still-considerable journey to northern Italy for the 2021 UEFA Nations League Finals.

They set off from the Stade de France in Paris on 20 August and have so far clocked up 5,000km, covering 120km a day. They arrived in Jordan last week, and still have to cross Saudi Arabia before reaching Qatar, where the World Cup will kick off in just under a month’s time (wow, that feels weird to write in October).

“With this trip we are able to promote sustainable mobility, another way of travelling and we can show people that with your legs it can give you so many adventures around your place or maybe further,” 26-year-old Balamissa told Reuters.

Not that the trip has been easy on the legs, Martin pointed out.

“The main challenge is to cover a huge distance. Sometimes it is flat but sometimes it is climbing a lot,” he said.

In any case, the two-wheeled tourists are convinced their mammoth tour of Europe and the Middle East won’t be in vain, as they support their country’s bid to defend its title, won in Russia in 2018.

“Gabriel and I, we would not be on our bicycles at the moment in Jordan if we did not think that France would win the World Cup,” Balamissa said.

21 October 2022, 13:49
“This is so local Tory”

More topical political tweets now, as’s Simon points out a key discrepancy in the Tottenham Conservatives’ approach to local and national issues, helpfully illustrated through consecutive posts on the group’s account:

21 October 2022, 13:12
Timmy Mallett’s bike tour of Britain draws to a close
21 October 2022, 11:56
The Daily Mash strikes again… or is it The Times?

The Daily Mash’s latest satirical take on frothing anti-cycling motorists features this brilliant but depressingly believable quote from fictional motorist Martin Bishop: “Time and again he was taking tedious precautionary measures to avoid being hospitalised. Meanwhile, I was stuck behind him for several seconds, unable to get past. He very nearly made me slightly less early for work.”

The article's headline, rather worryingly, also bears more than a passing resemblance to The Times’ (actual, real) strap from the weekend which suggested that the primary purpose of cargo bike riders is to “annoy drivers”…

What’s that old saying about satire’s life expectancy? 

21 October 2022, 11:14
Filippo Ganna training with OGC Nice (credit- Ineos Grenadiers)
Nice’s new signings look familiar…

It’s fair to say that – a bit like the Ineos Grenadiers’ attempts to regain their Tour de France title in recent years – Dave Brailsford’s stint as director of sport at OGC Nice, the French football club that also falls under the increasingly wide Ineos umbrella, isn’t going too well.

Despite a busy summer transfer window that saw some longstanding stalwarts of the English game, such as former Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and one-time prodigy Ross Barkley, brought in, the club has struggled so far this season and are currently languishing in the bottom half of Ligue 1, just four points above the relegation zone. They are also locked in a tight battle to progress from their Europa Conference League group (the Hammer Series of football, effectively).

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sir Dave Brailsford (copyright Simon Wilkinson,

Simon Wilkinson,

Some French football followers have blamed Nice’s stuttering season on Brailsford himself, who is currently living in a “luxury camper” beside the club’s training ground as he attempts to rectify the problems seemingly inherent in another of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s greenwashing exercises.

“I think Brailsford is making a lot of mistakes at Nice that is very much counterproductive to what the project is and what it should be,” journalist Julien Laurens told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast last week.

“He reminds me a little bit of Sir Clive Woodward when England won the Rugby World Cup. He thought he could go into any sport, including football, and be successful and it just doesn’t happen like that.”


So, how exactly is Dave B going to stop the rot on the French Riviera?

By bringing in Filippo Ganna, that’s how:

Ganna, alongside Ineos Grenadiers teammates Magnus Sheffield and Brandon Rivera, spent some time this month training with Nice’s first team, perhaps in an attempt to instil some of the football-cycling crossover magic seemingly possessed by former PSV youth player Remco Evenepoel.

Or maybe they reckon Hour Record holder Ganna can just about do anything, at least until the January transfer window rolls around?

I can see it now – Rivera on the wing, Sheffield putting in a shift as a box-to-box midfielder, and Ganna bossing things from centre-half. That’ll show PSG…

21 October 2022, 10:29
Rush hour traffic, Houghton (Sunderland Echo, Daily Motion)
“An accident waiting to happen”: Recently installed cycle lanes blamed for parking chaos, road rage, and children almost getting hit by motorists

Residents in Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland, have been subjected in recent months to “complete gridlock”, instances of road rage as motorists attempt to weave between parked cars, and several near misses involving drivers and children – all of which they have blamed on the recent installation of cycle lanes outside a school.

The Sunderland Echo has reported that people living on Houghton’s Bridle Way have called for action after raising “serious concerns” about the bike lane on the nearby Old Durham Road.

> Anti-cycle lane councillor now furious that HGVs are putting schoolchildren in danger

The changes on the Old Durham Road form part of Sunderland City Council’s A690 cycleway scheme, which aims to reallocate existing road space to allow “full segregation” between pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, “to create sustainable transport links whilst also improving road safety for all users”.

The scheme has included extending the width of the pavement on Durham Road, to allow the creation of the bike lane, which was completed in the summer.

However, residents say that parents – who would have parked on the Old Durham Road to collect their children from St Michael’s Catholic Primary School – are now parking on side roads, causing apparent “gridlock”.

Locals say that parking issues – ostensibly caused by the new bike lanes – are also arising on Sunday mornings before and after mass at St Michael’s, and while football and rugby training and matches are taking place on the school’s pitches.

> Enforcing cycle lane would prevent drivers from parking (illegally) outside Presbyterian church, claims Dublin elder

“We were not notified of these works in public engagement in December 2021 and we did not receive a letter regarding this from Sunderland City Council,” resident Vicki Bray told the Sunderland Echo.

“The main issue this cycle lane causes is a serious safety concern. The way parking is happening at the moment with parents from St Michael’s RC School parking on both sides of old Durham Road, both sides of Bridle Way, in the cemetery and on all corners restricts the view for people leaving Bridle Way and leading to complete grid lock.

“It’s an absolute nightmare, just an accident waiting to happen, it’s really worrying.”

Father Marc Lyden-Smith of St Michael’s Catholic Church added: “There’s around 220 people that attend mass on a Sunday and people use the Rugby club too so it can get pretty chaotic – it’s like organised chaos.

"We’ve been told the situation will be monitored for next six months so we’ll just have live with it for now and wait and see what happens.”

The newspaper also reports that double yellow lines are expected to be added on the Durham Road over the coming months, and will be monitored by warden, something Vicki Bray says will “only make things worse”.

“Nobody is listening to us,” she says. “During the school rush, there’s people beeping their horns at each other, shouting and just trying to weave in between the parked cars.

“There have been several near misses with children nearly being knocked over, it’s just not safe. We are proposing a resident permit scheme is put in place to allow us to use our own street safety. It would reduce the risk of a serious accident happening.”

> Protected bike lanes on school routes must be urgent government priority, says Sustrans

Responding to the complaints, Sunderland City Council said: “We have seen some temporary traffic disruption as work continues on creating a new cycleway that will link Houghton to Sunderland city centre and beyond. The work is being carried out as part of a £4m package of government funding to bring cycling benefits to more people.

"When complete, the project will create more sustainable and low carbon transport links while improving road safety for all users.

“Council officers are proactively working with residents to address their concerns and we will soon be implementing an experimental Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) in this area.

"We would like to thank motorists for their patience while this phase of work is carried out. It is scheduled to be complete by the end of this month, and the overall scheme is scheduled to be completed in spring next year.”

21 October 2022, 09:29
“Britain's prime minister leaving office not the only departure of the day”

Now, this is certainly one way to passive-aggressively announce that one of your team’s most promising riders has terminated his contract early and will be joining EF Education-EasyPost for 2023:


Ouch again (for the former PM this time).

Nevertheless, Quick Step’s very own version of Liz Truss, Mikkel Honoré – who spent four years at the Belgian team, winning a stage of the Tour of the Basque Country and finishing fourth at the Tour of Britain along the way – seemed rather happier about his premature exit (a lot like Truss herself then, I imagine).

“I am just super excited,” Honoré said in a statement issued by his team for 2023, EF Education-EasyPost, where he will be linking up with fellow Danes Magnus Cort and Michael Valgren.

“It is a new start and chapter for me, and I can’t wait to meet all of the management, riders, and staff and get going for next year.

“I can race in almost every kind of terrain and hopefully bring a good mood and atmosphere to the team. I love to race and attack and am looking forward to getting more opportunities with EF. I am excited to go to races with a plan to take the win. I know I have the level and the capacity to do so. We are going to have a very good team.”

21 October 2022, 08:58
‘Why don’t cyclists use the cycle lane?’, part 1,345: Eh, because it’s for pedestrians…

Or, ‘Motorists getting angry at cyclists for no reason’… 

21 October 2022, 08:01
2021 tom pidcock gold medal team gb great britain mountain bike tokyo 2020 olympics
Pidcock for Prime Minister

As the Conservative party scrambles to fill yet another job vacancy, one unlikely prime ministerial candidate – and current Olympic mountain bike and cyclocross world champion – has thrown his hat in the ring:

 As someone with a reputation for making things go downhill rapidly, I’m sure Tom would fit right in at No. 10 (along with his ability to fib a bit – though over 5km run times, not expenses or lockdown parties, thankfully).

2022 TdF stage 12 pidcock ineos Zac Williams/

Zac Williams/

But who else from the cycling world, do you reckon, could step up and succeed Liz Truss as Prime Minister?

It’s a Friday morning, just go with me on this one…

Chris Boardman (copyright Allan McKenzie,

An obvious candidate would surely be Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman. Known throughout his career for his meticulous attention to detail (now, that would make a change) and experienced in dealing with the murky world of Westminster, Active Travel England’s head honcho would also surely end the ‘cyclists need registration plates’ debate once and for all.

Sir Dave Brailsford and Chris Froome (picture credit Simon Wilkinson,

Simon Wilkinson,

Or how about one of the architects of British Cycling’s rise to the top, Sir Dave Brailsford? A jargon-laden master of talking a lot without really saying anything at all, ‘Teflon’ Dave would fit right in at Whitehall, after he’s busy conquering the rest of the sporting world (or at least trying to, which we’ll get to later on the blog).

Perhaps Marianne Vos could calmly, but ruthlessly and efficiently as well, steer the UK back on course after a few years in the wilderness?

Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault’s no-nonsense approach could also help to sort out the chaos unfolding around us all at the moment – though the Breton’s penchant for manhandling anyone who steps out of line may make him more suited to the position of Chief Whip…

What other cycling figures, in this weird hypothetical world I’ve created this morning, do you think could fix – gestures wildly – all of this? Let us know in the comments!

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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