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"Christ on a bike!" Vatican City officially becomes a UCI cycling federation; Some cyclists are rejoicing at UK petrol shortages; Ineos switch to Bioracer for 2022; Disc brake 'conspiracy' comments; Ex-pro banned for 9 years + more on the live blog

It's Friday! Jack Sexty will be blogging you through the morning and afternoon before we all clock off for the weekend...
24 September 2021, 14:57
Final reminder: Drink At Your Desk Live with Ned Boulting starts at 4.30pm on our YouTube channel!

And we've embedded it here for your convenience so you can read all about the world's holiest cycling federation, petrol panic buying and disc brakes then just press play at 4.30. Enjoy! 

24 September 2021, 14:20
Isotonic holy water, anyone? UCI announces latest national federations to be affiliated, and one inclusion is raising eyebrows

A routine tweet was sent out by David Lappartient today announcing the latest nations to become UCI member states. Those nations are Equatorial Guinea, Solomon Islands, South Sudan and... the Vatican? 

The Pope's back yard and the world's smallest country has also been recognised by the European Cycling Union, and it's led to a flurry of comments wondering what the Vatican will bring to professional cycling... how will sock height be checked under those vestments, and will any sports nutrition brands step up to make caffeine versions of Sacramental Bread? Will riders be allowed to compete on Sundays? Will the Pontiff be team manager? 

A round up of the best comments and pics so far can be found below. For further reading on why cycling and Catholicism is a match made in heaven, read about when Egan Bernal gifted Pope Francis a Pinarello Dogma here, and when Pope Francis warned about cycling's 'dark side' here

24 September 2021, 14:17
Inner tube panic-buying, anyone?

If you don't own a motor vehicle, perhaps it's time to stock up. That said, cyclists have certainly known what its like to experience supply issues since the pandemic began... 

> When will Britain's bike shortage end? 

24 September 2021, 13:50
Today at Road World Championships - a very brief round-up so far

This morning was the men's junior road race in Flanders, with Per Strand Hagenes of Norway triumphing after launching an attack on the penultimate climb of the day. He ended up crossing the line 19 secs clear of Romain Gregoire of France, with Estonian rider Madis Mihkels winning a sprint to round off the podium. These poor Lithuanians apparently didn't make the start line because they turned up an hour late.... 

In the U23 race, there has been so many crashes it's difficult to keep up. There was a breakaway with a gap of just over a minute with about 60km to go, but by the time we've sent this post there's likely to have been another dramatic development... 

24 September 2021, 13:46
24 September 2021, 13:43
"Alexa, define lucky": rider in U23 worlds race narrowly avoids going through shop window

That was close! We've identified this rider and will have a full story to follow shortly. 

24 September 2021, 12:46
"Bring back the golden age of the first lockdown"

There's already been some reaction to our lead story about petrol panic-buying not being all that bad after all. 

24 September 2021, 11:54
Some cyclists aren't too sad about the UK running out of petrol

Fuel has joined toilet paper, pasta and soap as the latest thing to be panic bought by UK consumers - although this time the pandemic is thought to be only partly to blame, with some petrol stations missing out on deliveries yesterday because of a big shortage of HGV drivers - this news in turn led to some panic buying, which had led to the current situation of some fuel stations running out of fuel today.

While other countries across Europe are also experiencing difficulties with their supply chains, the problem in the UK is thought to have been exacerbated by Britain's exit from the European Union.

Grant Shapps was quick to clarify today that the UK does actually have plenty of petrol and diesel and that drivers should buy fuel as normal, telling the BBC that refineries have "plenty of petrol".

Not all people are sad at the pumps being empty, however, with some suggesting a lack of available fuel could mean quieter roads. Others have noted the irony of Britain transforming into a nation of outdoor enthusiasts over lockdown, and then panic-buying petrol again at the first mention of shortages. 

Could a silver lining in this latest supply crisis be quieter roads to cycle on because everyone has run out of petrol? The only problem being that malt loaf, bananas and jelly sweets are invariably delivered to their final destinations via lorry, so we might not be able to ride very far without getting super tired... 

24 September 2021, 11:19
Disc brakes: a round-up of your comments on whether the bike industry is having us all on
Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 - Pinarello Dogma F - Detail (CREDIT Irmo Keizer_Andreas Dobslaf)-02

It seems like we just can't stop talking about stopping at the moment, and our latest article on the subject of disc brakes delves into the theory that the bike industry saw us coming and are steadily moving all road bikes to disc brakes as a cynical ploy to rinse more money out of us. 

> 8 reasons not to get disc brakes

After doing some investigating, the conclusion of Mat's feature is that "the idea that disc brakes are being forced on a reluctant bike buying public is a complete myth," because there is plenty of evidence to suggest the shift is consumer-led, not top-down as some folks on certain video sharing platforms have theorised. 

What do you think? Sam3 commented: "In this new world, rim brakes will be a quaint leftover but otherwise really irrelevant, much like cars with manual transmission. Especially as the bikes industry reconfigures itself and its supply chain around this new design direction. That's why. It's not an illuminati plot to impoverish bikers or anything. I got disc brakes on a bike I bought about 10 years ago, found them to be shockingly better, low maintenance in practice and I would never go back to mucking about with rim brakes - or rim brake wheels. It's so yesteryear. It's fascinating that it's mainly in the british press that I still see these kinds of disc--vs-rim storylines. Everyone else has pretty much moved on." 

Captain Badger, we suspect with a hint of sarcasm, says: "I for one am sick and tired of the Disc-lobby's machinations. I'm a hard-pressed v-braker, and this is just another stealth tax. This isn't what I voted Brexit for! It's political correctness GAWN MAIRD!" 

nicmason added: "I have hydraulic disc brakes and have never had maintenance problems with them. For sheer stopping power they can't be beaten. If you've never had them I'd recommend trying them. Also I have worn through several wheel rims using rim brakes, I would not return to rim brakes." 

It seems readers are team disc. Maybe those rim brake aficionados are just a noisy few, and we're preaching to the choir after all... 

24 September 2021, 10:02
Ineos Grenadiers switch to Bioracer kit for 2022
Dave Brailsford press conference 2021 - via Bioracer 2

Ineos will end a five year sponsorship deal with Castelli when it begins a partnership with the Belgian cycling and triathlon apparel brand Bioracer for the 2022 season. Sir Dave Brailsford was at the Bioracer House along the World Championships course in Leuven yesterday to finalise the deal. 

Known for its custom kit, Bioracer sees this deal as part of its lofty ambitions to expand into the UK and North American markets, aiming to reach an annual turnover of 100 million euros by 2030.

Its founder Raymond Vanstraelen said: "From day one, Bioracer’s ambition has been to partner with the best riders, and thanks to our work with cycling federations, we have been able to fulfil these ambitious but extending this to a partnership with Ineos Grenadiers is a personal dream come true for me. The very best all-round team of this century shares our constant drive for innovation like no other."

Brailsford commented: “I’ve known Danny [Segers, Bioracer's CEO] and Bioracer for a long time and always admired what they do and the way that they do it. I’ve always hoped and believed that we would work together one day so I am genuinely delighted that day had now come. The ethos that underpins their work is built around speed - pure and simple - with athletes right at the heart."

Known for its custom clothing, Bioracer plans to have measuring and custom fitting sessions with all Ineos riders before unveiling the kit in December. You'll be able to buy replicas from January 2022. 

> How to buy custom cycling clothing — your complete guide

24 September 2021, 09:11
Wout approves of the 'best crosswalk ever'

It's almost as if there's a famous Belgian hoping to win a world championships on Belgian soil this weekend or something!

24 September 2021, 08:19
Former pro turned GCN presenter Björn Thurau banned for over nine years "for several violations of anti-doping regulations"
Björn Thurau - image via wikimedia commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Germany's national anti-doping agency (NADA) has banned the former professional cyclist Björn Thurau for nine years and six months for multiple offences including attempted use, possession, distribution or administration of prohibited substances for doping purposes in cycling. All Thurau's results from December 2010 to the present day will be voided. 

According to Spiegel, the 33-year-old was named as part of Operation Aderlass, a blood doping scandal of which the German doctor at the centre of it, Mark Schmidt, was jailed for four years and 10 months in January. 

Thurau's ban comes two years after his professional cycling career ended. His father Dietrich Thurau won Liège–Bastogne–Liège and six Tour de France stages in the 70's and 80's, but Björn never won a major World Tour event other than a mountains classification jersey at the 2014 Tour de Suisse. His most recent public appearances were on GCN's German YouTube channel, where he was working as a presenter as recently as January of this year. 

24 September 2021, 08:05
Rwanda will host 2025 Road World Championships... and decision proves controversial on social media
rwanda cycling - image via twitter

The nation of Rwanda is mad about cycling, so you'd think it's only right that its president Paul Kagame flew into Flanders to meet UCI boss David Lappartient this week to confirm Rwanda as the first African hosts of cycling's road world champs. However, some have highlighted the country's recent human rights record as a reason not to be so thrilled with the announcement... 

Others, however, defended the decision, with one saying: "...when did human rights become a litmus test for allowing countries to host international athletic competitions?"

Reaction to the story by Rwandan newspaper The New Times seemed largely positive - do you think a Rwandan world champs is positive for the sport? 

Arriving at in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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