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Are disc brakes to blame for Alaphilippe horror crash?; Kate Hoey says Highway Code changes are a "nightmare" for drivers; Cyclist chased by "crazy" kerb-mounting phone driver; Enough with the tunnels, Elon; Party like it's 2009 + more on the live blog

It’s Tuesday, another bank holiday is fast approaching, and Ryan Mallon is here for the second live blog of the week…
26 April 2022, 17:18
Reaction roundup: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”

Former MP and full-time controversialist Kate Hoey’s comments that motorists need a stronger voice to tackle the “very well-organised cycling lobby” got quite a few of you talking in the comments and on Twitter, to say the least.

Here’s a selection of some of your thoughts:

Kate Hoey clearly lives in a little bubble of reality separate to the rest of us. I mean even if we ignore the reality of her nonsense… cars need a bigger lobby group. Really?

That's a bit like asking someone to stand up and fight for Shell's tax rights, or asking Nigel Farage round for a meal because he doesn't look like he gets to indulge himself enough.

To be fair, the cars are all getting bigger and bigger – it only makes sense that the lobby groups for them increase in size accordingly to accommodate them.

She also seems to overlook the fact that the AA and RAC are both big pro-motoring groups with lots of influence and were very much involved in pushing through the changes to the Highway Code.

I mean the Association of British Dimwits (sorry, drivers) only has a few hundred members and they seem to mostly be a bunch of reactionary nutters. It's not as if anyone should take any notice of what they, or Kate Hoey, think.

Romain Bardet’s concerns about the use of disc brakes in the peloton also, unsurprisingly, sparked some deliberation in the comments:

Right, then.  I propose that all of the professional road bikes be refitted with olde style rod brakes.  That should give them a margin of error for reaction time...

(I don't disagree with him that if you have disc brakes that will stop you "instantaneously" then you are more likely to push it to the limit.  Just as they did when everyone in the peloton was using rim brakes).

The thing that no one considers when complaining about discs being too good in the peloton – By the time the type of brakes makes a difference, reaction times will already be causing a crash in a tight bunch.

I'd disagree with you partially.

In my experience the biggest cause of group accidents is over-reaction in the bunch. You're right in saying that reaction times are key; what tends to happen is there is an initial movement from a rider in the bunch. Around that first movement people need to make adjustments. Factoring in reaction time, the adjustments needed to compensate for that first movement get progressively larger and larger.

Ultimately this creates a ripple that will continually increase in size until someone either can't move sufficiently/in time (and there is a coming together and potentially a crash), or the ripple reaches an area of the bunch where there is sufficient space to dissipate without contact.

What disc brakes do enable is greater initial, and subsequent, reactions in the bunch. This potentially speeds up the scaling of the ripple effect outlined above, so more ripples could reach potential accident-causing size more quickly, giving them less opportunity to naturally dissipate... so more crashes.

However, the bunch schools riders pretty aggressively, so any brake grabbing antics will have been beaten out of most riders long before they reach world tour level. Therefore, whilst I believe discs could be an accident enabler, in reality I doubt they are.


Regardless of your views on disc brakes, I reckon Gaz pithily summed up the general feeling around that most persistent of pro racing debates:

26 April 2022, 16:30
Go on Elon, you know you want to…

Comment of the day, from reader jh2727, on what the great genius of our time Elon Musk might think of next:

London should definitely get some of those tunnels Elon is always going on about, they could put electric, and even self driving vehicles in them. While they are at it they could design the cars to carry the maximum number of passengers and then couple several cars together. 

But why stop there? Why not put those cars on rails, that's what London needs. Thank goodness for the genius of Elon, thinking of stuff that us mortals would never have thought of.

In a few years’ time, genius will strike again and Elon will invent a light weight transport device – powered solely by the person being transported.  Perhaps it will only have two wheels, perhaps it'll have a small motor and battery to help with the hills.

I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

The President of the European Cyclists’ Federation came up with a similar suggestion for Mr Musk:

26 April 2022, 16:15
“Some people can’t cycle as they need to transport a cello”
26 April 2022, 15:54
“I'm sure those broken white lines are there for a reason…”

Nice to know the camera was cleaned…

26 April 2022, 15:09
Hayter on fire, as Swiss rider comes a cropper at Romandie

Not a bad start to the Tour de Romandie for British time trial champion Ethan Hayter, who has smashed his way around the 5.1km prologue to take the race's first leader's jersey, beating former world TT champion Rohan Dennis by four seconds.

Felix Großschartner and Hayter's Ineos Grenadiers teammate Geraint Thomas placed third and fourth respectively, ten seconds behind the flying Londoner.

But spare a thought for young Valère Thiébaud, riding for the Swiss national team, who came a cropper after misjudging the tight final bend.

Valere Thiebaud, Tour de Romandie crash, 2022 (via GCN)
26 April 2022, 14:37
The poise, the panache – and Remco wasn’t bad either

Harsh, but fair. 

26 April 2022, 14:29
Party like it’s 2009: Bertie’s still got it – Contador posts insane 270km ride on Strava
Alberto Contador Strava April 2022

It looks like El Pistolero still has a few bullets left…

Seven-time grand tour winner – or nine, depending on what your stance on Spanish cattle farming is – Alberto Contador posted this frankly insane Sunday ride to Strava, and in doing so, made me feel a lot worse about my own weekend mileage.

The 39-year-old, who retired from the sport in 2017, covered over 270km of hilly terrain to the south and west of his hometown of Pinto, on the outskirts of Madrid, in under eight hours – averaging a mind-boggling 35km/hr.

Do I hear murmurings of a comeback on the cards? Hell, if 87-year-old Alejandro Valverde can still do it at the top of the sport, why not?

In any case, with both Spartacus and Bertie in the news, today has a strong whiff of 2009 about it. Let’s just hope a certain Texan doesn’t raise his head…

26 April 2022, 13:42
Are disc brakes to blame for Liège-Bastogne-Liège horror crash?

Romain Bardet has claimed that new bike technology, such as disc brakes, is allowing pro riders to take more risks and resulting in more crashes in the peloton.

The in-form DSM rider sacrificed his own chances of victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday to rush to the aid of the stricken Julian Alaphilippe, after the world champion fell into a ditch during a shocking mass pile-up with 60 kilometres to go.

Alaphilippe suffered a punctured lung and multiple fractures after hitting a tree during the 80km/h crash.

> Julian Alaphilippe suffers collapsed lung and multiple fractures in huge crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Yesterday on the blog we reported that Bardet and Tom Pidcock, who also careered off the road, blamed TotalEnergies rider Jérémy Cabot for causing the crash, though the Frenchman defended his actions and said he had “never taken ill-considered risks.”

In L'Équipe this morning, Bardet called for a change in behaviour within the peloton, arguing that riders are now taking more risks than ever – a trend, he says, that is being assisted by advances in bike technology.

In particular, the Frenchman, who has twice finished on the podium of the Tour de France, said that the now widespread use of disc brakes was a major concern.

Bardet claimed that the increased stopping power of disc brakes has shortened the reaction time of riders caught behind a crash.

“You can brake at the last minute, except that human reaction times haven't followed the technological evolution,” he said.

“The margin of error that was there before doesn’t exist any longer.”

20-year-old British rider Tom Portsmouth, who rides for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert’s feeder team Mini Discar, responded to Bardet's claims, tweeting: “From experience, if a crash occurred in front but I had stopped, safely, in time I would immediately be preparing for the almost guaranteed hit from a rider who judged it a millisecond too late. 

“Disc brakes are great and all but the grip that the tyre provides is still the same.”

> What’s wrong with Chris Froome’s disc brakes?

Bardet, who was visibly shaken by the crash and appeared distraught after the race, also told the French paper that, as he emerged from the ditch after making sure Alaphilippe was receiving medical help, “I was almost run over by a completely mad DS trying to get back up to the front. Sometimes, the humanity...”

He criticised the road where the crash took place, which he claimed was full of potholes, describing it as “like a descent from a ski station that keeps getting frozen all winter”, and said that he “feared the worst” when he saw Alaphilippe.

“Julian was struggling to breathe, he couldn't speak, he couldn't move... I was shouting out, but no one was listening to me. I felt like he was going to stay there, all alone, forever.”

26 April 2022, 11:57
10 days until the Giro – how did that happen?

For those of us who base our year around the World Tour schedule:

There's absolutely no chance that we’re almost into grand tour season already. Surely Omloop was only two weeks ago, right?

Which reminds me, better book my flights to Italy…

26 April 2022, 10:50
Cyclist chased by kerb-mounting phone driver in “bizarre and terrifying” footage

Bloody hell.

This video, uploaded to YouTube last night by cycling activist Mike van Erp – better known as CyclingMikey (or the bike riding Batman, as one motorist disparagingly referred to him) – highlights the real dangers inherent in trying to make the roads safe for those on two wheels.

The cyclist who captured the video, who then sent it on to Mike, had allegedly just filmed a motorist using his phone behind the wheel in the Forest Hill area of London in February.

As we can see from the terrifying footage, the driver took exception to this piece of helmet cam activism, chasing the cyclist in his car after what we assume is a passenger tried to initially catch him on foot.

The motorist even mounts the kerb at one point during the pursuit, as the cyclist desperately pleads for passers-by to call the police. The bike rider finally escaped by turning into a private drive and switching off his lights.

> CyclingMikey ends up on car bonnet during confrontation with angry motorist

According to Mikey, who claimed he was assaulted himself by a phone driver in January, the Met Police told the cyclist they couldn’t identify the driver. 

Mike has posted the video to Twitter and YouTube in an attempt to track down the driver, with some cyclists responding to the “shocking” footage by calling for a life ban for the motorist.

“Insane. That calls for prison time and a life ban from driving,” said one commenter.

“I recently got chased in a similar manner after calling out to a driver who was driving on the wrong side of the road. He did a U-turn and chased me, overtaking and brake-checking me twice while yelling abuse. It was all captured on front and rear cameras with the car and driver clearly identifiable.

“I submitted the video to police but never heard anything more about it.”

We’ll keep you up to date with this story if any more details emerge.

26 April 2022, 10:46
Spartacus is back! (Kind of...)
26 April 2022, 09:41
Be less like Elon, and more like Grace
26 April 2022, 09:31
Enough with the tunnels, Elon…

You’d think taking over Twitter – and possibly ruining 90 percent of the source material for this blog – would prove enough of a distraction at the moment for tech billionaire and Bond villain candidate Elon Musk.

But no, he’s still pushing his daft cars in tunnels idea on the world, despite evidence that the Las Vegas-based prototypes of Musk’s congestion-busting “future of transport” are already – you guessed it – experiencing congestion.

For those of you scratching your heads, “Teslas in Tunnels” is Musk’s ingenious plan to “solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic” by creating a new subterranean network where users can hitch a lift across town in an electric car. Yep, that’s right – it basically means more roads for cars, only this time underground.

So to answer Belinda’s question…

Although, maybe there’s hope yet. Back in 2018 – remember then? – the Tesla owner said that his vision for his underground network would actually prioritise cyclists and pedestrians over cars.

Now, I wonder if my 250 followers on his stupid bird app would be enough to convince him to reconsider…

26 April 2022, 08:18
Won’t someone please think of the drivers? Kate Hoey calls for more powerful motoring lobby after Highway Code changes

As anyone who has followed British or Northern Irish politics in the last 25 years will know, ex-Labour MP Kate Hoey has some… let’s just say… forthright views on a number of issues.

A life peer – that’s Baroness Hoey to you – and former Minister for Sport under Tony Blair, the Antrim-born politician is known for her pro-Brexit, anti-LGBT, anti-immigration, pro-hunting stances, as well as recently cosying up to the more extreme elements of anti-protocol Northern Irish loyalism.

> Kate Hoey calls for bikes to be registered and cyclists to pay "road tax"

Hoey is also, she’ll have you know, a great friend of cyclists – she once said she wants “more people cycling”, for the record – who often has a funny way of showing it.

Way back in 2003, Hoey arguably coined that persistently repeated phrase “law-breaking lycra louts” (the world owes a great debt to her there) in an article for the Daily Mail.

And a decade later she called for bikes to be registered and for cyclists to pay ‘road tax’, after the then-MP for Vauxhall was caught driving her Mini through a red light. What was that about law-breaking, Kate? Maybe she was wearing lycra at the time...

> MP who called cyclists "law-breaking Lycra Louts" fined for driving through red light

Well, dear readers, I regret to inform you that the Baroness is at it again.

In an interview with GB News this week – another great friend of cyclists everywhere – she said: “I think there is a very well-organised cycling lobby in this country that will always speak out for the cyclist.

“And I’m afraid that we need some really strong people speaking out for drivers because quite honestly it’s a nightmare these days for a driver, especially now they have changed the Highway Code.”

Won’t someone please think of the drivers?!

> “This is not policing, this is intimidation”: Alliance of British Drivers takes on Sheffield police over close pass conviction

I have to say, the thought of shouty, red-faced motoring groups like the Alliance of British Drivers growing in strength makes me slightly queasy…

While the ABD partied in the streets (sitting in their illegally-parked cars of course) after Hoey’s comments, some weren’t as impressed:

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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