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Could cycling number plates break up Britain?; “Some cyclists cycle at 45mph”; If cyclists behaved like motorists; Brompton vs law-breaking drivers; “Why don’t you guys use the bike paths?”; Wright goes close; Jay Vine’s Zwift ad + more on the live blog

Happy Friday everyone! Ryan Mallon’s back in the hot seat for the last live blog of the week
26 August 2022, 16:21
“Why don’t cyclists use the cycle lanes?”: Vuelta edition

Wait until our Near Miss of the Day pen pals find out about this…

26 August 2022, 15:52
“Some cyclists cycle at 45mph though”, and other Twitter nonsense

This entire Twitter thread – featuring wise and not so wise takes on cycling, filtering and helmet cams from the likes of Jeremy Vine and GB News’ Paula London – is a bit too much for anyone to properly take in on a Friday afternoon (or ever), but I’ll leave you with this gem from ‘political commentator’ London, whose speed perception seems concerning, to say the least:

26 August 2022, 15:24
Heartbreak for Fred Wright as Jesús Herrada wins stage seven of the Vuelta

One of the nearly men of the season, Fred Wright, added to his collection of near misses this afternoon with his second third place of the 2022 Vuelta a España in Cistierna, as Cofidis’ Jesús Herrada continued the Spanish revival at their home grand tour with a surprise win from a small group sprint.

Wright, who finished second on this year’s Tour de France stage to Saint-Etienne and has taken silver at the recent Commonwealth Games time trial and seventh at the Tour of Flanders in April, looked to have finally cracked the winning formula after being out-thought by Marc Soler during Wednesday’s stage to Bilbao.

The 23-year-old Londoner was part of a five-rider-strong breakaway which held off a misfiring and miscalculating peloton led for most of the day by Mads Pedersen’s Trek-Segafredo.

Like Wright, former world champion Pedersen was hoping to banish his succession of podium places earlier in the week, but once again fell short both tactically and physically as his team failed first to distance the likes of Sam Bennett (who led the bunch home in green) on the mid-stage Puerto de San Glorio, and then couldn’t live with the pace and commitment of the break – who they had even kept on a short rope for most of the stage – in the closing kilometres.

After a classic ‘will they, won’t they’ battle between the break and its pursuers in the final fifty kilometres, by the final 2,000 metres the jig was up for the peloton.

After an impetuous early move by Alpecin-Deceuninck’s veteran Belgian Jimmy Janssens – which arguably forced the hand of his breakaway companions earlier than they would have hoped – Bahrain-Victorious’ Wright was the first to launch the sprint in earnest, using a slight dip in the road to gain the jump on his rivals.

For a short period that looked to be enough for the stage win – but, alas, in the last fifty metres Wright paid for his extended and somewhat over-anxious effort, with Herrada (on paper, the least fancied of the group in a sprint) coming around the young British star and holding off the fast-finishing former U23 world champion Samuele Battistella to take an emotional win on home soil.

26 August 2022, 14:51
Nail-biter at the Vuelta: Can the break hang on?

Today’s unusual route at the Vuelta – a day for the sprinters, except for a massive Cat One climb in the middle – has provided us with a classic example of the ‘bunch versus break nail-biter’ genre of grand tour stages.

While Mads Pedersen set his Trek-Segafredo team to work on the Puerto de San Glorio, it wasn’t enough to definitely distance all of the big-name fast men such as green jersey Sam Bennett, nor was it enough to keep a dangerous-looking break – including the on-fire Fred Wright – in check.

With 13km left, the break is currently 1.17 ahead of the bunch. It’s coming down to the wire…

26 August 2022, 14:28
“Lots of people do it”: Taxi driver offers baffling excuse after being reported for stopping in cycle box

An amazing response here from a taxi driver reported to Liverpool City Council for stopping in the cycle box at a junction:

After being presented with photographic evidence of his misdemeanour, the cabbie seems to have channelled the teenage response to his mum finding a packet of cigarettes in his room, telling the city’s taxi licensing and regulatory enforcement officer that “lots of people do it”…

According to the officer, the cyclist’s complaint has been recorded on the driver’s file, “as this builds a picture of how he is conducting himself while he is operating the taxi”.

By the sounds of things, he spends most of his time behind the wheel blaming everyone else…

26 August 2022, 13:54
“Why don’t you guys use the cycle paths?” Drivers react to yesterday’s Near Miss of the Day

Yesterday’s edition of Near Miss of the Day – featuring a close pass from a lorry driver despite the presence of double solid white lines and an oncoming motorist – has seemed to annoy a few drivers out there, who have kindly emailed us here at road.cc to express their concerns.

> Near Miss of the Day 815: “Again and again, drivers don't seem to get the message”

Nicholas wrote in to tell us that the cyclist “is to blame” for the near miss, because he was ignoring the shared use path to his left (which, as one road.cc reader pointed out in the comments, was coming to an end shortly after the close pass, which may provide an explanation – if it were needed – for why the cyclist declined to use it at that point).

> Monday moaning: Why don't cyclists use cycle lanes?

“The video shows a cycle lane was clear and available, he was not using it,” says Nicholas.

“Therefore the cyclist is to blame. What is the point of a cycle lane if ignored? This video only supports motorists’ view of many cyclists attitude and makes cyclists more susceptible to accidents.”

Adrianjayne also believes that riding on the shared use path would have kept the cyclist safe from “idiot” drivers, explaining to us in this almost completely punctuation-less email: “I’ve just watched the bit on van overtaking cyclist and my first question is why wasn’t the cyclist using the cycle lane these have been put in all over the country at great cost to the public to help with the safety of cyclist and with idiots on the road like the van driver why do cyclists still take more of a risk by not cycling in them.”

Alan agreed too, but was a touch blunter, writing: “Why don’t you guys use the cycle paths?”

 “Cyclist reporting a near miss when he was not affected and clearly not using a designated cycle lane,” John informs us, clearly failing to understand that our series focuses on ‘near misses’ and not collisions (and of course, bad driving only really matters when somebody gets hurt…).

“The oncoming car did not flash or sound his horn so he did not complain and as you can see the cyclist was totally unaffected by the overtaking of the truck. Camera steady on the road proof of no effect on the cyclist.”

Despite the arguments of our email correspondents, it is of course not against the law for a cyclist to ignore an available shared use path, or cycle lane for that matter.

It is, however, against the law for a motorist to overtake on double solid white lines towards an oncoming vehicle, a fact which none of our emailers happened to mention…

26 August 2022, 13:20
Surrey Police’s Brompton Bike 9-0 Law-Breaking Drivers

Staggering stats from Surrey Police’s new signing:

And a cheap one too: 

There’s always one ‘but cyclists’ complainer in the comments of course (it is Twitter after all), though Surrey’s roads policing unit are certainly well drilled in virtually slapping down pro-car whingers:

26 August 2022, 12:19
“Sob story over”: Caleb Ewan responds to worlds non-selection with Germany win

Lotto-Soudal’s Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan responded to the news that he wouldn’t be riding for his country at next month’s home world championships in Wollongong by emphatically winning the first road stage of the Tour of Germany, the 28-year-old’s first victory in four months.

“To be honest I don’t have much to say on the matter other than I’m heartbroken I won’t be there to represent my country and that I believe I deserved to be there. Sob story over,” the diminutive quick man tweeted after his win yesterday.

Australian Cycling confirmed this morning that Michael Matthews (fresh from taking an impressive win on Mende at the Tour de France) will be one of the team’s leaders on home soil, alongside other potential prospects Jai Hindley, Ben O’Connor and Luke Plapp, after coming to the conclusion that the hilly Wollongong circuit would prove too difficult for pure sprinter Ewan.

Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Heinrich Haussler and Nick Schultz complete the Australian men’s line up for the road race on Sunday 25 September.

26 August 2022, 11:45
Now, that’s more to the point: road.cc reader’s ‘ready and road legal’ response to Grant Shapps

It may not be a treatise on the UK’s constitutional future, but road.cc reader Neil has offered his own tasteful yet direct and to-the-point response to Grant Shapps’ number plates fiasco…

A rather tasteful Grant Shapps themed cycling number plate
26 August 2022, 10:54
Brooks l'Eroica jersey - union jack
“Bike number plates could break up the Union”: Is this the most extreme take on Grant Shapps’ proposals yet?

Just when you thought we’d covered every possible angle on Grant Shapps’ hastily withdrawn (if he ever meant it at all) pledge to introduce number plates for bike riders as part of a crackdown on cycling offences, Scottish author Ian Mitchell has popped up with perhaps the most extreme take yet on the issue du jour: that bike registration plates “could help destroy the United Kingdom”.

For some reason, I’m not convinced that Tom Nairn is now leaping towards the keyboard in a desperate rush to cite this latest compelling argument in favour of what some view as the ever-quickening disintegration of Britain’s constitutional fabric.

> Grant Shapps: Cyclists should have number plates, be insured and subject to speed limits

Of course, Mitchell isn’t up in arms over Shapps’ comments from a purely pro-cycling point of view (though he does argue that point as well in his piece for online newspaper CapX).

Instead, the author appears to have approached the subject from an ideological stance that seems to have been largely washed away in the recent ‘Ulsterisation’ of Scottish politics – ‘unionist-nationalism’, as historian Graeme Morton coined it.

> “No plans to introduce registration plates” for cyclists, insists Grant Shapps

Some context (don’t worry, we’ll get back to bikes in a minute): in the mid-nineteenth century, an increasing number of Scots believed that Scottish social, political and religious concerns were being neglected down in London at the English-dominated British parliament, where decisions were nonetheless being made that affected the daily lives of those north of the border.

Far from being fully-fledged advocates for Scottish independence – in fact, they weren’t even that keen on devolution, despite threatening it as a last resort if the mob at Westminster didn’t pull their finger out – these unionist-nationalists advocated that Scotland should be properly treated as an equal partner in the union and criticised the apparent apathy and ignorance of anglo-centric English politicians and administrators towards distinctly Scottish issues.

One of these proto-nationalists, the churchman James Begg expressed his dismay in 1843 at ‘the ignorance which prevailed among multitudes of English people in regard to the state of Scotland… there are many English people who scarcely know that the Scotch speak the English tongue, and who imagine that there is no dress seen but the kilt after crossing the Tweed.’

In opposition to the London parliament’s anglo-centric and unitarian instincts, in the mid-1850s a short-lived and unruly but pioneering nationalist pressure group, the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights (NAVSR), was formed, whose protest against administrative neglect later inspired the campaign to establish a Scottish Office.

> "Grant Shapps should be congratulated": Frothing talk shows and Mr Loophole discuss number plates for cyclists

It’s of this long and broadly-based political tradition that Mitchell gleans his protest against the Transport Secretary’s hints last week at future “pointless, draconian measures”.

“I refuse to be subjected to rules like those proposed on cyclists,” he writes, with the stubborn defiance of a bearded Victorian Presbyterian.

“I refuse to be micro-managed by pale-fingered control freaks in airless offices. Londoners are welcome to destroy the freedom of physical movement in their city in any way they think beneficial. It is their manor. But this is my country.

“Cyclists may or may not be a problem in the south-east of England – I do not know, not having visited for more than a decade. But they are certainly not here in seaward Argyll.

“Every day I cycle about 11 kms along the shore here for a breath of fresh air and some exercise. Almost the whole route is on single-track roads where everyone travels slowly. Though I am sure I break the speed limit on some of the downhill sections, I have never found myself in conflict with a driver, pedestrian or sheep.

“I don’t use protective gear; I don’t wear cycling clothes. When the mood takes me, I simply put on a rain jacket or a sun hat, depending on the season, and hop on my bike.

“Without that kind of freedom, cycling becomes another aspect of the national conspiracy to chain everyone to chairs and smartphones. Why should I be forced to cramp my lifestyle because of rude humans (allegedly) five hundred miles away? It can hardly be said too loudly: This is not London.”

> Department for Transport assures MP it has no intention to make cyclists carry number plates and insurance

Railing against this ‘anglo-centric Sovietism’, Mitchell concludes: “I would rather deal with the screaming barbarian hordes that we saw on display outside the Tory hustings in Perth last week (which can also provide useful exercise) than with the po-faced British bureaucracy when it is in a mood to destroy the freedom of simple cycling in the fresh air in a beautiful country like Scotland.

“This is not London, as I have said. This will not be Britain either unless this sort of repression stops.”

Now, back to close passes and Jeremy Vine…

26 August 2022, 10:11
‘But… what about the winter?’

It may still be August (despite the gloomy picture out of my office window), but we’re slowly approaching the months when bike-hating motorists attempt their annual ‘gotcha’ moment: ‘See, all this cycling infrastructure, and what are you going to do in the winter?’

> Urluberlu: meet the Montreal cyclists riding through winter

Well, next time, just point them towards Montreal, where more than 50,000 cyclists plough on through temperatures as low as -17C, thanks to the Canadian city’s new Réseau express vélo (REV) bike network:

26 August 2022, 09:30
‘Tell me you were in the grupetto without telling me you were in the grupetto’: Sam Bennett wows the crowds (okay, two race workers) at the Vuelta

Meanwhile in Belgium, everyone’s getting ready to board the Remco hype train…

What did I say yesterday about placing too much pressure on 22-year-old Evenepoel’s shoulders? He’s going to crack today, isn’t he?

26 August 2022, 09:14
‘If cyclists behaved like motorists’

I’m not sure what the BMW driver was planning to do right at the end of the clip…

26 August 2022, 08:21
Jay Vines wins stage six, 2022 Vuelta (Unipublic/Sprint Cycling Agency)
From the turbo trainer to grand tour glory: Is Jay Vine’s Vuelta win indoor cycling’s best advert yet?

In terms of exposure, Zwift have had a pretty decent grand tour summer.

By sponsoring the revamped Tour de France Femmes, the indoor virtual training app has attached itself to one of the most important stories of the pro cycling season (or decade for that matter), and the company’s support for the continued growth of women’s cycling has garnered praise from riders, race organisers and fans alike.

And yesterday at the Vuelta a España, the world of indoor cycling received yet another (perhaps unexpected) publicity coup when 26-year-old Australian Jay Vine – the current Esports world champion and Zwift Academy graduate – took a sensational solo win ahead of some of the world’s best climbers on the mist-covered summit finish of Pico Jano.

For a rider who earned his pro contract at Alpecin–Deceuninck by winning the 2020 Zwift Academy programme, it’s ironic that Vine’s maiden victory came amidst the kind of atrocious weather conditions that would normally prompt most cyclists to reach for the turbo.

Not that Vine himself has morphed into a fully-fledged all-weather rider, however.

“I’m still using Zwift to prepare for races, because I’m a bit of a softy,” the Australian joked after his potentially career-changing stage victory.

“If the weather was like this when I was at home in Andorra, I wouldn’t have been riding outdoors. I still use Zwift to prepare for important events, especially because in rainy weather, you can’t predict what other road users will be doing.

“But a lot of my training is on the road, because fortunately the weather is very good in Andorra.”

The racing latecomer’s breakthrough success and enduring affinity with the indoor world has – rather predictably – opened the floodgates for Zwift-related gags online:

More seriously, with autumn fast approaching, Vine’s ‘pain cave to Pico Jano’ story may also prove a timely boost for an industry coming to terms with the collapse of the lockdown boom

Main image: Unipublic/Sprint Cycling Agency

Ryan joined road.cc 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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