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Sticky bottle controversy hits the Giro d'Italia as fans question stage winner Filippo Zana's team car help; Reaction to British Cycling transgender policy update; Giro queen stage; Paris taken over by waves of cycling commuters + more on the live blog

One more mountain day slog before the live blog retires for another glorious three-day weekend, Dan Alexander is on duty this Friday
26 May 2023, 07:59
Sticky bottle controversy hits the Giro d'Italia as fans question stage winner Filippo Zana's team car help

There's been a bit of discussion about this since yesterday's stage...

The two incidents showing, an admittedly pretty normal sight in professional bike racing — a rider, having dropped back to the team car, holding onto a bottle while the driver of said car accelerates, bringing them back to breakaway with minimal effort — the famous sticky bottle... (or in the second case 'sticky glasses' as pointed out by one eagle-eyed commenter)...

I dare say you could go back and find a similar incident from every single stage of the Giro so far however, naturally, when the rider involved goes on to win the stage, beating a very popular rider looking for their final Grand Tour stage win before retirement, the scrutiny is always going to be a touch more intense.

But did Zana/Jaco AlUla do anything wrong?

The commissaires thought so, Zana and his team director David McPartland appearing on the jury's end-of-stage fines list for "Irregular feeding (sticky bottle for short distance)" and will pay 200 CHF (£179) each...

Giro fines

Some have suggested the punishment doesn't go far enough, arguing Zana should lose his stage win, the claim being that in the second video he was being dropped, although the languid nature of his dropping back to the team car, plus the fact that once back on the Italian champion stuck with Pinot's attacks on the remaining two climbs before beating him in the sprint, suggests this was hardly a rider pedalling squares...

Anyway, you didn't come here to hear my ramblings, here's what the fans made of it...

At this point Zana's teammate, and fellow breakaway extraordinaire, Alessandro De Marchi got involved... "How could he be dropped and then be one of the strongest with Pinot? I went back to the car intentionally. Please! This are not the bidoncollè that make you win a stage, believe me! 

26 May 2023, 15:52
Santiago Buitrago wins stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia — Roglič takes three seconds on G

One of those Grand Tour days with two battles within the day — for stage victory and then, minutes later, for GC. Santiago Buitrago, the Colombian climber, became the fourth rider of this Giro to beat Derek Gee to a stage as the Canadian finished second again (that's SIX top fives for Gee)...

Behind, after a day that in many ways summed up this entire Giro — a slow burn, tension building, the promise of action further up the road — Primož Roglič took three seconds back on Thomas.

For a few hundred metres it looked as though it might be the Welshman stealing a further advantage but Roglič, on his changed bike with 1x 10-44t gravel gearing, came past to tighten the maglia rosa battle further, ahead of tomorrow's decisive TT.

Giro stage 20 2023

26 seconds between G and Roglič, Almeida at 59 seconds. Who will be wearing pink in Rome?

26 May 2023, 15:10
Charlotte Kool wins opening stage of RideLondon Classique, Lizzie Deignan third

Top lead-out duties from Georgi Pfeiffer to set up Charlotte Kool for stage one victory in Colchester...

Got to admit part of me begrudges these pros coming over here and getting to ride British roads with three glorious days of sunshine. Where were they all grim winter? Anyway, ranting aside, Lizzie Deignan took third, just behind Clara Copponi, while Georgi had enough work already done to drift back for 10th. 

Tomorrow, it's Maldon's turn...

26 May 2023, 14:29
AG2R Citroën team car kicked off Giro d'Italia after Carlos Verona collision

One that happened away from the TV cameras, but Italian broadcaster RAI quickly reported that one of the AG2R Citroën team cars had been ejected from the race. The reports suggest the directeur sportif struck the Movistar rider while driving behind the breakaway.

Just one team car left for the French outfit. With riders in the break, and Aurélien Paret-Peintre riding a decent GC, that creates a bit of a headache... although admittedly not quite the pain of Verona's literal wounds...

26 May 2023, 14:13
Stopping the sticky bottle... your suggestions
Filippo Zana Jayco AlUla team car (GCN)

Patrick9-32: "They need to implement (if they havent already) strict and specific rules for bottle handover. i.e. 'Items must be handed end to end with contact for a maximum of one full second. Hands of rider and team car passenger must not touch.'

"They could then implement consistent punishment for violations based on severity of going over the limits set. Leaving it open to interpretation makes the teams push the envelope for the advantage and ends up discrediting the sport."  

Rendel Harris: "A pedant writes: the second time wasn't "sticky bottle", it was "sticky glasses" — I thought it was outrageous when I was watching and it hasn't improved on the second viewing, the sticky bottle was naughty but not far away from what seems to have become the accepted norm, with the glasses the driver and rider were pretty much holding hands with the glasses between them, the driver then accelerated towards the group and gave Zana a slingshot back to them. Not sure he should be deprived of the win but he's certainly very lucky to get away with such a low sanction."

Clem Fandango: "I'm sure I heard Sean Kelly on commentary wonder aloud if maybe an Italian Commissaire had been involved."

26 May 2023, 13:04
RideLondon weekend

More than 25,000 cyclists are set to take part in RideLondon's closed-road routes on Sunday, with a similar number expected for the Free Cycle, an eight-mile family bike ride around some of the English capital's most iconic roads, completely closed to traffic.

There's the women's professional race too, taking in two stages in Essex before Sunday's central London finale. Some unfortunate news from the opening day of the race, former world champion Elisa Balsamo forced to abandon having suffered two crashes in the opening 100km.

Plenty out in the sun enjoying the action...

Any plans for the weekend? Family getting involved in the Free Cycle? Taking on the sportive? Watching the racing?  

26 May 2023, 12:04
What has British Cycling changed?
26 May 2023, 11:08
Reaction to British Cycling transgender policy update

The big news this morning...

Bridges' mother Sandy shared her daughter's statement, adding that "British Cycling were due to lift their press embargo at 11am this morning. Everybody knew the outcome by close of play yesterday. Except the people this policy impacts the most."

Obviously we can only speak for ourselves, but we received our press release at 10:31am, prompting some urgent flapping as the 11am embargo neared, but talk of the announcement had been doing the rounds on social media for most of this week.

The news has swept around the UK media, it's currently the top story on BBC News, and high up on just about every other news outlets' websites. Something tells us the weekend column writers are sharpening their pencils as we speak.

Here, new British Cycling CEO Jon Dutton spoke with BBC Sport's Dan Roan...

26 May 2023, 10:08
BREAKING: British Cycling updates transgender policy, introduces open category
26 May 2023, 09:46
WIRELESS Super Record leaked! Is Campagnolo about to shake up the groupset market?

26 May 2023, 09:43
Madis Mihkels putting the circus in Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
26 May 2023, 09:02
Incredible scenes of Paris taken over by waves of cycling commuters

Things we like to see...

26 May 2023, 08:55
Hugh Carthy will not start stage 19, leaves the race with stomach issues
2023 Giro d'Italia Hugh Carthy ( Williams)

Hugh Carthy's Giro is over, the climber from Preston abandoning the race ahead of the queen stage, his team citing stomach problems that he has been struggling with for a few days. Carthy, who has twice finished in the top ten of the Italian Grand Tour, lost more than four minutes on maglia rosa Geraint Thomas after being dropped early on the penultimate climb.

2023 Giro d'Italia Hugh Carthy ( Williams)

His team announced: "Hugh Carthy won't be able to start today's stage of the Giro d'Italia. He has been struggling with stomach issues for a few days so he'll return home to rest and recover. Great effort, Hugh."

26 May 2023, 08:48
Queen stage mountain showdown — warning for any sprinters left to look away now

A look ahead to today. Drumroll please...

  • Passo Campolongo: 4km at 7%
  • Passo Valparola: 2,194m 13.9km at 5.7%
  • Passo Giau: 2,227m 9.8km at 9.3%
  • Passo Tre Coci: 1,802m 8km at 7.3%
  • Tre Cime di Lavaredo: 2,307m 7.1km at 7.8%
26 May 2023, 08:45
Petition with "factual errors" to scrap low-traffic neighbourhood launched by a "keen cyclist" after just two months of trial

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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