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The new Snake Pass? Peak District’s Long Hill closed to traffic for five months; How will LTNs affect upcoming elections?; “There’s no time for them to stop”: Roche talks disc brakes; Buses in bike boxes; Riding in the rain + more on the live blog

It’s Wednesday and Ryan Mallon is here with your mid-week micro-dose of the live blog…
27 April 2022, 16:59
If you thought your Wednesday was bad…

Spare a thought for Eduard Prades.

Not only did his bike give way as he celebrated at the end of the first stage of the Tour of the Hellas, dumping him unceremoniously onto the road, but it turned out it was all in vain anyway.

Prades had in fact (unbeknownst to him, of course) finished second on the day, nearly two minutes behind the actual winner, New Zealander Aaron Gate.

I hope your middle of the week is going better than poor old Eduard’s…

27 April 2022, 16:42
“Always some rando giving advice to the pros”

Newly-retired Dan Martin receives buyer's advice from some bloke off Twitter. Probably spouting nonsense:

27 April 2022, 16:33
Tour de Romandie crash, 2022
“When there’s 50 guys behind you, there’s no time for them to stop”: Nicolas Roche defends Romain Bardet’s argument that risk-taking and disc brakes have led to more crashes

Following another major pile-up with fifteen kilometres to go at the Tour de Romandie today, which saw Ethan Hayter lose the green leader’s jersey, ex-Sky and BMC rider Nicolas Roche defended his former teammate Romain Bardet’s assertion that increased risk-taking in the bunch, combined with new widespread technology such as disc brakes, has led to more high-speed crashes in pro cycling.

Yesterday we reported on the blog that DSM rider Bardet called for a change in behaviour within the peloton after Sunday’s horror crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège which saw world champion Julian Alaphilippe puncture a lung and suffer multiple fractures.

Nicolas Roche (Credit: Cor Vos/ Team DSM)

Speaking as part of his commentary duties for Eurosport-GCN at the Tour de Romandie, Roche echoed the Frenchman’s thoughts on the peloton’s tendency to take unnecessary risks, which he says has grown over the past decade.

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

The Irishman argued that while at the start of his career teams such as Lance Armstrong’s Discovery Channel would have used sections of the race route to take a figurative break, teams are now willing to take advantage of every part of the course.

“Sometimes crashes early in a race are caused by the road furniture, a car that’s not parked, a pothole, a dangerous descent – but clearly today’s crash was caused by the riders themselves,” Roche said.

“A little like what happened at Liège, it’s unfortunately at this point, not becoming a trend, but you see more and more of these high-speed crashes, at moments when there’s no danger point.

“Lately if you’ve been following some of the debates on social media, Bardet made a few comments about what was going on at Liège, and he described the attitudes and risk-taking of some riders to be in position as a little bit too extreme and aggressive.

“I think he’s right. Today a lot of the crashes are not caused only due to road safety, but by riders taking that bit too much risk.”

> Are disc brakes to blame for Liège-Bastogne-Liège horror crash? 

Roche also agreed with Bardet’s comments about the reduced reaction time caused by the widespread introduction of disc brakes in the peloton in recent years.

He continued: “If you think about why they’re also piling up – between the high-speed bikes, everything is aero, you ride closer, positioning is more and more important, the level of people capable of putting you into position is also greater, so there are more riders fighting for the same spot.

“And with higher braking power, less reflex time when you’re on the wheel. Before if you locked up the back wheel, you were skidding all over the place, elbow to elbow – and you might have a few guys crash here and there.

“Where now you have these big pile ups, because you absolutely have no time. When you lock up on the disc brake bike, you stop – for good and bad.

“When there’s 50 guys behind you, there’s no time for them to stop either.”

27 April 2022, 15:46
Teuns beats Dennis, Tour de Romandie Stage 1, 2022 (via GCN)
Tour de Romandie: Dylan Teuns snatches dramatic win from Rohan Dennis, as Ethan Hayter crashes out of leader’s jersey

Dylan Teuns continued his impressive spring with an exhilarating victory on the first road stage of the Tour de Romandie, dramatically overhauling new race leader Rohan Dennis during the final ten metres to the top of the uphill drag into Romont, as prologue winner Ethan Hayter hit the deck with fifteen kilometres to go.

Dennis sprinted off Brandon McNulty’s wheel at the bottom of the kilometre-long final climb and looked set to take the win, quickly putting daylight into the American and the rest of the fractured peloton, but it was Bahrain-Victorious’ Flèche Wallonne winner Teuns who had enough punch left in his legs to pip the fading Australian at the line.

The green leader’s jersey will act as something of a consolation for Jumbo-Visma’s enigmatic Australian, however, as its previous incumbent Ethan Hayter was involved in a nasty looking mass crash with fifteen kilometres to go.

Ethan Hayter, Tour de Romandie 2022 (GCN)

The incident, which occurred towards the back of the peloton, also affected James Knox, Rigoberto Uran and Ion Izagirre.

Ineos Grenadiers later confirmed that Hayter is fine and was able to finish the stage alongside his teammates.

27 April 2022, 15:02
Pushing the watts… and the pram

I wonder if Rafał Majka has been swapping tips for how best to combine parenting duties and training with Rigoberto Urán, after the Colombian’s heavily criticised – but still pretty cool – interpretation of Daddy Day Care

27 April 2022, 14:51
ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy - Dame Sarah Outdoor Image 1
Three female riders selected to join Dame Sarah Storey at Škoda DSI Cycling Academy

Three young female cyclists have been selected to join the Škoda DSI Cycling Academy, where they will be mentored by Dame Sarah Storey, Britain’s most decorated Paralympian.

Now in its fourth year, the academy aims to maximise young female potential in the sport by mentoring and developing the skills of “passionate” amateur riders.

The year-long programme is designed to complement each rider’s existing club or team activity, providing them with the opportunity to experience the life of a professional rider with on and off bike experiences.

22-year-old Alex Morrice, a Physics and Chemistry student, 19-year-old Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation student Katie-Ann Elliston, and 23-year-old Maia Forde, who works as a mental health and wellbeing practitioner, were selected from 90 applicants after a day of tests at the Lee Valley Velodrome last month.

The tests included a series of Wattbike challenges, followed by laps of the outdoor closed circuit to assess bike handling skills and straight-line speed.

The three new riders will join three existing Academy riders, Maddi Aldam-Gates, Gwyneth Parry and Olivia French, who were selected for the programme last year.

ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy - Maia Forde 2

“I was so impressed with the level of all the riders taking part, their commitment, and the way they gelled together as a group,” said Storey, the Academy’s Principal.

“The tests were a six second peak power test, a three-minute maximal test then a 12-minute aerobic test, followed by two laps on the outdoor track. The riders all performed very well and gave absolutely everything – that there were so many riders slumped over their bikes at the end is testament to that!

“Congratulations to all the riders that took part in the testing day but ultimately three riders stood out for me and I’m excited to be working closely with Maia, Alex and Katie-Ann this year through the Academy programme.”

Storey’s invaluable mentorship will include bespoke training, racing and career advice, as well as additional media and social media training and a sport psychology programme developed exclusively for the Academy.

The riders will also take on exciting Academy ride experiences during the Women’s Tour, Tour de France and Tour of Britain.

27 April 2022, 13:57
“How do you expect people to ride in the rain?”

Here’s a handy – and thoroughly researched – graph you can keep in your back pocket for the next time you need a counterpoint to the tired old “but what about when it rains?” trope.

Disclaimer – may not be applicable in every part of the UK…

27 April 2022, 13:43
“Do you have a driving licence?”: Buses in bike boxes, Belfast edition
27 April 2022, 12:08
Greener Hackney (picture credit Chris Kenyon).PNG
How will Low Traffic Neighbourhoods affect upcoming local elections?

Over the last few years, the implementation of active travel schemes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) – designed to block rat-running drivers, reduce pollution and make roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians – has emerged as arguably one of the most controversial and divisive issues in local politics.

For example, earlier this month we reported that Joanna Biddolph, a Conservative councillor for London’s Turnham Green ward, leaked confidential information about measures to protect the security of councillors during an anti-LTN demonstration. 

Biddolph is one of the Chiswick’s leading opponents of new bike lanes and traffic restrictions, many of which were introduced during the initial stages of the Covid pandemic, and has accused the Labour-controlled council of turning the area into “Belfast during the Troubles”.

The leader of the Conservative group in Hounslow, Gerald McGregor, was also labelled a “bombastic dinosaur” by Labour after he compared the impact of Chiswick’s LTNs to apartheid-era South Africa. 

In Hackney, where just 30 percent of households own a car, a councillor even received death threats because of his support for LTNs in the area. 

> Councillor leaked confidential security information during row over Low Traffic Neighbourhoods 

So it’s no surprise, then, that political commentators reckon that the future of LTNs and active travel initiatives could have a decisive impact on the outcome of the upcoming local elections in London.

“Battles about this predominantly pitch Conservatives against a pro-coalition of Labour, Greens and sometimes Lib Dems,” Nick Bowes, the chief executive of the Centre for London think tank, told the BBC

“Very localised surprises might happen.”

Of course, many politicians at council level take advantage of local tension over LTNs to win votes, while some are wary of voter retaliation if they press ahead with the schemes.

> Conservative mayoral candidate for Hackney vows to ditch Low Traffic Neighbourhoods 

But Simon Munk from the London Cycling Campaign says that opposition to LTNs on the basis that they will accrue votes from angry motorists is “short-termist”.

Munk also believes that it’s only a “lack of political will” which prevents LTNs from having a greater impact in the battle against climate change.

What do you think? Will LTNs play a key role in deciding the outcome of next week’s local elections?

27 April 2022, 11:22
The Ineos Grenadier – Built for cyclists?

Ah, the Ineos Grenadiers – always in tune with the average cyclist on the street (desperately trying to avoid monstrosities such as whatever that is)…

What do you mean, greenwashing?!

27 April 2022, 10:47
Throwback… eh, Wednesday: Delgado-no at the 1989 Tour

Of course, no mention of a rider nearly missing the start of a time trial would be complete without a nostalgic throwback to the epic 1989 Tour de France and defending champion Pedro Delgado’s nightmare prologue.

Delgado, who won the 1988 Tour amidst the farce of his positive-but-not-a-positive doping test, lost track of time as he warmed up for the 1989 race’s prologue in the backstreets of Luxembourg, only making it to the start ramp (a converted campervan, oddly enough) a whole two minutes and 40 seconds after his allocated time.

If that wasn’t enough, the Spaniard’s desire to make amends in the following day’s team time trial only served to blow his legs apart, as he struggled to keep the wheels of his Reynolds (the team now known as Movistar, for all the kids out there) teammates after an over-exuberant start – in the end losing another 2:48 to Laurent Fignon’s Super-U team.

Delgado – who, in a swashbuckling attacking display over the next three weeks, ended up third in Paris – eventually finished 3:34 behind winner Greg LeMond. Ouch.

While the 1989 Tour is best remembered for the time trialling drama on the Champs-Élysées, the greatest grande boucle of all time (anyone who disagrees is just wrong, frankly) began with another bit of chrono madness.

27 April 2022, 09:56
McNulty’s mishap: American nearly misses start of Romandie prologue


Brandon McNulty’s Tour de Romandie bid got off to a less than ideal start yesterday, as the American UAE Team Emirates rider rocked up at the start gate of the prologue with only seconds to spare…

The bemused look on the face of the Ineos Grenadiers’ Brandon Rivera – who demonstrated his perfect punctuality by being ready over a minute before his start time – as McNulty hurriedly prepared himself for his 5.1-kilometre effort is pretty priceless.

Perhaps we’re watching a trial run of UAE’s new pre-TT prep: Sprint to the start (that counts as a warmup, right?), hastily clip into the pedals, reset the computer, deep breath, job’s a good ‘un.

Or maybe not…

In any case, McNulty proved that his time trialling is better than his time keeping, as he finished 16th in the prologue, 17 seconds behind the flying winner Ethan Hayter.

The American later told VeloNews that he is still feeling the effects of the mass crash at Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which saw world champion Julian Alaphilippe puncture a lung and suffer multiple fractures, while McNulty himself lost huge chunks of skin in the shocking, 80kph pile-up.

27 April 2022, 09:17
Elon Musk: No more cycling jokes on Twitter, please

It’s a whole new world – or at least it’s a whole new addictive bird app on your phone…

So, what was one of Elon Musk’s first acts as he commenced his four-billion-dollar bid to restore ‘free speech’ to the vast hell site that is Twitter?

Well, he banned a cyclist for adopting the tech billionaire’s name and joking about buying Tour de France organisers ASO. Naturally enough.

That’ll show ‘em, Elon.

Satire truly is dead.

Or maybe’s he’s just a big RCS man and didn’t want to ruffle any feathers before the Giro…

27 April 2022, 08:41
The new Snake Pass? Peak District’s Long Hill closed to traffic for five months

Just as Snake Pass’ brief spell as a car-free cycling utopia begins to fade from the collective bike riding consciousness (ah, we had a good month, didn’t we?), another Peak District climb is set to take its place.

The A5004 Long Hill between Whaley Bridge and Buxton – named in 2010 as the seventh most dangerous road in Britain – is now closed to cars for up to five months, as major works are needed to repair a landslip.

> Snake Pass to reopen from tomorrow – with 20mph speed limit

In its usual state, according to Anthony from Peaks and Puddles, the 50mph A-road can be a sketchy experience for any cyclist, despite its use as a hill climb for local clubs (it even hosted the 2011 national hill climb championships).

But with barriers now blocking the 4.5 mile long, three-percent climb to motor vehicles – provided you take a detour around the landslip itself and keep an eye out for any drivers chancing their arm – cyclists can once again enjoy the serenity and safety of a Peak District road hitherto associated with speeding motorists, the sound of roaring engines, and general feelings of terror.

As Anthony, who rode the climb this week, says: “cycling heaven!”

Let’s just hope the council doesn’t get involved again…

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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