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Taylor Phinney: Cycling was “f*cked up”; Rusty Raleigh Chopper sells for £700; “We are not the Netherlands”; Cyclists are entitled…to get home alive; Tell me you’re a cyclist without telling me you’re a cyclist; Big Mamil Energy + more on the live blog

Finally it’s Friday… and Ryan Mallon is here to ease you gently into the weekend with the final live blog of the week
08 April 2022, 16:03
Tell me you’re a cyclist: your submissions

Earlier today I asked you all to come up with your own examples for that ubiquitous internet challenge: ‘Tell me you’re a cyclist without telling me you’re a cyclist’.

And fair play, you came up with some great ones. Here are some of the best:

Rambling on country lanes, I have succumbed to the odd "Car down!"

When writing down directions my kids naturally write in "Audax": R@T, L@X, 3@O, and so on.

You can tell our man VecchioJo Burt is a cyclist because he tucks his head down with his hands on the top of the steering wheel when driving downhill.

My son says 'Allez' a lot, has done since he was 3. He also has 4 bikes. He's 8.

I take the dogs for a walk, and as soon as I take them off the lead, they drop me.

Always makes a head check before turning right, even if it's only turning into an aisle at the supermarket.

Describes any other cyclist in terms of the bike they were riding ("This woman came by on a Colnago C64..."; "What, the one who was naked and throwing out free money?"; "Was she, I didn't notice").

Dresses in elbow-length shirts and three-quarter length trousers in summer even on the hottest days because they want to preserve the pro tan (an extreme case but I have known more than one person do it!).

I jog round the block with my daughter and find myself pointing out holes and shouting hole left or right without batting an eyelid, exactly the same as I'm on a club ride. 12-year-old daughter does it as well.

I actually do that one too while walking, performing the ‘cyclist’s point’ if there’s something unsavoury to step in ahead…

I've been known to wear a casquette with a small amount of luft when walking around town.

Quite normal to see me wearing a rain cape while walking about town if it's raining.

Shaved legs in summer is normal.

And finally…

When driving not being afraid to sit behind a cyclist (not right on their wheel!) for a couple of minutes because there is nowhere safe to overtake.

Have a good weekend everyone!

08 April 2022, 15:46
Vlasov Vingegaard Basque Country 2022
Vlasov and Vingegaard go for a run as Remco takes yellow

Shades of Froome on the Ventoux here as Aleksandr Vlasov and Jonas Vingegaard resorted to running with their bikes after crashing on the slippery steep final climb to Mallabia at the Tour of the Basque Country.

As Carlos Rodríguez held on grimly for an impressive breakaway victory, Remco Evenepoel moved into the race lead after instigating the crucial move on the day’s penultimate climb, distancing both the yellow jersey Primož Roglič (who looked lacklustre) and Adam Yates, who now sit a minute behind the young Belgian on the GC going into tomorrow’s crunch final stage.

Rodríguez’s Ineos teammate Dani Martinez, second on the day, also sits second overall, two seconds behind Evenepoel. That’s a lot of seconds…

08 April 2022, 15:14
Pog apologises to Van Baarle for Flanders outburst

One of the sagas of the week seems to finally have been settled – Tadej Pogačar has apologised to Ineos Grenadiers rider Dylan van Baarle for his angry outburst after the dramatic finale to last Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

Pogačar uncharacteristically lost his cool after he was boxed in when Van Baarle and Valentin Madouas caught the 23-year-old Slovenian and Mathieu van der Poel in the final 400 metres of the Ronde, leaving the two-time Tour de France winner a disconsolate fourth.

But Van Baarle has revealed that Pog apologised a day later, in the way only a true Gen Zer can – through Instagram.

The Dutchman told Laurens Ten Dam’s Live Slow Ride Fast podcast that Pogačar reached out to him on the social media app to write: ‘Sorry, but I was frustrated and I wish you the podium’.

“He doesn't have my number, but sent it via Instagram,” Van Baarle said. “That was really cool.”

Explaining his rival’s outburst, Van Baarle said: “He thought I had deviated from my line and locked him up on purpose," he said. "But he was probably frustrated that he screwed up himself. I was probably the first one he met after the finish.”

And now this is finally all done and dusted, and we can all move on with our lives, let’s enjoy one last watch of a rare angry Pog moment:

08 April 2022, 14:43
“They get on their bikes and they’re free”

Here’s an inspiring a story for a Friday afternoon.

Pedal Power Cycling Club, an joint initiative from Brain Injury Matters and cycling and walking charity Sustrans, was established in 2019 for adults with brain injuries to help their recovery and physical mobility, as well as providing a social space form them to enjoy cycling.

The club meets every Friday morning in Belfast’s CS Lewis Square, in the shadow of Harland and Wolff’s Samson and Goliath cranes, for breakfast and a cycle on specially adapted bikes and trikes to cater for those with brain injury.

48-year-old Graham Hill, a keen cyclist who discovered he had a brain tumour in 2012 which affected his ability to walk, says the club has rekindled his love of cycling.

“I had a road bike and I used to go out 50, 60, 70 miles no problem,” Graham said. “And I cycled around Lough Neagh six times.”

“It was back in 2012, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour… I spent months and months in hospital.

“I was seeing a physiotherapist there and she says: ‘Do you like cycling? Brain Injury Matters have this Pedal Power’. So I’ve been coming ever since.

“I’m not very good on my feet, and my balance is non-existent – so I can’t walk very far.

“But if I’m sitting on a bike like this, like a trike, I can go for miles.”

Dr Jonathan McCrea, head of services at Brain Injury Matters, said: “It is one of the most spine-tingling moments when you see people who have had profound life-changing injuries come here.

“They have lost their sense of self and all of sudden they leave their walking frames behind, get on the bikes and they’re free.”

08 April 2022, 14:13
Lucas Hamilton Tour of the Basque Country crash 2 (GCN)
BikeExchange rider crashes over barriers at Tour of the Basque Country

A scary moment here for BikeExchange’s Lucas Hamilton, who misjudged a corner at the Tour of the Basque Country and ended up flying over the barriers.

Fortunately, the Australian rider – who in the breakaway alongside Marc Soler and Carlos Rodríguez at the time of the crash – didn’t have too far to fall, though his bike ended a bit further down the ravine.

Lucas Hamilton Tour of the Basque Country crash (GCN)

According to his DS Matt White, Hamilton – who has since abandoned the race – suffered a bloody nose and a few cuts, but doesn’t appear to have broken any bones and was speaking clearly while he was being treated in the ambulance.

A frightening one then, but as White told GCN commentator Nico Roche, “he got lucky”.

08 April 2022, 15:19
British Cycling suspends transgender policy

We will have more on this story as we get it. 

08 April 2022, 13:32
Taylor Phinney after stage two of the 2017 Tour de France (via YouTube).jpg
Cycling was “f*cked up”: Taylor Phinney opens up about drug abuse and the culture of silence within pro cycling

Former American pro Taylor Phinney has opened up about drug abuse and the culture of silence in the peloton in a revealing interview for the ‘Outspoken’ Thereabouts podcast

Phinney, the son of ex-7 Eleven rider Davis Phinney and Olympic gold medallist Connie Carpenter, retired in 2019 at just 29 after nine years as a professional at BMC and EF Education First.

His stage win and stint in the pink jersey at the 2012 Giro d’Italia cemented his status as American cycling’s next big thing as it emerged blinking from the Lance Armstrong era and forced to deal with the aftershocks of the Texan’s doping confession less than nine months after Phinney’s Italian triumph.

> Giro d'Italia Stage 1: Phinney flies to time trial win, Team Sky's Thomas second

Despite his undoubted talent Phinney generally failed up to the high expectations placed upon him after his 2012 breakthrough, which also included a career-high silver medal at the world time trial championships and fourth place in both the road race and time trial at the London Olympics, largely due to the after-effects of a career-threatening injury sustained in a crash at the 2014 US road race championships.

Never a conformist, Phinney often cut an eccentric figure in the conservative, insular world of professional cycling.

In the candid podcast interview, he revealed how his outspoken nature often got him in trouble with team management, especially when it came to doping, which Phinney says was still rampant even during what is generally perceived to be the post-EPO era.

Giro 2012 S2 Mark Cavendish and Taylor Phinney (picture Gian Mattia D'Alberto:LaPresse:RCS Sport)

“There was a time when I was quite outspoken about finish bottles in races,” he said. “When I first started racing the EPO and blood doping era was seemingly past but there was still a huge amount of opiate abuse in the sport.

“I don’t know if that has completely gone away but it was pretty widespread in my first couple of years that you would smash a couple of Tramadol at the end of the race, which is basically like taking a Vicodin or two along with a bunch of caffeine and maybe some Sudafed.

“That’s a bomb right there, if I took one of those right now it would send me to the moon. I was never into that. I would get offered that, but I was like I don’t think I need an opiate painkiller today to get through this race.

“But [Tramadol abuse] was just a thing, especially in the Classics, so many of the guys were doing that. I was kind of like, ‘this is fucked up’.

“So I said some stuff about it in an interview, and then I also talked about how there was a fair amount of coincidentally timed cortisone injections being given to some people going into certain races.

“You don’t need it. If you need a cortisone injection you should be out for a while. Not like, I just got a cortisone injection and now I’m like, winning Flanders.”

Giro 2012 S3 Taylor Phinney (picture Gian Mattia D'Alberto - LaPresse - RCS Sport)

Phinney said that he only received cortisone – the drug at the centre of Bradley Wiggins’ TUEs before the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France – after he broke his leg at the 2014 US Nationals.

“I was just flying and half of my leg didn’t work,” he said. “I was like, OK, I think I understand this now. I spoke out about that and I received quite a bit of backlash from the management.”

Phinney then talked about how the law of silence within cycling regarding doping – commonly known as the omertà – was still prevalent throughout his career and that he wrongly assumed that he would be celebrated for speaking out about some of the sport’s darker secrets.

After racing as a junior for Trek-Livestrong and then briefly as a stagiaire for Lance Armstrong’s Radioshack team, Phinney turned pro with BMC, where he was managed by Jim Ochowicz, the man in charge of Armstrong’s Motorola team in the mid-1990s. In 2017, he joined the Cannondale team owned by Jonathan Vaughters, a former teammate of the Texan known for his anti-doping stance.

Warming up for the final TT of his first Grand Tour, the future looks good for Phinney, as do his glasses.

He said: “I mean, of course, as an entitled young American, a confident young man, I was like of course I should be able to say whatever I want about this because in my mind this is wrong and that’s what you grow up reading about in the news. People talking about the things that are wrong and then hopefully the thing gets fixed.

“But once you’re inside of the machine and you start talking about the things that are wrong, and then those things are closely linked to where your paycheque is coming from.

“You’re in a position where people can tell you what to do and punish you for not obeying the most random rules that they can put in place at any point in time. You realise actually you’re not like Harry Potter, you’re not the hero of this story because you have to shut up.”

“I definitely struggled in my first couple of years just with feeling like I couldn’t express myself. Or that I wasn’t celebrated in the way I thought I should be for speaking out honestly about things I thought were wrong within the actual group of the peloton or management itself.

“Outside of that people were like ‘yay he’s speaking up’ against this or that. But within the group, there’s very much this ‘this is our secret, our world’.

“As the rider, because you go out to do the race, in your mind you think you are the most important person. It’s also everyone has this job to make you think you’re important. But you realize there are all these people above you holding these strings and you really have no power.

“You can’t do anything about it, they own your image rights. They own… they own you.”

08 April 2022, 12:17
‘But why can’t we be like the Netherlands?’
08 April 2022, 11:24
“We are not the Netherlands”: Hove councillors win at cycling bingo

On Wednesday, you may recall, we reported that cyclists in Hove had lodged a petition to have “well-planned and high-quality permanent cycle lanes” installed on the Old Shoreham Road, after a pop-up bike lane was removed by local councillors in November 2021.

A counter-petition was created urging the council to keep the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane free – though as the Brighton Argus made clear in their questionable front pages, both petitions were the target of jokesters (though the Argus, in their haste to make the story all about a fake Hitler signature, neglected to mention in their report that 200 bogus, duplicate or triplicate names had been added to the anti-cycle lane petition).

> ‘Crass and insensitive’ front page slammed after ‘Adolf Hitler’ signs bike lane petition

In any case, the two petitions were brought in front of Brighton and Hove City Council last night. Unfortunately, despite local cyclist Darren Callow’s best efforts to convince the council that the cycle lane would leave a “positive legacy for future generations”, he was greeted with some familiar tropes from councillors opposed to the proposed scheme:

Both petitions for and against the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane have been referred to the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee for another round of almost certainly tedious back-and-forth.

If you don’t have much on this weekend, you can watch last night’s meeting at this link. Don’t forget to stock up on popcorn…

08 April 2022, 10:54
Cyclists are entitled… to get home alive

A stylish t-shirt that doubles as pro-cycling propaganda? Count me in…

Journalist Peter Flax’s sartorial response to what he describes as the “feeble-minded pronouncement” that cyclists are ‘entitled’, simply because we want to get from A to B safely, is certainly a great conversation starter.

Promoting the t-shirt earlier this year, Flax said: “It’s time for bike riders to reappropriate the truth when it comes to entitlement. To take this misinformed invective and flip it into an anthem. Let’s be blunt: Cyclists may be entitled — but not in the way these idiots suggest.”

If you want to look cool, reframe a tired conversation, and troll anti-cycling motorists at the same time, you can buy the t-shirt from Flax’s website

08 April 2022, 10:12
Move over Sergio Leone…

Now this is what you call a shot:

08 April 2022, 09:38
Tell me you’re a cyclist without telling me you’re a cyclist

Since it’s Friday, let’s have a bit of fun in the comments – who can better Sam Bennett’s wife Tara’s excellent example?

My tell is that I say ‘clear’ when crossing the road as a pedestrian…

Any others?

08 April 2022, 09:22
Big Mamil Energy

 And on the other side of the coin:

Any of our readers have their own examples of encountering – or perhaps displaying – Big Mamil Energy?

(I was going to shorten it to BME, but an acronym within an acronym feels like too much…)

Come on, don’t be shy…

08 April 2022, 08:48
“Felt like Ffordd Pen Llech”: G’s tough day in the break

2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas has certainly been put through his paces this week at the Tour of the Basque Country.

On Wednesday’s stage three he spent kilometre after kilometre on the front of the peloton, over some shockingly steep ramps, to help tee up an attack by Ineos Grenadiers teammate Adam Yates, who unfortunately punctured in the closing kilometre as Pello Bilbao won the small-group sprint.

Yesterday, the 35-year-old Welsh rider made the break of the day on another relentlessly tough stage. Despite being caught by the GC group with nine kilometres to go, another of Thomas’ Ineos mates, Dani Martinez, took the stage by a whisker ahead of Julian Alaphilippe (the Colombian nearly ‘doing an Alaphilippe’ in the process by celebrating a little prematurely as the world champion threw his bike at the line).

And it wouldn’t be Geraint Thomas without a sneaky reference to an iconic Welsh climb – surely even the gruelling hills of the Basque Country have nothing on the former 'world’s steepest street'?  

Oh, and while he’s building up his form ahead of the Tour de France after what he described as a “slow winter”, Thomas is also doing his best to relocate some missing nappies…

08 April 2022, 08:12
Raleigh Chopper (Hansons Auctioneers)
How much? Rusty old Raleigh Chopper sells for almost £700

This story is for the kind of cyclists – like me – who can’t seem to part with that knackered old rust bucket in the corner of the garage.

‘But you haven’t ridden it in ten years…’

Well, your bike hoarding may pay off some day, as earlier this week a battered, rusty Raleigh Chopper – which had spent 35 unloved years in a garden shed – fetched hundred of pounds at an auction in Derbyshire.

The seller, who owned the iconic 1970s bike as a child, was initially going to just throw it in the skip.

Instead, rather fortuitously, they took it to Hansons Auctioneers, who sold the bike for £692, almost seven times the estimate.

“It was in my dad's shed. I didn't realise it was there, just rusting slowly. It was mine in the late 1970s and early 80s when I was nine or 10,” the bike’s now former owner told Derbyshire Live.

“It's got the original gear shifter - not the later T-bar from those pesky safety people. It was great for wheelies and potholes. I remember seeing the Chopper advertised in Look-In, a kids magazine at the time.

“The advert featured a bike with a T-bar gear shifter but this one has a single-lever shifter. My dad came home with the Chopper. He bought it second hand from some chap.”

> Raleigh Chopper vs Alpe d'Huez

Auctioneer Charles Hanson said: “This was an exceptional result for an iconic bike. Due to its rusty condition, it was destined for the skip. However, it has now been saved for posterity. I hope its new owner will enjoy restoring it to its former glory.”

So there’s hope for that rusty old bike in the shed yet…

Or better yet, you could restore your old children’s bike and ride it around the route of the Tour de France (like this guy). Hmmm… I’d probably just take it to the auction.

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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