Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Driving instructors have their say on the Highway Code – “a recipe for disaster” or “not a big deal”?; Should helmets be compulsory?; Pidcock on the move for 2023?; Bernal's "second chance" + more on the live blog

What’s that? No cycling on the TV for the second consecutive day? Don’t worry – you can help stave off those withdrawal symptoms by joining Ryan Mallon for Tuesday’s live blog…
08 February 2022, 18:16
Sebastian Vettel: “20 minutes by car in traffic or 20 minutes on a bike? A million times over I’ll choose the bike”

Here’s something heart-warming to take you into the evening – Sebastian Vettel has spoken of his love of everything two wheels in an interview with The Sportsrush

Like many of his F1 colleagues, the four-time world champion is a big cycling fan, and says he was inspired by his compatriot Jan Ullrich’s rivalry with Lance Armstrong at the Tour de France in the early 2000s.

Vettel, who owns a Cannondale road bike, a Canyon gravel bike and an assortment of other mountain and city bikes, uses cycling to train for his F1 day job and is often joined by other drivers such as Mick Schumacher and Lando Norris.

But you can tell, to paraphrase the anti-hero he admired growing up, it’s not about the fitness.

“For me riding a bike isn’t about going as fast as you can. But the sense of personal achievement you get from cycling is such a huge reward. Getting to the top of a climb, it’s the best.”

“Riding to the circuits isn’t about getting an extra bit of training in. I find it much more pleasurable than sitting in a car in traffic. Most of the races are in busy cities and if it’s 20 minutes by car in traffic or 20 minutes on a bike – a million times over I’ll choose the bike.”

Maybe a post-F1 career in something bike-related awaits Vettel when he retires?

“I’ve always found bike couriers fascinating,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do it! The thrill of riding flat out through a busy city, that’s something I love and something I’d really like to do. I’m jealous of those guys!”

08 February 2022, 17:36
With instructors like these…

Ah, driving instructors. The ones featured earlier today got a fair few of you talking, with the exception of Robert Collins, who seems to have earned himself a place in the hall of fame. Here’s an edited selection of some of your comments (sweary ones omitted):

"Learner drivers are generally quite nervous around cyclists because they're unpredictable, so they're already frightened, and I think this will just make people even more nervous about it,” he said.

Then it's such a pity that the learner drivers aren't being accompanied by an experienced and qualified driver who can give them correct guidance.

Erm - hang on...

Robert Collins sums it all up very well: "It's not that different to what I've always taught anyway so it's not making a big deal to me and my pupils.”

I wonder what the other driving instructors have been teaching their pupils? A little worrying really.

Someone I know has just passed her test. Her biggest worry before the test was "making sufficient progress". Not sure what her instructor was telling her but I think this is ridiculous.

What would have been interesting in the driving instructor report, is have they actually read the HC, and where do they their information from?  I'm fairly sure a couple of them either haven't read the new rules, and/or get their information from rabid right wing media.

We need someone to do a study into misinformation and its correlation with belief in fake news.

Well funny you mention that – media misinformation is a key theme in this week’s upcoming Podcast… 

"I can see that it's going to cause problems because the general standard of driving around here is appalling."

Said by a driving instructor... the irony!

Quick trip to the shop. Outward leg 8/10 exemplary overtakes, one ok and one poor.

The poor one was a driver under instruction - perhaps they had come from N Wales.

I think Phil Jones should consider his career choice - perhaps he and the Man U one could swap places for a few weeks. It would probably improve the standard of driving instruction in Rhyl, and have no noticeable effect on the Man U squad.

 Harsh… but fair.

And, finally, here are a few videos I’ve been sent today of driving instructors… well, not really instructing:

08 February 2022, 16:59
Cycling Ireland admits sending “false quotations” in government grant application

The Irish Department for Sport has suspended Cycling Ireland’s access to capital funding for 12 months after the organisation admitted to submitting false comparative quotations with an application for a €52,100 grant.

“Cycling Ireland can confirm – independently of any investigation – that it is a matter of fact that two false quotations were submitted to support the application for a sports capital grant,” a spokesman for the governing body said.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that this was done for personal gain. Cycling Ireland has been severely sanctioned by the department as a consequence of what occurred.”

Yesterday, a government deputy said that the body should be called to answer questions about the affair at the parliamentary Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media.

“It’s deeply disappointing to see and I would hope that the necessary governance structures are put in place to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” said Fine Gael TD Ciaran Cannon.

Cycling Ireland, which received almost €10 million in public funding between 2015 and 2020, has confirmed that it is overhauling both its procurement policy and governance in the wake of the controversy.

In November 2021 accountant Liam Collins became president and chairman of the board, while three other new board members have been appointed in recent months.

2022 has also witnessed an overhaul on the sporting side for Cycling Ireland. At the end of January it was confirmed that Nicolas Roche will take over as directeur sportif for the Cycling Ireland senior road programme. The former BMC and Sky rider will also provide mentorship for the junior and U23 teams.

08 February 2022, 16:30
Highlands velodrome plans shelved – but councillor says creation of cycling hub ‘still possible’

HiVelo SCIO, a charity set up in 2015 with the aim of creating a velodrome for the Highlands, announced yesterday that it was abandoning its plans after the group failed to secure adequate funding for the project.

The charity had hoped to secure a site in Inverness for a cycling development and community hub centred on the velodrome, but was unsuccessful in obtaining grants from national sports agencies.

"The trustees could not be more disappointed with this outcome, but we need to be realistic about its impact on HiVelo itself,” a spokesman said yesterday.

"Plainly, our founding mission is now untenable."

However, Councillor Duncan Macpherson, a member of Highland Council’s cross-party Inverness East Sports Facility Working Group, said today that a velodrome for the Highlands could still be built if suitable funding could be secured in the future.

Macpherson urged HiVelo not to disband in the wake of the news and said there was still potential for “legacy projects” from events such as the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the London Olympics to benefit Inverness.

“I would hope that we could see these projects come to fruition, but ultimately we need the funds. I was disappointed when I read that it’s not going ahead but I hope that it can be resurrected by the working group,” he said.

It is currently unclear if HiVelo will disband or if it will continue to carry on as an organisation supporting cycling events and youth development.

08 February 2022, 16:05
Now, this is cool...

If you needed to purge that Marc Soler NFT from your mind, check out these cool abstract team colour prints from Pro Cycling Trumps: 

08 February 2022, 15:42
Pedal Me helmet ban: Jeremy Vine asks, ‘Should helmets be mandatory’?

Yesterday we reported that E-cargo bike and pedicab company Pedal Me confirmed rumours it has banned staff riders from wearing helmets, citing safety reasons for the rule.

This morning, the company’s co-founder Ben Knowles appeared on Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 programme to discuss the decision and whether or not helmets should be made compulsory for all cyclists.

Responding to co-presenter Storm Huntley’s assertion that helmets can prevent serious injury, Vine – referring to Ian Walker’s 2006 study which found that motorists take more care when passing cyclists who aren’t wearing helmets – said: “I’m not telling anybody not to wear a helmet. I’m just saying it shouldn’t be compulsory to wear one. It’s not necessarily safer. That’s the whole point.”

Explaining his firm’s decision to ban employees from wearing helmets, Knowles told the programme that the company’s research showed that riders take more risks when wearing lids.

> Pedal Me bans cargo bike riders from wearing helmets for safety reasons

“We spent a lot of time looking at the data and thinking about this,” he said. “And what we found was that while helmets definitely protect you when you do have a crash, they seem to be doing something to increase the number of crashes that you have.

“And because we’re carrying people on the front of our bikes, and because the bikes are quite heavy when they’re fully loaded, and potentially quite risky, we decided that increasing risk acceptance by our staff was a bad idea.

“So this doesn’t mean that I necessarily believe that everyone should not wear a helmet, but in our case in particular it’s a bad idea for commercial use.

Ben continued: “I started off as a bike racer and I always used to wear a helmet, until I looked at the data… I almost stopped using a helmet entirely for my personal use as well.

“As regards mandatory helmet laws, I think it’s pretty clear that they’re a bad idea. The reason for that is because what causes the risks to people riding bikes is people driving cars.

“The less people cycle, then the more people drive cars. So we want to create an environment where people feel safe to ride bikes.

“The problem is that lots of people wearing helmets makes cycling look a lot more dangerous than it actually is.

“We repeatedly find that most of our injuries at Pedal Me happen off the bike, not on the bike,” Knowles said, before telling the panel that Pedal Me’s records include as many assaults with a machete on their employees as they do injuries that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet.

Now that’s a stat…

We’ll not get on to the caller who craftily brought up cyclists' insurance. Jeremy, thankfully, shut that one down quickly.

08 February 2022, 14:32
Apidura cityline 40
Apidura launches the City Handlebar Pack

Some new gear to feast your eyes on this Tuesday afternoon (and no, it’s not an NFT either).

Apidura has added the City Handlebar Pack (£63 – cheaper than a Froomey tee) to its growing City Series, bringing “precision crafted technical gear” to the urban environment with a bag that provides quick access storage for layers, valuables and city riding essentials.

The pack is designed to attach quickly to any style of handlebar, and is made from Apidura’s bespoke waterproof and abrasion resistant CT420 Marle fabric for durable protection from the elements.

Apidura cityline 49

Subtle features include reflective screen printing, an internal mesh pocket to help with organising, a flexible slip pocket for valuables and a bike light friendly attachment system.

We’ll be asking for one in to review, so expect to hear our thoughts on the bag sometime soon…

08 February 2022, 13:55
Froomedog – the designer range

Just when you thought you’d had enough of cyclists trying to sell you things this week, Chris Froome treated us all to this “exclusive collab”:

 Yeah, I’m not sure what a ‘capsule collection’ is either. But luckily for us, Britain’s four-time Tour de France winner was on hand to explain it all (what do you mean, those aren’t his own words?):

A laid back, luxury, cycling-inspired sportwear collection focused on providing meticulously handcrafted garments designed with fine finishing in mind while combining comfort and modern day ath-leisure wear!

Ah, modern day ath-leisure wear, of course.

It turns out these capsule collections don’t come cheap: a plain white t-shirt from the Froomedog range will set you back $95, or £70. A hoodie that says “I love cycling” (who doesn’t already own one of those?) costs $220. 

An actual, physical t-shirt? How 2021 of you, Chris. Cillian again has the right idea:

08 February 2022, 12:30
uci esports championships promo pic - august 2020.PNG
Wahoo, Shimano and NTT confirmed as partners for this month’s Esports World Championships

The 2022 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships is being held on 26 February on Zwift and today Wahoo, Shimano and NTT have been confirmed as the official partners for the event.

Wahoo will be supplying the Wahoo Kickr V5 smart trainer to all competitors racing later this month.

“All competitors will be competing remotely on the same equipment to provide an additional layer of event integrity,” says Zwift.

As it’s a world championships, everything needs to bang on, so it’s fortunate that Dave found the Kickr’s power accuracy was good when he reviewed the trainer for us

Shimano also joins as the official drivetrain partner for the event with the new Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 groupset.

“Anyone who’s ever entered a Zwift race will know that every watt counts – they are at the forefront of the rider’s mind – so athletes need drivetrains that perform lightning-fast shifts accurately and efficiently for maximum power,” says Shimano.

NTT is the official data analytics partner and will be supporting the broadcast of the event, bringing the narrative of the race to life through data visualisation innovations, like the rider efficiency score that was introduced at the last year’s World Championships.

Competitors will be racing on Zwift’s New York map this year, tackling the Knickerbocker route.

Field size, broadcast exposure, race distance and prize money will be equal for both men’s and women’s races, providing what should be an important model for other events to follow.

The racing starts at 5pm on 26 February, so it won't clash with Omloop, which is an important plus...

08 February 2022, 12:14
Highway Code.PNG
Driving instructors have their say on the Highway Code – “a recipe for disaster” or “not a big deal”?

It seems like everyone has had their say on the recent updates to the Highway Code over the last month (and when I say everyone, I mean every right-wing columnist who works for a national newspaper).

But what about the opinions of driving instructors, those tasked with moulding the habits and behaviour of the next generation of motorists?

Well, North Wales Live went to find out, and the results were decidedly mixed.

Phil Jones, an instructor around Rhyl and Abergele (not to be confused with the much-maligned Manchester United footballer) seemed to be most in line with the Richard Littlejohns of the world, saying the changes would be a “recipe for disaster”.

"I think overall the amount of collisions involving cyclists is going to increase,” Jones warned.

"As a driving instructor we train people to be aware of cyclists and other vulnerable road users but they have also got to take a little bit of responsibility for themselves.

"But I think if they're riding on the roads, then they should be insured, it should be mandatory and they should also have some type of formal training like every other road user."

"As for this riding in the middle of the road, all it's going to do is cause traffic chaos."

"Learner drivers are generally quite nervous around cyclists because they're unpredictable, so they're already frightened, and I think this will just make people even more nervous about it,” he said.

"I can see that it's going to cause problems because the general standard of driving around here is appalling. And it's going to cause drivers to be getting frustrated and overtaking when it's not safe to overtake and it's going to cause more road rage."

"We teach learner drivers to anticipate what's going to happen next. The problem is that people who have already passed their tests, they just won't bother checking what the changes are."

Another instructor based in Rhyl, Maxine Richards, agreed.

Maxine said: "I think it's silly, I don't know why they've changed it. I think it's going to cause a lot of accidents and a lot of problems for us instructors.

"We get a lot of road rage aimed at us anyway, without new rules that the general public are mostly unaware of.

"I've already seen a video from another instructor where a pupil following the new rules stopped for a pedestrian but the driver behind tried to overtake them and almost drove straight into a lady with a pram.”

However, Robert Collins, from Drive Passes Driving School, was much more ambivalent about the effects of the changes, which he said his students were coping with well.

"I've not got a problem with it at all, and my pupils are getting on quite well with it,” Hughes said.

"It's not that different to what I've always taught anyway so it's not making a big deal to me and my pupils.

"I think they're small changes that don't make a huge difference to be honest with you."

David Hughes, an instructor in Conwy, also said that he agreed with the new rules, but warned that they should be more readily available to the general public.

"I don't disagree with any of the rules,” he said. “But I've had difficulty finding all the new rules myself so how is my 84-year-old mother going to find out about it?

"I just think it's been introduced fairly quickly and there's not enough information publicised about it.

"Just to drop it in without much notice is bad, it could've been done a lot better."

Referencing the oft-misrepresented Dutch Reach method of opening a car door, Hughes said: "People need educating with the new rules. You can't just say, if you don't open the door with your left hand you'll get a £1000 fine and that's it.”

It should be noted, as we did last month, that it was already an offence, punishable by a maximum fine of £1,000, to open a car door, or cause or permit it to be opened, so as to cause injury.

"You need to be given the right information from the official source,” said Hughes. For an instructor, let’s just hope he doesn’t get all his driving information from the Daily Mail…

08 February 2022, 11:41
Kensington High Street protest (copyright Simon MacMichael)
Royal Albert Hall calls for reintroduction of Kensington and Chelsea cycle lanes

The Royal Albert Hall’s chief executive Craig Hassall has called for the reinstallation of safe cycle lanes in Kensington and Chelsea, and said that “we should be doing all we can to encourage active travel”.

Emergency cycle lanes were installed on Kensington High Street in October 2020. Despite being used by 3,000 cyclists a day, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea removed them less than two months later, prompting protests and criticism from campaigners, nearby schools and, reportedly, Boris Johnson himself.

Hassall, CEO of the famous old concert hall, which sits just outside the borough in Westminster, said in a statement yesterday: “The cycle lanes on High Street Kensington gave many of our staff a safe route into work, and they were bitterly disappointed when the lanes were removed after just seven weeks.

“Climate change is the single biggest threat to our way of life, and I believe we should be doing all we can to encourage active travel, promote health and well-being, reduce pollution and tackle this threat.

“With the Piccadilly Line currently not stopping at South Kensington, even more visitors and staff could be cycling to Exhibition Road and the neighbourhood, but many tell me they do not feel safe.

“I strongly support the re-introduction of these safe cycle lanes.”

08 February 2022, 10:28
Pidcock on the move?

When you’re as exciting an all-rounder as Tom Pidcock, there are always going to be quite a few teams eager to snap up your services.

The Olympic MTB gold medallist and recently crowned cyclo-cross world champion’s contract with Ineos Grenadiers runs out at the end of this year – and according to VeloNews’ Daniel Benson, two top teams are currently preparing serious bids for the 22-year-old Yorkshireman.

One of the squads vying for Pidcock’s signature is rumoured to be associated with a powerful American bike manufacturer, who appear keen to finance the move.

However, Benson also says that Ineos chief Dave B is hovering around Monaco this week, with a contract extension offer for one of his most prized assets seemingly in his back pocket.

What do you think? Should Pidcock, the most exciting young British talent, continue to establish his reputation at the only British World Tour team and become the flag bearer for a new generation of stars?

Or should the prodigious all-rounder, who seems capable of winning almost any race he puts his mind to, jump at the chance to leave a team still so belligerently focused on the grand tours?

To paraphrase Mick Jones, should Pidcock stay or should he go?

08 February 2022, 09:59
Marc in the Metaverse

 After all the talk about NFTs yesterday, I decided to create my own.

It’s an out-of-date tribute to the star of Movistar’s ‘The Least Expected Day’, Marc Soler (who now rides for UAE-Team Emirates, but just ignore that detail), based on the graphics of the Sega Mega Drive.

Any takers?

If for some reason my ‘Marc Soler as ‘80s video game art’ doesn’t grab the attention of the metaverse’s global cycling community, I might just get on board with Cillian Kelly’s new pitch. Sounds foolproof...

08 February 2022, 09:36
“Happy to be reborn” – Egan Bernal thanks doctors for “giving me a second chance”

Egan Bernal has paid tribute to the medical staff at Clínica Universidad de La Sabana in Bogotá for giving the Tour de France winner a “second chance” after his horror crash while training in Colombia two weeks ago.

Bernal was discharged from the hospital on Sunday to begin what he has described as a “very long process” of rehabilitation at home. 

Before leaving the hospital, the 2021 Giro d’Italia winner briefly stood for photographs with medical staff and recorded a video message.

“Life changed for me in one second. One moment I’m preparing for the Tour de France, giving it all on my time trial bike, and the next I’m fighting for my life,” Bernal said in the video.

“Fortunately, I fell into good hands, and I believe that if it wasn’t for you [the medical staff], it would be a different story, so I have to thank you for allowing me to have a second chance.

“In truth, for me it’s like being born again, the fact that I’m alive. In the days where I was in pain, I said to myself ‘at least I feel pain - at least I feel something’, and that’s thanks to you.

“I’m obviously now starting a very long process, but you have already done the hard work. My respects for everything you do – you deserve a lot more recognition than we give you, and thank you genuinely for giving me a second chance.

“I hope to one day be able to repay in some way all that you’ve done for me.”

The 25-year-old Colombian broke twenty bones, perforated both lungs and had to undergo two major spinal surgeries after he collided with a stationary bus while training with this Ineos Grenadiers teammates.

Bernal has said that he could have died, or that there was a 95 percent chance of paralysis, in the wake of the crash.

While any talk of a return to the peloton is pure speculation at the moment, Bernal’s own optimism and fighting spirit is certainly encouraging. His Ineos teammate, Tom Pidcock, took to Instagram yesterday to aptly describe his team leader as a “warrior”. 

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.

Latest Comments