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‘We need to stop finger-wagging about helmets’; Paradise Lost: Snake Pass no longer open to cyclists; Ganna's not-so-marginal gains; Puerile puns at Paris-Nice; Prog and the Peloton; Cycling > convoluted petrol-saving tips+ more on the live blog

It’s as windy as a Paris-Nice stage today, so join Ryan Mallon for all the latest updates on Tuesday’s live blog – the cycling news equivalent of the fourth echelon on the road…
08 March 2022, 19:05
It’s official – Snake Pass closed “because of concerns over safety”
08 March 2022, 18:50
Stirling to host 2023 Worlds time trials

Earlier today, Stirling was confirmed as the host city for the time trial events at next year’s UCI world cycling championships. The 2023 championships will be the first ever multi-disciplinary cycling worlds, taking in road, track, BMX, mountain bike, gran fondo, trials and indoor cycling events.

Glasgow is the base for the combined championships, though events will take place across Scotland.

And what better way to mark today’s announcement than a nostalgic throwback to Chris Boardman flying up the cobbled hill to Stirling Castle at the 1998 PruTour?

08 March 2022, 17:55
Jake Stewart to miss spring classics with intestinal issues

The promising young British classics rider Jake Stewart has confirmed that he will take a break from racing as he undergoes treatment for intestinal inflammation.

The 22-year-old Groupama-FDJ rider had a strong start to 2021, including an impressive second place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but has not raced at all this season.

“Since mid-January, I have been bothered by intestinal problems, which prevented me from competing,” Stewart said in a statement today. “We are looking for the best solution to cure it. During this period of time, I will not be able to race at a high level, I can train but I will not compete.

“I also want to thank the specialist who is following me, [head of the team’s medical department] Jacky Maillot and the whole team Groupama-FDJ. They listened to me and gave me time to understand what was going on. Everything is in line for me to get better and to get back to my best level.”

Stewart had been hoping to play a key role for Groupama-FDJ in this year’s spring classics, as one of the French squad’s leaders alongside Arnaud Démare and Stefan Küng.

No date has yet been set for a return to competition.

08 March 2022, 17:33
Just Eat delivery cyclist spotted riding bike on M6

There must be something wrong with Just Eat’s sat navs, as yet another cyclist delivering food for the online order service was filmed during the weekend riding his bike on the motorway.

The rider was spotted by a passing motorist while cycling on the hard shoulder of the M6 in Birmingham, near the Slade Road spaghetti junction.

In November, another delivery rider – apparently from Just Eat too – was caught on a dashcam cycling on the M5 in Birmingham. 

Just Eat, while predictably distancing themselves from the rider, said the company would investigate this weekend’s incident.

“Most delivery drivers delivering food to customers’ doors are employed directly by independent restaurants,” the company said, “we do work with third party courier companies, agency couriers and self-employed independent contractors in certain areas.

“We hold ourselves to the highest standards and in line with these, we would expect all drivers associated with Just Eat to act responsibly and respectfully at all times.”

08 March 2022, 17:07
‘Team time trialling to a 1-2-3 at Paris-Nice? That’s their job!’
08 March 2022, 17:04
Tirreno-Adriatico stage 2 - Tim Merlier (via GCN)
Tim Merlier takes first win of the season in messy bunch sprint

Alpecin-Fenix’s Tim Merlier took a convincing win from a messy sprint on stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico, breaking his duck for 2022.

The Belgian sprinter won ahead of two promising young fastmen, Jumbo-Visma’s 20-year-old prodigy Olav Kooij and 23-year-old Kaden Groves (BikeExchange).

Peter Sagan (who presumably avoided any pee flying around the peloton today) launched the sprint off the back of Quick Step’s train, eventually taking fourth, the Slovakian’s brightest showing of the year so far.

Caleb Ewan missed out after being boxed in during the finale, while Mark Cavendish didn’t contest the sprint after some challenging climbs in the final third of the stage.

Tomorrow’s stage, a lightly rolling 170km to Terni, represents the last chance for the sprinters until Sunday’s final stage into San Benedetto del Tronto, a break from the traditional closing time trial.

08 March 2022, 16:27
Mail shares ‘top 10 tips’ to save fuel – but there’s no mention of active travel…

With petrol and diesel prices skyrocketing in the last few weeks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Daily Mail’s This is Money site has helpfully shared their top 10 tips for saving fuel.

You’ll be shocked, shocked I tell you, to find that not one of those tips involves cycling or walking for shorter journeys, or avoiding unnecessary trips (though number nine's advice about doing multiple errands on the one drive arguably strays perilously close to that for the Mail’s readership).

Too much wishful thinking on my part?

08 March 2022, 15:42
Paris-Nice 2022 - Pedersen stage win
Mads Pedersen shows his classics form with Paris-Nice sprint win

After a relatively disappointing classics campaign last year, 2019 world champion Mads Pedersen once again proved he’s one to watch in the upcoming cobbled races with a convincing victory from a reduced bunch sprint into Dun-le-Palestel at stage three of Paris-Nice.

The Trek-Segafredo rider held off classics rival Wout van Aert and a fast-finishing Bryan Coquard on the slightly uphill run to the line to take his team’s first WorldTour success since Bauke Mollema’s win at last year’s Tour de France.

Yellow jersey Christophe Laporte went down hard in a crash during the final sprint with Groupama-FDJ’s Luxembourg champion Kevin Geniets, but was able to retain his one second overall lead over Jumbo-Visma teammate van Aert.

Paris-Nice 2022 - Laporte crash

By the frenetic standards of the first two stages, today was altogether quieter. Once the day’s break – a strong one which featured Thomas De Gendt, Alexis Gougeard and Owain Doull – DSM’s Søren Kragh Andersen made two separate attempts to jump away, with no ultimate success.

However, the constant pressure at the front of the peloton on the final climbs killed off the hopes of many of the big sprinters, including yesterday’s winner Fabio Jakobsen and Sam Bennett, who has endured a frustrating start to his time back at Bora-Hansgrohe.

Total Energies’ Pierre Latour – the highest placed possible overall contender behind the Jumbo trio – looked feisty at the day’s second intermediate sprint, taking the bonus seconds ahead of Primož Roglič. The Slovenian, who ends the day third overall, 24 seconds ahead of Latour and 30 in front of the likes of Aleksandr Vlasov, Nairo Quintana, and Adam and Simon Yates, will be hoping to widen the gap opened up on stage one to a yawning chasm following tomorrow’s 13.4km time trial.

08 March 2022, 14:38
International Women’s Day: Women’s Cycling Stories event on Zoom tonight

To mark International Women’s Day, Lady Pedal – a women’s cycling community group based in Manchester – will host the fifth edition of Women’s Cycling Stories, a night of inspirational talks and stories by women from diverse backgrounds and cycling experiences.

The talks will feature a range of interesting and thought-provoking themes, such as women and active travel, adventure riding, racial equality, and body image and transitioning.

The panel discussion, supported by This Girl Can and MCR Active, is organised by Lady Pedal, a group which arranges cycling events for women and aims to “encourage women to cycle by helping them to feel safe and confident on Manchester's roads”.

The free event, naturally, takes place on Zoom and kicks off at 7pm this evening. You can register for tonight’s event here

08 March 2022, 13:50
The Race from the Sun

Paris-Nice, the best stage race in the world (you know I’m right), is commonly known as the ‘race to the sun’; the logic being that as the riders travel from France’s capital to the Côte d'Azur they will leave behind the cold, grey, rainy conditions of winter for the inviting blue skies of spring.

However, echelon-inducing wind aside, this has been an unusually sunny start to Paris-Nice, with rain and colder temperatures instead forecast for the race’s conclusion in the south of France at the weekend. Perhaps that’s why Primož Roglič, scuppered by bad luck during the closing stage of the 2021 edition, seems so keen to wrap up proceedings early this year.

At the moment, a very strong trio of Thomas De Gendt (who as we saw earlier was very excited to ride into Balsac today), Alexis Gougeard and Owain Doull are out front enjoying the unseasonal sunshine in La France profonde. Until Jumbo-Visma decide to detonate the race in the crosswinds again, that is…

08 March 2022, 13:17
Ned Boulting issues Highway Code mea culpa

> Highway Code changes: ‘What about cyclists, or do the rules not apply to them?’ 

08 March 2022, 13:12
Pidcock cyclo-cross World Champs celebration (screenshot via GCN)
Super Tom: Bioracer creates special kit in honour of cyclocross world champ’s signature celebration

It’s already one of modern cycling’s most iconic celebrations – now Tom Pidcock’s got the kit to back it up (or at least wear on the local club Halloween ride). Superman and the rainbow bands – a classic combination I’m sure you’ll agree.

Not sure how aero or UCI-compliant the cape is, mind you…

08 March 2022, 12:45
‘We need to stop finger-wagging about helmets’, says West Midlands Cycling and Walking Commissioner

He’s only been Cycling and Walking Commissioner for the West Midlands for three months, but it seems as if Adam Tranter is already fed up with talking about helmets.

In a column for the Birmingham Mail this week, the former bicycle mayor for Coventry had his say on that evergreen cycling safety debate, arguing that “in order to make cycling a normal and everyday activity, we need to make active travel as convenient as possible”.

Tranter, who started his new role in December, compared the expectation that cyclists should always wear helmets to feeling like “you had to wear safety gear or risk being judged by people on Facebook” every time you want to pop out for a walk.

(I would argue that you should ignore the opinions of Facebook users when it comes to every decision you make in your life, but that’s just me…)

Tranter also noted that the key to really keeping cyclists safe, as evidenced in the Netherlands, is not safety gear but “slower vehicle speeds, safe streets and proper infrastructure”.

“If we’re going to reap the huge benefits of cycling,” he wrote, “we need to stop finger-wagging and start supporting the kind of dedicated infrastructure that will genuinely keep people safe.”

Meanwhile in the land of the pros, UAE Team Emirates’ unofficial cycling safety spokesman Matteo Trentin praised his helmet after a crash at Paris-Nice yesterday.

“You never understand how important wearing your helmet is until your head touches the ground,” the Italian, who has recently spoken about the dangers of cycling in traffic and the need for an attitude change among motorists, said on Twitter. 

08 March 2022, 11:55
Prog and the Peloton

If this doesn’t feature Lars Bark on the drums, I will be extremely disappointed…

Of course, cycling has had a long association with prog rock, starting with Pink Floyd’s seminal concept album about the EPO years, The Dark Side of the Peloton.

And who could forget Mike Oldfield’s classic 1973 debut, Tubular Tyres?

Maybe instead of promoting the sport through a potentially dodgy Netflix series, riders and teams could release a slew of experimental, arty albums about life in the peloton. That’s what the kids really want in 2022, isn’t it?

In that spirit, here are some of my suggestions for possible cycling prog albums:

EF Education-EasyPost – In the Land of Grey and Pink

Jumbo-Visma – Wind and Wuthering at Paris-Nice

Steve Cummings – Close to the Edge (of the Bunch)

Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton (aka The Vanishing Twins) – Clutching at Straws

Any other examples of noodly, symphonic cycling LPs? Get them in the comments...

08 March 2022, 11:01
Stay behind after class, Thomas

I also heard this lot were marshalling yesterday’s stage: 

08 March 2022, 10:18
Not-so-marginal gains…

Double world time trial champion Filippo Ganna certainly doesn’t need much help when it comes to races against the clock.

Nevertheless, his Ineos team were leaving nothing to chance during yesterday’s opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, seemingly taking advice from the Italian king of external aero assistance, Francesco Moser…

08 March 2022, 08:54
Paradise Lost: Snake Pass no longer open to cyclists?

It was good while it lasted, but it seems the rumours were true – Snake Pass, the scenic Peak District climb which has become a cycling paradise over the past few weeks thanks to road closures, is also set to shut its doors to those on two wheels.

EF Education-TIBCO-SVB pro Lizzy Banks reported the sad news after attempting to ride the climb yesterday evening. Banks was told by traffic management on the road that the pass – which was initially closed only to motorists after landslides caused by storms Eunice and Franklin last month, allowing it to quickly become a cycling paradise at weekends – will now also be closed to cyclists full time.

> Snake Pass now “belongs to cyclists” as Peak District climb closed to motorists for at least a month 

Derbyshire’s Roads Policing Unit appeared to confirm this news with a particularly snarky tweet announcing a 24 hour staffed closure yesterday:

However, some were hopeful that the cycling-specific signs would still be removed come Saturday:

Others, such as Banks herself and cycling writer Simon Warren, were sceptical that the apparent decision to ban people on bikes was based on concern for their safety on the “perfectly passable” pass:

So is this the end of the Snake Pass cycling paradise? Or are you still planning on riding Britain’s most scenic LTN at the weekend?

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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