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Love them or hate them? Wout van Aert uses handlebar bag; Pete Buttigieg's White House spin; Vintage Prince Philip bike polo pics; Matthews wants more respect in peloton; 'Gravel sunglasses'; Jakobsen back racing + more on the live blog

It's Friday and Dan Alexander will be taking you through to the weekend on the live blog...
09 April 2021, 16:03
Last week it was gravel pumps...Now it's gravel glasses...

Last week when we were deciding which devillish April Fool's story to go with we shortened it down to a final shortlist of three...One of which was a gravel turbo trainer. I fear we're getting closer to that becoming a reality by the day. Last week we also brought you Lezyne's new gravel-specific pump (yes, it also inflates road tyres). This week's 'gravel-specific' product of choice is Scicon Sport's new glasses...

Designed with a semi-rimless frame and interchangeable lenses, the Gravel Sports Lifestyle model looks like a solid pair of glasses. They've got SCN-PP™ True Vision Lenses for optical clarity and protection on and off the bike as well as an interchangeable nose pad. They look pretty smart too...what makes them gravel glasses remains a mystery however...

09 April 2021, 15:50
Covid restrictions making kids go to great lengths to watch their team...

You've got to feel for the lad on the right... 

09 April 2021, 15:19
Deceuninck-Quick-Step one-two at Itzulia Basque Country

It's not everyday you see this...Similar scenes to Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski at last year's Tour de France for Mikkel Frølich Honoré and Josef Černý today in the Basque Country. I wonder if we will get an answer to the question of how they decided who gets the win? 

Tomorrow's final stage has seven categorised climbs packed into just 111km of racing and ends at the climb of Arrate where stage one of last year's Vuelta a España finished with Primož Roglič winning the first of his four stages...

09 April 2021, 14:50
More of your handlebar bag thoughts...
Live blog poll results 9/4/21


The handlebar bag fans amongst you have widened the gap on our poll...77 per cent of you say you're a fan...

Handlebar bag comments


09 April 2021, 13:42
"In terms of the peloton, respect between the riders has definitely gone": Michael Matthews compares racing the Classics to boxing

 Michael Matthews told Matt Stephens' Unplugged podcast he thinks the behaviour in the peloton is getting worse by the year. The Aussie returned to Team BikeExchange at the start of this season and enjoyed another consistent Classics campaign, finishing sixth at Milan-San Remo and fifth at Gent-Wevelgem. However, having turned 30 at the end of last year, Matthews says he has witnessed significant changes to the peloton in recent years.

"In terms of the peloton, respect between the riders has definitely gone,” he said. "When I first turned professional it was really like there were guys in the peloton you looked up to and if they said something, that’s what you did even if you were in a different team. Even for me coming back into the Classics again, every year it is just getting more and more crazy. Cycling now has just turned into more like a boxing match than a bike race.

“It is quite difficult to go out and race your bike now in these Classics when there is just zero respect in the peloton for each other and, it doesn’t matter who you are, someone is going to bomb underneath you in a corner or take you out, or headbutt you, or elbow you or anything."

Matthews finished just outside the top-20 at the Tour of Flanders. Earlier in the day Yevgeniy Fedorov and Otto Vergaerde were kicked out of the race for a clash at the front of the peloton. Eurosport commentator Adam Blythe branded the pair "muppetts" for their stupidity.

09 April 2021, 13:25
Panaracer looks for UK brand ambassadors
Panaracer Ambassador Programme

Tyre manufacturer Panaracer is looking for UK-based riders to represent the brand and wants to hear from all types of cyclists, from road racers through to those who simply use their bike to get around. Panaracer hopes the Ambassador Programme will "create a community of riders and adventurers who are stoked on the brand and can inspire others to get in the saddle".

"We are really excited about this program and to engage with the cycling community in this way," said Jeff Zell. "I can't wait to welcome this crew of ambassadors and support them in their adventures." 

If this sounds like something you're interested in then apply on Panaracer's site before April 30.

09 April 2021, 11:25
Vintage cycling (well, bicycle polo) with Prince Philip

Here's the part where we find a way to relate big story of the day to cycling... and a throwback to when Brompton earned themselves the Prince Philip Designers Prize, awarded annually to recognise a lifetime contribution to design. 

For anyone who may have ended up on this blog without speaking to anyone or reading anything else in the media today, the Duke of Edinburgh passed away this morning aged 99. 

09 April 2021, 08:33
Wout van Aert gives handlebar bags the thumbs up

Admittedly you don't need extra storage space when you've got a team car and half a dozen willing teammates to fetch you anything you could possibly need...However, now back in training, Wout van Aert has been converted to the nifty handlebar bag. Unsurprisingly, with this being cycling, there has been no shortage of horrified replies...

"Cervélo S5 with handlebar bag!? Something is definitely going wrong in this world," was Patrick Toutain's assessment. But does anyone really care about the 'right' way to carry your food and spares? Apparently so...

09 April 2021, 08:45
Handlebar bags
Handlebar bags?

Created with PollMaker

If I've misread the room and you've all actually got strong opinions on handlebar bags then by all means have a vote...If not you can tell me how ridiculous this poll is in the comments... 

09 April 2021, 10:26
Gravel Epic: Haute Route goes off-road for multi-stage gravel cycling events in Switzerland and Morocco

Gravel Epic is hoping to bring the spirit of the Haute Route – a multi-stage, timed and fully supported road cycling event – to the gravel world. The 2021 routes in Marrakech and Switzerland will offer two challenging options for riders looking for some post-lockdown adventures. Gravel Epic Switzerland will be held in the Swiss canton of Valais on the weekend of 25-26 September and will take in the stunning Alpine scenery through gravel tracks, forests and small farm roads. Climbing segments will pit riders against each other with a GC format similar to all the biggest races you watch the pros ride...

Both the Swiss event and the Atlas Mountains route just outside Marrakech (7-9 October) are fully supported with aid stations and mechanics. "The cycling market has changed so much in the last few years and by expanding our portfolio of events we want to offer unique experiences to cyclists from all horizons. We wish to stay true to our values and DNA and are focusing on delivering exceptional events in iconic destinations," Haute Route CEO Julie Royer explained. 

"While gravel participation is growing fast in Europe, we want to bring something new to the scene and offer a multi-day race with a true sense of adventure. This is what we know how to do best and we want to put our 10 years of experience in Haute Route towards the success of a new series in gravel."

09 April 2021, 09:45
Fabio Jakobsen "excited to be back" racing nine months on from horror crash at Tour of Poland

Fabio Jakobsen will make his return to the peloton next week at the Tour of Turkey, nine months on from the horror crash in Poland which left him in a medically induced coma. Jakobsen says he's just excited to be back racing and isn't putting any pressure on himself to win races just yet.

"I'm doing quite well building my condition back up and it feels good to be on the bike living like a professional cyclist again," he explained. "When I came back from Poland I was not even in a state to look after myself so my family did that for me. They are everything to me. I will be forever grateful. After spending more than a week in a hospital bed unable to move, now being able to start racing again is the deepest valley to the biggest high of my career. I'm really looking forward to it.

"The thing I always had in my mind is one day it will become a little bit better. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after but if I quit then I won't get there so I keep focusing on the future and going day by day. Mentally it was hard. Now I realise to get through those things makes you stronger.

"It changed my view. The small things and simple things: spending time with family, spending time with my teammates at training camps, talking with the staff and being able to ride my bike is the most amazing thing again."

The Deceuninck-Quick-Step sprinter said the crash and rehabilitation process helped bring his teammates closer and he is grateful for their support over the past nine months. "It pulled us together, everybody has supported me on my way back," he continued. "It was emotionally touching for me and the others. To be able to do a couple of days training with the group and spend time with them at the dinner time makes the normal, simple things really special. I enjoyed it a lot.

"I'm of course excited and a little bit nervous. It's going to be the first time I've been back in the bunch. I'm looking forward to it and even though I'm a little bit scared, I still want to do it. The next goal will be to win a race but I think the biggest achievement is that even after what happened, I still enjoy it."

09 April 2021, 07:59
Pete Buttigieg commutes to White House by bike...gets accused of photo op by Trump supporters

 Joe Biden's Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has committed to trying to build a "culture of cycling" in the US during his time in office and was leading from the front with this spin to a cabinet meeting at the White House. Another video showed Buttigieg returning to his office, half an hour away from the White House, also by bike.

Despite being debunked by Snopes and the video being "clearly from the Department of Transportation" car park, plenty of Trump-supporting critics were less convinced and claimed he'd been dropped off next to his destination for a cheap photo opportunity...

Conservative commentator Dinesh S'Souza published a story headlined, 'Buttigieg CAUGHT Faking Green Lifestyle, Rides Bike to Work After Car Drops Him Off Near Destination'...

While another Twitter user described it as "Pete Buttigieg’s dog and pony show. Use an armoured Suburban to bring a bike within a short distance of the destination. Unload it and ride in with a security detail in tow, pretending to save energy."

Snopes contacted the US Department of Transportation and a spokesperson confirmed he had cycled his six-mile commute to the to the cabinet meeting and back again.

Dan joined as live blog editor last year. He has previously written 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 a keen cyclist ever since and spends his weekends exploring the south of England on two wheels. 

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