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“What a lovely car park”: Tailbacks force cyclists onto grass at Richmond Park; Spaghetti-gate: Van der Poel offends all of Italy; Cavendish closes in on the greats – again; Politicians and pro-car messages; Giro rest day blues + more on the live blog

Happy Monday everyone! And even though it’s a rest day at the Giro d’Italia, Ryan Mallon has managed to drag himself to the keyboard for the first live blog of the week…
09 May 2022, 16:59
“So depressing”: Richmond Park tailback reaction

Before we all head off for a final spot of rest day recuperation before tomorrow’s assault on Mount Etna, here are some of your thoughts on Richmond Park’s sunny day traffic jams:

That tweeted photo – Richmond Park – is just so depressing...

Cars have no business being in Richmond Park... just ban them.

Surely a glance at Google Maps would show a solid red line on the routes in question? I guess people know the way, so they aren't using Google Maps to get there, and don't pause to think.

Or maybe they just enjoy the experience Safari-style, looking at the wildlife from their stationary vehicle? Beggars belief.

And taking pot-shots at herds of passing cyclists?

They really need to get on and build a dual carriageway in Richmond Park.

The tweet from the Royal Parks Police neatly sums up their attitude to cycling, by what it omits rather than what it says.

“Please avoid the area and consider public transport or walking to the park.”

09 May 2022, 16:42
Car culture in the UK: a case study
09 May 2022, 16:25
Move over Peter Sagan…
09 May 2022, 16:12
Thieves steal eight electric hire bikes from Leicester leisure centre

Leicestershire Police have appealed for help after eight Santander electric hire bikes were stolen from a Leicester leisure centre.

The bikes, which were secured to a stand at Braunstone Leisure Centre, were taken in the early hours of Friday morning.

Officers discovered one of the bikes hidden in a nearby park.

Anyone with information has been asked to call 101 and quote crime reference 22*257272.

The e-bike hire scheme is run by Leicester City Council, in partnership with Santander UK and operator Ride On.

According to Leicestershire Live, the bikes have been used by more than 19,000 people since the lifting of lockdown restrictions in April 2021, with almost 47,000 e-bike trips made during that period.

09 May 2022, 14:38
De Gendt versus De Gendt: the real GC battle is on…

Forget the fight for pink, the daily struggle to win a stage, or even the organisers’ weird Twitter combativity/popularity contest; the real highlight of this Giro d’Italia will be the battle to be crowned best De Gendt, a contest which will surely rage on until Verona…

09 May 2022, 14:22
Cyclists deliver essentials to elderly in southern Ukraine

As the southern Ukraine city of Mykolayiv is bombarded by Russian missiles – with one person killed and 27 injured over the weekend – a group of volunteer cyclists has formed to deliver essentials to vulnerable elderly people in the area.

Mykolayiv is the first major city behind the front line of the conflict and has seen its water supplies disrupted in recent weeks.

The Red Cross called on the help of local cyclists due to fuel shortages.

“A friend of mine used to deliver food here,” said Volodymyr, one of the volunteers. “He said that they were creating a short-range delivery service. It’s small packages for senior citizens who live alone and can’t walk much.”

Twenty cyclists have joined the group, riding up to 50 miles a day to deliver essentials.

09 May 2022, 13:50
Spaghetti-gate: Van der Poel offends the entire Italian nation

He may be the current pink jersey wearer and one of the best riders in the world, capable of doing extraordinary things on a bike, but Mathieu van der Poel has a long way to go if he wants to win over the tifosi.

Especially once they’ve seen this video of the Alpecin-Fenix rider committing what Italians everywhere will regard as a cardinal sin, by pouring red sauce all over his spaghetti:

As Paris-Roubaix winner Elisa Longo Borghini would say any time someone insults her home cuisine: “After that, I don’t know what there is. Probably only death”.

They might not let him into Italy for tomorrow’s stage…

09 May 2022, 12:23
Cav closes in on the greats – again

Over the last fifteen years, we’ve all got used to Mark Cavendish pugnaciously sprinting his way into the pantheon of cycling greats.

The Manx Missile was the first British monument winner and male road world champion since Tom Simpson, and is currently two wins away from overhauling Rik Van Looy (as well as Mario Cipollini and Roger de Vlaeminck) as the second ‘winningest’ male pro of all time.

And – who could forget? – he currently sits level with another little-known Belgian rider (Eddy somebody…) at the top of the Tour de France’s list of stage winners, with 34.

Cavendish Giro 2022 stage three

Cav’s stunning sprint yesterday to win stage three of the Giro d’Italia has put another two greats of the sport in his sights – Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali.

Those two gods of Italian cycling won their first and last stages at the Giro 15 years apart (after their illustrious and intertwined careers were affected by the second world war).

Cavendish’s win, meanwhile, bridges a 14-year gap from his first victory at the Corsa Rosa, when he beat Robert Forster and Daniele Bennati into Catanzaro-Lungomare for the first of two breakout wins in Italy (the then-High Road man could have nabbed a third late on in the race, but instead allowed lead out man and future rival André Greipel to take a maiden grand tour stage).

Mark Cavendish wins 2013 Giro d'Italia Stage 21 (picture - RCS Sport)

He's since won 16 stages at the Giro, as well as the points jersey classification in 2013 - the last time he rode the race before his winning return this week.

This Cavendish, he’s not bad…

09 May 2022, 11:33
“Looks like you need a gravel bike to ride in Richmond Park these days”: Long queue of cars forces cyclists onto grass

Ah, it’s a lovely sunny Sunday – let’s spend it sitting in our cars at Richmond Park then, shall we?

Let’s just say that this rather striking image, posted by the Royal Parks yesterday as it announced that police officers had closed the road to Broomfield Hill car park due to heavy congestion, didn’t go down too well with those who believe that cars are ruining London’s green spaces…

09 May 2022, 10:23
“When you order Mark Cavendish from Wish”
09 May 2022, 09:56
Rest Day Blues at the Giro

Anyone else wake up feeling like this?

Dan Martin – who has proven a prolific and insightful tweeter since his retirement – seems jealous of those Giro riders enjoying the first of their three rest days…

Three rest days? What is this, a holiday camp? Bernard Hinault would have ridden from Hungary to Sicily back in the day. Modern pampered riders, eh?

Old Garmin teammate Nathan Haas was on hand, however, to remind Dan that he missed out on that elusive third rest day back in 2014 after crashing out on a cold, rainy night in Belfast…

09 May 2022, 09:50
Cavendish Giro 2022 stage three
Weekend roundup: Cav and Yates win at the Giro; “Corrupt” anti-LTN candidate elected mayor of Tower Hamlets; Driver fined £1,000 after shouting abuse at cyclists; Where is Britain’s most dangerous cycling city? + more

As you sat back and enjoyed what could be conservatively described as a promising opening Hungarian weekend to the Giro for its Team GB contingent, here’s a quick roundup of the weekend’s stories that you may have missed…

Mark Cavendish proved his spectacular return to the top of the sport at last year’s Tour de France was no late-career fluke, unleashing a monster 300 metre-long sprint (after yet another textbook lead out by the one and only Michael Mørkøv) to take his first Giro stage since 2013 and the sixteenth of his storied career.

“It was really nice. We wanted to get good in this first sprint, we did and I'm very happy,” the resurgent Manx Missile said after the finish in Balatonfüred.

“We've got half a team for the climbs and half a team for the sprints, but everybody committed. Ballerini, Van Lerberghe and Mørkøv, I've got an incredible final group there, and they delivered today.

“In the end I had to go long. I went at 300m to go. I had to hold a side and I'm just happy I could hold on for that long.”

Cavendish Giro 2022 stage three

While Fernando Gaviria and Arnaud Démare took second and third behind Cav, a boxed-in Biniam Girmay – second to Mathieu van der Poel on the opening stage’s uphill finish – was the only rival who looked like he had the speed to challenge the Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl rider if given the chance. The next few stages will be interesting…

On Saturday, Simon Yates was as equally impressive in the 9.2 kilometre time trial around Budapest, beating pink jersey Van der Poel by three seconds and 2017 Giro winner Tom Dumoulin to win his first ever grand tour time trial and send an ominous warning to his GC rivals.

Can the man from Bury banish the memories of 2018 and ride into Verona in pink in three weeks’ time?

Perhaps Yates’ biggest GC challenge will come from the course-invading cat who ‘dropped’ Jumbo-Visma’s Edoardo Affini during the stage two TT – prompting a few playful digs from his teammates about Affini’s climbing ability…

As is tradition every time Mathieu van der Poel wins a stage, we also took a nosy at his insane power numbers – which peaked during his sprint against Girmay at 1,116 watts. Easy.

Away from the Giro, we reported that a bike thief was sentenced to 160 hours of unpaid work after bizarrely claiming that he took the bike simply so he could “get to his house”, while an angry motorist – distraught that cyclists were “taking up the road” – was fined £1,000 for careless driving after sounding his horn and shouting abuse at the riders.

At the local elections, anti-LTN candidate Lutfur Rahman was elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, despite being removed from the same post in 2015 after being found guilty of vote-rigging, buying votes and religious intimidation.

Finally, a study from injury compensation site found that Chelmsford was the safest city for cycling in the UK, while Birmingham came out top in the ‘most dangerous category’ – though as Dan explained in the article, the study’s methodology was shaky to say the least…

09 May 2022, 08:44
‘Why are people so unquestioning of pro-motoring messages?’

If there’s one thing that last week’s local elections showed, it’s that riding the coattails of a very small but aggressively loud group of activists, intent on restoring the car as the predominant feature of every street, isn’t the best path to political success.

But why, environmental psychology professor Ian Walker asks, did so many opposition councillors view the anti-LTN agenda as a sure-fire vote winner?

However, as we reported over the weekend, not all voters rejected the anti-LTN brigade, and even elected some unsavoury candidates to prove their point…

> Anti-LTN candidate elected mayor despite five-year ban for "corrupt and illegal practices" 

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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