Can you believe it’s already February? They say time speeds up as you get older… I must be getting really old, because January seemed to take about 2 weeks shorter than usual.
There’s a whole mixture of stories this week. I think the most relevant for me is the Prostate Cancer study, as our wider family just got hit with that one.
Thanks to those who have left comments on previous posts. That is always appreciated 👍
Strade Bianche’s New Twist
Strade Bianche, the Italian classic, is upping the ante in 2024 with significant route changes, promising an even more thrilling race over Tuscany’s iconic white roads.
For the first time, the men’s race will breach the 200km mark, reaching 214.8km, thanks to a new finishing loop designed to up the difficulty and excitement for racers and fans alike.
Officials aim to inch closer to the coveted “monument” status, with the course changes also expected to enhance spectator enjoyment around Sienna.
The addition of two new gravel sectors and revisiting two existing ones twice will test both the women’s and men’s mettle, with the races featuring 12 and 15 sectors, respectively.
Champions Demi Vollering and Tom Pidcock are poised to defend their titles, ensuring a spectacle as racers tackle over 40km (women) and 71km (men) of gravel roads.
Cycling Study Reveals 35% Prostate Cancer Risk Drop
A study released this week has highlighted the impressive health benefits of cycling, jogging, and swimming, particularly for men aiming to reduce their prostate cancer risk.
Men who boosted their fitness by 3% over a year demonstrated a substantial 35% lower risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those whose fitness levels declined.
This Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences study, recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, scrutinised the fitness and health data of over 57,000 men. The findings underscore the crucial role of maintaining or improving cardiorespiratory fitness.
Interestingly, this research contradicts earlier studies that suggested a possible increased prostate cancer risk among men with higher cardiovascular fitness. Experts believe this may have been due to more frequent cancer screening in this group.
There’s No Good Reason to Buy a Carbon Bike
In a divisive take down, Eben Weiss argues against the need for carbon fibre bikes among non-professional riders.
He argues that while carbon fibre is ideal for professional racing due to its lightweight and strength, its benefits are largely superfluous for everyday cyclists.
Weiss points out the fragility and high maintenance of carbon bikes, noting their susceptibility to damage from ordinary mishaps.
He contrasts this with the resilience and timeless appeal of steel bikes, which he champions as a more practical and aesthetically pleasing option for most cyclists.
Weiss’s stance is a call for a return to steel, challenging the allure of high-tech carbon bikes in the face of practicality and tradition.
However, he upset a lot of people over on non-cycling site Hackernews, which is where I first came across this story.
Shift to Safety: SRAM Recall
SRAM, in collaboration with the CPSC, has issued a recall for certain 12-speed shift/brake levers due to a loosening clamp bolt, impacting 61,300 units in the U.S. and 2,940 in Canada.
Already, around 20,000 bolts have been replaced globally.
The recall encompasses levers sold from June 2019 to October 2023, priced between $220 and $675.
Consumers are urged to check their levers for looseness and contact SRAM for a free inspection and potential bolt replacement.
Despite the significant recall, no incidents or injuries have been reported.
This one got picked up everywhere, but I saw it first at Bicycle Retailer.
Watts the Deal with Pro Cyclists’ Gear?
In the latest episode of the Bobby & Jens podcast, pro cyclist Ryan Gibbons, who recently joined Lidl-Trek from UAE Team Emirates, shares insights into the lengths pro cyclists go for speed, highlighting the importance of equipment in gaining those precious extra watts.
Discomfort isn’t usually a sacrifice for speed, thanks to the high-quality gear available, including overshoes and aero socks.
Gibbons also discusses the obsession with bicycles, particularly the shift to disc brakes in the pro peloton, and how his former teammate, Tadej Pogačar, remained one of the last to use rim brake bikes, prioritising weight over trend.
Intervals? Horner Says No.
In this episode of Chris Horner’s Corner, the focus is on the often-underestimated aspect of cycling: nutrition.
Chris humorously debunks the common emphasis on interval training, sharing insights from his 25-year professional cycling career.
He emphasises the importance of dietary planning over intervals, detailing his personal approach to calories and nutrition during races and training.
With anecdotes and practical tips, Chris illustrates the significance of understanding what and when to eat, highlighting the use of electrolytes, energy bars, and even treats like Snickers and Coke. He stresses the necessity of consuming sufficient calories, especially during races, to avoid bonking and maintain performance.
An interesting watch – and a channel I hadn’t been subscribed to, until just this week.
Tour of Britain & Women’s Tour Off the 2024 UCI Calendar
The Tour of Britain and Women’s Tour have disappeared from the 2024 UCI calendar.
SweetSpot, the company behind these events, has recently entered liquidation, casting doubt on the future of either of these races returning in the near future.
The Women’s WorldTour event was already cancelled in 2023, and the men’s Tour of Britain has faced financial struggles.
Legal troubles are also brewing, with the Isle of Wight Council claiming significant financial losses.
Ineos Grenadiers Gear Up To Save The Tour of Britain
Off the back of the above, Ineos Grenadiers’ new CEO, John Allert, committed the British cycling team to collaborate with British Cycling to ensure the Tour of Britain returns to the cycling calendar as swiftly as possible.
More plans on the race’s revival are expected to be unveiled next week.
British Cycling reassure us that efforts are in place to revive the Tour of Britain and a UCI Women’s World Tour stage race in 2024.
They Will Always Be Boris Bikes
London’s Santander Cycles (aka Boris Bikes) is boosting its e-bike fleet from 600 to 2,000 this summer.
Introduced in 2022, the e-bikes have already seen over 750,000 hires, doubling the usage rate of traditional bikes.
Transport for London (TfL) is also launching a £3 Day Pass on March 3, offering unlimited short rides, with e-bikes incurring a small additional fee.
It doesn’t quite make up for losing the Tour of Britain, but it’s positive UK cycling news in a sense.
Target: 10,000 Days Consecutive Riding Streak
Colin Gay’s Instagram, @ridestreak, may appear monotonous with its daily selfies, all featuring him in a white S-works bike helmet, yet it tells a remarkable story. Each post, simply numbered and hashtagged #ridestreak, chronicles his ongoing ride streak – a staggering 3,358 days of cycling every single day.
This rather ass pounding journey isn’t about professional accolades; it’s a personal quest by a father and IT solutions salesman from Charlottesville, Virginia.
Unlike trendy daily streaks on apps like Duolingo, Gay’s commitment allows no breaks or buy-backs. Sick or busy, he rides, no excuses. Starting as a near-novice in 2014, Gay’s dedication evolved from a 100-day challenge to a quest for 10,000 days.
To be honest, I thought riding for 24 days in a row in December was a commitment.
500+ Bike Shops Gear Up Against Scheme Shake-Up
Over 500 bike shops have rallied together, challenging the recent changes to the Cycle to Work scheme.
They’re pushing back against new terms that prevent charging additional fees.
This united front, led by the Association of Cycle Traders (ACT), recently brought their concerns to MPs.
Their aim? Not to present a solution, but to spotlight the difficulties independent retailers face.
The scheme, they argue, no longer serves its original purpose in the post-pandemic, remote-working world.
Bahrain Victorious Pro Bike: Jack Haig’s Setup
Bahrain Victorious, known for their striking red gear since 2017, has made a bold switch to a ‘pearl white’ colour scheme in 2024, first debuted as a one-off at last year’s Tour de France.
GCN have been up close and personal with Jack Haig’s ride, getting some lovely shots of the new design.
I have no idea how the pro’s can handle riding with the saddle height that high, and the bars that low. I would be crippled after an hour in that setup.
Still, it looks awesome.
Is Cycling the New Haute Couture?
Pez’s Leslie Reissner explores if cycling can be considered a “luxury sport” akin to couturier brands and high-end automobiles.
The article delves into the recent trend of high-profile investments in the cycling industry, such as South African billionaire Ivan Glasenberg’s acquisition of Pinarello and other luxury sports brands.
It compares the notion of luxury in sports like Formula One and skiing with the more humble and rugged nature of cycling.
Despite cycling’s association with suffering and determination rather than glamour, the industry has seen a surge in high-end brands and products.
It’s an interesting read, and to me, highlights the vast disparity between the glamour of the professional circuit versus the reality of regular roadies.
Wheels Wobble on Amer’s IPO Launch
Amer Sports, the umbrella company for Enve Composites, faced a challenging start in its initial public offering (IPO), falling short of expected share pricing due to concerns regarding its Chinese parent company, Anta Sports Products.
Trading under the symbol “AS” on the New York Stock Exchange, the IPO’s 105 million shares sold at $13 each, missing the anticipated $16 to $18 range.
Although Amer Sports managed to sell an additional five million shares than anticipated, the $1.37 billion raised fell below the expected $1.6 to $2 billion, valuing the company at about $6.3 billion.
This move comes after a confidential IPO filing in the U.S. last September, aiming for a valuation up to $10 billion.
Amer Sports, also the parent company to brands like Arc’teryx, Enve, Wilson Sporting Goods and Salomon, has seen a series of divestitures, including the sale of Mavic and Precor, following its acquisition by Anta Sports Products in 2019 for $5.2 billion.
MyWhoosh’s Virtual Velodrome
The 2024 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships are set to make history with their first live final, hosted by all-round-free-indoor-cycling-software company MyWhoosh.
Shifting gears from previous host Zwift, MyWhoosh, a product of Abu Dhabi’s Avrioc Technologies, promises an interesting overhaul for the event.
This includes a significant expansion in the semi-finals, accommodating over 150 riders, and introducing a new public qualification process for greater inclusivity.
The event, supported by the UAE government, will not only highlight MyWhoosh’s prowess in hosting big-money events but also its commitment to evolving cycling esports as a distinct, accessible discipline.
With the finals in Abu Dhabi, the competition takes a real-world twist, featuring a two-stage semi-final in September and a points-based, multi-race final format, which should make for some interesting changes compared to every other virtual cycling competition I’ve ever seen.
Dauphiné’s Uphill Drama
The 2024 Critérium du Dauphiné, announced in Lyon by Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, features five uphill finishes this year.
Confirmed to be on the start line are Jonas Vingegaard, Remco Evenepoel, and Primož Roglič, however the most notable absence will be Tadej Pogačar.
The race, starting in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, spans eight stages, including sprints, an individual time trial, and everyone’s favourite (except perhaps, the riders themselves) demanding mountain finishes.
This edition, particularly tough with its final stages in the Alps, promises a showdown among the GC contenders, potentially reshaping expectations before the Tour de France.
Van Vleuten’s Victory Lap
After an illustrious career, Annemiek van Vleuten reflects on her journey from late bloomer to cycling superstar.
Known for her audacious racing style and resilience through injuries, Van Vleuten has left an indelible mark on women’s cycling.
She claimed numerous prestigious titles, including the World Championships and Olympic gold, often overcoming physical adversity.
Despite a challenging career, her retirement plans include simple pleasures like skiing and concerts, a stark contrast to her disciplined athletic life.
As she steps away from professional racing, her legacy remains – a testament to determination and the power of pushing boundaries.
Orange Bikes Back In Black?
British bike manufacturer Orange Bikes, known for its gravel and mountain bikes, has successfully navigated out of administration which we covered earlier in January.
The West Yorkshire company, established in 1988, is now under the original ownership of Ashley Ball.
In a strategic move, Orange Bikes acquired its frame-building partner Bairstows Sheet Metal, enabling manufacturing and assembly under one roof in a new facility near their original headquarters. The company, which also produced road bikes in the past, expressed gratitude to its community for support during this challenging period.
The first hints of trouble surfaced in December when the Factory Racing team was disbanded. Despite significant debts and the broader cycling industry’s struggles post-Covid, including the administration of major players like Wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles, Orange Bikes is now ready to pedal into its next chapter.
This one got reported in several places – a lot of the mountain bike community sites grabbed it. But it did make headway with roadies, for example where I saw it first at Bike Radar.
Le Col Less Lucky
British cycling clothing brand Le Col experienced a significant financial setback in 2022, with losses exceeding £6 million.
Le Col’s detailed accounts reveal a gross profit of £4,976,468 against a loss of £6,276,837, primarily due to high administrative expenses.
The year 2022 saw a 13.3% decrease in turnover and a 20.6% reduction in gross profit.
Looking forward, Le Col anticipates a rebound in profitability in 2024, driven by growth in international markets, particularly in the U.S.
As per my screenshot above, I applied to promote the Le Col range as a tie-in with their release of the Tour de Zwift 2024. They rejected me as being irrelevant to their brand. And here’s me thinking sending keen cyclists to a cycling clothing company shop was highly relevant.
$7,000 Assos Skinsuit
Assos has launched its Fenoq skinsuit, designed for Olympic-level performance, with a hefty price tag of $7,000.
Aimed at athletes targeting the Paris ’24 Olympics, this elite chronosuit is a product of extensive wind-tunnel testing and advanced textile engineering.
The Fenoq range, including a fully-custom skinsuit and overshoes, is not just for pro riders; it’s now available to the public.
However, with prices starting from $7,040 for the full pack, this top-tier gear represents a significant investment in speed and technology.
I absolutely love my Assos kit. Every item I own of theirs is top quality. But pricey… though thankfully not $7k pricey… which is good as I have a bad habit of destroying my kit.
All Go With Red Bull & Bora-Hansgrohe
Red Bull’s acquisition of a controlling stake in Bora-Hansgrohe has been officially given the green light by Austrian authorities.
This move starts a “joint venture” between the energy drink manufacturer and the German cycling team, paving the way for a strategic partnership that was announced earlier in January.
This partnership builds on existing connections, including sponsorship of the team’s junior scouting program and individual sponsorships of riders.
I was only thinking last week, I don’t know anyone who actually drinks these energy drinks – in my opinion they taste disgusting. Surely it’s not the pro athletes downing cans of Red Bull before a ride? It’s the kid on the street. Good branding?
Land’s End to John o’ Groats Without Leaving Home
This week indoor cycling platform Rouvy announced a virtual Ride Across Britain, offering us the chance to tackle the iconic ‘End to End’ journey through augmented reality without leaving home.
As a partner of the Babble Ride Across Britain event, Rouvy’s virtual challenge spans seven scenic sections from Bodmin Moor to the Cairngorms, varying in length and elevation.
Featuring augmented reality, riders can enjoy digital avatars amidst real British landscapes, from Cornish villages to Scottish mountain passes.
The official VRAB challenge runs from January 29 to March 3, and as an incentive to take part, you can win a virtual jersey if you complete every stage.
The 2025 Olympic Esports Games
The Olympic Esports Games, set to debut in 2025, are expanding the Olympic horizon with the inclusion of cycling esports alongside gaming and sports simulation.
UCI’s David Lappartient has confirmed the launch, highlighting the event’s embrace of physical virtual activities as a standalone global event, distinct from the traditional Olympics.
Despite the International Olympic Committee’s reticence to confirm details, their commitment to promoting virtual sports seems to be growing.
The big question is which virtual cycling platform will host the Olympic Esports Games? But with MyWhoosh getting very chummy with the UCI, perhaps that one is already answered?
Bike Of The Week
This week’s Bike of the Week comes via Reddit user
u/wheresscott, in a thread called “Just ticked over 10,000km on my TCX Advanced Pro 1”. That’s the second cyclocross bike I’ve loved in the last three weeks of these posts.
Maybe it’s a sign?
Or maybe the sign is that it is smarter to ride a cyclocross bike on the UK roads, as they are so bad and not like the kind of roads that road bikes are designed for.
The spec given is:
- Frame: 2015 TCX Advanced Pro 1 – custom paint from Sungraphics in Melbourne
- Groupset: Ultegra RX, 46/36, 11-32
- Wheelset: Zipp 303
- Tires: Challenge HTLR Baby Limus