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He's behind you! Pro cyclist in disbelief after thinking he'd won... only for chasing rider to snatch victory on the line; Telegraph anti-cycling bingo; 5km stage race even we could finish; Stairway to heaven? Nope, just a cycleway + more on the live blog

One more day 'til we can all ride off into the weekend! Dan Alexander is on live blog duty for you this Friday...

SUMMARY

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16 February 2024, 17:23
Wout van Aert notches first road win of 2024

He left it late, but Wout van Aert is off the mark for 2024 (on the road, of course).

The Belgian stressed throughout his cyclo-cross campaign that he was aiming to peak for the Classics, hoping to claim a maiden Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. Ominous he's picking off reduced sprints already, the lumpy route to Tavira helping put fatigue in the legs and shelling some of the faster sprinters at the race.

Anyone interested in some weekend bike race watching, tomorrow is the race's ITT before Sunday looks a cracker — hill-top finish up a 2.5km climb averaging 9.6 per cent? That'll do! Let's see how those legs are, Wout.

Elsewhere today, Marlen Reusser took the second stage of the women's Volta Femenina de la Comunitat Valenciana, building a commanding lead on GC in the process. If you thought the Algarve climb was tasty, the women's peloton will tackle a 3.9km ascent averaging 11.2 per cent tomorrow. Sunday's stage into Valencia could be anything, with a fair bit of climbing before a downhill run into town. Sprint? Breakaway? 

It's good to have bike racing back, isn't it?

16 February 2024, 15:36
He's behind you! Pro cyclist in disbelief after thinking he'd won... only for chasing rider to snatch victory on the line

It was at this moment Tobias Johannessen knew, he bleeped up...

Lenny Martinez pips Tobias Johannessen on the line (Eurosport)

One metre from victory, one bike length, one bike throw, and Lenny Martinez had pulled off an improbable comeback (admittedly, mainly due to the Norwegian's leisurely stroll towards the finish line thinking he had it in the bag).

Here's the painful moment in all its glory...

 The Uno-X climber joins an elite club of professional riders to have committed the finish line cock-up, perhaps most famously à la Erik Zabel at Milan-San Remo in 2004. Then there was Julian Alaphilippe at Liège–Bastogne–Liège in 2020, made even worse (or better depending on your perspective) by the fact the world champ was then relegated to fifth for cutting across Marc Hirschi in the sprint. Like a misfiring striker grateful to see the offside flag after slicing one wide...

LBL 2020 photo finish

For pure style points alone, amateur duo Rémi Arsac and Charly Merle took the top prize at a race in France's Rhône department last summer. C'est magnifique.

Rémi Arsac and Charly Merle lose to Simon Ruet after celebrating too early at the Critérium de Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise in eastern France (credit – Mont Actus)

And who could forget Vincenzo Nibali's teammate Luka Pibernik, going a whole lap too early at the Giro?

Luka Pibernik celebrates in Messina ... a lap too early.JPG

 

16 February 2024, 17:20
"Where are the cyclists?" Councillor questions "low numbers" on cycle superhighway – but Chris Boardman praises "exemplar" of cycling infrastructure

"The infrastructure has to be there for the journeys people are going to make. In Holland it took decades to create the cycling culture it has now..."

CityConnect (via Twitter).jpg

> "Where are the cyclists?" Councillor questions "low numbers" on cycle superhighway – but Chris Boardman praises "exemplar" of cycling infrastructure

16 February 2024, 14:39
Merida calls Ruta del Sol debacle "beyond farcical and unacceptable", as Maxim Van Gils wins race with TT victory

No holding back from the admin on Merida's Twitter account, the bike brand that supplies Bahrain Victorious' riders...

Just the one reply on that so far...

Ouch. Yep, that's winter signing Anotnio Tiberi of San Marino cat-killing fame... you know, the Italian cyclist who was suspended and ultimately let go by Trek-Segafredo because he shot dead a pet cat cat belonging to San Marino's former head of state... no, really...

> Trek-Segafredo pro fined for shooting and killing cat belonging to San Marino's former head of state

One of the weirder, and more sickening, pro cycling stories of 2023 that one. Anyway, he came third on today's stage, on the same time as Juan Ayuso, ten seconds behind stage winner (and victor of the whole race overall) Maxim Van Gils.

16 February 2024, 14:33
OPINION: Changes to the Highway Code mean very little if they are not known or followed by motorists
16 February 2024, 14:17
Introducing Finland's new president, the EF Education-EasyPost supporter

Finland went to the polls on Sunday, conservative former prime minister Alexander Stubb winning the presidential election (don't ask me why there's a president and prime minister, that's what Google is for).

He took 51.6 per cent of the vote, narrowly defeating Green Party candidate Pekka Haavisto, the National Coalition Party leader's cycling hobby being given a shout-out today by EF Education-EasyPost team boss Jonathan Vaughters...

16 February 2024, 13:41
"Waste of money" cycle lane branded an "annoyance and inconvenience" for adding 570 metres to motorists' journeys, as council approves extension plans
16 February 2024, 12:40
Five-stage Ruta del Sol reduced to... five kilometre time trial, due to protests and police shortages

Finally, a professional race that even we could finish...

It was meant to be five stages, 595km and nearly 13,000m of climbing... instead it's now just 4.95km and 186m of elevation gain. Yep, the uphill TT that is already underway will decide the entire race. The weekend stages have, like the opening two days, been scrapped due to farming protests in Spain, which has had a knock-on effect with police numbers. 

The organisation of the 70th edition of the Ruta del Sol Vuelta Ciclista Andalucía announces that it is forced to suspend the Saturday and Sunday stages due to extra-sports events that are happening in Andalusia.

After endless negotiations, despite having all the permits and meeting the requirements of the regulations, the government authorities have not been able to guarantee the assistance of the necessary law enforcement agencies to organise the event and to keep all participants safe for the next two stages.

The organisation would like to thank the titanic efforts of each of the various municipalities, councils, associations, Junta de Andalucia, teams and riders, UCI, the local cycling association, the Spanish Cycling Federation, commercial companies, members of the organisation and the technical team for their efforts, as well as the Agrupación de Trafico and other state security services and bodies, the Government Delegation and other institutions for their help and cooperation to reverse this totally exceptional situation to which we in Andalusia, Spain and Europe have fallen victim.

16 February 2024, 12:08
Chris Froome to return to racing at Tour of Rwanda
Chris Froome (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

[Zac Williams/SWpix.com]

Chris Froome will make his return to racing in 2024 at the Tour of Rwanda, the scene of one of his 2023 meltdowns over disc brakes...

Chris Froome disc brake wheel change screenshot 1 - via Instagram Reels

> Fed up Froome denounces disc brake wheels on Instagram Reel

The eight-day stage race begins on Sunday, the four-time Tour de France champion saying he is looking forward to returning.

"I love any opportunity to get back to Africa, it feels like home," he said. "Everyone is always so warm and welcoming, it's a great feeling.

"Seeing the Field of Dreams was the highlight [of last year's visit to Rwanada] for me. It was a project we had raised funds for at the Tour de France in 2022 so being able to go there and see it for myself was a wonderful experience."

The Field of Dreams is a cycling centre in Bugesera, "a game-changing project that has already helped countless local children discover the joy of cycling" that was set up by Israel-Premier Tech at last year's race.

16 February 2024, 11:20
Police investigate as Pinarello and Trek Madone stolen in break-in
Stolen bike (GMP)

Greater Manchester Police have appealed for information after a Trek Madone and Pinarello Prince were taken during a burglary at a property near Buile Hill Park in Salford at around 2.35am on Monday.

"On Monday, February 12, 2024 at approximately 2.35am an unknown offender took two bikes from an address close to Buile Hill Park, Salford.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or GMP live chat https://orlo.uk/6slrF or email Sgt Atherton on 13490 [at] gmp.police.uk quoting CRI/06FF/0004137/24."

Stolen bike (GMP)

.

16 February 2024, 11:29
COBBLES

A week to go until Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, there's something to look forward to. What we'd do for those cobbles of Roubaix to look like this in roughly two months time.

16 February 2024, 11:06
Stairway to heaven? Nah, just a cycleway

 And it keeps on going...

Stairway to heaven cycleway (@GiveMeSpace3/Twitter)

At best bloody annoying mid-winter getting up there with all the fallen leaves on a cold, dark morning. At worst a major barrier to many people getting around by bike, particularly those using adapted cycles.

We've been here before, unfortunately...

Cycling staircase, Plymouth (Brian Taylor, Facebook)

> Cyclists blast new cycling "stairway to A&E"... seemingly "commissioned by Danny MacAskill"

Elsewhere, back in 2021 users of a Nottingham canal towpath dubbed a temporary bridge over the water the "Stairway to Hell" due to the steep slopes of the temporary structure, near impossible for many riders to scale.

"Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to a cycleway
There's a cyclists dismount sign on the wall, but she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook, there's a shared-use path that sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven
Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, makes me wonder..."

16 February 2024, 08:54
"2014 just rang, asking for their comment piece back": Telegraph columnist completes anti-cycling bingo with "nonsense" piece "whipping up hatred"

Anti-cycling bingo is finished. Rowan Pelling from the Telegraph newspaper has completed it. There is nowhere left to go...

Telegraph column

Yes. On the day after the Office for National Statistics announced that the UK was in recession, the Telegraph's columnists tackled the big issues of our time — "idle Britons are taking hard-working taxpayers for fools", "the EU is in an even worse state than Britain, but Rejoiners couldn't care less", and of course cyclists apparently being "the rudest, most entitled people in the UK today". What a spread...

Telegraph columns 16/2/2024

Anyway, time to focus on the one we're most interested, you can take in the rest on your lunch break...

Anti-cycling bingo refers to the game that can be played while reading online comments about cyclists, or in this case a column published in one of the UK's biggest newspapers. The aim? To cross off all the tired, often heard, boring things that people who don't like cyclists tend to say about cyclists. For example, if it were a points-based game, red-light jumping, riding on pavements and not using cycle lanes would be the low-scoring bankers. 

Why do I say all this? Well, Rowan Pelling might just have completed it...

"Lycra-clad boors give off an almost palpable air of smug self-satisfaction even as they make life miserable for fellow road users," she begins, and what a start that is. No dilly-dallying, no prefacing the topic with context or an anecdote or two. Nope, just straight on in with the bashing.

Thankfully, we get that anecdote or two in the intro, as Pelling ticks off the obligatory 'keen cyclist' qualifier, justifying all future anti-cycling bingoing, in the form of explaining how 30 years ago she used to use a bike to get around in Cambridge.

What follows is a whistle-stop tour through: that video on our live blog yesterday of a cyclist and lorry driver in a countryside stand-off, "mightily virtuous" cyclists, "obnoxious road etiquette", "Lycra-clad road hogs" riding two-abreast "while a queue of motor traffic forms behind them", "shooting red lights", "ignoring one-way systems" and, SAY THE LINE... "nipping onto pavements"...

We're not done there, I'm afraid...

On to the "wholesome mummies on their big cargo bikes" apparently "hurtling down a footpath", the "push-bike Puritans" who "believe they're a form of citizen police", the "GoPro brigade who live for recording motorists' tiniest infractions", "snitching on drivers for minor infractions".

Pelling concludes: "It all reminds me of the curtain twitchers who reported neighbours to the police over lockdown because granny came visiting – a sort of jealous appeal to authority to stop people having fun. It’s the absolute worst of modern Britain, and nowhere is it better embodied than in our miserable, obnoxious, moralising cyclists."

BINGO!!! 

Peter Walker, the Guardian's deputy political editor did a breakdown of the piece on his social media, with the amusing statement...

"Seriously, who still writes or commissions this sort of stuff? The article itself actually manages to cram in even more cliches than the astonishingly banal headline suggests, which is an achievement of sorts," he said.

Stuart Johnson, the Chair of the Colchester Cycling Campaign added: "Great job by the Telegraph. Whipping up hatred for cyclists yet again with more nonsense."

And breathe. Think I might head back to bed for a lie down in a dark room...

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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77 comments

Avatar
the little onion | 3 months ago
12 likes

Do these people realise that cyclists are entitled- entitled to use the roads?

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to the little onion | 3 months ago
16 likes

the little onion wrote:

Do these people realise that cyclists are entitled- entitled to use the roads?

Bloody cyclists, wanting to get from A to B in a quick and convenient fashion and then they insist on not being walloped by some clueless drivist sat in their metal box and staring at their phone

Avatar
hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
23 likes

I think I just broke my irony meter with the idea that cyclists are the most entitled people, when we see examples every day of drivists refusing to accept that they can be held up for a couple of seconds on a journey. Or parking on a pavement so that no-one else can use it. Or not bothering to pay attention and then act surprised when they inevitably hit and injure/kill someone.

Avatar
brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
16 likes

I was shouted at the other morning by a gentleman walking his dog (well, I say 'walking' but his labrador was running excitedly around, completely untethered, on a shared-use path).

There was a bit of to-and-fro with him saying I'd given him the evil eye and me pointing out his dog should be under control, but it ended with him shouting that "You bl00dy cyclists think you control everything!".

(I don't know about everyone else here, but if cyclists did run everything then I think our urban areas and roads would look very different…).

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
4 likes

brooksby wrote:

(I don't know about everyone else here, but if cyclists did run everything then I think our urban areas and roads would look very different…).

Well, different, certainly.

What people don't realise is that if cyclists did run everything* it would be better for driving (and walking) [video] [article].

* They don't do so even there - because there are probably proportionally no more "cyclists" there than here in the UK...

Avatar
bensynnock replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
1 like

Are you sure? Everybody in the Netherlands cycles.

We spent some time in Friesland this summer and you could get around the whole region just by boat and bicycle if you chose. Sadly I couldn't take my bike with me.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to bensynnock | 3 months ago
0 likes

Note quotes around "cyclists" and Chris Boardman's comments in the linked video... (difference between "fietser" and "wielrenner" approximately?)

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
7 likes

brooksby wrote:

I was shouted at the other morning by a gentleman walking his dog (well, I say 'walking' but his labrador was running excitedly around, completely untethered, on a shared-use path).

There was a bit of to-and-fro with him saying I'd given him the evil eye and me pointing out his dog should be under control, but it ended with him shouting that "You bl00dy cyclists think you control everything!".

(I don't know about everyone else here, but if cyclists did run everything then I think our urban areas and roads would look very different…).

Hmmm - what would a cyclist utopia actually look like?

First, we'd change the traffic laws so that cyclists can treat traffic lights as "Give Way" signs (c.f. Idaho Stop laws) and similarly one-way signs would be optional though again it'd be a "proceed with caution" kind of scenario and without priority.

Supermarkets would have decent covered bike parking and maybe they could provide trailers for hire too for when you've accidentally bought too many tins of acorns.

Drivers would be encouraged to be patient, polite and welcoming to all the cyclists, even the unsure, wobbly ones as the drivers wouldn't be so stressed about their journeys as there'd be much less congestion on the roads.

The NHS would maybe start to recover from the malicious intent of the Tories as the population's health starts to improve due to the extra exercise and lack of air pollution. Even the rivers and waterways may become healthier due to far less tyre and brake pad particulates being washed into them.

Politics may turn around as people start to interract with their surroundings far more rather than just viewing them through a windshield. Maybe selfish people would be shunned rather than being celebrated and it could become common for people to help each other (e.g. do you want a hand with that puncture?). We could even start appreciating people that keep the roads and cycleways clear and maybe shortlist some of them for awards and honours rather than just rewarding political cronies.

Anything I've missed?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
2 likes

I don't think "idaho stop" and "cyclists just ignore some rules" is "utopia" at all!  That would be more like "cycle past traffic lights with no danger at all".

I like the idea of shops providing support for cargo transport!  However in reality this could be tricky.  Bizarrely (IMHO) the local Homebase laid on a cargo trike a few years back.  That was great for me but it didn't last long.  I think it was "too soon" and very few people used it plus it seemed the staff were baffled and it was not maintained (any public-use cycle stuff gets trashed really quickly).

Parking needs addressed - instead of "park and ride" we'd look to move to "train and cycle" (with your own or a public bike) or "cycle and walk".  Parking at home can be addressed in several ways - building regs, local (private) parking spaces etc.

"Drivers" - that's also an issue.  Here we have "cyclists" and "drivers" - or rather - "drivers" then everyone else.  Mentally changing that is vital so e.g. people are "just using the car today / this trip" where "car" is realistically interchangable with "cycle".

Many benefits for health - and the economy (local shopping) - await!

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
4 likes

The more I look the more I think that other things need integrating (or "fixing" in the UK where we've let everything slide in favour of motor transport).  Public transport will be a major part.  How we maintain our streets (e.g. just letting utilities / private works "have at it" essentially ad-lib is not helping), planning regulations, how we view "development" as a whole...

I'd just suggest "copy what works".  So changing our overall philosophy / design goal of road transport.  That will mean some (mild) restrictions on ease of driving, a network of sufficient-quality cycling routes (on separate exclusively cycling infra where needed) which go where people need to go, feel safe and allow social travel - oh and sorting out junctions.

Although if we allow the existence of "reality" in this question (e.g. politics, change being very difficult / slow) then sadly we'll likely need to go step by step, repeating others' mistakes.  Luckily this process (getting there from here) has been covered in detail [article series with recommendations in part 3] [video] [njb video].

Avatar
Steve K replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
7 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

I think I just broke my irony meter with the idea that cyclists are the most entitled people, when we see examples every day of drivists refusing to accept that they can be held up for a couple of seconds on a journey. Or parking on a pavement so that no-one else can use it. Or not bothering to pay attention and then act surprised when they inevitably hit and injure/kill someone.

Cyclists are so selfish - WHY WON'T THEY GET OUT OF MY WAY.

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
24 likes

Ms Pelling was formerly owner and editor of The Erotic Review. Good to see she's lost none of her flair for getting cash for a load of old wank.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
14 likes

She's spending a lot of time moaning.

Avatar
the little onion replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
15 likes

Does she know that bikes involve chains, nipples and lube?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to the little onion | 3 months ago
10 likes

the little onion wrote:

Does she know that bikes involve chains, nipples and lube?

Not to mention copious amounts of rubber and leather…

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
9 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

the little onion wrote:

Does she know that bikes involve chains, nipples and lube?

Not to mention copious amounts of rubber and leather…

I'm sure she's never mounted one and gasped as she vigorously thrust towards the finish.

Avatar
David9694 replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
1 like

That's my recollection of her - she seemed fun-loving, commuting from Cambridge and always with her office to evening outfits.  Quite the come down. 

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