At 38 and, I think it’s fair to say, his days at the top of the sport far behind him, it wouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that Chris Froome is starting to think about life beyond professional cycling.
It is, however, a surprise to find out that a career in ASMR viral video production could be on the cards for the four-time Tour de France winner…
Yes, that’s right – this morning Froome jumped headfirst into the world of whispering and hitting things for other people’s relaxation with his note perfect and surprisingly rather funny (hey, it is pro cycling after all) take on the much-parodied Bentley ASMR ad that went viral over the summer:
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) September 25, 2023
Swapping the Bentley and the black dress for his Factor bike and Israel-Premier Tech kit, I’m happy to report the Froome Dog nailed his first foray into internet comedy (if we don’t count that time he ran up the Ventoux…).
The perfectly whispered ‘Factor’, complete with comedy head shake.
The caressing of the handlebars (yes, I said caressing).
The brilliantly random indicator sounds.
The conclusive thwack of the water bottle right at the end.
Oh, and most importantly, Froome’s decision (and I’m sure it was a difficult one, given his history with them) to tap away on the disc brake rotor…
So, just to recap the Froome philosophy on disc brakes: Not so great to race on, but apparently perfect for viral videos. Got it, Chris.
Disc brake conjecture aside, I think it’s safe to say that Froome’s career change has gone down well this morning.
“Never been so proud of having you as my profile picture,” wrote the Cycling Out of Context account, which thanks to this latest video will now never run out of content…
“One thing I never expected to see on the internet: Chris Froome ASMR,” says Dan Deakins.
The turn signal sound got me.
— Thomas De Gendt (@DeGendtThomas) September 25, 2023
Even Thomas De Gendt, an internet comedian in his own right, was impressed.
“The turn signal sound got me,” the Lotto Dstny rider wrote.
I for one can’t wait for Froome’s next ASMR video, which – sources tell me – will be based on a nice, quiet, relaxing place he’s spent quite a bit of time in lately: the grupetto…
What, too harsh?
Alright everyone, that’s it, call off the internet for the day, because we’ve just reached peak Cycling Mikey.
In a video posted online last night, the camera cyclist-in-chief was chatting to yet another phone-holding motorist at a set of traffic lights, when a voice on the other end of the phone call suddenly exclaimed: “Is that Cycling Mikey? Oh my God!”
I catch a phone driver, and his remote caller recognises my voice hahaha. pic.twitter.com/gIFNb8Kox8
— CyclingMikey the Unspeakable (@MikeyCycling) September 24, 2023
Classic. It just doesn’t get any more Cycling Mikey than that, does it?
But hold on a second – the most internet thing of 2023 got even more internety, when the Twitter account ‘Didn’t Happen of the Year’ posted Mike’s pre-video tweet about the incident with the questionable caption: “Either a grass or a liar”.
— Camera Life (@Kitschiguy) September 25, 2023
After Mike proved the veracity of his original tweet by posting the video – and, as regular blog readers will know, no incident is too outlandish when you’re Mikey – a Twitter spat has now erupted between the camera cyclist and the ‘comedy’ account:
You've also told us you consider yourself a criminal.
Only children and criminals use language like grass and snitch. The rest of us call that good citizenship.
— CyclingMikey the Unspeakable (@MikeyCycling) September 25, 2023
You already libelled me by calling me a grass. Secondly, using "grass" tells us that you identify with these road criminals and consider yourself part of their group. You're saying it's bad that they get reported & prosecuted. You are self identifying as not-a-good-citizen.
— CyclingMikey the Unspeakable (@MikeyCycling) September 25, 2023
“I didn’t have Cycling Mikey vs DHOTYA on my bingo card. Amazing,” wrote Freddie. Me neither, Fred…
But, just to add a touch of brightness to another day of shouty people on the internet shouting at each other, one social media user who responded to DHOTYA’s tweet with “I’ll put a tenner on camera not working” has since apologised to Mikey himself and even put his money where his mouth is, donating said tenner to road safety charity Brake:
Done, a bets a bet and I'm a man of my word 👍 pic.twitter.com/pxqIzdmPJ9
— 🜏 Nosfeshartu 🜏 (@Nosfeshartu) September 24, 2023
See, the internet isn’t all bad all the time…
Just when you thought Jumbo-Visma – fresh from winning all three grand tours in a season for the first time in cycling’s history, and cementing that record-smashing feat with a nonchalant 1-2-3 at the Vuelta – couldn’t become any more ruthlessly dominant, rumours emerged last night that the Dutch team is on the verge of merging with one of the other most successful squads of the past two decades, Soudal Quick-Step.
Yep – on the day that three Jumbo-Visma riders stood on the podium of the men’s European road race championships, Wielerflits reported that the two teams have been in discussions about a possible merger since July, and that both Visma and Soudal are already on board.
A glimpse into the future? (Cxcling Creative Agency)
In some ways, the rumours make a lot of sense. The future of Soudal Quick-Step – home of Remco Evenepoel, Julian Alaphilippe, and Kasper Asgreen – has been uncertain for a while now, with rumours swirling of a potential partnership between Patrick Lefevere’s team and the Ineos Grenadiers in recent months.
Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma have their own financial hole to fill, as beleaguered supermarket chain Jumbo confirmed they are stepping away from sports sponsorship after a scandal-ridden year.
Under the new, amalgamated super team, which as Wielerflits reports could be confirmed in time for the start of next season, Jumbo-Visma boss Richard Plugge would take the role of CEO of the new squad, while Lefevere would sit on the team’s supervisory board.
However, the prospect of two of the most successful teams of the past three decades – and with a combined half a century of racing heritage between them – joining forces to create a kind of classics and grand tour smashing Harlem Globetrotters hasn’t gone down too well with many cycling fans and pundits.
Team mergers are never good for the sport
— #SiempreGino (@NairoInGreen) September 24, 2023
“Just a reminder that it’s not just riders who have an uncertain future in the face of this,” wrote Katie on Twitter. “There are hundreds of staff members who work tirelessly behind the scenes who will go to bed worried about job security tonight. It’s all fun and speculation but also real life for some.”
Eurosport commentator José Been added: “No one even mildly interested in what happens to the two women’s teams when there is a merger? That’s 50 + riders across four teams (elite, U23 and juniors) too.”
And goodness knows how Remco must be feeling right now:
— Anna Mac 👑🪱 🌈🖤 (@AnnamacB) September 24, 2023
Of course, other reports from Belgium have suggested this morning that a merger – the equivalent of Manchester City and Liverpool joining forces – is far from a done deal, and that some of the sponsors, as well as the riders and staff, aren’t even aware of what’s going on apparently behind closed doors.
What do you think? Is the possible creation of a Visma-Soudal team a good thing for the sport? Or are we facing the prospect of 1-2-3s at Flander, Roubaix, and the Tour for the foreseeable future?
Or are we just in the midst of cycling’s famed silly season?
Fantastic ride today for #SaferStreets at today’s #KidicalMassLond We would like to thank our fantastic ride lead @Rahario, @willnorman, @0jhl , every single marshal and friend who joined for helping us stay safe and @IBikeLondon for making the atmosphere euphoric and THE KIDS! pic.twitter.com/Mm3GnYmIOx
— Kidical Mass London (@KidicalMassLond) September 24, 2023
Perhaps my favourite story to emerge out of the whole Jumbo-Visma/Soudal Quick-Step rumours saga is Patrick Lefevere’s uncharacteristically coy encounter with Belgian broadcaster Sporza last night.
The outspoken Belgian boss was, funnily enough, attending an Anderlecht match with his rider, and former Anderlecht youth player, Remco Evenepoel and his father Patrick, at the time the news broke courtesy of WielerFlits last night.
Lefevere remained extremely tight-lipped, however, when approached by Sporza, telling the reporter that he didn’t have his phone with him, therefore missing any chance of it “exploding” due to the rumours. Of course, Lefevere said all this while holding a phone in his hand, which only adds to the confusion surrounding the whole thing.
“If you want to follow WielerFlits, do so,” he said while getting into his car. “Make of it what you want. No comment, sorry.”
Evenepoel’s father was a little more forthcoming, meanwhile, telling Sporza outside Lotto Park that “We are shocked, Remco too”, concerning the merger rumours.
Interesting, very interesting indeed…
Ah, here we go again: Another road safety campaign focused on helmets…
This latest one, from the Bedfordshire Road Safety Partnership, has been criticised by cyclists on social media, not for its painful rhyme schemes, but for “victim blaming” and failing to tackle road danger “at source” – after basing the campaign around a cartoon cyclist named Ted, who wasn’t wearing a helmet while riding “real quick”, and ended up in hospital after hitting a stick.
Those pesky, super quick helmet-less cyclists, they’re the real issue! No mention, of course, of any motorists, because they’re not a problem on the roads for cyclists, are they?
Anyway, the campaign has also been endorsed by national road safety organisation, Road Safety GB, who say it aims to make helmet wearing in the UK the “norm, as it is in Australia”.
Ah yes, Australia, where helmets have been mandatory for over 30 years, yet where injuries for cyclists have increased, where fines for not wearing a helmet are handed out “aggressively and disproportionately” where cyclists believe that riding a bike is “discouraged”, and where recent studies have found that cyclists wearing helmets are viewed by drivers as “less human”…
Maybe we could launch our own campaign? ‘Don’t be like Road Safety GB, and don’t try to replicate Australia’s contentious approach to cycling in the UK.’
Ah, shoot, it didn’t rhyme…
What do you expect to be doing when you’re 90? Probably not riding your bike the length of Britain, anyway.
But that’s exactly what Peter Langford spent his summer doing, breaking the record for the oldest person to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats in the process.
The retired vicar from Suffolk had already completed LEJOG on three previous occasions, aged 75, 80, and 85, and set off on 22 August, three days after his 90th birthday, for another crack at those famous 1,100 miles.
After arriving at John O’Groats last Thursday after a month on the road, raising over £36,000 for homelessness charities in the process, John told the BBC that he was “relieved” to have finished his fourth LEJOG – and that he wouldn’t be attempting it again when he’s 95.
“I look back and think ‘how did I manage some of those hills?’,” he said. “My overriding feeling is gratitude for the opportunity to do it, and the ability to do it at my age and for the huge generosity of people. The amount that has come in is phenomenal.
“I recognise that I am extraordinarily lucky. I shall keep on cycling locally, because it’s good exercise. I will keep up about 50 miles a week but latterly in my training I was doing more than 100 miles a week and going out in all weathers.
“I will be more of a fair-weather cyclist now, I think.”
To be honest, I think that’s more than fair enough.
Three women killed cycling in just over a month.
🚲 36-year-old woman killed in Hackney
🚲 27-year-old woman killed on Battersea Bridge
🚲 Mid-20s woman killed in Harrow
— London Cycling Campaign (@London_Cycling) September 25, 2023
After three women were killed while riding bikes on the streets of London over the past month, the London Cycling Campaign has launched a petition urging mayor Sadiq Khan to make the capital “a city where any woman can cycle safely”.
In the petition, which can be accessed here, the campaign group’s women’s network wrote:
We want to see riding a bike made safe, easy, and convenient for women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, across the whole city.
Being able to get around safely, cheaply and independently can be life changing. On average, women have less free time, less disposable income, less access to motor vehicles and more caring responsibilities than men. For all of these reasons, and many more, it’s critical that all women have access to safe, affordable, and accessible transport that meets their needs.
The bicycle has played a significant role in liberating women in the past, and cycling could be liberating for women in London today, offering us independence, health, and affordable, climate-safe transport. But it can only do that in the right environment.
Therefore we are calling on the Mayor to make London a city where any woman can cycle safely.
The petition, which currently has almost 1,500 signatures, also calls on Khan to “ensure cycling is an inclusive mode of transport that men and women use equally, across London, by 2030”, by addressing physical and social safety for women when cycling, and by “thinking beyond the commute” to create safe local cycling networks.
Following some speculation earlier this year, it’s been confirmed to road.cc – or at least those of us enjoying ourselves at the Sea Otter Europe festival in Girona this week (hint: it’s not me) – that Decathlon’s new Van Rysel RCR bikes, spotted on the Decathlon website last week, will be raced in the WorldTour by AG2R next year.
While the sporting goods giant hasn’t been associated with cycling’s top table for a generation, this won’t be the first time we’ve seen a bike from Decathlon in the pro peloton. Back in the early 2000s, Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu, riding for the AG2R team, won three of his four career Tour de France stages while riding a Decathlon Penta Pro.
AG2R’s switch from BMC also means that it’s highly likely that Campagnolo won’t be represented in the WorldTour peloton for the first time since 2012. Which, for a component traditionalist like me, is quite sad.
So, that didn’t take long, did it?
Just over two weeks after riding her last professional race on the road at the Simac Ladies Tour, Annemiek van Vleuten has confirmed that she will once again pin a number on her back at next month’s gravel world championships in Italy.
The 40-year-old, who insisted to a group of reporters, including this one, in Glasgow that she wouldn’t pursue a post-retirement gravel career, announced that she will race the Veneto-based worlds on 7 October, one day before her 41st birthday, in an interview with Dutch podcast In Het Wiel.
“In a crazy mood I said yes to that. The team liked it, the sponsors liked it, and I also found it funny to participate,” the four-time world champion on the road told the podcast.
However, that doesn’t mean AVV will be following in the wheel tracks of her Movistar colleague Alejandro Valverde, who swapped the road bike and a cosy retirement for a position as the Spanish squad’s gravel poster boy earlier this year (and some brown shorts, too).
“I have no ambitions in a gravel career, so I think I will end it here,” Van Vleuten said, insisting that unlike Valverde she was not “unretiring”.
“I’m going to ride this in my retirement. I’m not prepared for it and I’m not going to train for it.
“I’m going to participate and have a nice photo with Alejandro Valverde. It’s a bit a part of my farewell tour. I threw the ball up myself and it was immediately headed in by the team. Before I knew it I was registered. Especially if it is in Italy, I am open to that.”
If you hadn’t already guessed by Rishi Sunak’s much-ridiculed watering down of the UK’s net zero policies last week, we’re beginning to creep ever closer to election season (hey, January 2025 is basically around the corner!), and policy pledges and promises will be all the rage over conference season.
And the Liberal Democrats, who are now in Bournemouth for their annual get together, have kicked things off by supporting a motion supporting reversing government cuts to cycling and walking in England during a meeting on transport this morning.
Earlier this year, ministers cut the dedicated budget for cycling and walking by two thirds, despite the National Audit Committee pointing out that funding levels would not be enough to meet the government’s target to double cycling numbers by 2025.
And while Cycling UK has praised the Lib Dems for committing to reversing the cuts, the charity believes that parties need to be bolder on active travel when the time comes to drawing up their manifestos.
“The Liberal Democrats recognise the damage done by cutting funding for cycling and walking and have pledged to reverse these, which is a good start – but in their next manifesto, they must be bolder if they are to reap all of the many environmental, health, and wellbeing benefits that come from more people cycling,” Sarah McMonagle, Cycling UK's director of external affairs, said this morning.
“Getting more people out cycling and walking is a worthy ambition, but restoring a level underinvestment this government previously had in place will not achieve it.”
Another day, another council reversing active travel measures…
A council’s decision to reopen a road closure to through traffic will have a detrimental effect on road safety and active travel, seeing the “quiet, safe, and liveable” street reversed to “rat-running and speeding cars” again, critics have said.
One councillor, meanwhile, said he wants the closure reversed – despite being a former cyclist who got knocked off his bike twice by drivers who were not looking where they were going…
I couldn’t let the morning pass on today’s live blog without mentioning that absolute thriller of a final kilometre at yesterday’s men’s European road race championships on top of the Col du VAM, where Christophe Laporte miraculously held off his Jumbo-Visma teammates, but rivals for the day, Wout van Aert and Olav Kooij to take a stunning victory.
In case you missed it, the French rider – whose previous win this season ahead of Van Aert at Gent-Wevelgem was a rather more sedate, celebratory affair – channelled his inner Mischa Bredewold (who soloed to a brilliant win at Saturday’s women’s race), attacking with 12km to go, not long after a race-defining crash in the bunch split the field to pieces and ruined the rampant-looking Filippo Ganna’s chances of victory.
“What a finish. What a finish!” 😱
— Eurosport (@eurosport) September 24, 2023
With Laporte holding a slender lead to the foot of the former landfill site turned cycling playground in Drenthe – despite Carlton Kirby on comms practically handing the French rider the Euros jersey even before he hit the final climbs – a late charge from Van Aert and Kooij, aided by non-Jumbo rider Arnaud De Lie, appeared to spell the end of the escapee’s hopes.
But just as Van Aert appeared on his shoulder, Laporte had enough in the tank to kick again, sealing yet another Jumbo-Visma 1-2-3 (though this time at least they were wearing different jerseys) and adding the icing on the cake to a fantastic 2023 for the Frenchman. What a race, and no gifts this time, eh?
From unauthorised Las Vegas trips (and no, I’m not talking about the road.cc team) to questionable ‘vulnerable road user’ police operations, here’s your weekly roundup of all the things you might have missed while out on your bike over the last few days…
Ryan joined road.cc 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.