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Amateur cyclist insists he was "completely unaware" he'd gatecrashed Omloop Het Nieuwsblad — as organiser criticises Muur "stunt"; Pub fills car park with bike racks; How to keep up with Wout; Podium beer skills; A very steep climb + more on the live blog

Welcome to a new week on the live blog, Dan Alexander on duty for your Monday round-up of everything that's happening in the world of cycling today...


26 February 2024, 15:49
Amateur cyclist insists he was "completely unaware" he'd gatecrashed Omloop Het Nieuwsblad — as organiser criticises Muur "stunt"

This was the moment the front of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad's men's race crossed the top of the Muur van Geraardsbergen, cheered on by the vociferous Belgian support, small gaps all over the place forged by the double-digit cobbled savageness...

A short while later, but unfortunately seemingly not on film anywhere — except for one photo taken by Nieuwsblad (the newspaper that sponsors the race), specifically by photographer Peter Malaise — a lone rider passed the chapel ahead of another group containing Luke Rowe and Gianni Moscon.

'Strange,' some of the crowd must surely have thought. The rider wasn't wearing an obvious kit of any team competing but did have a number on the back of his bike. Perhaps a more obscure national champion?

Nope, a gatecrasher...

The Belgian newspaper managed to track down 20-year-old amateur rider Jaro Spitaels after noticing that in Malaise's photograph his race number (36) was the wrong colour and in fact should have been with Intermarché-Circus-Wanty's Mike Teunissen. A frame sticker visible with Spitaels' name gave the game away, although the amateur rider, who says he was simply "late" to watch the race, insists we was "completely unaware" his tardiness had ended with him in the middle of the race...


"I was completely unaware that I was on course until I reached the top of the Muur," he told the newspaper. "I had left too late, so I knew it was going to be close, but when I entered the course at the Geraardsbergen hospital, I asked the officer if I could still continue. He said that was possible.

"I never saw a rider, motorcycle or racing car, so I never noticed anything. 
I only realised that something was wrong when I got all the way to the top and saw all the support cars on the road ready to take part in the race. Then I thought: Shit, riders must have already passed here…"

He then pulled over at the roadside and saw the backmarkers pass.

Flanders Classics, the race's organiser, has taken a pretty dim view, calling it a "stunt" and appearing to disbelieve the accident account.

"It is a shame to hear that some people feel called to pull a stunt," a spokesperson said. "By doing so you not only endanger the safety of the race, but also your own. The fact that the sport is practised on public roads makes the race vulnerable. That is why it is nice that in almost all cases we can count on everyone: signallers, law enforcement, emergency services and the public."

Some have asked: why would an amateur rider have a race number attached to the back of their bike? Is that not the clue this was a deliberate act of deception? According to Spitaels it is just a memento of his last race and he always has it on his bike... fair play for getting up the Muur without blowing your cover that you're not one of the world's most elite cyclists... I reckon we'd all get caught pretty quick on that front...

26 February 2024, 17:59
Riders in disguise: Women's cycling team suspended by UCI for "fraudulent actions" of dressing mechanic as rider to avoid disqualification
26 February 2024, 17:52
Tadej Pogačar returns to racing this weekend at Strade Bianche

He's back... 

No, I don't mean Domen Novak, Tadej Pogačar will return to racing at Strade Bianche this weekend, the start of a campaign that will include (all going to plan) some big one-day races, the Giro and Tour de France, and a world champs course seemingly designed with him in mind. How much sweeter that palmares could look come 2025...

26 February 2024, 17:11
British Cycling, Rapha and Brompton join call for more police action for cyclists being "systematically targeted by criminals" in violent bikejackings
26 February 2024, 15:25
"This is a ludicrous allegation": Cyclist to be prosecuted for "riding in the middle of the road" after filming a driver using mobile phone
26 February 2024, 15:24
The early bird catches the... second place in a Zwift race

What do you mean you weren't up at 4AM ON A MONDAY to race on Zwift, like Alex Dowsett was? 

26 February 2024, 11:35
"Benefit of removing barriers far outweighs anti-social motorbike behaviour": Cyclist calls for removal of barriers from cycle paths for greater accessibility
26 February 2024, 10:54
"We have lots of cycle racks!": Get your pub bike out if you want to drink at the White House in Oxford
White Horse pub (Josie Procter/Twitter)

[Josie Procter]

We enjoyed reading this during a scroll of social media this morning, Josie Procter sharing some pictures from the White House pub on Abingdon Road in Oxford, where no customer parking is provided, but "we have lots of cycle racks". 

"Yes White House! This is the way," Procter told followers, confirming the pedalling pub delivered with some very good pizza (including vegan options, if you're that way inclined) and beer too. Señor Lazkano, fancy a few pints in Oxford soon?

In reply to one question about whether such a strategy would be financially viable, Procter replied: "They seem to be doing pretty well. Also teeny tiny car park. Fit maybe four cars if [you do some] Tetris, yet tens of bikes. So staff plus disabled car and tens of bike racks makes a deal of financial sense to me?"

Another commenter feeling especially cheery this Monday said they would never use a business that values staff parking over its customers... "Shows they don't care"... apparently...

White Horse pub (Josie Procter/Twitter)

That works for us...

26 February 2024, 10:41
CPA president Adam Hansen and Chloe Hosking continue social media passive aggressiveness — move on to Adam Yates UAE Tour concussion for latest back-and-forth

Last week it was Adam Hansen and Chloe Hosking going at each other over the CPA's response to Patrick Lefevere's comments about Julian Alaphilippe...

Chloe Hosking, 2020 Women's Tour Down Under (Zac Williams/SWpix)

> Chloe Hosking blames CPA for not standing up for Julian Alaphilippe after Patrick Lefevere's comments (and Adam Hansen hits back)

Adam Hansen, the president of the CPA riders' union, isn't one to hold back. He's penned another lengthy Twitter essay, again responding to criticism from Hosking, this time after she questioned his thoughts on Adam Yates' UAE Tour-ending concussion.

In reply, Hansen wrote (*deep breath*)...

Thank you again for showing so much interest with me and my role as president. Firstly, concussions are very complicated. It's not so simple to diagnose them. People can fluctuate with their responses. The UCI roadside assessment cards are more designed for DSs or mechanics, who did not study medicine, so they can easily come to a conclusion without any medical education.

Team doctors, race doctors or the ambulances are going to carry out their own assessment based on their education in their country or protocol required by law. Of course, I hope it's done at a minimum level as the UCI cards. But I was not there, so I can not say for a fact, I can only hope.

What I do know is, UAE's team DS, Marzano, saw Yates and he looked like he was riding fine. However, when Marzano asked basic question to Yates, Yates failed to answer them correctly. Marzano removed him from the race instantly. I think it went effectively, considering the team pulled Yates out of the race, going against what Yates was trying to do, continuing. 

I can see why you were a good bike rider. The amount of energy you channel trying to confront every step I take is impressive. That energy channelled towards cycling made your career.  

26 February 2024, 10:04
Rolling into the new week like Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne's scooter-riding chaperone
26 February 2024, 09:49
How to tell a climb is REALLY steep — can you stand your bike upright using the slope?

Another Strava QOM for two-time national hill climb champion Illi Gardner's collection.  

Steep climb (Illi Gardner/Strava)

No stick required, just lean the pedal into the gradient. According to Strava, that's a 1.57km climb averaging 15 per cent... and maxing out somewhere in the mid to high 20s. One of those where the descent might even be worse than the way up. Rim brakes, no issues...

26 February 2024, 09:14
Weekend round-up: BIKES; Hookless wheels debate follows race crash; Testicle injuries (from dog attack) keep rider out of classics; 12-year sentence for hit-and-run driver who killed cyclist while racing on road
2024 Vielo V+1 Race Edition Force AXS XPLR.jpg

> REVIEW: Vielo V+1 Race Edition Force AXS XPLR 2024

Bikes, bikes, bikes. Check out Stu's review of the above... "All the capabilities of an adventure bike, but with the performance, low weight and characteristics of a gravel racer..." Could the V+1 become your next N+1?

Elsewhere, Simplon believes its Pride II is still the fastest bike on earth, we took a deep dive into a stunning custom version for Bike at Bedtime...

Simplon Pride II bike at bedtime hero

> Simplon claims its Pride II is still the fastest bike on earth – and this custom version certainly looks the part

It was the 'Opening Weekend' of the classics season, Visma–Lease a Bike winning just about everything they possibly could. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad men's race? Jan Tratnik. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad women's race? Marianne Vos. Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne? Wout van Aert. O Gran Camiño stage three? Jonas Vingegaard. O Gran Camiño stage four? Jonas Vingegaard. O Gran Camiño GC? Jonas Vingegaard. Some weekend for them. Lennert Van Eetvelt's UAE Tour victory atop Jebel Hafeet and Tim Merlier's sprint the day before at least giving someone else a shot.

There was a British victory to note too, Joseph Blackmore winning another stage to secure GC victory at Tour du Rwanda, ably assisted by superdomestique Chris Froome. Not a bad celebration either...

One man not in attendance for the Belgian races was Frederik Frison (the peloton's chief Peter Sagan impersonator) who missed out due to... *checks notes*... "quite extensive damage to private parts" following dog attack. I'll leave the jokes to you lot in the comments section...

Thomas De Gendt's wheel following crash at 2024 UAE Tour (Discovery+)

> Pro cyclists' union "not happy" with hookless wheels after "freak" blowout causes Thomas De Gendt crash – but team defends tyre system as "100% within the rules"

Away from racing we reported the outcome of a sentencing for a hit-and-run driver who was racing another car driver when he crashed into and killed a cyclist. Muniir Ali was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison after being convicted by a jury at the Old Bailey of causing death by dangerous driving.


> Is this the most prostate-friendly saddle? Plus Silca's degreaser-killing chain wax, Garmin launches Forerunner 165, new Cadex wheels + loads more tech news

26 February 2024, 08:59
Oier Lazkano steals the show on Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne podium, seeing off Kwaremont beer with ease

No need for a photo finish here...

 Tim Wellens: Maybe doesn't drink, maybe just didn't want to, do what's required, move on, no big deal.

Wout van Aert: Professional, been here too many times before, one sponsor-obliging sip and smile, hold the comically oversized beer to the camera, job done, bigger targets later in the spring. 

Oier Lazkano: Buzzing to even be on the podium, chugs the lot, almost gets Van Aert's leftovers...

We'll wait with anticipation for the day the Spanish national champion finishes on the podium of a beer-sponsored race for the showdown versus Tadej Pogačar...

> Tom Pidcock unimpressed by Amstel beer... but Pogačar chops the lot 

Pidcock doesn't drink and apparently those halves were alcohol-free anyway, so fair enough. Everyone in cycling has a way to go to catch up with this swim, bike, run, chug star...

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote 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 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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IanGlasgow | 1 month ago

RE: Amateur cyclist insists he was "completely unaware" he'd gatecrashed Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

I once gatecrashed Le Tour...

Pulling out of a motorway service station in France in my Fiat Punto with 3 bikes on the roof (my hybrid and two kids' mountain bikes) a white car slowed and flashed to let me out. I was just settling in to drive along in the convoy when I realised the white car was the  VW convertible the medics used and we were in the middle of a lot of official cars, many with much nicer bikes than mine on their roofs.

IanGlasgow | 1 month ago

Interesting article in The Telegraph claiming inujuries and deaths of pedestrians by cyclists are under-reported because of location or the time between the injury and the death.

The journalist has chosen not to say whether the same is true of injuries and deaths caused by drivers.

Stats 19 data does not include incidents:
(on a) "footpath or bridleway with no lawful access for motor vehicles” is exempt from being included in official data. A “cycle path/track with no lawful access for motor vehicles” is also excluded.

Other excluded public areas include bus, railway and petrol stations, picnic areas, service areas, municipal or private parks, private industrial estates, pedestrian malls and private retail shopping parks, private residential estates, harbours, unadopted roads which are not maintained by public money and car parks and their access roads."

It's not clear whether this is only true for cyclist data or also for date involving a motor vehicle.

Likewise it's not clear if statements like "because he died six weeks after the collision, official data will only record him having suffered a serious injury." are only true if the pedestrian was hit by a driver, or only if hit by a cyclist.

The "journalist" is obviously anti-cycling. After referring to "the pro-cycling lobby" (that phrase is also a hyperlink to another Telegraph story) he goes on to say:
"In theory a cyclist would be convicted of involuntary manslaughter, which can result in a life sentence, but this is highly unlikely while the lesser charge is available. However, motorists can be jailed for life for dangerous or reckless driving if they kill someone.". He doesn't mention what the typical sentence for a driver convicted of causing deathe by dangerousor reckless driving is, or make the obvious startement that it's also unliklely a driver would be convicted of this while the lesser charge of careless driving is available.

Link is to the story saved on The Wayback Machine to avoid sending any traffic to The Telegraph.

Hirsute | 1 month ago


Left_is_for_Losers | 1 month ago
1 like

Hosking seems to have some serious axe to grind with Adam, the CPA and everything else. Seems to have a chip on her shoulder with cycling generally since she couldn't find another team a couple of years ago. 

Rendel Harris replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 1 month ago

Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Hosking seems to have some serious axe to grind with Adam, the CPA and everything else. Seems to have a chip on her shoulder with cycling generally since she couldn't find another team a couple of years ago. 

Standard chauvinist reaction to a woman daring to speak her mind, must have a chip on her shoulder. "Since she couldn't find another team" - you mean when B&B Hotels collapsed at a time when all other teams had filled their rosters?

Left_is_for_Losers replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago

Rendel Harris wrote:

Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Hosking seems to have some serious axe to grind with Adam, the CPA and everything else. Seems to have a chip on her shoulder with cycling generally since she couldn't find another team a couple of years ago. 

Standard chauvinist reaction to a woman daring to speak her mind, must have a chip on her shoulder. "Since she couldn't find another team" - you mean when B&B Hotels collapsed at a time when all other teams had filled their rosters?

Clearly Adam and the CPA think she has a bone to pick with them too. 

Just Rendy Harris twisting things to suit his own agenda again. 

It's not like she's managed to find another team willing to pick her up in the last couple of years either is it. Most elite riders if they were dedicated enough would have. 

Rendel Harris replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 1 month ago

Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

It's not like she's managed to find another team willing to pick her up in the last couple of years either is it. Most elite riders if they were dedicated enough would have. 

Thank you for the proof that you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. "Last couple of years"? Hosking had a $150,000 contract to race for B&B Hotels for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, they announced that they were pulling out in December 2022, at a time when all other teams would have already finalised their budgets and lineups for the 2023 season. She looked for another team but she couldn't find one able to pay enough for her, as an Australian, to cover her living costs of staying in Europe for 75% plus of the year, and so she retired. So she hasn't been looking for a team for "the last couple of years" and been unable to find one, her team went bust just over a year ago and, because of the reasons outlined above, she was unable to find a new team and retired. Come on now, try harder, you're nasty enough without having to add extra lies to increase your nastiness.

Hirsute | 1 month ago

This story is gaining a bit of traction but not sure how much discussion is allowed.

Mr Clifton is due to face trial next month at Lavender Hill magistrates’ court.

Represented by Mr Loophole /s

Dan Alexander replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago

Morning, we're working on something currently, hoping to speak to the cyclist involved. Thanks!

Hirsute replied to Dan Alexander | 1 month ago

I have just realised the the video is on the Standard website !

Yet when you submit anything to the police you are asked to remove it from all social media platforms. There is something seriously off about the whole thing.

How are the Standard showing the video ?

the little onion | 1 month ago

Adam Hansen - that is next level passive-aggressive in the final paragraph! Chapeau

Matthew Acton-Varian replied to the little onion | 1 month ago

In all fairness the CPA often have their hands tied and struggle to speak out when controversy occurs. The concussion protocols are complex and still somewhat in a testing phase; there will always be room for improvement and as new cases occur we will have the ability to learn and adapt where necessary. There was no need for the backhanded comment but I sympathise with his frustrations when protocols were properly followed and yet he still faces criticism.

As for the Lefevre/Alaphillipe spat, the CPA's job is to support the riders however tipping the applecart before the facts can be ascertained is often detrimental in the long run. The CPA must know something private that the public do not otherwise it would have made a statement on the matter by now.

ROOTminus1 replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 1 month ago
1 like
Matthew Acton-Varian wrote:

The concussion protocols are complex and still somewhat in a testing phase; (snip) I sympathise with his frustrations when protocols were properly followed and yet he still faces criticism.

If the protocols were supposedly followed and there's still confusion and ambiguity as to the safety of riders, then as President of the riders' union it should be his job to be kicking up a fuss and demand improvements to the protocols

Matthew Acton-Varian replied to ROOTminus1 | 1 month ago

We would all love a magic solution that could immediately and correctly identify 100% of concussed and uninjured rideres following a crash, but as none exists, we have to work with what's available. For too long has nothing been done about it, and there's still a lot about brain injuries that we have limited medical knowledge about. The protocols are still very much in their infancy but it's not exactly a system you can run computer simulations on and perfect before implementation. There are going to be cases where more could be done. But the fact that Yates was pulled despite wanting to carry on is significant progress from when before the latest protocols were issued. The delay in Yates' withdrawal were for reasons beyond the riders, teams and CPA's control - Yates passed the initial roadside tests according to how individuals are trained by the host country's medical education system. We don't know the answer as to whether the result would have been different had a medic trained more strictly on concussions had assessed him, but his team continued to make observations and further tests as he made an attempt to continue. Concussion isn't always obvious, and if there was no way of telling on first assessment, then the situation needs to be observed in balance. Had Yates not been concussed but forcibly withdrawn from the race there would have been uproar from the rider and his team.

dubwise replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 1 month ago
1 like

This isn't a pop at you Matt.

You have to wonder why concussions protocols are complex, it should simply be if a rider comes down and head takes a wallop then out of the race.  The health of the rider should be imperative, no buts or maybes.

Matthew Acton-Varian replied to dubwise | 1 month ago

Unfortunately, there's no solution where everyone is happy. If, in the middle of a stage race, a rider showed no symptoms but was withdrawn, and was later proved that he was safe to continue, the rider and his team would be very angry at being a rider down for the rest of a race, which could have severe outcomes if that rider was a GC contender or domestique. We don't have a static arena where the rider can just nip back on.

For some relevance, during the 6 Nations match between England and Scotland this weekend, the players were wearing smart mouthguards that detect impact and alert officials. A Scotland player took a hit to the face which set off the accelerometers in his mouthguards and the player was forced off for a ten-minute assessment (much to his annoyance - and a Concussion Substitution was made so Scotland could keep 15 men on the field) despite having clear vision and no signs of concussion. After the ten minute assessment he was cleared to return to the field and the CS was reversed. In that arena, such a system works, as incidents often have minimal impact on games, false alarms are not detrimental to a team getting a result.

In an ideal world, cycling would have the ability to do something similar, but is it really possible to fairly have a spare rider in a team car get out and join the race for ten minutes whilst the downed rider gets assessed in the medical car? - especially in a sport where results are individual, not really. A false alarm does have bigger consequences that can be detrimental to a team's result, and that's where the push back comes from. Cycling needs to find a balance and find a system that is 100% effective, takes the decision making out of the riders hands and avoids any controversy from false alarms. That's a really tough ask, but they are trying.

If the story from UAE's DS was accurate, then little more could have been done in Yates' case

Rendel Harris replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 1 month ago
1 like

How about one or more of the race motorcycles or indeed cars are designated as pace vehicles and, once cleared to carry on, the rider is allowed to slipstream them back to the position they were in before the concussion examination or, if the concussion examination takes too long for that to be feasible, the rider is granted the same time as the group they were in at the time of their crash, provided that they make it home within the cutoff time plus the time it took for the medical examination?

Matthew Acton-Varian replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
1 like

Good idea, in theory. However the practicalities of such a move could be problematic, especially if you have to slow the broom wagon down to compensate. The logistics, which may not always be required, mean condensing even more vehicles into the already densely packed convoy, and that could cause so many more problems. Also we have enough controversy with riders drafting back to the pack after a crash or minor injury (not to the head), allowing it for concussion assessments might also be pushed back.

Considering riders have multiple helmets, accellerometers and crash sensors in the helmets looking for concussion would be an extremely expensive uptake too, until the technology becomes cheaper. I can see that being implemented at some point in the future but probably not within this decade.

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