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"Organising cycle races in the UK is harder than ever before": Tour of Britain hits back at critics calling race "dull"; Jake Paul seen in Jumbo-Visma kit aboard a Cervélo... no, really; 'Speeding cyclists' talk reaches day three + more on the live blog

In between regular intervals of melting in the September sun and watching multiple bike races, Dan Alexander will be putting together Wednesday's live blog updates...
06 September 2023, 07:51
"Organising cycle races in the UK is harder than ever before": Tour of Britain hits back at "dull" racing critics

After three sprints and three Jumbo-Visma-dominated Olav Kooij victories, there have been a few rumblings on social media that this year's Tour of Britain might be a bit boring. Now I doubt any of the thousands of spectators who have lined the route so far thought it boring to see their back yard hosting a bike race of its scale, but some of those watching on from the comfort of their TV-viewing perch have been less impressed.

2023 Tour of Britain stage two, Olav Kooij wins in Wrexham (SWpix.com/Zac Williams)

[SWpix.com/Zac Williams]

Taking to X (Twitter), one fan said it had been "dull", while another suggested "there's nothing interesting" and we "may as well watch a 200-lap scratch race".

"Not sure who designed the route but are they afraid of hills? Pretty dull so far," another said.

Replying to the critics, the Tour of Britain's social media admin pointed out the route was designed by the same team heavily praised for their Kendal 2016, Whinlatter 2018, Burton Dassett 2019, Great Orme 2021 stages (and chucked this Sunday's Caerphilly finale into that bracket too, suggesting they think they've got a winner there)...

"If somebody wants to give us a sizeable seven-figure (near eight-figure) sum to give us the opportunity of doing that, we've got plenty of stages that have never been run before in mind," they added.

The bad news for those who want hills is the next three (very flat) stages look likely to be sprints too, before this weekend's climbing finale in Gloucestershire and at Caerphilly Mountain.

Maybe good things come to those who wait? 

06 September 2023, 15:56
Jesús Herrada wins from La Vuelta breakaway — no change on GC

One of those double race days at a Grand Tour where we get the stage win battle from the breakaway before the GC riders take things up a few minutes later. The final climb wasn't hard enough to split the GC guys, despite Hugh Carthy's efforts, meaning Sepp Kuss will once again be in red tomorrow.

Up the road, Geraint Thomas finished fifth from the breakaway, Jesús Herrada taking a third Vuelta stage win since 2019 by powering away from Romain Grégoire, Andreas Kron and Jonathan Caicedo in the final few hundred metres.

Pure comedy from an overzealous Cofidis soigneur, and an arguably even more overzealous policeman, at the finish...

06 September 2023, 14:24
Simac stage sprint showdown sees star shocked

Anyone got any more S-words to add to that title...

Over at the Annemiek van Vleuten celebration race... sorry, I mean the Simac Ladies Tour, it was former world champion Elisa Balsamo who pipped Lorena Wiebes to the opening road stage of the week. With Charlotte Kool third, that's a proper unofficial sprinters' world championship of a stage, Wiebes probably starting as favourite given her scintillating form this season. 

Let's hope we see another top-tier battle on Friday's second sprint of the week. 

06 September 2023, 14:13
Olav Kooij wins stage four of the Tour of Britain (equals consecutive stage win record)

It's groundhog day...

Four wins from four stages. It's almost like having Wout van Aert on lead-out duty for the fastest sprinter in the race is a solid tactic... more expert analysis on that soon...

The commentary team for GCN+, Matt Stephens and Brian Smith had some not-so-encouraging words for those of you unhappy with the lack of climbing action so far this week...

Smith: Just copy and paste that for tomorrow.

Stephens: It's even flatter tomorrow, Brian! If you thought these days were flat, tomorrow and the next day are extraordinarily flat... I can see this man winning six stages.

Highlight of the day? Whichever farmer arranged the sheep feed in the shape of a penny farthing...

06 September 2023, 14:08
"Cyclists are entitled to use the road as much as anyone else": Councillors and locals blast "discriminatory" 'Cyclists Dismount and Proceed with Caution' signs at temporary traffic lights
06 September 2023, 13:18
The 'amateur sleuths' tackling bike theft in Finland

The BBC has an interesting feature on its website looking into how a group called Bike Patrols is hunting down bike thieves in Finland.

The citizen group, made up of volunteers who spend several hours a day tracking down stolen bikes in the city of Oulu, is trying to cut the number of bike theft cases reported to the police in the city, 1,738 in the past year.

In summer, 77 per cent of Oulu residents cycle, with 42 per cent continuing into the winter months, while it is reported that due to the impressive infrastructure, children cycle to school on their own without issue.

However, the popularity of cycling unfortunately means bike thefts are also prevalent, the local police saying it has to "prioritise investigating more serious crimes". But, Bike Patrols filled the gap and have found a quite incredible 1,298 stolen bikes... in the past year. That's equivalent to 75 per cent of the aforementioned bike theft total.

"People told us where bikes disappeared from. We checked out each location and slowly figured out where stolen bikes ended up in different parts of the city," Ilkka Pulkkinen of Bike Patrols explained.

The full feature is well worth a read...

06 September 2023, 12:35
A titanium treat! road.cc Recommends updated with 10 great products from products from Van Nicholas, Spa Cycles, Landrace, Liv Merida + more
06 September 2023, 11:14
Tour of Britain reaction round-up: Hills, no Scottish visit + more

Loads of reaction from you lot this morning, all focused around that 'has the Tour of Britain been dull?' discussion...

60kg lean keen ... : "In north-east Wales we have the Horseshoe Pass (not the only big hill in local area), but the Wrexham stage went east not west? I believe it was because Denbighshire would not play ball, so it was a flatish short stage, it could have been a epic (good weather etc.) but I and so many others turned out and made the day a good one. Let's hope the tour comes back to Wrexham and we can go west for a day in the hills."

Another one here... "As a rider and racing fan, I'm finding this year's Tour of Britain really boring. I appreciate what the organisers have said about choosing venues and routes, but something needs to be done.

"The local authorities who sponsor and fund the event are looking for start and finish venues in high-profile towns and cities as a form of marketing. Perhaps they will look beyond this, to create a more engaging and memorable race, where breakaways and mountain stages will attract greater TV viewing figures and, as a result, more rider interest."

I've got to admit I do have a fair bit of sympathy for the organisers. Road surfaces, disinterested councils, road closures, rider safety etc. there are more than enough issues for people to moan at you about and challenges to overcome.

If the plan's to keep the GC even for this weekend's Gloucestershire/Wales hilly finale, I'm okay with that, I'd say it's less boring now than if Wout van Aert was already leading and in control thanks to an early hilly stage and bonus seconds (if they'd been included). But that's just me... would it be nice if the sprints were more competitive? 100%. Is it the organisers' fault if you give teams potentially six sprint stages and still nobody sends anybody able to beat Jumbo-Visma? The sprinters must all be at La Vuelta... oh, wait...

06 September 2023, 11:54
La Vuelta's secret battle: Filippo Ganna vs Jacopo Mosca
06 September 2023, 09:46
The award for most unlikely ULEZ supporter goes to... Richard Keys?!

Genuinely shocked by this. I just assumed 'Keysy' would be in the other camp, chewing Andy Gray's ear off on beIN SPORTS about "this London mayor Sadiq Khan... or as I've dubbed him... Sadiq Khan't" like he's an underperforming manager of Manchester United. 

06 September 2023, 09:21
'Speeding cyclists' talk reaches (very tired) day three thanks to a loophole-loving lawyer

Late to the party on this one, Mr Loophole...

Apologies for putting this idea into your brain on a sunny Wednesday morning... but I'd say that's a 10/10 guess for what AI Nick Freeman would tweet about the story... ChatGPT Loophole edition, I'm not sure this live blog's ready for that... 

06 September 2023, 09:02
Your thoughts on this year's Tour of Britain

Left_is_for_Losers: "Re this years Tour of Britain — been really impressed with the crowds, you look at the finishes and wonder how it is that professional cycling in the UK is in so much decline?

"It does seem quite a flat route — you would have thought that you could find a few more hills or one more hilly stage somewhere. After the world champs in Glasgow and that success, it's a shame there isn't anything up there. 

"Still — it's great to see pro racing in Britain, so I'm happy!"

SimoninSpalding: "Part of the issue with this year's Tour is also the weather. At this time of year you would hope for a few breezy days that could create some excitement with cross winds, tailwind-assisted breakaways etc. but instead we are 'suffering' the weather we should have had in June and July."

NickSprink: "We also don't have the equivalent of the Alps.  Difficult to find long climbs up to 2000m+ in the UK, they don't exist.  So best we can do is bumpy compared to what is available to the planners of the Grand Tours."

Miller: "It's also worth noting that it is very hard to split up the super-fit and highly coached peloton of professional riders. This is why recent Grand Tours have taken to having weird stages with gravel or ridiculously steep finishes: organisers are trying to find some way to force gaps between riders."

Rendel Harris: "Whilst one can certainly sympathise with the logistical challenges faced by the ToB organisers, and also the fact as others have noted that we just don't have the hills to smash a peloton to pieces, it is pretty ridiculous that after three days we have 56 riders effectively equal first with the leader being decided on his place in the points classification.

"Why are there no bonus seconds on the line or for intermediate sprints, and why no time trial? I realise a time trial has its own logistical problems given that it requires the road to be closed for longer, but surely one could be held in an off-road venue such as a park or stately home grounds? The race is clearly crying out for something to split up the riders so that attacks will have to be made." 

06 September 2023, 08:38
Jake Paul seen in Jumbo-Visma kit aboard a Cervélo

If you don't know who Jake Paul is... congratulations, your life will probably be better if you scroll on past. If you are already acquainted with the fame-driven world of YouTube and celebrity boxing, come right on in...

Jake Paul (Instagram/Jutta Leerdam)

The man whose Wikipedia page is dominated by the 'Controversies and legal issues' section is in the Netherlands and was seemingly convinced into a spin alongside speed skater Jutta Leerdam (who competes as a Jumbo-Visma athlete, explaining the kit and Cervélo crossover)...

Maybe pay-per-view celeb hill climbs or individual pursuits will be the next big thing in the influencer money-making world? Preceded by months of cringe-inducing trash talk and fake 'beef', of course... (I don't mean Quorn)...

Jake Paul (Instagram/Jutta Leerdam)

Dan joined road.cc 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 road.cc, 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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42 comments

Avatar
ktache | 5 months ago
2 likes

Only a year after hearing of their iminant release.

https://www.highonbikes.com/collections/tyre-spares/products/lezyne-tube...

Avatar
Capt Sisko | 5 months ago
3 likes

The Wrexham stage was a complete wasted opportunity. Look at a map of Wrexham, cast your eyes left and what do you see, hills, loads of bloody hills. Okay, they might not be the Alps but even I could come up with a course that'd make a challanging day and avoided the main roads like the A5 or A483. As for the run into town and the finish, absolutly shockingly bad.

Avatar
peted76 | 5 months ago
6 likes

Not a week goes by without that UK lawer Mr Poophole sticking his little turtle head out and pestering social media with his verbal diarrhea... what an odious little turd. 

Avatar
the little onion | 5 months ago
4 likes

40% of people in Oulu cycle in winter! That's brilliant. 

For reference, Oulu is almost in the arctic circle. It's dark, snowy, and bloomin' cold in winter.

 

Mass cycling isn't about weather, it's about infrastructure

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to the little onion | 5 months ago
2 likes

Oulu does look like a good place for cycling [1] [2]!

Finland has hosted the International Winter Cycling Congress e.g. 2020 in Joensuu - a place probably no-one has heard of but where likely more kids cycle to school in winter than UK kids do in summer!

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to the little onion | 5 months ago
1 like

Just noticed that Bicycle Dutch has a video out about cycling in the summer in Oulu too.  Perhaps the most revealing is this:

BicycleDutch wrote:

In 2019, to mark the completion of a new cycling wayfinding system, the city published a brochure titled “We want to make cycling more visible!” In this booklet, you can read:

...

"This brochure gives information about the main cycling routes and the diversity of cycling in Oulu: it does not matter whether you sport a cruiser, mountain bike or a pink Jopo. You do not need special gear to cycle. Instead, you can cycle barefoot or with your boots on and with or without a helmet. The most important thing is that you cycle.

"Cycling improves your physical condition and is an eco-friendly mode of transportation… But in the Oulu region cycling is something much more. In Oulu, all styles of cycling are allowed. You can exercise or you can cycle just for fun – there is no need to stress about proper gear or fancy bike models! Cycling is a natural part of the all-year-round lives of Oulu citizens.

(My emphasis).  Can't imagine many councils lending their name to that kind of sentiment.  It's more like "cycling is a thing people can do" ... followed by a list of conditions you should obey and/or safety requirements.  Or at best something stating how much they're going to do for cycling at some unspecified future time.

Avatar
stonojnr | 5 months ago
12 likes

This is how our local paper is promoting the arrival of world class cyclists to the town in the Tour of Britain, which they're barely skirting through because the local council refuses to get properly involved with it.

"Parking restrictions on busy Ipswich road"
https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/23770539.parking-restrictions-ipswich...

The race organisers really have a thankless task, rather than criticise, we should support them as much as we can.

Avatar
Steve K | 5 months ago
14 likes

Ok, let's have parity, Mr Freeman.  All car engines to cut out once the car exceeds 25kph, anyone?

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to Steve K | 5 months ago
11 likes

Steve K wrote:

Ok, let's have parity, Mr Freeman.  All car engines to cut out once the car exceeds 25kph, anyone?

and no more than 250w engines either.

Avatar
Clem Fandango replied to Steve K | 5 months ago
11 likes

Make em all hi-viz and compulsory polystyrene hats for occupants too. And regular drivist bashing in the media

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Wolfcastle50 | 5 months ago
0 likes

Genuinely haven't seen anything Richard Keys has done since the Milk Races in the 80s. 

Presumably he's been doing football, it's football on Sky isn't it.

Avatar
Steve K replied to Wolfcastle50 | 5 months ago
4 likes

Wolfcastle50 wrote:

Genuinely haven't seen anything Richard Keys has done since the Milk Races in the 80s. 

Presumably he's been doing football, it's football on Sky isn't it.

He was kicked off Sky for being a misogynist dinosaur.

Avatar
Off the back replied to Steve K | 5 months ago
1 like

Im surprised he isnt presenting the Saudi Pro League in that case. 

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rct replied to Off the back | 5 months ago
0 likes

Close works for Qatar based Bein Sports.  So unlikey to report on Saudi Pro League.

 

Avatar
brooksby | 5 months ago
8 likes

Nick Freeman wrote:

legislative parity for all road users, including cyclists, escooters and ebikes

I had assumed it was because the legislation takes into consideration the risk and danger caused by different road users.  I'm sure there was something in the news recently about a "Hierarchy of somesuch" in relation to it... 

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
12 likes

Nick Freeman wrote:

When will the government introduce legislative parity for all road users, including cyclists, escooters and ebikes

Yay, legislative parity for all road users! Look forward to pedestrian licences, MOTs for rollerblades, insurance for electric wheelchairs, V5 documentation for prams and buggies and of course emissions tests for horses and their riders (I've known some of both species that would have trouble passing).

Avatar
essexian replied to Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
5 likes

A lot of "if's" incoming...

IF peds etc needed licences, and IF, the were sufficient police to police the roads and IF the CPS got its act together and IF the courts could handle the number of additional cases.... I wonder how many new clients Mr Freeman would pick up.....?

As usual, he is just trying to drum up business. 

Avatar
GMBasix replied to Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
5 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

Nick Freeman wrote:

When will the government introduce legislative parity for all road users, including cyclists, escooters and ebikes

Yay, legislative parity for all road users! Look forward to pedestrian licences, MOTs for rollerblades, insurance for electric wheelchairs, V5 documentation for prams and buggies and of course emissions tests for horses and their riders (I've known some of both species that would have trouble passing).

And effective prosecution of car drivers without spurious weasel arguments getting them off?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to GMBasix | 5 months ago
8 likes

Wasn't Spurious Weasel the college band that Tony Blair played guitar in?

Avatar
GMBasix replied to chrisonabike | 5 months ago
2 likes

He was playing a session with some Royal Signals musicians... they were just jamming.

Avatar
brooksby replied to GMBasix | 5 months ago
1 like

I remember that session.  I found it very difficult to interpret...

Avatar
OnYerBike | 5 months ago
11 likes

So I take it Mr Loophole wants pedestrians to be required to have insurance; licence plates on buggies; wheelchair users to pass an MOT; etc.? 

Or does he just means he wants to make life more difficult for outgroups that he doesn't like? 

Avatar
mitsky | 5 months ago
7 likes

Mr Loophole (no, not "a-hole") Nick Freeman wants legislative parity for users of vehicles that are not comparible (ie bikes/motor vehicles).
 

I've witnessed, first hand, 3 incidents involving collisions between cyclists and pedestrians.

Whilst the fault varied in each case (one was 50/50, the other two were the fault of the cyclists riding on the pavement and expecting the pedestrians to give way to them), they all ended up with the cyclist being far worse off than the pedestrian (who would basically walk away almost completely unharmed).

I wonder what Nick Freeman would prefer: being hit by a cyclist or a motor vehicle driver...

Avatar
ROOTminus1 replied to mitsky | 5 months ago
4 likes

Depends on the cyclist, a DH rider will have much better upper body strength compared to a GC climber.

Avatar
ChrisB200SX replied to mitsky | 5 months ago
8 likes

mitsky wrote:

I wonder what Nick Freeman would prefer: being hit by a cyclist or a motor vehicle driver...

I fall into both categories and gladly volunteer to hit him  1

Avatar
ROOTminus1 | 5 months ago
3 likes

A reminder that the ubiquitous caution "Don't feed the trolls" should apply to road.cc editors as well as forum commenters.

Avatar
mark1a replied to ROOTminus1 | 5 months ago
1 like

I don't see trolling in any of the quoted comments...

Avatar
ROOTminus1 replied to mark1a | 5 months ago
4 likes

I was referring to the posts giving platform to people of questionable repute.
There is a distinct line between celebrity and professional attention-whore, and that line is an achievement worthy of celebration. Getting attention by infamy and scandal is not an achievement that warrants further attention.

Avatar
Stephankernow | 5 months ago
1 like

The state of the UKs road for all road users is an absolute disgrace. Im thankfully amazed nobody has been injured the amount of pot holes etc.
It must be hard for any cycling group to find decent roads. Try down hete the a shocker it makes me teasy the state of the dutchys roads.

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
1 like

Whilst one can certainly sympathise with the logistical challenges faced by the ToB organisers, and also the fact as others have noted that we just don't have the hills to smash a peloton to pieces, it is pretty ridiculous that after three days we have 56 riders effectively equal first with the leader being decided on his place in the points classification. Why are there no bonus seconds on the line or for intermediate sprints, and why no time trial? I realise a time trial has its own logistical problems given that it requires the road to be closed for longer, but surely one could be held in an off-road venue such as a park or stately home grounds? The race is clearly crying out for something to split up the riders so that attacks will have to be made.

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