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When tweets go wrong: Halfords’ “fuel-efficient” question backfires; 2024 Tour de France to end in Nice?; “Not all car drivers are bad”; Cycling UK tells employers to encourage riding to work; Julio Jiménez dies in car crash + more on the live blog

The middle of the week, TT day at the Dauphiné… Ugh. But don’t worry as Ryan Mallon is here, channelling his inner Filippo Ganna, to keep you up to date on Wednesday’s live blog…
08 June 2022, 16:28
Tour de France poll result – Vive la Paris!
Tour de France finish poll

Ah, you bunch of traditionalists…

With the 2024 Tour de France rumoured to be finishing in Nice to avoid clashing with the Olympics, over half of those who voted in our poll this morning (quite surprisingly) believe that the final celebratory stage into Paris should remain untouched.

Perhaps you all agree with cycling writer Ed Pickering, that a bike race – and particularly one as important and historic as the Tour – is really only ten to twenty percent about the actual racing (and isn’t that why we love it so much?).

In the comments, however, our readers were rather divided about the future of the Tour’s final stage (what’s new?):

With Paris transforming itself from car park to cycling city, I'd say the final stage on the Champs-Élysées is more relevant than ever before!

I'm in two minds about the TdF finish. I saw it on the big screen at Canary Wharf a few years ago and it looked fabulous: dusk, the City of Light, the aerial display... glorious. But why not mix it up a bit?

Keep the Tour finish in Paris but change the parcours, half a dozen laps up the steep cobbled climbs in Montmartre then down to the Bois de Vincennes and back along the cobbled quais by the river, left up to the Pantheon, back down across the front of Notre Dame and then left to finish on the Champs. Logistical nightmare but it would make for some damned good racing.

mdavidford, on the other hand, went all 1903 on us and argued that the race should finish “where it started – make it a proper tour and get rid of all these transfers”.

Alright, Henri Desgrange, next you’ll be calling for 400-kilometre stages, banning derailleurs, and making the riders fix their own punctures…

08 June 2022, 09:05
Jumbo-Visma at 2020 Tour de France presentation picture credit-A.S.O. Pauline Ballet
2024 Tour de France to end in Nice? Reports suggest race’s traditional Paris finale will be moved to avoid clashing with Olympics

There may be exciting news on the way for those cycling fans who spend the third week of every July grumbling about the Tour de France’s processional final stage into Paris.

“Why don’t they have a proper race? None of this champagne toasting nonsense…”

Well grumble no more, as according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Tour’s 2024 edition will end around 1,000km south of Paris, in Nice.

The Gazzetta says that this ground-breaking final stage – which, if true, would mark the first time ever that the Grande Boucle has not concluded in France’s capital city – will take place on the Côte d'Azur to avoid clashing with the build-up to the Olympic Games in Paris, which begin on 26 July, just five days after the Tour is set to end.

If Nice does make history by hosting the Tour’s finale in two years’ time, it will go a long way to making up for the city’s subdued 2020 Grand Départ, shunted to late August and held under tight Covid restrictions.

The sports paper also claims that the 2024 Tour will mark another historic first – a Grand Départ in Italy, paying homage to the country’s greatest cycling names, Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Marco Pantani and Ottavio Bottecchia, the first Italian winner of the Tour in 1924.

The race will reportedly kick off in Florence before three full stages in Italy (including a potentially tricky trek through the Apennines), finally crossing over the border on the fourth day after starting in Pinerolo, the scene of Coppi’s era-defining escape at the 1949 Giro.

All eyes this morning, however, seem to be on the tantalising prospect of a thrilling finale over the Col d'Èze, more akin to what we’re used to seeing in early March at Paris-Nice than during the annual parade up and down the Champs-Élysées…

What do you think?

Could the reported 2024 finale in Nice spell the end of Paris’ 110 year hegemony at the Tour?

Could we also see the end of the now-traditional end-of-term procession on the Tour's final stage? (I know what Bernard Hinault would say...)

Should ASO follow the lead of the Giro and Vuelta and spread the race-ending love around France?

Or is the yearly bunch gallop on the Champs-Élysées (and its lack of GC intrigue) an untouchable tradition?

Let us know!

08 June 2022, 15:34
Councillor brands segregated cycle lane “biggest waste of money I’ve seen”

Ah local councillors, they’re the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to cycling infrastructure related fury.

This time, an independent politician in Sutton-in-Ashfield has colourfully described a new segregated cycle lane as “the biggest waste of money I've seen in all my time”.

Presumably he remembers Fernando Torres’ spell at Chelsea, so I highly doubt that’s true…

“I was very clear with the County Council that they should fix the broken roads and pavements in Leamington and Sutton first,” Ashfield District Council leader Jason Zadrozny told Nottinghamshire Live. “Residents are going nuts. I don’t blame them.”

“This is has actually made it worse for cyclists. Nobody asked for this work to be done.

“Ask any cyclist the biggest obstacle they have face – they’ll tell you it’s the potholes.

“It doesn’t matter whether this has been paid for by your council tax or general taxation. It’s an insult to residents.”

Hold on, back it up a minute. Is Jason right? Are potholes the biggest barrier to cycling safely on the roads? I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head, so maybe he’s right…

Councillor Neil Clarke, cabinet member for transport and environment, has defended the new two-way segregated bike lane, which was supported by the Active Travel Fund.

“High Pavement is a key cycle route in Sutton in Ashfield as it connects existing routes together to link them to the town centre,” Clarke said.

“The road carried around 10,500 vehicles a day and can be intimidating for cyclists.

“We carried out surveys in 2021 and found that many cyclists were cycling on the pavement, which is illegal, and so the new cycle lane on High Pavement gives cyclists a safe route into and out of Sutton-in-Ashfield.

“This new route has been created thanks to funding from the Government. This funding cannot be used for roads maintenance and is ringfenced for schemes like the one on High Pavement.”

08 June 2022, 14:57
Top Ganna pips Van Aert to Dauphiné time trial

The finish of today’s 31.9 kilometre time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné was an eerily familiar one for Wout van Aert.

With David Gaudu just ahead of him, Jumbo-Visma’s Belgian star was once again relegated to second place right at the death.

This time, however, it wasn’t Gaudu who was responsible for Van Aert’s defeat (in fact, the French climber was almost caught by his two-minute man at the line), but world TT champion Filippo Ganna, who pipped the Belgian by two seconds.

That the monstrous Ganna – contractually obliged to win in his first TT outing since the Top Gun sequel was released – only managed to win by such a narrow margin after spending the last three stages envisioning his descent from the start ramp, underlines the outrageous all-round ability of Van Aert, who is yet to place outside the top six during this year’s Dauphiné (and that sixth, if we’re honest, was a bit of a blip).

Of his 18 race days so far this year, Van Aert has only finished off the podium five times. Five times.

Unsurprisingly then, he extends his lead in yellow, followed on GC by Mattia Cattaneo, teammates Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard, and Ineos rider Ethan Hayter, who’s underlining his reputation as something of a mini-Van Aert after an impressive third place today, 17 seconds down on teammate Ganna.

With the next two stages suiting both riders, I suspect we’ll be seeing more of this emerging duel between the sorcerer and his apprentice…

08 June 2022, 16:51
What Twitter was made for...
08 June 2022, 13:58
“Not all car drivers are bad”: Motorists come to aid of road.cc reader after crash

Here at road.cc we often get stick – some warranted, some not – from people who say that we’re too one-sided and all about bashing drivers.

That’s not our intention. Many of our stories, such as those featured in the Near Miss of the Day series, are simply written to highlight bad driving practices, especially those which endanger other road users.

Not all motorists are terrible of course (some are even great), as this story sent to us by road.cc reader Nigel proves.

Nigel told us that he had been riding home from work in Billingham when he suffered a nasty crash which broke his femur.

It was during this traumatic incident that he “discovered not all car drivers are bad” and that most people – even when behind the wheel of a car – are decent human beings after all.

Nigel said: “The lady behind me in her car stopped to check I was okay, then rang an ambulance and waited with me for the two hours it took the ambulance to arrive.

“Two other drivers helped me get to the pavement. They also took my bike home and got my wife from work.

“Another driver stopped and gave me an emergency blanket. Also, a lovely lady from a house nearby brought a seat out for my wife and gave everyone hot drinks. One of her neighbours rang his girlfriend as she is a paramedic.

“I honestly can't fault the drivers and passers-by who stopped to help.”

More of this please… though maybe not the leg-break aspect of it all, that sounds rough. Get well soon Nigel!

08 June 2022, 13:29
Wiebes doubles up at Women’s Tour

Another day, another win for Lorena Wiebes.

Today’s typically dominant sprint victory – Wiebes’ ninth of an astonishing season – was arguably even more impressive than her win on stage two, however, coming as it did after a tough, grippy day in the rain to Gloucester.

Despite Kasia Niewiadoma’s probing moves on the climb to Speech House, which managed to drag a small group clear containing Elisa Longo Borghini, Wiebes was able to regain contact on the flat run-in to the line.

In the final two kilometres her DSM teammate, British champion Pfeiffer Georgi, delivered a superb show of strength on the front of the peloton, delivering the Dutch rider perfectly into place to unleash her devastating sprint.

And when Wiebes goes, there’s not much anyone else can do these days…

08 June 2022, 12:53
Benelux Tour cancelled for 2022 due to overcrowded calendar

The Benelux Tour has been cancelled for 2022, with race organisers blaming the “overcrowded cycling calendar” for the race’s hopefully temporary demise.

Founded in 2005 and – like football’s League Cup – formerly named after its lead sponsors Eneco an BinckBank, the once-derided stage race has developed into an entertaining summer blast over spring classics terrain, and boasts an impressive winners’ list which includes Niki Terpstra, Tom Dumoulin, Mathieu van der Poel and Sonny Colbrelli.

However, with this year’s race set to clash with Vuelta a España, the tour’s organisers have cited logistical and safety difficulties, such as clashes with other races’ finishing times and a lack of police assistance on certain stages, as part of the decision to cancel the 2022 event.

Officials say they have already started working to find an appropriate date for 2023.

A statement from the Benelux Tour reads: “For the organisation, relocating the event is the only solution to avoid the problems caused by the overcrowded cycling calendar, especially in the logistics and media field.

“The pressure on that international cycling calendar causes several conflicts for which, despite frantic efforts, there is no other solution than this postponement.

“The times of broadcast of the other races at the same time would have forced the organization to plan arrival times which would become uninteresting for the supporters and guests on-site, as well as for the television viewers. It would also result in impossible departure times and travel for the teams.”

But it’s not all bad news (at least for British cycling fans, anyway) – as Dan Martin pointed out today, the Tour of Britain’s status as the ideal world champs preparation race has been strengthened yet again…

08 June 2022, 11:41
Cycling UK says employers must do more to encourage active travel to work

Cycling UK is marking Bike Week by telling employers that they must do more to encourage active travel.

According to research published this week by YouGov on behalf of the cycling charity, 43 percent of young people (that’s anyone aged between 18 and 24, unfortunately for me) are considering changing their method of travel due to expected increases in transport costs.

And Cycling UK thinks that removing barriers which currently prevent people cycling to work will benefit both employers and their staff.

Of those 18 to 24 year olds surveyed who don’t currently ride to work, 37 percent said that they would be more likely to do so if their workplace offered improved facilities, such as bike storage and lockers.

36 percent said they’d be more likely to cycle to work if their employer offered financial help to purchase a bike, while 29 percent would be persuaded by a cycle to work scheme.

“People should be considering cycling as a cost-effective way to commute shorter journeys,” says Cycling UK’s chief executive Sarah Mitchell.

“The upfront investment, even with e-cycles, soon pays for itself when you consider how much you are saving at the petrol pump.

“However, there are still lingering perceived barriers to cycling, and employers can play a key role in making it a realistic and practical option for their staff.

“It’s a win-win solution; companies can attract the best young talent while enjoying better staff retention and productivity. At the same time, it eases the financial burden on workers, who no longer need to pay to go to the gym yet will feel happier and healthier.”

08 June 2022, 10:57
Spanish great Julio Jiménez dies in car crash

Julio Jiménez, one of the great climbers of the 1960s, died this morning after the vehicle he was in crashed into a wall. He was 87.

Known as the ‘The Watchmaker of Avila’, Jiménez – who along with Federico Bahamontes defined an era of world-class Spanish climbers – won the mountains classification at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España three times each, as well as five Tour stages.

One of his stage wins in France, on the Puy de Dôme in 1964, was the scene of Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor’s legendary shoulder-to-shoulder battle further down the climb’s savage slopes.

Jiménez, who rode for the likes of Bic and KAS during his decade-long career, was also a consistent winner at the Giro d’Italia and his home Vuelta, and in 1967 he finished second overall at the Tour de France behind Frenchman Roger Pingeon.

During that year’s ill-fated Tour, Jiménez led a small group containing Poulidor and Britain’s Tom Simpson onto the wooded lower slopes of Mont Ventoux, where Simpson would tragically collapse and die near the mountain’s barren summit.

Carlos Garcia, the President of the Provincial Council of Avila, said in a statement: “His record speaks for itself to classify him as one of the greats of cycling in a few years in which cycling was forged as a heroic and exciting sport.

“The memory of Julio Jimenez, training and competing in the mountain passes of the province of Avila will be perpetual and will be an example for current and future generations of cyclists that this land has always given.”

08 June 2022, 10:46
Pro cycling graffiti

I wonder if RCS will be taking any notes for next year’s Giro train…

08 June 2022, 10:05
POLL – Should the Tour de France move its final stage from Paris?

SuperSurvey

08 June 2022, 07:58
When tweets go wrong: Halfords’ “what’s more fuel-efficient” question backfires dramatically

As avid readers of the live blog (I’m sure they exist somewhere) will know, Cycling Twitter can be a pretty unforgiving place for the unsuspecting social media admin.

One slip of the finger or dodgy victim-blaming road safety campaign, and you’ll be hearing about in the comments and QTs for a few weeks at least.

But surely Halfords – a retailer involved in the cycling industry for over a century – would know better than to poke the online bear with an ill-judged tweet about cars… during Bike Week as well?

Apparently not…

The replies – and there were a lot of them – were predictably and brilliantly to the point:

But, of course, there’s always one (or two):

 Ah, the joys and perils of social media…

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.

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