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Snood or no snood? Specialized’s aero balaclava divides opinion; “Roads are not for leisure purposes”, says driver; G's gilet; Bahrain Victorious fallout continues; Tadej the Twitter troll; Seven-year-old to ride London to Paris + more on the live blog

I think there might be something happening this afternoon, but I can’t quite put my finger on it… Anyway, Ryan Mallon’s here to take you into the weekend – and whatever else is going on – with Friday’s live blog
01 July 2022, 15:32
Vlasoc snood Tour de France 2022 (GCN)
Snood or no snood? Specialized’s aero balaclava divides opinion

Even more than the rainy, treacherous conditions, the online chatter around today’s opening time trial of the Tour de France has been dominated by Specialized’s latest aero development – the, errr… snood.

According to Specialized, the balaclava is designed to smooth airflow around and through the brand’s helmets (including their new 1950s astronaut-style TT5 lid modelled by a few riders in Copenhagen), by flattening the ears, hair and shape of the rider’s head.

Florian Senechal 2022 Tour de Frane (GCN)

Either that, or Peter Sagan and Kasper Asgreen will be breaking into the Danmarks Nationalbank later this evening…

What do you reckon? Would you rock up to a club ten dressed like Samir Nasri in his Arsenal days? Or would you be happy to take the aero hit for the sake of your dignity?

supersurvey

01 July 2022, 16:33
“Roads are not for leisure purposes”: Motorist says roads through Richmond Park are “essential” for drivers after close pass

An anti-cycling bingo gem here, as one especially articulate driver – responding to a video of a close pass in Richmond Park – claims that cyclists should avoiding riding through parks as they’re “not for leisure purposes”.

Let’s just say that that rather unique viewpoint didn’t go down too well…

01 July 2022, 15:57
Thomas rides opening TT... with his gilet on

For all the talk about aero gains, snoods and fancy skinsuits in the run up to the Tour, 2018 winner Geraint Thomas rode today's time trial... with his gilet on.

The Welshman - and all of his Ineos team - failed to notice that Thomas (sporting one of his squad's eye-catching new TT visors) was still dressed for his warm up when he took to the start ramp, with the 36-year-old only realising that he was overdressed once he was under way.

"The legs were good, it's just a shame about the start of it," he said at the finish. "And that bl-, that blinking gilet.

"Because I zipped it up, it was all nice and snug, I totally forgot I had it on. And nobody spotted it either at the start.

"Ugh, that was cracking me a bit as well. I did think about taking it off, but that would have been a bit dodgy. It's one of them... but the main thing is that the legs were good."

Remarkably, Thomas currently sits in the top 20, only 30 seconds down on surprise leader Yves Lampaert, who - ahem - pulled his socks up to usurp Wout van Aert...

Yves Lampaert's socks, Tour de France stage one (GCN)
01 July 2022, 14:45
Bahrain Victorious update (again): Almost 500 capsules of brown and white content seized

“But that’s just how I store my tea and milk. Nothing to see here guv’nor.”

01 July 2022, 14:18
Disaster for "Bambi on ice" Bissegger

Nightmare for EF Education-EasyPost's Stefan Bissegger, one of the pre-race favourites for today's opening time trial, falling not once but twice in treacherous conditions around Copenhagen...

Bisegger blog comment

 Ooops.

01 July 2022, 14:02
Bioracer Ganna Measurement
TT Tech: Ganna guns for glory in “supersonic” skinsuit, while Specialized opt for the paramilitary look… Oh wait, not that kind of balaclava

After all the talk about Ineos and Filippo Ganna’s ‘marginal flaps’ skinsuit last month, the British team’s kit supplier Bioracer has revealed that the world time trial champion will be wearing a “supersonic” TT suit at the Tour, featuring strategically placed seams and stemming from 300 hours of wind tunnel testing.

“Each suit is custom made, sized to the individual athlete's body,” says Bioracer. “This also applies to Ganna's time trial suit. His suit was fully customized to his physique, personal preferences and race position. In his case, that means a custom-made suit with a front zipper and no leg grippers, both for his personal comfort.

“Welding and taping the seams instead of classically stitching them, as well as strategically placing them, avoids even the smallest turbulence that could have a negative impact on its aerodynamics. In addition, a smooth fabric surface is applied on the back and sleeves, unlike what we often see in the peloton. The underlying reason, of course, cannot be disclosed.”

Meanwhile, the teams sponsored by Specialized – TotalEnergies, Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl and Bora-Hansgrohe – have opted for this fetching aero balaclava look, effectively taking a rider’s ears out of the aerodynamic equation (at the expense of all style and integrity):

According to Robbie McEwen, EF’s Stefan Bissegger is also aiming to one-up his rivals by riding a frankly ridiculous 64-tooth big ring. Now that’s what you call a dinner plate… Maybe the kind of one you’d only find at an all-you-can-eat restaurant…

In any case, all the measurements, aero testing and calculations (alright, Sean Kelly) are now over. Here we go!

01 July 2022, 13:41
Balsamo wins stage one of 2022 Giro Donne (via GCN)
Balsamo pips Vos at Giro Donne

World champion Elisa Balsamo pipped Marianne Vos to the line in a thrilling sprint finish to stage two of the Giro d’Italia Donne in Tortolì.

The stage win, Balsamo’s first at her home grand tour, is also enough to lift the 24-year-old into the maglia rosa after she finished third in the prologue, six seconds behind winner Kristen Faulkner.

Jumbo-Visma’s Vos, a three-time Giro winner with 30 stages already under her belt at the Italian stage race, looked set to add to her collection, bursting out of the peloton with 250 metres to go.

But after a sensational lead out from Balsamo’s Trek-Segafredo teammate and Paris-Roubaix winner Elisa Longo Borghini, the world champion just managed to overhaul the Dutchwoman right at the line – winning by less than half a wheel – to add a pink jersey to go along with her rainbow one.

01 July 2022, 13:21
A hard rain’s a-gonna fall…

Eeeesh.

Some Düsseldorf 2017 vibes here, which isn’t great. Let’s hope it dries up a bit in the 40 minutes before the riders take to the course…

01 July 2022, 13:05
Rupert Brooke - seven year old to ride London to Paris (Children's Bereavement Centre)
Seven-year-old to ride London to Paris for charity

A seven-year-old boy is set to emulate the Tour de France peloton by riding to Paris this July, as he takes on the 200 miles between London and the French capital to help a charity that supported him after his father died.

Rupert Brooke, from Leicestershire, has already raised almost £20,000 for the Children’s Bereavement Centre, which helped following the death of his father Tom in a work accident in 2019.

“I was only four and it was difficult for me to understand that I would never see him again, that he was never coming back. Nothing was ever the same again and my life was changed forever,” he says.

Rupert plans to start his ride on 6 July, and the charity reckons he will be among the youngest ever cyclists to take on London to Paris.

The seven-year-old says the 200-mile ride will be a “massive challenge” but “I want to raise money for the Children’s Bereavement Centre so that they can help more people like Mummy and me. 

“Riding my bike reminds me of my short time with my Daddy… Together we can raise the money whilst also making more memories in memory of my Daddy.”

Kate Baxter, CEO of the Children’s Bereavement Centre, told the BBC: “We are absolutely thrilled Rupert has decided to support the Children's Bereavement Centre by taking on this amazing challenge.

“It's an achievement for anyone to cycle 200 miles from London to Paris but for a seven-year-old boy, as far we are aware the youngest known person to cycle this route, to take on this epic journey is incredible.

“Rupert is a real inspiration.”

You can donate to Rupert’s JustGiving page this link.

01 July 2022, 11:43
Europol release photos of Bahrain Victorious raids

Europol has released photographs taken at the raids on the Bahrain Victorious team hotel and at properties belonging to team riders and staff this week. 

Bahrain Victorious raids (Europol)

 The law enforcement agency also confirmed that searches had been carried out across a total of 14 locations in France, Belgium, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Poland and Slovenia, as well as in Copenhagen, as part of an investigation into “possible doping allegations of a cycling team participating in the Tour de France”.

Bahrain Victorious raids 2 (Europol)

 Three people have been interrogated, while the investigation continues as the seized evidence is forensically examined.

Bahrain Victorious raids 3 (Europol)

 

01 July 2022, 11:24
Classic Badger…
01 July 2022, 11:11
2022 Pinarello Bolide TT Filippo Ganna - 2
POLL: Who’ll take the first yellow jersey of the 2022 Tour de France?

So, with just over three hours before B&B Hotels-KTM’s Jérémy Lecroq rolls down the start ramp and gets the 2022 edition of the Tour de France underway, it’s time to put your money where your keyboards are.

Who do you think will win today’s 13.2-kilometre time trial around Copenhagen?

As you may have noticed in our Tour preview piece, all of us (even road rookie Suvi!) plumped for Top Ganna to take the honours on his first ever stage of the Grande Boucle.

But you can never rule out Wout van Aert on a time trial of any distance, while Stefan Küng (who put in a brilliant ride throughout the Tour de Suisse but left some of his legs behind for the final TT), Mathieu van der Poel, home hero Mads Pedersen and, of course, the two overall favourites, Pog and Rog, all stand a chance of unseating the machine-like Italian if things go their way.

For those of you planning to sneak in some Tour viewing while at work, remember to be on the ball, as all of those riders mentioned above take to the road in the first 65 minutes of today’s proceedings, with Pogačar, Ganna and Van Aert heading off back to back during a particularly tasty three minute segment just after 4pm.

Over to you…

Super Survey

01 July 2022, 10:48
Wait for it… More prosecco shenanigans at the Giro Donne

Of course, the men’s Tour de France isn’t the only bike racing going on this week.

The opening stage of the Giro d’Italia Donne – which, until this year was the only true grand tour on the women’s side of the sport – took place yesterday, as the riders tackled a blink-and-you’d-miss-it 4.7km prologue around the streets of Cagliari.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco’s Kristen Faulkner – so strong on the way to second place at the recent Tour de Suisse – donned the race’s first maglia rosa after beating teammate Georgia Baker by four seconds, while world road race champion Elisa Balsamo took advantage of her sprinting speed on the way to third.

Elisa Longo Borghini and Annemiek van Vleuten, two of the big favourites for this year’s Giro Donne (the ten-day race having returned to the WorldTour for 2022 after being demoted last year for failing to meet the UCI’s organisational standards), ended up on the same time, nine seconds down on Faulkner.

However, some drama was spared for the podium celebrations where, after Biniam Girmay’s prosecco cork to the eye mishap at the men’s Giro in May, onlookers are a tad more wary than usual.

After a bit of a struggle with the bottles (causing some to hold their breath), it turns out that Faulkner and co. needn’t have worried:

Well, that’s certainly one way of avoiding any podium-related injuries…

01 July 2022, 09:54
Tadej the Twitter troll strikes again

You’d think a two-time Tour de France winner would have better things to do the evening before he begins the defence of his title than troll a retired pro on Twitter…

Well, think again.

After posting some photos of baby Pog racing in Slovenia back in the day (which, let’s face it, was sometime in the late 2000s or early 2010s), Tadej Pogačar then proceeded to playfully roast Ireland’s Liège and Lombardia winner Dan Martin for being the ripe old age of… 35. Dan did start it though, to be fair.

Ah, 23-year-olds on the internet, what are they like? 

The Poginator also marked the Tour’s Grand Depart today by unveiling a brand-new website, where “true fans” can publicly declare their undying love for the Slovenian superstar by buying some Pog-themed t-shirts that come in a range of colours from white and grey to… a slightly darker grey.

Well at least there are no NFTs… yet.

01 July 2022, 09:27
Hunt Wheels Carbon Dynamo 700c -1.jpg
The Rider Firm, owner of Hunt Wheels, secures seven-digit investment from Santander

The Rider Firm, the UK-based e-retailer and owner of Hunt Wheels, Cairn Cycles e-bikes and Privateer mountain bikes, has received a significant investment from Santander which aims to help the company increase sales in the UK and US.

According to bikebiz, the bank’s investment, the exact details of which have not been disclosed, will allow the company to expand their marketing (including professional sponsorship and social media activity) and hire 20 new staff this year at its West Sussex headquarters and US subsidiary in Colorado.

The Rider Firm will also use the funding to research the use of recycled material in its products, as well as attempting to gain B Corp Certification, an industry standard for sustainability and responsible business practice.

“The whole team at The Rider Firm have worked hard to serve riders by developing the best available performance cycling products,” says Peter Marchment, who founded the company alongside his brother Tom in 2013.

“With Santander UK as our funding partner, we are well positioned to grow our direct-to-consumer led business and serve more riders in our core UK and US markets and expand into Europe. We are very grateful for the tremendous support of both Santander UK and Gambit Corporate Finance in this process.”

01 July 2022, 08:49
Is there something going on in Copenhagen today?

Irish author Marian Keyes here, enjoying the sights, sounds, closed roads and fully booked restaurants of a Tour de France Grand Depart…

01 July 2022, 08:27
Damiano Caruso 2021 Giro d'Italia (CorVos, SWpix)
Electronic devices and medicines seized by police during Bahrain Victorious raids

I know, I know – another day, another story about the ongoing anti-doping investigation swirling around the tight-lipped Bahrain Victorious team (I’ll move on to something else soon, I promise).

After the squad, led by Damiano Caruso, Jack Haig and Matej Mohorič (and also featuring British rider Fred Wright), announced yesterday that nothing had been seized by police in an early morning raid on the team’s hotel in Copenhagen, a pre-Tour press conference in the afternoon was swiftly and abruptly curtailed after Haig, Mohorič and performance manager Vladimir Miholjević refused to answer any questions about the investigation.

Reports then circulated in the French media last night alleging that medical products and electronic devices had been seized during a series of raids on Bahrain Victorious members’ homes on Monday, including those of three riders (one of which was Caruso, the Italian himself has since confirmed), a manager, the osteopath and a team doctor.

According to leparisien.fr, the Marseille public prosecutor’s office – who led the initial investigation after raiding the team’s Pau hotel at last year’s Tour – specified that material had been taken in Italy, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia and Denmark.

The prosecutor’s office stated that the items include “electronic equipment (telephones, computers, hard drives) and medicines whose nature and origin are still unknown. All items seized will be further investigated and analysed.”

Drug raids, medical products seized, press conferences abruptly ended, a lack of transparency, and a Tour build up dominated by the doping question – it’s like it’s 2007 all over again…

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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