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“Culture of recklessness” has developed on roads, says minister – as cyclists slam government inaction; Are dockless hire bikes a “nuisance” in cities?; Could new driving eye test make cycling safer?; Remco and Wout to Bora rumours + more on the live blog

Snow is falling, the road racing season is underway, and Ryan Mallon’s back with more wintery cycling news and views on the Tuesday live blog

SUMMARY

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16 January 2024, 17:17
Guinness truck on cycle lane, Dublin
“Culture of recklessness” has developed on roads, says minister – as cycling campaigners point out government’s “willingness” to ignore road safety issues

With the number of deaths on Ireland’s roads in 2024 already rising to ten at the weekend, the country’s Minister of State with responsibility for road safety has claimed that a “culture of recklessness” has developed among motorists.

Two people were killed in collisions at the weekend, with three people killed in separate incidents on 5 January alone, RTÉ reports. These deaths follow the worst year for road safety in almost a decade, with the Road Safety Authority recording that 184 people were killed on Irish roads in 2023, a 19 increase on the previous year.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, government minister Jack Chambers said that a significant number of motorists are ignoring the law and refusing to slow down, while also continuing to drive while drunk, following his commitment to introduce fast-track legislation that will focus on “life-saver offences”.

> Hit-and-run driver admits being high and drunk before leaving cyclist with severed foot in "unforgivable and incomprehensible" collision

He said the legislation, which will be introduced over the coming months, “will allow local authorities to conduct speed limit reviews and to reset the framework of speed limits that will make a more consistent approach to speed limits on local and rural roads”.

Chambers also promised that road users who commit multiple offences at the same time will soon face two sets of penalty points instead of one, while mandatory drug testing will soon take place at the scene of all collisions and “anomalies addressed in the courts recently” will be reformed.

> Bereaved partner of rising cycling star killed in collision warns roads are "like a war zone" for cyclists

Along the new strengthened legislation, retired road safety officer Mick Finnegan said driver education was key to reducing danger on the roads.

“I think the education side is vital. The Road Safety Authority has education officers who are doing great work. They probably need more of them,” he said.

“The number one killer is speeding without a shadow of a doubt. Speeding is the main cause of all fatalities and accidents in the country. Followed by not wearing a seat belt, the use of mobile phones while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and fatigue.”

Following Chambers’ pledge to clamp down on dangerous drivers, campaigners and cyclists in Ireland were quick to point out what they believe to be the government’s inaction when it comes to road safety in recent years.

“A culture of recklessness has been ALLOWED to develop… There you go, Jack Chambers, fixed that for you,” the Safe Cycling Ireland campaign’s account wrote on Twitter.

“It’s been fostered by an inability to grasp the nettle and introduce what might be viewed as unpopular measures such as average speed cameras,” they continued.

> Cyclist deliberately rammed by laughing driver “blown away” by public support

Meanwhile, cyclist Stephen argued that Ireland’s culture of recklessness on the roads was down to “chronic underinvestment” in the Garda’s Roads Policing branch – with the number of roads policing personnel falling by 47 over the past year – and the government’s “willingness to ignore the issues”.

“The lack of metro, segregated cycling infra, bus connections, etc. promotes our car usage,” Stephen continued. “All levers the government controls, but chooses not to.”

“Exactly – a quite deliberate ‘allowing’ of recklessness to build up by less than effective detection/enforcement,” added Mike. “Far too much focus on ‘appealing’/’encouraging’ of drivers to do better.”

> "There's a fear of being bullied": Cyclists don't feel "recognised" by other road users, says transport expert

However, not everyone disgruntled with the government’s delayed action on road safety approached it in the same manner.

According to Éamonn, for example, the Irish government’s belated desire to tackle road danger is simply “another push to take privately owned cars. They will reduce speed limits to make driving even harder.”

And you thought reading the replies to road safety posts from UK-based social media accounts was hard work…

16 January 2024, 16:55
Specialized’s Class of 2024 or the cast of the latest Netflix period drama?

And our own VecchioJo has even come up with a title for what would certainly be the most binge-worthy show of 2024: ‘Intrigue and ReVenge’.

Alright, that’s enough cycling internet for the day…

16 January 2024, 16:23
nextbike glasgow - via nextbike on twitter
Glaswegians on low incomes encouraged to cycle with free bike share memberships

People in Glasgow who are struggling with the cost of transport are being offered free memberships for the city’s shared bike scheme, with a total of 100 one-year OVO Bikes memberships set to be given away by the national shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK).

The initiative, offered by CoMoUK in partnership with charity Bike for Good, aims to help people access sustainable transport options such as Glasgow’s OVO Bikes scheme, while reducing transport poverty and improving health and wellbeing in the process.

People on low incomes or who have difficulty accessing other forms of public transport are encouraged to apply for one of the memberships by filling in an online form provided by CoMoUK. To ensure there are no barriers to applications, bank details will not be required.

Those whose applications are approved will be given login details for the bike hire app, with their membership entitling them to unlimited free hour-long bike rides for a year.

“Glasgow’s bike share scheme has been a great success but there will be thousands of people across the city who have never used it,” Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK, said in a statement.

“By offering year-long free memberships, we hope to give people who have not considered making cycling their main mode of transport a great reason to try it out.

“With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis putting intense pressure on household budgets, there has never been a better time to give bike sharing a go. As well as being good for people’s health, such schemes are also good for Glasgow and the planet, as they dramatically reduce congestion on our roads as well as carbon emissions.”

16 January 2024, 15:56
Edvald Boasson Hagen secures late move to Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale as part of Sam Bennett’s lead out

More cycling transfer news now, and in a welcome boost for Sam Bennett following Danny van Poppel’s rather cutting appraisal of the Irish sprinter at the Tour Down Under, Norwegian all-rounder Edvald Boasson Hagen has signed a late deal with Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale, where he will slot into Bennett’s lead-out train.

The 36-year-old, who turned pro back in 2006, spent the last three seasons with Total Energies but entered 2024 without a team, after telling Eurosport that he was unwilling to race for the minimum wage offers he had received earlier in the winter.

Once touted as a potential generational all-round talent, especially during his barnstorming days as a youngster at Columbia-HTC, Boasson Hagen ultimately failed to live up to that early billing but has still managed to secure 81 pro victories, including three stages at the Tour de France, during stints with Team Sky and Dimension Data.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by edvaldbh (@edvaldbh)

And with a wealth of experience behind him, the new-look Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale team will be hoping he can go out with a bang at the French squad, while also helping to revitalise the career of another fading star in Bennett.

“Edvald has great experience and has achieved many successes. I have been following him since he was an amateur where he was already one step ahead of the other competitors,” team boss Vincent Lavenu said when announcing Boasson Hagen’s arrival.

“[The signing’s] mission is very clear: it strengthens the classics group. His experience will be valuable in placing our leaders at the right time but also during the mass sprints where he will be able to lead Sam Bennett’s train in the last kilometres of the race.”

The Norwegian also said he was “really happy” to join a “very solid team” that is “part of the history of cycling”.

“I joined the group two days ago for the second training camp in Spain. It’s an opportunity for me to meet my teammates, the staff and discover my new equipment,” he said.

“I am coming to strengthen the spring classics group with the aim of serving the team in order to achieve the best possible results. I also want to pass on all my experience to the younger riders and achieve one last professional victory.”

16 January 2024, 15:12
Wout van Aert, 2023 world road race championships, Glasgow (Thomas Maheux/SWpix.com)
Are Red Bull-backed Bora-Hansgrohe set to make a sensational double move for Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel?

It’s been just two weeks since energy drinks company and all-round marketing powerhouse Red Bull acquired a 51 percent stake in Bora-Hansgrohe – a move that promises to double the German squad’s €25 million annual budget and vault it into the cycling’s elite stratosphere of Tour de France-winning outfits – the wheels are already beginning to slowly turn when it comes to the new-look team’s grand plans.

According to German sports media outlet Kicker, Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert are top of Red Bull’s list of transfer targets for the 2025 season.

And while the prospect of Bora acquiring the two Belgian superstars, especially over the course of the same winter, would have appeared highly dubious even a month ago, Red Bull’s takeover of the team’s parent company (expected to be ratified later this month by the Austrian anti-trust authority) has already thrown the cat among the pigeons of pro cycling’s hierarchy.

The two marquee arrivals mooted in the German press also happen to make a lot of sense. Van Aert, of course, has been a Red Bull-sponsored athlete since 2018, sporting the brand’s distinctive colours and logo on his helmet on both the road and the ‘cross field.

Evenepoel at 2023 Giro d'Italia (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

(Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

Meanwhile, Evenepoel has a longstanding relationship with Bora’s bike supplier Specialized and, according to Kicker, has been earmarked as the long-term successor to new signing Primož Roglič (a move that was rumoured to have itself been bankrolled by Red Bull) as the team’s primary GC contender in the grand tours.

There is one spanner in the seemingly smooth works, however – both Van Aert and Evenepoel’s contracts run until 2026. But, with the funds expected to be at the team’s disposal courtesy of Red Bull, as well as the opportunity to offload some of the 20 riders out of contract with the team at the end of the year, that shouldn’t be much of a problem, especially in today’s more transfer fee-friendly cycling world.

Whether these rumours end up proving true remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Red Bull’s arrival on the scene looks set to shake up cycling, and leave the sport’s dominant teams, UAE Team Emirates and Visma-Lease a Bike, glancing anxiously over their shoulders.

16 January 2024, 14:41
2024 Scott Foil RC Team dsm-firmenich PostNL bike
Scott Sports receives £140m loan from owner, as high inventory levels continue to plague bike industry

As high inventory levels continue to tie up even the most profitable sections of the cycling industry at the moment, bike manufacturer Scott has received an almost £140 million loan from its owner, South Korean clothing firm Youngone.

Youngone, which manufactures clothing for global outdoor brands such as North Face and Patagonia, holds a more than 50 percent stake in Scott, with the Swiss cycling company set to use the funds to back its business operation. According to Youngone’s financial statement, Scott recorded a net profit of £36.6 million in 2023, up 26 percent on the previous year.

However, the Korea Economic Daily also reports that Youngone is currently facing a legal conflict with Scott’s founder and current second-largest shareholder Beat Zaugg, after the Korean firm requested an arbitration by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in 2022, following an alleged breach of Scott’s shareholders’ agreement by Zaugg.

16 January 2024, 14:07
Scam victims warn cyclists of component and groupset deals on Facebook Marketplace

Cyclists have once again raised the alarm about scammers using component and groupset deals to take large sums of money from unsuspecting victims shopping on Facebook Marketplace for a good deal.

As with other cases in the past, the scammers used a profile, often a stolen identity, before accepting payment for cycling components or a groupset via PayPal’s friends and family service rather than paying for an item or service, sometimes under the guise of avoiding fees, but ultimately to ensure payments are not covered by PayPal’s Purchase Protection.

2023 Basso Diamante Disc Ultegra Di2 - front mech.jpg

Read more: > Scam victims warn cyclists of component and groupset deals on Facebook Marketplace

16 January 2024, 09:07
Lime e-bike
Are hire bikes – and a lack of docking stations – causing a “nuisance” in cities? Cyclists call for “better regulation” as Lime Bikes branded a “menace clogging up pavements”

Over the weekend, Lime Bikes – and the issues surrounding the e-bike hire company’s ‘virtual’ docking system – were once again thrust into the spotlight, and the national press (and no, I don’t mean because Fulham full back Kenny Tete was pictured riding one), with both the Guardian, the Times, and the Telegraph all publishing lengthy think pieces on the pros and cons of the ubiquitous green bikes and their apparent status as a “menace” on Britain’s streets.

While noting the success of bike hire schemes across the country in recent years, the Times also pointed out that ”anger is growing” at e-bikes that “have encountered widespread opposition because of the thoughtless way they are often strewn across pavements at the end of a ride. Pictures of badly parked machines have become a staple of social media.”

In the Guardian, the tone was much the same. “As Lime’s e-bike service has grown,” writes Stuart McGurk, “so have the problems associated with it. Its cycles are left strewn across pavements. Bikes have fallen on to parked cars, causing hundreds of pounds’ worth of damage. One was photographed in a tree.

“Are [Lime] bikes a convenient and sustainable form of transport or a menace clogging up pavements?”

Lime bike on a pavement (Unsplash)

> Wandsworth says it may start impounding Lime e-bikes if pavement parking isn’t tackled

And in the Telegraph, perhaps unsurprisingly, the tone was just as harsh – though the journalist responsible did also note the “profitable and eco-friendly” characteristics of bike hire schemes.

“Of the many plagues currently blighting Britain, dockless cycle schemes are among the most bizarre,” the Telegraph’s article begins. “Who would have guessed that in 2024, one of the many hazards facing parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users, and blind people would be an infestation of lithium-powered e-bikes?”

The dockless nature of Lime’s bikes – which allows users to drop off and pick up their bikes anywhere, rather than from a designation docking station used by the likes of Santander – was heavily criticised in the articles by Sarah Gayton, a campaigner for the National Federation of the Blind.

“We want dockless bikes to be taken off the road. They can have as much technology as they want, they can send people out to retrieve them, but once that bike is dumped on a pavement, it becomes a hazard to the visually impaired. This model does not work,” she said.

Lime bikes Hounslow (@DynamacRtm/Twitter)

> Lime hire scheme under fire as residents claim e-bikes "deliberately" left in "dangerous places"

This criticism of Lime’s dockless approach is nothing new, and has been covered quite a few times over the years on road.cc and our sister site ebiketips.

Last July, residents of the west London borough of Hounslow spoke about what they claim were Lime e-bikes being “deliberately” left in “dangerous places”, as some locals called for the trial of the bike hire scheme to be paused immediately, arguing that it was only a matter of time before “somebody gets killed”.

The previous December, we also reported on the blog that one London cyclist had been given a ‘parking ticket’ for leaving a Lime bike in a car parking pay.

> TikTok videos showing how to hack Lime bikes result in them being "dumped with impunity" says council

When we contacted Lime at the time, they said users need to “park like your gran is watching” and should “never leave your e-bike in a way that obstructs the pavement or could create an access issue for pedestrians, including those with disabilities or access needs”.

However, a photo sent to us by a reader at the weekend – perhaps inspired by the surge of publicity in the national press – demonstrates quite clearly that Lime’s advice remains largely unheeded.

Lime Bikes at London Bridge pedestrian crossing (Robert Smith)

The photo, sent to us by Robert Smith, shows the unmistakable green machines left clustered around a pedestrian crossing at London Bridge. Which, unless they’re actually all waiting to cross the road themselves, isn’t the best look for the tech brand.

“I regularly commute to work on my bike and hire bikes are also a good idea but not having designated docking stations causes nuisance. Needs to be better regulation,” Robert said.

What do you think? Do the pros of dockless hire bikes outweigh the cons? And is “better regulation” the way forward? Or is just a healthy dose of common sense when it comes to parking your bike required?

16 January 2024, 13:45
Jayco-Alula meets Full Metal Jacket (kind of)

Ah, I missed this uniquely pro cycling (by which I mean uniquely naff) brand of social media ‘bantz’ during the off-season… Well, at least they didn’t reference Crocodile Dundee this time.

16 January 2024, 13:21
Forget your Emmys and your FIFA XIs – these are the awards everyone’s talking about this week
16 January 2024, 12:52
hi-viz-cyclist-c2a9-simon-macmichael
Is cycling set to become safer? New eye test could take 17 million drivers off the road, as experts predict introduction of compulsory and regular sight tests in dark conditions

When the ‘cyclists wearing hi-vis’ debate pops off – as it does almost every week during the winter, thanks to the ill-advised safety advice of police social media admins – one thought invariably springs to mind: If cyclists are always told to make themselves visible at night by wearing fifty shades of fluoro, what precautions are motorists taking to make sure they can see us in the dark?

Well, that very question may soon be answered, as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has indicated that it is planning to review how sight tests are administered this year, by introducing a more reliable eye test that could, according to one agency, take 17 million drivers off the road.

The current eye test requires motorists to be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away in good daylight, with examiners not permitted to check eyesight before sunrise or after sunset, or because of bad weather. But according to the DVSA’s 2023/24 business plan, a public consultation found potential problems with how the eyesight test is performed, including the lack of different light levels.

The DVSA is now engaging with a DVLA Medical Panel to consider introducing a more accurate eye test which meets more stringent standards, potentially scrapping the good daylight rule to make sure that drivers’ eyesight is good enough at all times.

Night riding 3

While the new test – that would also focus on dark and fading night vision – is yet to be confirmed, car leasing company LeaseCar.uk predicts that compulsory and regular eyesight tests in dark conditions could soon be introduced this year, which the DVSA hopes will make all journeys safer.

“The skills needed to drive in the dark are different from those needed in daylight, which means more people than ever could see their licences revoked if they fail a potentially new eyesight test,” LeaseCar’s Tim Alcock said in a statement.

“The skills needed to drive in the dark are different from those needed in daylight, which means more people than ever could see their licences revoked if they fail a potentially new eyesight test.

“A staggering 17 million drivers in the UK admit to having trouble seeing in the dark, which could be a huge problem if this new eyesight test is introduced. We expect they could also take a toll on the number of eligible elderly drivers, who are more likely to have eye conditions and fading night vision.”

What do you think? Could this new potential new nighttime eye test make things safer on the road for cyclists, and help move the focus on visibility at night away from hi-vis cycling tops?

16 January 2024, 12:27
The solution to London’s bike parking problem?
16 January 2024, 11:55
Quinn Simmons, 2023 Tour de France (Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)
“It will have changed no safety at all, it just makes it more uncomfortable for me”: Quinn Simmons criticises new UCI brake lever angle rules, and claims governing body is overlooking factors that make cycling “too dangerous”

The UCI’s recent decision to clamp down on the increasingly popular use of tilted-in brake levers within the peloton, a move the governing body insists is based on safety concerns, has already been described as “bullshit” by aero aficionado Victor Campenaerts, who claimed the ambiguity currently surrounding what the UCI loosely termed the “extreme inward inclination of brake levers” will simply prompt riders to seek out loopholes to achieve a similar, super narrow position.

And now, speaking at the Tour Down Under – where commissaires were spotted at the women’s race wielding a flimsy-looking 3D printed device while poking around riders’ handlebars – Lidl-Trek’s Quinn Simmons has joined Campenaerts in his criticism of the new regulations, with the divisive American arguing that the UCI should instead focus on other aspects of rider safety that make the sport “over the limit” when it comes to danger.

“First of all, I’m very for anything that increases safety,” Simmons, a long-time devotee of the turned-in lever position, told GCN in Australia.

“It’s ridiculous how dangerous our sport is and I think it’s actually over the limit, just the sport in general. It’s too dangerous and we need to change things.

“I think something like this, it’s not really the place that will change so much. It’s the dangerous finishes and the dangerous courses that organisers get away with that causes the crashes. Also, riders doing stupid stuff.”

Quinn Simmons, 2023 Tour de France (Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

 (Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

The 22-year-old continued: “It will have changed no safety at all now that my levers are three centimetres out, it just makes it more uncomfortable for me. But in the end, it’s the new rule and we have to play along by the rules of our sport.

“At least now, the super extreme ones will be gone. I just hope that if you’re one-degree off or something they don’t start doing something stupid. If they just enforce the really crazy ones, then it’s okay.”

However, despite Campenaerts and Simmons’ criticism of the new rule, other pros – such as Israel-Premier Tech’s Kiwi climber George Bennett – are in favour of the change.

George Bennett, 2023 Tour Down Under (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

Bennett descends during last year’s Tour Down Under (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

“I think it’s a good rule. I think it was getting more and more and more extreme. You started seeing guys riding with one little pinkie wrapped around the bars and you can’t react if someone brakes in front of you,” Bennett said, before referencing a crash at last year’s Tour Down Under.

“I saw last year, as a good example, in this race, first stage, where there was a crash and a guy came in like five seconds later and clipped them all from behind because he couldn’t get to his brakes because they were basically pointing inwards. If no one’s allowed to do it, we’re all at the same advantage and it’s just safe for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Visma-Lease a Bike’s experienced Dutchman Robert Gesink – who’s seen more than a few ‘extreme’ things during his 18-odd years in the peloton – also backed the rule, but did note the method of measuring bar angles could be improved.

“I think in general it’s a good decision because we saw some quite extreme settings. Obviously, those things are designed to be able to brake and control your bike and if it leads to less safe situations then it’s a good thing that there are measures being put,” the 37-year-old said.

“Now we saw the first times of those measurements being done. I’m not sure if that’s a finalised way of measuring yet, it looked quite clumsy with a plastic tool that left quite some range still. But definitely it’s a good first step to check it.”

16 January 2024, 11:38
‘Ah, but can you do it on a freezing Tuesday morning in January?’ Yes, obviously
16 January 2024, 11:23
“Pedestrians and motorists north of the border are on the happy pills because half-crazed two-wheeled commuters are making them anxious”

Ah yes, I was eagerly awaiting the column in the Times on ‘How to turn a positive story on active travel and mental health into a crazed anti-cycling rant’…

London cyclists at traffic lights (copyright Britishcycling.org_.uk).jpg

> Times newspaper columnist reports new study that commuting by bike is good for mental health... before descending into bizarre anti-cyclist rant about “speeding, semi-psychotic masses” 

16 January 2024, 10:54
Danny van Poppel, 2023 Tour of Britain (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)
“I was waiting for a fast sprinter”: Lead-out supremo Danny van Poppel offers savage analysis of Sam Bennett as “New Sam” Welsford opens Bora account at Tour Down Under

Speaking of Bora-Hansgrohe’s flawless transition between its two sprinting Sam eras, the German squad’s lead-out star Danny van Poppel offered a, shall we say, rather blunt assessment of Tour de France green jersey winner Bennett’s frustrating second stint at the team, after newbie Welsford quickly made his mark on the opening Tanunda stage of the Tour Down Under today (try saying that after a few beers).

“We did the lead-out often last year but with [Sam] Bennett it didn’t turn out well,” Van Poppel, who is quickly establishing himself as the new Renshaw or Mørkøv of the peloton, said after today’s win.

“New Sam is a powerhouse. He’s a totally different type of sprinter to Bennett – I was waiting for a fast sprinter.

“Sam Bennett is a good friend of mine, but in the end it’s business and we want to win.”

Ouch. With friends like that…

Though I think we should chalk Van Poppel’s savage analysis of Bennett’s late-career dip down to some classic Dutch directness, and a typical ‘win at all costs’ sprinter mentality.

Nevertheless, Van Poppel explained why 27-year-old Australian Welsford (or ‘New Sam’, as I’m sure he loves being called) can make a big mark at Bora this year.

“He has so much power from the track. When we do a lead out like this, guys like Kittel, Greipel, Welsford, they can do it,” Van Poppel said. “Sam’s only been riding in the WorldTour for two years so everything is new to him and he’s still super hungry. He can be the new sprinter with us, it’s a perfect combination I think.”

Welsford also believes that Bora could be on to something with their sprint train this year, and that the confidence derived from today’s Down Under win – a confidence that was noticeably lacking from Decathlon-AG2R-bound Bennett’s inconsistent 2023 – can act as a springboard for the bigger sprint rendezvous later in the season.

“Sprinters feed off confidence and the only time you can get that is with a good result,” the Tour Down Under leader said.

“For us to get that first win of the season as a team, first race together, is a good sign to see what we can do together. We did a training camp in Mallorca where we did a couple of simulation efforts but you don’t need too much training when you’ve got Danny van Poppel and Ryan Mullen and all the boys in front of you. They’re pretty special.”

Let’s just hope Mullen told his old mate Bennett to avoid the cycling media for a day or two, or else a big competitive Dutchman will have some explaining to do…

16 January 2024, 10:12
“Now please excuse me whilst I go and die of heatstroke in a corner”: Bora-Hansgrohe usher in the New Sam era, as Welsford sprints to first Tour Down Under stage after perfectly executed lead-out

Meet the new Sam, same as the old Sam… Except maybe a touch faster.

With Sam Bennett departing for Decathlon-AG2R over the winter, Bora-Hansgrohe’s new fast-finishing signing, 27-year-old Australian sprinter Sam Welsford – or Sam 2.0 – didn’t take long to slot perfectly into the German team’s finely tuned lead-out train, taking the first sprint opportunity of the year on today’s opening stage of the Tour Down Under.

On a swelteringly hot day in the Barossa Valley wine country, Welsford – who joined Bora at the start of 2024 after two years with Team DSM – took advantage of the inch-perfect lead-out offered to him by Ryan Mullen and the flying Danny Van Poppel to hold off the late-charging Phil Bauhaus and Biniam Girmay for the victory in Tanunda.  

“That was crazy, I am at a loss for words. The boys kept calm and stayed patient and wow, they did an amazing job,” Welsford said at the finish.

“Look at this team here, they’re probably the strongest team on paper. I am happy to pay it off for them they did so much for me.”

While he appeared calm on the surface as he lined the bunch out in preparation for Welsford and Van Poppel’s final charge, former Irish champion Mullen was perhaps just as focused on making it to the finish and finding a spot of shade, than he was helping his team to the first men’s WorldTour success of the season.

“Off to a great start here at the Tour Down Under. Flawless work by all the boys in the last few kilometres,” a very pale, very un-Aussie Mullen wrote on Twitter after the win.

“Now please excuse me whilst I go and die of heatstroke in a corner.”

With the snow falling this morning back home, I can only imagine what he was going through during the stage…

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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47 comments

Avatar
mattw replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
2 likes

I don't interpret that comment that way.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to mattw | 4 months ago
2 likes

mattw wrote:

I don't interpret that comment that way.

That's fine, how do you interpret it? Why the mention of "VulnerableRoadUser" at all? It appears to me to be saying "you're given extra protected status and in return you should obey the law." Everyone should obey the law regardless of status in the hierarchy, from cyclist to HGV, the mention that cyclists are classed as vulnerable seems extraneous at best to me.

Avatar
Steve K replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
1 like

Rendel Harris wrote:

mattw wrote:

I don't interpret that comment that way.

That's fine, how do you interpret it? Why the mention of "VulnerableRoadUser" at all? It appears to me to be saying "you're given extra protected status and in return you should obey the law." Everyone should obey the law regardless of status in the hierarchy, from cyclist to HGV, the mention that cyclists are classed as vulnerable seems extraneous at best to me.

And, also, it appears to be saying "if you don't obey the law, other road users don't have to treat you as a vulnerable road user".  They should not have run the red light - but the fact that they did does not then make it acceptable (for example) for a driver to close pass them a km further down the road.

Avatar
squired | 4 months ago
4 likes

My biggest issue with things like Lime bikes is that as I understand it there is a per-minute charge to use them (after the fixed initial fee).  In central London you see people on them powering through red lights, but in a sense you can't blame them because every minute they are sat at Bank junction (as an example), it is costing them money.

Avatar
NickSprink | 4 months ago
5 likes

I agree, lime bikes scattered everywhere.  I work in the heart of London, they are usually parked badly.  Often I see them parked perpendicular to the road across most if not all of the pavement in a very busy touristy area, just causes chaos.

The only good thing is the sense of satisfaction I get when I overtake one going up hill in my suit on my Brompton smiley

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Bmblbzzz replied to NickSprink | 4 months ago
2 likes

The RNIB quote saying "get them off the roads"... No! Get them on the roads and off the pavements! 

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Matthew Acton-Varian | 4 months ago
2 likes

Having recently spent a brief amount of time in Birmingham and Manchester city centres, even docked hire e-bikes can be left stupidly. Admittedly, there are a lot less of them, but it still makes an annoyance when trying to walk an extremely curious and inattentive 5 year old through a narrow gap caused by an abandonment.

For all the positives they offer, the idiots that use them have no incentive to be respectful or to follow any guidelines. It's an attitude problem that seems to be ingrained in to society. You can't pin much blame on the company behind the hire scheme as they have no control over end user's decisions but the pitfalls were always inevitable with such a concept.

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brooksby replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 4 months ago
2 likes

I've just reported one of Bristol's dockless hire bikes (Westbike/Tier), which has been abandoned by a bus stop on the A369 for over a week now (outside the hire bike zone of operation).

(I had to email them  - they have an online chatbot but you can't proceed unless you can provide the bike's registration number, which I didn't have)

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the little onion replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 4 months ago
9 likes

The companies bear a responsibility because their business model relies on public space for storage of their assets.

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brooksby replied to the little onion | 4 months ago
3 likes

the little onion wrote:

The companies bear a responsibility because their business model relies on public space for storage of their assets.

Does that fall under the Tragedy of the Commons, again?

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the little onion replied to brooksby | 4 months ago
6 likes

A Commons is a regulated system. This is about companies making money, but relying on there not being any kind of regulation.

 

We allow other companies to use the public space of pavements all the time for storage and use of their assets (cafes who lay out tables in the street, A-framed advertising boards). But they are all regulated and enforced. These companies like Lime are just freeloaders.

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chrisonabike replied to the little onion | 4 months ago
7 likes

Quite right!  Imagine if everyone was storing their private vehicle in public spaces!

(Still not convinced that bike hire systems without designated lock-up areas - and ideally with humans monitoring these - are much more than subsidy / advertising revenue hoovers.  Popular with local authorities though as a way of saying "we're doing something" and possibly compensating for poor / absent buses or tram service.)

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Patrick9-32 replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
5 likes

chrisonabike wrote:

Quite right!  Imagine if everyone was storing their private vehicle in public spaces!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/646896312/street-parking-is-theft-shirt-for...

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Brauchsel replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 4 months ago
3 likes

Matthew Acton-Varian wrote:

the idiots that use them have no incentive to be respectful or to follow any guidelines. It's an attitude problem that seems to be ingrained in to society. You can't pin much blame on the company behind the hire scheme as they have no control over end user's decisions

The companies behind the hire schemes have access to the idiots that use them's bank accounts. 

The companies could be fined for bikes parked inconsiderately, or outside designated spaces, and the companies could recoup those fines from the idiots who parked them. 

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andystow replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 4 months ago
1 like

I like the availability of dockless (or docked) share bikes when I visit other cities. I've used them in Chicago, Denver, Portland (Oregon), and Louisville (Kentucky) at least.

I like that they get more people on bikes so that drivers get used to seeing them.

However, I agree that many users park them with no consideration for pedestrians. I often move them around when I see them parked badly.

They also have got silly expensive. On my last trip to Denver my wife and I spent a couple of hundred dollars each over 4-5 days. It would have been cheaper to pay to fly our own bikes there and back.

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ROOTminus1 replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 4 months ago
5 likes

The industry sector was borne out of venture capitalists looking for new ways to amass user data, and scammy companies looking to cream as much cash from said funding bodies as possible.
https://road.cc/content/news/227559-why-are-investors-pouring-millions-c...
How was it ever going to result in a reasonable public service?

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chrisonabike replied to ROOTminus1 | 4 months ago
1 like

Yep.  Think it's telling that the longer-lived / wider coverage schemes are tend towards the Dutch model in having drop-off locations and being partners with a (local) authority - bit like how bus operations often work.

Dutch model - "properly integrated with public transport" e.g. NL's OV Fiets.  Essentially a "last mile" walking accelerator addition to the railways - plus a few other other transit hubs.

For the next rank see Citi BikeBoris Bikes, NextBike etc.

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