Today’s hilly Giro stage passes through stunning Basilicata to end in Potenza, where Danilo Hondo won in 2001. pic.twitter.com/eokMoZCVCU
— Graham Watson (@grahamwatson10) May 13, 2022
Modern pro cycling is great and all, but sometimes I hark back to the mid-2000s, the days of Gerolsteiner, Milram, and almost daily reports of doping in the peloton…
Well, here’s a story for all you perverse nostalgia merchants out there, as Danilo Hondo – the former sprinter/classics man and Telekom, Tinkoff, Lampre and Radioshack alum – has received an eight year suspension for blood doping in connection with the Operation Aderlass investigation.
However, because Hondo gave his full co-operation to the investigators, five and a half years of his ban have been suspended and the other two and a half backdated to September 2019. So, there you go.
Operation Aderlass first hit the headlines in February 2019 when a number of arrests were made at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Austria following admissions made by cross-country skier Johannes Dürr that he was blood doped by German sports doctor Mark Schmidt, who worked for Gerolsteiner and Milram during the 2000s.
The investigation – centring on a blood doping ring run by Schmidt and involving 23 athletes from eight countries – subsequently hit the cycling world, when former Aqua Blue Sport rider Stefan Denifl confessed to blood doping under Schmidt’s supervision.
Several elite cyclists have since been sanctioned, of which the highest profile is the Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi – winner of Milan-San Remo and the points jersey at all three Grand Tours, who also performed lead out duties for former rival Mark Cavendish late in his career – who received a two-year ban in 2019.
Kristijan Durasek, Kristijan Koren, Borut Božič, Georg Preidler and Denifl have also been banned, while former Swiss pro Pirmin Lang left the team he founded after admitting his involvement.
Last year Schmidt was jailed for four years and 10 months by a Munich court after being found guilty of 24 counts of using doping methods and two counts of prohibited use of drugs.
In May 2019, Hondo confessed to blood doping between late 2011 and early 2013, around ten years after his best results as a pro (including two stages of the 2001 Giro d’Italia) during one of cycling’s murkiest eras , and eight years after he was initially banned for doping in 2005.
Earlier today we reported that the guide for the RideLondon sportive revealed that a safety car will travel at the head of the event, at the extremely controversial speed of 22mph, with organisers calling on participants to “ride safely – it’s not a race!”
Needless to say, RideLondon’s new speed limit has divided readers (ah, I remember the day when I would have been angry about a 22mph cap – ‘twas a glorious week).
So, here’s a selection of some of your comments:
Ride London is not a race. It's not a race against the clock either.
My training rides are not races either, but I still like to push my capacity to ride quicker and stronger. I can do that on an open road, so the benefit and joy of riding on closed safe roads, is to not stop at junctions and ride to my limits. It is also the chance to ride quickly in groups which I don't enjoy on open roads and for someone who avoids racing.
A closed road event should allow people to ride in a manner that they enjoy/feel tested by.
If the organisers said there was a car at the back maintaining a minimum speed that would be equally ridiculous.
I'm a heavy rider and have never been fast. And yet, a few years back I averaged 20mph for the entire run back from the Leatherhead to the Mall. It isn't supposed to be a race, fine, and having a 'safety car' would make sense if it was checking that the roads were indeed closed, but the speed seems needlessly low.
So what are they trying to achieve here? The people starting in waves an hour after the start will go as fast as they like; there won't be a car in front of every wave. All you'll achieve is to have a peloton of hundreds of riders following the car by halfway around, which will inevitably cause accidents as no-one other than category racers are used to riding at speed in that sort of group.
This has clearly been decided on by someone that is unfamiliar with cycling events and unaware of what actual safety issues there are in a cycling event.
This will create a huge clump of riders packed tightly at the front behind the car as faster people move up through the more inexperienced people with nowhere to go. This is really dangerous.
I'm considering starting up the Association of British Cyclists - the people complaining about speed restrictions for safety reasons will be my first point of call. Happy to give a discount to all those who want to be able to go as fast as they want in Ride London with no thought as to the consequences of their demands.
The problem is the safety car is not going to stop the cyclists further back doing 25-27mph in a bunch of slower riders, and will just piss off the ones who would start first complete on an average of 25mph. And the car is doing 22mph for the whole course, so what happens on a downhill?
I've got no problem with this as long as they did it before taking the large amount of money from you for participating in the event.
I doubt I'd have troubled the limit too much, but plenty would have and now are understandably peed off. No, it's not a race but people are trained to ride at different speeds and as long as they are safe there is no problem.
By the way, yes we all have seen d*ckheds riding like d*ckheads on these sportives many times before. They are a very small minority and this won’t stop them, in fact it will enable them to catch the faster riders and potentially cause problems.
Hopefully these fears will be unfounded having said all that. My problem is simply that they have said this now and not when they were taking people’s money.
If you want to race enter a race. Number on back not bars. Simple.
If you want to ride fast on closed roads but racing isn't your thing, enter a closed road sportive. Simple. Or it should be...
So what do you think? Are RideLondon’s organisers right to impose a speed limit at the head of the event?
This has your name at the top @jacobfarr31 you might want to reconsider what you've written here considering the video is quite obviously sped up. What you've written is not a reflection of what actually happened https://t.co/4idfvdYKbq
— Andy Arthur 💃🏰🦌 (@cocteautriplets) May 13, 2022
A bit of a strange one, this, if I’m honest…
Edinburgh Live has been criticised by cyclists on Twitter for publishing an article which claimed that a cyclist “raced” through a roundabout “without giving way to the traffic on their right”, causing them to “narrowly miss a black BMW who is forced to slow down and is almost brought to a halt to avoid a collision”.
According to the article’s author, the footage (which can be viewed below in its original format on TikTok, which – be warned – includes a sweary audio track) “shows the cyclist getting themselves into a precarious position”.
Even if we disregard this highly questionable interpretation of the ‘incident’ – the original video, posted on TikTok, clearly shows the cyclist looking to their right before entering the roundabout, before the BMW driver (who, though it’s impossible to tell, appears to have approached the roundabout after the cyclist gave way) commits a close pass on the exit – the article was also criticised online for including a “sped up” version of the video.
Yes, that’s right. The edited video which appeared on Edinburgh Live’s site appeared to have been sped up at the moment the cyclist entered the roundabout, which added to the sense that the cyclist “raced” through the junction, as the article claims.
It’s not clear who was behind the doctored footage, though the speed of the video has been corrected on Edinburgh Live’s article.
The article was heavily criticised on Twitter, with many cyclists claiming that it misrepresented the footage to paint a less than flattering depiction of cyclists in the city.
Andy Arthur claimed the article defended the BMW driver “who is at fault here” and was evidence of “victim blaming on the part of the cyclist”:
👎 "getting themselves into a precarious position. They don't, the BMW driver does that.
👎"narrowly miss a black BMW". They don't. It is the black BMW which narrowly misses them.
You also overlook every single dangerous manoeuvre made by the BMW. This wasn't "as seen".
— Andy Arthur 💃🏰🦌 (@cocteautriplets) May 13, 2022
Accusing a cyclist of "getting themself into a precarious position" is akin to women being accused of "getting themselves pregnant".
— Stuart Pendous (@Stuartpendous) May 13, 2022
It must be noted that while many Twitter users claimed that the original TikTok footage appears to show the person who filmed the footage singing an inflammatory song about cyclists, the audio featured in the video was later added in from an external source (not that that casts the poster in a more favourable light of course).
The article’s author Jacob Farr defended the piece, claiming he had “no desire to stoke any conflict”:
Quoting your comments?
Absolutely no issue at the time until this pile on.
We covered cyclists concerns in the article.
We reported the above video as we saw it.
No desire to stoke any conflict.
Sound was removed and commented on in the article.
Have a good day.
— Jacob Farr (@Jacobfarr31) May 13, 2022
That defence, predictably, didn’t go down too well…
"No desire to stoke any conflict."
Then why was the headline not 'Edinburgh driver involved in dangerous near miss with cyclist at roundabout'?
I know that roundabout well, and the BMW driver had plenty of opportunity to make a series of safe manoeuvres, but chose not to.
— Rebecca Taylor (@talloplanic) May 13, 2022
"We reported the above video as we saw it."
What video did you watch? Because it must have been a different one to the one you included in the article - maybe that's the reason the story is a complete contradiction to the evidence?
— Steve 🇵🇸 (@Lollercake) May 13, 2022
The article is full of misrepresentations Jacob. You have not commented on the video being sped up. You make repeated claims about what the cyclist did. They're all wrong. Your response is poor here. You wrote it. It's verifiably wrong. Own it.
— Andy Arthur 💃🏰🦌 (@cocteautriplets) May 13, 2022
Another win 🏅 for @EddieDunbar - denied the stage victory at the death but an aggressive display sees him take on Tour of Hungary and win it overall.
Winning from the front with great confidence; really backing himself to do the damage ⚡️⚡️
A Dan Martin-style performance today!! pic.twitter.com/nEH22R433s
— StickyBottle.com 💚 🚲 (@sticky_bottle) May 15, 2022
Away from the Giro, yesterday’s final stage of the Tour of Hungary saw Eddie Dunbar continue his fine run of form in 2022 by taking the overall victory, despite being pipped at the line for the stage win by Trek-Segafredo’s Antonio Tiberi.
The win in Hungary was the 25-year-old Irishman’s second GC victory of the season, after he took the first stage race of his career at March’s Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, and follows the Ineos Grenadiers’ decision to leave Dunbar out of their Giro line-up, in favour of Ben Tulett.
Since signing for what was then Team Sky in September 2018 after the demise of Aqua Blue Sport, Eddie has only ridden one grand tour for the British squad – at the 2019 Giro d’Italia, where he finished 22nd on GC, the team’s second-highest placed finisher.
“It’s another step in the right direction,” the climber said after his win in Hungary. “The last four days went really good.
“I was hoping to do the Giro d’Italia this season, but coming back from that disappointment I stayed on it and I kept my condition good. To come here and leave with a GC victory is good for me and the team.”
As GCN’s stats man Cillian Kelly pointed out, Dunbar is the only Ineos rider in the past three years to win more than one stage race in a season.
Number of riders in the past 3 years who have won more than one stage race in a year for Ineos Grenadiers: 1
— Cillian Kelly (@irishpeloton) May 15, 2022
Which begs the question: what will it take for Eddie to be selected for a grand tour?
By the looks of things, it might take a transfer to BikeExchange-Jayco for the clearly talented Dunbar to realise his grand tour aspirations.
The Australian team are reportedly interested in signing the Irish climber, whose contract runs out at the end of 2022, though Jumbo-Visma and EF Education-EasyPost are also reportedly in the running.
Wherever he ends up, let’s hope Dunbar gets a few more chances at the highest level than he has had during his time at Ineos.
My legs hurt just thinking about this…
Provisional new RRA record
North Coast 500 Circuit
Women's solo record
36 hours 39 mins 07 sec
Stirling BCj pic.twitter.com/AwEHMifeu8
— Road Records Association (@RRA_GB) May 14, 2022
Over the weekend, Scottish adventure cyclist Christina Mackenzie set a new women’s solo record for the North Coast 500 route.
Mackenzie, who last year set a new Land’s End to John O’Groats record, completed the 516-mile journey around the Scottish Highlands in 36 hours, 39 minutes and seven seconds, beating the previous best time by two hours, according to the Roads Records Association.
The Stirling-based endurance athlete’s ride wasn’t without incident, however, as she narrowly avoided about a dozen deer who ventured into the road in the middle of the night.
Mackenzie was also forced to climb Bealach na Ba, one of Britain’s truly great cycling climbs, awarded 11/10 in difficulty and described as the “holy grail” by hills aficionado Simon Warren, with gradients reaching 20 percent during its gruelling five miles.
All that during a non-stop 37-hour ride, while getting battered by crosswinds? Ouch.
“Let's just say I wanted to get off my bike and put it back in the van because it was just awful,” Mackenzie said after her mammoth ride.
“Climbing up there were cross winds. Once I got to the top, I don't know how I managed to stay upright, I was getting blown from side to side.”
Despite the pain, the Lewis-born rider has another record in her pocket and, more importantly, raised money for charity Alzheimer Scotland, in memory of her mother Elizabeth, who died in 2014.
More of this, please…
This weekend, over 75.000 children and adults in 200 cities took to the streets in the largest #KidicalMass.
They demand child-friendly streets!
— Cycling Professor 🚲 (@fietsprofessor) May 16, 2022
— Algorhythmical (@Algorhythmica1) May 15, 2022
24-seconds of goodness. Spotted on Heaton Road, Newcastle. pic.twitter.com/1SEJt1OY8c
— Carlton Reid (@carltonreid) May 14, 2022
— ldnmoves (@ldnmoves) May 15, 2022
Norwich did Kidical Mass proud! 50+ smiling faces in the sunshine! ☀️
Every one of them sending a message that we need safe cycling infrastructure to make this a reality every day pic.twitter.com/azctM7BysV
— TallBikeGuy (@theTallBikeGuy) May 14, 2022
It's odd* how Edinburgh has such a persistent cycling culture despite the lack of a cycling network. Yesterday's #KidicalMass was probably the biggest in the UK even though the infrastructure just isn't there - lots of people who wanted to join didn't feel safe crossing the city.
— Charlotte Maddix (@cwmaddix) May 16, 2022
Though less of this kind of thing would be great as well, at least as a start…
In a wonderful example of the importance of cycle safety and the need for properly segregated cycle lanes, a van was parked in the cycle path as Bristol’s Kidical Mass bike ride made its way through the centre this afternoon pic.twitter.com/yfnKOFlYO2
— Martin Booth (@beardedjourno) May 14, 2022
Apologies in advance – this will be my one and only Eurovision-themed post today.
Though I can’t make any promises…
Cycling twitter Eurovision twitter
RAI having broadcasting problems#Eurovision
— Matej Klinc (@Klino88) May 14, 2022
PSA. For reasons unknown, cycling Twitter is a riot of glorious fun on Eurovision nights, don’t press mute, you’ll be missing out. https://t.co/QUqIzXbymB
— Journal Velo (@JournalVelo) May 14, 2022
Saturday night was great, though.
Even the live blog’s resident Eurovision sceptic Dan would have to admit that (he assures me he didn’t watch it, and says he just "looked up the result". Yeah right).
The retired pro is clearly embracing his new position as a devastatingly cutting social media personality…
Something which you absolutely did not say in 2009/2010
— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) May 15, 2022
😢 Rest day: we know what it feels like
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 16, 2022
Another Monday, another rest day at the Giro d’Italia, when cycling fans everywhere are left with nothing but their own thoughts for roughly 43 hours… Scary, I know.
But at least after stage six’s soporific “action” on the way to Scalea, we were treated to a long weekend of proper racing – and not to mention a terrifically Italian (and by that I mean brilliantly chaotic) edition of the Eurovision Song Contest…
After an equally chaotic and thrilling start to Friday’s stage seven, Koen Bouwman took the biggest win of his career in Potenza, with a little help from his Jumbo-Visma super-domestique – and former Giro winner – Tom Dumoulin.
Saturday’s mini-world championships in and around Naples, meanwhile, saw Mathieu van der Poel being, well, Mathieu van der Poel, tearing every cycling rule book to shreds with his non-stop attacking on the series of twisting, technical circuits.
— Cycling Memes (@Cycling_Memes1) May 14, 2022
But despite MVDP and his new sidekick Biniam Girmay’s best efforts, it was that old fox Thomas De Gendt who took the stage from the breakaway and – most importantly – built up an impressive lead in the Tour De Gendt over namesake Aimé.
While some (including De Gendt himself) heralded the Belgian’s victory as a return to winning ways after a barren spell spent hunting down breakaways on the front of the peloton, such an assessment is relatively unfair on a rider who won a stage of Catalunya just last year.
I gained a lot of doubters this year. People that doubted my ability to still win races but today i silenced my biggest doubter. Myself. I didn’t believe that i still had this in my legs but today i proved myself wrong.
— Thomas De Gendt (@DeGendtThomas) May 14, 2022
Yesterday’s stage to the summit of Blockhaus (named by a nineteenth-century Austrian commander, just so you know, the scene of Eddy Merckx’s emergence as a grand tour phenomenon, just so you know) finally saw the GC battle spring to life.
Unfortunately for British cycling fans, the 13-kilometre brute of a climb also saw the end of Simon Yates’ maglia rosa hopes for 2022, as the BikeExchange-Jayco rider – knee heavily bandaged after a fall earlier this week – dropped off the pace almost immediately as the road veered skywards.
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) May 15, 2022
Yates wasn’t the only big name who suffered due to the attritional pace set by Ineos and UAE, as Hugh Carthy, Wilco Kelderman and home favourite Giulio Ciccone saw their GC hopes go up in smoke in the Apennines.
The stage was thus set for a race-winning move by 2019 Giro winner Richard Carapaz, but the Ineos rider could only bring the ominously strong-looking pair of Romain Bardet and Mikel Landa with him, both men riding like it was 2015 all over again on the slopes of Blockhaus.
Jai Hindley, 39-year-old Domenico Pozzovivo (who was without a team only three months ago before Intermarché snapped him up), and the battling João Almeida managed to claw their way back to the dithering trio, with 2020 Giro runner-up Hindley taking the win ahead of Bardet and Carapaz after a pulsating sprint to the line.
🏆 JAI HINDLEY WINS THE BLOCKHAUS STAGE! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/yBxHwE7ppM
— BORA – hansgrohe (@BORAhansgrohe) May 15, 2022
Even more dramatically, Juan Pedro López held on to the maglia rosa by just 12 seconds, losing only 1:46 after arguably the most impressive ride of the 24-year-old’s life.
A clearly emotional López – who has the chance to keep the pink jersey for much of the Giro’s second week – also admitted to the television interviewer after the stage that he threw a bottle at Jumbo-Visma’s Sam Oomen following a spot of argy-bargy early on the climb.
I know many of you have heard about @juanpelopez97 for the first time at this Giro. I know him well and It says a lot about Juanpe when the first thing he does is apologise publicly to @SamOomen visibly emotional #Giro pic.twitter.com/Ttnj8xhAiq
— Laura Meseguer (@Laura_Meseguer) May 15, 2022
Found it at 16,9 km to go. It happens at the black vehicle on the right. Too bad it is an airshot so zooming in makes the quality go really bad 👇 pic.twitter.com/uWHNzKnw1U
— Debby 🖤💛 (@Debby_Drckx) May 15, 2022
What’s the Giro without some drama, eh? The organisers decided not to dock López any time following his apologetic admission, keeping his 2004 Thomas Voeckler-esque stint in pink alive for a while longer yet.
And the drama looks set to continue next week, and possibly beyond. As there was no definitive knockout blow on Blockhaus, the GC battle looks remarkably wide open, with eight riders all within a minute of pink, and another four (which includes the seemingly indefatigable old-timer Alejandro Valverde, who, along with the soon-to-be-retired Vincenzo Nibali, looked impressive on Sunday) within 90 seconds.
Now hurry up rest day, so we can get back to the racing…
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 16, 2022
This morning, as you may already have read, we reported that councils across England are set to share £200 million of government money aimed at encouraging cycling and walking initiatives, with 134 active travel projects set to receive funding through the scheme.
In Wales, however, a government minister has claimed that some councils are not interested in bidding for funding for new cycling and walking routes.
Lee Waters, Wales’ deputy minister for climate change, made the claim as the devolved government announced the allocation of its £50 million active travel fund.
While schemes in Cardiff and Swansea are set to receive around £6 million each to either continue or create new cycling and walking routes, some councils – such as in Wrexham, Neath Port Talbot, Gwynedd, Denbighshire and Caerphilly – will only receive a “core allocation” of £500,000, the minimum amount of funding that can secured from the scheme.
“The truth is, some counties are more interested in this agenda than others,” Waters told the BBC, while speaking at an event in Cardiff organised by cycling charity Pedal Power, where he called on local authorities to “take action now” against climate change.
“Some counties don't put bids in. Others, like Cardiff, put enormous bids in – and there is an unevenness.
“I'm quite happy to fund ambitious councils like Cardiff who want to do the right thing and put infrastructure in. I can't worry too much if another council does not put another bid in, in the short term.
“One of the conversations I'm having with councils is: ‘How do we help them overcome the barriers they have?’
“Some councillors aren't putting bids in because they can't get the staff to put the bids in and to build the schemes.
“Others aren't putting it in, because frankly they are not interested.
“That needs to change, and it needs to be challenged both by the Welsh government, and also by local people.”
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.