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“He loves an excuse”: Remco Evenepoel slammed by fans for blaming defeat on being forced to ride savage final climb in big ring; A Brompton bike vs the National Cycle Network; Sportswashing and sprinters at the UAE Tour + more on the live blog

The days are getting longer, it’s lovely, bright cycling weather, and Ryan Mallon’s spending his Monday keeping you updated with all the latest cycling news and views. How selfless of him…

SUMMARY

19 February 2024, 10:06
Remco Evenepoel (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)
“Need to add that one to the book of excuses”: Remco Evenepoel slammed after Volta ao Algarve winner blames stage defeat on being forced to ride final savage climb in big ring – as fans say “sometimes you have to give kudos to the winner”

With his debut Tour de France on the horizon this July, and expectations high for a heavyweight GC battle with Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar, it’s fair to say that Remco Evenepoel’s start to 2024 couldn’t have gone much better.

After a trademark 55km solo victory Figueira Champions Classic, the world time trial champion demonstrated why he’s currently the best in the world against the clock, blowing away the likes of Magnus Sheffield, Stefan Küng, Filippo Ganna, and a rather sluggish Wout van Aert to dominate the ultimately decisive 22km time trial at the Volta ao Algarve on Saturday.

Despite two defeats to a rapid Dani Martínez on the Volta’s two summit finishes (the second of which we’ll get on to in a minute), and a flurry of attacks on yesterday’s final stage, that heavy TT win – courtesy of a monster 62-tooth front ring – proved enough for Evenepoel to secure his third overall victory of his career at the Portuguese stage race.

But, as ever, the always entertainingly divisive 24-year-old has attracted some controversy on social media – not for his domineering performances on the bike, but for his comments in front of a microphone off it, after the Belgian blamed his second successive summit defeat to Martínez on being forced to ride the notoriously steep slopes of the Alto do Malhão in the big ring following a late mechanical.

“I had to do it in my 54 chainring. I had a mechanical problem and couldn’t shift into my small gear anymore,” Evenepoel said after finishing second on yesterday’s iconic Volta ao Algarve stage.

“That was a pity because doing a climb that goes close to 20 per cent was pretty difficult. It killed my legs a bit.

“In my head, I stayed quite calm. I said it to the car ‘my gears weren’t working anymore’. It’s a shame because I’m a guy who likes to ride on a high cadence. In the first part, it really killed my legs and it was just a bit less in the end because of a lot of loss of power, due to the gear mechanical. That’s life. There are worse things.”

Remco Evenepoel after winning 2024 Volta ao Algarve (Discovery+)

Now, we’ve all been there. For instance, I’ve lost track of the number of times I blamed an subpar performance on a shipped chain, a slow puncture, a bee sting, a weird tree distracting me when the decisive move went up the road… I could go on.

And while those (mostly) fabricated excuses always elicited a raised eyebrow and a smirk from my teammates, this is Remco, after all, so the reaction is a touch more severe online.

“God bless him!” wrote popular cycling account Mihai Simion after hearing of Remco’s mechanical troubles on the Alto do Malhão.

“He loves an excuse,” said Tony.

“I knew he was gonna give an excuse. Sometimes you have to give kudos the winner,” added Sharif, while Joe wrote: “He has an excuse every time he gets beaten. Tired of that.”

“Need to add that one to the book of excuses,” wrote Christopher.

“2024 and same old Mr Excuse,” added another Twitter user (you can see where this is going).

Rigo couldn’t [change gear] too back om stage nine of the 2017 Tour de France and was still able to win the stage,” pointed out Lalo, presumably a massive Rigoberto Urán fan.

“Come on Remco, you don’t need that bro,” said Cobrax.

“Definitely could’ve won if it was ITT,” wrote Mooiplas. “He must learn to give credit to his opponents.”

Others, meanwhile, leapt to Remco’s defence quicker than a Mikel Landa turn on the front.

“Strange reactions here. Try climbing on the big ring yourself and see how good you do,” said AmBiorix.

“Valid ‘excuse’ in my opinion. He’s just respectfully stating what happened. Gave Kudos to Martinez and WVA in his interview for Sporza too, so what do you want?”

“I don’t know if he would have won, but I think he’s telling the truth. He was pulling a big gear on the last climb and on the images I’ve seen again, he’s on the large chainring in the difficult parts,” argued Yume.

“People immediately talking about excuses, but whether he would have won without it or not, it did look like he was stuck in the big ring, and that would indeed have had a measurable impact,” added Michael.

> Remco Evenepoel splits opinion after refusing to sign kid's jersey thrown at him by dad

Meanwhile, Miyamoto wrote: “I’m team Remco on this, simply stating a fact, suspect it’s often barely contained chaos behind the scenes, he made the best of a bad situation, I like that he reveals what’s going on behind the scenes...”

“I love that even though the haters get mad every time he opens his mouth, Remco still says what he thinks,” says Flower Flower.

And Janis concluded: “Never change Remco, keep those haters hating for just speaking your mind.”

Well, I’ll tell you one thing for sure, Remco’s never not interesting, is he?

19 February 2024, 16:58
Was everything better in 1988?
19 February 2024, 16:19
Baffling cycling-related adverts, Ted Baker edition

So, this just popped up on the road.cc Facebook feed:

Ted Baker cycling advert

Indoor cyclocross with stilettos on a mid-2010s Specialized Tarmac, anyone? No, I don’t understand it either, if I’m honest.

19 February 2024, 15:57
road.cc’s Footballers Who Cycle Transfer News: Is climate conscious Hector Bellerin gunning for Lee Dixon’s right back berth?

Some interesting developments on the Footballers Who Cycle XI front this week, after Real Betis full back Hector Bellerin recently launched a ‘come and get me’ plea to road.cc by extolling the virtues of riding your bike to work (or in his case, the training ground), while working to make football and society that bit greener and fairer.

The flamboyant, smart-dressing former Arsenal player first nailed his colours to the cycling mast back in 2018 when he posted a photo of himself on a Santander bike with the rather pithy caption: “Only Boris I like is the bikes mann”.

And now, after joining Real Betis – one of the Spanish sides leading the way on issues of sustainability and tackling climate change – on a permanent deal last summer, Bellerin has taken a keen interest in the club’s Forever Green initiative, which has included the introduction of electric bikes and scooters for employees.

The 28-year-old, who won three FA Cups and developed a thick North London accent during his nine years at Arsenal, while also buying shares in Forest Green Rovers, cycles to the training ground every day, follows a vegan diet, uses pubic transport, and carefully researches his purchases.

> Footballers who cycle XI — the Premier League stars who love life on two wheels

“For me, sustainability has always been a big thing,” he told the BBC recently.

“It is something I take into account in every single decision in my life and to be part of a football club that is conscious of that, that is trying to put systems in place for fans, for workers, for staff and players too, to make things easier in order to have a greener lifestyle, is important and an inspiration.”

Yes, but has he done enough to nab fellow Arsenal stalwart Lee Dixon’s right back spot in the road.cc XI? Lee does own a Canyon after all…

19 February 2024, 15:29
“UCI-legal (for now)”: A phrase to send shivers down the spine of any bike equipment manufacturer
19 February 2024, 14:57
Tao Geoghegan Hart “not too far off the rhythm” in first race back since Giro d’Italia horror crash

After nine months away from racing, Tao Geoghegan Hart says he is encouraged by his form at the Volta ao Algarve last week, his first race back since breaking his hip in a horror crash on stage 11 of last year’s Giro d’Italia.

The 2020 Giro winner, who joined Lidl-Trek in January after seven years with the Ineos Grenadiers, was able to battle with the best on Algarve’s two summit finishes, finishing seventh on both stages, though was notably off the pace during the race’s 22km time trial, finishing 38th, almost two minutes down on winner Remco Evenepoel.

But the Londoner appears content with his debut in Lidl-Trek colours, as well as his form following so long out with injury.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lidl-Trek (@lidltrek)

“I was feeling better than the last few days but still missing that real big acceleration but it’s not too bad,” Geoghegan Hart told GCN after yesterday’s finish on the Alto do Malhāo.

“I don’t think the GC is really the thing to look at. I passed the week without any issues. I wasn’t too far off on the rhythm. For sure I’m going to take a lot from this because the things that I was missing were the things you really get from racing.

“I wasn’t that far off in those hard, intense moments. I was missing a little bit but that’s normal for the first race of the season.

“I started last year on the front foot with a win and okay I wasn’t close to the win this week but I was in the right ballpark and I’ll take that. There’s no panic by any means. There’s definitely a lot of work to do, most importantly yesterday with the time trial but it’s been a nice week and I’ve been really happy to start with the team.”

The 28-year-old added that his next target will be a week-long WorldTour stage race, with next month’s Tirreno-Adriatico provisionally pencilled in as the next big form and fitness test.

“There are tentative plans but we need to take it step by step and see how I recover,” he said. “For sure it will be one of the week-long WorldTour races. It’s going to be another big step from this in terms of the peloton, speed and level. It was a hard week here but it will be another step to do seven days.”

19 February 2024, 14:17
Cycling’s most beautiful week?

Carlton Kirby, for one, seems to love the expansive, sandy nothingness of the UAE Tour’s helicopter shots – your milage may vary…

19 February 2024, 13:58
Family of pensioner killed in pavement collision with cyclist on “electric bicycle” call for tougher laws to punish riders who kill or cause serious injuries

The bereaved relatives of a pensioner who died in hospital having been struck on a footpath near his Birmingham home by a ‘cyclist’ riding an “electric bike” have called on the government to pass stricter laws for “cyclists who break the law and kill or seriously injure”, as they argue the “current laws offer no deterrent or effective punishment”.

Big Ben © Simon MacMichael

Read more: > Family of pensioner killed in pavement collision with cyclist on “electric bicycle” call for tougher laws to punish riders who kill or cause serious injuries 

19 February 2024, 13:26
“My turban saved my life,” says cyclist, after sliding out on wet road and colliding with car bumper (Jagdeep Singh)
“My turban saved my life,” says cyclist, after sliding out on wet road and colliding with car bumper

Earlier this month, we reported that a team of researchers from Imperial College London and the Sikh Scientists Network found that turbans, while not generally as effective as bike helmets, can in some instances offer “superior” protection to conventional lids in a collision.

And one Buckinghamshire cyclist has backed up these academic findings by asserting that his turban saved his life, after he slid out on a wet road and collided with an oncoming motorists, sliding under his car.

The 44-year-old suffered a serious leg injury in the 2019 crash, but believes his turban – which was covered in mud but stayed intact – “absorbed” most of the impact from the road and prevented a head wound.

The crash was caused by Mr Singh braking sharply on a wet road, causing his back wheel to slide out.

“As I slid underneath the car, my right leg banged into the car bumper causing a very serious injury,” he told the BBC.

“My head also scraped along the ground for a short distance before I collided with the car. I’m sure if I had not been wearing my turban then I would have ended up with a serious head injury. My turban saved my life and I’m still enjoying cycling today.”

CityConnect (via Twitter).jpg

> Turbans can reduce the risk of head injuries in cyclists but not “as effective as helmets”, study finds

As part of their study examining the effectiveness of turbans in collisions, which was published this month in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, the researchers from Imperial College and the Sikh Scientists Network wrapped five different styles of turbans, distinguished by two wrapping styles and two different fabrics with size variation, onto the heads of crash test dummies and subjected them to cycling-style crashes, comparing these injury risk findings with conventional cycle helmets and with bare heads.

They found that turbans greatly reduced the risk of skull fractures in areas covered with a thick layer of fabric compared to bare heads. However, the chief factor affecting the risk of head injury was the style of the turban.

They also found that although the risk of skull fractures and brain injuries was higher with all turbans than conventional bicycle helmets, the risk might be reduced by placing energy absorbing materials between the layers of the fabric, or reducing the friction between the layers of fabric.

Efficacy of turban styles in preventing head injuries in cycling-style crashes

“Overall, while helmets generally offer better performance than turbans, certain turbans displayed comparable or even superior performance in one or more injury metrics,” the team concluded.

“Our findings show that simple Sikh turbans have the potential to mitigate head impacts,” Dr Gurpreet Singh, from the Sikh Scientists Network and Imperial College’s Department of Materials, said.

“This provides important evidence that we hope will point the wider scientific community to invest in the best headgear fabrics to absorb shock, which indeed will open commercial markets to people from all walks of life that deal with concussions and head impacts.”

19 February 2024, 12:47
“Cycling is a team sport, but this is taking it to a new level”: Astana rider gives teammate a ‘croggy’ to the finish after mass crash during UAE Tour sprint

If any non-cycling friend or family member ever queries cycling’s status as a team sport (‘But sure that Bradley Wiggins fella won the Tour on his own, didn’t he?’), just show them this image of Astana rider Michele Gazzoli giving his teammate Harold Tejada and his broken bike a lift (or a ‘croggy’, to use the Yorkshire term) to the finish after the Colombian crashed heavily during today’s sprint at the UAE Tour.

Harold Tejada gets a lift from Astana teammate after UAE Tour crash (Dicovery+)

Heartwarming, life-affirming stuff, eh?

“They’ll probably get a fine from the UCI for that, no doubt,” chipped in Adam Blythe from the Discovery+ studios. Cheers for bringing the mood down, Adam…

19 February 2024, 12:21
Tim Merlier wins opening stage of 2024 UAE Tour (Discovery+)
Tim Merlier survives chaotic, crash-marred finale to take opening stage of the UAE Tour (again)

Tim Merlier certainly enjoys the opening stage of the UAE Tour.

After last year’s stage one victory, by the narrowest of margins, over Caleb Ewan, the big Soudal-Quick Step sprinter enjoyed a much more comfortable win today in Liwa, latching onto a trademark super long sprint by the in-form Fernando Gaviria to power to his third career UAE Tour stage ahead of Tudor’s Arvid de Kleijn and Corratec’s Jakub Mareczko, while A-listers like Fabio Jakobsen and Sam Welsford were forced to settle for fourth and fifth.

It wasn’t a completely benign, peaceful cruise to victory for Merlier, however, who had to navigate a fraught, chaotic finale that featured a bit of barging from a Decathlon-AG2R lead-out rider and a nasty mass crash in the final few hundred metres, caused by a touch of wheels, and which narrowly avoided Mark Cavendish, who was forced to tap his way to the finish, ruefully shaking his head.

Chaotic finish aside, after last year’s “dead heat” fiasco with Ewan I’m sure Merlier will just be happy – as he noted in his post-race interview – to finally have a “nice photo” to sit on the mantelpiece at home.

19 February 2024, 11:59
Heading for the great indoors for a solid, time-efficient workout today? That don’t impress Vecchio ‘Two Sheds’ Jo...

Fancy reading a staunch defence of riding your bike outside, combined with a very serious, extended laceration of indoor turbo training this lunchtime? Well, I have just the opinion piece for you…

> Neither of my bike sheds are ‘pain caves’... and that’s exactly how I like it 

19 February 2024, 11:29
Talk about adding injury to insult: Tobias Johannessen breaks collarbone two days after premature celebration robs him of victory at the Classic Var

It really wasn’t the best of long weekends for Uno-X’s Tobias Johannessen.

Lenny Martinez pips Tobias Johannessen on the line (Eurosport)

The evidently supremely in-form Norwegian committed one of pro cycling’s great faux-pas at the Classic Var on Friday, raising his arms in celebration and sitting up metres before the finish line on Mont Faron, allowing Groupama-FDJ’s Lenny Martinez to nip in for the sneakiest of wins, and leaving his face as bright red as his Uno-X jersey.

Then, after another promising fourth place on the first stage of the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes (the old Tour du Haut-Var), Johannessen crashed on yesterday’s final stage to Vence, breaking his collarbone. Ouch, that might sting more than Friday’s embarrassing premature celebration.

Uno-X confirmed last night that, following the crash, the 24-year-old “has sustained a collarbone fracture, confirmed by X-rays at the hospital in Nice this evening. He is scheduled for a consultation tomorrow with a specialist to decide on the treatment plan. We appreciate your support and well-wishes for Tobias’s swift recovery.”

Johannessen, who unfortunately now has time to stew over his Mont Faron faux-pas, addressed his finish-line cock up on Instagram on Friday night.

“I was the first one to reach the metal bow before the finish line, no one can take that away from me,” he wrote, complete with a laughy face. “No, I feel sorry for my teammates doing a perfect job the whole day just to see me do the thing I really believed I was never going to do.

“But I really thought I celebrated after crossing the line… Just to be clear, the finish line is the blue small thing that you see at the end…”

Well, at least he can take comfort in the fact he’s in good company during his break from racing.

19 February 2024, 11:14
Yikes… Cougar attacks five cyclists in US, as police praise riders for pinning animal down in reaction that “100 per cent saved their friend’s life”

A group of five mountain bikers survived a cougar attack on a trail in Washington state on Saturday, after the animal shot was dead by officers thanks to the cyclists managing to subdue and pin it to the ground using their bikes, a reaction local police described as critical to saving one of the rider’s lives.

A 60-year-old woman suffered serious injuries to her face, neck, and jaw in the attack, but they were later described as non-life-threatening and her condition stable.

Cougar (CC by 2.0/Flickr by Tony Hisgett)

Read more: > Cougar attacks five cyclists in US, as police praise riders for pinning animal down in reaction that “100 per cent saved their friend’s life”

And there we were thinking a few puddles and mud were the worst things you could encounter on an off-road bike route…

19 February 2024, 10:57
Cavendish - UAE Tour Stage 2 (via GCN) 2
Let the sprinters’ world championships commence! Fast twitch fibre feast at the UAE Tour

Long, straight desert roads, the potential for crosswind carnage, a polite smattering of fans at the finish (and barely any at the roadside), an Adam Yates GC win, sportswashing opportunities galore, and, oh, probably the deepest sprinting field of the entire calendar year – that’s right, the UAE Tour gets underway this morning!

And the annual conference of fast men is so stacked, even Ned Boulting couldn’t keep up with it all:

Fans of chaotic finishes, sprint trains, and lots of elbowing, get your streaming device at the ready… 

19 February 2024, 10:14
Brompton on NCN 1 in winter (Chris Glencourse, Twitter)
A Brompton bike vs the National Cycle Network in winter: Clash of the titans

It’s time for another edition of ‘Britain’s unusable cycle routes in winter’, or as I like to call it: ‘National Cycle Network or Muddy Cyclocross Course?’

> "Utterly appalling": Cyclist takes National Cycle Network diversion... gives up after 40 very muddy metres

And, after road.cc reader Hirsute’s “utterly appalling” pre-Christmas ride, we’re taking a trip back to NCN1, courtesy of Brompton rider Chris (who you may remember from a certain foggy ride on the Isle of Man last year), who decided to thoroughly test the capabilities of his folding bike against… errr, the country’s network of dedicated cycle routes?

Well, at least the whole thing wasn’t completely underwater. That’s something, right?

Bath Two Tunnels cycle route flooding (Alan Yeodal, Twitter)

> “I can’t help but feel that the response would have been much swifter if it had been a road”: Cyclists bemoan flooded bike routes – and delayed response from authorities – as Storm Henk hits UK

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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17 comments

Avatar
mattw | 4 months ago
2 likes

Strangely incomplete Telegraph story, under a "killer cyclist" headline. Has anyone seen many "killer driver" headlines there?

Fails to mention that the cyclist could potentially be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Nor how many involved in such accidents have gone to prison in recent years.
 

Avatar
Rome73 | 4 months ago
4 likes

"Cougar attacks five cyclists in US". I misunderstood that headline for a second.  3 

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cmedred | 5 months ago
5 likes

It seems hard to believe that the friends and family of someone killed in a collision would want a cyclist who causes a pedestrian's death to "be treated in the same way as any other road accident.'' Do they not know how many motorists who kill pedestrians or cyclists walk away with little punishment? Do they not realize how few collisions, almost none in fact, are "accidents?'' There is invariably human error or inattention or both involved, and way too often the killers walk because, well, the "sun was in their eyes.''

Avatar
mattsccm | 5 months ago
0 likes

Does not RE remind you of another Belgian wunderkind? VDB.

Avatar
dubwise | 5 months ago
0 likes

With regards to Evenepoel, will this BS be called out whenever someone blames missing out on a win due to a mechanical?

He's not the first and certainly won't be the last.

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eburtthebike | 5 months ago
0 likes

“My turban saved my life,”.....

Oh dear, is this going to start a trend, like all the "helmet saved my life" stories, despite being patently untrue.

Avatar
ROOTminus1 replied to eburtthebike | 5 months ago
4 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

“My turban saved my life,”.....

Oh dear, is this going to start a trend, like all the "helmet saved my life" stories, despite being patently untrue.

"The impact probably wasn't life-threatening, but my headgear partially reduced the harm received" doesn't quite have the same ring to it

Avatar
quiff replied to eburtthebike | 5 months ago
2 likes

I thought of you while reading the "police say mountain bikers 100% saved friend's life in cougar attack" story burt 

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to quiff | 4 months ago
0 likes

quiff wrote:

I thought of you while reading the "police say mountain bikers 100% saved friend's life in cougar attack" story burt 

But were they wearing helmets?

Avatar
ROOTminus1 | 5 months ago
3 likes

Every preventable loss of life is tragic, but sadly the grieving family of Mr Douglas need to understand that they are not alone in their negligent treatment by Police and CPS. Significantly more bereaved relatives of pedestrians and cyclists killed at the hands of motorists are left wanting for justice.
In relation to that article Mr Briggs needs to get a reality check if he thinks a "cycling lobby" has any sway over this government. His vitriol towards cyclists is misguided as the narcissistic behaviour of Charlie Alliston suggests he'd be equally contemptuous if he'd killed someone with his bike or a car

Avatar
thrawed | 5 months ago
1 like

In regards to the 'brompton vs the ncn' pic, I like to keep an eye on windy.com's soil moisture map (found under the drought moisturing layer) to get an idea of when to brave the bridleways again after winter. If it's solid blue like it is now then it's a no go for me.

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brooksby replied to thrawed | 5 months ago
1 like

The cycle path which goes along the side of the River Avon from Bristol toward Pill can become pretty difficult if it has rained at any time in the preceding week or so, as water drains down out of the woods toward the river.

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Patrick9-32 | 5 months ago
7 likes

If his gearing actually failed that's a pretty reasonable reason for not performing at the highest possible level of sports. 

Do these people think they put the little ring on pro's road bikes for fun and its actually not needed? 

"Oh his crank snapped? Why didn't he just pedal one legged and still win, always making excuses!"

Avatar
Velophaart_95 replied to Patrick9-32 | 5 months ago
2 likes

I'm afraid a lot of road cycling fans are a bit thick - and/or ultra conservative and it's not the done thing to blame equipment. 'Eddy wouldnt have done it'.....

Who gives a flying **** what Eddy thinks......

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Surreyrider replied to Patrick9-32 | 5 months ago
1 like

He wasn't even moaning that much anyway. He was just pointing out a mechanical had scuppered his chance of a win he obviously wanted. Perfectly reasonable I'd say.

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Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
3 likes

I'm not anti-Remco although he's not one of my top favourites, but for goodness sake, what are people talking about? Why would he lie about having a mechanical when he's got the world's cameras on him at all times and someone would be bound to be able to show that he used the smaller chain ring if he did, and if it is true why should he not mention it? Is he supposed to get to the end and just say "I was rubbish today" even though there was a sound mechanical reason he didn't compete? I know in a way he has brought some of this on himself with his brattish behaviour in the early part of his career but he has shown plenty of signs recently of becoming more mature and respectful of other riders, so let's give him a break and not jump on him for everything he says.

Avatar
Surreyrider replied to Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
1 like

I didn't particularly like him earlier in his career. But I'm warming to him now. I don't get the treatment of him here - if other riders said they had a mechanical like that, media would report a hard luck story.

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