— @Athirty4 (@Athirty4) May 17, 2021
This might be the weirdest live blog headline I have ever written. In fact, make that the weirdest story too. There is an LTN gnome thief on the loose in Oxford and what started as a simple enough campaign to get missing 'PC Plod' back has now got a £1,100 reward thanks to the generosity of a music producer and DJ.
Scaramanga Silk, an anonymous DJ whose debut record sold for £30,000 on music collectors' website Discogs back in February, put up the reward for the safe return of the decorative gnome taken from an LTN planter on Salegate Lane. Silk told BBC Radio Oxford he had been a fan of the artist Athirty4's work for a few years and wanted to help out.
"As a fellow artist I've always admired Athirty4's creativity," he said. "I'm a supporter of green and environmental projects and I felt the way Athirty4 was putting out his message was really creative and very original. So when he reported that PC Plod had gone missing and needed some help, I'm fortunate enough to be in a position to do so. As a fellow artist I don't really like seeing when someone's work is abused."
There was initially a £100 reward and a local printing company then published some banners free of charge to set the campaign in motion. "I felt we needed to put the reward up to a more significant amount to get whoever this person is to come forward and return the work. I see it as a body of art rather than just a gnome," Saramanga Silk continued.
So why was Athirty4 decorating Oxford LTNs and front gardens with gnomes? The artist says it is to draw attention to people "ripping up their front gardens to park cars, leaving no room for flowers or shrubs". His Vocal Gnomes campaign is a protest against the impact of increased car ownership on the environment, particularly when front gardens are paved for parking spaces. That will sound familiar to readers who remember Leicester City Council's prized Victorian neighbourhood...
#whostolepcplod ? Let's see if we can get this campaign under way. In response to a neighbour's paper notice in the Salegate Lane #LTN road block, I placed a new policeman in the same spot this morning. The search for PC Plod has begun. #vocalgnomes @TheOxfordMail pic.twitter.com/IfEgKqUNeT
— @Athirty4 (@Athirty4) May 9, 2021
#whostolepcplod There is somebody out there who is in possession of the missing police gnome, PC Plod. The demand for posters by East Oxford residents is quite amazing. I've had to ask for some more to be printed. #vocalgnomes pic.twitter.com/8Bn4TmSzvp
— @Athirty4 (@Athirty4) May 12, 2021
After 162 spectacular kilometres of dust and sweat on the white roads, here is the final km at Montalcino!
Dopo 162 chilometri di polvere, fatica e spettacolo nello sterrato ecco l'ultimo chilometro a Montalcino!
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 19, 2021
Well, the white roads of Tuscany did not dissappoint. Look away fans of Dan Martin, Remco Evenepoel and Davide Formolo. Qhubeka Assos' 21-year-old Swiss rider Mauro Schmid won the stage from the breakaway as Remco faltered. Egan Bernal sensed blood and went for the throat, putting 2:09 into his Belgian rival. Of the GC riders, Aleksandr Vlasov, Emanuel Buchmann, Simon Yates and Damiano Caruso fared best but Bernal now has a 45 second lead.
Now we wait for the photographers to get their best snaps in...
💗 Giro - Stage 1⃣1⃣
📌 Castiglion del Bosco - km 116
🍷 Brunello di Montalcino Wine Stage
⏱️ 9'19" > Gruppo Maglia Rosa
💻 Live: https://t.co/j8ggiiKeUQ
🏁 46 km#Giro pic.twitter.com/GmiJNOdCAL
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 19, 2021
Cannot wait for this! I'll be hosting my first ever Tour De Force cycling camp in Les Deux Alpes, it's open to everyone! For further details sign up here https://t.co/LyTRjZXRMt pic.twitter.com/p97vNeFgOw
— Brad Wiggins (@SirWiggo) May 19, 2021
We had our doubts Wiggo was actually out training when these pristine modelled photos appeared on his Instagram...but it seems he has something to prepare for after all. Not many details about this yet apart from that it is three days riding in the French Alps. Hard to go wrong with that, to be fair...
Talking of Brad...it can't be, can it?
Looks like Wiggo fell in some glue and tripped over in Sky Orca’s wardrobe.
Massive overcorrection too on the no-socks theme. pic.twitter.com/5MtAyCG6DJ
— Rad Diggins (@mocycling) May 18, 2021
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) May 19, 2021
It looks like it could be coming back together but the race has been blown to pieces on the first gravel sector by Filippo Ganna and Ineos Grenadiers. Movistar made the front group along with Trek-Segafredo and Peter Sagan...we have still got three more to go and the next gravel is coming up now...it feels like time for a lie down already...
Prepare yourself for Premier League matches uploaded to Strava. Watford goalie Ben Foster has partnered with Garmin to promote the brand's devices and support his training. Maybe this will give us answers to the pub debate about how far a goalkeeper runs during a game. My money is on 2.5km...
We chatted to Ben back in March about life as a professional footballer with a cycling hobby (or maybe those two should be the other way round)...anyway, that was the first of our Drink at your Desk Live episodes and we have another one for you coming this Friday. Journalist and presenter Orla Chennaoui will be joining us for a cold one and a natter about all things cycling. Keep your eyes peeled for more details...
The final kilometres today are from a picture postcard. Here are the white roads that await the peloton of the Giro d’Italia.
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 19, 2021
Here is what is in store for the pros at the Giro today...and it is looking like it is going to be another win from the breakaway. With just over 90km to go the 11 escapees have a little under 13 minutes advantage...Taco is back up the road for Wanty along with three-time Giro stage winner Enrico Battaglin, Harm Vanhoucke and eight others...20 km until the first of the white roads...
So far we have had four winners from the break, who do you fancy to make it five?
Evans Cycles is celebrating 100 years on the UK high street by taking a look back at where the popular chain came from. In 1921, Frederick W. Evans opened the first store on Kennington Road in south east London and traded under that one location as a trusted local bike shop until the 50s.
Now, Evans Cycles has over 50 stores across the country and employs 700 staff and mechanics. Sir Chris Hoy was quick to join in the celebrations for the brand that distribute his kids bikes. "I've worked closely with Evans Cycles to help inspire the next generation of riders. Whether that’s future Olympic champions, or those that simply want a greener, healthier way to travel, brands like Evans Cycles play an important role in helping them get there. Here’s to the next 100."
Evans says it has more centenary activities planned and that all its stores were dressed to celebrate the milestone yesterday.
Nicholas Rogers, a Tory councillor, has provided some answers to the growing list of questions and concerns surrounding Hammersmith Bridge's closure. Following a meeting with relevant parties, Rogers confirmed the ferry should be up and running by the first week of September in time for the return of schools.
To meet this deadline the piling work would need to start by July 19 which is the immediate concern considering the need for Marine Management Organisation consent, which can take up to thirteen weeks.
TfL will know well in advance of September if the target will not be met and has said it will let residents know details closer to the time. One concern has been that the ferry is due to end crossings at 22:00 due to staffing and objections about noise from residents. However, TfL has also committed to reviewing the end time once services start.
The ferry should take around 90 seconds to take pedestrians and cyclists across the Thames.
Fans tend to love them, riders usually dread them. Is it fair to bring the unpredictability and puncture danger of gravel stages to GC battles? Or is it all part of the sport and makes the racing more exciting? Personally, I love a bit of gravel chucked into a stage. The 35km on today's parcours might be at the top end of what seems reasonable but hey, it will likely be more entertaining than a road stage over the same route....
Is it just me or does it look like something from? @Lovehoney
— JT 😺 (@JT2UK) May 18, 2021
This angle of Silca's new Mensola computer mount was quickly purged from all of the brand's social media channels after it received a lively reaction from potential customers. Cue dick jokes, penis puns and sex toy silliness...
On our story, where you can find all the hard facts about the product, Chris Hayes was wondering what sort of market penetration Silca expected? Captain Badger noted its practicality, saying: "Quickly bolt it on, and you're ready for action..."
As you would expect, Twitter did its worst too...
Do you think it vibrates???
— Evy_MTB (@Evy_MTB) May 18, 2021
Was about to say - I've got one of them. Then I realised it was a cycle part.
— Sally Smith (@Sporty_sal) May 18, 2021
A bicycle cockpit is vital, I’m sure they just wanted to get to the point with every member of the cycling community, that they would see this, stand to attention and get the thrust of their idea. Sliding the computer on to form one aerodynamic package.
.....I’ll get me coat.
— Aaron Cooper (@Coop8640) May 18, 2021
Poor Silca's flashy Instagram collage of some of the product's other less eye-catching angles got plenty of engagement, but mainly from people wondering why the other picture had been deleted...
And then the memes came...
— Renaud Breban (@RenaudB31) May 18, 2021
162km with 2,300m sounds like a fairly reasonable punchy day out for the pros, but those menacing grey sectors on the profile are what is important today...the gravel made famous by Strade Bianche will be unleashed on the Giro. Fortunately for the riders there is no rain forecast, so no repeat of the 2010 epicness when Cadel Evans won in the mud.
Evans recalled that famous stage to Eurosport: "It was cold, raining, long, and there were crashes, and you didn’t know what was going on because of the mud and everything. Going back to my mountain bike days, I was a pretty well-balanced all-round rider, but I could excel in the mud and the extreme conditions. So you put in an extreme stage like that – and it wasn’t just extreme, it was really quite muddy – and I was in my element."
If it is a mountain biker you are looking for today then we know a guy...
— ESMTB.com (@esmtb) July 31, 2019
And if you needed any more reason to tune in...
Among other reasons to watch the Giro today, after 60km the race takes in ‘the most photographed road in Italy’ (has anyone ever checked? How?) at La Foce... where there’s also an outstanding restaurant! pic.twitter.com/P0JkmAz331
— Daniel Friebe (@friebos) May 19, 2021
— Andy Brown (@abrown1707) May 15, 2021
Over the weekend we shared the story of the AA van spotted blocking a cycle lane in Manchester.
At first, the AA did not help itself, replying to Andy: "it looks as though the patrol is attending a breakdown. Our patrols will assess the situation to find the safest place to park, for them and other road users." Right. This did not go down well, so much so that the AA's President Edmund King got involved to say it "doesn't look great" and that they would investigate...
A couple of days later and Andy got a copy of said investigation including the recognition from the driver and the AA that the parking position was wrong and both parties apologise unreservedly.
This seems like a positive outcome.
— Andy Brown (@abrown1707) May 17, 2021
The photos got a lot of traction on social media with Gus Hoyt saying it "sums up car culture in the UK [...] because to them a broken down car is more important than the safety of cyclists." Another local said they had used the cycle lane earlier in the morning when there were children riding in both directions.
Happy with the AA's response?
Dan joined road.cc as live blog editor last year. He has previously written about various sports including football and boxing for the Daily Express and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been enjoying life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends exploring the south of England.