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“They’re a few days early”: Specialized’s new ‘April Fool’ seat tube divides opinion; Bath’s bicycle mayor shuts down GB News producer’s claim that mums can’t “cart around children” by bike; Tyre pressure adjustment system spotted + more on the live blog

It‘s Wednesday, the countdown to the Tour of Flanders has well and truly started, and Ryan Mallon’s back with your latest dose of cycling news and views on the live blog
29 March 2023, 08:08
“They’re a few days early”: Specialized’s new ‘April Fool’ seat tube divides opinion

It’s not exactly an L-shaped Crank commemorative plate, but Specialized’s radical new seat tube design did at least have a few of our readers scrambling for their calendars last night…

2023 Specialized Sirrus X 5.0 - 1.jpeg

The American company’s new hybrid Sirrus Carbon machine features a “Compliance Junction” (wasn’t one of those recently installed in the middle of Salford?) which, apparently, aims to provide “just the right amount of flex and forgiveness across the carbon frame without sacrificing performance and efficiency”.


So, like any good British junction, Spesh’s frame design doesn’t go where you think it should – the seat tube stops short of the bottom bracket, with the frame held in place by low-slung seatstays and a strut that connects to the down tube. Leaving, at the end of it all, a great big hole in the frame.

2023 Specialized Sirrus Carbon 6.0 - 1 (1).jpeg

> What’s going on with that seat tube? Specialized unveils radical “Compliance Junction” on new Sirrus Carbon

The weird and wacky design has certainly baffled and perplexed our readers, with some checking their phones to make sure they hadn’t slept through the end of March.

“Feels like they were a few days early on the press release,” Global Nomad said in the comments.

“Bit early for an April Fool!” concurred Keith on Facebook, a theme that was also picked up by Jon on Instagram, who advised his fellow cyclists to “check the date”.

2023 Specialized Sirrus Carbon X 5.0 - 2.jpeg

Others weren’t impressed with the bike’s looks, with wedgey describing the Sirrus Carbon as a “monstrosity”, while Huey described the frame as “URT [Unified Rear Triangle] reinvented”. Well, the nineties are all the rage at the minute…

“Innovative means ‘wait five years for them to start breaking’, by which time this frame type will have disappeared,” said wtjs, with Garry adding: “Sod that. looks like it will break, and you will have trouble finding a bottle/cage that will fit.”

2023 Specialized Sirrus X 5.0 - 6.jpeg

Finally, another Insta user, and big Julian Alaphilippe fan, offered up some “thoughts and prayers to the already overworked Specialized warranty department.”

So, looks like the new Compliance Junction can’t yet be described as a hit. But at least they’ve upped the ante for Saturday anyway...

Now, where did I put my L-shaped cranks?

29 March 2023, 08:57
“Oh dear, can you imagine being a mum carting around children”: Bath’s bicycle mayor shuts down GB News producer’s claim that mums need cars

Remember Charlotte Gill?

The GB ‘News’ producer who penned an article in January for the conservative magazine The Critic, which criticised a new study on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, despite failing to address any of the study’s findings?

You know, the one who completed anti-cycling bingo with one flamboyant sweep of the keyboard, fitting into one short piece such imaginative, original utterings as: “All across the UK, a war is being waged against car drivers”, “a ‘Lycra Lobby’ of cycling activists and eco wonks”, “I don’t drive, enjoy cycling and probably have a relatively low carbon footprint”, “an assault on democracy”…

Well, I regret to inform you, she’s at it again – this time by claiming that it’s mums who should stand up and oppose the dreaded Lycra lobby:

“It’s no coincidence that young men are some of the biggest advocates of killing off the car industry. They’re mostly fit and healthy; they can’t envisage otherwise. They can’t imagine being a mum carting around children nor the woman trying to get home without a taxi at night,” Gill tweeted.

The GB News producer’s claim was swiftly shot down by Saskia Heijltjes, who was appointed in October 2021 as Bath’s first bicycle mayor, and who – in a shocking turn of events – uses her bike to, wait for it, ‘cart around’ children…

Several other baffled Twitter users – and children-carting cyclists – have joined in too:

Oh well. Better luck next time, Charlotte…

29 March 2023, 16:25
2023 Specialized Sirrus X 5.0 - 7.jpeg
Reader reaction: Some praise for Specialized’s ‘Compliance Junction’, thoughts on mums and bikes, and a terrible tyre(d) joke

Judging by today’s comments section, not everyone dislikes Specialized’s ‘April Fool’ frame design.

“I like it,” says Patrick9-32. “Making carbon frames in the shapes dictated by steel tubes makes little sense for anyone who isn't trying to be UCI compliant. This intuitively looks like it will give better seated comfort which is what you want for a bike that is designed for riding on rough roads in the city.”

Meanwhile, OnYerBike gave a rather measured appraisal: “From an aesthetic point of view, I wouldn't say I'm a fan, but then I'm a bit old fashioned - give me skinny tubes and a horizontal top tube any day. It's far from the ugliest bike design I've seen.

“From a structural point of view, I don't see any obvious reason why it should be more prone to failure than a traditional design, although I'm far from an expert. My main concern would simply be that it is "new" and therefore won't have the same extent of real-world testing. Although we've seen plenty of examples of fairly traditional designs still having faults - see e.g. Canyon handlebars.

“My other concern would be as a hybrid bike designed for practical everyday use, the loss of the traditional seatstays and seatstay bridge could be an issue for attaching mudguards and racks (both of which I would consider essential on a practical bike). Specialized claims you can still fit them, but possibly only very specific ones? And even then, would the loss of the seatstays affect rack/mudguard stability?”

tfl child and parent cycling to school - via tfl

Away from oddly shaped bikes and onto odd opinions about bikes, where GB News producer Charlotte Gill’s latest tirage against all things two wheels has left many scratching their heads.

“Whilst not being a parent myself, I think Charlotte should also be pulled up on the implication that only mums 'cart kids around'... and by extension the idea that all men are happy to cycle (or walk late at night) without decent infrastructure,” says Global Nomad.

However, eburthebike seems to have finally cracked the case – all of Charlotte’s opinions are AI-generated: “Clearly Charlotte Gill is clearly an avid reader of and used your tips about writing an anti-cycling article using AI. It's all very well paying people for their opinions, but if they aren't based on fact, why are you paying them? That said, I've watched some GB "news" and it almost, but not quite, reaches the level of drivel.”

2023 Gravaa KAPS - 1

And finally, I’ll leave you with a joke about adjustable tyre pressure systems that even I wouldn’t touch with a really long pump:

Matthew Acton-Varian: “If Jumbo-Visma dominate Flanders because of the KAPS experiment it will leave my excitement for racing deflated.”

Steve K: “Fortunately, though, at the push of a button it can be re-inflated.”

Told you…

29 March 2023, 16:08
When your adjustable tyre pressure gizmo goes wrong

Great save though…

29 March 2023, 15:52
Demi Vollering time trials to impressive Dwars door Vlaanderen victory

A perfectly timed attack to continue a team’s spring domination at the end of a chaotic, entertaining race?

Nope, I haven’t lost my mind and started writing about Christophe Laporte’s win at Dwars door Vlaanderen again… But there was a slight case of déjà vu in the women’s race this afternoon, as SD Worx’s Demi Vollering stormed away on the final climb to solo to a comprehensive win and to cement her status as one of the big favourites for Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

Vollering’s 25-day break from racing after her dramatic win at Strade Bianche doesn’t seem to have dulled any of her form, as she navigated the attacks that peppered the race before launching her own definitive move on the Nokere, her favoured terrain – uphill – to time trial to the win.

Chiara Consonni, who’s been slightly under par all year, put in a combative defence of her title by winning the group sprint for second, ahead of Marianne Vos, who looked sharp in only her second race of the year but lacked the punch to follow Vollering on the Nokere.

The world junior cyclocross champion Zoe Bäckstedt also put in an encouraging performance on Flemish roads, battling for the win before fading in the final 10km.

But just like in the men’s race, as we approach the Ronde on Sunday, all eyes will be on one team, SD Worx, while Vollering – having secured two major wins in just three race days in 2023 – will fancy her chances.

As long as she can beat her own teammates, such as Omloop winner Lotte Kopecky and Gent-Wevelgem victor Marlen Reusser, of course.

Best of luck to everyone else…

29 March 2023, 15:18
20mph sign (CC licensed by EdinburghGreens via Flickr)
Transport for London introduces 28km of 20mph roads in Camden, Islington, Hackney, Haringey, and Tower Hamlets

From this Friday, Transport for London will bring in 20mph speed limits across 28km of its roads in Camden, Islington, Hackney, Haringey, and Tower Hamlets, in a bid to meet Vision Zero as well as enabling more cycling and walking in the capital.

The limits will be introduced on sections of the A503, A501, A41, A1, A10, A11 and A1203, and according to TfL will see almost all of the roads in the boroughs have a consistent 20mph speed limit on both the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) and borough road network.

Data collected by TfL on the 20mph roads introduced within the central London Congestion Charging Zone shows that, between May 2020 and June 2022, the number of collisions has reduced by 25 percent. Collisions involving vulnerable road users have also decreased by 36 percent (from 453 to 290), while collisions involving pedestrians have dropped by 63 percent (from 124 to 46).

> Retired neurologist says increased weight and acceleration of electric vehicles will lead to rise in cycling-related fatalities unless 20mph speed limits are introduced

The limits will be supported by new signs and road markings, and TfL says it will work closely with the Met to ensure that drivers understand and comply with the new lower speeds.

“TfL data shows that 20mph speed limits are reducing the number of collisions on London's roads, highlighting how important the continued expansion of the 20mph programme is,” London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman said in a statement.

“Lowering speeds is one of the most important things we can do to reduce road danger and we’ll continue to work with TfL, the Met Police and London’s boroughs to make it easier and safer for people to walk, cycle and use public transport, creating a safer, greener London for everyone.”

29 March 2023, 14:32
Christophe Laporte secures back-to-back cobbled classics wins at thrilling Dwars door Vlaanderen, as second-placed Oier Lazkano steals the plaudits with phenomenal ride

There were no gifts today, as Jumbo-Visma’s Christophe Laporte timed his attack to perfection to secure his second cobbled classics win in a row in a thrilling edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen.

After all the discourse that followed the Frenchman’s win at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, Laporte arguably had a point to prove today at Dwars, the final rendezvous on the Flemish bergs before this weekend’s main event, the Ronde.

With just over 50km to go, the 30-year-old – who’s clearly in the form of his life – slipped into a dangerous move which included his Jumbo-Visma teammate Tiesj Benoot, Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Quinten Hermans, Jhonatan Narváez of Ineos, and two pairs of Groupama-FDJ (Stefan Küng and Valentin Madouas) and EF-Education EasyPost riders (Mikkel Frølich Honoré and Neilson Powless).

As the race slowly contracted in the final kilometres, that group eventually caught the final dogged remnants of the early breakaway, Oier Lazkano and Alexander Kristoff, before a flurry of attacks, counterattacks, and, then, stalling, gifted (sorry, Christophe) Laporte one golden chance to launch a seated acceleration with four kilometres left.

Küng tried and failed to follow, Laporte was gone, his critics well and truly answered in emphatic fashion.

The Frenchman’s back-to-back victories this week continued Jumbo-Visma’s staggeringly dominant cobbled classics campaign.

Of the five major cobbled one-day races in 2023 – Omloop, Kuurne, E3, Gent-Wevelgem, and Dwars door Vlaanderen – the Dutch squad have won all five, with four different riders.

Surely now is the moment they can finally, finally break the curse at the big one, the Tour of Flanders, which they last won way back in 1997 with Rolf Sørensen?

It would be hard to best against Jumbo-Visma in this kind of dominant streak, but the team has been known to fall at the final hurdle in the past…

While Van der Poel and Pogačar may have watched today’s race through their fingers, the whole of Spain will be viewing the grim skies of Flanders with new eyes today, after Oier Lazkano’s phenomenal second place.

While Laporte took the win, the 23-year-old Spaniard stole the show – making it into the early breakaway, driving it along as it valiantly held off the chasing groups, looking at home on the cobbles and rough roads of Flanders, working spectacularly well with Kristoff in the break…

And then, just as you thought his race was over after being swallowed up by the chasers, the Movistar man kept plugging away, latching onto an attack by Neilson Powless, before blowing past the American in the dying metres, as the Jasper Philipsen-led bunch closed in from behind, to secure a staggering and thoroughly-deserved second place on the podium.

And in doing so, Lazkano secured the best ever placing for both a Spanish and a Movistar rider at Dwars door Vlaanderen, beating Alejandro Valverde’s 11th from 2018.

Remember the name…

29 March 2023, 14:04
Pothole tekkers

Pure Flandrien class here from the breakaway at Dwars Door Vlaanderen, as the mightily impressive Oier Lazkano, Alexander Kristoff, and Leon Heinschke make light work of a particularly big gutter pothole during one cobbled section.

Big props, especially, to the young Spaniard Lazkano, who is still driving it at the front of the race with the veteran pavé destroyer Kristoff.

It’s been a weird season – Movistar looking better and better at the cobbled classics, Quick-Step becoming a stage racing machine, to the detriment of their much vaunted one-day squad.

Up is down, and down is up…

29 March 2023, 13:53
Drum and Bass On The Bike celebrates second birthday with Bristol bash

Everyone’s favourite two-wheeled race is now a toddler (they grow up so fast), and dad Dom Whiting is celebrating by returning to one of its spiritual homes, Bristol.

The mass ride/disco will take place this Sunday at 2pm, starting from Lloyds Amphitheatre. That should give everyone just enough time to head home for the final kilometres of the Ronde…

29 March 2023, 13:17
Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte, 2023 Gent-Wevelgem (Zac Williams/
Jumbo-Visma set for potential sponsor hunt as beleaguered Dutch supermarket chain reviews its investment in sport

Everything may be smooth sailing at the moment on the road for Jumbo-Visma, who have been bending the cobbled classics to their will so far this season, but off the bike things aren’t looking so rosy for one of the team’s title sponsors, Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo.

Last September, we reported that the house of Jumbo’s CEO, Frits van Eerd, was raided by Dutch police and the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) as part of an investigation into money laundering and fraud, revolving around, among other things, sponsorship contracts in motorsport.

Van Eerd, whose father Karel van Eerd – Jumbo’s founder – died in December, stepped down from his role as CEO soon after his arrest and remains under investigation.

2023 Wout Van Aert © Zac - 1

Wout van Aert secures another win for Jumbo-Visma at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic (Zac

And this week, Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad has suggested that the company’s sports sponsorship – which includes the men’s, women’s, and men’s development cycling teams, as well as speed skating and motorsport – is now under threat.

The newspaper reports that Jumbo – whose famous yellow and black colours have graced the peloton since 2014, when the chain stepped into sponsor the disgraced team formerly known as Rabobank – have launched a review into its investment into sport.

Jumbo’s current contract with the cycling teams is set to run until the end of 2024, with that deal unlikely to change, Algemeen Dagblad says.

However, it remains uncertain whether that deal will be renewed for 2025 or, if it is, if it will be anywhere near the same level of funding.

29 March 2023, 12:37
Taking it easy up the Muur van Trek

Trek-Segafredo are channelling their inner mid-2010s QuickStep at today’s Dwars door Vlaanderen, absolutely drilling it on the flats before tapping gently, Sunday run-style, up the cobbled bergs and climbs.

I’m getting whiplash just watching it, but you can’t say all the stop-start action isn’t entertaining. And surely someone will attack on the hills at some point too…

29 March 2023, 12:12
Move over Lance, there’s a new “biggest cycling cheater ever” in town
Eddy Hoole races to win in eSports world championship qualifying (Zwift, YouTube)

> Zwift racer banned for hacking data tries MyWhoosh... gets disqualified immediately

You know the old saying: ‘If at first you don’t succeed… Probably best to stop cheating at virtual racing’.

I think it’s time for poor Eddy to pack the turbo away for a few months at least…

29 March 2023, 11:33
Luis Enrique shows off his legs after Cape Epic

We all know that former Real Madrid and Barcelona footballer, and until recently the manager of the Spanish national side, Luis Enrique loves his cycling.

So much so that the Champions League-winning gaffer announced one of his Spain squads with a homage to the Vuelta, and spent his free time during the recent World Cup in Qatar riding his bike and catching up with the cyclocross on GCN (although, judging by Spain’s ignominious exit on penalties to Morocco, a bit more time practising pens and less time watching Tom Pidcock may have proven beneficial for his current employment status).

And now, after resigning from his post following that last 16 exit, the 52-year-old can now kick and back and enjoy the finer things in life.

Like riding the world’s premier mountain bike stage race.

This week was Enrique’s third stab at the Cape Epic – in 2013 he teamed up with former Sevilla ‘keeper Juan Carlos Unzué and five years later he raced alongside Tomás Latorre.

Fast forward another five years and Enrique and Latorre made their return this week to the brutal South African race, this time riding under the Team Unzué in honour of Juan Carlos, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2020.

The former Spain boss and Latorre finished the mammoth event with a time of 45 hours, 17 minutes, and 32 seconds, enough to secure them 38th in the Grand Masters category and 316th overall.

A “very happy” – and I imagine tired – Enrique took to social media to show what eight days and 658km of mountain biking does to your legs:

Well, Luis, I’m sure it was a lot more enjoyable than getting thrashed by Scotland last night, eh? (I couldn’t resist…)

29 March 2023, 10:57
Mr Pot Noodle Hole

Potholes, decrepit roads, government neglect, and an instant microwave snack? Sounds like a marketer’s fever dream…

But that’s exactly the promo campaign dreamed up by Pot Noodle, who have teamed up with leading campaigner Mark Morrell – better known to all of us as Mr Pothole – to highlight the increasing damage on the UK’s roads.

> Is there a pothole crisis on Britain's roads?

According to Morrell, it will cost £14bn to properly fix the cracks and holes found across England and Wales – a good deal more than the £200m allocated by Jeremy Hunt earlier this month.

And what better way to do raise awareness of Britain’s roads problem than by filling its potholes with microwaved noodles?

> National Pothole Day: An interview with Mr Pothole (otherwise known as Mark Morrell)

“Potholes drive road users potty, me more than most. The pothole crisis across the UK is an increasingly serious issue and something that I have been campaigning for over 10 years,” Morrell said in a pun-heavy press release for the campaign.

“During this period I have had to use my noodle with stunts to highlight just how bad potholes are – from floating plastic ducks in water filled potholes, birthday cakes, fishing rods and model submarines.

“When I heard about Pot Noodle’s campaign, I was up for it. What better way to fill a pothole than with Pot Noodles to highlight in a light-hearted way this serious issue. Mr Pothole can he fill it? With Pot Noodles yes, he can!”

Now I really have seen everything…

29 March 2023, 10:29
‘Why don’t cyclists use cycle lanes?’, part 4,798

Ah, bike lanes, great places for putting ‘Diverted traffic’ signs. Not always great for cyclists, mind you…

29 March 2023, 09:51
New tyre pressure adjustment system spotted on Jumbo-Visma bike at Dwars door Vlaanderen

Oh, what’s this?

One of Jumbo-Visma’s bikes, belonging to Italian Edoardo Affini, was spotted this morning at the start of Dwars door Vlaanderen sporting what seems to be a tyre pressure adjustment system:

The on-the-fly inflation hub appears to be a different system to the Scope Atmoz, developed with help from Team DSM and which was set to be used by the squad for last year’s Paris-Roubaix but was pulled at the last minute.

The Scope Atmoz system (and, by the looks of things, the system set to be used by Affini today) can inflate and deflate a tyre using an air reservoir housed within the hub which is linked via a hose to a tubeless rim. Mechanical valves open and close to control the pressure within the tyre, and the can adjust the tyre pressure (which will show on their bike computer) by pushing a button on their handlebars.

> Tyre pressure adjustment on the fly? Team DSM will use innovative €3,000 hubs to change tyre pressure mid-race for Paris-Roubaix

That kind of on-the-fly adjustment would, in theory, work perfectly for a race like Paris-Roubaix, where the difference between the horrible, jutted cobbles and the smooth tarmac is stark, and where weight considerations don’t come into play as much on the pan-flat route.

Presumably, Affini will give the system a test run over Flanders’ cobbled bergs today, before Jumbo-Visma decides whether to unleash the nifty, and potentially very useful, bit of tech on the Hell of the North.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled…

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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