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Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s driver cuts across and nearly hits cyclist; Local paper blames cycling route for shop closure; Egan Bernal’s epic 270km ride; “Those leaves are more protected than cyclists!”; Cav’s team collapses + more on the live blog

Happy Wednesday everyone! Ryan Mallon’s here with your middle-of-the-week live blog, as he counts down the days until he’s standing freezing in a field (otherwise known as watching the cyclocross)
07 December 2022, 10:56
Health Secretary Steve Barclay's driver almost hits cyclist (credit: Steve Bray)
“Excellent official government driving”: Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s driver cuts across and nearly hits cyclist

It’s been quite the morning for Health Secretary Steve Barclay.

After informing the public that ambulances won’t be able to respond to elderly people who fall during the upcoming NHS strikes, Barclay was the greeted by the seemingly ever-present sight and sound of prominent anti-Brexit activist, Steve Bray, who duly awarded the Health Secretary the much-coveted ‘Tory bullshitter of the year’ award.

Now there’s a hard-fought competition if I ever saw one…

Before handing Barclay his accolade, however, Bray made sure to berate the minister’s driver for parking on double yellows:

And if that wasn’t enough, Barclay’s driver then proceeded to pull out right in front of a passing cyclist, who was forced to brake rather sharply to avoid a Land Rover-shaped dent in his side (wait for it):

The driver’s near miss has somewhat overshadowed Bray’s original point about Barclay’s impact on the health service, though some on Twitter have pointed out that maybe the minister’s chauffeur was simply trying to drum up some work for the beleaguered NHS:

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Tory ministers in cars have proved hazardous for people on bikes.

In October 2016, then-transport secretary Chris Grayling was filmed dooring cyclist Jaiqi Liu just outside the Palace of Westminster. According to reports at the time, Grayling immediately went to check on the shaken cyclist, but departed soon afterwards without leaving his name or details.

And earlier this year, Barclay’s predecessor Sajid Javid was on the end of an ear bashing from a certain megaphone-wielding Mr Bray… while his driver ignored the cyclists’ advanced stop line.

07 December 2022, 12:51
Egan Bernal at the 2020 Tour de France (picture credit Alex Whitehead, SWpix.com)
“Morning ride”: Egan Bernal casually taps out 270km training ride at 38.5kph…

Now, this is what I call getting in the winter base miles.

2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal, building up his fitness bit by bit after his horrific training crash at the start of the year, went for a cheeky ‘morning ride’ in Colombia yesterday with fellow Ineos rider Brandon Rivera and a few local pros.

And by ‘morning ride’, I mean a mammoth seven-hour stint covering 270km with 2,575m of elevation.

 

So, basically the climbs of Strade Bianche over a distance a smidge longer than the Tour of Flanders. And all at over 2,600m altitude too.

Blimey. And there’s me thinking an hour on Zwift is more than enough in December…

As the 25-year-old aims to recover the sparkling climbing legs that won him the 2019 Tour and could yet help him challenge Remco, Tadej, and Jonas in 2023, he took the time yesterday to post a tribute to his father, who has played a key role in Bernal’s comeback to the sport:

“We all deserve someone to take care of us like my dad does for me. My guardian angel on the road,” the 2021 Giro d’Italia winner wrote.

“He comes to my house every day when I am still sleeping to get everything ready for training, and leaves in the evening when he leaves the bike washed for the next day.”

Judging from his Strava posts, that’s one long day for Bernal Snr…

07 December 2022, 09:58
It’s all the cycle route’s fault! Local paper blames active travel route for demise of business… But owners say the branch “is still very much open”

We’re rattling through the old live blog stalwarts this morning…

This time, we’re featuring that road.cc classic, ‘Local Businesses versus Bike Lanes’, but this time with a twist courtesy of another favourite, ‘Unsubstantiated claims made in local newspapers to cause anti-cycling aggro’ (I’ll work on a catchier title for that one).

This morning, the Sheffield Star claimed that the Arnold Laver Depot on the city’s Little London Road shut down on Monday, with the loss of nine jobs. According to the paper, workers at the depot, which sells timber and building materials, said that they started hearing rumours about a potential closure last week.

One worker told the paper that the company’s lease for the site, the base of Arnold Laver’s Sheffield Central Depot, was not being renewed because the business wasn’t making any money.

And what was to blame for this downturn?

Well, the austere economic climate, of course, but also – drumroll, please – the new cycle route on the Little London Road.

The Sheaf Valley Cycling Route – designed to ensure cyclists can travel safely from the south-west of the city – was installed in the summer and has proven immensely popular. According to a petition launched at the end of November calling for the route to extended and completed, cycling on the Little London Road has increased by 50 percent month on month.

The petition also argued that the completed route “would then have a massive ‘catchment area’ which would allow those wanting to cycle, but afraid to along the busy main arterial roads that we currently have, the ability to get out of their cars.”

However, the Sheffield Star’s source claimed that the route is responsible for cutting traffic past the Arnold Laver DIY shop and increasing congestion on the nearby Abbeydale and Chesterfield roads, further deterring visitors to the shop.

So, classic ‘blame the bike lane’ stuff then, that we’ve seen hundreds of times before.

> Cycle lane will be "clear getaway" for shoplifters and drug dealers, business owners claim

But wait, there’s more…

This morning, Arnold Laver responded to the Star journalist’s request on Twitter for comment by asserting that the Sheffield Central branch was, indeed, “still very much open”.

What’s going on?

Update: The Star’s original article now seems to have vanished from the paper’s website. Don’t tell me the whole thing was just a load of porkies, was it? Surely not…

07 December 2022, 14:24
Mark Cavendish wins 2022 British road race championships (Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)
Where will Cav end up?

With the collapse of B&B Hôtels now confirmed, one question looms large in the minds of cycling fans everywhere: Where will Mark Cavendish end up in 2023?

The Manxman, who reignited his fading career with a sensational 2021 at Quick-Step, was set to lead the French team at next year’s Tour de France – where Cavendish, of course, was aiming to reach that elusive, record-breaking 35th stage win.

So, presuming that record is still at the forefront of Cav’s ambitions for 2023 – and you know that it will be – what are the 37-year-old’s options?

The last-minute implosion of Jérôme Pineau’s project has left many riders, including the British champion, high and dry. By this stage of the season, teams have reached their cap of 30 riders and would have to rip up an existing rider’s contract to make way for the Tour’s most successful sprinter.

Therefore, rumoured destinations such as EF-Education EasyPost and even a left-field switch to Movistar (the presence of Max Sciandri as a DS at the Spanish team set tongues wagging earlier this year) are ruled out.

Mark Cavendish after winning 2022 GB National Championship (copyright Alex Whitehead, SWpix.com).JPG

[Alex Whitehead, SWpix.com]

So, who’s left?

Israel-Premier Tech appears one of the most likely options. Sylvan Adams’ team, who were also briefly the subject of a desperate merger attempt from Pineau, haven’t been afraid to splash the cash on aging stars (ahem, Chris Froome), and are in desperate need of extra firepower and some wins on the board. A Cav arrival would also almost certainly guarantee them a wildcard spot at the Tour. Everyone wins.

If Cavendish decides not to join the Israel-Premier Tech retirement village, he could perhaps lessen the blow of B&B’s demise by joining another ramshackle French team, Arkéa-Samsic. He’d be guaranteed a spot on their Tour team and would fit nicely at the back of a lead out that already includes British sprinter Dan McLay, Amaury Capiot, David Dekker, and Hugo Hoftetter. Who knows, maybe even Nacer Bouhanni would put in a shift in the final kilometre for Cav? Or maybe not…

And with a Nairo Quintana-shaped hole in Arkéa’s budget, there should be no concerns about finances either.

Mark Cavendish wins stage 21 of the 2012 Tour de France (A.S.O./Bruno Bade)

[A.S.O./Bruno Bade]

Finally, is a romantic return to the Ineos Grenadiers on the cards? As I mentioned in my article on B&B at the weekend, despite being inundated with young, exciting prospects, Ineos are in a transitional period at the moment, and unless Egan Bernal comes roaring back to form next year, lack a true GC contender to take on Pogačar et al at the Tour.

Surely, bringing Cav along for one moment of history, completing the circle of his remarkable career, would be worth sacrificing a mountain domestique working for, at best, a spot on the podium?

Not that the then-world champion overly enjoyed his year-long stint at Sky back in 2012, mind you. But perhaps times have changed?

So, what team do you reckon Cavendish should join? Let us know!

Super Survey

07 December 2022, 17:24
Poll result: Is a Cav-Ineos reunion on the cards? road.cc’s readers certainly think so
Cavendish new team live blog poll result

Come on Jim, you know what to do…

07 December 2022, 17:11
Speaking of Kensington and Chelsea (and leaves in cycle lanes)

After this morning’s story about the well-protected pile of leaves in Wimborne (not forgetting the lovely bike lane blocking vans), road.cc reader Rendel Harris sent in this photo from everyone’s favourite cycling-friendly borough:

Kensington and Chelsea bike lane leaves (Rendel Harris)

He wrote: “Kensington and Chelsea this time last year... we agreed that actually it wasn’t that big a deal as presumably somebody would be along shortly to collect them.

“They were still there three days later.”

07 December 2022, 17:04
Those pesky motorists, always driving two abreast
07 December 2022, 16:55
Typo time

Down in the comments section, road.cc reader SimoninSpalding astutely (and not at all annoyingly) pointed out that in today’s story on B&B’s demise, I noted that even a “singing Mark Cavendish” wasn’t enough to persuade a big-name sponsor to invest in Jérôme Pineau’s doomed venture.

Simon reckons Pineau should have probably “emphasised the cycling a bit more”.

I’m not sure a singing Mark Cavendish would have anyone running for their cheque books. A dancing Cav on the other hand…

07 December 2022, 16:19
Who wants to ride the millionth Brompton?

Brompton Bikes reached a rather significant milestone today, as its millionth folding bike rolled out of the company’s factory in Greenford, London, 47 years after the iconic design was first invented.

Of course, Brompton weren’t simply going to let this landmark pass them by, and the millionth bike has been given the special design treatment.

Brompton One Millionth Bike (Brompton)

Based on the one of the brand’s original models, the Mark One, the bike features a red main frame, silver parts, aluminium touchpoints, and, naturally, a nice decal commemorating its place in Brompton’s history. Oh, and it’s also been signed by founder and inventor Andrew Ritchie and the company’s current CEO Will Butler-Adams.

And the bike hasn’t just been made to look pretty in the factory or an office: it will instead go on a global tour of 16 cities, with the aim of ensuring that thousands of Brompton enthusiasts can have a spin on the landmark bike.

“This is a magic moment in Brompton’s history, and we want to celebrate it with the people that made it happen,” says Butler-Adams.

“Since the first bike in 1975, a Brompton has always been built to be ridden, and the millionth is no different. Instead of putting it on display somewhere, we want it flying down the Mall in London, across Orchard Road in Singapore, along the Sein in Paris, exploring and moving through cities as it’s always meant to.”

Details of the tour will be released soon on Brompton’s website.

07 December 2022, 15:38
Kensington High Street protest (copyright Simon MacMichael)
Kensington and Chelsea Council due in court tomorrow over early removal of High Street cycle lane

Tomorrow, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) will face a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice, over what campaigners say was the premature removal of protected cycle lanes from Kensington High Street.

The lanes, one on either side of the street and used by up to 3,000 cyclists a day, were removed in December 2020, just seven weeks into the scheduled 18-month trial, before the scheme had even been completed, and despite protests from campaigners and nearby schools, among others.

In March 2021, after telling local campaigners that they would reconsider the decision to remove the scheme, senior councillors at the Conservative-controlled borough voted unanimously not to reinstate the lanes but instead to “develop plans to commission research into post-Covid transport patterns”, which could potentially “lead to a feasibility study in the longer term.”

Kensington High Street Cycle lane

> Kensington & Chelsea Council refuses to reinstate High Street cycle lane

The council insisted at the time that the decision to remove the lanes – in response to which then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly went “ballistic” – followed what it claimed were complaints from local businesses and residents (though later evidence showed that some of that opposition emanated from well outside the borough).

The local authority also claimed that the lanes created congestion and hindered the emergency services, even though an independent study found that traffic jams had worsened following the removal of the lanes, partly due to illegally parked cars.

Now, campaigners from Better Streets for Kensington and Chelsea will head to court tomorrow to claim that the council’s decision to scrap the trial early, which prevented it “from running its course and gathering data” was unlawful.

> Council officer edited business group’s press statement on removal of Kensington High Street bike lane

“It’s been a frustrating two years since the cycle lanes were taken out,” says Better Streets’ chair Justin Abbott. “We’ve seen progress across London, but our home borough has fallen further and further behind others on healthy streets measures. 

“We remain stunned that RBKC have chosen to spend public money fighting this case and prolonging road danger – rather than accept our repeated invitation to embrace the huge support to fill this overwhelmingly obvious need.

“It’s ridiculous that a volunteer community group such as ours has had to spend two years on this case. The context is jaw-dropping. Our borough – RBKC – has 200km of road, and not a single kilometre of protected cycle lane. It has blocked, hindered, ripped out, or promised and then not delivered, protected bike lanes across the borough. No other London borough has no protected bike lanes.

“Perhaps this history of refusal to put in place basic safety infrastructure explains the utter chaos of their decision to rip out the lanes in December 2020 and subsequent attempts to improve their paperwork.

“Win or lose this case, we hope RBKC finally come to their senses and embrace the support across the community from 17 local schools, the NHS, Imperial College, businesses like Waitrose, iconic institutions like the Royal Albert Hall and so many more, to put in place safe cycle lanes on this route.”

Kensington High Street pop-up cycle lane (picture Simon MacMichael)

> Motor traffic journey times increase after Kensington cycle lanes removed

London Cycling Campaign’s CEO, Dr Ashok Sinha, added: “We are pleased to see the borough of Kensington & Chelsea being held to account for its irrational decision to end a safe cycleway trial prematurely.

“The council is putting lives at risk by refusing to make cycling safe on any street in their borough. Particularly damaging is their failure to take action on the headline recommendation of the Centre for London report that they themselves commissioned, namely to put safe cycling infrastructure on Kensington High Street. Plus, by deterring cycling in this way, they are undercutting their own promises to reduce toxic air pollution and carbon emissions.

“The money the Council is spending fighting their own residents in court should instead be spent on preventing further serious injuries and deaths on their roads, which has some of the highest casualty rates in London.”

07 December 2022, 14:56
“Caught up the creek without a paddle”: Commonwealth Games gold medallist and La Course winner Chloe Hosking reveals she’s one of the riders impacted by B&B Hôtels collapse

More on the fall-out from the implosion of the B&B Hôtels team, as Chloe Hosking, the winner of the 2018 Commonwealth Games road race and the 2016 edition of La Course by Le Tour de France, revealed this morning that she is one of the riders impacted by the collapse of Jérôme Pineau’s yet-to-be-established elite women’s team.

32-year-old Australian Hosking, who has raced for Trek-Segafredo since 2021, was pencilled in as one of the leading female pros set to join the now extinguished Brittany-based squad headed by French champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Olympic champion Anna Kiesenhofer, which according to Pineau would have operated under the same umbrella as the men’s B&B team as well as a new academy set-up.

As with the men’s team, who had hoped to continue at Conti level, Pineau was optimistic that the women’s squad would still be riding some of the biggest races next year. However, this morning’s announcement has left a host of riders, in Hosking’s words, “up the creek without a paddle”:

Meanwhile, B&B stalwart, and Tour summit finish specialist, Pierre Rolland was forced to deny that he’s already agreed a deal with Peter Sagan’s TotalEnergies team.

“Surprised to discover where my future will be written in the press,” the veteran French rider wrote on Twitter today. “I will keep you informed in due time on my social networks of what my future will be.”

As we reported on the blog yesterday, so far Ramon Sinkeldam and Victor Koretzky are the only two pros hitherto contracted to B&B for 2023 who have confirmed their slots on other teams.

07 December 2022, 13:19
A different kind of Everesting for Rochelle Gilmore
07 December 2022, 12:14
Pierre Rolland of B&B Hotels descends from Mont Ventoux, 2021 Tour de France (Emma Wilcock/SWpix.com)
“This time it’s over”: Mark Cavendish’s B&B Hôtels team to close its doors after search for sponsors falls through, reports say

After months of rumours, gossip, and half-truths about the imminent demise of Jérôme Pineau’s ambitious and controversial B&B Hôtels project, this time, as the old Southside Johnny song goes, it’s for real.

(Come for the cycling news, stay for the obscure ‘70s music references.)

According to a report from Le Telegramme, the team’s manager Pineau held a two-hour video conference this morning with his staff and riders to tell them that the squad – bereft of a new title sponsor the former Quick-Step rider hoped would vault them into the big leagues – would be shutting up shop at the end of 2022.

The news, which was on the cards for a while now, comes at the end of Pineau’s ultimately vain attempt to attract a big-name sponsor which would finance a WorldTour team (to be led by new signing Mark Cavendish), a new women’s team (headed by French champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot), and an academy set-up.

> Mark Cavendish’s future uncertain after team boss tells riders to look elsewhere

However, even the allure of a potentially record-breaking attempt at the Tour with Cav wasn’t enough to convince a new backer (with names like Amazon and Carrefour chucked around in the early days) and, despite Pineau’s desperate attempts to convince everyone in recent weeks that the team – or teams – would still be in the peloton in some fashion come 2023, the end appears nigh.

Or, as Le Telegramme poetically put it, “there is no more hope”.

Founded in 2018 as Vital Concept, the French squad amassed 36 victories during its time in the pro ranks, almost half of which were courtesy of former marquee sprinter Bryan Coquard and veteran stage hunter Pierre Rolland.

However, the last few years saw the team develop some exciting talents such as Franck Bonnamour, mountain biker Victor Koretzky, and 21-year-old prospect and CRO Race stage winner Axel Laurance.

Nevertheless, Pineau’s attempts to build an empire around Cavendish and Cordon-Ragot have ultimately crumbled, with riders and staff now placed in the awful position of scrambling for work as we approach Christmas.

07 December 2022, 11:37
From the archives

Ouch... 

07 December 2022, 10:27
The anticipation builds…

Can you tell I’m excited for the cyclocross World Cup in Dublin this weekend?

07 December 2022, 09:11
“Those leaves are more protected than cyclists!” Another thrilling edition of ‘Why don’t cyclists use the cycle lane?’

Here on the road.cc live blog, we love providing some (often entertaining) answers to a question often heard emanating from a passing car, as the enquirer gestures wildly at nothing in particular: ‘Why don’t you lot use the cycle lane?’

Today’s instalment, spotted in Wimborne, Dorset, and posted on a local active travel Facebook group, is a real gem.

Not only does it feature the usual barrage of vehicles parked in the bike lane – in this case, two vans (one of which I hope is on its way into the cycle lane and not abandoned all askew), purported to belong to Dorset Council – but it also, for some reason, a big pile of leaves.

Protected leaves on a cycle lane in Wimborne (credit - Kester James Hewett)

Before anyone starts to worry, the leaves – which count as vulnerable road users, right? – are protected by a fabulous array of cones.

As one member of the group replied in the comments: “Those leaves have more protection than a cyclist often gets!”

Leaves get cones, cyclists get a lick of paint in the road. So that’s how it is, eh?

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.

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