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Tom Pidcock claims famous Strava KOM... but quickly deletes ride; A 'cyclists dismount' sign for the ages; Mark Cavendish signs Tour Colombia fan's... slightly creepy Cav doll; Sam Bennett: "I've been s***" + more on the live blog

Welcome to the Wednesday live blog... Dan Alexander is here to bring you everything you need to know (and plenty you probably don't) from the world of cycling today...
07 February 2024, 09:06
Tom Pidcock claims famous Strava KOM... but quickly deletes ride

It seems Tom Pidcock very briefly broke his Strava hiatus yesterday, screenshots doing the rounds on social media suggesting the incredibly talented 24-year-old uploaded a ride, got the KOM on Coll de Rates (a famous and incredibly popular training and testing climb for riders visiting the winter training hotspot Calpe), and then promptly deleted his ride again. Job done...

The six-kilometre climb is hardly a Tour de France Alpine pass, but is popular for its steady, consistent gradients, and great views, the Strava leaderboard a who's who of professional cycling. With 264,393 attempts by 61,494 people, according to Strava, and a high proportion of elite-level riders visiting, we can safely say it is one of the most competitive segments out there.

Former pro Tejay van Garderen is fifth, Jonas Vingegaard set the third fastest time (back in 2018), and UAE Team Emirates' Juan Ayuso took the KOM just a few days ago. Until Tom P popped in, had a go, got an email notification sent out, and promptly deleted his ride...

> How fast!? We take a look at Tom Pidcock's Alpe d'Huez-conquering Strava file

Maybe he's got a bucket list of KOMs to tick off? In December 2022 it was Sa Calobra that fell, Pidcock taking two minutes off British hill-climbing extraordinaire Ed Laverack's time, the top-10 complete with names such as Gianni Moscon, Simon Yates and Sebastián Henao.

Tom Pidcock Sa Calobra (Strava)
07 February 2024, 17:19
Cycling campaign praises Essex Police over improvements in third-party reporting action during 2023
Driver close passing cyclist, Coventry (Twitter: @jaj991)

Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP) has revealed that more than 1,000 close passes were reported by cyclists in the county in 2023. Of 1,279 reports made through the Extra Eyes third-party reporting service, 84 per cent were for close passes.

However, the largest number of reports came from motorists using dash-cams, with 2,816 reports last year.

Of the reports by cyclists, 56 per cent were taken forward by Essex Police, which will have resulted in prosecution or the offer of a driver improvement course, seven per cent resulted in an advice letter being sent and 35 per cent resulted in no further action. For driver submissions the figures were: 35 per cent actioned, three per cent sent an advice letter, and 53 per cent no further action.

There were also 934 reports by pedestrians, 28 by motorcyclists and 36 by horse riders.

Stuart Johnson, spokesperson for the Colchester Cycling Campaign, has praised Essex Police for improvements to the service in the past 12 months.

"In the first quarter of 2023, we were dissatisfied with the high number of advice letters that the police were sending in response to close passes," he said. "We were dubious that these were effective and called on the police to take more robust action against careless and dangerous drivers.

"Since March, we have seen a large drop in the number of advice letters and a big increase in the numbers of drivers being sent on driver improvement courses which we believe are likely to be a more effective way to improve driving behaviour and reduce the risk to road users."

07 February 2024, 16:49
Cyclists' reaction to Cycling Time Trials stating all riders must adhere to 20mph speed limits during time trials in Britain – as governing body cites safety concerns and risk of causing "public outrage"
Time trial (John Clifton/SWpix.com)

Some reaction to the big news of the day, new guidance from time trialling governing body Cycling Time Trials (CTT) stating that riders must adhere to 20mph speed limits during time trials in Britain. 

Matthew Acton-Varian: "Unfortunately there is no realistic outcome where anyone is happy. I for one don't see how staring at my bike computer trying to keep to the speed limit, struggling to avoid collisions with road furniture and being overtaken by vehicles ignoring it, is safer.

"Anyone who has previously set a competitive time will never again be able to try for a PB. Blanket 20mph speed limits (and in particular the general attitude toward them from motorists) are incompatible with TTing, hill climbs notwithstanding. I understand that they are trying to let racing continue but these exceptions are not a reasonable solution. But CTT needs to be seen as doing something. It's a no-win situation."

Rendel Harris: "Any chance of a race only on 20 mph roads? I might dig the old clip-on aero bars out of the loft and have a chance of winning something at last, albeit in a tied first with all the other riders…"

Jerry Taylor: "And this madness is why I won't be doing any time trials. Meanwhile we'll all ride them in social club rides or solo at whatever speed is safe for conditions."  

07 February 2024, 14:51
"Unprecedented success" of Cycling World Championships inspires 80% of Scots to ride their bikes more, independent report finds
07 February 2024, 14:54
POLL: Should teams be able to substitute ill or injured riders in the first week of a Grand Tour?

QuizMaker

07 February 2024, 14:31
Differing views on suggestion for substitutions for ill or injured riders in Grand Tours — UAE figure supports idea, Patrick Lefevere unimpressed

You might have seen on yesterday's live blog the comments from Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué raising the question about certain measures that could be introduced to Grand Tours to better protect riders, notably substitutions for injured or ill riders in the opening week, or even reducing the length of races to 15 days.

Unzué was not offering outright support to the ideas, although he sounded pretty convinced of the merits of the substitute proposal.

"If [Grand Tours] were reduced to 15 days, the best riders would probably ride all three Grand Tours. That would give them enough time to recover between them and be competitive in all three. It would create spectacle if the best riders were racing against each other more often.

"If a rider crashes, can he not climb into a car or ambulance to get examined and then start again the next day if he hasn't broken anything. Why not? We want more humanity. We want to protect the riders' health. And why don't we allow substitutions, at least in the first week of a Grand Tour? We lost Enric on the first day to a crash. So why not at least allow us to replace him and have eight riders on the team?

"I think we've all grown used to the idea of an epic sport and the belief that all these things form part of the epic nature of the sport. But remember, football didn't allow substitutions in the past either. Why don't we give it a try? Let's take the step and see if we like it. A change is needed."

So, what do we think?

Unsurprisingly, considering everything we know about the man, Soudal Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere isn't a fan, and said it would "give us a headache".

Patrick Lefevere (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

[Zac Williams/SWpix.com]

"Unfortunately, falling and getting sick are part of it," he said. "A big part of your team's success is being resilient, being able to switch to a plan b. Those are the moments when the great champions rise up, bounce back from a setback – that's what people want to see. Racing is boxing: just because you're hanging in the ropes at a certain moment doesn't mean you lose the match.

"Who will determine when an injury or illness is real? I'm already looking forward to the VAR. It will be absolutely impartial and will undoubtedly consist of French doctors... No, this is going to give us a headache. I'm not going to stop this, but I'm not going to support it either. It will be for cycling after Lefevere ."

No surprises big Patrick is a man who'll refer to himself in the third-person... UAE Team Emirates' Joxean Fernández Matxin was more supportive and said in principle it is "absolutely very good" but also raises potential questions...

"It is complicated," he said. "Who will evaluate whether a crash is big enough? How serious does an injury have to be? Should you break your kneecap or is pain in your knee sufficient? And what about fatigue? After two weeks of racing, exhaustion is very similar to being ill.

"Still, I think the idea itself is absolutely very good. I am in favour of a simple variant, without medical criteria: I would give each team the right to change one rider in the last week."

07 February 2024, 12:24
All cyclists must adhere to 20mph speed limits during time trials in Britain – as governing body cites safety concerns and risk of causing "public outrage"
07 February 2024, 11:00
Sam Bennett: "I've been s***, I wasn't up to scratch, up to the standard I should be"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by sam bennett (@sammmyben)

Following the eye-catching comments of his former leadout man, Danny van Poppel, who heralded working with Sam Welsford at the Tour Down Under and said he had been "waiting for a fast sprinter", the Irishman has himself done a candid interview about his performances in recent times.

Bennett, who has moved to Decthlon AG2R La Mondiale for 2024 on a two-year deal, and will get to race Van Rysel bikes and kit, gave an honest assessment of his form since winning two stages and the green jersey at the 2020 Tour de France.

"I've been shit," he told the Irish Independent. "I wasn't up to scratch, up to the standard I should be. OK, if I never did what I did before then, they'd be all right seasons, but when I know what I'm capable of... it's not great."

Can totally relate, Sam. Those pro cycling horror film name suggestions I shared earlier really were...

Looking ahead to a fresh start with the French team, the 33-year-old said the Tour is "one of the main objectives".

"Of course I need to be going good at the start of the year but the Tour, I need to get back there and win again. The team asked me about doing the Giro but it’s too hard to do the Giro and Tour," he said.

"The Giro is the hardest one. There was one year I did it and I just didn't recover for months, so it's maybe better to put all my eggs in the one basket. Maybe if I'm good and there's a lot of sprints in the Vuelta, then maybe it's possible to do the Tour and Vuelta. It just works a bit better. But it's too hard to do the Giro and Tour unless you're a climber and you're super strong or you mind yourself on certain days, and just target stages. Then it's doable, but otherwise it's too much.

"The Olympics is in my head the whole time too. I should have done one before but the parcours never suited me. Now, this year, it's creeping up and we (Ireland) only have two places. It's a tough one but I need to do it once in my career and I don’t know if I'll be still around when the next one comes. I've had a great career but I'd be sad to never have ridden it. It’s something that if I come out of the Tour good, I'd like to have a go at it. If there's not a breakaway there, it could be a select bunch sprint and I could be there."

07 February 2024, 10:18
A cyclists dismount sign for the ages
07 February 2024, 10:06
Mark Cavendish signs Tour Colombia fan's... slightly creepy Cav doll

Nothing to see here, totally normal fan/rider interaction in Colombia...

Coming to cinemas near you: a legendary sprinter is haunted by a creepy doll... of himself... gifted to him by a fan at a race, as he wrestles with the pressure of one last shot at Tour de France glory.

 It's a work in progress... (Aero k)It? The silence of the opening week flat stage? Get out (my leadout train)? Yeah, gonna need a better name...

07 February 2024, 09:25
Cycling clothing brand Mamnick accuses Rapha of "stealing brand message and ethos"

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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12 comments

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Bungle_52 | 5 months ago
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Re Essex police.

I can't believe no one has commented on this good news story. The force and local cycle campaign need to be congratulated. Hopefully other forces will follow suit although I suspect Lancashire may be some time.

It will be interesting to see if it is accompanied by better KSI stats for cyclists and an increase in cycling in the area.

Is it time for a Roadcc to produce a league table.

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mitsky replied to Bungle_52 | 5 months ago
1 like

I wonder if the same proportions apply to the different report sources (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians etc) in all areas of the country.

If so, then anyone complaining about cyclists reporting dangerous driving can shut up as it is well under 50%.

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squired | 5 months ago
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If substitutions ever became a thing they would need to be strictly managed because teams would no doubt look to use it to their advantage.  End of the first week, strong leadout rider is suddenly too unwell to continue and is replaced by a climber...

You would need like-for-like swaps.  There would also need to be consideration about what those riders can do.  For example, if you are in the breakaway on day eight of the Tour and your three breakaway companions are all substitutions that joined the race today you'd be p****d.  The substitution riders would need to be excluded from all jersey competitions and I would have their GC time set to a certain number of minutes behind the current last place.

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Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
1 like

How about each team is permitted a "bench" of say three riders, all teams' riders to ride in a bunch ahead of the race with the publicity caravan, no breakaways permitted, following a set pace car. That way any time a substitute was required they would have exactly the same mileage in their legs as the person they replaced; it would also mean that the substitutes would be "live" on the road, so if they were needed they could wait at the side of the road and slot into the race at whatever position the person they were subbing left it. I know this would probably be a logistical and financial nightmare, but it would be the only fair way I can see of allowing replacements. Otherwise we could see some absurdity such as a rider who rode the last two days of the race winning the sprint on the Champs ahead of riders who had done the whole three weeks.

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stonojnr | 5 months ago
8 likes

The cyclist dismount sign is there if as you ride your bike on the path next to the bridge barrier & fall over the side of the bridge, the authority responsible for the road & path can point to the sign telling you it was at your risk for ignoring the sign.

There are minimum barrier height requirements on bridges for different modes of use, the sign is cheaper than fixing the barriers, but are only advisory.

They don't tend to come with cyclist remount signs, relying instead on the riders common sense when its safe to do so.

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HoarseMann replied to stonojnr | 5 months ago
1 like

It's a bit odd, because that's not even a cycle path, it's a footway. There's a 'cyclists rejoin carriageway' sign at the junction preceding it.

I can only think the intention is it applies to the road. Your point about the low barriers is valid, as you can imagine if a cyclist was caught in a gust of wind whilst riding on the road and went over the barrier, the council could still point to this sign.

But then the next bridge to the south has very similar height barriers and no 'cyclists dismount' sign.

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stonojnr replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
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Probably the intent was to make the path a shared cycleway over the bridge, theres one over the A14 that has them too, that forced them to install the sign, but then they abandoned the idea after more thought and just haven't been bothered enough to get rid of the sign.

The bridge to the south clearly hasn't been designated a cycle path, as that path literally goes nowhere.

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HoarseMann replied to stonojnr | 5 months ago
1 like

It's possible they planned a cycle track, but I'm not sure. Looking back on streetview, it seems there used to be a much wider footway that has been narrowed to accomodate an extra lane of traffic. The sign does need to go though. I can imagine some motorists would think it means cyclists should get off and walk over the bridge!

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Creakingcrank replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
3 likes

I live very near this junction. The whole area was rebuilt a few years ago to accommodate high volumes of traffic entering the nearby Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin sites, which would cause queues onto the motorway at peak times. All the roads are new (other than the bridge). The (lousy) cycle infrastructure was installed at time of construction. 

I think the bike paths provide a connecting route to the JLR site, but there is no cycle infrastructure on the far side of the bridge, and none going anywhere else. If I'm riding that way, I always stay on the road through the junction. The whole area is quiet outside JLR rush hour times.  

The pavement where you are asked to dismount is too narrow for a two-way bike path, but I imagine peak bike traffic is effectively one way anyway, and building a bigger bridge would have been challenging. 

It is a bit of a shame that the original road between the junction and Gaydon has been removed. It might have made a nice fully separated bike route, but it is on the wrong side of the new construction to be very useful for riders going to JLR (and a fair few do), and would still leave you having to navigate the bridge somehow.

Longbridge Island, a couple of junctions further up (and much busier at all times) has a dedicated bike/pedestrian bridge allowing you to avoid the whole thing.

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IanMK replied to stonojnr | 5 months ago
5 likes

I don't know if anyone else has spotted this? Last week I got diverted off the M1 (night closure) and I switched on to the A5. Anyway, somewhere between Dunstable and Milton Keynes there was a sign, at some roadworks, that said something like "pedestrians and cyclists please wait to be escorted". I did wonder why would cyclists need to be escorted on a road but again it might just be the company passing the liability buck.

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SimoninSpalding | 5 months ago
7 likes

Did someone at road.cc actually have to speak to that Mamnick chap for the story. You do know that an employer has a duty of care to their employees don't you?

No fan of Rapha particularly, but at least they are not on record as racist, sexist bigots who glorify gun violence.

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Velophaart_95 | 5 months ago
0 likes

All good prep for Tom with Sunday's XCO race in La Nucia......

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