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James May goes for a spin on his Orbea Orca...but is it better than a Dacia Sandero?; NZ chain apologises for employee threatening to "mow down" protesting cyclists; LTN vandal; On-board with Van der Poel; Contador vs Stelvio + more on the live blog

It's Monday and Dan Alexander is here for the first live blog of the week...
07 June 2021, 15:44
James May goes for a spin on his Orbea Orca...but is it better than a Dacia Sandero?

Of the three former Top Gear presenters, James May is probably our prizes for guessing which way around the other two go...although we may just be incredibly biased because of May's love of cycling. Last year he urged PM Boris Johnson to "bomb us with bicycles" with the £80bn budget for HS2. May also swapped his car for a bike during lockdown, losing weight and getting fitter in the process.

Now, he has been showing off his Orbea Orca OMR with SRAM Red and Zipp 302s..."I can't tell you exactly what it cost because I bought a custom frame and then built it up with exotic components. Lockdown does that," May told Drivertribe.

Comparing his bike to a Dacia Sandero, May admits he is ashamed to say the bike probably cost around the same as the car. Unfortunately for our audience, May sided with the Sandero on four of the six categories, with the Orbea winning only for its niceness and community. By community, May suggests that stopping mid-ride on his Orbea often triggers interesting conversation with other riders...compared with pulling up in a Sandero which "to be honest, nobody is going to want to talk to you." Fair enough.

The other area that May prefers his bike is for 'niceness'..."The Orbea feels exotic," he explains. "It is light, agile and feels alive. It's made almost entirely of carbon fibre and weighs just 7.5kg. That's like a big hospital-sized box of cornflakes. If this were a car it would be a razor-sharp supercar. I sometimes park it in the bedroom." Fancy writing some reviews for us, James?

Sadly that is where the Orbea love-in ends...for practicality, comfort, performance and value, May sides with the Dacia. We'll get him eventually... 

07 June 2021, 15:27
He's back...was there ever any doubt? Mathieu van der Poel wins stage two of Tour de Suisse

I'm sure there were many in the peloton quite enjoying their couple of months free from Mathieu van der Poel...he's back and winning bike races right away. Van der Poel and Bora's Max Schachmann started their sprint together, just look at the gap by the finish...

Julian Alaphilippe lit the race up on the final climb, attacking alongside Ineos Grenadiers Tour de France GC hopeful Richard Carapaz. Van der Poel just diesled his way back up to them before distancing everyone other than Schachmann on the run in to Lachen.

Stefan Küng keeps the leader's jersey at his home race, one second ahead of Alaphilippe and two ahead of Schachmann. Van der Poel can do it all...but will his soigneur be able to get those white shorts clean again? It's great to have you back, Mathieu...

07 June 2021, 14:49
"Bike share can play a crucial role in our green recovery from Covid-19": Report credits Scottish bike-sharing schemes with huge rise in lockdown cycling numbers

The results are in from a bike-sharing initiative which was funded by the Scottish Government and saw users in Glasgow and Edinburgh allowed free use of bikes for the first 30 minutes of their journeys between June and September last year. A report into the scheme notes it attracted 18,000 new users, which resulted in a 38 per cent increase in cycling trips across the cities.

As part of the report, user feedback was collected, with 47 per cent saying their mental health had improved. One in 10 users said they had enjoyed the scheme so much they went on to buy their own bike. 

The report read: "Bike share supports numerous key public policies, including helping to cut transport emissions, improving public health and providing lower cost options for getting around. It removes some of the barriers to cycling including the cost of buying and maintaining a bike, and having somewhere to store one.

"It is a carbon free way to get around, mainly used for short trips, and provides an accessible means for physical activity for many. As a result, bike share can play a crucial role in our green recovery from Covid-19."

07 June 2021, 12:45
New Zealand hardware chain Mitre 10 apologises after staff member threatens to "mow down" protesting cyclists in social media posts

A New Zealand-based hardware chain, Mitre 10, has apologised after a staff member posted on Facebook threatening to hit cyclists with their vehicle...screenshots of the comments showed the worker liking a comment saying it is "perfectly legal" to "quickly mow down an aggressive cyclist or pedestrian" as long as you are "on and off the footpath within 10 seconds".

The worker also shared an event, seemingly in retaliation at last month's liberate Harbour Bridge protest which saw Auckland cyclists campaign for a cycle lane on the route. The event the worker shared was called 'Liberate the Lane - Cycle Lane Special' and showed a cyclist sat on the ground after a crash with the caption "I'll be polishing my bull bars for this!"

Other posts in the event also encouraged violence against cyclists..."Bring the truck around here when you're done … and I'll wash any blood or evidence away for you," the NZ Herald reports one person wrote. While, another asked: "Does Mitre 10 sell tacks? Asking for a friend" which the staff member said they do and "I get a discount".

Mitre 10 has apologised for its employee's behaviour and says it told the person to remove all posts on the topic from their profile but did not say if they had been sacked. "We are disappointed that they have caused offence to the cycling community and we absolutely do not share their views. To be clear, Mitre 10 does not tolerate bullying, racism or any other discriminatory behaviour," Mitre 10 said in a statement.

07 June 2021, 13:57
Alberto Contador conquers the Stelvio
07 June 2021, 13:44
Mark Cavendish looking forward to talks with Patrick Lefevere to decide future

 Mark Cavendish says he will be meeting Deceuninck-Quick-Step team boss Patrick Lefevere soon to decide his future with the team. Cavendish has enjoyed a successful return to the team where he enjoyed some of his best years and has now podiumed on nine occassions in 2021. However, Lefevere recently said the Manxman would not ride the Tour de France as it is too hard...

"I'll see Patrick soon, and then we'll see what happens to me in the short or long-term. I've been in the top-four 12 times this season and I didn't expect that at my age. It's going better than anyone expected," Cav said.

Speaking after finishing second at Elfstedenronde behind Giro d'Italia stage winner Tim Merlier, the 36-year-old said it was a dream to be back with riders such as Remco Evenepoel working for him. 

""It was an absolute dream to be with these guys today, they controlled the race and were perfect. I even had the honour of having Remco working for me at the front. Even at my age, it’s something I can be proud of. All this motivated me to give everything today."

07 June 2021, 11:23
On-board with Mathieu van der Poel flying down trails

Hot take of the day...Mathieu van der Poel is very good at riding bikes...Like compatriot Tom Dumoulin, Van der Poel is also back in action on the road in Switzerland this week as he builds towards the Tour de France and a possible mountain bike gold at the Olympics. Today's stage looks well-suited to the prodigious Alpecin-Fenix star, although Julian Alaphilippe may have something to say about that...  

We'll keep you updated on the action and results throughout the day here on the live blog...

07 June 2021, 11:00
Tom Dumoulin is back...former Giro champion and TT world champ returns to the peloton at Tour de Suisse
Tom Dumoulin (YouTube)

Tom Dumoulin was back racing bikes yesterday after a prolonged break from the sport since January. The 2017 Giro d'Italia winner returned with a respectable 16th place in yesterday's opening stage TT and the Dutchman has opened up on his reasons for taking a step away...

"The problem of the last three years was that I lost the pleasure in my job and the race," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "I had forgotten what I liked and didn't like. Now I know that again. That period without racing was very instructive for me. I know again what kind of rider Tom Dumoulin is."

Now back in the peloton, the 30-year-old is not putting any pressure on himself and did not elaborate on any long-term goals other than to compete in the time trial at the Olympics in Tokyo this summer. Dumoulin wants to reach the form that saw him finish second on the La Planche des Belles Filles penultimate stage time trial at the Tour de France last summer and admits he was surprised by his form after so long off the bike.

"Although I have to say that I was shocked when I got back on my bike for the first time after a few months of no training. After two weeks, I did a test and was surprised by the result. The talent has certainly not disappeared. That is also the reason why I have made the Tokyo Olympics a goal.

"My plan is to be as good in Tokyo as I was then [Tour de France stage 20]. I also believe it's possible. Of course everything will have to fall into the right place and you can ask yourself if I have enough time to grow to my very best level, but I am confident that it will work."

07 June 2021, 10:31
Our most recent Drink at Your Desk guest living the life over in Amsterdam...

Check out our most recent Drink at Your Desk episode when Orla told us all about the cycling culture in Amsterdam and why she loves her cargo bike so much...

07 June 2021, 09:52
London e-scooter rental trial goes live today

 A 12-month trial of e-scooter hire in a group of core London boroughs begins today with more areas expected to join soon. City of London will not be involved however, as it postponed its participation until July 5 over administrative concerns. Canary Wharf, Richmond, Ealing, Hammersmith, Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea are all signed up to the scheme which will allow the public to hire the scooters for use at up to 12.5mph on the roads and cycle lanes of the capital. 

One of the operators signed up to the trial, Lime, will charge £1 to unlock the scooter with a fee of 16p per minute. Thoughts? Are you pleased to see the major e-scooter trial get underway?

07 June 2021, 09:27
British Cycling outlines plans to reboot grassroots racing as the sport emerges from the pandemic
British Cycling Everyone Wins campaign (image credit: Huw Williams)

To mark the 50-day countdown to the Tokyo Olympics, British Cycling has outlined a plan to reboot grassroots racing following the disruption caused by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. Aiming to make the sport "more accessible, diverse and welcoming than ever before", the Everyone Wins campaign will follow the journeys of novice riders making their first steps in the racing world.

The campaign will help the governing body meet long-term goals for its eight cycling disciplines, including doubling the number of Go-Ride coaching clubs for kids, increasing female participation by 40 per cent and under-16 participation by 50 per cent by 2026.

In the short-term, British Cycling says it is working with other event organisers, including parkrun, and colleagues in the government to highlight the challenges of organising large events so soon after restrictions have been eased. 

"Grassroots bike racing is the foundation of our sport, and it is essential that everyone from all backgrounds can feel comfortable and welcome at events, whether they are competing, volunteering or supporting," British Cycling CEO Brian Facer said. "Our Everyone Wins campaign will help to showcase this alongside personal stories as riders start their competition journey, regardless of where they finish in the race.

"Over the last year we have seen the number of people riding bikes skyrocket. As grassroots events begin to get back up and running over the coming weeks and months we want to broaden the base of individuals who take part, breaking down barriers and perceptions and widening access to help us to lay the foundations for future success."

07 June 2021, 09:19
"Hmm… this sign seems unofficial?"

At least it doesn't tell them to dismount...

07 June 2021, 07:48
Community stands defiant after LTN vandals set fire to planter

Just Think Oxon, a prominent pro-active travel campaigner in Oxford, took these pictures of the burnt-out planter near Florence Park in the south of the city early yesterday morning. On a happier note,  just hours after the fire brigade had been called to put the fire out members of the community showed their support for LTNs by decorating the planter with posters and signs...

Councillor Tom Hayes condemned the arsonist: "Starting fires in neighbourhoods while people sleep is unacceptable. Risking people’s safety is horrible. Fire crews had to put out flames, our police need to deal with arson while being stretched by Covid-19. Our public sector and communities shouldn’t have to put up with this."

The motives and identity of the vandal remains unknown but it is not the first case of LTN vandalism that we have seen in recent times. In January, drivers in Levenshulme, Manchester, filmed themselves ramming planters off the road. Local residents rallied to clear up the mess before Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester's cycling and walking commissioner, insisted they would not be intimidated by vandals.

Oxford's LTNs also recently attracted some bizarre news coverage after a music producer put up a £1,000 reward for the safe return of a gnome that was stolen from a planter. Despite the sizeable incentive, PC Plod is still missing.

Dan joined 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.

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