A German professional cyclist has come in for criticism, including from his own team boss, after a video was posted on social media showing him hanging onto the back of a lorry during a training ride in Spain yesterday.
Felix Groß, who is set to leave Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates squad this winter after two seasons with the WorldTour outfit, was filmed taking the tow by fellow German pro and training partner Tim Torn Teutenberg, prompting UAE Team Emirates manager Joxean Fernández Matxin to criticise his departing rider’s “regrettable and unacceptable attitude”.
Following yesterday’s training ride in Spain – where the German pair are ramping up their preparations for the track events at next year’s Paris Olympics – 21-year-old European elimination champion Teutenberg, who is set to race for Lidl-Trek’s development team in 2024 after spending a few months this autumn as a stagiaire for the pro squad, posted a brief clip of Groß clinging to the back of the lorry with the caption: “How to get to the top with Felix Groß”.
El ciclista del vídeo es Felix Groß, y no Felix Großschartner como indicaba erróneamente en el primer tuit. El propio @Matxin_ lo ha aclarado. Así que procedo a borrar el tweet anterior. pic.twitter.com/6AXl6g3Ved
— BUENO,YO ME QUEDO POR AQUÍ, FUE UN PLACER SEÑORES! (@visconti_es) December 2, 2023
The video has since been shared elsewhere on social media, where cycling accounts initially and erroneously accredited the HGV towing manoeuvre to the Austrian climber Felix Großschartner, a teammate of Groß at UAE Team Emirates and one of Pogačar’s key domestiques at the Tour de France.
However, responding to the clip on X, formerly Twitter, team manager Matxin clarified that the rider in question was in fact Groß, and that he is set to leave the team in January after an often frustrating two-year spell.
“Regrettable and unacceptable attitude,” Matxin wrote on Twitter. “To clarify, that it is not Felix Großschartner, and that it is Felix Groß, the German, who will not be with us in 2024.
“But that does not detract from what he has done, it is regrettable.”
Other social media users were slightly more forgiving of the German rider’s actions, with one less sincere commentator writing: “I think the cyclist is the one pushing the truck”, while another claimed that Groß “is a German gripping record holder. And for that you have to train.”
As Matxin noted on Twitter, 25-year-old Groß is set to leave UAE Team Emirates at the end of this month to join the German Rad-Net Oßwald squad, where he will race as part of his preparations for next summer’s Olympic track programme.
Groß finished eighth in the individual pursuit, and seventh as part of the German team pursuit squad, at August’s world championships in Glasgow, which marked his comeback to the track from a two-year break to focus on the road following the Tokyo Games.
His stint at UAE Team Emirates was a frustrating one, however, with a few promising top tens in bunch finishes during his debut season giving way to an almost completely barren 2023, during which Groß failed to finish 13 of the 15 one-day or stage races he started.
“An amazing 2.5 years are coming to an end with UAE Team Emirates,” he wrote on Instagram last month.
“It was an incredible journey with many ups and downs for me, I was part of the best team in the world and I am grateful for the individual moments in this team. I would like to thank UAE Team Emirates for the opportunity given to me to be part of your cycling family. It is extraordinary the talented teammates I was able to get to know and celebrate one or two successes with them.
“Now it’s time to start another chapter in my career and prepare my next Olympics Games once again. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you again one day in the peloton.”
While Groß’s tow provoked the ire of his soon-to-be former boss, he isn’t the only cyclist who has caused controversy on social media by hanging onto the back of a moving vehicle recently.
In October, we reported on the live blog that a Brazilian food blogger had taken to posting videos showing a cyclist in Curitiba, the capital of the country’s southern state of Paraná, perching himself on the front of his bike while hooking his feet to the rear bumper of a bus, letting the vehicle tow him along as his back wheel occasionally leaves the road.
While the “dangerous” manoeuvre was heavily criticised online, others noted that the cyclist was taking advantage of Curitiba’s vaunted bus network – where long orange buses glide along segregated lanes, separate from other motor traffic, stopping only at designated stations situated on outward-folding ramps.
“It’s incredibly dangerous, but that’s the whole point, they’re an adrenaline junkie!” said road.cc reader Neil MG. “But the bus is unlikely to stop suddenly and doesn’t need to ‘pull over’ as it is in the Curitiba dedicated mass transit system. I assume the crazy rider knows where it has to stop or slow down.”
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.