Omega Pharma-QuickStep: More Signings to Come?

OPQ_jerseyThe worst kept secret in professional cycling was officially confirmed last week when Omega Pharma-Quickstep boss Patrick Lefevere announced the signing of Rigoberto Uran. In addition to Uran, who joins from Sky, Lefevere also confirmed the signing of Mark Renshaw from Belkin and Alessandro Petacchi. Uran is expected to be the squad leader and the main contender for Grand Tour success over the next two years of his contract.


Add those three to Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Tony Martin and Mark Cavendish and you have one of the strongest and most versatile squads in pro cycling. But apparently Lefevere says he may add even more. ‘It depends on the moves in the market. Some people I have to speak to still as there are four or five riders in my team who are at the end of their contracts. There’s Euskaltel stopping and so there are a few riders who’ve done well in the mountains before and I’m interested in. But I’m not in a hurry.’ Sammy Sanchez maybe?


OPQ have historically been a good team but never had a contender for the top prizes. So why the sudden change of approach? Lefevre’s explanation is that he’s been put off signing a grand tour contender until now due to cycling’s doping problems.


Well, now he’s got one in Uran, who finished second in the Giro d’Italia this year, despite losing time while supporting a fading Wiggins. As the ever quotable Lefevere said: ‘What’s for sure is that I’m not standing there with a gun in his face telling him he has to get on the podium in the Giro, Tour or Vuelta. If he does it though, of course I’ll be happy.’



Copenhagenize the UK

copenhagenizeAs London continues to pat itself on the back after Ride London this weekend Cyclo got to thinking ‘just how cycling friendly is London anyway?’ Or the rest of the UK for that matter…


There didn’t seem to be an authoritative guide out there so we decided to try it ourselves. After collecting ten surveys from 2008 to 2013, from sources as diverse as Virgin Money, Cycling Plus, Department of Transport and Campaign for Better Transport, we compiled an average view and… it told us nothing.


Although Bristol often ranks in the top five, Cambridge, for example, goes from number two in one survey to number 60 in another. Plymouth makes the top spot in the Virgin Money survey but appears only once more in the others. York is top three in two and nowhere in the rest. So we decided that we should take up the challenge and run the data again but with more rigour. We needed to Copenhagenize.


The Copenhagenize Index is a renowned study that ranks the world’s ‘Bike Friendly’ cities. By using 13 categories and a complex marking system the results are published annually since 2011. To no-ones surprise Amsterdam and Copenhagen always do best as do other cities in Holland, Belgium and Germany. Spain and France are also well represented. Outside of europe it’s often Japan and Canada that feature. As for the UK, London made the top 20 in 2011 but that’s about it. As the data is partly gathered by volunteers (156 in 67 cities this year) we thought we’d try the same approach. We’re going to kick off the process but we’d like some help. If you feel like putting your UK City or Town forward please get in touch at



Women’s Tour of Britain promised for 2014

UCI doing it’s bit for women’s sport…

The sports marketing and event management company SweetSpot has won the right to stage a women’s ‘Tour of Britain’. British Cycling awarded the contract to the UK company despite rival bids from Giro and TdF organisers.


SweetSpot already manage the Tour of Britain, the pro Tour Series of city centre criterium and the Tour Ride sportives for amateurs. The women’s tour will be a five-day event somewhere in May 2014 and will, they say, be covered by terrestrial television (presumably by current partners ITV4). In it’s first year it won’t be a true ‘Tour of Britain’ but a short series based in the east of England.


One winning part of the bid was to promise the same prize money that the men would receive. SweetSpot spokesman Guy Elliot says ‘We will finish in town centers and pay the same prize money that Bradley Wiggins or Mark Cavendish would get,’ adding that the event will be: ‘The only cycling event in the world where women are not second best.’


Elliot believes that women’s sport in general is short changed by being bolted on to men’s events and this needs to change to: ‘ensure it gains a greater profile but also so the social message is not diluted.’


All laudable stuff and although some detail is missing (sponsors, dates, routes, teams, etc.) we wish them all the best. We also hope his quest for parity extends to beefcakes on the podium presenting flowers and providing a peck on the cheek to the stage winner. He’d be doing us all a favor by highlighting how anachronistic this practice is and how it undermines women every day on the Grand Tours.



RideLondon a Roaring Success

RideLondon - Women's Grand Prix

With cyclists taking over the streets of London this weekend the two day event Prudential RideLondon is on the finishing straight. With participant numbers exceeding expectations it been a roaring success. Here’s a recap of the action over the four events so far.


On Saturday morning we had the FreeCycle, a turn up and go family ride. Held over an eight-mile traffic-free loop of closed roads around central London, the route takes in some of the city’s landmarks, including the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. The organisers hoped for 50,000 but early reports suggest it may have been 70,000.


Saturday evening saw the Grand Prix, a criterium featuring the world’s best women, junior and hand cyclists on a 1.3 mile circuit in and around London’s St James’s Park. The main 15 lap event was won by Laura Trott after a brilliant lead out from WiggleHonda team-mate Dani King. Sadly Joanna Rowsell, also WiggleHonda, suffered a broken collarbone after a last lap crash.


Sunday morning saw the staggered start of event number 3 – the London-Surrey 100. Up to 20,000 amateur cyclists lined up for the 100-mile challenge. The route runs from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, on closed roads through central London and into the Surrey countryside. After looping back into the capital the race finishes on The Mall. The starts were between 06:00 and 08:00 and all riders are required to finish in under 9 hours.


Sunday afternoon  followed  with the 140mile London-Surrey Classic featuring 150 of the world’s best road racers, with Peter Sagan and David Millar probably the best known. Similar to the 2012 Olympic Road Race the route is the same as the earlier ‘100’ but with tree added laps of ‘Leith Hill Loop’ before rejoining the route through Dorking, Cobham and Kingston and finishing on the Mall this evening. You can follow the action live on BBC1.



Meet Wiggle Honda Women at Prudential RideLondon

Wiggle Honda Women's Cycling TeamThis weekend almost 100 of the world’s best women riders will be tackling the criterium on a fast, flat 1.3-mile loop around St James’s Park as part of the RideLondon Cycle Show. The weekend also provides an opportunity to meet and greet the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team (or Wigglettes as they like to be known.) According to WiggleHonda “Our athletes will be signing autographs before they compete in the Grand Prix event Saturday evening. Don’t miss this opportunity to come and show the team your support!” indeed.


Apart from the ever popular Laura Trott and Dani King you can also queue up for Amy RobertsElinor BarkerRochelle GilmoreEmily Collins and Anna Bianca Schnitzmeier. Failing that you can follow their twitterage with the links above.


Trott may be among the favourites for the race but has been insisting that she’s really a team player. ‘When I was at the Olympic Games I only got to ride in the Velodrome and you don’t get to see all the landmarks, so it’s going to be amazing,’ said the 21-year-old, ‘I want to target the Grand Prix as there’s going to be so many people there watching. The team element is really important, as they are there to help out as much as they can and I think it will go down to me or Dani King, as obviously when it comes to a sprint we’re the fastest riders.’


Prudential RideLondon takes place on August 3 and 4. You can find out more about the ride at and about the Wiggle Honda Women’s Pro Cycling Team at


And a last word from Trott:




Cheap as Chips

Surface DressingIt’s about this time of year that local councils roll out their road surfacing teams to ruin that beautifully smooth route you’ve been pounding since spring. There’s nothing worse than finding a favorite stretch destroyed with those big loose chippings. But what is that stuff?


According to our local council, and investigations by Cycling Weekly, the process is called ‘Surface Dressing’ and those chips being launched at you by a speeding car are granite – ouch. Surface dressed roads not only present a flying chip hazard to bike and rider but see a dramatic increase in road resistance making your journey that much harder, and increases the likelihood of punctures.


So why do they do it? Simple answer is that it’s cheap and as austerity bites you’re likely to see a lot more of it.


The process involves spraying the road with bitumen, tipping on granite chippings and, if they are doing it properly, rolling the lot until it’s bedded in. What often happens is the teams leave the rolling to passing cars and time. In theory the excess chips should be brushed away on a regular basis but that rarely happens. It’s easier just to stick a ‘go slow’ sign on the curb. Councils admit there are safety issues for cyclists but maintain the method is a ‘cost effective way of sealing up the network’, increases safety due to better grip (for cars) and prolongs the lifetime of the road surface. Whatever the truth expect to see a lot more during summers to come. Let Cyclo know how it’s affecting you.



Shut up Legs! – Jens Voigt Retirement U-Turn

jens_vJens Voigt, possibly the funniest man on two wheels, was supposed to retire at the end of this year. He’s now suggesting that, having offers from other teams, he could race for one more season. ‘I have three concrete offers from Sky, Saxo Bank and also from RadioShack,’ 41-year-old Voigt told the dpa agency. ‘Maybe I will stay there.’


Although it’s hard to see where Sky have a Jens shaped hole, a move to Saxo would be intriguing. Voight moved from Saxo, where he raced for six years, to Leopard Trek (now Radioshack) in 2010, with Frank and Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara. A return to Saxo would mean a role supporting Alberto Contador, a task he once deemed ‘difficult’ due to the animosity between the Schlecks and the Spaniard. Either way the Grand Tours are set to soon lose the most charismatic rider to grace the Peloton in the last 10 years.



One factor that may be an influence is his excitement about the relatively new RadioShack Nissan Trek project. Despite what he admits was a ‘bumpy start’ after Johan Bruyneel’s RadioShack team merged with the Luxembourg-based Leopard-Trek outfit in 2012 the team has hugh potential. That’s if they can get the best from Fabian Cancellara, American Chris Horner, German all-rounder Andreas Kloden and one, or both, of the Schleck brothers. Although in his seventeenth year in the peloton, Voigt’s consideration may center around his statement in 2012 ‘…enormous strength in depth. I’m looking forward to some spectacular races we’re going to do this year.’ Despite relative failure in the TdF the team is still among the best of the rest. For a 41 year old the best option might be to stick with what, and who, you know.


Here’s a reminder of makes Jens so special.




Featured News

Mixed Results for Team Sky at Vuelta

Day two of the Vuelta a España has seen mixed results for Team Sky; Chris Froome, runner-up last year, only managed a 29th placing, saying: ‘Coming so soon after the start, this climb won’t decide who’s going to win the race but we’ll start to see who could lose it.’


Better news though for team-mate Ben Swift who finished third in the second stage in a sprint finish won by John Degenkolb of Argos-Shimano. Clearly delighted with what he regards as a breakthrough win in his first major tour the the young German commented, ‘A finish like that called for pure power, which is what suits my kind of racing, not just speed, and after team-mate Koen De Kort had dropped me off with 200 metres to go there was just me, Davis and Swift up there for the sprint… It’s great to get a win so soon for the team. We came here looking for just one victory and now we’ve got that in the bag the pressure is off. Maybe more will come after these next two mountainous stages.’


On the hilly second stage from Pamplona to Viana, which was run in temperatures soaring into the high 30s Celsius, the Spaniards Javier Aramendi and Javier Chacon and the Russian Mikhail Ignatyev went clear in the first hour. After Chacon dropped back with 30km to go, the overall contender Alberto Contador of Spain made a surprise dash at an intermediate sprint to snatch a two-second time bonus. ‘I thought I might as well try for it. It wasn’t too much effort and I was in a good position anyway,’ the leading Vuelta favourite said.


Spain’s Jonathan Castroviejo of the Movistar team remained the overall leader. Monday’s third stage will be the first summit finish of the race, on Mount Arrate in the Basque Country.