‘It’s not called road tax!’; Autumn Statement reaction; Anti-LTN activists make video game where cyclists “transform streets”, and it’s fun; Le Col-Wahoo in danger after sponsor pulls out; Wiggins Jr aims high; Nairo’s coming home? + – road.cc

‘It’s not called road tax!’; Autumn Statement reaction; Anti-LTN activists make video game where cyclists “transform streets”, and it’s fun; Le Col-Wahoo in danger after sponsor pulls out; Wiggins Jr aims high; Nairo’s coming home? +  road.cc


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It’s Thursday and Ryan Mallon’s back for the penultimate live blog of the week, hoping it goes down better than Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement

17:49

“By putting ‘Road Tax’ into the headline, the BBC is pushing (yet again) an anti-cycling agenda”: Reaction to BBC’s VEDisaster as cyclists blast broadcaster for referring to ‘road tax’

After the BBC (as well as the Treasury, and the Guardian) took on the role of the classic anti-cycling punter by referring to ‘road tax’ in a headline about the Autumn Statement, road.cc reader hawkinspeter decided to complain to the broadcaster.

Here’s the complaint:

The article has a headline ‘Electric car drivers to pay road tax from April 2025’ and this is completely inaccurate. The article refers to VED and not ‘Road Tax’ as that hasn’t existed since 1937.

What is particularly annoying about this is that a certain segment of the population refers to ‘Road Tax’ when complaining specifically about cyclists and so by putting ‘Road Tax’ into the headline, the BBC is pushing (yet again) an anti-cycling agenda and prompting yet more abuse against cyclists out on the road.

There is literally no sensible reason to use the incorrect and out-of-date ‘Road Tax’ except to try to hurt people who cycle.

Meanwhile, IanMK was confused about something missing from the instructions of Brighton’s latest cycling video game sensation.

“How do you know when you’ve won?” he asked. “Is it the point at which climate catastrophe is averted?”

Great point…

14:15

‘Stop saying Road Tax!’

On the subject of vehicle excise duty applying to electric vehicles from 2025, or as Auntie Beeb calls it, the mythical ‘road tax’:

Remarkably, it’s not just the BBC referring to ‘road tax’ like they’re your favourite anti-cycling bingo caller down the pub.

Even the government itself is failing to keep up with the times (which in this case means anything after 1937, so par for the course for the Conservatives then)…

Toby also makes another interesting point about the BBC’s rather casual use of language, which – as the corporation itself told us a few weeks ago – isn’t that important after all:

> “We try to use language that ordinary people use”: BBC defends use of “accident” to describe road traffic collisions 

16:48

Meanwhile, over at GB News and Fair Fuel UK…

16:06

“My dream is to win Flanders, Roubaix, the world championships, and wear the yellow jersey”: Ben Wiggins has big ambitions

It will come as no surprise to most that 2012 Tour de France winner and self-styled Mod icon Bradley Wiggins’ son, Ben, is not lacking in confidence.

The 17-year-old, who is currently racing in the ‘future’ field at the famous Gent Six Day, has set his sights on winning big as soon as possible.

“My goal next year is to be junior world champ on the road and track,” he told Belgian media at t’Kuipke velodrome earlier this week. “It’s big, but you have to have big ambitions otherwise there’s no point really. I have a lot of confidence in myself and my ability.”

Clearly. But young Ben won’t be just content with a pair of junior rainbow jerseys.

“In an ideal world I’d be the best ever, but it’s not always an ideal world,” Wiggins Jr said. 

“My dream is to win Flanders and Roubaix, become world champion, and wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.

“Hopefully go higher than that as well, even bigger. I feel like I’ve got the work ethic and ambition to do that. So yeah, keep watching me.”

[Will Palmer/SWpix.com]

Ben’s early appearance at t’Kuipke means that three generations of the Wiggins family have now raced on the boards of the venerable old velodrome in Gent, after dad Brad and grandfather Gary, an Australian six-day specialist in the 1980s.

“This was my father’s favourite place to race. His dad raced here as well, so three generations of Wiggins have raced on that track now,” Wiggins noted.

“It’s a special place. It’s the Mecca of cycling for hardcore cycling fans. I came here when he [Bradley] won with Cav in 2016.

“I hear stories all the time, my dad loves this place. It’s hard to put into words. I got goosebumps just walking in. There’s an atmosphere about the place you don’t get anywhere else. It’s special.”

When asked to compare himself to his Olympic gold medal-winning father, Wiggins added: “I’m quite similar to my dad, maybe, but there are a lot of similarities with my grandad, Gary, as well.

“My dad was quite skinny and I’m a bit bigger. I don’t want to put a label on what I am yet because I’m still young. People said my dad would never be able to climb when he was younger.

“I want to win everything, so we’ll have a go.”

What are the odds for the 2030 Tour de France?

15:51

Police appeal after cyclist’s leg broken in assault by pedestrian

Incident happened in Leicester city centre last week

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15:25

‘Imagine when he gets Zwift’: Eliud Kipchoge hits the turbo trainer

Just think, the next time you’re in the shed struggling to turn the pedals on Zwift, marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge could be in charge of the avatar blowing past you.

38-year-old Kipchoge has joined the millions of cyclists around the world dedicated – or confined – to the turbo trainer this winter, and posted a video of himself trying out his new indoor set-up, sent to him by L39ION of Los Angeles pro (and son of Olympic-winning middle distance runner Steve) Freddy Ovett.

“When Eliud Kipchoge, the GOAT, sends you a video rocking the kit you sent out,” Ovett, who has raced for Israel Cycling Academy and briefly as a stagiaire for BMC, and currently excels in the world of eSports, wrote on Instagram.

“Inspiring to see this legend using the bike as a tool to help redefine marathon running – epic. Zwift next?”

Kipchoge, an Ineos-sponsored runner who holds four of the five fastest marathon times in history, replied: “It’s wonderful to be on the bike, especially for my recovery! Freddy, you are inspiration to me my brother! We will go far on inspiration and empowerment of sport.”

Reminder – never enter a Zwift race with Kipchoge…

14:48

Come on Ineos, you know you want to…

13:27

Calls for safe infrastructure after Bristol cyclist killed in lorry crash

Fatal collision yesterday happened just one week after council debated safer cycle routes

3

13:13

Autumn Statement reaction, part two: VED expansion “too soon” and “could discourage people from switching” to electric vehicles, says charging app founder

More from Jezza Hunt’s much-anticipated Autumn Statement today, as the Chancellor’s announcement (reported over the weekend by road.cc) that electric car owners will have to pay vehicle excise duty (VED) from April 2025 has been roundly criticised by those within the EV industry.

> ‘Road tax’ is coming… but not for cyclists

“At this critical time for our environment it is infuriating that the UK government would throw up a new barrier for people looking to change from a polluting car to electric power,” says Patrick Reich, the co-founder and CEO of EV charging app Bonnet.

“We should be speeding up the transition to zero emission transport, not slowing it down. While it’s accepted that as millions more people climb into electric cars that they would eventually have to pay some form of road pricing, the proposed 2025 timetable is too soon and could discourage people from switching earlier.”

12:52

Autumn Statement reaction: Import duty on aluminium bike frames reduced

We’ll have more on Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement later, but here’s some of the reaction to the announcement that one of the Chancellor’s measures “will remove tariffs as high as 18 percent on goods ranging from aluminium frames used by UK bicycle manufacturers to ingredients used by UK food producers”:

Now, we just have to wait and see whether the dreaded cuts to the government’s active travel budget – which, if true, will be revealed later in the Treasury’s detailed spending plans – will actually come to fruition… 

12:08

Le Col-Wahoo in danger after sponsor pulls out, with riders told to find new teams

The precarious nature of pro cycling sponsorship appears to be on ongoing theme this winter, as Le Col-Wahoo revealed today that it is scrambling to secure the squad’s survival after one of its sponsors pulled out, almost halving the UK-based women’s team’s budget.

While it’s not yet clear which of the squad’s main backers has pulled out, sports director Tom Varney told VeloNews this morning that it will leave a hole of around €400,000 in the budget for 2023.

Le Col and Wahoo came on board to sponsor the second-tier team, formerly known as Drops, in 2021 and 2022 respectively, and oversaw a boost in the outfit’s finances and stature. The British team took part in the first edition of the revamped Tour de France Femmes this year, with their highest overall placing coming courtesy of Manx rider Lizzie Holden (on her way to UAE Team ADQ for next season), who finished 36th on GC.

However, the last-minute withdrawal has left the team’s management scrambling – both to fill the sudden funding gap but also to help their riders find new teams for 2023.

Zac Williams/SWPix.com

“One of our main partners has said that they can’t fulfil their agreement with us so as of last night I made all of the riders and staff aware that they should find another deal,” Varney told VeloNews.

“I’m also speaking with other managers that I know to try and help them with that as one of our priorities. As of this morning, I think three or four of them have something, which is helpful.

“If we can move on some of our highest-paid riders it gives us more of a chance of continuing. We have some other conversations ongoing to fill the gap but as things evolve in the next hours and days, I think what we can do next year will become clearer. It is a particularly unfair situation to be put in, especially at this stage.”

While Varney is rushing to secure contracts for his riders elsewhere, he remains optimistic that the team will be able to continue in some fashion, perhaps at a lower level, next year.

He added: “As things stand, we have our second highest budget for next year, so it’s still a positive situation based on what we’re used to. It’s not near what we had last season.

“I think the most likely situation is that we’ll continue on at a lower level, but I don’t know what that will look like and what structure and race program we can provide.

“I’m not shying away from it, and I’m trying to help riders and speaking to managers. We have a lot of good people who have taken it quite well considering. Let’s see how it evolves.”

11:51

Nairo’s coming home: Could a third-tier Colombian squad save Quintana’s career?

While most of the cycling world focuses intently on the ongoing ‘Saga of Cav and the precarious French team’, former Giro and Vuelta winner Nairo Quintana’s future in the sport remains up in the air.

The 32-year-old Colombian is currently without a home for 2023 after Arkéa-Samsic – the French squad he joined in 2020 – distanced themselves from Quintana and pulled out of a planned three-year contract extension after he tested positive for the painkiller tramadol at this summer’s Tour de France.

While Quintana has continued to deny taking the drug (which won’t be on WADA’s banned list until 2024 but is currently prohibited in-competition by the UCI), at the start of November the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the former Movistar man’s disqualification from the Tour, and loss of his sixth place on GC.

With Quintana’s professional career teetering on the precipice of drug-related ignominy (don’t forget, the diminutive climber was also the subject of a criminal investigation into alleged doping following a raid at the 2020 Tour), several WorldTour squads have already moved to distance themselves from the Colombian’s signature.

However, a small window of opportunity may have finally opened for Quintana – in the shape of third-tier Colombian squad, Team Medellín EPM.

The Continental outfit, which this year won the Vuelta a Colombia and boasts old-timers such as Fabio Duarte and – remarkably – 46-year-old Operación Puerto alumnus Óscar Sevilla, issued a ‘come and sign for us’ appeal on Twitter this morning, promising Quintana both a return to his roots and a full diet of top-level racing.

“Nairo is our great representative of Colombian cycling to the world,” the team tweeted. “For this reason, from Team Medellín EPM, we offer you to continue your sports career with us with a wide national and international calendar.

“How proud it would be for Medellín for you to represent us.”

While the three-time Tour de France podium finisher is yet to respond to Medellín’s rather ambitious plea, VeloNews reports that he is continuing to train in preparation for 2023 and will host his Gran Fondo Nairo in, funnily enough, Medellín this weekend.

Retired pro Víctor Hugo Peña, the first Colombian to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, told the country’s media this week that he expects Nairoman to continue racing next year and beyond.

The former US Postal rider and teammate of Lance Armstrong (so he knows a thing or two about emerging unscathed from sticky situations) said: “This is proving hard for him, but that’s when the great ones are forged.

“I confide in him, and he’s a strong guy, who’ll cry, wipe away the tears, and he will continue. I am positive he will not give up. What he has to do is speak with his legs, and do what he’s always done, this guy with a hard and strong face. Now is the time that he has to go forward, and that would be one of his most important victories.”

10:24

It’s that time of the year again, folks…

09:47

Classic Twitter Bantz

17 November 2022, 09:18

Anti-LTN activists make video game where cyclists “transform streets” – and it’s actually pretty fun

If you’re the type of person who, after a tough commute home from work, likes to spend the long winter nights huddled around the Sega Mega Drive (or whatever the kids are playing these days), I have just the game for you.

‘Brighton & Hove City Council’s Local Traffic Nightmare’ (snappy title, I know) combines two things dear to the heart of every road.cc reader: riding bikes and helping to make our roads a safer, more pleasant experience for everyone.

In the game, says the helpful (and hilarious, but we’ll get to that in a minute) instructions page, “your mission is to make using cars an extremely unpleasant experience so the residents give up – they can either walk or cycle.” Sounds brilliant.

Once you click ‘Play’, you will enter the game’s Farfisa organ-soundtracked 2D world, where you can ride around, installing cycle lanes, bike hangars, and planters for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods as you go.

> Council “investigating” after driver outrage at cycle hangar “deliberately” blocking car parking spaces

Admittedly, the gameplay isn’t exactly Pro Cycling Manager, the graphics belong in a 1980s arcade, and your computer feels on the verge of a catastrophic meltdown the whole time you’re playing it…

But hey, a game where you can simply ride your bike around and make streets safer at the same time – what’s not to love?

What’s that? The game is actually the brainchild of a bunch of anti-LTN activists in Brighton?

Well, you could knock me down with a Volkswagen Polo.

According to the Argus, the game was invented by campaigners opposed to Brighton & Hove City Council’s plans to install a ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ in the Hanover and Tarner area of the city, to parody the “absurd idea”.

Anti-LTN campaigner Chris Beaumont told the Argus: “It’s a lot of fun and a very tongue-in-cheek look at the way these things have developed.

Chris says the game, based on a similar arcade-themed satire of Southern Rail, “does get the message across and highlights the absurdity of what’s going on. It’s a great idea and some people will find it funny.”

> Anti-cycle lane councillor now furious that HGVs are putting schoolchildren in danger

Ah, of course – now all that stuff in the instructions about the “collateral damage” of LTNs, “extending the misery”, and “knowingly and intentionally making residents’ lives painful” makes sense now. Well, it doesn’t, but you know what I mean.

Interestingly – and I’m not claiming that this says anything about the perspectives of those involved in the making of the game – when your mini cyclist rides on the pavement, you’re reprimanded for “hitting an elderly person”.

But… when a motorist strikes you, knocking you from your bike, the car also explodes into pieces, and you’re pointedly told: “You have been caught being bad at cycling”.

Hmmm…

Brighton & Hove City Council told the Argus they are aware of the game, and criticised it for its “inflammatory and disappointing language”.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The Liveable Neighbourhood trial aims to reduce the ongoing creep of traffic into residential streets.

“This would make our streets safer and our air cleaner for residents, and discourage unnecessary car journeys.

“All properties will still be accessible by vehicle. We’re also working to ensure the needs of people with disabilities are considered.”

As for the game? I think I’ll stick to PCM, thanks.

Ryan Mallon

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.