Wout van Aert will ride as ‘independent’ in coming cyclocross season after split with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan

The cyclocross world champion had agreed to join Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo in 2020, but is now without a contract

Wout van Aert will ride the coming cyclocross season as an ‘independent’ after a hostile split with his team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, according to his lawyer.

The Belgian is now without a team after it was announced he had terminated his contract.

Van Aert was due to join the Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo in 2020, seeing out his term with Veranda’s Willems.

But the team announced on Monday evening that van Aert had unilaterally terminated his contract.

The rider’s laywer, Walter Van Steenbrugge, told Belgian news website Sporza: “Wout will ride the coming cross races as an independent rider, as a kind of ‘lonesome cowboy.’

“We have contacted the UCI and the Belgian federation to inform them of this, so Wout does not use the equipment of that team or their bicycle.”

Van Steenbrugge added: “Something happened last weekend that caused the bucket to run over, there were already a lot of shortcomings on the part of the employer, and that is something that has changed over the weekend, which is why we immediately terminated the employment contract.”

“I have talked extensively with Wout twice over the past few days and we have come to the conclusion that there was really no basis left to work together.”

Van Aert’s lawyer said Veranda’s Willems demanded a severance payment, but that the cyclocross word champion will not pay.

He added that the case may go to court.

Van Aert has previously spoken of his frustration at being left in the dark after the team’s parent company, Sniper Cycling, was announced to merge with Aqua Blue Sport before pulling out of that deal and merging with Roompot for next year.

Van Steenbrugge said: “Wout is now without a team. It is too early to say in which direction he will go. There is no contact, no team.”

And speaking about joining LottoNL-Jump, he added: “That’s from 2020. We are now 2018. There is still a major cyclocross and road season, and I’m going to see what will happen.”

Van Aert has spoken out in his first weekly column for cycling website Wielerflits.

He said: “There have been facts in the last days that made any cooperation with the team impossible. Unfortunately, I can not tell you anything extra at the moment, because of the delicate aspect of the case.”

Van Aert said he will now focus on cyclocross.

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Castelli on the cheap: Ten massive discounts on excellent Castelli autumn and winter kit

The best deals on quality Italian autumn and winter kit that the internet has to offer right now

Seeing that scorpion logo has always been a symbol of top quality kit, but it has often also meant a top-end price tag, too. No longer must that be the case because we’ve gone the extra mile to find the best deals on the Italian kit so that you can give your wardrobe a bit of love.

The products featured have been chosen because we know they’re good quality and are an excellent offer at the price we’ve included (at the time of writing). Our tech team have unrivalled expertise and years of experience testing new products, so you can trust our recommendations – and we also know what represents a good deal. Where we’ve reviewed the product we’ve included a link to it so you can read more.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Castelli Perfetto long sleeve jersey was £180, now £135

Castelli Perfetto long sleeve jersey

Castelli Perfetto long sleeve jersey

Buy now: Castelli Perfetto long sleeve jersey review

If you want the very best wet weather and winter protection then look no further than the Castelli Perfetto. It’s so water resistant that we found we didn’t even need a cycling jacket with it, it’s almost unbreakable. It comes with a full storm zip and a high soft neck for additional comfort and extra sealing from the wet weather.

Buy now: Castelli Perfetto long sleeve jersey at Chain Reaction Cycles for £135

Castelli Nanoflex Pro Omloop bib tights were £160, now £98.96

With these tights Castelli took its already excellent Nano technology and quite literally doubled it around the bum, knees and thighs adding even more wet weather protection. With the intention that you’ll ride longer because of this, it has also upgraded the chamois to its Progretto X2 pad.

Buy now: Castelli Nanoflex Pro Omloop bib tights at Pro Bike Kit for £98.96

Castelli Gabba 3 jersey was £150, now £88

Castelli Gabba 3 Jersey

Castelli Gabba 3 Jersey

For a long time the Gabba has been considered the jersey to own for bad weather. It’s highly water resistant, windproof and tough and despite its short sleeves it seals out the worst weather very nicely.

Buy now: Castelli Gabba 3 jersey at Chain Reaction Cycles for £88

Castelli Prosecco long sleeve base layer was £60, now £35

The Prosecco base layer is excellent for cool, autumnal rides or even fast paced cold weather rides where wicking sweat is a priority. It has an anatomical cut and comfortable seams so it’s never intrusive underneath your jersey.

Buy now: Castelli Prosecco long sleeve base layer at Evans Cycles for £35

Castelli Nanoflex 2 bib shorts were £90, now £63.99

A soft fleecy lining makes the Castelli Nanoflex 2 bib shorts insulating and warm whilst the Nano Flex technology also makes the shorts exceptionally water resistant. The KISS chamois should be good enough to perch on all day long, too.

Pair them with something like the Nanoflex leg warmers you’re on to a winning waterproof combo.

Buy now: Castelli Nanoflex 2 bib shorts at ProBikeKit for £63.99 

Castelli Diluvio C shoe cover was £42, now £25

castelli diluvio overshoes

Read more: Castelli Diluvio shoe cover review

All too often cold feet can stop a ride before it has even begun so it’s worth getting a pair of overshoes that can keep your feet nice and toasty. These Diluvio cycling overshoes use a neoprene material to keep the water out while a fully waterproofed zip and sealed seams should you keep you toasty warm, too.

Buy now: Castelli Diluvio C shoe cover at Chain Reaction Cycles for £25

Castelli Nanoflex+ arm warmers were £35, now £24.79

Castelli Nanoflex+ Arm Warmers

Castelli Nanoflex+ Arm Warmers

Never under estimate the importance of arm warmers for chilled autumn rides and these Castelli Nanoflex+ arm warmers are not only soft and fleecy lined but also highly water resistant. Pair these with the Gabba that’s featured above and you’re on to a winning combination.

Buy now: Castelli Nanoflex arm warmers at ProBikeKit for £24.79

Castelli Imprevisto Nano Jersey – was £80 now £59.99

Castelli Imprevisto Nano Jersey

Castelli Imprevisto Nano Jersey

A light rain offering, the Imprevisto Nano is designed not to be windproof and not to have thermal properties perfect for the tail-end of summer. It’s designed to shed most of the water should you get caught in one of those unexpected downpours. It’s light and will wick away moisture, and has a tailored fit.

Buy now: Castelli Imprevisto Nano Jersey at Pro Bike Kit for £59.99

Castelli cycling caps from £15

Buy now: Castelli Retro 3 cap from £15 (down from £20)

We could spend time saying how cycling caps help keep you warm on autumn mornings, or how they help keep the rain from getting on you face or in your eyes.

In reality, they’re just really cool and an iconic part of cycling fashion. Evans Cycles has a couple of different options on offer.

Castelli Squadra Windproof Jacket – was £45, now £26.99

Castelli Squadra Windproof Jacket

Castelli Squadra Windproof Jacket

Buy now: Castelli Squadra Windproof Jacket at Wiggle for £26.99 (or £28 in black)

No one wants rain, but it happens. The Squadra windproof jacket will keep the worst off, whilst also protecting riders from buffeting winds.

The ripstop fabric is durable, whilst still being light enough to scrunch into a pocket and there’s some reflective detailing on the back of versions in white, black (which is £28) and green.

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Out of contract Mark Cavendish could strike deal with Bahrain-Merida for 2019

The Bahrain team is interested in bringing on McLaren as a sponsor with Cavendish potentially joining as part of the wheel

Mark Cavendish is searching for a new team, which could be Bahrain-Merida with current team Dimension Data showing little interest in renewing the star sprinter for 2019.

A Bahrain-Merida deal with automotive manufacturer McLaren could pave the way for Cavendish’s arrival. The team is reportedly dealing with the McLaren Technology Centre in Surrey and Cavendish as part of an overall package.

When asked for comment regarding the Manx rider, team general managers Doug Ryder and Brent Copeland were unable to respond.

Ryder signed Cavendish for the 2016 season, bringing on Deloitte consulting firm at the same time to help fund the contracts with him and support riders Mark Renshaw and Bernard Eisel.

According to a Cycling Weekly sources, the two have not spoken recently and a 2019 renewal contract appears unlikely. Instead, the team announced several new riders for their Grand Tour team – including Roman Kreuziger – and Classics team –  including Michael Valgren and Enrico Gasparotto. Sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo is due to join, too.

Copeland, also from South Africa like Ryder, began the Bahrain-Merida team with multiple Grand Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali in 2017. He helped it grow with money coming from island state Bahrain and the support of Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

For 2019, he made several smart signings by picking up riders who were uncertain if BMC Racing would continue. The BMC Racing structure eventually will continue as CCC, but Rohan Dennis, Dylan Teuns and Damiano Caruso had already signed for Bahrain.

Would there be space for a super sprinter like Cavendish? The 33-year-old has 30 Tour de France stage wins in his career and is aiming at beating Eddy Merckx’s 34 stage record and taking gold in the Madison at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, crashes and the Epstein-Barr virus have plagued his 2018 season. Any team that signs Cavendish would also have to offer support via staff and riders like Bernard Eisel.

Bahrain, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, is considering the deal to bring on board new sponsor McLaren. Cavendish already has connection with McLaren from his days riding on Specialized at team Highroad.

It is uncertain how much space the team would give Cavendish if they did sign him. With eight-man rosters, Grand Tour teams have little space to support top sprinters and top classification riders. Much would depend on Nibali’s and Dennis’s 2019 programmes and just how fast Cavendish returns to his winning ways.

If Bahrain falls through, it is uncertain where Cavendish could turn. One idea floated this summer was that Team Sky would offer him a parachute deal to allow him to race on the road heading towards Tokyo.

Any deal could be announced soon with the UCI governing body’s deadlines on teams starting already this September 28.

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Who the bookies think will win World Championships 2018 in Innsbruck

It’s the climbers’ time to shine – but who will wear the rainbow bands next season?

As the World Championships in Innsbruck approach, the bookies are making their predictions about who will take home the rainbow bands.

This year, the climbers take centre stage after Slovakia’s Peter Sagan claimed the world title three times in a row.

With riders tackling climbs of up to 25 per cent gradient, the bookies’ favourites all go well up hill.

Top of the list is Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, who was flying in the Vuelta a España until the final mountain stages.

The 38-year-old fell off the podium of his national Grand Tour, but picked up two stages wins and won the points classification.

Ladbrokes and Coral both have Valverde as 7/2 favourite, while Betfred gives the Spaniard 11/4.

Next on the list of likely winners is Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, who has been in the form of his life this season.

The 26-year-old won two stages at this year’s Tour de France as well as a stage and the overall at the 2018 Tour of Britain.

Ladbrokes puts Alaphilippe as second favourite, with 6/1 odds, as does Bet365 with 9/2.

Other big names tipped for the win are Vincenzo Nibali (Italy, 11/1), Vuelta winner Simon Yates (Britain, 12/1) and Primož Roglič (Slovenia, 14/1).

In the elite men’s time trial, reigning world champion Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) is the hot pick, with 8/11 odds from Bet365 and 8/13 from William Hill.

The next favourite for the TT is Australia’s Rohan Dennis, who notched up two emphatic solo victories at the Vuelta.

Bet365 gives Dennis 5/4 and William Hill 6/4.

Riders also mentioned for the individual TT include Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) at 20/1, Germany’ Tony Martin (22/1) and Gianni Moscon (Italy, 33/1).

At the time of writing, no odds for the women’s races or team time trial were available. Odds may be subject to change. 

Elite men’s road race odds (winner – Bet365)

Alejandro Valverde (3/1)

Julian Alaphilippe (9/1)

Simon Yates (12/1)

Adam Yates (14/1)

Vincenzo Nibali (16/1)

Thibaut Pinot (16/1)

Primož Roglič (18/1)

Michal Kwiatkowski (18/1)

Wout Poels (25/1)

Gianni Moscon (33/1)

Elite Men’s time trial (winner – Bet365)

Tom Dumoulin (8/13)

Rohan Dennis (6/4)

Vasil Kiryienka (16/1)

Tony Martin (22/1)

Gianni Moscon (33/1)

Maximilian Schachmann (25/1)

Stefan Kung (28/1)

Jonathan Castroviejo (33/1)

Nelson Oliveira (33/1)

Bob Jungels (50/1)

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Why pro riders including Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are protesting against their union

You might have seen the pros discussing the CPA online – but what’s the story?

A protest has been brewing in the professional peloton. Riders from across the cycling world have been speaking out, some with unexpected fervour.

The reason for the discontent in the pro ranks boils down to an impending election – a vote that all riders are welcome to take part in, in theory.

At the centre of the debate is the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA), the organisation that aims to represent riders at WorldTour, Pro Continental and Continental level.

The CPA was formed in 1999, and in that almost 20-year history elections for the organisations president have never been contested – only one candidate puts their name forward.

But this year is different, as former pro rider David Millar has thrown his hat into the ring, giving riders the chance to choose their candidate for the first time.

The problem

Millar running for president of the CPA has caused a rift between riders and the union representing them.

The union’s rules say riders must vote in person, meaning the pros have to travel to Innsbruck, Austria later this month to cast their vote.

Voting will take place during the 2018 World Championships in Innsbruck, meaning there will be some riders already in Austria to vote.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 11/03/2016 – Cycling – Tour de Yorkshire – Maserati and David Millar – Scarborough, Yorkshire, England.

However, some pros have highlighted the fact that not all riders will be attending the Worlds and many will have returned home before the election, having competed in their discipline.

A number of riders wishing to exercise their right to vote for the first time, have pointed out that voting in person is outdated and more than inconvenient, especially in a sport as international as cycling.

This prompted calls from pros to introduce online voting, to give all riders represented by the CPA the chance to vote in their election.

But the CPA has offered up numerous reasons why online voting is not possible, including referencing UCI rules and studies into the risks of online voting.

The voting process itself has also come under fire.

Heads of national associations are given multiple votes in the election as representatives of their countries, while a rider’s vote counts as just one.

On top of that, riders whose nation votes as an association are prevented from voting individually.

What the CPA does

The CPA was created in 1999 in Italy, on the eve of the Giro d’Italia.

As part of the UCI, the union aims to represent the interests of riders when dealing with key organisations like teams, race organisers and the UCI itself.

All riders under contract with WorldTour, Pro Continental and Continental teams are automatically members of the union, either as an individual or as a national association.

The first president was former Italian pro and Giro winner Francesco Moser.

Gianni Bugno won the Tour of Flanders in 1994

Moser was replaced by retired rider and now Cofidis manager Cédric Vasseur in 2007.

Since 2011, the presidency has been held by another retired Italian rider, Gianni Bugno.

Projects spearheaded by the union include the extreme weather conditions protocol, introduced in 2016.

The change meant that races may be altered if weather poses a risk to the riders, in snowy conditions or extreme heat for example.

Most recently, Bugno spoke out against the Vuelta a España organisers after riders were brought down in a crash after the finish of stage 12.

Bugno spoke out when stage winner Alexandre Geniez (AG2R La Mondiale), Dylan van Baarle (Team Sky) and a number of riders crashed after colliding with a race official after the line.

What the pros are saying

The controversy around the CPA elections has prompted a lot of reaction from riders, including big names like Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).

Many pros have taken to social media to share their frustration with the union and the process.

Team Sky’s Luke Rowe said on Twitter earlier this month: “The only way to vote for the representative of our union is to be in Innsbruck for the World Champs in person.

“This is 2018, not 1990, get with the times CPA.”

Team-mate Froome added: “Seems to me that the CPA is running a dictatorship, not a democracy which truly represents all the riders.”

“Got to wonder who this union actually represents.”

Tour de France winner Thomas said: “Every rider must have the right to vote, no matter their nationality or location.

“That means we get to decide who represents us.”

The discontent spreads beyond British riders.

Conor Dunne, who rode for the recently closed Aqua Blue Sport team, said on Twitter: “Dear CPA, please allow riders to vote fairly and in a truly democratic manner.

“The current system of block voting and a fixed, awkward vote, in Innsbruck (which many will be unable to attend) is unfair and verging on corrupt.

“We, the riders you represent, deserve better.”

What the CPA says

The union has responded to the concerns from riders a number of times.

On September 9, the CPA published a letter explaining the voting procedure.

The letter said: “The CPA has nothing against the electronic vote, but it is not possible to apply it a few weeks before the election.

“To change an established voting method it is necessary to give guarantees on the integrity and validity of new methods, to avoid manipulations of any kind and this involves time, costs, technologies that cannot be put in pace a few weeks before the vote.”

The note explains that the national association voting system exists to give a voice to a country’s cyclists as a whole, and that the CPA supports the setting up of new associations.

In a Facebook post earlier this month, the CPA said the possibility of electronic voting could be explored following the election later this month.

The organisation added: “No one changes a statute a few weeks before an election and it is surprising that the riders or some other people do not think in this way.

“The CPA also wonders why the riders are so determined in asking for an electronic vote right now and why they did not ask for it at the time they had to elect the president of the Athletes Commission.”

On September 17, the CPA then shared an article via its Twitter account from the Finnish Ministry of Justice. The article concluded the risks of online voting outweigh the benefits.

What others are saying

The CPA discussion has also prompted a reaction from groups outside of the riders themselves.

In March the Dutch Association for Professional Cyclists (VVBW) withdrew from the CPA after seeking the opinion of pro Dutch riders.

The Dutch organisation called on the CPA to reform its structure to better speak on behalf of pro riders.

Now the VVBW has now backed the candidacy of David Millar, seeking further reform and prompted by the response of the CPA to riders’ concerns.

The union of women riders, The Cyclists’ Alliance, has also backed Millar for president.

The CPA controversy has arrived at a pivotal moment for professional cycling, with rider safety and the sustainability of teams frequently hitting headlines.

Regardless of who wins the election on September 27, the discontent amongst pro riders is clear, and the demand for reform is likely to continue.

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Want to be an Alé clothing ambassador? Here’s how

Alé the Italian clothing brand is looking for brand ambassadors, here’s how to apply

Italian clothing brand Alé is giving cyclists the opportunity to become a brand ambassador in the UK to help develop its team custom apparel range.

The commission based opportunity that is said to come with some industry perks, can be worked around your day job with a candidate based anywhere in the UK.

Alé are looking for both male and female riders at any level of cycling whether than be race, sportive or Gran Fondo experience.

The ambassador package will offer up commission on sales and will include over £1,500 worth of Alé kit that the ambassador will contribute £500 – this can be refunded if specific commission targets are met. The candidate can also participate in Alé, Cipollini and DMT purchase plans that includes exclusive pricing.

To apply all you need to do is fill out an online application form online. Deadline is on October 1 2018 so you don’t have long!

Alé has been one of the largest growing clothing brands on the market in the last few years, with the typical brightly coloured garments cropping up almost everywhere. Interestingly, Alé is one of the only companies that sees a near 50/50 split between male and female sales.

The brand has been producing kit from its home in Verona, Italy for 30 years and no provides custom kit, which this ambassador program hopes to promote. Alé say that all garments are hand stitched in a traditional way to ensure quality and use high tech materials to offer form and function combined with classic Italian styling.

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Best bicycle mudguards for autumn and winter 2018/2019

Most cyclists will, at some point or another, find themselves riding in the rain. Bicycle mudguards will be the difference between riding with a smile or a grimace

This page will tell you what the best bicycle mudguards are for autumn and winter. It’ll start by explaining the best mudguards before giving a list of guards that we have tried and tested and rate very highly.

What are bicycle mudguards?

Let’s get this out of the way before we go any further. Mudguards are not cool. Some manufacturers – and even cyclists on this side of the Atlantic – refer to them as fenders, but even calling them by the same name as Jimi Hendrix’s guitar is not going to make them sexy. But boy are they useful if you cycle in a climate like ours.

>>> How to cycle in the rain 

There are, broadly speaking, two types of mudguard: those for frames with mudguard eyes – ‘fixed mudguards’ – and those for frames without, known as clip-on mudguards. We’ve included three of the former and two of the latter in this test. Of course even if your bike has mudguard eyes there’s no reason why you can’t use clip-ons like the Crud Roadracers if you’re looking for a lightweight, easily removable solution.

Why fit mudguards?

Shun them at your peril. Turning up for a December club run on a mudguardless bike will not win you any friends and there’s a good chance it will alienate people. Many clubs have rules about mudguards during Greenwich Mean Time: you can violate them if you like but you’ll be forced to ride at the back all day.

How did we test the mudguards?

We tested these mudguards on a bike with mudguard eyes, long-drop rim calipers and 25mm tyres. Since the all-road type of winter bike is configured differently from one to the next it isn’t feasible to comment definitively on disc-brake compatibility.

The best bike mudguards tested

With each mudguard is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

SKS Bluemels Stingray mudguards £41.99

Rating: 8/10

Weight 474g

SKS Stingray Mudguards

SKS Stingray Mudguards

Fair play to SKS – the Stingray is its attempt to jazz up the reliably humdrum mudguard by introducing colours such as ‘lime green’, ‘blazing red’ and ‘ocean blue’. In between the colours is a cool matt black and the whole underside of the mudguard is in the feature colour – thought not for long, of course, and the idea of ‘statement’ mudguards won’t appeal to everyone.

The Stingrays are wider than standard road bike-designated mudguards: SKS says they’re for ‘all road’ gravel-type bikes. We measured the Stingrays at 5cm across (it says 45mm), which is too wide for the brake bridge of an average winter road bike unless you trim them.

The Stingrays have full-length steel stays that are meant for bikes with braze-on, fixed mudguard eyes.

So they may not fit the traditional skinny-tubed winter training bike but if you have a bike that runs the 28-38mm tyres that the Stingrays are aimed at, they will do a great job at providing full-length cover and are built with the quality and durability that SKS is renowned for. They come with a five-year guarantee to prove it.

Kinesis Fend-Off mudguards £50

Rating 9/10

Weight 508g

Kinesis Fend-Off mudguards

Kinesis Fend-Off mudguards

These new anodized aluminium mudguards from Kinesis are a good alternative to the reinforced ‘chromoplastic’ that market leader SKS uses, and the overall weight is on a par too.

The rear uses the same fixing points as a traditional fixed mudguard. The front has just one stay each side that can be easily bent to mounting points higher up the insides of disc-brake forks if necessary.

Since they have a single stay at the front a breakaway clip is not included. The end of the stay does fit the SKS-type clip, however, and is a solution if you’re worried, but there’s a degree of movement since they’re designed for a V stay and it doesn’t look right.

Fitting is straightforward, with plenty of clearance between mudguard and a 25c tyre. The squared-off edges turn slightly downwards rather than enclosing the top of the tyre, which means they can handle wider 28c tyres.

There are optional polypropylene mud flaps for front and rear that can be cut out from the included header card.

Dare we say it, the Fend-Offs actually look cool with their laser-etched graphics and matt surface, and they’ll last for years, too.

See them at Kinesis

SKS Raceblade Long mudguards £54.99

Rating 8/10

Weight 483g

SKS Racebalde Mudguards

SKS Racebalde Mudguards

The Raceblade Longs are for bikes without mudguard eyes. They’re a plastic mudguard of two halves, joined by steel brackets, the faces of which are held together by the brake caliper bolt. At the dropouts, the QR skewer passes through wafer-thin steel eyelets that clip to the ends of the stays – also working as safety breakaway clips – and clamps them in place. Obviously that makes them incompatible with thru-axles and track hubs.

The rear does not reach down as far as the chainstay bridge, meaning Raceblades can be fitted to bikes with close clearance between tyre and rear of seat tube.

It sounds complicated but it’s very easy to set up. Out of the box the Raceblade Longs fitted a standard 700C wheel and 25c tyre with no bending, hacksawing or fettling, achieving an impressively even gap from guard to tyre. A 28mm tyre would be pushing it in clearance terms.

The Raceblade Longs will keep your clubmates, your bum and your feet as dry as any mudguard, but the payback is gaps at the fork, seatstay bridge and bottom of seat tube leaving those areas exposed.

M:Part Primoplastics mudguards £29.99 BEST FIXED MUDGUARD

Rating 9/10

Weight: 558g

M:Part Primoplastics mudguards

M:Part Primoplastics mudguards

Last year’s Primoplastics had ‘Pop-off’ couplings, but these use the traditional style where V stays pass through the wings of two steel stay carriers that are riveted to the underside of the mudguard – presumably to avoid accidental pop-offs.

The M:Parts are the fixed mudguard type. They’re made from a flexible polycarbonate that is perfectly stiff when fitted thanks to its rounded profile.

The mounting procedure is exactly the same as that of the SKS Stingrays and breakaway clips for the front are included. There’s a plastic rather than steel bridge for connecting the rear to the frame’s brake bridge. It’s too early to say, but metal brackets tend to fatigue and fail eventually: maybe a plastic one is superior. Either way, mudguard bridges are replaceable.

The M:Parts have built-in, rubbery mud flaps that are perfectly placed, wrap around the lower part of the tyre – something a flat flap clearly cannot do – and give both mudguards a good length and a welcome extra level of protection from spray.

If you’re weight-weenying you’ll notice that the M:Parts are the heaviest on test, but winter bikes are supposed to be heavy, remember?

Buy now: M:Part Primoplastics Mudguard set at Tredz for £29.99

Crud Roadracer Mk3 mudguards £34.99 BEST CLIP-ON MUDGUARD

Overall 9/10

Weight 241g

Crud Roadracer Mk3 mudguards

Crud Roadracer Mk3 mudguards

British brand Crud has thought of everything with this third version of the Roadracer guard that is designed for bikes with no mudguard eyes.

The Mk3 uses a super-sticky type of Velcro that is stuck in strips to the insides of the fork legs and seatstays. Alcohol wipes are supplied in the box and it’s essential to give the areas of the frame where the strips are to be stuck a very thorough clean first.

Keeping the fixing points up high means no fouling disc brakes and Crud claims the Mk3s are suitable for tyres of up to 38mm too. Since they’re relatively flat that seems feasible: they swallowed the 25mm tyres of a test bike. And they’re so light!

The rear comes in two halves: the bottom half can be left off if your bike has less than 4mm between tyre and seat tube.

Crud supplies stick-on brushes to stop the rear mudguard hitting the tyre, as it can do due to fewer fixing points.

The rear is a little short and needs a homemade mud flap.

Thanks to their versatility, light weight and ingenious design we would say the Cruds are the best clip-on mudguards in town.

Watch: Winterise your bike

What to look for in a bicycle mudguard

The basic idea behind a mudguard is to stop water coming off the wheels onto the body: the longer the guard, the greater the coverage and the more protection they offer — full guards also keep a lot of salt-laden winter road spray off your bike. Very narrow guards or those that are too flat or far away from the tyre will also reduce protection.

As road bikes have become lighter and more sport focused, fittings and/or clearance for ‘proper’ mudguards has fallen out of favour and many people don’t have the financial wherewithal or inclination for a dedicated winter bike. All is not lost, though. There are now plenty of options for the ‘close clearance’ bike, from simple clip on and off options that avoid the brake and normal attachment issues, right through to fenders that look like traditional guards but bypass clearance issues through clever design — and plenty in-between.

Mudguard fittingBicycle mudguard Fitting
Having a plastic cover close to your tyre means there is a chance of additional noise as flopping guards can rub on the side of the tyre or bounce up and down on top of it. No one wants to ride a noisy bike, so the quality and security of the fittings is just as important as the length and coverage.

Mudguard fittingEase of bicycle mudguard fitting
As the guards will be going on a bike that is also ridden ‘sans fender’, the ease of fitting and removal is important, as is the speed and simplicity. We like a mudguard set to be easy to keep together off the bike. Too many parts to get lost or slide under the fridge are never a good thing.

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Shimano Steps E6100 system: first ride

Shimano’s newest Steps system promises greater ease of use: has the Japanese brand succeeded?

There’s no point denying it: elsewhere in Europe, battery powered bicycles are becoming commonplace, and though only around three per cent of Brits own one, they’re increasing in popularity.

E-bikes offer a solution to many of the elements of cycling which can be off-putting to some people: fatigue or requirement of physical fitness, inclines, distances that feel impossible on the steam of the rider alone, and sweat.

However, they’ve entered the market carrying with them their own set of dissuaders: weight, and cost being pretty high on the list for many perspective customers.

In addition, the UK government’s decision to restrict road-going e-bikes to 25kph/15mph means that whilst they’re a huge help on the hills, those able to reach the maximum on the flat will find they’re quickly faced with an unassisted, yet heavy bike.

That – and there is still an air of stigma hanging around assisted cycling – but many will be happy to overlook that in favour of an extra 250 watts when they need it.

Manufacturers creating e-bike battery and groupset systems can’t overcome government restrictions or social perceptions on their own – but weight and cost are surmountable.

Japanese fishing tackle supplier Shimano own the bulk of the market share when it comes to rider powered drivetrains, and it’s eager to do the same in the e-bike market with its STEPS (Shimano Total Electric Power System) set-up.

>>> Best electric bikes: a buying guide

First introduced in 2013, the newest iteration of STEPS – E6100 – borrows many of the innovations seen in its mountain-bike-ready E8000 system, yet with a focus on road and casual countryside riding.

E-bike buyers are traditionally less likely to buy a frame and built it up – so E6100 is mostly designed to be fitted to built bikes from the major manufacturers. There’s two versions of the system – one for trekking and on for city riding, with a 38 tooth chainring for off-roaders and 44 tooth for city rides, plus crank lengths of 170mm or 175mm.

Noting the issues around the heft of e-bikes, Shimano has cut the weight by 210g, to a system weight of 2.88kg. That means, with the whole caboodle fitted to a stock bike, I can lift the 15kg bike when required, something not possible with all e-bikes.

I’d still struggle to lift it over my head or to carry it up the 20 step to my door at home, though – but it’s progress.

shimano steps e6100

Shimano has also trimmed the surface area of the system down, reducing drag by 20 per cent and thus increasing the duration per charge of the Li-Ion battery, which will carry you about 170-180 kilometres between plug-ins.

There’s two choices of battery size: 418Wh or 504Wh. The greatest power output you’ll reap is 500 watts, but Shimano has to stick to an average of 250 watts – which means you can get a notable boost as you move off or approach a hill, but this will settle down as you ease into a rhythm.

>>> Electric bikes and the UK law

You don’t need to worry that charging will become less effective over time, drying up to just 20km after a few years use: Shimano says that even after 1,000 charges, max charge remains at 60 per cent of the original capacity and you can boost up to full juice in under three hours.

The biggest change the brand has made, in my opinion, is the newly reduced q-factor – the pedal to frame width has been cut down, which creates a more natural ride feel that has been lacking in previous e-bike offerings.

The system provides four different modes: high, normal, eco and walk. The difference between ‘high’ and ‘eco’ is palpable and ‘walk’ mode is pretty handy – and allows you to stroll along next to the bike with just a little bit of power taking the pressure off your arms, which would be handy if you came across a steep and unrideable section, such as within a pedestrianised area.

Data can be displayed on a bar mounted computer, using a Garmin or Sigma device. However, to cut down on the overall outlay of an e-bike, Shimano has allowed its users to forgo the additional cost of a dedicated computer and download the Steps app to a smartphone, with a handlebar mount and Bluetooth as well as Ant+ compatibility.

You can opt for the 11-speed Di2 option, which has the added benefit of ‘Start Mode’ which auto shifts down to a low gear when you stop – giving you an easy push off from the lights.

In terms of shift options, the cherry on the top is Shimano’s new NEXUS Inter-5 – an e-bike dedicated internal gear hub which, paired with Di2 electronic shifting, does all the thinking for you with automatic gear changes and adjustments.

shimano steps e6100

Shimano Steps E6100: the ride

Having last tried an e-bike several years ago, the Steps system was a pleasant surprise when Shimano invited Cycling Weekly to test it on the busy streets of London.

Most notable to me was the combination of dropped weight, and reduced q-factor. Where in the past, I’ve found electric bikes to feel somewhat cumbersome and tractor-like, Shimano’s stock hybrid with the Steps E6100 fitted felt comparably nimble and natural to ride.

Using the handlebar mounted computer to swap between modes, the ‘high’ mode provided a clear boost – moving away from the lights yielded minimal input from the muscles I’m accustomed to putting to work, providing a float-feel that is otherwise only made possible with the help of 50mph gusting tail winds (which always bite back at the turn).

Whilst the system kicked in and made moving off easy, it took a fraction of a second to do so. Without this delay, a surge in power as you move off can feel a little off-putting, making steering feel jittery.

When the road turned upwards, again the benefit was tangible – it’s the inclines where e-bikes are most renowned for offering a helping hand, making them popular amongst riders who still wish to explore terrains they’ve always enjoyed as their bodies grow older.

It was only on flat roads where the system became less appealing: e-bikes are limited to 25kph, so as soon as you reach the magic speed, the power drops and you’re left powering a very heavy bike. However, over the course of several easy hours spinning around Town, there was only one brief stretch where this bothered me. If you want to enjoy a speedy commute, regularly nudging higher speeds, it’s probably not for you.

Electric bikes still have some way to go before they reach the evolved state of the traditional bike market – the weight still needs to be further reduced for ease of use and transportation, but with its Steps E6100 system, Shimano has narrowed the gap between reality and the dream.

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Wout van Aert terminates contract Veranda’s Willems-Crelan after merger with Roompot

The Belgian was offered an improved contract for 2019 but rejected it after the team’s merger with Roompot

Belgian cyclocross world champion Wout van Aert has unilaterally terminated his contract with the Veranda’s Willems-Crelan team following their merger with Dutch squad Roompot for 2019.

Van Aert has previously spoken of his frustration at being left in the dark after the team’s parent company, Sniper Cycling, was announced to merge with Aqua Blue Sport before pulling out of that deal and merging with Roompot for next year.

Sniper Cycling, owned by ex-pro Nick Nuyens, announced in a statement on Tuesday morning that they had unilaterally agreed to terminate Van Aert’s contract ahead of the new season. The team added that they had offered Van Aert an improved contact for 2019 which was rejected by the rider.

“Wout van Aert has unilaterally terminated his contract with Sniper Cycling on Monday evening September 17, 2018,” the statement read.

“This decision came despite the fact that the team management tried to unblock the situation last week, e.g. by offering him an improved contract for 2019.

“Van Aert did not accept this proposal and has opted to terminate his contract unilaterally with immediate effect. The team management regrets that decision.

“This matter is now in the hands of our counselors [sic]. No further comment will be made in the meantime.

“However, as pointed out repeatedly, we wish to clarify that we will be a Pro Continental cycling team in 2019 regardless.”

Van Aert, who should compete in cyclocross this winter, will likely switch his focus to the road full-time next year after a stellar 2018 which saw him podium at the Strade Bianche and stay in the mix with the favourites in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

The 24-year-old had agreed terms with Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo for 2020 when his contract with Sniper Cycling expired, but could potentially join the WorldTour team early in 2019.

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The best cycling overshoes 2018/2019: toasty toe covers for autumn and winter riding

A good pair of overshoes can help keep your feet toasty and allow you to carry on riding in the worst of the winter weather

What are cycling overshoes?

Winter overshoes are generally made from either thick neoprene or lighter, windproof, fleece-backed fabric. They’re designed to keep the cold, the wet, or both out – with holes at the bottom to allow your cleats to connect with the pedals. 

In cold, dry weather the traditional neoprene overshoe is an excellent insulator but gets waterlogged in persistent, heavy rain. However, if the overshoe itself doesn’t leak, water will eventually find its way in through the openings at the top and bottom.

>>> Best winter cycling clothing for cyclists 

Lighter, Windstopper-type technical fabric is designed to be windproof, water resistant and breathable. As with neoprene, you only have a limited time before the water gets in, so it may be better to accept this and go for the lighter overshoe which will dry quickly.

The underside of an overshoe is prone to wear: look for a tough, seam-free base with reinforcements’ at heel and toe.

Some brands say that hi-vis is most effective when used on moving parts, like the feet. Whether you agree with hi-vis or not, we would say reflective elements on winter overshoes are essential, particularly at the rear.

Why wear overshoes when cycling?

Keeping feet warm and dry in winter is difficult for cyclists. Wind chill is the enemy for the extremities but add spray from the front wheel and unless your feet are appropriately insulated it won’t be long before you can’t feel them any more.

Cycling overshoes reviewed

With each product you’ll find a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Ale Neoprene Shoe Cover £60

Ale Neoprene Shoe Cover

Ale Neoprene Shoe Cover

Score: 8/10

Made from 3mm neoprene, these overshoes extend a good distance up the ankle comfortably covering the sock/tight overlap.

They’re made from a simple pattern of two halves, with the central seam on top of the foot taped for water and windproofing. There’s a zip up the back. A non-abrasive fabric is used to reinforce the underside of the toe and just behind the heel. On the inside of the heel is a small strip of silicone gripper to hold it to the shoe – a thoughtful and clever detail.

The Ales fit well since they’re open underneath between cleat and heel, with a Velcro strap to adjust tightness across the top of the foot. This means both cleat-forward and cleat-back positions don’t affect its position but it also means there’s limited coverage against water ingress from below and the Velcro strap is likely to wear out.

The thick neoprene is perfect for cold, dry days but gets waterlogged on the wet ones – as neoprene inevitably does. However, muck and filth from the lanes do not penetrate and they keep out showers.

A good deep-winter overshoe but it’s a shame there are no reflectives.

Buy now: Ale Neoprene shoe covers at Tredz for £24.99

Lusso Windtex Stealth overshoes £30

Lusso Windtex Stealth overshoes

Lusso Windtex Stealth overshoes

Score: 10/10

British firm Lusso has gone for fleecy-backed Windtex fabric for its winter bootie and it’s a sensible choice. Although it’s not as thick as neoprene, Windtex is obviously windproof, as the name suggests. The manufacturers of Windtex also guarantee it waterproof. It’s also much lighter and more elastic than neoprene so has several advantages over the heavier, more traditional overshoe material.

Since Windtex is stretchy you can get away with a smaller size and a closer fit – the medium size for 44 shoes was perfect with no pulling of the rear towards the cleat cut-out, which is slightly elongated to accommodate different cleat positions. There are good reflectives up the zip at the back and on the sides.

As for durability, the Windtex upper, with its taped central seam, is sewn to a tough but flexible plastic base, which crucially has no seams to wear out.

Lusso says its overboots are good from 0-14°C and although we’re not yet in the depths of winter, the Stealths have been great in sub-5°C rides.

Lusso has created a good-looking, simple and well functioning design with the Stealth Overboot and at £30 it represents super value for money.

See them at Lusso here

Sportful WS Bootie Reflex overshoes £46

Sportful WS Bootie Reflex overshoes

Sportful WS Bootie Reflex overshoes

Score: 8/10

The ‘WS’ stands for Windstopper, the fabric from Gore that is windproof with a water-repellent treatment. Like the Windtex the Lussos are made from, Windstopper is lightweight, elastic and fleece backed.

Sportful stitches the Windstopper uppers to a stretchy, reinforced neoprene base that extends part way up the sides and the back.

We found that although the Reflexes were made from more panels than most overshoes via a more sophisticated construction, the rear of the overshoe tended to pull forward over the heel of the shoe, meaning that you tread on the rear of the overshoe when walking, which raises questions about the Reflexes’ durability (obviously depending how much walking around you do). This happened to our XL test pair despite using them with a size 44 shoe: the XL is designed for size 44-45. If the cleat cut-out was slightly longer to accommodate a wider range of cleat positions that might solve the problem.

Obviously all overshoes can’t fit all shoes and all cleat positions so it could have been that we were simply unlucky. Otherwise, the Sportfuls are warm, good looking, well made and have intelligently placed reflectives.

See our full review of the Sportful WS Bootie Reflex overshoes here

Gore Windstopper Universal Thermo overshoes £59.99

Gore Windstopper Universal Thermo overshoes

Gore Windstopper Universal Thermo overshoes

Score: 9/10

The front of the Universal Thermo is made from a thick version of Gore’s Windstopper fabric. This is very windproof, having a three-layer structure with a built-in membrane. It’s water repellent although will wet out in a downpour.

The rear of the upper is made of thinner Windstopper fabric. There are quite a few seams which, although not taped, they are flatlocked with wide zigzag stitching, which keeps them watertight enough.

The fit is close enough to prevent draughts and also helps keep out water, without being uncomfortable – particularly as the Windstopper fabric is very stretchy and flexible.

The undersides of the Universal Thermos are a bit fragile. There’s a reinforced toe section but the middle of the underfoot is a continuation of the upper fabric. There are taped seams around the cleat cut-out and these are likely to look distinctly tatty after a couple of seasons’ use.

Gore displaces the zippers to the outer side of the leg so they don’t rub as you pedal.

There’s a reflective strip built into the rear of the overshoe and reflective lettering on the outer edge for better visibility.

Buy now: Gore Windstopper Univeral thermo overshoes at Chain Reaction Cycles from £30

GripGrab RaceThermo Hi-Vis overshoes £45.95

GripGrab RaceThermo Hi-Vis overshoes

GripGrab RaceThermo Hi-Vis overshoes

Score: 8/10

Not only are the GripGrabs bright yellow, there is reflective printing on the sides and an even more reflective rear tape tab. What they don’t have, unlike most overshoes, is zips. Since overshoe zips are prone to failure and needing to be waterproof or backed to keep out water, the GripGrabs should be that much more durable and efficient.

Made of 4mm neoprene, the GripGrabs benefit from the brand’s Intelliseal, which won an award at this year’s Eurobike show. There’s a stretchy cuff, to allow you to get the overshoes on. Because this is quite deep, it helps keep water from trickling down your leg. There’s a Velcro tab under the instep to hold the two sides of the overshoe together. It’s easier to put on shoe first, overshoe second.

The base is made with rubber-coated stitching to increase durability and facilitating a tighter fit around the sole, helping to keep out water. There’s a reinforced fabric area at the toe to help reduce wear.

Durability is good, but with the thick neoprene construction we got some scuffing on the cranks.

Buy now: GripGrab Race Thermo Overshoes at Wiggle for £47.99

What to look for in cycling overshoes

We’ve had the pleasure of fully reviewing quite a few pairs of overshoes – there’s more full overshoe reviews here, and some top picks below…

Endura Road II overshoes

Endura Road II overshoes

Endura Road II overshoes

Review score: 10/10

Created using 90 per cent wetsuit-worthy Neoprene and 10 per cent Nylon, these are hardwearing overshoes which provide protection from the elements. Kevlar stitching keeps them robust and there’s a crank rub protection point.

Check out our review of the Endura Road II overshoes here

SealSkinz Waterproof Cycle Over Sock

SealSkinz Waterproof Cycle Over Sock

SealSkinz Waterproof Cycle Oversocks

Review score: 9/10

If you don’t want to pull on a thick and heavy layer, then this option from SealSkins is a nice compromise. Created from a totally waterproof and windproof fabric, they’ll keep the water out but are lightweight and therefore breathable so that the risk of overheating is thrown out the window.

Check out our review of the SealSkinz Waterproof Cycle Overshoes here

Sportful Roubaix Thermal Booties

Sportful Roubaix Thermal Booties

Sportful Roubaix Thermal Booties

Review score: 10/10

A solid winter companion, these fleece lined overshoes feature a softshell front for windproofing, with Neoprene side panels which provide protection from the rain and extra stretch. They’ve got reflective piping and graphics, with a tab to help you pull them on, too.

Read our full review of the Sportful Roubaix Thermal booties here

If, like us, you do the majority of your riding under the constant threat of rain, a fair threat of snow and likely freezing temperatures then a set of all-round cycling overshoes that will keep out the elements and keep you riding is essential.

Be sure to keep checking back as the season goes on for more great overshoes.

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