André Griepel: ‘I quickly learned I was not part of the plan at Lotto – Soudal’

The German sprinting powerhouse said he is not ready to retire and is targeting Paris-Roubaix

André Greipel said he is not ready to retire and is looking to perform at Paris-Roubaix as he steps down from the WorldTour.

The German sprinting sensation is moving down to join French Pro Continental outfit Arkéa – Samsic, after learning he did not have a future at Lotto-Soudal.

Greipel, now 36, said the move does not mark the winding down of his career as he continues to target big races.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, Greipel said: “In 2018, I quickly learned that I was no longer part of the plan at Lotto-Soudal.

“I spoke with Manu [Arkéa – Samsic manager Emmanuel Hubert] and he showed great enthusiasm about me signing.

“Finally, I decided to face this challenge with him.”

>>> Five things we learned from the 2019 Tour Down Under 

Greipel’s winning form has been sporadic in recent years – his last Tour de France stage victory came in 2016, when he won the final day in Paris.

In 2017, he won one stage at the Giro d’Italia but none at the Tour.

Last year was another mixed season for Greipel, who won his first race at the Tour Down Under and followed it up with victory on the final day.

He struggled at the Tour de France, winning no stages before being eliminated when he finished outside the time cut on stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez.

But Greipel returned stronger in the late season, winning two stages at the Tour of Britain.

He said: “My head remains strong. I’m still passionate about my spot.

“I have not decided when I’ll stop.

“One day my career will come to an end, but not yet.”

>>> Fabio Aru: ‘2018 was one of the darkest moments of my career’

Having won a stage of all three Grand Tours, including 11 in France, there is very little missing from Greipel’s palmarès.

But there is one gap in his illustrious career – he has yet to win a Monument.

His best opportunity came in 2017, when he finished seventh in Paris-Roubaix, just 12 seconds down on winner Greg Van Avermaet.

Looking ahead to the 2019 season, Greipel said “I would like to do a good Paris-Roubaix” – that goal is at least possible, after his new team have been given a wildcard spot to ride the cobbles.

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Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Petr Vakoč returns to racing at Vuelta a San Juan a year after being hit by truck

The Czech rider said he was lucky to be a live after the crash

Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Petr Vakoč will make an emotional return to the peloton at the Vuelta a San Juan, a year after he suffered serious injuries when hit by a truck.

The Czech pro suffered several broken vertebrae and required surgery after he and team-mates were hit by a lorry while training in early 2018.

Vakoč missed the entire season and said he was lucky to be alive after the crash.

The 26-year-old will return to racing in Argentina on January 27, a year after the crash.

>>> Full route revealed for inaugural Mont Ventoux one-day race

Vakoč was training in South Africa last January when he, Laurens De Plus and Bob Jungels were hit by a truck.

Jungels was unharmed, while De Plus fractured his pelvis and lower back, and Vakoč required surgery for several broken vertebrae.

It was three months before Vakoč had healed enough to pedal on a static bike, and in June he was able to train out on the roads with team-mates.

Vakoč had hoped to return to racing in February, but will take to the start line earlier after making better progress than expected.

His last race day was Binche-Chimay-Binche back in October 2017.

In November, Vakoč said: “I was hit by a truck and I am lucky to be alive.

“After three surgeries, months of rehabilitation and gradually increasing the training load it seems I might be able to come back.

“Not just back to normal life, but back to racing.”

>>> Five things we learned from the 2019 Tour Down Under

He added: “A distracted driver or bad luck can send you to the ground and your life might be over.

“I am grateful to be alive.

“Surely it is not possible to prevent all accidents, but I am convinced that their risk can be reduced.

“People in cars often do not realise how dangerous it is to pass cyclists only by centimetres.”

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Paris-Roubaix 2019 start list

Confirmed list of starters for Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, April 14

The confirmed list of riders taking part in the 2019 edition of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, April 14, is yet to be announced.

However, the organisers have revealed the 18 WorldTour teams and seven wildcards taking to the start line.

The wildcard teams are Confidis, Solutions Crédits, Delko Marseille Provence, Direct Énergie, Team Arkea-Samisc, Vital Concept – B&B Hotels, Roompot-Charles and Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team

Of the seven guest squads, eyes will be on Direct Énergie with their new signing Nikki Terpstra – who won the race in 2014. Team Arkéa-Samisc is expected to bring André Greipel, who was seventh in 2017.

Peter Sagan is the race’s defending champion, and is highly likely to line up as part of the Bora-Hansgrohe selection. Winner in 2017, Greg Van Avermaet, now rides for CCC Team and we expect to see him return to Roubaix.

>>> Paris-Roubaix 2019: Preview, latest news and info

Paris-Roubaix 2019 start list

AG2R La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
CCC Team
Deceuninck-Quick Step
EF-Education First
Lotto Soudal
Movistar Team
Team Dimension Data
Team Jumbo-Visma
Team Katusha Alpecin
Team Sky
Team Sunweb
UAE Team Emirates

Wildcards teams:

Confidis, Solutions Crédits
Delko Marseille Provence
Direct Énergie
Team Arkéa-Samisc
Vital Concept – B&B Hotels
Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team

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Full route revealed for inaugural Mont Ventoux one-day race

The brutal new race ends atop one of the most iconic climbs in bike racing

The punishing route of the inaugural Mont Ventoux one-day race has been revealed.

Pros will tackle the brutal and beautiful summit in a single 185km event for the first time.

Mont Ventoux Denivelé Challenges, a new UCI 1.1 category addition to the calendar, is set for June 17 and will feature a gruelling 4,400metres of climbing.

The profile, revealing the relentless climbing challenges, was published last year with the organisers now unveiling the full route.

>>> Chris Froome shares first monster ride of 2019 on Strava 

Starting from Vaison-la-Romaine north of the iconic climb, the peloton will loop around the mountain via Reilhanette, Sault, and Gordes, before heading north to the town of Bédoin at the foot of the climb.

The route then follows the classic ascent to the summit of Ventoux.

But the final climb is not the only test.

The parcours of the inaugural Mont Ventoux one-day race (Picture: Mont Ventoux Denivelé Challenges)

The race will kick off with a 5km, easy 3.7% climb, followed by Col des Aires at 3km and 5.4%.

After that comes the first real test for the peloton, the 11.6km Col de l’Homme Mort with an average of 4.9%.

Over the next 80km there are a few smaller ramps, before cycling’s most famous climb appears.

Mont Ventoux, which has featured in the Tour de France 16 times, is steeped in cycling history, both glorious and tragic.

In 1967, Brit Tom Simpson died on the slopes of the 21km climb.

The climb first featured in the Tour in 1951, but not as a summit finish.

>>> The Giant of Provence: The magic and mystique of Mont Ventoux

A Ventoux finish line first appeared in 1958, with an individual time trial from Bédoin to the top won by Charly Gaul.

There have been 10 summit finishes atop Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France’s history.

At 8.7%, it is a brutal finale to the new one-day race.

Mont Ventoux Denivelé Challenges one-day race will take place at the end of the Mont Ventoux Cycling Festival, and will follow the Santini GF Mont Ventoux sportive.

The race’s 1.1 status means we will see WorldTour teams tackle the climb, as well as Pro Continental, Continental and possibly national teams.

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How to combat numb feet and hands when cycling in winter

Suffering from numbness or loss of feeling in your hands and feet? We’re here to help

Losing the feeling in your hands and feet is a common experience for cyclists riding through the coldest months of winter. Cold feet and hands can become numb and even painful when temperatures are low and this can make riding feel like a chore.

The extremities suffer when your body temperature drops, because they’re furthest away from the blood supply which is sometimes diverted to maintain warmth at the core.

Your first step is to try to reduce cooling of the core by keeping your body well dressed for winter. This done, you can concentrate on protecting those hands and feet – here are a few tips to help you on your way…

How to keep your feet warm when riding in winter

Wear thin but warm socks

One of the major causes of cold or numb feet is actually wearing too much sock. Thick or doubled up socks can cause the shoe to become too tight, cutting off blood supply – instead, go for a good quality pair of cycling specific winter socks before you go investing in winter booties…

Cover vents

Cycling shoes are designed to be breathable – which is great in the summer. Come winter and all those lovely ventilation holes can become a bit of an inconvenience. If the breeze rushing through your shoes is starting to bother you, then use tape (duct, gaffa, insulation…) to cover them (before layering overshoes on top to keep it in place!)

>>> Winter cycling clothing everything you need to know

Overshoes and toe covers

cold feet and hands

Castelli Diluvio overshoes

Overshoes and oversocks fit over your shoes, with a hole at the bottom to allow the cleats to engage with pedals. There are many different styles – from thin wool like sock versions to full on neoprene booties.

For milder days, toe covers simply nestle over the front of the shoe – largely serving the purpose of covering off most of the vents.

If you really struggle with the cold there’s nothing stopping you doubling up – toe covers can go underneath overshoes, as can oversocks.

See a selection in our cycling overshoes buying guide. 

Winter shoes

Most riders get on fine with overshoes – these retail at around £30 and usually last a season or two. But if you’re still struggling from the cold then you can go one step further, with full-on winter cycling boots. At this point, you’re looking at spending over £100 on something like the Northwave Fahrenheit Winter Boots we tested here. However, these will be long lasting, fully insulated and sealed – often able to cater for temperatures well below 0°C.

>>> Winter cycling survival guide: 10 helpful tips to keep you riding

Cling film

Another age-old method of keeping feet warm during the winter involves raiding the kitchen draws. Wrapping clingfilm (or plastic bags) over thin socks means that sweat can’t escape, but it also heats up, effectively turning your feet into tiny radiators attached to your ankles.

HotHands Toe warmers

cold hands and feet

Hot Hands foot and hand warmers are excellent

Available in newsagents across the country, HotHands are designed to be used during outdoor sports and the toe warmer version is ideal for winter riding.

Providing 6 hours of heat, these are activated with a quick shake and just need to be inserted into your sock.

There are battery powered versions available, which you can re-use.

How to keep your hands warm when riding in winter

Layer up your gloves for cold and wet rides

Start with good gloves

A good pair of cycling gloves is your first port of call. There are many different styles these days – really heavy duty gloves use heavy padding which does work but removes some of the transmission you receive from the road.

An alternative is a pair of neoprene style gloves – these provide much greater dexterity and work by allowing your own body moisture to warm your hands. Another option is the lobster style glove, which groups together your little and ring finger – a bit like a pair of mittens but with the thumb and forefinger free for braking and gear changes.

Check out Bar Mitts

Bar mitts

Bar mitts are advertised as a helping hand for people who suffer with Raynaud’s Disease – but anyone who is failing to circulate enough blood to keep their hands warm can benefit.

The mitt attaches to the bar, allowing you to slip your also gloves hand inside. This will obviously limit your hand movement, but you’ve got total control of the brakes and gears and many of us will stay fairly static on the hoods during a long, slow endurance ride.

Double up with liner gloves

cold feet and hands

Quality gloves protect against cold hands

Silk baselayer gloves add that final touch of warmth to your layering

If a quality pair of gloves still isn’t cutting it, then you can purchase some (usually cheap) liner gloves. These go inside your main gloves and trap an extra layer of warmth for greater protection.

But not too tight

Numb hands aren’t always caused by the cold – issues can also arise when gloves that are too tight limit circulation to the hands. Make sure this isn’t becoming an issue for you and that there’s plenty of room to flex your fingers.

Use the features on your gloves

cold hands and feet

Use the features of your gloves and tuck the cuffs under your jersey

Many pairs of cycling gloves come with velcro or drawstring adjusters at the cuff – these can be adjusted to sit close to the skin, limiting the chance of cold air funnelling down into the glove. Make sure you’re using these, and ideally place the cuffs of your jersey over the gloves, too.

Keep them moving

It’s easy to settle into a steady state, hunched over the bars, legs churning. As admirable as a good, strong core and resulting still upper body is on the bike it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move at all. To avoid numbness, keep your hands moving – swap between the tops and the drops, or just give those fingers a little wriggle from time to time.

Additional heating

cold feet and hands

Stop and warm up if you need to

Start off with warm gloves – be that popping them on the radiator or wrapping your gloves hands around a pre-ride coffee (or tea).

It’s important to stay well hydrated and well fed during winter rides, your body needs energy to stay warm. So if you’re mid-way through a ride and feel like you’re turning into the snowman, stop and warm those hands up again at the nearest coffee shop. Ideally one serving cake.

Finally – Hot Hands hand warmers are a great addition to the inside of any glove if you’re really suffering.

>>> Top tips for keeping warm on cold rides 

Got any methods we’ve not mentioned here? Tell us in the comments and share the knowledge…  

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Amateur racer given four-year ban after testing positive for EPO and testosterone

The 42-year-old was caught after taking a cocktail of performance enhancing substances

An amateur bike racer has been handed a four-year ban after he tested positive for a cocktail of performance enhancing drugs, including EPO and testosterone.

Michel Carrillo, from Miami in Florida, was caught by US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testers while competing at the Vuelta a Miami in July 2018.

The 42-year-old gave an in-competition sample that returned positives for five banned substances.

>>> Cycling cleaner than baseball, rugby and boxing in 2018, according to anti-doping campaigners

The CEO of USADA, Travis T. Tygart, said: “All athletes deserve a level playing field so that hard work and talent alone determine the outcome at every level competition.

“USA Cycling’s RaceClean initiative and others like it help ensure that athletes know how to compete clean and that those who choose to use powerful performance-enhancing substances to gain an advantage are held accountable.”

Carrillo was tested because of his USA Cycling membership, as part of the governing body’s RaceClean programme.

RaceClean is an attempt to fight doping by increasing testing and education.

Carrillo, a category three racer, was tested on July 29 last year during the Vuelta a Miami, where he finished 11th.

>>> Riders face disqualification, bans and suspension for using tramadol in competition as UCI bans painkiller

His sample returned positives for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO), androgenic-anabolic steroids, 19-norandrosterone, clostebol metabolite 4-chloro-4-androstan-3a-ol-17-one and testosterone metabolites.

These substances are banned under all circumstances by USADA, the United States Olympic Committee, the UCI, and WADA.

Anabolic agents and blood-boosting substances like EPO have powerful performance-enhancing capabilities and give athletes an unfair advantage.

Carrillo’s four-year ban started on September 5 and he has been disqualified from any results obtained on or after July 29, last year, including the forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

According to the Road Results website, Carrillo raced 11 times in 2018 – his best position was second place in the Rosewood Series Master’s race in February.

The previous year he won the Okeechobee Krome Okeechobee Classic cat four/five race.

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Tech of the week: every WorldTour bike, Sagan rides an Allez and more

Peter Sagan has an alloy bike, Richie Porte has new sunnies and Tom Dumoulin has a faster helmet

WorldTour bikes and gear

This week, we’ve got a run-down of all the pro bikes to be used in the World Tour this season. So if you want to know what’s under every team from AG2R to UAE Team Emirates, including groupset, component and wheel sponsors, it’s essential reading.

The Tour Down Under is when lots of new kit surfaces and this week, it’s been helmets and all things head-related. So EF Eductation First have been using the latest POC Ventral Air helmet. And Sunweb and Jumbo Visma have been out in the new Lazer Bullet 2.0, with new interior channelling, an easier opening vent and a new Zeiss visor.

A new POC helmet for EF Education First

Meanwhile, Trek-Segafredo men’s and women’s teams will both be wearing Koo glasses from Kask’s eyewear brand for the next two seasons. We’ve had a look at the styles available to them and their characteristics.

Aluminium bikes still outsell carbon and there are some excellent alloy bikes out there. In fact Peter Sagan rode an aluminium Specialized Allez Sprint crit bike in the opening Tour Down Under Classic – we’ve had a look at his ride.

Sagan rides his alloy crit bike at the Tour Down Under  (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

We’ve run through the whole Allez range in our buyer’s guides too. And we’ve also given you our pick of the best aluminium bikes we’ve tested and told you more about the metal’s characteristics.

Buyer’s guides to bikes and clothing

This week, low friction bearing expert CeramicSpeed has launched a new pulley system designed to bring lower friction to single ring groupsets when riding off road. Its OSPW X system is being used by Tom Pidcock.

CeramicSpeed’s new pulley system is designed to survive the mud while upping drivetrain efficiency

Our buyer’s guide refresh continues, with Pinarello and Bianchi, so you’ll know your Gan from your Aria.

We’ve noticed that it’s got a bit cold out there too this week. So we’ve got buyer’s guides to winter gloves and bib tights to keep you a bit warmer if you’re venturing out. While if you’re hoping to bag a few KOMs while everyone else is indoors and not looking, we’ve got five cheats to boost you up the Strava rankings.

Or if you’ve just decided to stay indoors until it warms up, we’ve got a rundown of the features of popular indoor cycling apps.

We’ve also had deals on helmets, some great prices on Castelli clothing and the usual Sunday Trading bargains.

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Calmejane considering cobbled classics campaign

Direct Énergie may have a surprise in store for the cobbled classics, with Lilian Calmejane considering participation in the races for the first time this season.

In an interview published on the team’s Youtube account, the 26-year-old cited Roubaix and Flanders winner Niki Terpstra joining the team as his inspiration.

“I think it’s the right moment,” Calmejane said. “We have a team that’s well-suited to those races, and we have a guy in Niki Terpstra who can be a super teacher. That’s one option.

“The other option is that I rest up and, if we’re lucky enough to get an invite, do Pais Vasco in favour of preparing optimally for the Ardennes Classics – above all Liège-Bastogne-Liège. That’s the question mark at the moment.”

Calmejane has never raced the cobbled classics before, so any potential foray would likely be more of a learning experience and supporting Terpstra. The Frenchman raced Tro-Bro Léon in 2016, but the likes of Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders are totally different beasts.

“The cobbled classics are what cycling is all about – they’re truly mythical. They’re races where a lot can happen – honest races, races for workers. I think that term is very much appropriate.

“I like to jostle for position, to be at the front of the race, so I think that, in good condition, they are races that can suit me.

“For sure it’s too pretentious and complicated to say that I’m going to go and target a big result, if I do go this year, but I think they’re races where I can express myself well.”

Calmejane will start his season in early February at the GP la Marseillaise, racing exclusively in France – including Paris-Nice – until Milan-San Remo and then, perhaps, the cobbled classics.

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Poels: Porte was too strong on Willunga Hill

Team Sky may have come away from the Tour Down Under without the victory they set out for, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Sunday’s final stage to Willunga Hill saw the team race aggressively, with Wout Poels taking second place at the finish.

Despite their efforts, it was Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) who took the stage win, his sixth in a row on Willunga, while Poels crossed the line just metres behind, securing third place overall. The Dutchman reflected on his efforts after the stage.

“It was a good climb but unfortunately Richie [Porte] was too strong,” he said. “It was a good ride but unfortunately not a win.”

Poels’ teammate Kenny Elissonde attacked with him on both ascents of Willunga, a fixture at the Tour Down Under.

“Kenny? We didn’t really plan it, but sometimes you have to race on feeling. I think it was a good move by Kenny, and it worked pretty well, but yeah – Richie was too strong,” Poels said. 

“I knew it was a really long way [to go when I had a gap]. It was a really hard race again today. I gave it everything for the finish, but then Richie came. I could follow a little, but then I had to drop.

“I came a little bit back, but I think second place was the best I could do.”

Nonetheless it’s a strong result to kick off the season for the 2016 Liège-Bastogne- Liège winner, who has never started his season so early.

“[It was a] pretty good race. The team did a really good job, and they always did a great job yesterday too with the crosswinds, keeping me at the front. They always did an amazing job, so I certainly have no complaints.”

Poels’ will stay in Australia for his next race, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. The Volta ao Algarve and Tirreno-Adriatico are also on the calendar ahead of his first goal of the season – the Ardennes Classics.

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Sunday trading: Save 41% on a Tacx smart trainer as well as discounts on Garmin and Zipp

We’ve scoured the internet and here are the best picks from the online retailer sales

This week we’re clearing the January blues with a bit of light shopping relief. We’ve found a great deal on a Tacx Vortex so you can get smart training for cheaper, then continuing the theme of cycling technology we’ve also found that Wiggle are discounting the Garmin Edge 520 down to £149.

Following these, there’s a great deal on a set of Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels as well as a deal on a Castelli Perfetto top.

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.

Tacx Vortex smart trainer was £379, now £224.99

Tacx Vortex Smart

Read more: Tacx Vortex smart trainer review

The Tacx Vortex is a smart trainer at a fraction of the price, the caveat being that it’s not direct drive, meaning you have to leave a wheel on the bike to use it.

Aside from that, the Tacx does a very good job. It’s power readings were consistent, it works with Zwift and it has user friendly software. It’s also now discounted by 41%.

Buy  now: Tacx Vortex smart trainer at Chain Reaction Cycles for £224

Zipp 303 Firecrest disc brake wheelset was £2,314, now from £1,799

Read more: Zipp 303 Firecrest review

These Zipp 303 Firecrest are the perfect match to today’s modern standards. The wide internal rim width of 21mm ensures that even the widest tyres are kept straight and prevented from mushrooming over the sides of the rim, making them more aero.

The wheels also feature Zipp’s proprietary dimpled rim surface, which makes them more aerodynamic. However, the real take away here is that these are seriously stiff and very fast wheels.

Buy now: Zipp 303 Firecrest disc brake wheelset at Evans Cycles from £1799

Garmin Edge 520 was £239, now £149.99

garmin edge 520 campagnolo eps gears

Garmin Edge 520 is easy to operate

Read more: Garmin Edge 520 review

The Edge 520 has be superseded by the 520 Plus, which is great news because  it means the excellent 520 can get a whopping great price drop of 37%.

It’s a proper performance pusher, capable of conducting FTP and Vo2 Max tests as well as Strava Live segments and much more. It also has buttons, which means you don’t need to worry about a dodgy touchscreen.

Buy now: Garmin Edge 520 at Wiggle for £149.99

Castelli Perfetto jersey was £180, now £120

Read more: Castelli Perfetto review

The Castelli Perfetto is one our favourite wet weather jerseys. It’s very water-resistant, to the extent that we’d be comfortable riding in this alone in bad weather, especially because of its windproof qualities.

We tend to find that you need to upsize one in Castelli kit because Italian sizing tends to be on the small side, but this is a deal you don’t want to miss.

Buy now: Castelli Perfetto jersey at ProBikeKit for £120

More great deals:

Bont Riot Road+ cycling shoe was £149, now £120

Cateye Volt 1300 front light was £129, now £77.99

Castelli women’s Aero Lite jacket was £175 now £75.00

Shimano Dura-Ace 11-25 cassette was £209.99 now £94.99

Giro Empire SLX cycling shoes were £289.99 now from £139.99

Fizik Arione R3 Versus Evo Kium saddle was £144.99 now from £94.99

Selle Italia Novus Flow saddle was £89.99 now £39.99

100% SpeedCoupe SL sunglasses were £159.99 now £52

Shimano 105 5800 carbon pedals were £100 now £59

Rapha poplin collared shirt was £120 now £47.50

Oxford Alarm D-Lock was £70 now from £35

Moon Meteor Auto/Arcturus lightset was £67.99 now £34.29

Mavic Vision overshoes were £35 now £12.25

Continental Ultra Sport 2 tyre was £24.95 now £11.78

That’s all the deals for now, check back next week for more!

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