Championship Mondial pt. 1

27 09 2010

It hasn’t exactly been a day like any other. For starters there was a 4am alarm so that I could get to the airport in time for the red-eye to Melbourne… From there it was hotel check in, followed by (take a guess) Black Coffee and straight to the train station; destination Geelong. No I haven’t become some bizarre over night AFL freak, it’s the location for the World Road Cycling Championship; and they’re on this week.

We're not in Kansas anymore Toto - Melbourne looked good for race weekend

 

Off the train at the other end I bee-lined it towards the (still under construction) finish. Rumours have been starting to circulate that the pure sprinters might not have it their way as originally expected. Well, you should see the finale! If Cavendish wins here I’ll have permanent respect for him beating the odds. The final 800 or so are seriously on the rise all the way. For me this was an exciting moment. This is going to be a genuine smash festival and I think I’ve already had confirmation by the look in David Boily’s eye’s. More on that later…

That's gonna be 50 meters of ouch!

 

From the finish line I wondered downhill to Geelong’s great seaside Pier to look for Media HQ. At the base of the finishing straight is a 90 degree right hander coming off a downhill; last lap the boys will be hitting some staggering speeds through here, though I think first out of this corner will be way too early. Breaking my day-dream about the race were some riders out on the course; one in an HTC Columbia kit, and one in Cervelo, but I didn’t recognise them, and they didn’t seem to pedal like genuine proffi’s. Then I saw some boys in Australian Kit’s and Jayco shorts, ah here we go some U23’s out for a spin. Coming down the hill soon after in NZ kit with a familiar bull like posture was Gordon McCauley on his TT bike, I gave him a shout and he was his usual jovial mouthy self. Now I was beginning to get it. Spotting the wanna be’s from the Pro’s was going to be easy. The pro’s will be wearing National colours… suddenly the meaning of this one day bared it’s full weight for me to absorb, and it was heavily intoxicating. OK where is this media center? Hey there’s a couple in Great Britain, shortish kinda girl and a big fella. Hey he’s got a sweet custom Pinarrelo to match, must be Geraint Thomas from Team Sky – “Yo Geraint, good luck!” – that got a wave and a smile. Shit why haven’t I got my camera out…

No joke - but it is funny!

OK I’ll skip the formalities, but once in HQ I had my photo taken, received ‘Journo’ accreditation, joked around with the volunteers who were not yet jaded by the enormity, checked my email using the supplied UCI password and went to go find me some more random pro’s. Once outside it started raining; now that would be something, oh that’s an evil thought…

I went back up to the start finish straight, mostly because I wanted to pace it out from the bottom up, I was really quite surprised just how much it rises. Coming down in the opposite direction (on the footpath) were four Canadians lead by Dominique Rollin, they were happy enough to have their photo taken and seemed to be destined a little cafe further down. The Journo juices seemed to be leaching out of the pass in my pocket so I had to follow them and try to get a back page scoop.

Canada eh? Dominique gave the U23 boys a tour of Geelongs sidewalks.

Rollin confirmed my thoughts “Cav likes it (makes flat sweep with his hand), I think it’ll suit a rider more like ah, Gilbert”. Not exactly a revelation, the Belgium native must be odds on favorite, but cool to hear it from someone who has raced them both this year. The other three I didn’t recognise but their Argon 18 bikes outside gave me the clue that they were the Frenchy’s (Québécois) that make up the U23 squad. David Boily (I said I get back to him) had a worried look in his eye’s an also confirmed growing opinion – “It’s really hard, much harder than we thought it was going to be” – spoken almost with a tone that suggested they would have to go back and re-think their tactics; interesting. Well that was cool boys “Bonne chance!”.

Future World Champ?

Right, it was time to get back on the train to Melbourne, fizzing but tired and hungry! Camera now was always at hand. Slovenia pulled up at the lights – “Peter!” Peter Sagan turns around and waves for the camera, now there is someone who could be World Champion one day, outside hope for this Sunday even? Giddy from luck I went to cross the street to the train station and nearly got run over by a flash of Orange/Yellow – two of Spanish armada had run a red light in front of me, both on Orbea. Illegal but cool.

At first I wasn’t sure how I’d react to seeing these guys in National colours. I wondered if it’d be an anti-climax of sorts as all the famed photo’s you see them in through the year they are in trade ‘uniform’. But I have to say it is quite startling and all the more impressive to see the elite of the elite practicing for an extremely select prize, the one jersey to rule them all. The Rainbow with the unbroken bands; stay tuned for more…

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