The alarm went at 08.00 and I hobbled out of bed. The shower room was occupied so it was the full wash in the sink routine — hope nobody filmed it. It has to be the most unfriendly breakfast room in the world – nobody speaks so it was quick bowl of muesli and out the door to the World Road Championships 2006.
The accreditation centre was on the other side of town; another taxi ride but fortunately the fares here aren’t too brutal. Despite friendly exchange of emails in the weeks before with the UCI guy, there was no pass waiting for me – “It’s not unusual”’ said the girl as she rolled her eyes.
I had to take a seat and wait — waiting is a big thing in journalism, but I’m not very good at it; I recall my mother saying that I had, ‘a glass arse’. Anyway, they took my picture, gave me my creds and a ‘goody bag’ complete with wine and a ‘Salzburg World Championships 2006’ laptop case — I can’t wait to take that to the Mid 10.
The taxi driver who drove me back to the start/finish entered into conversation and when I told him why I was here he gave me his views on pro cycling. “It’s not how good you are at riding a bike, it’s how good you are at not getting caught taking the drugs.” It’s maybe not that simple, but he does have a point.
I had two targets for the day; to follow a rider in the test and to do the ground work for a piece on the ‘men and machines’ who would win the medals in the race.
I got myself down to the pits in plenty of time and started mooching and snapping. I had a clear idea of which bikes and riders I wanted to photograph — Rogers (Giant), Millar (Scott), Cancellara (Cervelo), Bodrogi (Look) and Gonchar (Giant).
I have to admit that I didn’t consider Zabriskie but fortunately I took a pic of his Cervelo as it sat in the US tent.
The T-Mobile guy told me that Gonchar wasn’t riding so that cut-down my list.
I asked the Canadian guys what the chances would be of getting in the car behind theirguy Svein Tuft — “pretty slim”. “Cheers boys.” I then approached Sean Kelly Academy Manager, Kurt Bogaerts, who is looking after the Irish squad for the Worlds.
What would be the chances of following either Dave McCann or David O’Loughlin? “No problem, you come with me behind O’Loughlin.” That’s more like it! I continued my snapping brief but with one eye on my watch — there was no way I wanted to be late.
David rides for the American Navigators outfit and isn’t a bad rider.
I saw him win the Shay Elliot a few years ago; he’s been Irish road champion and is current Irish Time Trial and Criterium champion.
The course surprised me; very technical — just a little ‘boulevard blast’ but a heck of a lot of hills, descents and bends of all types; a roadman’s as much as a specialist’s course. Because David was an early starter I had time after his ride to go to the start area to take some pictures. I didn’t see Davie Zee go-off, he was eighth from last, but I saw Bodrogi, Millar. Vino, Gutierrez, Cancellara and Rogers await their fate. Bodrogi didn’t seem to fussed by it all, sprawled in a chair.
Millar was tense but smiled when Vino sat down beside him and shook his hand; Vino does the ‘inscrutable East European’ thing so well. Gutierrez was just gong through the motions; he knew his form wasn’t up to this.
Cancellara seemed relaxed, riding his Cervelo round the tiny area beside the start house to check-out something with his gears; Rogers arrived late and sat on the turbo until the last gasp.
I took some final bike shots for my ‘men and machines’ piece and noticed that Millar isn’t riding the machine he was on in the Tour Time Trials – the sponsors probably cottoned-onto that much of it wasn’t what it was supposed to be — like the Oval ‘biplane’ instead of Scott forks and the custom ‘biplane’ – tri-bars which weren’t Ritchey.
I left before Rogers took off and went straight to the press centre, I would have liked to stand at the finish to watch it live, but if you are on a deadline then every minute is precious. I won’t bore you but it was the usual big-production getting the laptop kindled-up; at least wi-fi is free here, not like at the Tour and Giro.
First-up was write-up following David then I had to transfer all the pictures I took from my camera to the laptop, edit them and then email them with explanations if what they relate to.
Talking to famous guys and snapping nice machines is only the tip of the iceberg, it takes hours on the laptop to turn all your words and pics into something worthwhile. I always know when it’s time to finish, my brain just stops working properly, it happened around 9.15 pm.
I went for the Neapolitana Pizza and had two beers — I felt I deserved them.