Here at the World Road Championships 2007 I got my Hugh Porter interview, it’s not often that you get the chance to meet your hero, sometimes they disappoint, not Hughie, a cool guy who certainly doesn’t live in the past, like many old pros do.
Today was “course preview” day, I had hoped to borrow a bike, but eventually I thought; ‘ach, I’ll just walk!’ for the first couple of hours this was fine, especially since there was lots to see; not least ‘still banned’ Danilo Di Luca, training with the Italian team.
However, as I got round to the last quarter of the 19 kilometre course and I was walking on an uneven verge with traffic whizzing past and feeling like I was on an SAS training mission, I had to question the wisdom of the wheeze.
I made it though, and it’s a good ‘war story’ — the results of my wanderings, ranting and snapping will be written up here soon.
My Elite TT piece hasn’t been up until now here, but yesterday we had plenty of content for the site, today there’s no race to report, so I’m pretty much left to get on with it; I’ve been lodging my stuff direct into the site via our dedicated system, which is a bit scary for a computer philistine like me.
The course is a stotter, very hard, there’s a tough little snap at Herdweg and the Birkenkopf climb is a killer, very long and tough, in addition the run-in to the line is heart breaking, dragging relentlessly upwards – these three obstacles have to scaled 14 times each.
If there was ever a circuit for Moreno Argentin or Giuseppe Saronni, then this is it; that uphill sprint would have seen either of them leave mere mortals in their vapour trails. A circuit like this is what pro racing is all about, a gradual wearing-down process, like Billy Bilsland says; ‘the race is the last hour — but you have to get to that hour!’
As you might expect in the City of Porsche and Mercedes, the organisation seems to be to a very high standard, with practically every inch barriered-off.
The surface look good, but as is always the case with an urban circuit, it will be very dangerous if it rains; many vehicles here are diesel and there are a lot of tram lines on the circuit.
As far as picking a winner, it’s made for small guys with excellent power to weight ratios — Di Luca (if he rides?), Valverde, Freire or maybe Old Bettini has been timing everything for today. Home advantage is a big factor too, so Stefan Schumacher has to be worth a medal.
But I certainly got the impression today of a man fully focussed and very determined to do a job in ‘The Cricket’ today; the legal action the City of Stuttgart was trying to take against him riding has been rejected by a judge and the Italian is free to ride.
There are a lot of politics in the air here, never a good thing during a big tournament; it detracts from what the events are meant to be all about.
The Germans have banned Eddy Merckx, Gianni Bugno and their own countryman, Rudi Altig from official appearances at the series, this hasn’t gone down at all well with a lot of people. Merckx, in particular was banned for criticising them — which amounts to censorship, not a popular concept in Liberal Europe. Anyway, enough of the politics, already!
I said on Pez, that if a tall guy wins, then he’ll need to be skinny — step forward Samuel Sanchez or ‘Pippo’ Pozzato — another class act if his mind is in the right place. It’s the under 23 road race tomorrow, I’ve not decided how I’m going to approach it yet, but I’m looking forward to it — if only the sun would come-out!