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We didn't realise when we made our way to the Civic Hall in Leeds for the sign-on of the 2019 Elite World Road Championships just what an epic day we were in for; emergency purchasing of umbrellas in the local outdoor centre didn't quite cut it as the deluge lasted almost the entire race.
"In Spring a young man’s fancy..." Well, this Spring, being no longer young, my fancy turned to applying for volunteering at the World Road Championships on the "Yorkshire Team", the events being held 22st to 29th September in Yorkshire, where I have been living for the past eleven years.
Denmark’s Mads Pederson drops to the wet Yorkshire tarmac, a hundred metres past the finish line, he can’t take in what he’s just accomplished. He has out-sprinted one of the foxiest and fastest men around, Matteo Trentin of Italy - the hot pre-race favourites for the title on this horror of a day.
Annemiek Van Vleuten crosses the line after a 60 mile solo – local legend, the late, great Beryl Burton would be proud of this ride on her Yorkshire roads. The Orange-woman is immediately mobbed by a pack of feral photogs, but instead of being led away by the UCI podium guys, she effects a tricky clamber over the barriers and into the arms of mum and dad for a huge embrace.
There was controversy today; none of us – including Pidcock – knew that the ‘jury was out’ on big Dutchman, Nils Eeekhoff’s ‘victory.’
A cracking ride from 18 year-old bearded American Quinn Simmons, a barn door of a man who goes to World Tour team Trek Segafredo for 2020. We were roadside to take in the action.
How did we do with our Worlds Elite Men Time Trial pre-race predictions? Well, to start with, we weren’t sure if the slim Aussie Rohan Dennis could come back from his pre-Tour time trial abandon – but it’s amazing what a couple of months with a sport psychologist can do and the tattooed chrono specialist was in a class of his own...
Here at VeloVeritas whilst we have the utmost respect for John Archibald and his performances we didn’t seek any pre-Worlds interviews from him, his sister Katie, Neah Evans or Mark Stewart. We felt that the ‘they just need to turn up and ride then bring home the rainbow jerseys’ vibe was putting them under pressure – of which they would experience more than enough in the cauldron of Pruszkow. We let the dust settle post-Worlds, gave John a call and found how it went...
As VeloVeritas pundit and critic, Viktor said after the Bergen World Championships; ‘where would we be without him?’ Peter Sagan. Cipo had it, Boonen had it, Peter has it – but Vik and I are both worried about who can pick up the ‘cycling’s showman and charismatic star’ baton when he finally hands his in.
VeloVeritas resident prophet and Guru, Viktor is in Spain just now. His old bones can't handle the Scottish weather these days - a nice wee apartment in Benidorm. There's a Belgian and a Dutch bar, both within crawling distance and both with big TV's permatuned to sport, often bike racing. He has his bike out there and is about as happy as Vik ever gets. I rang him the other day to ask if he'd seen Etixx-QuickStep's beautiful ride to win the Worlds TTT...
Sometimes even we get it wrong with interviews, take this one with London Olympics team sprint champion, Philip Hindes. We caught up with Philip prior to the Worlds In Paris and thought we’d be clever, holding on to the piece ‘til post Paris so as we could announce the interview as with; ‘recent Worlds medallist, Philip Hindes.’
Martin: "Here! Ed! Shouldn't we be doing a piece about the World Track Champs?" Ed: "They've never been the same since Daniel Morelon retired and Hughie Porter had that crash, then they ditched the big motors and..." Martin: "Hold on - go and speak to Craig Maclean!" Ed: "Aye, right, he'll know a bit, being an ex-world champ and all..."
It wasn't until the Belgian guy pointed it out to me today, but it wasn't the friendliest of championships, the World Road Championships 2007... The Press Centre you expect to be a clique-ridden, unfriendly, verging on hostile place. I think it's because a lot of those that work there are freelance and any new face could be taking work from them. But even in the 'real' world, if you don't speak first, no one will talk to you.
It was warm today at the World Road Race Championship 2007. It's a cliche, but what a difference nice weather makes. The ladies race was on first: I have to rant, I'm afraid. What is Jeanie Longo doing? What is the French Federation doing? What is the UCI doing? It's not good for the sport for a woman who looks about 60 to finish in the bunch; she's a remarkable athlete, no doubt. But that's not the point, it's time to stop, Jeanie. Now! OK, I feel better now.
I got my Hugh Porter interview here at the World Road Championships 2007, 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.
World Road Championships 2007, Press Centre 09.45, I'm meant to have an interview with Hugh Porter at 10.00 and I'm looking forward to that. It's a wet day in Stuttgart, there are still nearly three hours until Simon Zahner of Switzerland rolls-down the ramp as first starter in the Elite time trial, let's hope that the skies have cleared by then, apart from me wanting to keep dry, a lot of the course will be damn dangerous if it's damp.
I'm sitting in the press room at the World Road Championships 2007, sharing a table with my boyhood hero, Hugh Porter, four time world pursuit champion and on the podium in that event for seven years straight-he'll need to get interviewed, I can't let that opportunity go! We're here for the Worlds in Stuttgart, the Under-23 time trial was this morning and ladies time trial was this afternoon. I was lucky-enough to follow the Latvian rider, Gatis Smukulis in the test.
It's 3.45 pm CET. I've been doing the tourist thing today. Salzburg is beautiful no-doubt, but it's a tad de-caffeinated, a good place to come with your girl but lacking that real-life' edge of say a Gent or a Lisbon. It's hard to find a proper bar but this one seems OK, complete with busty barmaid. World Road Championships 2006.
It's Sunday now and Paolo Bettini is World Champion. Erik Zabel's last chance of a rainbow jersey is surely gone, Valverde has another Worlds medal and I'd better try to get this diary up to date. I left you yesterday as the women's race was running its course.
I was up before the bells, showered, washing done and on the street. Even at 08. 00 it's buzzing.The first rider I saw was from Brazil, then the Russian team - looking good in their Itera kit on white carbon Looks. 177 riders from all over the globe; 47 nations. I just saw the Mexicans sign-on, but Gerald Ciolek is the favourite...
Not much exciting so far at the World Road Championships 2006 and its gone 2.00 pm. I awoke to the bells at about 7.30 and was first in the shower room. Breakfast was fine, but there's still no small-talk in there; it's not a bad thing I guess-you are out the door pronto. I was sat in the press centre immediately it opened at 9.00 and I've been writing ever since. I did my piece about Vino, Zabriskie and Cancellara plus their respective bikes and since then I've been getting the old VeloVeritas dairy up to date.
Off to the World Road Championships 2006. It was a 04.00 alarm job to get ready to leave at 06.00 and I hadn't had time to pack the night before. It's always the same driving to Prestwick-you think you are making great time until you get to Stepps and the vast car park that is the M8 during the rush-hour. Check-in at Prestwick wasn't too bad but the Colgate had to go-I wouldn't mind but it drives me crazy not knowing how to convert it into an explosive device.