Backstage at the Worlds – I’m really, really sorry Enrico

Spartacus getting in the zone before his 4th worlds TT win

Spartacus getting in the zone before his 4th worlds TT win

I spent Thursday backstage the Worlds in Geelong. I’ll be there again tomorrow, and this time I’m going to try to not upset Enrico (but more about that a bit later).

The UCI were kind enough to say “yes” to my request for media accreditation for Geelong, and off I headed on Thursday with Sydney Low, who amongst all sorts of other achievements, is a great sports photographer. But it’s only his first (or second) time shooting cycle racing, so I’ve been bombarded with questions for the last few days, which I’ve been very happy to answer.

Geelong. Accreditation took about 5 minutes, was painless, and there was a stunning Italian print journo who I was trying to talk to while we were having our photos taken for our press passes.

Off the TT course. A big stand, reserved for the Working Press, just past the finish line, lots of seats, free Wifi (have I mentioned how much I love free Wifi?), and monitors showing what was happening on the course – probably the same feed that was being shown on OneHD, but different commentary, not Phil & Paul and their elastic that’s about to break or their suitcases of courage (for digging deep in).

To be honest, the press stand was sort of dull, although in a great location.

So I went for a wander around to see what I could see.

The 3rd group was finishing their efforts on the course and the 4th group (the really fast guys) were warming up, a number in the teams warm up area (sort of makes sense). So I wandered in. Hey, I’ve got the laminated press pass around my neck, why shouldn’t I?

Look, there’s Dave Millar warming up on the rollers. He finished 2nd. Hey, there’s Koos Moerenhout being interviewed by Dutch TV. But the Swiss area was empty, and Spartacus was somewhere else.

So I wandered back out, to near the Start House, and bumped into Sydney just as the first of the last group, Bert Grabsch was about to enter the start house. Syd, wearing his VERY OFFICIAL photographer’s vest headed around the barricade, so he could shoot from the departure side of the start.

Now,  I know as a humble reporter, I’m not allowed to be were the photographers are, but I’m a firm believer that it’s better to ask forgiveness rather than permission, so I scurried after Syd. One of the marshals asked what I was doing, and I said “helping him” and was waved on.

So Syd & I are sitting on the ground, on the “hot” side of the Start House, waiting for Bert Grabsch to start, and this booming voice says “you can’t be there” … then he notices I’m wearing a top with “Capri” (the island, not the car) across the front of it, and an Italian flag on the side, and Enrico Carpani, the UCI’s Head of Press, starts telling me – very loudly – in Italian, that I’m in the wrong place. I don’t speak any more than tourist Italian (and badly at that), but I guessed what I’d done wrong, and after Bert rolled out, I got out of the way (and out of Enrico’s sight).

Unsure of where to go, I sort of hung around, then twigged that I was standing in the race between the barricades where the competitors rolled up to the Start House. So I got this photo of Spartacus. I stood in the pack of photographers shooting Ritchie Porte & Spartacus before they entered the Start House. Until Enrico spotted me, and delivered his second blast of Italian invective. I shrugged, apologised, and made myself scarce. Again.

Ritchie Porte in front of a home town crowd (OK, he’s from Tasmania) who ROARED when he started his run in his first year as a pro cyclist, had been given the highest seeding of any of the Aussie. This kid is in his FIRST year as a pro cyclist. No weight of the world on this kid’s shoulders. Look at the grin on his face – you’d think he was about to head off on a Sunday morning club race, not compete for the World Championship. A brilliant effort saw him take 4th. Chapeau! Big things to come for Ritchie.

Cancellara was everything that I expected. Focused. In the zone. Like there was no one else there.

Dave Miller rode himself into second, and 50m past the finish line pretty much collapsed. Maybe if Martin hadn’t flatted, he would have been second rather than third, but that’s bike racing.

Then Cancellara cruised – there is no other word for it – across the finish line, a little over a minute faster than Millar. Big grin, and a 4 finger salute. An amazing ride.

I managed to stay out of Enrico’s line of sight during the medal ceremony, and that was it. Quick trip to the media centre so Syd could upload some of his images, and we were done for the day.

A few more of my pics are here.

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