Thursday, April 25, 2013

Amstel Gold, lessons learned (Part 2):


(Photo: Cycling Inquisition)


Today's post is a quick one. I simply want to share some of the pictures I took during Amstel Gold, along with some commentary and insights that came about during that trip. After the astounding popularity of Monday's post, perhaps I should have worked on something a bit more profound for today, but such is life. I'll be back Monday with something more substantial, stay tuned.


Photo: Cycling Inquisition
Two weeks after a new pacemaker (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
After I took several shots in a row, I think Sagan had enough of me, and began to look at the floor while quietly laughing to himself. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
In my post last week, I said that if you were looking to meet a team's bus driver, it was simply a matter of spotting the guy with a gold bus pendant around his neck. Here's proof that I wasn't kidding. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
Photo: Cycling Inquisition
Vansummeren and Boasson Hagen somehow managed to make it into almost every other picture I took. Vansummeren was in the break, and Boasson Hagen had a distinctive jersey and helmet, but even this doesn't begin to explain how many shots they are in. Even a picture of a trash can I took at the start had Boasson Hagen's jersey in visible in the background (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

Pre-race jitters on the bus (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

(Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
(Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
I've come to realize that many popular riders have a strategy for dealing with photographers and fans at the start of races. For many, this means getting to the start line as late as possible. Sometimes comically so. The same holds true for signing in, at least for races were teams are not asked to go together as one. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
Another interesting aspect of the sign-in process is hearing the announcer's disappointment when he hears that a rider who he believes should be leading a team isn't, as he does a quick interview with the riders on the stage. This happened several times at Amstel Gold (most notably with Team Sky). Additionally, the announcer really enjoyed skipping substantial palmares for some riders, choosing instead to refer to them as, "podium at Amstel Gold Curacao", always followed by, "that was a joke". (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
Being picked for random testing is a bit of a hassle, of course. This rider was followed to his bus, where a team representative had to furiously look for his racing license among a large stack of cards. Everyone involved looked unhappy, but resigned to the situation. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
(Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
(Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

Pros, they're just like us (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

You know how at work, you'll often have awkward and rather stilted conversations with people you barely know in the elevator, or at events like the holiday party? It's no different for professionals. After I took this shot of Chris Anker Sorensen, he was greeted by a Katusha rider in front of him, after their eyes met. "Haven't seen you in a while. Good season so far?" "Oh, pretty good, after my thing last year, yeah going good." "Hmm, okay, yeah, good luck today." "Same to you, it's good to see you. I'll see you around." Then there was an awkward silence. They both nodded a few times, and luckily the race started just then, because they were clearly out of things to talk about. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
Carlos Betancur (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
(Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

Certain climbs require that you have fancy credentials, and photographer vests (given by the organizer) to stand inside the barriers. If you act dumb, and make yourself hard to spot, you might be able to stay there and take some pictures. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
This picture was taken at a roundabout. I tried to figure out which way the riders would go. Left or right? Right seemed more logical based on how the road flowed. I wondered out loud, and the old timer with the flag in front of the road furniture corrected me. "This one, always to their left. Always." He was right. Always ask the old guy with the flag. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)
 (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

Photo: Cycling Inquisition
Tip: When chasing a race, don't park as close to the route as possible. Park as far away from it as you can, and walk. This means that when the race goes by, you can get to your car, and beat the traffic heading out (even with the time you lost because of walking). Another alternative is to have one person watch by the car, and others watch further up the road. When the race passes, the guy with the car further back joins the caravan, and the rest of the group simply gets picked up where they watched the race go by. That's what these guys were doing. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

A tip, not based on personal experience but observation: Remember that races in Europe are international events. Never assume that the person sitting or standing next to you doesn't speak the language in which you are badmouthing them in. They probably do know that language, and you'll have to backpedal very quickly. If you don't mind doing this, going through the process may actually be entertaining, and help you pass the time. That aside, it's amazing how some riders, even ones at the front, had trouble keeping their bikes upright in climbs like this. Their front wheels were all over the place. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

(Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

(Photo: Cycling Inquisition)

I'm by no means a seasoned veteran, or very knowledgeable about how races work...but if you go to just a couple of big races, you'll quickly figure out that most riders don't want to be bothered afterward. They are tired, stressed out, and probably had a bad day on the bike. If you think about it, only a handful of guys are really happy after a race (this is particularly true for one-day races), and they probably have better things to do than talk to you about how you met them six years ago for a split second at a race in Spain. Some riders are an exception, but many simply want to get into the bus, shower and be on their way. From my experience, the image above is by far the most common look after a race: quick shower, eagerly waiting inside a team car to be taken to the airport, in order to have the day finally come to an end. Seeing these world-class athletes sitting and waiting in the back of a station wagon like they are children waiting to be taken to a friends house is disconcerting, but also very telling about the stress and difficulties they face. (Photo: Cycling Inquisition)


8 comments:

  1. Amazing, as always! Thank you, Klaus.

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  2. Always love behind the scenes photos

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  3. great post as always. love the realist insight.

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  4. Another awesome post Klaus. Loved the analogy of children sitting & waiting in the car.

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  5. Well done: nice words to accompany some good images. Your VIP status is well deserved...

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  6. Great...but no picture of Boris?

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  7. It's really remarkable to me how, by hopping barriers and looking inconspicuous, you're able consistently to come up with much more interesting stuff than more "official" journalists embedded with teams. Thanks and keep up the good work!

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