Question Have you ever been to a pro cycling event? Share your stories with us!

SHaines

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With pro cycling events being pretty well locked down for a while, we're interesting in jumping into the wayback machine to visit races of the past.

Have you ever been to a pro cycling event? If so, which one? What are some things you wished you'd known before arriving. Any tips for folks who may want to start attending once things start opening back up?
 
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The only race we've even been to was the 2015 Worlds in Richmond, VA. That one was a little different as it was a circuit. As soon as we looked at a map we knew where we could pre order parking and that type of thing. What I wish I'd have known is that cycling has virtually no concessions.
 
Ive been to a few pro events all of them in the UK over the last 10yrs including the London stage of the TdF in 2014

By far the best was the Yorkshire worlds. I arrived up to Harrogate for the elite womens race and then went to Leeds for the night and sadly the hostel I booked was a dump but given the magical weekend I was having that dump turned out to be on the street where all the team buses were parked and I walk out the door turn left and see both the irish teams and Peter Sagan within 500 metres of the door. It was the only race Ive ever been to that had the full array of international fans. The Belgians ,Dutch and Norwegians stuck out as the best and it was great before and after the Harrogate circuit being in the pubs with all these fans dressed up and singing like at a big international soccer match and thanks to the horrible rain it was easy get a good spot on the last rise to the finish to watch the race
 
Way back in 1994 I was in Bibione when the Giro finished there. I remember it it being excititing, though I was a bit too young to fully appreciate it.
Bayern Tour 1999 had a stage starting and finishing in my hometown. That was the height of the Telekom Mania in Germany.
So me being a little boy, it felt like the Beatles were coming to town. Those were some exciting two days for sure. You could get really close to the riders,, executives and mechanics, walk in between their team buses and so on, watch the mechanics work and so on. Plus the stage did not only finish here, but they were doing three loops around the town with bonus sprints each time they passed the finish. Ullrich won one of these sprints while Zabel won the stage.
Zabel was really outgoing and accessable. He was spemding lots of time after the race and the next day before the start to sign autographs and talk to the fans.
Ullrich on the other hand broke lots of kids hearts, as he was hiding in the team bus most of the time. That was pretty shitty.
A few years later Deutschland Tour finished in the nearby village and they actually crossed some medium mountain passes on their way. So I tool my bike , went up the final mountain and waited for the show. It was a terribly cold and rainy August day and I was up the mountain many many hours before they came by. I though I had to get up early to get a good spot. Well there was hardly anyone on the mountain besides me, so that turned out to be a bit of a fail.
When the riders finally camwe, Jacksche was attacking out of a 25 man leading group. Ullrich was on the end of the gropu fighting to hang on. It was a huge suprse to me that he was able to finish 3rd in Sölden two days later. He really did not look good that day,
Anyway, the speed of the front group up the mountain was a crazy to observe. The peleton was split into many groups and there was actually quite a dangerous situation. They reopened the road for normal traffic on that mountain before the grupetto (including the likes of Vinokourov) had actually passed by. Must have been some misscommunication. So cars were going down the mountain when suddely the gruppettp came around the corner. Fortunately nothing happened, but this could have ended badly.
 
I've been to a few crits in the UK featuring the top UK teams - always a complete blast.

I was in london for the 2007 Grand Depart - the opening prologue was awesome to watch and if you walked a bit from the start ramp you could watch the pros warm up in Whitehall. Then the first stage went past my street and that was surreal.

The Olympics were awesome, I was there in the rain cheering on Lizzie and again the next day wondering what the hell had happened to team GB. (they were doing alright when I left the house)


I've seen other races in London, and my main observation, the smaller the race the more fun you'll have watching. I love the fact you can hear the brakes work and the gears change as they go around corners. Highly recommend you go out of your way to see a race.
 
I've been to a few crits in the UK featuring the top UK teams - always a complete blast.

I was in london for the 2007 Grand Depart - the opening prologue was awesome to watch and if you walked a bit from the start ramp you could watch the pros warm up in Whitehall. Then the first stage went past my street and that was surreal.

The Olympics were awesome, I was there in the rain cheering on Lizzie and again the next day wondering what the hell had happened to team GB. (they were doing alright when I left the house)


I've seen other races in London, and my main observation, the smaller the race the more fun you'll have watching. I love the fact you can hear the brakes work and the gears change as they go around corners. Highly recommend you go out of your way to see a race.
I wouldnt know alot about track racing but I went to the last day of London6 about 3 years ago and had an absolute blast and would highly recommend it if you havnt been.
 
I have only been at the Tour Of Denmark, some times seing the final lap in the Copenhagen stage and also when a stage official start were in my homecity in 2017, I was there at the start. And one important tip for other newcommers is, dont bring your bike to such a start. Me and my wife had parked our bikes at a fence not so far from where the peloton would come rolling for the neutral start (they rode 15km neutral from Copenhagen before the start where we were) and stood then on the other side of the road where we could see more. And when they then came everyone stood off and peed, with 2 Team Bornholm riders peeing all ower our bikes... I really enjoyed the rain a few days later costing their captain Toft Madsen the stagewin in the time trial and washing our bikes a bit more...
 
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From 1996 until 2007, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (back then still Omloop Het Volk) arrived in my hometown Lokeren. The route passed about 1 kilometre from my house, so I often went to watch. I've seen guys like Museeuw, Bartoli, Vandenbroucke, Van Petegem, Gilbert and of course my teen idol Tom Boonen race close to my home.


This is a broadcast still of an almost 17 year old me and my dad cheering for him in the last of those editions, anno 2007, when Pozzato eventually won.




That same year, my dad and I stood among the immense crowd in Ghent, when the second stage of the Tour de France arrived there. We were placed 25 metres before the finish line, where Steegmans won ahead of his teammate Boonen, who on his turn grabbed the green jersey and would eventually take it home.

Later I became something of a friend with (you guessed it) Greg Van Avermaet, and I saw him on a couple of occasions at races too. He's always friendly and coming over to have a talk, even at a criterium just weeks after becoming olympic champion. If he spots you during the race, he'll give a sign of recognition as well. Very nice, down to earth kinda guy.

I mostly went to cyclocross events in the Nys-Wellens-Boom-Albert-Stybar era and a few post-Tour-criteriums. A good friend was involved with the Fidea-team and was/is close to Zdenek Stybar, who is very sympathetic as well. In recent years I went to the CX in Hamme a few times and saw both Van Aert and Van der Poel win. Last year we had them both in a CX in my hometown as well.


Some pictures I took back in those days.






To be fairly honest, for a Flemish guy that loves cycling since childhood, I went to races on too few occasions. From a geeky wanna-know-all-point of view, I mostly preferred watching on television. I wrote for cycling websites since the age of 15, so that explains something. What I regret most is never going to Paris-Roubaix during Boonen's carreer, or never witnessing a Ghent Six Days yet.

On the other hand, a really fun experience was during the 2017 reconnaissance days of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, when I followed my brother and his friend (who race both on a high amateur level) and they joined Lotto-Jumbo during their team training. Our car, together with two official Jumbo team cars on Kwaremont, Paterberg and other famous hills, in the slipstream of 10 strong riders. Very enjoyable!
 
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Yeah, I've been to quite a few in Scotland and France. I'll make it short, TTT in Nice, bumped into the Euskatel boys who were trying to find the start, couldn't believe how small and young they were!!. Next day start in Cagnes Sur Mer for the sign in and roll out. What surprised me was how happy and chatty Andy and Cavendish were. Alberto mr grump and Kittel was like a man giant compared to everyone else. Mullhouse seeing Tony Martin a few Ks before the finish (and win) was something else. Best for last, Colmar about 10 K from the finish. Nice day out in town, following the race in a bar before heading to our spot with a few beers. I wanted to stand on a corner to see how fast the pros take it. The wife OK but as soon as I see anyone clapping I'm putting my beer down and going to clap as well. Yep, it happens and I move forward to the barrier, up she comes and bang right under my chin, standing eight count, seeing stars (but like a true Scotsman didn't drop my beer!!) Missed the whole peleton apart from the stragglers later. We're still married but was touch and go for a bit:;!!
 
Went to see the Philly race many times in the 1990s; the Manayunk wall was quite the scene. Also lots of track events, which I enjoy more than road racing as a spectator, as well as various crits here and there. I used to race VTT/MTB/Cross a bit in Calif and the Northeast, so saw elites/pros when they raced the same events. The MTB scene in the early/mid 90s was booming and a ton of fun.

Recently in France I've seen the Tour finish on the Champs every year but that's more for the atmosphere...one of these days I'll make the trek to Flanders for the Ronde...but to be honest I get much more out of cycling on TV. We almost always vacation during the TdF so I've actually missed most of the best stages live...
 
A few stages in the Tour of Denmark (basically, every time a stage ends in Århus I'll go).
World Championship Elite Men's Road Race on Geels Bakke.
The Giro d'Italia stage in Horsens.

A few stories:
I have - at one point - accidentally gotten out onto the route of the ToD before all the riders had finished… The circuit made me a little confused about who was in front, and who was behind… That's the thing about watching a race on location; sometimes you know less than when you're watching at home.
During the World's I and a few others - including my cousin, who was sort of acting as my guide since he lives in the area - ended up standing on top of some portable pottys. We couldn't exactly see what was going on, but it was sure an interesting experience.
At the Giro the atmosphere was obviously a little bit subdued. Not only was in the memorial stage for Weylandt, but the mayor of Horsens had died just the day before. Though, it was quite fun, and I still have - and frequently wear - the T-shirt I bought. And a fun fact: My mother - who was at home - knew there'd been a crash before I did! It's hard to hear much with helicopters right overhead.

Something I wish I'd known: There is a lot of waiting!

Some pictures I took back in those days.

Is that... ?
 
I've been to a few Lombardia in my life, sometimes at the start, sometimes at the finish. In 2015 I was on Civiglio when Rosa, one of my favorite riders, attacked and for a moment I believed he could make it (he was teammate of Nibali, who eventually won the race).
I've been at the start of Milano-Sanremo once.

As for the Giro, I attended the final ITT Monza - Milano in 2017.
But the most rewarding experience was undoubtedly following the final week of the 2018 Giro. I was a with a friend and we drove from stage to stage. In Pratonevoso we witnessed Yates being distanced for the first time, and started dreaming about what could happen the day after.
Next morning a small bus took us halfway on the Finestre climb, and then we kept walking. We chose a spot from where we could overview a long stretch of climb and waited. Twitter was on fire when they started the climb and Ineos pushed the pace, fans around us were murmuring. Froome has gone clear, they said. So we squinted and there he was, a hundred metres below us with a 20 seconds gap over the other contenders. The crowd went nuts. I was so busy screaming that I completely forgot to take pictures or videos. The only picture I have from that day: the gruppetto. But I'm happy anyway.

 
I have been to PostNord Danmark Rundt several times in Vejle and also a couple of times in Aarhus.

Then I watched all three stages of the Giro when it had the good grace to visit Denmark back in 2012. Which they announced it would on April 1st, 2011. Silly day to announce such a thing. It was pretty amazing and surreal to have a Grand Tour pass through the 600 inhabitant large village in which I lived most of my childhood.

I watched the finish of the final stage which finished in Horsens on a big screen out on the finishing circuit, and when I was on my way down to the finish line after the stage I randomly stumbled upon Cavendish in his rainbow jersey in the middle of a hefty discussion with (I think) the Garmin car. He wasn't happy after being brought down by Roberto Ferrari's insane sprinting move. There was a guy who (while Cav was talking in through the car window) pretended to lay his arm around his shoulder for a photo. Brave fellow but I don't think Cav registered that.

And then I watched the final week of the 2018 Tour. I had a base in Toulouse, rented a car, and drove to stages in the Massif Céntral and in the Pyrenees before flying to Paris and watching the final stage there.

It was quite an adventure but I was not really lucky nor clever with my placements on the stages and found it very hard to follow the race. Luckily, TV2 Play could save me and was not Geo-restricted to Denmark. I am definitely doing something similar at some point in the future, though.
 
Well... there have been plenty of races that pass by my street. Then i need to go outside, walk 50m cheer, i go back inside, watch the race on TV, until they pass by again, i go outside, cheer, go back inside etc. Poeske Scherens passes by every year.

I've also watched the final stage of the TDF in Paris a few times. I witnessed Steegmans win on the Champs Elysee.
 
I try to see at least two pro races a year, often spring classics, but also stages in the Giro or Tour. It remains hard to recognize riders in a bunch on the flat, because it goes so fast. The best chance is on a mountain in the final, but it can be crowdy there. One great memory is Pantani's attack on the Cipressa in MS 1999, with Bartoli chasing him.

As a teenager I saw the Tour de France for the first time in 1991, when the stage arrived in Brussels. I was impressed by the aerodynamic style of Greg Lemond, who was in a breakaway of four, trying to make up his early time loss. We went with a group of boys dressed in long rain coats and funny sunglasses. I remember being surprised that there were more cars than bicycles in the race. We caught as many objects for the publicity cars as we could. To follow the race it's better to watch on TV, but seeing it live can give great memories - even if it means a lot of waiting and only seeing them for a few seconds.
 
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I feel like there’s an entirely different level of cycling fandom. Who are these people who follow the tour for weeks in their camping cars? Or post up for a few days in a Belgian field for the Ronde? Are they online? Is there a secet psycho fan underground dark web?
 
I feel like there’s an entirely different level of cycling fandom. Who are these people who follow the tour for weeks in their camping cars? Or post up for a few days in a Belgian field for the Ronde? Are they online? Is there a secet psycho fan underground dark web?
I think those are largely different groups. Internet people are more cocooning at home. There are people who watch a race at eight points on the same day or so, taking shortcuts by car from one point to the next. That wouldn't be for me, because I get car sick. Many people watch the Tour as part of their holiday in France.
 
I've seen the Österreich Rundfahrt live twice. It was pretty cool but not exactly a live changing experience. But well, that very well might be in part due to the fact that the Österreich Rundfahrt isn't quite the tour de france.
I was also planning to go to Budapest for the start of the giro this year but you know how that turned out.
 
I've seen the Österreich Rundfahrt live twice. It was pretty cool but not exactly a live changing experience. But well, that very well might be in part due to the fact that the Österreich Rundfahrt isn't quite the tour de france.
I was also planning to go to Budapest for the start of the giro this year but you know how that turned out.
So the meme strengthens. The races are boring if you watch, and if you plan to go, the world just explodes.
 
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Been following Grand Tour finale twice, Giro 2007 and Tour 2017.

Giro: Beforehand I had pretty bad knowledge of the route itself inside the city and even though I spotted some kilometre banners I was unaware on which direction they head (since they need to have signs both ways so you can see them from TV when cameras follow riders from ahead)

But in the end I got the roadbook which helped, then ended up in the first corner of the lap. Got confused with the lap counting though and left too early towards finish line. Not a good view towards that but it was easy to understand that Petacchi won the stage. (although he lost it later due to doping) A good view towards the ceremonies though which was nice.

Tour: It was much about getting early on the side. The lap in Paris is much better known so it was easier to find a place, which was on the Avenue George V junction. Having walked around Champs-Elysées a day before I knew there wasn't chance to get view on the finish line so I opted for view for intermediate sprint (there wasn't really much sprinting since green jersey was all but decided for Matthews). Some drama as polka-dot winner Barguil punctured and was way down on one lap, but he eventually caught the pack. At the finish it was more unclear who won but some spectator showed the finish from his tablet. Didn't really saw podium ceremonies but at least got the view on one of giant screens.

I actually expected more riders to do some sort of parade run but there wasn't much other than BMC and Fortuneo teams being in entirety and then some individual riders which included Alberto Bettiol.

But after the ceremonies had ended went through team bus area. Saw Froome going to some truck (don't remember if it was some media or maybe a place to doping tests) but anyway while coming back he passed me on the way to Sky bus. I also saw Vincent Lavenu being interviewed near AG2R bus.

On the airport next day spotted two riders of which Pawel Poljanski went to same plane as I, Rüdiger Selig went somewhere else.
 
A few more funny stories from ToD:

At the 2017 edition I stayed around for the final podium (bit special with the race ending in Århus, after all), and while I ended up sorta beside/behind, and therefore obviously couldn't see much, I got to witness the sight of the Virtu squad desperately trying to get into the podium area.

A few years before that - 2014 or 2015 - as I was heading away from the race I got overtaken by some of the riders from the Bardiani team, poor guys must've then turned up into the complete mess that was the area around the bus terminal back them…

Oh, and I once almost got ran into a ditch by a team bus riding on the roads out in the woods (I'm sure the driver didn't mean to). Those buses are huge!
 

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