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

Page 3 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Only been at the small pro races (Europe Tour or smaller) as a comissaire (referee) or at the race traffic control or a head of the whole race traffic control. Quite intense things to do, personally feel super tired after these sessions. There's not many seconds time to 'watch the race' in those jobs, really. Never been at the big races. My cranked view is that best vibes from the race you get when sitting in a pack, but for dat you must do dis and dat, else than that it's Eurosport. Well Worlds maybe if weather is nice and good beer, milieu..:p
 
Troughout the years I've been to several stages at La Vuelta, mainly at the finishing stage. I recall watching the finishing ITT as a 10 year old the year Casero won la Vuelta and then some sprint finishes.

I also went to the start of the first road stage some years ago. Funny that Tom Dumoulin was sitting on his bike outside the bus and no one knew him but myself. I was able to take a photo with him. 21 days later he had almost won the race. And I remember the surprise on the face of Maxime Monfort when I said "Allez Maxime" while he was heading to the start. He even turned around to see who I was:tearsofjoy:
 
I have seen two TdF stages and lots of stages from Tour of Denmark. The first TdF stage was the TTT in 2009 around in Montpellier which Astana of course won (Contador, Armstrong, Klöden, Leipheimer etc) where Armstrong missed the yellow jersey with under a second if I remember correctly. It was an insanely hot day as well and I was standing in a 180 turn where multiple riders crashed, so we got a lot of action that day, lol. Good times

The other TdF stage was in 2011 on a medium mountain stage in Italy before the big Alps on the Pra Martino, the last climb of the day to Pinerolo. Eddy the Boss won that day and Voeckler went into a garage. I think it was that day that the Schlecks complained a lot about safety and all that.

In 2018 I was at the first stage of Tour of Denmark where I met and talked with Wout van Aert. We took some pictures and talked for a good 5 minutes and I remember I said to him he would win Roubaix next year haha. If im not mistaken he was kinda close. But nobody was really interested him in that time as he wasnt that well known for the casuals danish fans and he rode for an obscure Belgian team, Crelan. He won that stage and the overall, so if I were to meet him the next day I probably wouldnt be allowed to talk to him right before the race started like I was that day.
 
This is a great thread to discover, nice to hear everyone’s experiences. I’m gonna share my own, thank you in advance for indulging me as I don’t know any way other than writing at length.

I – born and raised in Canada – have taken 4 bike touring trips to Europe, and have made a point to see races live every time. I haven’t made it to the top level races on my own landmass yet, save for the Canadian CX championships which were in my hometown for two years in 2014-15.

Here’s my first experience:

Tour de France, 2007

Stage 14, Plateau-de-Beille: I flew into Barcelona and met up with two of my friends who had been cycle touring for a month or so already. When we were in Bacelona we watched the stage Gerdemann went into yellow at our hostel. We made our way through Catalunya and into the Pyrenees – I remember stopping on our ride at a roadside bar across from the Mediterranean to watch the stage where Michael Rogers dropped out in tears while in virtual yellow and the peloton gave the jersey to Rasmussen thinking it’d be no big deal. We continued, riding inland, through Andorra and having a quite unfamiliar experience for prairie dwellers in riding over the Port d’Envalira at over 2400m. That was a serious test that would require its own post for how ridiculous and funny it was.

We passed through Ax-Les-Thermes on a rainy day and camped in Les Cabannes, reveling in the small-town celebrations around semi-hosting a Tour stage and catching the Vino-won TT in Albi on TV in some random tent that was set up in town. On the day of the race, we rode up the mountain in the early afternoon, which was a total joy. Folks were lazing around outside their campers, walking up and down the mountain, drinking, etc. But whoever passed going uphill, they would cheer lustily, it was extremely supportive. We settled into a spot about 2km from the summit where we could see about 4-5 hairpins down the mountain, figuring that would be the best vantage point for the longest amount of time. In hindsight, I think we made the right decision off the hop, it was perfect. Far enough out to not have barriers to the riders, close enough to know the selection even if we couldn’t see the last 1.5km of the MTF.

There was a fun period of walking around and hanging out, sitting facing away from the road and chatting while looking at the mountain view, and hearing the sounds of panting of tourist riders on the way up and the click of freewheels on the way down behind us. It was super exciting to think that we were attending a world class sporting event, for free, and essentially getting to go on the playing field before the athletes did.

I was the cycling obsessive amongst the three of us, and I was convinced Vino was on the comeback trail, and if not, Valverde was going to make his name. Nope – the former lost 20 minutes after his strong TT, and the latter finished rather anonymously. Judging from the signs and road painting, the Basque fans were stoked about Mayo but even more about Valverde who they also thought was the best chance of someone they could cheer for. But it was another Spaniard that emerged from it that day.

After sitting through the novelty of the publicity caravan and another 45 minutes of what seemed like endless official vehicles driving past (seriously, way more cars than bikes at a bike race!), we were getting a few updates from a French father and son next to us through their transistor radio. But we didn’t hear anything for the last 15 minutes before the riders arrived, so we were in suspense.

When you’re at a race on a mountain like that, you see the helicopter first, and when it’s mostly switchbacks it just hovers below you, pacing back and forth, getting a little bit higher, a little bit higher. And then eventually you can see the crowd start to react about 100 vertical meters down as the helicopter draws level with you. The steepness of the mountain makes it impossible to see who the riders are as the bodies of the spectators block your view until they come around the switchback directly below you. And then you just try to keep up with everything.

There’s a lot of info to process quickly. First, it’s very hard to really take in how fast these riders are riding up the mountain that you just struggled up as a relatively fit 27 year old bicycle courier. Second, you’ve gotta take in who is passing you, who that means is not there, and how long it is until those guys are passing you. All while caught up in the moment of the enormous group of people that encourage each other to lean in and cheer in the riders’ faces. I seriously don’t understand how riders don’t crash into fans all the time, It’s like being in a school of fish or something, there is a group understanding.

Anyway, that particular stage, it was like – wait, is that Rasmussen in front? With… Contador? That young guy? Where’s – oh wait, no time to think, they are now passing inches away from us and I can see more riders below them. Oh it’s that Colombian from Barloworld and, oh hooray, Levi Leipheimer. And Sastre, cool I guess. Where are the guys I like, like Mayo and Valverde and Vino? Hmm. Okay well who cares I’ll just wildly cheer everyone, even the Bouyges Telecom guys coming in 25 minutes down.

And that was the experience, it ended up in entropy, just joining the crowd in cheering on anyone who made it up that goddamn mountain!

Stage 16, Col d’Aubisque: Oh whoops, looks like Vino got caught for blood doping on the rest day! Well, I guess that’s cycling in 2007. Seriously, at this point the whole Rasmussen thing was like ‘whatever’, everybody knew it was suspect but nobody really thought anything would happen except for the inevitability of another rider winning the Tour that we were deeply suspicious of.

I don’t remember as much about this stage, it was a repeat from where I was standing with Rasmussen & Contador (with Levi I think) going up first, but my vivid memories are around camping in the woods on top of the mountain as the ski station was not really in operation. Just the restaurants in Gourette (the town by the summit) were open for the weekend to take advantage, so we just found a spot on the side of the road, trudged down the steep slope through the forest, and found a flat spot to set up camp. Certainly the most memorable thing was that while two of us hauled our bikes down to our campsite and cable-locked them to a tree, our other friend made fun of us for being overly cautious and doing extra work, while he just locked his bike to a signpost at the side of the road. One unfortunate thing was that he had a quick-release front wheel, and a second unfortunate thing was that he only locked his frame to the pole. The (perhaps predictable) third unfortunate thing was that someone quite easily stole his front wheel, so that after the stage when most of the crowd had cleared out, he discovered he was stuck on top of a mountain without a rideable bike, 50km from Pau. That morning (the day after the race) we had the café staff help us make a sign in French saying ‘they stole my wheel, please give me a ride to Pau’ for my friend while the other two of us cruised down the mountain into town to meet him. At the bottom of the mountain we got caught up in a traffic jam, right beside the Discovery team car, where Contador was basically being mobbed by newfound fans, while he waved sheepishly and Brunyeel tried to guide him through his newfound fame from the seat over. Little did we know he’d be in yellow within 24 hours.

Stage 20, Champs Elysees: we took an overnight train from Pau to Paris, settled in and watched the incredibly suspenseful final TT on TV, shocked like everyone that a) Cadel didn’t win, and b) Levi almost did. After a day in Paris, we woke up the day of the race eager to participate in the celebratory atmosphere. In reality, it was basically getting to the barricades at some arbitrarily chosen point, and then staying put for 4 hours to hold our spot to watch the peloton whiz past a dozen times or whatever. I mean, it was definitely cool, there were lots of people there anticipating the stage coming by, and everyone was 4-6 deep by the time it went by. But it wasn’t, like, flutes of champagne in the VIP room, you know? And from a racing perspective, it was quite underwhelming. Bennati won. Someone told me, that’s how I know. A little different than the mountains.

That was the first tour! Very fun and made me want to come back.
 
The only race I've ever been to is a race that passes through my village and it doesn't have a UCI category but still a pretty strong startlist as around half of all the winners in the race's history were either former or future WT riders.

I just stood near a corner for 10 or so minutes as the police had closed the road. Then the first car in the column appeared. Around a minute later the peloton could be seen. The sound of dozens of bikes using brakes at the same time was insane. 10 seconds later it was all over as the race didn't even appear to have any splits at that point.
Yeah, some rich experiences. :tearsofjoy:
 
This is a great thread to discover, nice to hear everyone’s experiences. I’m gonna share my own, thank you in advance for indulging me as I don’t know any way other than writing at length.

I – born and raised in Canada – have taken 4 bike touring trips to Europe, and have made a point to see races live every time. I haven’t made it to the top level races on my own landmass yet, save for the Canadian CX championships which were in my hometown for two years in 2014-15.

Here’s my first experience:

Tour de France, 2007

Stage 14, Plateau-de-Beille: I flew into Barcelona and met up with two of my friends who had been cycle touring for a month or so already. When we were in Bacelona we watched the stage Gerdemann went into yellow at our hostel. We made our way through Catalunya and into the Pyrenees – I remember stopping on our ride at a roadside bar across from the Mediterranean to watch the stage where Michael Rogers dropped out in tears while in virtual yellow and the peloton gave the jersey to Rasmussen thinking it’d be no big deal. We continued, riding inland, through Andorra and having a quite unfamiliar experience for prairie dwellers in riding over the Port d’Envalira at over 2400m. That was a serious test that would require its own post for how ridiculous and funny it was.

We passed through Ax-Les-Thermes on a rainy day and camped in Les Cabannes, reveling in the small-town celebrations around semi-hosting a Tour stage and catching the Vino-won TT in Albi on TV in some random tent that was set up in town. On the day of the race, we rode up the mountain in the early afternoon, which was a total joy. Folks were lazing around outside their campers, walking up and down the mountain, drinking, etc. But whoever passed going uphill, they would cheer lustily, it was extremely supportive. We settled into a spot about 2km from the summit where we could see about 4-5 hairpins down the mountain, figuring that would be the best vantage point for the longest amount of time. In hindsight, I think we made the right decision off the hop, it was perfect. Far enough out to not have barriers to the riders, close enough to know the selection even if we couldn’t see the last 1.5km of the MTF.

There was a fun period of walking around and hanging out, sitting facing away from the road and chatting while looking at the mountain view, and hearing the sounds of panting of tourist riders on the way up and the click of freewheels on the way down behind us. It was super exciting to think that we were attending a world class sporting event, for free, and essentially getting to go on the playing field before the athletes did.

I was the cycling obsessive amongst the three of us, and I was convinced Vino was on the comeback trail, and if not, Valverde was going to make his name. Nope – the former lost 20 minutes after his strong TT, and the latter finished rather anonymously. Judging from the signs and road painting, the Basque fans were stoked about Mayo but even more about Valverde who they also thought was the best chance of someone they could cheer for. But it was another Spaniard that emerged from it that day.

After sitting through the novelty of the publicity caravan and another 45 minutes of what seemed like endless official vehicles driving past (seriously, way more cars than bikes at a bike race!), we were getting a few updates from a French father and son next to us through their transistor radio. But we didn’t hear anything for the last 15 minutes before the riders arrived, so we were in suspense.

When you’re at a race on a mountain like that, you see the helicopter first, and when it’s mostly switchbacks it just hovers below you, pacing back and forth, getting a little bit higher, a little bit higher. And then eventually you can see the crowd start to react about 100 vertical meters down as the helicopter draws level with you. The steepness of the mountain makes it impossible to see who the riders are as the bodies of the spectators block your view until they come around the switchback directly below you. And then you just try to keep up with everything.

There’s a lot of info to process quickly. First, it’s very hard to really take in how fast these riders are riding up the mountain that you just struggled up as a relatively fit 27 year old bicycle courier. Second, you’ve gotta take in who is passing you, who that means is not there, and how long it is until those guys are passing you. All while caught up in the moment of the enormous group of people that encourage each other to lean in and cheer in the riders’ faces. I seriously don’t understand how riders don’t crash into fans all the time, It’s like being in a school of fish or something, there is a group understanding.

Anyway, that particular stage, it was like – wait, is that Rasmussen in front? With… Contador? That young guy? Where’s – oh wait, no time to think, they are now passing inches away from us and I can see more riders below them. Oh it’s that Colombian from Barloworld and, oh hooray, Levi Leipheimer. And Sastre, cool I guess. Where are the guys I like, like Mayo and Valverde and Vino? Hmm. Okay well who cares I’ll just wildly cheer everyone, even the Bouyges Telecom guys coming in 25 minutes down.

And that was the experience, it ended up in entropy, just joining the crowd in cheering on anyone who made it up that goddamn mountain!

Stage 16, Col d’Aubisque: Oh whoops, looks like Vino got caught for blood doping on the rest day! Well, I guess that’s cycling in 2007. Seriously, at this point the whole Rasmussen thing was like ‘whatever’, everybody knew it was suspect but nobody really thought anything would happen except for the inevitability of another rider winning the Tour that we were deeply suspicious of.

I don’t remember as much about this stage, it was a repeat from where I was standing with Rasmussen & Contador (with Levi I think) going up first, but my vivid memories are around camping in the woods on top of the mountain as the ski station was not really in operation. Just the restaurants in Gourette (the town by the summit) were open for the weekend to take advantage, so we just found a spot on the side of the road, trudged down the steep slope through the forest, and found a flat spot to set up camp. Certainly the most memorable thing was that while two of us hauled our bikes down to our campsite and cable-locked them to a tree, our other friend made fun of us for being overly cautious and doing extra work, while he just locked his bike to a signpost at the side of the road. One unfortunate thing was that he had a quick-release front wheel, and a second unfortunate thing was that he only locked his frame to the pole. The (perhaps predictable) third unfortunate thing was that someone quite easily stole his front wheel, so that after the stage when most of the crowd had cleared out, he discovered he was stuck on top of a mountain without a rideable bike, 50km from Pau. That morning (the day after the race) we had the café staff help us make a sign in French saying ‘they stole my wheel, please give me a ride to Pau’ for my friend while the other two of us cruised down the mountain into town to meet him. At the bottom of the mountain we got caught up in a traffic jam, right beside the Discovery team car, where Contador was basically being mobbed by newfound fans, while he waved sheepishly and Brunyeel tried to guide him through his newfound fame from the seat over. Little did we know he’d be in yellow within 24 hours.

Stage 20, Champs Elysees: we took an overnight train from Pau to Paris, settled in and watched the incredibly suspenseful final TT on TV, shocked like everyone that a) Cadel didn’t win, and b) Levi almost did. After a day in Paris, we woke up the day of the race eager to participate in the celebratory atmosphere. In reality, it was basically getting to the barricades at some arbitrarily chosen point, and then staying put for 4 hours to hold our spot to watch the peloton whiz past a dozen times or whatever. I mean, it was definitely cool, there were lots of people there anticipating the stage coming by, and everyone was 4-6 deep by the time it went by. But it wasn’t, like, flutes of champagne in the VIP room, you know? And from a racing perspective, it was quite underwhelming. Bennati won. Someone told me, that’s how I know. A little different than the mountains.

That was the first tour! Very fun and made me want to come back.
Thanks so much for sharing your stories, really fun to read and somewhat reminiscent of my 1st Tour experiences.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
When younger a race passed through my town each summer or something. I didn't care about cycling whatsoever back then. I have since gone by car up the hill they used to go. I wouldn't go there by bike myself ever. Very steep :D
When I didn't care about cycling, Tour de Pologne had a stage finish in a town 25kms from where I live (and where I go on a regular basis) every year.

Since I got interested in cycling, they almost never go within 100km radius of where I live.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan and noob
Literally hundreds of them even living in the USA. I loved it when Bugno, Fignon, Breukink, etc and of course LeMond were here for the big Philly race and the Tour de Trump, later the Tour Dupont. I saw LeMond race many, many times. Alas many races are now defunct or mere shells from the glory days :cry:.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
I,ve been around awhile.
The first race I saw was similar to Anderis. Late 60,s Milk race in UK. Visiting my local town, Ledbury in Herefordshire, slight downhill and all over in a few minutes.
I found out later that Fedor den Hartog won the overall, he also won the road race at the 72 Olympics and I believe was busted a few times.
That one race triggered a life long interest.
I've seen many races since, some memorable moments but one stands out for the wrong reason.
A Caerphilly stage at the Tour of Britain, I committed the novice sin of leaning out with a camera and hit Cavs arm with the resultant glare back over his shoulder.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
I saw the TDF start in London 2007, we were on the rail for opening time trial. There was a big crowd, people were three or four deep. We had food and drink with us and saw the caravan, got swag, and saw every rider. Afterwards I met up with some fellow forum members (not this forum) at a nearby pub.

The next day we watched the tour go by in the neutral zone on the way out of town. We watched the days finish on a huge screen set up in a park with thousands of others.

Around that time frame (the mid 2000s) I saw two TdF finishes in Paris. We weren't by the finish line, but found good viewing along the circuit. So they do something like 7 laps so we got the see the entire peloton go by 7 times. That's a fun, if very hot, time to be in Paris. (not that we ever had a bad time in paris)
 
My first was the Nissan Classic. I saw John Talen win the sprint prime in Naas on stage 1, and on Sunday we all biked up to the top of the Sally Gap to watch the final stage. Adri vdPoel won the KOM and with it took the polka dot jersey from local rider Paul Slane. I was able to recognize loads of big named riders coming over the top.

I watched the 98 TdF prologue from a corner on Merrion St. Nicolas Jalabert nearly took the turn too wide and prompted a massive “OOOOOOoooooooohhhh” from the crowd as he went inches from the barriers.

I saw the stage finish of the Tour of California in Sacramento twice. Each time they had a strider bike race for kids beforehand. My son beat a kid in a rainbow jersey. We watched the circuit from the big screen on the Capitol, and as the race approached each time, ran to the street, watched the riders, then back to the screen.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
Only been to Track Worlds, Tour of California, and Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville a couple weeks ago (only an 8 hour drive for me).

My story is from cross Worlds. I was watching the men's elite race and I look over and see Lucinda Brand and Maghalie Rochette watching the race fairly close to me. They start taking a few pics and I took one of them and Maghalie asked if I wanted one with them. I said sure and very happily went over and stood behind the two them. Before the pic got taken, we see Pidcock coming and we ran back over to the fence to watch him and the chasers come through. After that we all ran over to another spot to watch. Never got my pic :(
 
Reactions: Sandisfan

ASK THE COMMUNITY