Last week is a blur of travel. Air, land, and over water, we had it all. From Drenthe the team went right to Mallorca for media camp, then directly to Italy for Trofeo Binda. Let me break the blur down for you.
Media camp is an annual event put on by team sponsor Wiggle. It’s their chance to meet the team, do interviews, and get photos and video footage that they can use throughout the year. For the staff, we had our own brief photo session and attended a few interesting presentations, but mostly for us it was a chance to share a poolside lunch in the sun and have long chats over all-inclusive beers.
We followed the team out on training rides, but I wasn’t allowed to film much. Wiggle had their own photography director and film crew. We were not to ruin their shots by hanging out of car windows with our cameras. I did manage to snap a few nice scenery shots with my phone.
I did film some behind the scenes stuff though. A spontaneous idea to get a team photo from the little swimming pool island resulted in a comical video of our PR officer Ben, carrying the girls on his shoulders one by one out to the island. While the whole thing was hilarious, to me the funniest bit was the closing shot with multiple times World Champion Giorgia Bronzini being escorted across the pool. Such a goofy and improbable scene!
It was nice to be able to show the team in a moment like this. Having fun and laughing outside of the serious interviews and racing.
Thusday it was time to leave Mallorca and head back to Italy for Trofeo Binda, which was Sunday. Four team vehicles (2 team cars, van, camper) and five staff were set to take the ferry from Mallorca to Barcelona. We lined up two hours early with all the other cargo trucks then loaded carefully onto the ferry. For the next six hours we ate lunch, slept, and stood on the deck and watched Mallorca slowly disappear into the horizon. After landing in Barcelona, we drove for a few hours until we got across the border into France where we stopped for the night. On Friday it was a nine hour drive across France and into Italy.
We got to the hotel in Cuvio at around 4:30 on Friday afternoon. The van arrived an hour later. As soon as Jim (mechanic) rolled down the window he said that the power steering was totally gone. As the only Italian speaker on our crew, I immediately jumped in and found a Mercedes garage and a tow truck that would take us there first thing in the morning. I also rented a van from Europcar in case ours wasn’t fixable in time. It was a bit stressful for our crew not knowing if we would have the van in time for the race. If Jim had arrived just 30 minutes later, the Mercedes garage would have been already closed for the day.
The tow truck arrived at 6:45 on Saturday morning. All the bikes, wheels, equipment, and everything the team would potentially need for the race was unloaded. Then the tow truck pulled away. For the next few hours I was in constant contact with the garage, which closed at noon on Saturdays. At 11:30am, they finally said that the van was fixed. I went with Jim to pick it up.
I have to give serious compliments to both the tow truck driver and the garage for helping us on such short notice. Italians are really not famous for moving quickly, but both went the extra mile for the team. When I got to the Mercedes garage, the owner Massimiliano said it was a pleasure to help us out. He had a big proud smile. He also said, “I’ve never seen a washer and dryer mounted in a van before. Good thing my wife didn’t see it or she would have made me buy one.”
Long travel days and the van crisis done, we still had a big race to focus on. For filming, this was one of the easier courses to cover. Made up of various mountain and finish line laps, we could see the peloton multiple times from just a few locations. I was in the car again with Bart and Anton. I’m starting to really enjoy the driving around with these guys on raceday. Sharing shots and chatting and eating Haribo while we wait for the race to come by. They are good mates.
The way the race itself played out was a surprise to a lot of people. A bunch sprint was not really expected here. Audrey’s remarks at the end of the video were right on, that there is no longer just one or two dominant teams. The top riders are spread out over many teams this year and it’s making the racing harder to predict.
Editing went late into the night again, and I continued my battle with crappy hotel internet. I could take a bit of consolation that other media friends were having the same problem. We had a nice twitter discussion about what we each use for roaming data when in the internet black hole.
The final leg of this road trip was a 4 hour train ride home yesterday morning. Next up, starting Thursday morning, is 10 days in Belgium for Gent Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders.. I already have goosebumps.