I was asked if I would write a blog about commentating on the world championships to give you all a bit of an insight into what it is us commentators do all day, so here we go….
The World Championships for me is one of the biggest weeks of the year. Its one of those weeks that starts high and ends normally higher. The racing is competitive, the crowds get bigger as the week goes on and strangely the commentary box gets busier and busier!
So, I arrived in Firenze (Florence to us Brits) late on Saturday night, the day before the team time trials. I was picked up at the airport by one of the guys who works on the caravan at the Giro where I am the speaker so I immediately felt at home. Arrived at the hotel, met a good friend of mine Seb who does radio tour on the Tour De France and of course ended up having a glass of wine and dinner. Its great to catch up on news and exchange views on the season so far and what might happen.
The next morning I headed to the race finish area to find my home for the week. This championships I was on the upper deck of the big grey commentary boxes you see on the finish line of the worlds, in between Norwegian and Dutch tv, along from Italian and French tv. So, this is where I would live for a week! Watch the racing, commentate on the action, welcome my guest commentators, watch the victory ceremonies and be part of the incredible event that is the World Championships.
Each day is much the same. Arrive in the morning at the finish area. Go to the press centre to check any news, have a coffee, check the set up in the commentary box. Read everything you can about news overnight, talk to other commentators and get their thoughts on the race, have more coffee, commentate, go to the press conference of the winner, back to the hotel, eat, chat more and sleep!
It would take a long time to go through day by day what happened at this years Worlds so here are some high points and some amazing things that happened. My role at the worlds is commentator on the host broadcast feed, so my commentary is taken by a number of broadcasters across the world. This time to places like SBS in Australia and also on the new live streaming to the Youtube UCI channel. The audience is diverse, worldwide and as a result my commentary is generic, not related to any specific country and that means you have to know a lot about every rider. It’s fun, challenging and an absolute honour to do what I do.
This year for the first time I had guest commentators on some days. On the womens ITT day it was great to commentate with Team Manager of Wiggle Honda – Rochelle Gilmore. She is working hard to change womens cycling and had some great insights during the race. She also isn’t afraid to correct you or say what she thinks. One moment of commentary was “I noticed you tripped over Elisa Longo Borghinis name Anthony – thats ok – we just call her Lamborghini!”
On Saturday I was joined by silver medalist in 2012, Rachel Neylan. It was a tough day for Rachel as she has been injured a lot of 2013 and to watch a race she wanted to be riding in was an impressive thing to do. She brought the race to life, giving stories about the riders, recalling her race with Vos in 2012 and for her first time in the commentary box, she was excellent.
Florence was a wonderful place for a world championships. On the day between the time trials and road races, the circuit is closed for training. The riders who are taking part in junior, U23, womens and mens races all go out. This year I went round the circuit in a car as I unfortunately didnt have my bike. I was joined by Jerome Pineau who was working with French tv. He was great to listen to, giving us insights on who he thought would win, what the race would be like, showing us photos of him racing this year- its all helps with the homework for the racing!
It’s a fans dream to be there on that day and I would recommend it to anyone. You see all the stars, Mark Cavendish, Vicenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador, Evelyn Stevens, Marianne Vos, Lizzie Armitstead, Peter Sagan etc etc all out training. Its amazing.
On Sunday, the weather turned and we had the most extreme Worlds for a long time! What a day for the riders. I dont know how they competed in those conditions. Thunder, lightning, a deluge of rain. It was incredible. I was joined by young British rider Adam Blythe for the race. I have known Adam for a while and its always struck me that he would be good in media. At the worlds our ‘shift’ in the commentary box is 7 hours + so you live the entire race! I think he was surprised at how tiring it was, but he was excellent. Not sure what his colleagues will think of him willing it to rain harder though! His rider identification was incredible, even down to spotting shoes and legs!
So what were the highs and lows? For me the most exciting race was close run between the womens road race, the mens TTT and the mens ITT. I thought Brads ride in the ITT was testament to how classy he really is. The way the Americans rode for Evie Stevens in the womens road race was exciting, but Vos was in a different league. And Orica Green Edge and OPQS finishing less than a second apart was stunning.
There aren’t many lows at a Worlds to be fair. Katie Colclough retiring was a shame. She isn’t mentioned much, but is a world TTT champion. Having the only taxi driver in Italy to observe the speed limit on the motorway as I tried to get a flight home on Sunday night was probably a disappointment, you don’t get that too often!
Thanks for reading, the next races for me are Lombardia and then China for Tour of Beijing.
(A massive thank you to Anthony for taking the time to type this out! Hope you all enjoy this as much as I did, as always feel free to comment, Elz)