It was a frantic weekend. It was an awesome weekend. The emotions and reactions to the first UK World Cup in Milton Keynes have been difficult to put in writing, which is the reason for the delay on this post. There were two aspects of the day that I’d like to focus on in my race report.
First, the race itself. Identity is a funny thing. As many of you probably know, I am originally from Hungary. I moved to London almost six years ago, and unless UKIP wins the next elections by a large margin, I am planning on staying here for many years to come. Part of the reason I want to live here is that I like living here – I like the people, I like the culture and more. Britain is not perfect, but I love it even with its imperfections. It has become part of my identity.
The reason I am telling you this is that I couldn’t help but feel a lot of pride when my beloved sport came to my chosen country. The fact that, for the first time, we would host those that I spend most of my weekends with on the other side of the Channel was significant. I felt pride before the race commenced and afterwards I felt even greater pride for the quality of the event that was presented. I knew that Simon Burney and his team would be able to put on a great race, but it far exceeded my expectations. This was one of the most expertly organised races I have ever covered. The difficulty of the course was high, yet spectator-friendly; it struck the perfect balance for a World Cup course.
Undeniably, the spectators create a special atmosphere in Belgium, but part of the flavor is that anyone who is not Sven Nys, Bart Wellens or Sanne Cant, will rarely get cheers. Thus, hearing the deafening shouts for every single rider in the first lap at MK, as if we were witnessing the final lap showdown at the World Championships, was phenomenal to witness. There may have been ‘only’ 10,000 spectators, but their enthusiasm matched the crowds of Louisville 2013 and Koksijde 2012.
The emotions displayed by the British riders, given the rare opportunity to race in front of a home crowd, were striking. Ian Field struggled to find the words to express his feelings during the podium presentation; his long silence will stay with me for a long time. Helen Wyman was deeply moved in a similar interview after her race, giving the sense that this was the British riders’ ‘London 2012’ moment: redemption for the pariahs of the sport.
The second overarching aspect was the effect that the day had on me personally. As you might have seen on Facebook and Twitter, I had a humble stand in the big expo tent, where I was selling my books. Rather, Katie, John, and Andrea were selling my books, so that I could focus on taking photos. Profound thanks to these three for allowing me to concentrate on capturing the race. I was overwhelmed by the kindness of all of those who stopped by the stand, those who bought books, those who simply visited to complement my work, and the countless people who pulled me aside on course to say hi and chat for a minute. Thanks to each and every one of you.
The connections I was able to make with people who follow me online meant a lot. I have clients who pay me to go to races and I am grateful for that, but there is also you, dear reader, who keep coming back and put up with my writing, which is rarely interesting and often riddled with errors. Hopefully, my photos will do the trick and will be entertainment enough. This World Cup will stay with me for a long time.
Reports are that everyone was very satisfied with the race at Milton Keynes and there is a good chance that it will be part of the World Cup calendar in the 2015/2016 season. If so, I will be definitely be there and I hope you will too.
Now, without further ado, the photos from Milton Keynes (Word edits above by Nicholas Lemke).