What a day! Great racing, great weather, great course and mud, finally! It’s all summed up in this couple of words but there is more to it, of course.
The day started obscenely early for me, I left London around 4:15am and it took me almost 6 hours to get to Essen, so I was pretty tired by the time I got here. However, the sun was shining and the course was very, very muddy, so conditions were perfect for a great day.
The muddy shots started with the U23’s race for me, there was a plethora of angles that offered big splashes, concentrating faces and loads of mud. What’s not to love? The women’s race saw a very strong Marianne Vos winning the race and some great performances, namely Nikki Harris, who bagged another podium place and Gabby Day, who finished 7th after a very strong start. Well done ladies.
However, trouble struck: I lost one of the PocketWizards! Very bad news as a single unit costs £180, so apart from the annoyance, it’s also a quite expensive mistake to make. I was about to backtrack my steps in the vain hope that I might find it somewhere on the ground, when fellow photographer Derrick (I hope I spelled his name right) stopped me and gave me the missing unit! Whoop-whoop! My hope in humanity has been restored once again.
The other outstanding moment of the day was Bart Wellens’ win. He is one of my favourite riders and it was very hard to see him struggling since the beginning of the season, especially the recurring medical problems. He opted to sit out a couple of races and with the help of Sven Nys’ rear mech, he won the race with great racing. The last fifteen minutes of the race was unique, I have never seen anything like this: the crowd, regardless who they support normally, roared, shouted and cheered at Wellens in unison when he rode past. It gave me goosebumps and he was appropriately emotional when he crossed the finish line. While his supporters’ club isn’t as popular as it used to be, he was cheered on the podium by all the fans – acknowledging a great rider’s exceptional performance.
Tomorrow is the next World Cup in Namur – rumor in the press centre has it that there is thick snow but no one knows if it was to stay or not. We’ll see tomorrow.