I’ll jump ahead to this past weekend for the Grand Prix Cyclistes de Quebec et Montreal (GPCQM). This was the seventh time these UCI World Tour races have been held and they continue to be popular with riders and spectators alike.
For the riders it’s probably a rare treat to get put up in one of the finest hotels rather than a one star spot. The Frontenac is beautiful and I know first hand how well they get fed there. The spectators love the scenery and it’s a delight for both locals and tourists. For me… this is the second year in a row that I’ve opted to fly rather than drive my trusty Westy. It’s one of the rare occasions that planes, hotels and a bus ride make more sense.
Team Tinkoff Interview
My weekend started Thursday morning when I took a Car2Go out to a hotel airport and then a shuttle to the terminal. This worked out well and meant I didn’t need to leave Babe in a parking lot with strangers. And it probably would have worked out to be about the same price if there’d been a Smart Car available at the airport when I got back. The fact that there were none meant I had to pay for a cab and that was considerably more expensive. Lesson learned.
The first race was on Friday but I had an opportunity to get some photos and do an interview with current road world champion Peter Sagan shortly before dinner on Thursday. Pierre Perron of MV Canada (clothing supplier to Team Tinkoff) and of course that was awesome. And it included some more lessons. The first being… I should do my own interviews rather than being the cameraman. I trust my instincts to ask the questions that I think people are interested in. So the video is so so. This shot with two Peters though… totally worth the time to be there.
I was thrilled to have been in Richmond to photograph the event he won to get the rainbow jersey and certainly wished him luck in the race ahead. He didn’t sound confident about his chances of winning the Quebec race though. Or the upcoming world championships in Qatar.
And then it was Race day. Here’s how it looks from a photographers perspective:
- Mandatory meeting at 9:15 so have something to eat before then
- Get photographers bib after meeting, you have to wear that at all times when on the course
- 10:00 is the start of the team presentations
- 11:00 is the start of the race
- Keep track of the laps as the race proceeds and you go to the various spots you like for photos
- Hop on and off the shuttle (or do a lap on a moto) in order to get the shots you want
- Be sure to make time to eat. And drink lots of water!
- Get back to the finish with 2 laps to go and start sharpening your elbows
- When the organizers say go you run to get a good spot in the photographers zone behind the finish
- And then you wait. Until…
- The riders come to and cross the line around 6 hours after they started (so perhaps 17:00)
- Jump up to get post race photos of joy and pain
- Find a spot in front of the podium to get those shots too
- Go to the post race press conference around 18:00
- Process and upload photos until you fall asleep at the keyboard
And you know what… I love it! Some of the photos I’ve been able to take, some of the moments I’ve witnessed, well they all add up to being amazing and well worth the time and effort. A few photos might help show that. And these are only from this year… perhaps I’ll try to put together a highlights reel when I have more time.
And then it was over! Saturday was both a transfer day (a bus to Montreal) and a set of criterium races in the late afternoon. The transfer used to be by train and that was definitely nice. Which makes me think perhaps I’ve flown to this event three times… they’ve used the bus for two years now. In any case, Saturday is a time to reflect and relax for everyone. The riders get to prepare for Sunday’s race, the organizers move all of their services to the new location and we press get to complete whatever didn’t get done the night before.
As for the crit action, you can see a few photos on PedalMag.com. It was fairly low key.
It was an opportunity to hook up with some friends for great company and beer afterwards though! And that eventually led to meeting up on the side of the big climb during the race and passing on a VIP pass I had. It was put to good use 🙂
Then it was time for waking up and repeating the previous list of activities. Add in getting back to the airport in Montreal in time for a 20:00 flight to Toronto followed by a cab ride home. It’s now Thursday as I write this and I can say that I’ve mostly recovered.
One other personal highlight for me was meeting a couple from Wales (Karl & Karen), He’s keen on photography (Nikon is his camera… I’ll forgive him for that), passionate about cycling (Sky is his team) and recently retired from the police force there. A few similarities and a few differences. And lots of great chats over the weekend as we bumped into each other. I hope we will meet again at some event in a similar unexpected way 🙂
Happy retirement sir!
All in all, it was another great weekend of racing and I tip my hat to the organizers. They are amazing!