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September 22/06 1:01 am - World Road Championships: An Assistant Photographer's Report


Posted by Editor on 09/22/06
 

World Road Championships Salzburg, Austria

Reports made possible by the support of ENERVIT

Australian bike racer Monique Hanley (who was my host in Melbourne at the Commonwealth Games) came to Salburg to see her first World Championships, and to assist with our coverage. Below is Monique's report of her experiences during the time trial events, and a selection of her photos.

Photos: Elite Men, U23 Men & Elite Women

Snaps from an assistant photographer at the 2006 UCI Road World Championships, Salzburg.

A classic shot requires great skill, high quality equipment, good timing and a bit of luck from being in the right spot at the right time. Cor Vos' position in capturing one of the classic shots of this week is an example of this. When Kenyan U23 rider Chris Froome veered left and off-course shortly after his start, he collected a commissaire in the process. Cor was in a perfect position to capture the full spectacular collision as paperwork, commissaire and Kenyan were sent soaring into the air.

For my experience so far, I too have had a bit of luck with some fortunate timing. In my capacity as an assistant photo-journalist for Canadian Cyclist, I spent much of Wednesday capturing the tension and intensity of the warmup area and starting blocks for the elite women and U23 time trial events. As I snapped away at U23 Danes Martin Mortensen and Alex Rasmussen warming up I was stopped by one of the Danish coaching officials. Not to caution me for imposing on their privacy, but rather to query the version of my polar heart rate monitor which spends most of my time on my wrist as an every day watch. Rasmussen had left his monitor at the hotel, and with time trialling dependent on a consistent output of power, knowledge of heart rate zones during the race are considered vital. Given my exoperience with time trialling I gladly handed the monitor over, much to the surprise of the Danish technical staff. Unfortunately pre-start tensions meant Rasmussen was unable to synchronise his sensor with my unit, and my watch returned intact without a loop of the world championship circuit.

During the elite mens time trial I spent time capturing the emotions of riders sitting in the 'hot seat', an area reserved for the fastest three times of the day. Positions are rotated around when a new top three time is posted. Canada had achieved a considerable amount of time in the hot seat with both Svein Tuft and Ryder Hesjedal posting excellent early times. During a quick break from this I began watching the progress of the final riders. Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara suddenly appeared on screen, and the Swiss official standing beside me came to life.

An Italian citizen, Giovanni Cecchini was actually on the Swiss team as a mechanic to ensure Cancellara's Cervelo bike was running as 'fast as possible'. Like a proud father he watched his machine being pushed along with incredible force, faster, faster, as Cancellara tore up the previous best times across the whole course. On passing Spaniard Gutierrez, the mechanic turned incredulously to me repeatedly asking, 'two minutes? two minutes?'. Had HIS machine already taken away the two minute buffer of the starter ahead?

Cancellara continued to motor homewards, and my new found Italian friend grew even more excited. At first this meant I was subject to big hugs and hand shakes. Given the cultural differences, I assumed this was typical Italian excitement, not often seen in laid back Australia but was happy to share his excitement nonetheless. Then with 5km to go, he commenced kisses on either cheek. But in the final kilometre, this became more hugs and big sloppy kisses on the lips! (Editor's Note: This never happens to me, by the way...)

Cancellara crossed the finish line one and a half minutes quicker than second place David Zabriskie in a complete demolition of the field. On this realisation Cecchini broke into tears and continued to plant more sloppy kisses on me. His child, the precious Cervelo, had done its job. To him, the gold medal was just as much his as it was Cancellara's.

Cancellara was now making his way through the frenzy of staff, press and fans towards the presentation. As recipient of all of this emotion, I too began to feel like I had played a role in this victory. I hesitated for a second: do I run up and embrace him or take his photo? In the madness Cancellara spotted his number one mechanic and stopped to enable the two partners to embrace. Cecchini quickly reviewed his partner, checking how taxing the 50.83km course had been. He remained in perfect condition. Job done, he then pushed through the crowd to hug Cancellara as well.

A classic championships shot for me.

 


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