It all started in 2007; when I fell in love with cycling during the Giro d’Italia. Well, the rest is history I guess 😉 As you know I’m also doing freelance work als a Journalist and would love to expand that in the near furture. So when the Tour de France starts in my home town Utrecht, I HAVE TO BE THERE! And so I did. After picking up my press accreditation at the press center in Utrecht the circus kind of started; lots and lots of press meetings and lots and lots of press conferences. On July the 2nd it was time for the official team presentations at Park Lepelenburg in Utrecht. Thanks to Jaarbeurs Utrecht I could watch the presenations as a VIP guest. Everything was very well organized by the hospitality team of the Jaarbeurs; the VIP location, food/drinks and music. The presentations were at the main stage in Park Lepelenburg and the ambiance and atmosphere were just wonderful; Ofcourse I made pictures and had lots of great chats. Meanwhile I was also very busy with posting video’s on my Snapchat account (thank you for all your great comments btw!) because I had promised to take you with me behind the scenes of all the events. Here are some other (random) pictures from the team presentation:
After the presentations it was time for diner at the VIP spot; and on the mainstage in Park Lepelenburg the DJ played his tunes to warm up the crowd. What a night! Ofcourse it also started to rain for a while (we’re still in the Netherlands ;-)) but that didn’t kill the mood. After thunderstorms and rain for like an hour; the party continued untill midnight. Utrecht city had never looked more beautiful that night. There were more stages where people could dance or relax while having a snack or drink.
I didn’t get much sleep that night and the next morning it was time for more meetings. In the afternoon I had the pleasure to meet Manuel Quinziato from the BMC Racing team at their hotel. Unfortuntely I got stuck in traffic and had to race like a crazy lady to get where I needed to be. Manuel had to rest like the other team members for the next (important) day to I tried my very best to keep it as low key as I could.
Chat with Manuel:
I told Manuel about my blog and about my growing interest/passion for cycling. I wanted to get to know the person behind the rider for BMC Racing team; I wanted to get to know the person Manuel a little bit better. Manuel is now 35 years old and started with sports (BMX) at the age of 8 and one year later he started with road racing. He is an only child to parents from Italy. He told me that a lot of cyclist have family members like brother, fathers/uncles who are into cycling and that is how they get into cycling as well. But for Manuel it didnt go that way. Both his parents were into other sports, like ice hockey, but Manuel’s father wanted his son to be able to do a lot of sports like karate, badminton and tennis. That way he would be versatile or an all-rounder and always able to level with his friends during different types of sport. But Manuel discovered that he was better in cycling than all the other sports he practiced. In later stadia, for example during high school, he had to spend lots of hours on cycling. I wanted to know if he had to make big sacrifices during his carriere path to become the pro that he is now. Ofcourse he had to make some effords and also some sacrifised but he never saw those discisions as negative. He thinks that having discipline is good thing; especially for some ages (teenage years), that was he didn’t have any time left to cross lines and boundries. His main focus besides school was always cycling. And now, years later, he still sees that as a positive aspect of wanting to become a pro athelete. He also thinks that having the will and focus to achieve something and working really hard for it, can bring you where you want to be. There is a quote that means a lot to Manuarl: “The pain of regret is bigger than the pain of discipline”. So after all these years, if he had the chance to go back in time and do it all over again (including the sacrificies) he wouldnt hesitate a second. I also asked Manuel about being away frome home for training and different races and what that does to his relationship (Manuel has Spanish girlfriend xxx and they are getting married in November). Ofcourse it can get tough from time to time but his girlfriend knows that cycling is what Manuel does and that he likes what he does so she totally accepts his way of living. He thinks that having a partner who doenst understand what pro cycling means (like complaining that he is never home) will cause problems in the relationship. Manuel also talks about his future plans; at this moment he has a one year contract left with BMC and wants to get his Law degree (he just has to finish one more exam) in the next one or two years. Manuel and I totally agree about never being to old to study! I told him about my mother getting her second masters degree when she was 40+ and how proud I was of her for her achievement. So he also thinks that not going forward is like going backwards. After quitting pro cycling and getting his Law degree Manuel wants to stay active is the cycling world. Not as a cyclist but more in a role as an Agent. He thinks that being an Agent will suit him really well because of his experience and knowledge. But for now the main and only focus is the Tour de France 2015! Manuel tells me that his role is mainly helping the team to get good scores and to get Tejay (van Garderen) is the yellow jersey. And he also hopes to win stage 9 (TTT – and yes they won this stage :-)) And unfortunalty (for me) it was time for Manuel to get ready for the nexy day (July 4th, individual time trial which was won by his team mate Rohan Dennis). And getting ready means ofcourse: massage, resting, eating and more resting. So I still really appreciate the fact the Manuel took the time to have this realxed chat with me on one the warmest Fridat afternoons in Dutch history! And ofcourse a big thank you to Georges for setting this up for me. You’re the best!
Here are some other facts about Manuel:
2014: Member of the BMC Racing Team’s world team time trial-winning squad … Registered top 10 individual time trial performances at Tour of Austria (third), and Tour de San Luis (sixth) … 2013: Fourth on final stage of Eneco Tour of Benelux … Member of team classification win at Tour de San Luis … Team’s best finisher (ninth) at 2012 Tour of Belgium … Part of the runner-up team time trial squad at the 2012 UCI World Road Championships … Has finished 15 of 16 grand tours he has started … Love of music is widely popular with fans and extended to “Quinziatunes” playlists on the BMC Racing Team mobile app in 2013 and 2014 … 2011: Helped Cadel Evans win Tour de France and Tirreno-Adriatico … Runner-up (2003) and two third-place finishes (2006, 2007) at Italian time trial championships …
After talking to Manuel I had some time left to check out the bikes and talk to some of the technicians working on the tt bikes for the next day. It was a long but very fulfilling day; I had to combine my lunch and diner because of my very busy schedule but it as all worth it!
And before I had time to think about other stuff it was Saturday moring, July 4th, the day of the Grand Depart! Stage 1 of the Tour de France 2015! Getting into Utrecht city by car was mission impossible so my transportation was my bike. First I had to be at the press center and after that it was time to check out the Village Depart area. I spend alsmost the whole day checking out the riders and teams getting ready for the ttt. It was also (maybe) the hottest day of the year..
198 riders took the start of the 2015 Tour de France, the first of them being Eritrean time trial national champion Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka), the first black African cyclist to take part in the race. The 2010 Dutch champion for individual time trial Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) who was the ninth rider in action pleased the local crowd as he set the first time of reference: 15.11. It was a strong indication that it would be a very fast race. Clocked with one second deficit from the Dutchman at the half way time check, former world hour record holder Rohan Dennis from BMC bettered his time by fifteen seconds and set the fastest ever average speed of an individual time trial at the Tour de France with 55.446. The previous record was held by Chris Boardman with 55.152km/h in Lille in 1994 on a 7.2km course.
Mollema and Pinot, the best of the climbers
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was the first of the top GC contenders to cover the 13.8km of the flat course. He was satisfied with his ride but another climber, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) bettered it by twenty seconds. Bauke Mollema (Trek) rode four seconds faster than the Frenchman. Among the big four, the fastest was eventual the last man on the road: defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who walked away from stage 1 with an advantage of 7 seconds over Chris Froome, 15 seconds over Alberto Contador, and 1.01 over Quintana. All of them remained behind Pinot whose French rival Romain Bardet lost 54 seconds on him.
Dennis in yellow two years after Gerrans
Dennis presumed he’d remain for a long time on the hot seat. It was the case as Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) was only one second down on him at the half way check point but crossed the line with a deficit of eight seconds. Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) also failed to approach his time of 14.56. Dennis was the only rider under fifteen minutes. Fabian Cancellara (Trek) saw his hope to win the inaugural time trial of the Tour de France for the sixth time vanishing as he was timed six seconds slower than the specialist from Adelaide. Dennis, who won the Santos Tour Down Under in January, is the first Australian to take the yellow jersey since Simon Gerrans two years ago. He was awarded in Utrecht by the King of Holland.
Ofcourse when the city turns yellow I have to follow as well!
I decided to wear this beautiful yellow dress during the Tour festivities:
The dress is from a Dutch brand called LaDress. LaDress can best be described as the perfect dress for any occasion: from daytime elegance to dazzling nighttime chic. Age and timeless with a phenomenal fit. Made of the finest high-end fabrics ranging from silk and wool to jersey lycra and viscose, sourced from the best houses in Europe, mainly Italy, LaDress is very comfortable, blending elegance with ease and versatility. I loved wearing my yellow Ladress in Utrecht!
Please check www.ladress.com for more information about the brand. If you want to purchase your first Ladress please visit a dealer of the showroom in Amsterdam to make sure to buy the right size. Usually I have size Small (s) but when it comes to Ladress I need a size smaller (XS). By the way, Ladress is having a great offer where you can win your own Ladress! In your favo color. I know already which color my next dress is going to be: a pink Ladress! Ofcourse I will be wearing the pink dress during the Giro d’Italia!