Thursday 1 October 2009

Mendrisio Worlds Part 2

Following on from the womens race was the race for the Under 23 Men. As there were no Irish riders in that I have to say we weren't fully engaged in the action, but it was a good chance to walk some more of the course, in reverse.

The final kilometer was pretty straight and flat, through farmland, but as we approached the red kite we could hear some serious partying up ahead. That was the Belgian Village, a cordoned off area, open to all, where the Belgians could gather, listen to a Belgian DJ, watch their riders on the big screen and fill themselves with their country's staples, beer and frites (with mayo of course!).

On up the hill and the camper vans were gathered. Dutch, Belgian, Italian, British, Norwegian, Spanish, U.S. ... you name the country and there seemed to be a camper van with a flag of that country on top. And it was pretty obvious some of them had been there for a while from the array of BBQs and beer coolers scattered around their patches. Best of all amongst the mayhem was the British couple relaxing in their deckchairs, reading their books, the very picture of gentility! More tea, dear?

But the locals had all the best spots bagged, as these two pics clearly show!

From there it was a good two kilometers down to the bottom of this, the second, and steepest, hill on the course. It's really only standing there that you appreciate the gradient and hence the severity of the race.


On down the hill, past the beer tent where the Fermoy lads were camped out for the afternoon, and we finally came out on a motorway flyover marking the bottom of the previous descent. By that time the race was in it's final stages and we again had to find a telly fast. That came courtesy of a beer and coffee stall who had set up a laptop on the counter, streaming the race live. A small gathering of locals, as well as a Norwegian couple and us, were glued to it, only pulling away to run over to the barriers to see Romain Sicard of France fly around the corner on his way to a well deserved victory.

Standing around the laptop at the coffee stall felt more like being at a local pub than on a flyover. Customers gathered around the TV watching a sporting event, banter going back and forward, armchair criticism from the Italians, who seemed very peeved that a Frenchman was about to win, and the owner occasionally joking (in Italian) that really we should be buying something.

1st  Romain Sicard (FRA)    4:41:54
2nd Betancur gomez Carlos Alberto (COL)   +0:27
3rd Egor SILIN (RUS)  s.t.

For a full race report see

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