For the last few months, the team at Rouleur have been finalising the stage schedule, and working to bring over 50 brands to the Truman Brewery for Rouleur Live as we approach two weeks until we open the doors. From the stage lineup to our brand new second stage, here is what I'm most looking forward to at Rouleur Live 2023.
The main stage
I tried to count up the palmarès of the stars we have appearing on stage at Rouleur Live 2023, and got as far as a Tour de France, four Giro crowns, a Vuelta, two Tours of Flanders, two Liège-Bastogne-Lièges, two Omloops, two Strade Bianche, an Olympic gold, four world titles and 104 wins in total before losing count. And that’s just Annemiek van Vleuten. We also have Geraint Thomas, Lizzie Deignan, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Elisa Longo Borghini, Alison Jackson, Matej Mohorič, Fred Wright, Vincenzo Nibali, Jay Vine, Paolo Bettini, Dylan van Baarle, Nico Roche, Alex Dowsett, Alec Briggs, Justin Williams, Dante Young, Maddy Nutt, Liam Yates and Caroline Schiff. There are at least four Paris-Roubaix winners in there (and in Matej Mohorič, maybe a fifth, one day), at least 13 rainbow jerseys, a men’s Tour de France yellow jersey and an Hour Record. But more importantly than that, a whole series of fascinating stories.
There’s a different, warmer atmosphere at Rouleur Live than for more formal interview settings, and riders really relax into it. There’s a feeling that they are having a conversation with the audience, and that’s why I can’t wait to listen to as many of these talks as possible over the three days.
Of course, I can’t wait to see what the biggest brands in cycling have got in store for us on their stands throughout Rouleur Live, because the very latest, shiniest, most aero, lightest and best equipment in the world is going to be on display. But Rouleur Live is more than a trade show – it’s a living, 3D version of the magazine itself, and so we’ve filled the space with a few extras to make our readers and cycling fans feel at home.
There’ll be a photographic gallery showcasing the work of our very own James Startt, who is a multiple award-winning photographer, and also an exhibition of the best entries in the annual Mark Gunther Cycling Photography Awards, which we partnered with for the first time this year. Our friends at Puncheur will be showing their idiosyncratic graffiti-influenced artworks, and there are mouthwatering collections of retro bikes on display. In a final, postmodern twist, the Rouleur editorial staff will be setting up an open office near the Other Stage, where we will make ourselves available and accountable to our readers, operate a creative hub and accept gifts of cake, and, after midday or so, beer. Come and have a chat!
I find Matej Mohorič to be one of the most compelling riders in the men’s peloton at the moment. I’ve got two main reasons for this. The first is that he is an eloquent, honest and intelligent rider, which became clear at this year’s Tour de France when he won a quite spectacular stage and gave an emotional interview to television just afterwards in which he broke down the processes and sacrifices every professional has to make. He gave us an equally compelling interview in Rouleur 112, our Tour guide in 2022, when Kate Wagner went to visit him at home in Slovenia to spend some time with him and work out what makes him tick. He’s just interesting in a way that professional athletes aren’t, or don’t like to reveal.
The second is that I think while he’s quite physically gifted as a cyclist, his victories are products of the thought and mental application he puts into succeeding. He can’t outsprint the sprinters, nor outclimb the climbers (though he can out-descend most of the peloton), so he has to engineer his wins through guile, patience, bluff, knowledge and timing. That’s the secret sauce which separates bike racing from other more physical sports, and Mohorič is one of the best at it – I can’t wait to hear him open the show on Thursday.
The Other Stage
I’m a veteran of several Glastonburys and there’s nothing I like better than sipping a pint of Otter Ale in the Avalon Bar and earnestly agreeing that the Pyramid Stage is fine, but that the really good stuff is to be found elsewhere. For my kindred spirits in the cycling world, we have come up with a new concept for Rouleur Live 2023: the Other Stage.
We’ve got so much good stuff going on at Rouleur Live this year that we need more capacity to give it an outlet. So we’ve made a second stage, which will be a more intimate experience, offer something different from the main stage and give the hipsters a place to hang out. The final line-up is still in the process of being confirmed, but there will be talks about the very latest in bike tech, book signings by some huge names and writing and photography masterclasses by some of the most prominent journalists in the sport.
Ligging with celebs
You never know who you are going to bump into at Rouleur Live. The show is even more than the sum of our stage guests and the brands who are displaying their bikes and gear – many of the brands bring professional cyclists and ex-pros along, we invite a whole lot more guests who are prominent in the sport, and many more come to be part of what is becoming the best off-season cycling party in the world. I love wandering the halls of the show and stopping for a chat with an ex-world champion here, a team manager there and somebody I don’t quite recognise, but who is definitely quite famous further along. It’s a reunion of the great and good of cycling, but also a communion between fans and the sport. Even more than beautiful mountains and intense action, cycling is first and foremost about its people, and in Rouleur Live you’ll find several thousand of them over the three days.