We’re referring to those moments which, for all the spreadsheets and checklists and work that goes into putting on “cycling’s best party”, there’s no way to plan – they just happen. As fleeting and intangible as they are, the show is made up of hundreds of them. Nebulous events that hit us right in the feels, or the funnies, and without which the show would not be the same.
It might not be the most objective, data-driven way of measuring the event’s success, but it seemed like this Rouleur Classic had more of them than any previous year. For me at least. Here’s just a few of the most memorable:
Only at the Rouleur Classic will you spend twenty minutes discussing – among many things – the state of US politics with Greg and Kathy LeMond. I was curious as to who, among the field of declared presidential candidates, they were supporting. Turns out they’re pretty relaxed about any of them, but would be most happy with either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
Only at the Rouleur Classic will you get to see two legends of cycling, a hero and his own hero – but more importantly two great friends – relate a career’s worth of memories and shared times. Sir Bradley Wiggins and Sean Yates were chatting in front of an audience of hundreds, yes, but with no-one else on stage to pierce the intimacy, it was as candid and intimate a session as we’ve ever had at the show.
Only at the Rouleur Classic will you find yourself sharing war stories of Italian climbs with Perry, the guitarist from Pendulum (and Welsh language Tour de France commentator) and one of the most humble rockstars you could ever hope to meet.
Only at the Rouleur Classic might you bump into Giro d’Italia champion and three-time Tour of Lombardy winner, Damiano Cunego, enjoying what can only be described as “a cheeky Nandos” along the road from the show. No, I’m afraid we didn’t notice whether he had a half chicken or wings, what his choice of sides was or what spice level he opted for on the Peri-ometer.
Only at the Rouleur Classic will a room full of people simultaneously find themselves with something in their eye, as happened in the theatre when Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen were inaugurated into the Cycling Hall of Fame on Thursday. In a video message played in Phil’s absence, the legendary commentator paid tribute to his partner Paul, who sadly died a year ago, told us all how much he misses him and reminded us how much we do too.
Only at the Rouleur Classic will you witness Adam Blythe remove a cork from a bottle with his trainer. The backstage bar was well stocked but missing one vital piece of equipment: a corkscrew. Mr Blythe, evidently making the most of his retirement, was not to be defeated. Removing his Air Max, he popped the bottle in the heel and gave it several firm whacks against the wall. Out it came.
Only at the Rouleur Classic are you able to get to enjoy the charms of the most entertaining character in cycling – and possibly all of sport – at close quarters. Our favourite quote from Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig’s on-stage interview with Orla Chennaoui? “These men…they need to watch us race. Do they think if we go higher than a certain altitude our uterus will fall out?!” Nailed it.
Only at the Rouleur Classic will you spend an hour in the company of the greatest sprinter of all time meticulously talking through the six best wins of his career. With the session massively overrunning, we should have called a halt to it but we suspect, had we done so, the impeccably behaved audience may have revolted. The perfect conclusion to a very special weekend.
As we’re all pulled this way and that, none of us spending long in any one place or with each other for any length of time, every member of staff will have their own unique set of stories that come together to build a picture of the weekend. There’ll be some overlap, a few shared anecdotes and “did you catch the bit when…?”s but no-one will have had exactly the same experience as anyone else. Our goal is for every attendee and featured guest to enjoy it as much as we do.
See you next year. Be first in the queue with super early bird tickets, on sale now.