Where is the year going?
Since I spoke to you all last time, I have been to some fantastic and inspiring events, and its only March!
As you might know, I do a fair amount of commentary live at events and also MC team launches, event launches and the like. I love being asked to do team launches as you get to meet the riders you will be talking about all season and it is the time of year when all the squad, team managers, coaches etc are all full of ambition. Its an inspiring time.
My first team launch of the season was Team Raleigh. It is fair to say that in 2010, the re-launch of a team with a heritage as long as a Tour De France stage was met with enthusiasm, but the team didnt perform. Over the winter, the team has been re-vamped and was launched at the new London Bike Show. The company known worldwide for producing bikes ridden by Raas, Zoetemelk and Fignon to name a few, want to build a global squad that can ride at the very highest level. They want to do it in stages and this new team look like they will get the company up a few steps on that journey. The blue, white and yellow clad team has been beefed up by the arrival of a couple of Yanks, a frenchman and a canadian - I am looking forward to see how they will do.
I then hosted the launch of the 2011 Endura Racing team. When the scottish clothing company announced in 2010 that their team were going to ride races like Haut Var, Tour of the Med, Murcia to name a few, the response was one of surprise generally and that they would get a jolly good kicking. Well, they kind of did in Med, then did better in Haut Var and won a jersey in Murcia as well as placing the highest british finisher in the Tour of Britain. So, this season they decided to step it up. 16 riders, the start of a track squad and MTB team and there is no doubt that this team is serious.
The road squad is impressive. British riders include Hayles, Partridge and Wilkinson. The other riders include Camano, De Jonge, Wetterhall, Blain, Voss and Alex Sans Vega moves from Cervelo to assist in the development of the team dream. They set out their vision - Pro Continental - they just need a co-sponsor to make it happen.
After team launches it was time to work at some racing. I headed to Manchester for the Track World Cup. Track racing in the Uk is now huge. On the world cup circuit we have seen many empty velodromes but you can hardly get a ticket for the 3 days of racing there! When I arrived on the Friday, there were even ticket touts outside at 9am!
The atmosphere in the velodrome was electric for 3 days and you needed earplugs every time a british rider went on the attack or won a medal. Absolutely incredible. The seating capacity is around 4000 seats, I cannot begin to imagine how loud London 2012 will be, with 6000 seats! More of that later.
Now, there are days when my job is worth paying for. The 2 days after the World Cup certainly were.
The first event I was MC at, was in a beautiful hotel in London called The Hempel. It was here that Olympic and World Champion Vicky Pendleton chose to launch a series of womens only sportive events. Vicky attracts a huge press interest and this day was no exception. She arrived, had her make up done whilst doing an interview and walked into a packed room of press and women cyclists, eager to hear all about the events. We launched Cycletta with video, chat and questions. Her aim - to get women on bikes in a traffic free environment and have a great day out. I was impressed to see how a rider like Vicky deals with the press. Her schedule that day was exhausting bearing in mind she had just competed at world level for 3 days. She did 3 and a half hours solid of live TV interviews, national press, cycling press and women lifestyle press interviews, before racing across London to appear live on the BBC primetime show, the One Show from the new Olympic Velodrome. That Gatorade and Hovis she advertises certainly gives her energy!
Last but by no means least, I achieved one of my dreams the next day. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.
The 2012 Olympic Velodrome was opened on Tuesday 22nd February and I am proud to have been the commentator asked to MC the event. It was an incredible honour to stand and introduce Sir Chris Hoy, 1948 medal winner Tommy Godwin, the London Mayor Boris Johnson, UCI President Pat McQuaid and the head of London 2012 Seb Coe as they opened the track, 521 days before the games begin.
It is a day I will never ever forget and without doubt the most incredible MC role I have ever done. The track is fantastic and truly fitting of an Olympic Games. Everything has been thought about. It is light, airy, and you draw breath when you are driving up to it. The athletes who compete in London 2012 on that track will go fast - believe me.
And now for the road season, let the cobbles, mud, rain begin and lets hope for some great battles across Belgium!
Speak soon, follow my updates on twitter @antmccrossan or @cyclevox.