I would love to be there. Anonymous, as a fan with a 'klakske' on my head, just to know how the spectacle looks on the Markt. I only see the people cheering for me from the podium in Brugge. Honestly it doesn't really get to me. Just before the start I close my mind off from the world outside. My head is totally at the race and I'm only thinking: Let's go guys, I want to go as quick as possible. I would love to play the race five hours forward to the finale, where I didn't have to spend too much energy. Enjoy the start, it's not a thing what occupies you on the stage. That, I will do when I have stopped racing.
Every year I'm amazed how popular the Ronde is. Like this week during the reconnaissance. People wished me good luck all the time. Cars were behind me all the way, cycling tourists tried to keep my back wheel. Very pleasant, but it might get a little too big. Some of the people are complaining about the fences and tents on the Kwaremont, but it's just a logical evolution of the sport. If 20,000 people want to be on one street, you have organize things. The last years the Ronde was the only race with fences on all hills. It also the only race in which I didn't almost crash due to the public.
Cycling will always be a sport of the people, fences or not. You can always stand in your front door and see the race pass for free. But aren't they allowed to ask for entrance fees? I don't know. If there is some food and drinks, plus a big screen included I don't think it's unfair. What's the difference with a football match? Eventually, if you want to have a nice afternoon, you have to pay a few euro for it.
It's not for VIPs, or the 'normal' people. You can combine it. Take the GP of Monaco for example. The jet set event of the Formula 1, with all those yachts in the bay. But a normal guy can perfectly watch it out there. The inhabitants of Monaco can enter it all, even my parents in law who've been there a few years ago. Of all the GP's it's the one where you pay the least and you come the closest to the paddock. Despite the litres of champagne you can always go with a beer in your hand. It can be an example for the Ronde.
This blog is part of the blog series by Het Nieuwsblad