17 July, 2014

Tour of Austria 2014, final stage (Vienna, July 13) ~ Singing in the rain

As the Tour of Austria traditionally ended in Vienna, I had an early morning wake up on Sunday. I caught some sleep on the train and arrived in time at the finish area in front of the townhall/Burgtheater.
Due to the warm weather many people came to the city center to watch the final laps of the race. But it didn't stay that warm for too long. As the race had 2-3 laps to go, rain set in and led to the most un-wanted combination one can imagine on the roads of Vienna. As the stage ends with a sprint, there's fighting for positions every time the riders pass by. Add tram tracks and slippery wet roads, and you pretty much have the best recipy for desaster.
Only this time it didn't include ordinary rain. At some point, the clouds broke and rain literally flooded the streets. Within moments, I was soaked through, and so were all my things. There was no use of running away or using an umbrella (even though I had one), and it took a lot of skills for the cyclists to stay on their bikes in such conditions.
Probably, that was the reason why many of them didn't return to their buses through the finish line, but took a shortcut behind the barriers or through the park. In this mess, I somehow lost sight of Jani and could only catch up with him after rushing to the team-bus. We exchanged a few words, I got his water bottle and a hug, and off we went in different directions.
Wet as I was, I considered catching the earliest possible train home, but as there would be flowers at the podium ceremony, I thought I might try to get some. I thought wrong.
As the sound didn't work due to the rain (or was it the important people not wanting to get wet?) the podium ceremony was improvised in the small tent that is normally used for the post-stage interviews. Of course, the very few fans that remained at the barriers, withstanding the rain, didn't get to see a thing. No flowers were given away to the riders as the podium girls were hiding under their umbrellas. In the end, Tour director Mrs. Riha and the girls gave them away to the fans, only it was mostly ladies who came along with umbrellas long after the heaviest rain was gone - complaining about how they were caught in the storm!
Hm... Well... What shall I say, looking like a wet puppy? Even when Mrs. Riha reached the flowers to me, some other chick got in between. Arrrgh. And the gladioluses would be such a lovely compensation for almost freezing while staying till the very end.
It wasn't the very end though. Best young cyclist Patrick Konrad was still there talking with some guys, and as he was about to leave, I thought this would be my last chance to get a souvenir. When I asked him if I could have the flowers, he replied "Of course" and handed them to me. Yay! Then, I decided this should not be the only souvenir of the day. I waited til they started to remove the barriers, sneaked behind the podium and got myself a bottle of champagne, which was not given to the riders either.
Packed with goods, I made my way to the train station. My clothes were still soaked and my shoes felt like sponges, which splashed at my every step. On the train, I could finally get rid of my shoes and socks, and asked mom to bring me clothes/shoes to change. So, after all the best thing I got that day were my sisters' sneakers.

Some photos of the final stage... Til the moment my camera decided to stop working properly due to the rain.
Team parking
Jure Golčer
Jan Tratnik in the breakaway
Team Sky - once dry, once wet
Rain is one thing, flood is another
Stage winner Marco Haller was too fast for me, but it looks like I caught Jani crossing the line
Overall winner Peter Kennaugh finished safely, too
Others were not that lucky
Improvised podium ceremony
Goodies :)

No comments:

Post a Comment