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Chasing A Belgian Classic | Roadside At Omloop Het Nieuwsblad


[bell tolls]
[cheering] [music]
Conor Dunne: We’re at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. [cheering]
[music] Conor: Now, I love watching bike races on
TV but there is simply nothing like taking the thrill of the action by the side of a
road, so I decided to show Olly and you how to watch a bike race like a pro.
Oliver Bridgewood: I’ve watched a bike race before, Conor.
Conor: No. No, Ollie. You haven’t watched a bike race like a pro.
[music] Oliver: We’ve come to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad,
the first Belgian classic of the year and a proper, proper bike race.
Conor: Yes, I actually raced it myself and it’s just a mental experience to be part of.
Fans, the course, the atmosphere. Oliver: Frites and beer.
Conor: Don’t forget the frites and the beer, definitely.
Oliver: Waffles. Waffles as well. Conor: Yes, don’t forget waffles. I like waffles
too. [music]
Oliver: Omloop starts in Gent and winds its way 199 kilometers around some iconic roads
and cobbled sections, ending in Ninove. We’re going to try and watch the race from these
five spots, some of the most exciting points along the route.
[music] Oliver: Well, when are we heading to the start,
then, mate? Conor: Okay. Right. That’s the thing. We’re
going to have to miss the start as part of that.
Oliver: Miss the start? Conor: I know, I know, I know, I know, but
we’re going to have to miss it, basically, because the start is so far away. If we go
to the start, we’re going to miss probably two or three cobbled sections. It’s a trade-off.
If we go to the start, we miss the action. In my opinion, we’re here for the action,
we’re here to see the cobbles, the drama unfold in real life. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck in–
Riding for ages and ages and we’ll miss it all.
Oliver: Okay. Well, I reckon just to spice it up a bit as well, we should have a bit
of a wager. Always like a wager. Conor: Yes, okay. Go on, then. What’s the
forfeit? Oliver: Forfeit is you have to pack up my
bike or I have to pack up your bike. Conor: Okay.
Oliver: Okay. Right, but what we’ll do, we each pick a rider and whoever’s rider finishes
highest in the standings wins. Conor: Okay. I’m going for Ben Swift. I think
he’s got it today. Oliver: I’m going to go for Oliver Naesen
because he’s got the best name, best first name, and we’re friends. [laughs]
Conor: Cycling friends. I went riding with him in Calpe. Oliver, I’m going to cheer you
on in the race. [laughter]
Oliver: Yes. Right. Let’s go. Come on, then. [music]
Oliver: We got our bikes. Already got our kit on. We’re about to leave the warmth of
the car and head out but, quick disclaimer, we are going to be self-shooting some of this
ourselves. If it’s not quite up to the usual standard you expect, sorry. Blame us.
Conor: Yes. You’re a roving reporter in the field, Ollie, today. I guess we’d better get
going. 16k to the first sector, you know. We need to get a push on. You’ve been dilly-dallying,
eating waffles and things. Oliver: All right. Let’s go, then. Quick,
let’s go. [music]
Oliver: We set off battling the wind on a 16-kilometer ride to the first spot. We’ve
just made it to the first sector, where we’re trying to catch the race, by the skin of our
teeth. We were actually hammering it while riding along there.
Conor: The first sector we made it to is the Haaghoek. It’s about 2.5 kilometers of cobbles.
Immediately followed is the Leberg, quite a key point in the race. You’re going over
this three times so it’s good to be here. The crowds are really piling up now and everyone’s
waiting for the race to arrive. Oliver: I tell you what, you weren’t wrong
about the weather. It’s proper windy. There’s a bit of rain getting on the lens, so I have
to wipe that. 45 mile an hour winds today. I brought a flag for Oliver to cheer him on.
Conor: It’s the peloton just passing now. It’s like [unintelligible 00:04:02] on the
front. Fans are going, “Go on, [unintelligible 00:04:05].” Go on, Ryan. They look like they’re
suffering. They look very cold, though. Very, very cold.
Oliver: Can we stay in there? It’s nice and warm. They got a fire and everything.
[music] Oliver: With no time to spare, we headed off
to the next sector. Conor: We’ve made it to the next sector and,
as you can see, the weather hasn’t improved. I think there’s quite a camera shake going
on as well, and that’s my hand absolutely shivering.
Oliver: It’s cold. So cold. Conor: Yes. This cobbled sector is called
the Holleweg just after the feed zone so I’m hoping one of the riders chucks some [unintelligible
00:04:48] to us because I’m getting quite hungry. The sun’s poking its head out and
Ollie’s getting a bit more optimistic that he’s not going to be freezing for the rest
of the day. Oliver: The race is getting close because
cars are coming through now and I can see the helicopter just on the horizon coming
over, so not long now before the break gets here. Here they come now. The break’s been
caught. Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go.
[background noise] Oliver: There weren’t many smiles in that
bunch. They didn’t look like they were having a good time. [laughs]
Conor: They’re starting to suffer now, aren’t they?
[music] Oliver: Time and the weather were not on our
side. We decided to cut our losses and head straight to the iconic Muur.
Conor: One of the things about cycling is that you can do the climbs just before the
race comes. I think this is great. You just soak up the atmosphere and pretend you’re
in the race. I might try and get some cheers from the fans. You ready, Ollie?
Oliver: Yes. [music]
Conor: Ollie’s got me again. [cheering]
Conor: You beat me. [laughter]
Oliver: We arrived at the Muur just in time to watch the final moments of the women’s
race, which we thought we wouldn’t be able to see. That’s the great thing about coming
to see a live bike race. You often get the chance to watch two.
[music] Oliver: One of the awesome things about today
and just coming to bike races, in general, is you appreciate the roads and the terrain
in a way that you can just never do that on TV.
Conor: Yes, I think that’s the beauty of cycling, really, that you can just go out there on
your bike and do exactly what the pros are doing in the race. This is just open to you
and no one’s stopping you from doing it. Oliver: It’s good. All right. Not long now
till they come through. Conor: Looking forward to it, actually. It’s
going to be big. The atmosphere is building now so I think we should get involved in the
crowds, find our place. I’ll tell you one of my top tips when you’re waiting for the
race to arrive is to find a nice place that you can watch. Don’t be rushing around just
before the race gets there. Take some time, get a good spot. This verge is perfect for
me. Nice vantage point. Comfy. Comfy bit of grass. Oliver Naesen’s not in the front group,
is he? We’re told the race is at the bottom of the Muur. Anticipation is building. We
hear the helicopters coming. Oliver: Are they at the bottom now?
Conor: Yes, they’re at the bottom. They’re on the climb. They’re coming. I didn’t even
know. They’re coming. You can hear them. You can hear the noise. You can hear the noise.
[cheering] Conor: Go, go, go. Go on, Michael.
Oliver: Should we get some frites and waffles now?
Conor: Yes, definitely. I’m starving. Let’s watch the finish as well. Quick. [chuckles]
See if Ollie can get up the verge first. [laughs] You can do it, Ollie.
Oliver: Yes. [music]
Oliver: From the Muur, we were never going to make it to the finish so we decided to
head to the local pub, soak up the atmosphere, and catch the final few kilometers.
Commentator: Lampaert boxed in there, unable to get around Stuyven. Shake of the head.
Jasper Stuyven winning for an eighth time in his career and he has started 2020 with
a bang. Oliver: It was a super exciting race and although
the weather was against us, we had an awesome day. I tell you what, what about our wager,
then? How did- Conor: Yes, that’s a point. That’s a point.
Oliver: -Swifty and Naesen do? Conor: I’m just looking here now, actually.
Ben Swift, 38th. Solid result there. Oliver: 38th? Quite good, that.
Conor: You know what? Oliver: You think he’s done it?
Conor: I think he’s done– I’m not seeing Oliver Naesen here. I’m just going in the
top ten. Oliver: Seventh. [laughs]
Conor: Oh no. Oliver: I knew he’d come through for me. My
boy, Oliver. Cheers. [music]
Oliver: Finally, we headed off for some well-deserved frites. Lovely.
Conor: This is what I love about Belgian racing. Any time there’s a big race on in town,
they have what’s called a kermis. Ollie wasn’t sure what this was so I’m going to explain.
It’s just a fair, really, and you just have a massive party. The race finishes and the
party goes on. Everyone has a great time. The community comes together. I love it in
Belgium when they do this. [music]
Oliver: Now, today, we didn’t get through as many of the sectors as we originally planned
but there’s an important message in that. Whenever you come and watch a bike race, always
have a contingency plan and be prepared to change your plans because things like the
weather are uncontrollable. Today, the weather was pretty grim. It’s looking quite nice now
but it was pretty grim at times, as I’m sure you saw, but we still had an awesome time.
We just changed up our plans and went on the Muur for more of the time.
Conor: Yes, definitely. I think you don’t want to get too stressed by trying to see
too many sectors and getting caught up in that too much. You just want to enjoy the
moment, enjoy the race and have a great time. That’s what it’s all about, really.
Oliver: And frites. Conor: Yes, and frites. Definitely frites.
With mayo, not andalouse. Oliver: We hope that it’s inspired you to
come and watch a race for yourselves because there really is nothing like it.
Conor: It’s just the best thing ever. It’s such an experience. Really, just get out there
and give it a go. Oliver: Anyway, we’d better go now and you
got to pack my bike as well. Come on. Conor: Oh no. I forgot about that. Flipping
heck, I drew the short straw here. I thought I had it as well. Ollie, could you not have
washed this? Come on. I know it’s a forfeit but it’s absolutely filthy.
[00:11:04] [END OF AUDIO]

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