LA VUELTA TAMBIÉN October 3, 2008Posted by wetalkhablamos in cycling fans, vuelta a espana.
Photograph © Team Astana
I noticed this photo of folks from the Kazakh embassy waving their flags at the Vuelta finish-line. I saw these flags too, after the race, from the other side of the Plaza de Cibeles. It was the only obvious Astana support there. What a shame.
There are also finish-line photos of fans waving blue, blow-up batons. This is a fix for the cameras. We were 200m away, not that far, and there was nothing for aficionados to take away from the race. No programme, no merchandise, no memorabilia, no giveaways. Just a few moments of cycle racing.
And maybe that should be enough, but I don’t think it is. Not at an elite, professional sporting event in 2008.
Of course, I have my memories and photos, and I saw Chechu race. I even spoke to him briefly. But I would also have bought a keepsake, an Astana jersey or a Contador flag or a Vuelta bidon.
In Plaza de Cibeles, no-one could see the video screen, except for the VIPs. It was far too small, dwarfed by the grandness of the square, and obscured by the fountain of Cibeles.
We walked around the Plaza for a better position, and found a small gap through which we could see the podium. Then an official van drove in and blocked the view just before the peloton arrived. As a spectator event, it was just awful.
I now understand why some fans grab at the cyclists as they pass on the way to the bus. Just 10 seconds with Chechu Rubiera (or indeed any Spanish cyclist at the Vuelta) and a snatched photo. At least they get something.
It seems there’s an opportunity missed here. For marketing and revenue. And for engaging with fans, whose loyalty has been sorely tested in the recent years.
Your experience may be different. Let me know.