Jen and I have been planning our trip to the World Championships, which takes place at the end of the month. We figured it would probably be a right old hassle to get from our hotel in Florence to the Fiesole, the longest of two climbs on the closing circuit, so we decided to fork out €100 each for seats by the finish line. And I’m pleased that we did, because we’re going to be in row ‘A’! Woo-hoo! That’ll be a prime perving spot for Jen, especially if David Millar turns up.
As far as I know, getting into the grandstand at the finish of the Worlds usually involves opening your wallet – there was certainly a charge last year in Valkenburg, and I’m pretty sure that was also the case when Cipollini triumphed at Zolder in 2002, although I was on a press trip that year so I was too busy scoffing vol-au-vents in the VIP area to investigate. What has surprised me this time ’round is that the Italians are also charging €100 to watch the race on the Via Salviati, the finishing circuit’s short, punchy climb… and you don’t even get to park your bum on a plastic seat.
So, basically, that’s €100 to experience what most of us expect to do for free: stand by the side of a public road and watch a bike race. That sounds a bit rubbish, doesn’t it?
To be fair, the climb is only 600m long and it appears to be quite narrow, judging by footage three enthusiastic Americans have made of the circuit…
…so ticketing is probably an effective way of limiting access to what appears to be a restricted space. And the price gives you three days’ access, which covers the men’s, women’s and juniors’ road races.
But even so, it’s £84. Access to Box Hill, the centrepiece of the 2012 Olympic road race, only cost 15 quid. Why so blimmin’ high, UCI?