Frank Schleck. Plateau de Beille changing room.

Frank would like to change, please.

Privacy, please.

The Tour is a spectacle for the public and the riders are on display constantly. Except for the team bus and the hotel room, they are marked men by the media who don’t give them even a second to recover, take a breath, drink of water or warm clothes.

I was standing at the Leopard van after stage 14, the final killer day in the Pyrenees, in this case, the misery of Plateau du Beille.

Look at the shot of Frank Schleck trying to take a moment for himself as the video cameras roll, the microphone are turned one and media people swarm the open door way. His exact words were “would you please give me five minutes to put on my pants.” A fair request, we think, considering the brutal climbs he’d just done at the front of the race.

It’s the same story for teammates Stuart O’Grady and Fabian Cancellara. They’re changing in public with everyone watching like they’re circus animals. It’s voyeuristic and a little strange if you haven’t covered pro bike racing for years.

O'Grady and Cancellara in the public changing room.

American sports like football and basketball  kept a tighter lid on access in these private moments but riders do their work out in the open and they’re almost never off stage, there are few private moments and little personal time.

Here is Fabian Cancellara, a superstar in the sport, having to undress in public. Here are the Schlecks, possible winners of the biggest, most prestigious race in the world, reduced to begging for five minutes just to change clothes before they’re poked and prodded by the media.

That’s a great situation for the media, having that kind of access, but if I were riding, I’d appreciate more than five minutes to strip off my soaked kit.

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  • Higgins

    I agree, there is a level of decency that you would hope the press would maintain…even in the current climate. On the other hand, there is something very visceral about a sport where you can see the streamlined heroes looking like old men struggling to tie their own laces a few minutes after the race is finished. It is part of the intimate relationship between fans and sportsmen which I think makes cycling one the most involving and fascinating spectacles in the world. It will be a loss if press intrusion and sponsors pressure forces them into more 'closed' areas and we only see the stars when they are polished and presented.

    • Yup, agree 100%. It's unique and special the direct connection fans can have with the riders. Hopefully, that changes very slowly. Matt

  • IdeaStormer Jorge

    Yes, agreed on the decency but! Come one if you want to change in privacy you don't do it out in public either. Out in the open like that, well its fair game.

    • True dat. They need little portable changing booths with team logos on the. That could be funny. Matt

  • Higgins

    mmm, but really when a stage ends on a mountain top without several hotels handy, how do the shattered riders get cleaned and changed except in the back of a manageably sized vehicle ? Even tour buses wont make it up there…

    • Yup, the buses were down below so only team cars were up there. Thus the even more revealing portrait of the riders, peeling off gear in public. Matt

  • Lyndon

    I appreciate that I line must be drawn at some point (with respect to privacy), but having the superstar riders so accessible to the fans is one of the reasons cycling is such a special sport.

    Also, is that a shadow on Stuey's back, or the weirdest tan line have ever seen?

    • I think it's a shadow but Stuey's back is already weird with all the freckles. Personally, I love the access and it's super cool to be that close to the top riders. Matt

  • The tan lines remind me of openinig a tub of vanilla strawberry chocolate ice-cream in my youth…

    but with more ick factor…

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