Volta a Catalunya 2017

From: Alasdair Fotheringham
Country: Spain/UK

General: A spectacularly improved race in terms of results and route this year, la Volta a Catalunya continues to have a limited infrastructure and to operate in the same way as ever. As a result, it’s almost possible to ‘copy and paste’ last year’s report.

Parts of the Volta’s organisation which could be changed at little cost (like the route book design) remain poor. However,well-organised elements, like the results system, continue to work very well.

It will be interesting to see how, or indeed if, the agreement with ASO changes things in the future.

There was also the question of the refusal of two photographers accreditation to the race. This issue has been dealt with separately and an AIJC report will be sent soon to the UCI.

Information available on the website/accreditation: Straightforward.

Signposting to the Accreditation centre: Accurate, but limited to far too close to the actual centre. By the time you started seeing arrows, you were all but already there.

Race live-ticker: Very good. TV coverage continues to be very patchy.

Routebook: Exactly the same observation as last year and the year before that and the year before that… maps in the route book of the stage routes are virtually useless, (not to mention partly illegible). Distances from press room to the finish/team buses to the finish would be a very useful addition. However, the rest of the routebook is well structured. A partial redesign is therefore recommended.

Working conditions at the start: Ok, although parking for journalists remains something very randomly organised and as ever at Callela since 2012, none-existent.

Working conditions at the finish: generally good with the exception of Lo Port, the crucial stage of the race. Reaching the finish that day for the written press verged on the impossible (we were told we could go as high as two kilometres from the finish in cars of four people at most and then walk!). What made the whole stage even harder to report on was the organisers claim as to the correct location of the buses on the climb, which proved totally inaccurate. Getting quotes after the stage therefore proved a major challenge. On the other hand, a soundfile interview of the day’s winner was circulated in the press room.

Signposting in general: very good, but very limited. Needs extending.

Parking at the finish: well-organised compared to the starts.

Pressroom: generally well organised but generally (with the exception of Calella) not big enough. Good to have some food in some of the press rooms this year. And the guaranteed presence of at least one member of staff in the press room at all times made it a lot less stressful leaving equipment there.

Results: Excellent and one which other top races in Spain would do well to follow. Clearly produced, and in a easy-to-use format. The repetition of the start sheet (with riders time losses) on each full stage report was a real bonus. The only complaint: no sign of the commissaires or medical reports.

Buses to the finish: no need for these.

Translations:limited, to say non-existent. For Spanish speakers it didn’t matter, but as for those who didn’t speak Spanish?

Internet: Fine. Using the towns and villages ‘local’ wifi network is a strategy which works fine in the Volta because the organisers realise the pressroom needs wifi and puts it in places where it is available.

Distance Pressroom – Finish: generally, fine, except Lo Port.

Distance Finish – Teams buses: No problem, except at Lo Port where we didn’t even know where the buses were.

Information about the race in the Pressroom: Live ticker and tv.

Food or drinks at or near the Pressroom: good!

Press conference: generally good, although almost always way too short. Sound quality was better this year than others..

Amount of professional and non-professional journalists: Not sure, to be honest.

Conclusions: overall, the Volta a Catalunya is a very good race to work on and the organisers are helpful and understanding towards journalists needs. However, some areas definitely need improving.