It’s always a pleasure to catch up with Laura Meseguer, one of the hardest working and busiest journalists in the pro peloton, who I last interviewed four years ago. She graces Eurosport’s coverage of cycling for at least 90 days per annum. But is that enough? We’ll find out.
Sheree: It’s been four years since your first Vuelta for Eurosport and now you’re very much a key part of the Eurosport family.
Laura: At that first Vuelta, I wasn’t even doing live interviews, just pre-recorded ones at the start and finish. But it changed a lot in 2014 when I did the Tour de France for the first time and became part of the on-site live programme. Eurosport has also developed the programme with Ashley and Juan Antonio to include all the Grand Tours. It’s nice because you feel more part of it and, professionally, it’s great to keep growing every year, step by step and to keep learning. It’s a great opportunity, no?
Sheree: You, Ashley and Juan Antonio make a fabulous team but don’t just take my word for it, look at the feedback on social media.
Laura: I see Ashley and Flecha as a strong combo. It’s great to have access to Flecha’s detailed knowledge of the sport and to speak with him about race and team strategy. It’s really very interesting. While, for me, it’s good to tell them what was happening at the start. Not just what I heard in the interviews, but also the pre-race atmosphere, who was chatting to whom, what the big names and teams were saying.
Sheree: All the gossip from the peloton?
Laura: Yes, and things you can sense from the peloton which you haven’t asked about in an interview. Of course, Ashley and Flecha are great guys. We spend three months together with everyone else from the Eurosport team. It’s really a great cycling family.
Sheree: Fans on Twitter have suggested that the three of you should do more than just the Grand Tours. How do you feel about that?
Laura: Well, I would love it. But all of us also have a life outside of cycling even though we are all passionate about what we do. I really love what I do and, at least for me, it’s easy to spend as much time as I can with the peloton because I’ve already been following their stories all year so I understand very well their position and how they are. But the cycling calendar is so long, it’s so big and with so many races. I’d have to do some serious negotiations with home! But, of course, who wouldn’t love to cover more and more cycling?
Sheree: The fans possibly don’t appreciate how how much planning and preparation goes into each day on the road.
Laura: Exactly! At the finish, we all follow the race in the production truck. Of course, I follow everything until I go to bed at 12:00 or 01:00 in the morning. Afterwards, we decide what we’re going to talk about the following day, based on what happened in the race today. So that, in the morning, we know what to focus on. Apart from speaking about the stage, we always try to find something to create a little debate between Ashley and Flecha, something which goes more inside the stories. I do interviews at the start and finish and then go with my cameraman to some team hotels to do special reports.
It’s a lot of work behind the scenes and we finish very late. When you’re here, and you’re a journalist, you want to do as much as possible. Show everyone what you’re looking into and show more about the riders behind the bikes.
Sheree: You interact a lot with fans on Twitter.
Laura: It takes a lot of time but it’s nice. There are people who like the job we’re doing and, of course, you have to thank them and also answer their questions, often about something they don’t understand. Or, maybe they have a view that you know is completely wrong. So it’s important they know what’s really going on. So, yeah I like it though it’s true sometimes you just have to disconnect. Maybe I’ll take a week off after La Vuelta. Twitter is great and we never forget that we’re here because of the fans.
Sheree: You give fans a precious insight into the workings of the peloton and its riders.
Laura: We try to. We were talking before the Tour de France or was it the Giro? I forget! Anyway, we had a little one day get-together in London and the moderator was telling us how lucky we were to be speaking with riders like Contador and being super-inside the race. I never stop thinking: “Wow, I’m so lucky to be here.” Of course, there are days that you want to forget too, when everything’s a mess and time is so limited.
Sheree: I enjoyed the piece you wrote where you described a typical day at the Tour. You didn’t pull any punches which was good because some people think it’s a very glamorous life.
Laura: (Laughing) Ah, no, no, not at all!
Sheree: On the plus side, it covered the interaction with the riders but also everything that goes along with being at the Tour: very long days, even longer transfers, sandwiches from petrol stations, dinner at The Buffalo Grill again because nowhere else is open.
Laura: It was called “Surviving Le Tour”and it’s true I spend one month eating super bad because I totally forget to eat. I focus so much on work and then three weeks later I’m run down and I have to go to the doctor. At the Giro and Vuelta the hotels are quite nice, but not at the Tour. It’s not that we want luxury, but after a hard day’s work you really need to rest.
Sheree: Just like the riders, you need comfortable beds, quiet rooms and air conditioning.
Laura: Exactly! Clean rooms and a good breakfast but that’s so difficult in the Tour. Then, what I was saying in the article, you have your journalist colleagues with whom you’re fighting for position to get that all important interview on the line. We’re like a travelling circus but what I like most about cycling is that it’s just like one big family. People are so nice and it’s great. I don’t think I’d find this in another job. When I’m in the office and I meet someone in the elevator, it’s not the same. Here everyone is open, friendly and super nice.
I was speaking yesterday with a DS, a former rider, and we were agreeing that it’s really difficult when you go back home. You need several days to re-adapt to the change, to get back to a normal life because you’re so used to being in contact with so many people during three weeks.
Sheree: You spend 90 days at the grand tours but you have lots of other commitments, don’t you?
Laura: Yes, I also write for Soigneur, the Dutch on-line magazine, and there are other magazines that ask me for articles, such as Maillot. I usually start the season in San Luis in Argentina but I work in communications for some other events so I have to go to Belgium and Holland for mountain bike races, Majorca for 312, and I also handle communications for the Cycling Academy Team. Last year I went with them to the Tour of Slovakia which was a great opportunity. So when you do a lot of things, you see a lot of things and you can also further develop your journalistic skills. I keep busy all year long.
Header: Laura Meseguer at Vuelta a Espana 2016 © Richard Whatley