From Luke Evans, the driver of CW photographer Graham Watson’s motorbike at the 2011 Tour of Oman.

We are here to take photos but we are also part of the show.

If there was one thing above all that I noticed in Qatar it was the almost eerie absence of onlookers. Not fans, just bystanders curious enough to stop and see what the fuss was about.

Or groups of children herded from a classroom and thrilled to be cheering anything and everything on the bike race.

And we wave back and sometimes return their smiles, because it’s hard not too, quite frankly.

It’s great to be doing it again in Oman where it feels like the race is doing its job of providing a colourful spectacle and a fleeting moment of joy to anyone who wants to linger by the roadside.

Many are in distinct groups of men in white robes, or more enthusiastic schoolgirls waving flags and cheering. Also groups of labourers, many of them from India, were dotted along the route of the first stage.

With a backdrop of mountains silhouetted against the blue haze, and some welcome colour thanks to roadside primulas planted in long ranks, Oman is as different as near neighbours can be.

Related links



Tour of Oman 2011, stage one photo gallery



Tour of Oman 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index