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Helle Kettner Høeberg

Journalist and Ph.D. Candidate in Communication

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Helle Kettner Høeberg

When a snow fight isn’t that funny

…and a bit about observing.

Helle Kettner - Italy - 27.05.2016



Steven and that unpronounceable lastname of his, Kruijswijk, crashed against a pile of snow on the way down from Colle dell’Agnello and lost the three minutes he was ahead. From then, today’s stage took quite an unexpected turn. Vincenzo Nibali awoke from the dead and Esteban Chaves is now the new Maglia Rosa. And I got to live it from the inside the machinery of the Giro d’Italia.


My mission these days in the Giro d’Italia is basically to observe. One of the research methods for my doctoral thesis is participant observation, which is why I’m here accredited as a journalist observing the media relations in the Giro. It might sound easy to walk around watching what’s going on and writing about it. But it’s not that easy though, and especially when you have to observe something you really like: communication and cycling all together.


All though I love communication and all about it, it is hard to keep the focus when you also love cycling that much. Yesterday was my first acquaintance with the Giro and it was all about getting to know people and learning the jargon. But today I had to start to observe academically.


So I began to observe EVERYTHING. But that was obviously a mistake, as it’s impossible to observe everything all the time. So I changed the course of my fieldwork half way in the day. A lot better then. So I went from having one and a half eye on cycling and everything else to have one eye on each (the stage was too exciting not to have an eye on it!)


My mission for tomorrow, now that I feel fully integrated in the Giro’s machinery, is to optimise my participant observation. So tomorrow I’ll be taking around 1000 pages of notes, as there’s SO much to observe regarding the media relations in a mega sporting event like te Giro d’Italia. The riders may have climbed this year's highest pass in the Giro at 2744m today, but I’m going to climb mine tomorrow.


Corsa rosa, ti amo!

Helle Kettner - Italy - 26.05.2016



Fantàstica e bella è la corsa rosa! E Italia e tutto! After yesterday’s disappointment of having to wait a day to start my fieldwork for my PhD in this year’s Giro d’Italia, everything had another colour today. Pink.


I got up like at fuck o’clock just in case Trenitalia had decided to do another strike or something similar. I got on a train and then on another one and short after I landed in the middle of nowhere. That nowhere was the small train station Lissone-Muggiò far away from pink. I spotted two cheering girls fully dressed in pink in the horizon just getting out of the train. They ended up taking me by car to the press accreditation area in the city center. Italians are not so bad after all.


Short after being accredited (with a piece of paper, as their manufacturing-accreditation-machine had died), everything was pink. I love how people go all in in decorating their houses and shops. A lot like in the Tour de France and nothing like in the Vuelta a España. I went around a bit to check out the hospitality zone and the foglio firma, where the riders sign in before the stage. Short after arriving to the stage a ragazza bella shows up with the golden Giro trophy. I’m very impressed with the Giro’s paraphernalia, so much class for 200 sweaty men on bikes!


I found my roadtrip partner, a Spanish journalist, who has been so kind to adopt me for the next few days. And so the roadtrip started. The first we see when arriving to the headquarter in Pinerolo is a journalist from La Gazzetta dello Sport telling us where the buffet is (seriously this Italy thing is way better today than yesterday!).


The rest of the day went flying by watching cycling, talking to the staff at the Giro and to journalists from around the world. This first day of acquaintance with la corsa rosa has been fantastic. On the contrary of what today’s winner, Matteo Trentin, said at the press conference about the next couple of days being about surviving, for me it’s all about enjoying them.


Cancellato, cancellato, cancellato

Helle Kettner - Italy - 25.05.2016



This post was supposed to be about my first day in this year’s Giro d’Italia to develop some of the fieldwork for my PhD, but now it turns out to be a post about not going to the Giro d’Italia after my own personal fight for pink all morning.


The plan was that waking up in Tarragona at 03:45 this morning was going to get me to the finishline in Cassano d’Adda before lunch. That would give me enough time to go and get my accreditation, land in the press room, meet and talk to people and of course enjoy the stage. But the Italian train company had other plans for me today.


“Cancellato”, said the not so friendly man at the desk in Milano’s Centrale FS. “Español? Cerrado [closed]. Tutto cerrado”, he continued. When I asked for other means of transportation to Cassano d’Adda he laughed at my face and said: “No” and his further plan was that I could take the train at 18h when the strike had come to its end”. So I headed to the nearest hostel, booked a bed and took a nap in it to calm down after the disappointment of being stuck in Milano for a whole day.


When I woke up after half an hour, I went to have a look at the host city of one of the biggest sports mega events of the year: the Champions League final. Impressive the set-up around the Duomo already four days before the game at Stadio San Siro on Saturday. The city centre was already decorated with the graphics of the Champions League and with the two Spanish teams playing the final: Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid. And of course all the sponsors were present. The sponsor set-up and the media outlets present around the Duomo proves the mega event it is the Champions League final.


But this is not about football, even though I would love to attend the final on Saturday, this is about cycling and my own personal fight for pink. Thursday morning I’ll do a second attempt to go to this year’s Giro d’Italia. Stage 18 starts in Muggiò a city of 25,000 inhabitants and ends in Pinerolo after 240km. I know I probably shouldn’t count my chickens before the eggs have hatched, but I’m looking forward to Pinerolo, which became a part of the Giro for the first time in 1949, when Fausto Coppi nailed a legendary stage win 11’52” ahead of Bartali and Alfredo Martini. Legendary. I hope my start of this year’s Giro tomorrow will be the same.