Grand Tours are long, if you hadn’t noticed. Hours on the bike, hours on the bus, hours in hotels ranging in quality from completely shit to only-a-little-bit-shit.
How do you pass the time when every second of the day is about preserving as much energy as possible just in case you need it at some later, undefined moment?
“You spend a lot of the time on the bus and in the hotels and at some point you’ve watched all the good series on Netflix,” 29-year-old domestique Felix Großschartner tells me outside the UAE Team Emirates bus before the start of stage 20.
When that happens, you have to find other means of entertainment. For the second-best team this Tour, that was Geoguessr, an online geography game where you are dropped into a random location in Google Street View and have to guess where you are in the world, the goal being for your guess to be as close as possible to the correct location.
“Geoguessr is an easy game where you don’t have to spend too much energy and it’s fun, no?” Großschartner adds.
So how did you all start playing it?
“Tadej showed me.” Of course he did.
“He was the first one,” Großschartner explains. “On the first rest day we were watching some random YouTube guy who is really crazy at Geoguessr. Then I downloaded it as well and I’ve been playing it.”
Presumably it was the videos of a YouTube creator called Rainbolt, whose Geoguessr skills are watched by more than 350,000 people.
UAE Team Emirates were all in single rooms this Tour, so when retiring to their rooms to rest up ahead of the next day they would fire up the Geoguessr and the group text chat would light up with the best scores of the evening.
Now, for the most important question. Who’s the best at the game?
“I would say we are all quite the same but Tadej has been playing it longer, he has a really high level.”
Of course he does. So, has anyone ever guessed impossibly close to the correct location before?
“Today in the morning I got one picture with 0 metres,” Großschartner says. “I don’t know where it was. I forget but it was super close.” Is he having us on? Ah, we’re so close to Paris, he can have the bragging rights.
When you think about it, being a professional cyclist is actually a great training ground to becoming a top Geoguessr.
“Everything in Europe is quite easy because you know how the houses look because we travel around a lot,” Großschartner says. “But when it’s in Asia it’s so hard for me, or Africa is so hard. Also Australia, I’ve never been to Australia. I know when it’s England because the cars are on the left-hand side.”
Are there any other games his team likes to play?
“A little bit of Fortnite but not in the Tour because it stresses me too much,” he laughs. “I don’t want to waste too much energy on Fortnite.”
Geoguessr is the perfect balanced game for the peloton. Exciting enough to stave off the boredom but not too exciting that it means you heighten the risk of getting dropped the next day.
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