Skoda Sponsors Tour for 20th Time
Race Directors CarThe car has six aerials, four on the roof and two on the sides, a ag holder, a special horn, advertising banners, ve radio circuits, and a number of other electrical installations. There is never a champagne fridge missing for the important guests who are invited by the director aboard his car and who welcomes them with a glass of sparkling wine.
Tour de France team cars, usually Škoda Superbs and Octavias, either iV, hybrids or diesel, are essential to the running of the worl'ds greatest cycle race. Their cabins and roofs become jam-packed repair workshops, first-aid stations, spare-parts suppliers, refreshment and gear-change points, and more during the race. This makes them instrumental in the success of both the individual riders as well as the whole team. The cars have an assigned rank depending on the ranking of the team’s leading cyclist. The equation is simple: the closer to the peloton, the fewer seconds spent getting to a rider in trouble. The only one able to hand out permission to break said rank is the Race Director and the team cars have a direct radio hotline to their Leading Car.
Addressing a problem too late may cost the team a stage win or maybe even the Škoda Green Jersey. That’s why you need trained and utterly focused individuals behind the wheel. As Ronny Lauke, Co-Founder and Team Manager of CANYON//SRAM Racing and Sports Director for Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, told us in an interview: “In my opinion, it’s important for the drivers to be former cyclists. Because it’s difficult to anticipate the movements of a peloton of several hundred riders, which reacts differently in certain situations. […] You are responsible for the athletes’ health and wellbeing – they are the most vulnerable link in our traffic chain.”
Neutral Support Cars
The new shade still might take some getting used to for regular Tour fans, as the neutral support cars have been sporting the sunny Mavic yellow since 1977. Last year, the Japanese component giant Shimano took over as the provider of the support crews and the Škoda Superb iV models utilised as neutral support cars switched coats to royal blue. These ‘angels on four wheels’ are ready to swoop in to help any rider in need when their own team cars are all engaged somewhere else or too far behind. One Shimano car will also keep close to the Race Directors’ cars, with three bikes specially adjusted for the top three general-classification contenders, in case they run into bad luck.
Usually, the neutral support cars are equipped with spare tyres, chains, crank sets and even whole bicycles, as well as accessories like raincoats or miscellaneous things such as energy gels and drinks. Commenting on the change of provider, Thierry Gouvenou, Head of the cycling race organisation department at A.S.O., said: “Having Shimano on board is a huge statement about the quality of races we offer. We have complete trust in the Shimano team to deliver professional service towards teams and riders, as they have been doing for much of their 100-year history.”