Skoda Supplies more than 200 electrified support vehicles
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the close collaboration between Škoda Auto as the official main partner and the Tour de France, the world’s most famous cycling race. Fans will see the Czech support cars along the route and on TV worldwide. The fleet of 209 vehicles is almost completely electrified; 207 cars have hybrid or all-electric drives. Race director Christian Prudhomme will be leading the peloton in an all-electric Enyaq for the third consecutive year.
“We’re delighted to be celebrating two decades of partnership with the prestigious Tour de France. We’ve created lots of exciting content for our We Love Cycling platform, and we’ll be giving fans the chance to win professional bicycles and original Green Jerseys autographed by the racers. At the same time, we’ll be showcasing our modern model portfolio, ideal for our active contemporary explorers and underscoring our commitment to a green electric future.” Martin Jahn, Škoda Auto Board Member for Sales and Marketing
209-Vehicle support fleet gears up for 21 stages and five mountain range crossings
The 110th Tour de France will start in the Basque city of Bilbao on 1 July. The competitors can look forward to 21 stages, taking them over all five French mountain ranges. To mark the 20th anniversary of the partnership, Škoda Auto has some surprises in store for the racers and spectators for the final stage, arriving on the Champs Élysées on 23 July. The details will be disclosed soon. As the official main partner, the Czech car manufacturer is providing the organisers of the Tour de France with 209 support vehicles, 207 of which have hybrid or all-electric drivetrains. The Race Director will head the peloton in the Red Car – a specially modified all-electric Enyaq Sportline iV: It has six aerials, a flag holder, a special horn, advertising banners, five radio circuits and a sunroof. VIP guests will be able to enjoy the action on the track in a Superb L&K. Additionally, Škoda Auto will be sponsoring the Green Jersey again, awarded to the race’s top sprinter. Trophies designed by Škoda will be presented to the overall and points classification winners.
Stories on social media and in the online magazine We Love Cycling
To mark the 20th anniversary of Škoda Auto’s partnership, cycling race fans around the world can delve into the history of the Tour de France and its evolution and can relive significant moments in the online magazine We Love Cycling. The magazine is also hosting a four-round competition, giving fans the chance to win professional bicycles and original Green Jerseys autographed by the racers. Additionally, Škoda Auto is collaborating with the British cyclist Cameron Jeffers. Enthusiasts can follow him on social media for an exclusive look behind-the-scenes.
Škoda Auto returns as the main partner of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift
Once the Škoda support vehicles have accompanied the Tour de France peloton to the finish line, the baton will be passed to the women competing in the second year of Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. From 23 to 30 July, they will cover 956 kilometres across eight stages. Having supported last year’s inaugural race, Škoda Auto is returning as the event’s main partner this year.
Supporting cycling takes Škoda Auto back to its roots
Besides the Tour de France, Škoda Auto also supports other significant cycling events like Vuelta a España and the amateur competition L’Etape. Škoda Auto is symbolically pedalling full circle in a fitting tribute to its founders, Václav Laurin and Václav Klement, who started out manufacturing bicycles in 1895 and launched their first car a decade later.
Q&A with Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France
How important is the role of the lead car to ensure the race runs smoothly?
Each car has a vital role in the smooth running of the race. Whether it be a Director or a Commissaire car, everyone plays their role to ensure the safe running of the Tour de France for all the parties involved. Car number 1 is a sort of control tower that receives all the information of what is happening on the race route before the arrival of the riders.
How do you work with Škoda to adjust the cars to support you in the specific roles?
Škoda is an important partner and plays a key and obvious role in the organisation of the Tour de France due to the fact that it is an event where we are almost constantly on the move. We ensure to collect our feedback and share it with Škoda so they can best adapt (if needed) their vehicles for the very specific usage that we have on the Tour de France.
Q&A with Gilles Maignan, Driver of Race Direction Car Number 1
Background information: The Race Direction Car Number 1 is driven by two-time French time trial champion, Gilles Maignan. Maignan retired from the sport in 2001 and was asked by Christian Prudhomme to be his driver after he had previously driven him in a VIP car during Christian Prudhomme’s days working for French TV.
Professional cyclists are often recruited to drive inside the race as they know how to anticipate and react according to the movements of the cyclists and peloton.
What are the best car developments over the years that have benefited you?
The switch to automatic gearboxes has really simplified the driving from inside a cycling race, especially for uphill portions. Also, the dashboard on the Superb shows exactly how many kilometres you have driven to the first decimal, which is very important in a cycling race to know how far you are from the finish. We have recently switched to hybrid vehicles which allows me to be in electric mode between the Fictive Start and Real Start of each stage, which is appreciated by the riders who have to stay right behind me on this section.
How does it feel to lead the peloton?
It changes a bit from back when I was a rider. I have an important responsibility to lead out the best drivers in the biggest professional cycling race in the world and my job is to help Christian Prudhomme ensure a safe race for everyone, including the spectators.
How do the cars communicate with each other and how has it changed?
This is done through radio communication as it has proven to be the most effective and direct way to communicate, especially when you reach some very remote areas of France where telephone signal can be scarce.
Are there any speed limits that need to be adhered to?
Yes, we cannot go over 50 mph (80 km/h) except for the downhills if a rider is catching up to me. However, the main rule imposed by the UCI is that we cannot go over 12mph (20km/h) faster than the speed of riders.