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Leading the Field

By Adam Marsal/Brian Fleming

Managing the Tour de France is no easy task, requiring immense organisation and clear communication. At the heart of the logistical network, controlling all facets of the race, is the Red Car – a technologically modified mobile command centre from which Tour Director Christian Prudhomme manages the Tour.

Every morning Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, settles himself into the back seat of a specially modified Škoda Superb. In anticipation of the day’s race stage, he stretches his 190 cm frame in the spacious interior and helps himself to a drink from the small refrigerator next to his command console. He radios his race marshals, checks in with race headquarters. Then, with everything in place, he gives the green light to start the day’s stage, leading the peloton as it surges ahead.

Just a few short weeks after being launched on the market, the new Škoda Superb is getting ready to roll into the global spotlight as the official Red Car in this year’s Tour de France. With the most interior space in its segment, the new Škoda Superb makes the perfect mobile command centre for Tour management.

The modified car features an impressive range of technical equipment, including six radio antennas on the roof, several microphones and four radio channels installed on a console. It’s from here that Prudhomme will transmit and receive orders and information, organise traffic movement around the peloton, and stay in constant contact with race marshals and other Tour cars.

It’s from here he’ll also entertain dignitaries such as French President Francois Hollande and possibly King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, ready to serve them chilled Champaign from the minibar and present them with panoramic views through the cars retractable glass roof.

Speaking about the car, Prudhomme says, ‘I love my Škoda Superb. It’s a fantastic car. Gilles Maignan, my driver, is 6’2″ [190 cm] like me, and I can sit in the back very comfortably – even crossing my legs isn’t a problem. This year, I’ll have the privilege of travelling in this new generation and being able to try out these new comfort features.’

As the official Red Car leading the rider field, the new Škoda Superb will be visible to millions of fans, especially since it’s the only car permitted to cross each stage’s finish line with the riders.
The Tour de France will be taking place from 4 to 26 July.

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