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Cars That Keep the Tour Going

By Adam Marsal

The Tour de France’s support vehicles are the unsung heroes of the world’s most famous bike race. Without them the Tour would collapse into a chaos of blowouts, crashes and exhausted riders.

Skoda takes its involvement in cycling and the Tour de France as seriously as you’d expect for an official car supplier and partner. It supplies around 250 cars, mainly Škoda Octavia Estates and Superbs. Since it began supporting Tour de France in 2004, Škoda has covered several millions kilometers without once breaking down.

The Red Car

The Tour’s director, Christian Prudhomme, travels in car number one, allowing him and his guests to be close to the action. Prudhomme and his VIPs have the task of waving a flag at “Kilometre Zero,” where the race officially begins each day. To accommodate this, the car has an unconventionally large, custom-made sunroof. The car also comes with special holders where guests can place their champagne flutes. Read more about the Red Car in our article.

Brand New Models

Image is always important to the Tour and its sponsors, and naturally Škoda wants to show off its newest cars. The four Tour directors’ Superbs on show this year are the company’s latest model, released this spring. The other Škoda vehicles in use at race were new for 2014 and will be used until 2018.

Workshops On Wheels

Škoda cars are not only used by the Tour de France organization, but also by teams and companies as support vehicles. In fact, the Mavic neutral support vehicles – which provide bikes, wheels and tyres to riders in emergency situations should their team cars be otherwise engaged – are some of the most eye-catching cars in the Tour.

This year’s Mavic support vehicles are Škoda Superbs, with yellow paintwork to make them stand out in a crowded field. Each car is a cycling workshop on wheels that includes a bike repair outfit, a feeding station, a hotspot for communications, and even a counselling service.

The cars are crammed with spare tyres, chains and crank sets for bikes, food and drinks for the riders, and spare kit like raincoats for when the weather deteriorates. There are also entire tool kits and fully assembled bikes on the roof. Some teams squeeze as many as eight road bikes on a specially designed roof rack, allowing them to account for every eventuality.

Ex-Cyclists Behind The Wheels

Reaching stricken riders is difficult, and when a call comes via the two-way radio, the team car has to accelerate its way through the traffic. That’s why almost every driver is a former cycling pro. It’s all about understanding the flow of the peloton and anticipating how professional cyclists are going to behave. It may not be a glamorous job, but somebody has to do it – and do it well.