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The Most Epic Tour de France Fans: Behind the Scenes with the Beefeaters

By Martin Atanasov

The Tour is not only a grand stage where all the best cyclists measure their skills and resilience. It would have never become such a big event if it weren’t for the fans. Those colourful, creative, and often downright crazy fans.

Some unmistakably British guys blast a Dutch song in the French Alps and lead a crowd of several dozen people from God knows where into a magnificent display of what the Tour de France is all about – the fans having fun.

And it’s not just us who recognise the fans’ contribution. That video, a testament to the fans’ spirit, won the prestigious UCI fan award for 2019. The ones behind this fan frenzy are the renowned Beefeater Bend, who have been instrumental in creating such unique experiences for spectators.

Since the fans are what makes the Tour so special, we decided to reach out to this jolly bunch and learn more about their lives, their passions, and how they became icons of the Tour de France fandom.


Who are the Beefeaters?

If you go to London and ask who the Beefeaters are, you will probably be directed to the Tower of London. Indeed, the Beefeaters are the ceremonial guard of this iconic castle in the heart of London. But the Beefeater Bend is a group of six mates who share a love of enjoying life and cycling.

“We combine the two whenever the Tour de France comes around,” the Bend shares with We Love Cycling. “We all have very active lives with our families, work and travelling, so it is hard to all get in the same place at the same time. But when we do, it’s great fun. Our jobs vary from early retirement to the paper industry and from health and safety to pharmaceuticals, and we all play our part in making the Beefeater Bend what it has become.”

Though they have their real names, the Beefeaters prefer using their nicknames – Super C, Elvis, Stealth, Statto, The Mountain Goat (TMG) and Kami, especially when dressed for the Tour de France show.

Why the Beefeater costumes?

“We were looking for something that was different. Even though we support all the nations, we wanted something very English. We do spend a lot of time on the Bend explaining what the Beefeaters are, but sometimes we wish we had chosen something a bit cooler, as it is usually 40 degrees on Beefeater Bend,” they explain.

And once you see the heavily dressed guys next to someone with flip-flops and a bathing suit that leaves little to the imagination, you begin wondering, how do they survive?

Of course, the Beefeaters have their secret: “After the initial shock of getting all our equipment to the Beefeater Bend, you actually don’t notice it. We do make sure that we rehydrate properly all day, which is usually with warm bottles of beer.”

Now, by the end of the Tour, the costumes definitely aren’t something you’d be willing to wear again. That’s why, after each event, they get a thorough washing. This has become part of their tradition.

How did it all start?

“After the initial shock of getting all our equipment to the Beefeater Bend, you actually don’t notice it.”

Of course, this bunch of friends never set out to become famous, but hey, when life gives you lemons…

“We still don’t see how we are any different from the groups of fans that line the roads and create such a great atmosphere at the Tour de France. We are just six good friends who like to cycle, party and see other people enjoying themselves,” they point out.

Their story began in 2009 when TMG and Super C decided to dress up as something very English and go to France to watch the Tour. This journey was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, as they both had pretty busy lives at the time. However, in 2014, the sweet memories took over. The six gathered in Yorkshire and went to France.

“The party went on all day long, and we have been doing it ever since. Our ethos is to have a party and celebrate the Tour amongst ourselves, and if anyone wants to join, they can. Everyone is welcome,” the Beefeaters explain.

Of course, all of them love cycling. Some more than others. Super C and Elvis are by far the most enthusiastic about the sport. The rest, they admit, come out only when the weather is perfect – sun, no wind and a stop for cake and a latte on the horizon.

The 2019 Award

This “everyone is welcome” mentality became the cornerstone behind their most famous clip, the one you watched at the beginning of this article. Actually, the video became so popular that at the end of the year (2019), the Beefeaters received the UCI fan award.

“It was such a shock to even be nominated, and the joke was that we were up against a video of Peter Sagan. So we never even considered we would win,” they remember.

The Beefeaters even went to receive their trophy.

“The funniest bit was trying to do an acceptance speech to be shown at the UCI awards in China. We had to do it so many times because we kept laughing at the wrong moments. We were very honoured and very proud to win.”

How did the magic happen?

Well, it was precisely that – magic. There was no organisation, no planning, nothing.

“Nothing is ever planned at a Beefeater Bend. People joined in, and the fact that the children were there to wear our hats, the banana slipped, and the guy we had never met turned up at that moment in the dinosaur outfit was just pure chance. That’s probably why it was so good, as it captured what happens all day long,” the guys in the red uniforms explain.

They also share their secret to planning all their grand performances:

“The best quote I have ever heard about us is, ‘I can’t believe that something so successful comes from such little planning.’ I think that is the beauty of it. It’s just six friends having a great time and being open to anyone joining in. The only things we do need to get organised are the music system and the playlist. The latter is usually a drunken evening at someone’s house, saying “yes” or “no” to a song in the first 10 seconds.”

This is how they manage to keep the magic going, and it is how they have made so many fond memories in the 10 years they’ve been visiting the Tour.

The Beefeater Bend have been instrumental in creating such unique experiences for spectators.

But do they have a favourite moment from the Tour?

“So many, too many to mention. The Froome victories and Geraint Thomas were the real highs on the cycling side, but also the love we have for Luke Rowe and the job he has done for Sky/Ineos over the years, so seeing him come past and give us a wave is always a highlight,” they say.

But the real deal is what they do while the cyclists are not yet on the road. “There have been so many great moments. A recent one was the black-tie event we did the night before the stage at the bottom of Alpe D’huez. So many people turned up to party with us; both sides of the street were full of fans, with the team lorries and cars driving through, beeping their horns and the music pumping out… It was a great moment,” they share.

Not even a mishap can bring their spirits down.

“One year we were trying to plug in an electric BBQ that Kami had bought. Stealth thought he could make it work. Well, he couldn’t. Instead, he managed to blow up our generator. The same generator that was supposed to power our music the next day. But things always work out. A man came out of his house with a long electric lead and offered to use it the next day,” they remember with smiles on their faces.
Never a dull moment with these guys.

Do you want to join their party?

If you want to see the Beefeaters Bend live and join their magnificent party, you can also do it this year. Yes, Super C, Elvis, Stealth, Statto, TMG, and Kami will be there, and they even gave us some insight into where they are planning to go.

If you want to be part of the magic that the Beefeaters bring, set off to Troyes for stage nine of the Tour de France. Where precisely the Beefeaters will make their camp is yet to be decided. So, follow them on Instagram @llbeefeaters to get the location. We’re all welcome to the party.