VSdid my hen roll? Did you do the overhaul of your backbone and lung air filters? We danger getting costly as we speak…” Within the shadow of the Grand Palais in Lille, the scene of the beginning of a fifth stage which makes your calves tremble on the signature podium, this room is within the small peloton of bike riders. A brazenness that goals way more to loosen up an environment as tense because the muscle groups of a sprinter within the final hectometre than to roll mechanics that wink on the road of the fictional begin.
Confirmed propensity for acute masochism or supreme privilege throughout the largest race on this planet, studying ASO’s invitation is a double echo, we launched into Wednesday on one of many two press motorbikes of the group of the Grande Boucle to dwell as shut as doable to the motion of a rare day.
Just like the Tour de France “it is three,500 kilometers of smiles”an expression patented by the director of the occasion Christian Prudhomme, we’re all of a sudden stunned to confuse our car of the day with a popemobile or a princely carriage.
Within the overcrowded metropolis middle of Lille, all through the 13 kilometers of the fictional route resulting in kilometer zero, it’s troublesome to disregard the greetings of the hundreds of spectators for whom all those that participate within the parade of the convoy previous the arrival of the peloton have the identical hat as Tadej Pogacar and belong to the magic of the Tour. So, we first wave timidly to a whole household who has simply concluded the aperitif earlier than then greeting a gaggle of scholars as blushed because the contents of their field of wine to then accompany the ola with an inconceivable herd bringing collectively… two dinosaurs, a superman and an enormous pretzel subsequent to whom a pot-bellied thirty-year-old fidgets about in a bathrobe on an train bike (genuine!).
When Christian Prudhomme lowers the flag, the voice of Radio Tour is immediately enthusiastic: “Assault, assault on the head of the peloton. Gents bikers, we ask you to take the sphere!” On the finish of a clinch with the peloton for half hour throughout which the rolls typically happen at 60 km/h on the flat sections, the great breakaway of the day takes form with, in its wake, a buzzing swarm. The bugs right here look extra like big hornets than microscopic mosquitoes engaged in a type of infinite motion.
When the abdomen begins to growl at three p.m., we’re tempted to faucet Hilaire Van Der Schueren, sports activities director of the Intermarché Wanty-Gobert staff, on the window to seek out out if he has a spare sandwich seeing him end his ham and cheese membership. However when he lowers the tile, it is to provide Taco van der Hoorn with a gel and a canister in a choreography with a really relative aesthetic however with pinpoint precision. Like a line of vacationers in the beginning of a buffet all inclusiveit elbows between the staff vehicles however by no means sends a tray to the bottom.
The starter already digested, right here comes the principle course on the horizon in swirls of grilled merguez sausage and barbecue: the pavé. A 360-degree expertise that immediately immerses your senses within the topic. Within the clatter of the blades of the tv helicopter which has simply descended into the neighboring subject, the six main males enter sector 11 of Villers-au-Tertre. When our motorbike enters it, we alter the universe in a second. Tooth clap and thighs tense as a rock steel fan appears to have grabbed the distant management of his Hello-Fi system to lift the quantity from stage 2 to 64. Caught within the wheel of Bradley Wiggins, commentator boarded for Eurosport Nice Britain, we then style in a short time greedily a huge cloud of mud raised by the horde. It’s kind of like getting into a room during which a sander has been frantically spinning on the parquet ground for a number of hours, or doing a collection of grout removals on the 4 facades of an opulent villa with out a masks. On the finish of the sector, once we discover the consolation of the asphalt coil, we have now the sensation that every of our 32 tooth has gone to sandblasting and descaling.
On the airwaves of Radio Tour, the strain has gone up a notch. Between falls, punctures and an enormous a part of the crank, the peloton is scattered just like the rosary that we recite to attempt to keep away from Hell. It’s forbidden to intervene between its pearls in order to not distort the race. On the entrance to sector 2, the penultimate of the day, a small gesture of the elbow invitations you to take the Jumbo practice which is making an attempt to convey Primoz Roglic again on his rivals. Within the aspiration of the Canadian Antoine Duchesne, the counter of the motorbike typically crosses the bar of 60 km/h. The hubbub of the ultimate stretch and the clapping of arms on promoting indicators squeeze the final ounces of energy from thighs and calves as they cross the road. It now not smells of barbecue however we might return to burn in Hell…
“The Tour is a bicycle race and never a bike competitors”
The security of the riders and the working consolation of the sports activities administrators are absolutely the precedence on the racing stage.
On the fringe of the Trouée d’Arenberg, simply subsequent to the end line of the fifth stage, arms clap between the motorbike riders glad to conclude with out incident one of the feared phases of this Tour 2022.
“A day providing 19 kilometers of cobblestones is clearly no picnicsmiles Gaëtan Prime, the biker who took us on board for greater than 15O kilometers. We do not see it as a stage with a extra basic format, however I would not speak about stress or stress. The entire thing is to lift anticipation as a golden rule of the day. The security of the riders and the working consolation of the sports activities administrators are the highest precedence of the so-called race echelon. Which means the three regulators who handle the visitors of all of the automobiles transferring across the riders (Editor’s notice: about sixty motorbikes) take care to ventilate the convoy as a lot as doable in order to not put a type of stress on the riders and the technicians delivered to them. to help. The Tour is a bicycle race and it ought to on no account flip into a bike competitors…”
With 9 consecutive Excursions de France to his credit score, the one who can also be the president of the Blagnac biking membership, close to Toulouse, can depend on an actual expertise.
“This expertise brings us a type of serenity as we method essential moments. It is just a little bit the identical as for a runner in spite of everything. I work about forty days a yr for ASO on this position. On the Grande Boucle , due to this fact, but additionally on extra unique occasions such because the Saudi Tour for instance. Each two years, we additionally profit from coaching supplied by the French Nationwide Gendarmerie. A two to three-day course throughout which we query sure of our automated techniques as a way to optimize our trajectories or to work on our braking strategies, for instance. A few of it takes place in city visitors, however one other is carried out inside thematic workshops with a selected goal. sand as a way to higher perceive the motricity of our machines.”
For a number of years now, ASO’s 25 bikes have been Yamaha Niken, these unusual three-wheeled machines. “It is a 900 cubic centimeter with 125 horsepower. It responds effectively to our wants as a result of it has sufficient energy to achieve momentum shortly if essential whereas having an attention-grabbing load quantity to take a passenger and his materials. It is usually fairly manoeuvrable and versatile on the several types of terrain that we encounter. My bike, for instance, did Paris-Roubaix and can swallow the Alpe d’Huez stage with none drawback. On the night of this explicit day on the cobblestones, the model’s two mechanics will perform a whole overhaul of our frames. Lubrication of the chain, examine of the situation of the tires, and so on…” The unseen restoration of one other platoon.