With the Tour now in France and providing us with plenty of great racing, amazing snapshots and some new technology, we though we’d have a look at the people who make the Tour the amazing spectacle it is today.
While the Tour has the world’s largest viewing figures for an annual sports event and the third highest figures for any sports event, you can forget that the towns and villages have almost all of their streets packed with the local people – and boy does this add up. 15 million according the ‘The 100 years of Le Tour’ opinion poll in 2003.
A bit of basic maths – if you allow 70cm per person standing room, 15 million people will give you a line of around 10,500km. More than enough to line the entire route on both sides of the road!
The huge numbers of caravan vehicles, cars, motorbikes and helicopters has made the Tour accessible to all and over the last few years the mass media coverage has made some fans stand out in particular.
Since the early 1990’s Didi the Devil has been following the Tour. Initially appearing in the mountains he is now popular all over the course and is one of the most photographed fans we’ve seen.
The American footballer with horns:
No amount of googling, even our very own PBK google has given us this guys name or any details on him. What we know is that he will no doubt be seen at this years Tour along with the ToC earlier in the year. Being American he instantly cheers up when he sees Lance and is actually a pretty good runner!
The Watson road gap jump:
A famous jump by Dave Watson who managed to jump the road during the 2003 Tour on the Alp d’Huez.
45ft of air, which according to our MTB riders is a ‘fair bit’ and not knowing how the race directors and fans would react made this a risky stunt, but it seems to have paid off!
From the BikeRadar article: The set-up and preparation had to be done in secret, as the reaction of the fans and organisers was unknown. Showing up several days before hand, Dave with help from some staff at Big Bike, a French-based Freeride magazine, built the jump and cleared the landing before many fans showed up.
With three Freeride Entertainment 16mm cameras rolling to catch the action and Scott Markewitz shooting stills, tension was high as the helicopters appeared on the horizon marking the arrival of the lead group. The amount of police and the mayhem created by the fans on the take-off and landing meant that jumping the lead group was out of the question. With communication hardly possible due to the noise created by the fans, a group of about twelve riders was sighted in the distance and the jump was on. Frantic preparations were made to clear the landing of spectators and take-off jump.
Dave patiently waited as the riders rounded the corner. Prior to the jump, Dave had not even had a chance to take a run in to the jump for fear of giving away his intentions. Jump time came and Dave climbed aboard his Stab Primo and punched it toward the lip with no hesitation.
The all important video:
Each year brings with it new characters, with the Tour coinciding with the World Cup final on Sunday, we are sure to see some orange themed costumes from the remaining Dutch summer population of the ski-villages.
Is this encouraging to riders?
The Tour wouldn’t be complete without a dog getting in the way, we’ve already seen one in stage 1!
That cute face isn’t going to get you out of this one!
It would be rude not to enjoy the local produce while watching the Pro’s do all the work:
Borat has obviously had a worldwide influence:
I don’t think I’ll even ask:
Even if it’s raining, the crowds will don their ponchos and bang the boards:
So who’s your favourite fan? What would you dress up as if you were waiting on the Tourmalet for the peloton to arrive? Let us know below!