The Tour de France is like no other event in the world. From the millions of fans that endure all weather conditions to catch a brief glimpse of their favorite riders to the massive caravan that travels the race route daily, the Tour has a distinct flair of its own that must be experienced firsthand. We wanted to allow this Tour experience and give a behind the scenes with Team Dimension Data to one fortunate contest winner and guest. Josef and Maria Frick were the lucky winners and were greeted at the first rest day of the Tour in Andorra where they met the team and staff of the winningest team in the 2016 TdF.
On day one of their visit Josef and Maria met the team, were kitted out in official Dimension Data team kit, and accompanied the riders on their rest day ride in Andorra. Bikes were shod with SES 4.5 clinchers and they rode around Andorra before scouting the first climb on the following day’s stage with Serge Pauwels, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Steve Cummings. Following their ride they had a chance to chat with the fastest man in the Tour, Mark Cavendish, and his trusted lead out man, Bernie Eisel, who like our contest winners hails from Austria. Later that evening we joined the team for dinner and enjoyed some great insight into the team and the Tour with team owner Douglas Ryder and the two directors Rolf Aldag and Roger Hammond. Doug graciously shared his story of building up the team over the years and becoming the first African team in the Tour de France.
The next day we started off with a visit to the stage start and VIP village where visitors can find takeaways, food, and even haircuts and a shave. After watching the commercial caravan depart, Josef and Maria rode in one of the team cars and had a front row seat to the tactics being played out. Team Dimension Data had Edvald and Steve in the break and the excitement of the team was palatable over the race radio as we rushed towards Revel and the finish. Parking in the finish area, we boarded the team bus to watch the race action before going to the finish to catch the final where Edvald finishing 3rd in the sprint.
The following day we split from the team as they tackled the 12th stage. We opted to do some riding around the Provence and did our own recon on a very windy Mont Ventoux. Starting south of a looming Mont Ventoux, we rode an incredible winding road through Gorges de la Nesque with some amazing views of the region. Following a quick lunch stop in Sault, we made the ascent from the east side of the mountain. We were greeted by tens of thousands cyclists and fans upon reaching Le Chalet Reynard, a true spectacle in itself. The winds scouring the side of the mountain tried to inhibit our final summit push but we persevered and took some quick shots from the summit before descending back down through the caravan of RV’s parked alongside the road.
The next day we rode the course early to select a spot to watch the race. Even though we had a few hours to kill before the actual race got to us, there was no shortage of entertainment as the masses paraded up the mountain to watch the Tour. Colorful outfits, national colors from countries all around the world, and lots of noise were commonplace as the entire side of the road filled up going up the final climb of the day. Finally it was time for the race to speed by, Serge Pauwels was in the break charging up the climb. Since the peloton was split, it took some time for everyone to pass and we quickly dropped back down to Bedoin to catch the finish and the drama that unfolded.
We were stoked to share this once in a lifetime experience with Josef and Maria. A special thanks goes out to the entire Dimension Data team for their warm hospitality during our visit. If you haven’t been to the Tour de France, it’s highly recommended to add it to your bucket list!
Stay tuned for more great contests!