On the face of it, standing by the roadside for hours waiting for 190 pro cyclists to ride past full gas in a few seconds might seem like a bad/boring idea. However along the entire route of the Tour another spectacle is waiting to entertain you – that being other spectators and the official caravan!
It is getting crazier and crazier every year at the Grand Tours with colourful characters cheering on the riders at the road side in mankinis’ or shirtless carrying a stuffed Wild Boar (definitely the best in my opinion from last year)! This side show certainly adds a bit extra to the viewing although sometimes it all looks a bit too close for comfort.
All of the Grand Tours have a publicity caravan but The Tour de France caravan is definitely the most spectacular. The vehicle parade of the 2016 Tour de France had 170 vehicles. You’ll see them coming past before the riders and they pelt the crowd with little keepsakes, my recent favourite by far is the mini Cochonou saucissons. A great tip is to cheer and shout louder than anyone else when your favourite brand zooms past. They might just spot/hear you and attempt to send something in your direction. However there is no guarantee you’ll receive the item as their throw, the item’s surface area, that sudden gust of wind and the 8 year old child with lighting reactions stood next to you can all conspire against you. I always wave my arms and jump up and down when Cochonou passes and I’ve enjoyed reasonable success.
German fan “El Diablo”, DIDI SENFT, also called the ‘Tourteufel’ (Tour Devil) who was a Tour fixture since 1993, is back on the road. Illness caused him to miss 2012 and after 2013 he retired from cheering the riders after having lost his sponsor, but he’s back for the 2016 season. You may have seen him or his Tourteufel camper van on TV during the recent Tour de France.