The Girls and Boys of the Caravan: Volume One

The publicity caravan, created in 1930, is one of the defining characteristics of Le Tour. The armada of floats, cars, 2CV citroëns, lion-on-wheels,  many with 1000-watt speakers have equal presence with the race in terms of crowd anticipation. The debris of hats, t-shirts, tote bags, Haribo candy, key chains, eye glass cleaners, mini-sausages, and petite madeleins, thrown to awaiting fans along the route must be weighed in tons and is only matched by the hundreds of thousands of Euros that one must come up with to participate.

Months before in Paris, model/students come to casting calls to be the next L’Equipe girl or Xtra detergent boy. Can you dance? Can you smile for six hours? Can you swing upside down in harness while you spray filtered Vittel on the fans below? Do you like to wave in conditions that range from freezing rain to blistering sun? While the rest of your friends attend that stuffy internship at BNP Paribas for summer, you can ponder deeper questions of your future (and hook up), while you see France two hours before Thomas Voeckler and the rest of the peloton does, Non?….Oui!!!!!

The Heroes tried to pay close attention to the caravan every day. This set of photographs comes from the Plateau de Beille, where the precocious Jelle Vanendert took the glory. We will save Volume II and Volume III for an autumn day or winter’s night posting so memories of summer can easily be viewed. The tenspeed Heroes tip their hat to the men and women of the caravan; your energy and smiles were appreciated as we waited on mountain, farm and village road.