• Nitro

    Stunning article / insights / video.

    Have watched many many races on tv / net, but have never seen the “inside the convoy” view… Absolutely fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes.

    I’m guessing / assuming that the pros have worked out what the rules are for controlling the convoy and can read into the movement of cars / bikes whats happening ahead and behind them on the road…

    • Dave

      I imagine that the riders’ ability to read the situation around them is not as well honed as it used to be, thanks to them having the DS to explain everything over team radio.

      My reading of the rules is that team radio is still out for the Olympics and World Championships, which could make both of the big international events this year interesting on complex courses.

      One thing that the riders can’t have the help of the DS is with telling whether it will be the TV motos, the neutral service car or Sean Yates who will be targeting the Most Aggressive Driver Award on each day.

  • Joel

    Those riders must have loved having those motorbikes in front of them taking photos. Was that the Comm 2’s shirty voice?

    great video

  • Kramon

    you probably don’t even think twice about it Matt, but for me (as a euro-based in-race habitué) it all seems that everybody in the convoy (apart from the riders themselves) are working on the wrong side…
    apparently UCI allows this and (local) australian riders/teams are used to it, but for the euro-based riders (and team members in the race) it is uncommon to be overtaken (or assisted, or provided with mussettes, …) on the ‘wrong’ side… I guess you have to fight your usual instincts not to make (potentially dangerous) mistakes as sometimes you make split-second decisions to (not) overtake/move ahead of riders, moto’s or cars.
    fascinating! (to me)

    • Yep, great call Kristof! Most of the races I’ve been in the convoy for have been in Australia so you’re right: I don’t think about it. In case you (or any other readers) are interested, see the attached photo for the relevant section in the Sun Tour technical regulations.

    • Alex Simmons

      It’s a direct consequence of Australians (like in the UK, Japan, India, NZ) driving on the left and the cars being right-hand drive (driver is on the right) and of course races are run on public roads.

      We run a rolling race envelope in Australia for races at this level (but often not in low level races), and of course if a vehicle is outside of that envelope they must obey the road and traffic laws, which means driving on the left. Even within the envelope, while the Police and motor scouts undertake much effort to protect those inside the envelope, occasionally a non-convoy vehicle leaks into the envelope and can be travelling in the opposite direction. It’s a nightmare scenario that has its final safety margin by having the convoy generally drive on the left. It’s a default. It’s rare but it can happen, especially when there are large time gaps between a break and the peloton and traffic control resources are stretched to/beyond their limit.

      For a more in depth view of the organised chaos, sitting in Comm 1, Comm 3 or Race Doctor’s vehicle would provide a even better insight. Then you get to see the process of running a barrage and the interactions with team cars.

      There are moments during a race where a “feeding frenzy” takes place, with many team cars all trying to get to the front at the same time. It’s partly because the race situation presents an opportunity for such team car-rider interaction (or they desperately want to be at the front), and partly due to a pavlovian-like response when another team does something. This is exacerbated to an extent with the use of team’s own private race radios as these team cars make the move to the front of the convoy before commissaires and other teams are alerted, compared with the situation where a rider indicates the need for service with a hand in the air and the Race Radio operator announces that to the team via the office race radio channel.

      Some drivers are more anxious than others in their driving habits and as with any sport they push the limits but in general there is good cooperation – there has to be for it to work. The drivers need to concentrate for long periods as we travel in very close proximity to other vehicles and riders, negotiate obstacles and variable road conditions often with little warning and need to have eyes in the front. back and sides of our heads. At any one time you may have riders, motor scouts, media bikes and team cars surrounding you and travelling around bends, roundabouts and not all travelling at same pace.

      • Kramon

        Thx for the insight @alexsimmons:disqus

        As you might (not) know, I am an in-race regular myself (photographer) and have covered races world-wide.
        When I was in the Tour of Britain 2 years ago I (think I) remember we drove the euro-way; probably as most teamcars were left-hand drives (even Team SKY cars…) for that race. Also when the Tour Grand Départ was in Britain (and the Giro in Ireland) the euro-way was implemented within the ‘envelope’.
        I never experienced it otherwise. If you’d drop me on a moto in the Sun Tour, I’d constantly be fighting my instincts throughout the race…
        Looking forward to that experience one day! Maybe in next years TDU…

        • Alex Simmons

          Cool. Here visiting teams that do not have their own local team car are supplied with a sponsor’s vehicle all kitted up with roof racks etc. It’s not legal in Victoria to drive a left hand drive vehicle (except for special purpose vehicles such as street cleaners), so driving euro style/side would never happen here.

          • Dave

            I have no doubt that the TDU could get a Minister’s Exemption for allowing LHD cars to be used for team support vehicles. Victoria issues them for vehicles that do nothing but promotional appearances associated with the Grand Prix, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem for CEGORR and HST.

            However, importing LHD vehicles for Australian races simply isn’t going to happen with cycling events here because it’s not economical. Even the teams which have sponsorship agreements with other car companies (e.g. Orica with Renault, Movistar with Volvo…) will get an Australian dealer to supply them with a car for use in the Australian races. They will generally be returned to the dealer and sold as ex-demo models or used as dealers’ courtesy cars.

            The joker in the pack was of course the former Sky-Jaguar deal – where the team had the custom rear deck lid shipped out and fitted to a local F-Type for providing Richie Porte with mechanical support in the national time trial.

            The same goes for races in America and Asia – some teams will get their sponsor to organise vehicles instead of accepting the ones offered by the race organiser.


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