It had always been a dream for Claire Pedrono to work in the Tour de France. Even if it was working as a big teddy bear handing out pens, she’s always loved the race and wanted to be a part of it. Now she finds herself doing one of the most important jobs in the biggest race in the world – l’Ardoisière du Tour de France.
It was the dream summer job she told me in broken English which is much better than my French. “I asked to distribute pens and I find myself in the middle of the peloton! Never would I have expected this,” she laughs. Her first race was the in the Tour de Picardie in April of 2010 and now she finds herself in the middle of her third Tour de France in the deep end.
“I rode my bike for twelve years, almost half of my life. That would have given me an advantage in getting the job”. Claire is a former member of the France junior team, winner of several races and is a multiple champion of Brittany. She even raced the women’s Tour de France in 2005 (Tour de France Féminin). She’s comfortable being in a peloton and not scared of holding on tight going 150km/hr on a motorbike down a twisty Alpine descent.
Claire’s regular life isn’t that different from you or I. During the day she’s a financial risk analyst. During a Credit Agricole awards evening in Christian Prudhomme’s home town of Vannes in 2009, Claire approached him to ask about having a job in the Tour; Any job. She described to him her passion for cycling since the age of 12 and gave him her CV. A few months later she received a phone call from Lawrence Bezault (assistant race director) and was offered the role of Ardoisière (translated as “slate” in English) in the Tour de Picardie. This is where she dipped her feet into the water of the pro peloton without any experience whatsoever.
Claire receives the time gap information (time and race numbers of riders in the break) from the race commissaire and writes them on the chalkboard. It’s up to her discretion to tell her motorbike driver to go to the escapees or the peloton and show the slate. She’s contracted by the ASO to work in many of the races they own. Even though I can’t quite understand her when I ask about working Paris-Roubaix, her eyes light up with excitement and shakes her head laughing about how crazy it is.
Read more about how time gaps are measured here.