Tackling the Tour de France – on four wheels

July 11, 2017

It’s not all about the bikes. The heroes on two wheels rely on a convoy of support vehicles that transport everything from tools to clothes to food and drinks – and more bikes.

 

The race cars are driven by a sport director, or directeur sportif. It is their responsibility to oversee race tactics, communicate with the team and help riders who get into difficulties.

 

Once a professional cyclist himself, and winner of the legendary Paris Roubaix in 2001, Servais Knaven is now one of six sport directors for Team Sky. And for the time-trial stages, he drives a specially prepared Focus RS Option Pack, equipped with custom-made bike rack and Recaro seats.

 

Before the tour started, our Ford Performance experts trained Knaven specifically in driving the RS at our Lommel Proving Ground, in Belgium. This included how to accelerate through corners, pull out quickly and pass several vehicles, and to regain control of the vehicle at high speed.

 

“It’s an amazing car with incredible acceleration. When a rider has a flat tyre, we can quickly move up the convoy and help him get back on the road. It’s a big advantage,” said Knaven.

 

A doctor and bike mechanic will also be in the RS, the mechanic able to quickly change wheels and make repairs – even on the move.

 

But with more than 15 million spectators lining a route that includes narrow mountains roads, things sometimes get a little hairy.

 

“We always keep some extra distance in case people are not stepping back as the peloton and convoy pass,” Knaven added.

 

 

Ford is the exclusive supplier of vehicles for Team Sky, a partnership that began in 2016 and has been extended for a further two years, through 2019. Since 2016, the team has enjoyed 51 wins with the cars covering more than 40,000 kilometres.

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