Thomson Tales

Caravan of Love

As much a part of the Tour as the riders, the publicity caravan is a bouncing, rolling carnival of joy, excitement and cheap promo toys.

Caravan of Love

There are many factors that add up to create the unique atmosphere of the race. Experiencing the buzz around the Tour never gets boring; the road graffiti, the decorated towns, the sound of the helicopters as the race approaches and the noise of the crowds.

Airhorns, techno music, loudspeakers and freebies hurled into the throng. The caravan is as much part of the race as the riders themselves. In fact I’ve seen local French people come out of their homes, fight for the key rings and free caps then return to their houses before the riders even come through!

Whilst the crazy cars with their carnival creativity may seem like a modern phenomenon – something from the age of advertising – the caravan has been part of the Tour since 1930. Tour organiser Henri Desgrange decided to grab more control over the race and invited national teams to participate instead of trade teams, using bicycles provided by the race. This meant an extra cost so he allowed companies to drive vehicles ahead of the race with branded vehicles equipped with loudhailers.

Today you’ll find all manner of brands giving away sweets, food, cheap trinkets and water. All to a varied selection of low quality dance music, sometimes with dancers strapped in for safety and always met with great enthusiasm. This parade of colour only adds to the race excitement as it signals the peloton must be near. It’s hard to imagine a Tour de France without the menagerie of sight and sound. We’ll have to enjoy it on the TV this year, but there is always next year!

Airhorns, techno music, loudspeakers and freebies hurled into the throng

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