We have spent the past few days in England supporting our Official Technical Partners Orica-Scott at the Tour de Yorkshire. It is always a great experience to get to work closely with the team, but this time one of us was lucky enough to get a rare opportunity to ride along in Orica –Scott’s official follow car.
Normally, only team staffers like the Directeur Sportif and Bike Mechanic are allowed in the follow car, where they communicate strategy and tactics, update riders on times, or hand out food and water.
As the riders navigate their way to the outskirts of Bridlington and the end of the neutral zone Directeur Sportif Dave McPartland gets on the radio and tells the riders “get ready for a fast start boys”! He’s not wrong the race explodes into action for a frantic first phase of racing before the break gets away for the day.
As DS, Dave is an adept multi-tasker. Simultaneously he is a rally driver, radio communicator and map reader all whilst being a gracious host. Also in the car is Head Mechanic Fausto, on call for any mechanical issues that may occur. Fortunately there are none today but he is on hand to pass bidons to Mat Hayman and supply Magnus Cort Nielsen with a pair of long finger gloves.
The car itself is loaded up with spare bikes on the roof and Fausto is surrounded by spare wheels in the back. The front is full of different radios and communication devices as well as a TV unit which allows us to keep up to date with the front of the race.
The experience is fantastic, it is fascinating to be part of the race, and see all the little details that make it tick. The commissaire in their cars and motos policing things, the frequent radios updates about the race situation, riders needing support and alerts about what is coming up next on the road. It was great to be up close with the riders, listening to the team tactics first hand, and getting to experience the ins and outs of a race.
The team of course were super organised. Dave had reconnaissanced the route and was always on hand to brief the riders about key aspects of the parcours. Not only is Dave in charge of tactics he is responsible for the logistics and organisation of the full team and staff for this race, certainly a lot of preparation work is done to ensure everything runs so smoothly.
The excitement ramps up as the race enters its final stages. The news reaches the car that the teams sprinter Caleb Ewan has made it over the stages final climb in the lead group and everyone is feeling confident for the finale. As we enter Scarborough the teams cars are directed off the route for the last km, with the TV malfunctioning we have to listen to the radio for the stage result. The news comes through Caleb has finished second, and Magnus Cort Nielsen has gone down hard in a crash (broken collar bone).
What a day, it’s all happened, huge crowds, British sunshine, steep climbs, a dramatic sprint finish and a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience it like a DS – fantastic!