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4 weeks in the life of a Tour de France follower

Added: sunday 12 August 2007 at 23:43:00
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    4 weeks in the life of a Tour de France followerAs I announced it here some time ago, I worked on the Tour de France during the month of July to create the blog Orange dans le Tour.

    On the 'Orange dans le Tour' blog I gave a look behind the scenes of the Tour and that's why I did a lot of different things in the Tour de France 2007: the advertising caravan (Panach', Festina, Skoda), the advertising caravan direction, Mavic, des journées avec deux équipes (AG2R et Caisse d'Epargne), France Télévisions, but of course also some days in one of the Orange 'avant-course' cars.

    My experience of 4 weeks in the Tour in 4 blog posts completed with some pictures (soon you'll find many more pictures in the photos section of this website) ...

    4 weeks

    First of all you might be wondering why I keep saying 4 weeks ... the Tour de France is only 3 weeks, isn't it?! Yes, indeed, but you shouldn't forget that the Tour requires a lot of preparation and that's why this first blog post is about this first preparatory week.

    It all started ...

    ... on March 20th already for me ... That's the day I contacted the guy who's managing the Tour de France project in the Sponsoring & Partnerships team at Orange. In an e-mail I explained him my idea and he contacted me rather quickly to discuss this more in detail. After that, there was a period which seemed endless to me and during which I presented the idea to several people to get it validated.
    Since early May I really started working on the blog and its contents by contacting several people I wanted to interview.

    The preparatory week

    One week before the Grand Départ of the Tour, serious business started ...

    Monday 2nd of July

    Orange's Public Relations in the Tour de France had 5 Renault Espace cars and a Renault Trafic. That Monday we picked up these rental cars, completely customised for Orange .
    From Conflans Sainte Honorine I drove back one of the Renault Espace cars to our offices in Arcueil. On the motorway many people were looking at us!
    The Orange cars

    > Watch all photos I took on the 2nd of July

    Wednesday 4th of July

    That's D-day for us: the day we went to England ... At 8h45 the taxi has already arrived while I ordered one for 9h00 ... therefore I left home a little bit in a rush for my first Tour de France! That wasn't really a problem, because I was looking forward to this since several weeks already, so it was better to leave early than too late!

    When I arrived at our offices in Arcueil the whole Public Relations came together and I met some of them I had never seen before. I also saw that the 3 drivers and former pro cyclists, Eric Caritoux, Patrice Esnault and Jean-François Rault I met last year when I was invited in the Tour de France 2006, were still there!

    First of all, we got the cars out of the parking garage to be able to fill them (we had a lot of stuff to put in the cars!) and to get a fine for bad parking (that's a good starter!). We then had a short pre-Tour briefing were we got the Orange Orange (a little book specifically created for Orange by Newsport which contains many useful information such at the hotel addresses and how to get there) and some other documents.
    Finally we left for Calais around 12h30 (we initially planned to leave at 10h30)!

    While driving to Calais we already see many other Tour de France cars, we test the radio we had to talk to each other between the different cars and we stop to get something to eat at a restaurant on the motorway.
    Once we arrived in Calais we checked in at SeaFrance, the official transporter of the Tour de France 2007, around 16h00 before going to the parking were we had to wait for the boat to arrive. Around 17h00 we get on the boat and after a little bit over 1h30 we arrive on the other side.
    We get off the boat at 17h56 local time and there starts our trip to our hotel in Dartford ... the funny thing is that our GPS only has a map for France so that doesn't help us much in the UK! Using the instructions in our roadbook and by interpreting them quite loosely, Jean-François Rault and I arrive first at the hotel. Via the radio I guide the others to the hotel ... since I did some trip planning during the following days as well, I quite quickly got the nickname Tom Tom ;-).
    Transfer to UK

    > Watch all photos I took on the 4th of July

    Thursday 5th of July

    From our hotel we went to the Permanence which was in the ExCel conference center. There we really arrived in the middle of the Tour de France and first of all we picked up our badges (the piece of plastic which opens a lot of doors in the Tour de France!) and the official Tour roadbook.
    We also picked up the stickers for the cars which we professionally put on the windscreens of the cars ... Of course we saw all the other Tour de France cars which arrived, including the first advertising caravan cars (X-tra Minidou).
    The first day in the Tour de France

    > Watch all photos I took on the 5th of July

    Friday 6th of July

    The last day before the start of the 94th Tour de France, we start our day by sorting out the Orange clothes ... yes, indeed we had to look good during the 3 weeks of the Tour! We also split up the thermos, coolers, champagne glasses, etc. Near the hotel we meet people of the Skoda team and they seemed to be a little bit annoyed, but it was easy to see that this big team had decided to make this Tour a nice one ...
    Then we go to the Permanence where I meet Magalie Lavenu, the spokeswoman for the AG2R team. The idea was to follow the AG2R team during the Tour and to show the different roles of the people in the team. I also shortly meet Marc of Caisse d'Epargne who I gave a phone so he could send me some photos and videos directly from within the team.
    From the Permanence I take the shuttle (bus and boat) to get to Trafalgar Square where the team presentations will take place. I have a nice seat on the East Grandstand, but unfortunately there's a streetlight right in front of me which means I cannot take the perfect team pictures I wanted to take ...
    After the team presentations I immediately leave to go to the advertising caravan party, a party which is organised by the people working in the advertising caravan and where some of the official partners are also invited. It was funny to see that the different brands quite easily grouped together. Unfortunately the place where this party was organised didn't really allow to meet other people ... I think it was better last year (when it was outside), but it was a nice party anyway!
    Another day without much free time, so when I came back at the hotel I immediately went to bed.
    The second day in the Tour de France

    > Watch all photos I took on the 6th of July

    > Click here to continue reading on the second part

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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    this article appears in the following categories: Tour de France| Tour de France 2007 | share on Facebook | delicious | twitter | Google | technorati


Currently 7 comments!
  1. I love it......!!! its cool...... Tomas...... keep on "mailing" !!! Janus Verhoeven

    | Janouski Verhoeven | monday 13 August 2007 at 10:40:41

  2. Leuk joh; ik zit al te wachten op het vervolg

    | Wil vergouwen | monday 13 August 2007 at 11:11:37

  3. Thomas: 'There are sooooo many nice pictures' I don't have enoegh time to see them all, yet Im very happy with what i see.....!! If you are in Ulvh. come and see us, I like talking to you.... Janus verhoeven ULVH.

    | Janouski Verhoeven | monday 13 August 2007 at 21:36:28

  4. Hé broer, waar blijft het vervolg? Druk, druk, druk zeker? ;-)

    | Meggie | friday 17 August 2007 at 16:43:01

  5. I don't have a web-site....!

    I just enjoy the nice pictures etc.

    "all the best" keep on mailing!!!!

    | Janouski Verhoeven | friday 17 August 2007 at 17:22:05

  6. hello, comment fait on pour devenir suiveur du tour de France, je suis dispo les trois mois d'ete et j'aimerai etre suiveur, même bénévole! merci de ta réponse

    | bertrand | wednesday 14 July 2010 at 21:06:15

  7. Bonjour Bertrand,

    Avez-vous consulté mon article Vous aimeriez travailler dans la caravane publicitaire du Tour de France ? C'est maintenant qu'il faut postuler ! ?

    Cet article pourrait vous donner des idées ...

    | Thomas Vergouwen | saturday 13 November 2010 at 21:25:01

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