A Day At The Tour de France With Mavic Neutral Service | Tour de France 2018

A Day At The Tour de France With Mavic Neutral Service | Tour de France 2018


– The bright yellow cars
of Mavic Neutral Service are one of the most famous
sights at the Tour de France. And they’ve been kind
enough to actually take us right inside the heart of the race, give us a seat in one of
their Neutral Service cars. This is a day in the life
of Mavic Service Course. (laid back electronic music) (speaking foreign language) It’s not quite as early
as I thought it would be, and that’s for two reasons. Firstly, we’re not in a hotel car park. We’re at Mavic’s headquarters, ’cause the stage starts in
their hometown of Annecy. So that helps a lot. And then secondly, La Course is on today, and so these cars are gonna
be with the men’s race, which doesn’t start until later, so that both races can be on the same day. So eight o’clock, we’ve got a line. Well, maybe these guys, as you can tell, they’re pretty much already ready to go. They were waiting for us. Apparently this is gonna
be our one opportunity of the day to see the
whole fleet together, so I will talk you through it. We’ve got two motorbikes on today’s stage. Each one will have two people on it. Then further down you can see there’s a transporter van there. So that’s gonna be in the fairly unusual position of being static on the top of what’s called the Col des Glieres, which is a short section of gravel. So they’ll have some
wheels and a little tent. By all accounts, they’re expecting that to be a relatively easy gig today, so a nice rest day for those guys. Then we can also see there are three Neutral Service cars down there. So they will be in the race,
taking different positions. And we’ll talk you through
that a little bit later on. Driving the car today is Max Ruphy. Despite his youth, he’s still
got five Tours under his belt. He is the guy that helped
sort Rigoberto Uran’s bike last year on the stage that
he then went on to win. But he’s not the mechanic today though. That is Benjamin Glize. He sits in the back of the car with me. Now, you might be wondering
what Neutral Service is, and perhaps even who Mavic
are, so let me explain. Mavic are a French cycling company with near-mythical status, cemented by these iconic yellow cars. They’re most famous for their wheels, but also tires, shoes, helmets, clothes, and Neutral Service,
which is what, exactly? Well, during a bike
race, riders are followed by their team cars, which have spare bikes and wheels in case of emergency. However, there are eight riders in a team, and only two team cars. So at times, a rider might
not have team support. And that is where Mavic
Neutral Service comes in, on hand to give a new
wheel or even a new bike to whomever might need it. It’s a role that Mavic created in 1973, and a role they take very seriously, both at pro, and since
1985, at amateur events too. They always need to be
prepared, which is why we’re off to the race start with
four hours to spare. We are in at the Village
area at the start. We’re waiting to take
our place in the convoy. But before we do, Max, can
you take this opportunity to actually show us around the car, explain what everything
is, what it’s doing here? – [Max] Yeah, sure, so this
is our Neutral Service Car, so the yellow car that you
see in the Tour de France. So for the cars we’ve got
four bikes on the roof. So they are all with the
adjusting saddle from KS. – The Dropper seat post, yeah.
– Dropper seat post. And we’ve got all the pedals that are used here for the Tour de France. – [Simon] So one size of bike,
but Look, Shimano, Speedplay. – And that’s it. And so yeah, we’ve got the full bikes and they are ready to
go, very easy to get out. So in case of a major problem, we’re gonna use the bike to change it. – Now, you don’t often see
riders taking the bikes. But in terms of in the back
here, we’ve got wheels going on. – So today it’s a hilly stage, so we use this one because they are light. It’s actually the one that they’re gonna probably use, 82 as well. And so they are all set up with 28-11, so they can fit to everyone
and all the people. – And what about disc wheels then? So we know there’s gonna be some riders riding on disc brakes. – Yeah, we have to have a
look, actually, this morning, because we have to check
it every morning for that. And we’ve got some wheels that’s gonna be at the back as well. 140, because there is
some team, they are 140. And we’ve got– – Whoa, that’s a deep one for today. – Yeah, and we’ve got the 160 as well. – Stealth wheel, is that one of yours? – Yeah. – So full toolbox. ‘Cause you don’t use that
all that often either, but last year you did
with Rigoberto Uran, yeah? – The tools, we needed, yeah. Because even just screw with the Allen key and things like that, we always need it. Many times they come over,
just next to the car, just for small adjustment or tightening the saddle,
one thing like that. – Okay, and what’s in this one? – Actually this is shoes for
all the riders of the tour. And all the riders that
we’ve got in the bulletin, they’ve got spare shoes already. But in case, we’ve got
more shoes for them. So we carry it for the full Tour, and we actually keep it in one
car because you never know. So what we do, I’ve got a list
where I know all the riders, what they are using, so the
disc and everything, builds. And I put also the stage
of the day every day. I’ve got a map where I can check where we’re gonna go through. I’ve got the road book as well, making sure I follow the good road. But on the Tour de France
it’s not very difficult. There is people everywhere
in the world, so yeah. – [Simon] And then you’ve got race radio tucked in there as well. That’s gotta be super important, right? – So after we’ve got the radio, so in this radio we can hear digital. And we can speak together
with the Mavic car and motor. So we’ve got an inter-channel,
which we can speak together. – Okay, and do race radio ever say, “We need Neutral Service.” Obviously, normally it’s like,
“Rider number 34,” whatever. – They actually always call us. As soon as there is action,
they say, “Mavic car.” You’re gonna hear it after. “Mavic car, come behind us and follow us.” If there is punctures and
there is no team cars behind, they’re gonna say,
“Mavic, that’s for you.” (upbeat electronic music) – The stage today is a mountain stage through the northern
Alps, starting in Annecy and crossing cols of the Croix-Fry, the Romme, and the Colombiere. And of course, with that
aforementioned section of gravel on top of the fearsomely
steep Col des Glieres. It’s 158 kilometers in all, and the stage finishes
in Le Grand-Bornand. It’s a big day, but no summit finish. Okay Max, can you explain
to us where we are gonna be in the overall picture of the race? So we’re the third Mavic
Neutral Service car. So where are the other two,
and where are we gonna be? – So actually, the two are at the front. They’re actually getting
behind the breakaway, the breakaway that just
got away right now. And for us, I think we’re gonna go behind the red direction cars, just at the start of
the Col de la Croix-Fry. – [Simon] Okay, so they’re
gonna move us up soon. – [Max] Yeah, in 10 Ks, probably, they’re gonna call us,
and they’re gonna say, “Hey, Mavic number three, just come over. “People are getting dropped,
so you need to follow us.” – And so then once we’re on the climbs, we’re gonna follow the GC guys. So we’re gonna see a lot of people getting dropped, one would imagine. – Yeah, probably a lot of
people getting dropped today. So yeah, there’s gonna be probably a lot of people at the back, and
they’re gonna do barrage. And so they’re gonna keep
the team cars behind. And we’re gonna be the only
one behind the GC riders. – It looks kind of chaotic
back here in the convoy. But there’s some pretty
strict rules, right Max? – Yeah, there are, actually. Right lane for the cars,
left lane for the motors. And everyone’s got his position. So yeah, it’s well organized. – [Simon] And so when we need to move up, we’ve got that whole left hand lane where it’s okay for us to do so, yeah? – Yeah, pretty much, and
we need to use the horn, especially because everyone
is fighting for his spot. – [Simon] But people know
that you’re not a rival team you’re Mavic, so you get a bit more. – [Max] They let us pass
pretty easily, so that’s fine. – Gruppetto’s starting to form. We’ve got quite a grandstand position. Kittel, just going backwards. You wouldn’t believe how fast
he was still going though. (speaking foreign language) – Loose, yes, but it will not move. – Saddle’s a bit nose-up. Just stuck arm out the
window, formed an Allen key, dropped the nose of the saddle down. You’ve not even broken a sweat. (speaking foreign language) Right, just getting towards the top of the first summit of the
day, the Col de Croix-Fry. And there’s been action
already, obviously. There’s a fair few guys going backwards. But we gotta buckle up, ’cause it’s gonna be a
fast descent off here. Just so we know, if there’s a crash, obviously the rider wants their team car. But do we always stop too? – [Max] No, we have to pass them. – [Simon] So we go past the crash. – Yeah, because the team
cars will have to stop after. We will be the only one
behind the main group. So we have to pass, then after they are
behind, so we have to stop. (laid back electronic music) – [Simon] Okay, so we’ve
got gravel coming up. They need some support, right? – Yeah, I think they may worry
if there is gonna puncture. Could be, so they want us to be there in case there is a puncture. (speaking foreign language) – Bloody hell, it’s Froome. (speaking foreign language) Good wheel change, Benjamin. Okay, that’s pretty much
about the most action you could ever expect to
get in a Tour de France. Chris Froome, rear wheel puncture on the section of gravel on this stage. That was a super quick
wheel change, nice work. And rear wheel, at that. (energetic rock music) (speaking foreign language) It’s all going off. So that was a bike change for,
(speaks foreign language). – Nicolas Edet. – Nicolas Edet. So he’s now got one of the Neutral bikes. Currently probably messing around with his Dropper seat post. But at least he’s got the right pedals. (laid back electronic music) Just hit the foot of the
final climb of the day now. I can’t quite tell you how
unbelievable this position is. So the back of the lead
group, the GC favorites, is literally 10 meters away up there. We’re getting the best
riders in the world, just drifting past. It’s absolutely incredible. Max, thank you so, so much for having us in the car with you.
– You’re welcome. – And thank you very much for driving us so safely.
– Thanks. – Whilst eating a sandwich at times. That was truly remarkable. Yeah, and also fair play to the car. ‘Cause we go downhill
pretty quick, don’t we? – These cars are amazing. And that’s right, you have this car that’s good at one, so yeah. – Well, please make
sure you give this video a big thumbs up if you’ve enjoyed it. Certainly some insight for me, and I hope for you too, as well. If you’d like to watch any
more Tour de France content, firstly, let me remind you
that we have our highlights and analysis programs over on Facebook. So make sure you check those out. And of course, all of our
usual videos on YouTube, of which there is one absolute belter that you can click through to right now.