Anyone who reports on the world’s largest cycle race needs above all a relaxed relationship with driving a car. The journalists accompanying the Tour de France spend a lot of time behind the wheel of their car. Traditionally it is passed on, only a few representatives of the The team – the inventor and leading medium of the tour, which fills almost a dozen newspaper pages with content about the Grande Boucle on most days. After all, some colleagues share a car. In any case, 5000, 6000 kilometers can come together in the three weeks accompanying the peloton over 21 stages.
The car-driving reporter is like the cycling sportsman: The hardest tests on the tour are the mountain arrivals. It starts uphill in the morning, when you have to find your way to the summit among thousands of amateur cyclists. And above all, this applies to the downhill in the evening after the end of the stage. If you don’t want to get into the crowd of spectators and mobile homes and don’t want to get to the hotel until late at night, you should try the General Evacuation connect.
This is an escort led by the police who, shortly after the end of the stage, guides the team buses and all other escort vehicles down the last mountain and usually through the next narrow valley. So it goes with permanent blue light and on the opposite lane past the fans who still have to wait at the edge of the track, and the columns of cars that are jammed there.
Depending on the mountain, the General Evacuation can take 30 or 40 kilometers, in any case there are two things to consider: Firstly, the pace is pretty brisk – and secondly, especially in the valley passages, the same thing can happen to a peloton that creates a wind edge. Any carelessness, a roundabout that breaks the rhythm, too big a gap to the person in front – the chain of evacuation breaks. So it can happen that you are stuck somewhere again.
Just like this year at the foot of the Col du Portet, the final ascent of the queen’s stage in the Pyrenees. The drive down the serpentines works flawlessly, the situation seems to have already been mastered, but you still find yourself in a traffic jam situation in the valley. The oncoming lane is still completely free, but the column somehow left, and now pulling out would also be a risk. The vehicles from the tour convoy may join the evacuation convoy, but not open it.
So you better wait, but suddenly something happens in the rearview mirror. A couple of police motorcycles rush in, behind them the UAE Emirates bus, the team of the tour dominator Tadej Pogacar. The man in the yellow jersey still has a few commitments to take care of after a stage at the finish, maybe that’s why it took a moment longer than with the other teams. In any case, the bus now whizzes past on the left, behind it a couple of other cars, so quickly behind, and now you’re back in a convoy that will bring you through the valley.
Always chasing after the yellow jersey is simply the best principle to get through a Tour de France well.