Shopping bike versus the peloton

Even if you’re not partial to the silly Rowan Atkinson character, this particular, bike-themed snippet from the movie Mr. Bean’s Holiday is a classic:

It would have been slightly more realistic if the riders in the peleton were shown wearing local French club strips rather than plain jerseys. It might also have been funnier if there were some incredulous reactions from the riders being overtaken by Mr. Bean on his shopping bike. But it’s still a great clip, and a warm, funny and touching movie. Music’s good too.

TdF’s Christian Prudhomme: top bloke

Just before the yellow jersey ceremony after the London prologue, my kids caught up with the Tour director and asked him for his autograph.

He could have refused. He could have called security. He could have signed, but done it on auto pilot. Instead, he took the time to get down to the kids’ level, asked them their names, personalised the signatures, and chatted about his own young daughter. I was impressed.

He may have made a too hasty call on the damnation of Floyd Landis before the hearing results are known, but nevertheless what a lovely, thoughtful man.

Former event organiser Donna Tocci, PRO for Kryptonite, writes:

“Event day is a blur of activity. If you have time to breathe, you are lucky. Kudos to Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France director, on taking time out to not only breathe, but actually sign autographs for kids and spend a few minutes with them. That’s how you make Tour fans for life!

“It’s a bright spot in the day to know that there are people out there who take the time to make a kid’s day. Bravo Mr. P!”

Sir Paul Smith meets David Millar

It was the mutual admiration society as the English fashion designer met the Scottish pro cyclist before the London prologue of the 2007 Tour de France.

Paul Smith is hugely into cycling and his company recently partnered with Rapha to produce an ultra-expensive merino wool jersey to celebrate the Grand Depart from Londres.

Incidentally, following David Millar’s long breakaway during yesterday’s London-to-Canterbury stage it turns out the planet will be the richer. The Saunier Duval-Prodir team has pledged to plant trees in Mali: one tree per escape-kilometer. Millar therefore earned 150 trees for Africa yesterday.

Photo by Bill Davies

Phil Liggett at Le Tour in London

‘The voice of cycling’ can be seen on this (shonky) video shot at County Hall, London, on Thursday 5th July.

Sorry about the sound quality and the lack of a light: the digital recorder and the spotlight died on me as I was about to do the interview.

Phil Liggett was one of the guests at the opening of photographer Graham Watson’s exhibition of Tour photographs. The great and the good of cycling were there. So was Pat McQuaid of the UCI.

I asked Phil about his tip for the ‘GC’ winner (GC = general classification, ie yellow jersey). I also asked for Phil’s thought’s on a lack of a No. 1 dossard. Floyd Landis has almost been written out of the Tour’s history books, and Phil’s not impressed…

There will be more videos of the Tour de France in London over the next few days, thanks to the support of Subscribe to the Quickrelease podcast to get videos downloaded automatically to iTunes and other podcatchers. There’s a direct link on the right.

Zidane-hit spoofers produce TdF skit

The French songsters who last year sold 460,000 singles spoofing Zinedine Zidane’s World Cup head-butt are hoping to cash in on the Tour de France with a timely drug ditty

‘EPO I Love You’ is a catchy little number sung in French and Spanish. It’s being promoted by La Plage records and is backed with a nifty Flash-based website with downloadable ringtones.

Featuring lines such as “I don’t want any champagne, I prefer my EPO” and “EPO I love you, thanks to you I will be number one”, EPO Te Quiero is already a hit on, with over 54,000 views of a video featuring a bidon emblazoned with the letters E, P and, of course, O.

The erythropoietin-themed song is a follow-up to ‘Coup de Boule’, a tribute to the heading skills of World Cup hero/zero Zinedine Zidane of France. This was also launched on the internet but was uplifted by Warner Music France and published commercially, becoming an instant hit.

Sloggi thinks tweaked thong thing is “cheeky”

First rolled out at the Luxembourg prologue in 2002, the Sloggi bicycle-based billboard campaign sure is an attention grabber. In 2002 the slogan was ‘Le Grand Depart’. For London in 2007 it’s roadside cyclesport chant ‘Allez!, Allez!, Allez!’

Click here for a bigger, just-about-safe-for-work pic of the current campaign. A close-up of the Luxembourg campaign poster can be found here, and may not be quite so safe for viewing at work. And if you think those pix are risqué you definitely won’t want to click here for Sloggi’s competition to find the “world’s most beautiful bottom.” However, Continue reading “Sloggi thinks tweaked thong thing is “cheeky””

Cheapie airline provides inflight Tour de France TV coverage

Before Euro cycling fans get too excited the cheapie airline is American. But what a service! As well as inflight TdF coverage, those who fly with a bike in July get extra airmiles!

Flying is bad. It wrecks the planet and cheapie airlines are to be shunned by right thinking Earth lovers. Er, but an exception can be made for JetBlue Airways.

Cycling fans travelling on the low-fare airline in July can tune in to daily coverage of the Continue reading “Cheapie airline provides inflight Tour de France TV coverage”

Freebies galore as Tour hits town

The riders in the Tour de France whizz past at speed. But it’s a spectacle all day long and it starts with the passing of the caravane publicitaire, a collection of 220 promo vehicles from which 11 million freebies will be disgorged.

The publicity caravan is a mobile carnival, with dancers, 12-ft motorised tea-pots and Aquarel ‘firemen’ who hose the crowd with high-pressure jets of cold water. London has never seen anything like it!

That YouTube video is available in hi-res – suitable for iPods and Apple TVs – in iTunes here.

Here’s what will be handed out over the three weeks of Le Tour:

1 million bottles of Aquarel water
1 million Haribo sweets
600,000 Bouygues Telecom CDs
500,000 SeaFrance pens
400,000 Pik’Croq and Vache Qui Rit samples
300,000 Etap Hotel luminous key rings
200,000 Caisse d’Epargne key rings
15,000 Transport for London bracelets

Some of the products – such as the TfL bracelets – are specific to London, and not all of the France-specific freebies will be seen in London.

Many of the vehicles and promotional floats are supplied by Ideactif, France’s leading ‘experiential’ agency. The agency has just opened an office in London.

Ideactif has designed, and will be operating, experiential road shows for nine brands in this year’s caravane publicitaire.

“Each brand’s experiential event will take place on spectacular and interactive vehicles with theatrical and magical characters and sets,” says Marine de Mascarel, UK sales executive for Ideactif.

The Ideactif brands are: Nestlé Aquarel, Caisse d’Epargne, Vache Qui Rit/Laughing Cow, Nesquick, Transport For London, SeaFrance, Etap Hotel-Accor, Bouygues Telecom and Haribo.

Le Tour updates website, plugs YouTube clips

ASO’s official Tour de France site at has been given a complete and very snazzy makeover. It includes a click-through to the official YouTube clips from the world’s biggest and best annual sporting event.

Bizarrely, the YouTube user ‘letourdefrance’ doesn’t allow third-party embedding so I can’t place the vids here, but I can link to them.

The most popular of the vids is a 3D fly-through of the full route, including the rising of an exploding, phallic Big Ben.

The Tour from the air is a melange of fantastic helicoptor shots.

It’s not the cyclists who are highest on drugs, it’s the designers of 15-ft motorised teapots, as you’ll see from this ‘discover the Tour caravan’ promo.

Talking about drugs, the YouTube ‘clip du Tour 2006’ starts with the drugs scandals which marred the start of the 2006 Tour. This is the video shown at the official route unveiling earlier this year.

Don’t understand French? Good, just watch the pretty pictures. Mind you, in a couple of places you can hear Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.

The video ends with the infamous mirror shattering sequence when the 2006 Tour winner Floyd Landis is presented with his final yellow jersey. As always, trust but verify…

Tour de France in London specials

This is the promo video shown at the official launch of the Grand Depart 2007 which took place on 9th February 2006.

The 3-minute short was produced for Transport for London.

A hi-res Quicktime version of this YouTube video is available from the Libsyn server here. Or get it on your video iPod and Apple TV via the podcast on iTunes.

With the Tour de France due to kick off in London in just a few weeks, I’ve decided to re-issue my first ever podcast. I recorded it at the official launch of the Grand Depart 2007. It was originally broadcast on 9th February 2006 as the first podcast from ‘Cycling: News & Views’. This podcast later morphed into

The podcast – available only on iTunes – features interviews of Phil Liggett; author and rock legend Johnny Green; Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman; CTC chair Kevin Mayne, and a bunch of bike journalists.