The Tour de France has an official water company (Vittel), an official time-keeping company (Festina) and an official bank (LCL. ) But likely the most visible official product of the Tour de France is Skoda.
The Czechoslovakian automaker provides approximately 250 Superb, Superb Combi, Octavia, Fabia and Roomster vehicles for race officials’ use and to transport teams, VIPs and the media.
The cars are kept spotlessly clean and are presented at the start of each stage. Skoda’s vehicles are not available in the United States, but the brand is distributed in about 40 countries — and that’s reason enough to be part of the cycling biggest event.
Despite its large presence at the Tour de France, Skoda (it has a contract with the even through 2013) represents a partially representation of vehicles at the Tour de France. Rental car fleets a depleted for by media representatives. All of the teams, sponsors, police and, of course, a large percentage fans watching the event, have cars.
The Tour also likes to honor cars of yesteryear. Many of the images from the early years of the Tour de France feature black-and-white picture of official race vehicles from the 1920s when the officials’ vehichles also carried riders’ supplies.
But at the entrance to race village is one of the vehicles used in the 1955 event. It bears the name of Yvette Horner the legendary Serbian accordianist who rode on the vehicle for a dozen years beginning in 1952 and played her instrument as the race moved city to city.
In my instance, since the my arrival July 2, I’ve been driving a Citroen C5 sedan. It has a six-speed manual transmission and uses diesel fuel, which is about 60 percent of the cost of unleaded. It’s sold by liter.
I’ve driven about 2000 kilometers (1,240 mikes) so far and expect to drive more than 6000 kilometers by the end of the race July 25.
It’s a common opinion that drivers in Italy and Germany power down the roads the fastest of any Europeans. But the French don’t drive slowly. Most often, the posted highway speed is 130 kilometers per hour, or nearly 81 mph. In inclement weather, the posted limit is 110 kilometers per hour or 68.3 mph.
France has electric “eyes” on various highway sections to catch speed demons, but flashing eyes seem to make little difference.
It’s common on the country’s biggest highway for the average speed to reach 140 kilometers per hour or just under 87 mph.