TdF-filter: What's the deal with that AG2R motorcycle?
July 14, 2014 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I've been watching the Tour de France (thinking of starting a Phil Liggett drinking game, with phrases like "dancing on the pedals" and of course "lactic acid". Anyway, among the bunches of cars and motorcycles in various roles I've noticed one with the AG2R logo on the fairing. As they are also a team sponsor, that got my attention, but I can't figure out what that motorcycle is doing. No passenger, just a pilot on the motorbike, and no obvious role like medical, law enforcement, support*, or cameras.

*I really thought hard about team support, but the motorbike isn't carrying any supplies, and I figured teams were restricted to cars, or perhaps only find cars useful, given all the stuff they have to carry. There is a Mavic neutral support motorbike with a couple of spare wheels, I think - it's bright yellow and pretty obvious...
posted by randomkeystrike to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total)
You're right that teams generally don't have support motos. It could just be an official moto (commisaire) bearing AG2R race sponsorship (rather than indication of team affiliation). But I'm not sure.
posted by entropone at 11:10 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

This blog post from 2011 has a pic of an AG2R-branded moto with the caption "AG2R Team Motorcycle" so maybe they just choose to use a motorcycle for some reason (ferrying snacks/water?)
posted by ghharr at 11:41 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

AG2r is also a sponsor of the Tour overall. If you look at the sponsor box at the bottom of this page [1] and wait a bit, their logo will scroll by eventually.

A wild uninformed guess: that picture in ghharr's link [2] shows something at the back of the moto that could be a display. Back in the day, they used to have a guy on a moto with a chalk board to show riders the time split between them and other groups. Maybe this is a digital display that updates from a network link?

posted by mvd at 12:46 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: AG2R are in a special situation in that they are not only the main sponsor of a pro team competing but they are one of the main sponsors of the Tour itself. [on preview, what mvd said.]

The only hint I can find of this was these pictures from AG2R’s 2010 Facebook album that read, in French: “AG2R shows their colours on the 3 regulation motorcycles and the 3 information motorcycles.”

I think that these motorcycles are branded as a sponsor of the Tour itself and are used for coordination and logistics like reporting crashes on the radio, traffic or anything else that can affect the race.

Check the big antennas on both those motorcycles. Television commentators often comment on things heard on race radio, my guess is that it is these guys doing the reporting from the “information” motorcycles.

I would guess the “regulation” part is regulation of crowds, which would make sense with the loudspeakers installed on the front of the motorcycles, telling the spectators to move over for the riders.
posted by TinTitan at 12:54 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

No answer on the moto but have for the drinking game; Phil says "put the hammer down" have a drink. Speaking in Swahili - take a double.
posted by X4ster at 1:01 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Inspired by X4ster, I found a two-for-one! This page is a Phil and Paul drinking game AND features a picture of an (old) AG2R motorcycle during the rider's nature break, maybe directing traffic.
posted by TinTitan at 1:12 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: mvd I didn't realize that AG2R was an overall Tour sponsor, and TinTitan, I think you're on the money, having noticed those speakers. Every time I've noticed these guys, they're near the front of the race, and I bet getting these selfy-taking morons lining the route to get their arms and legs back a safe distance is absolutely job one.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:43 PM on July 14, 2014

Bonjour ! Been to the Tour several times over the past 17 years :)

Yes, those motorcycles do crowd information. They'll speed past the peloton and front riders, and check things out ahead. Really helpful in the more crowded spots: they'll give the estimated arrival times for the leaders and the peloton. For particularly cheerful crowds, they also honk and wave. It's something you don't see on TV – the Tour is very social when you're on the ground. People arrive hours before it starts, cops chat with bystanders (that's a policeman's head), there are floats that throw out treats... Seeing the first official Tour motorcycles go by is when things start to feel real, and these crowd info ones are a major part of that.

Police take care of the "control" side of crowd control.
posted by fraula at 1:40 AM on July 15, 2014

selfy-taking morons lining the route to get their arms and legs back a safe distance is absolutely job one.

AG2R couldn't handle that if they wanted, FWIW :)
(that's a 2003 photo, pre-selfie)
posted by fraula at 1:46 AM on July 15, 2014

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