Posted by: Ian | July 6, 2013

Riding for Team Saxo

This week I was lucky enough to see the Tour de France Team Trial in Nice as a guest of Saxo Bank. Amongst the razzamatazz of the event itself, twice we went out cycling. On the evening before the race Bjarne Riis’s two sons led a group of us out around the parcours. As we were wearing Saxo team kit and on team bikes, people who were milling around, many of whom were camped out in advance of the race the following day, cheered us on. We didn’t ride at anything like pro pace  – or even at anything like our own best pace, at least until we reached the last few hundred metres on the Promenade des Anglais when some of us got the pedals turning a bit faster.

On the morning of the race day we rose early for a ride up Col d’Eze. This is a nice hill that leaves Nice to the east and which features in Paris-Nice. It’s also used as training ride by the resident pro’s: Jeremy Roy is second on the Strava leaderboard, Rigoberto Uran is third and Ben Swift is seventh. (I’m a lowly 152/407.) Here’s our little group somewhere over the back of the climb:



We were riding Specialized Venges, and a very good ride they are too! The SRAM Red mechanical groupset was fitted with a 53/39 road racing crankset and an 11-32 cassette. The mechanic told me that they have medium-cage derailleurs on all of the pro bikes, whatever cassette they have. When they need smaller gears they prefer to keep the 53/39 upfront and to use larger sprockets at the back. 39/32 is pretty much the same gearing as a compact 34/28 and it retains (at the cost of some gapiness) the 53/11 ratio for fast riding on the flat.

Back down in Nice just a few hours ahead of the race, everyone – police, Tour organisers, camera-toting spectators – all assumed that we were the team. Road barriers were moved for us, traffic was held up and I was more photographed than I have ever been. It was hilarious.

For the time trial itself, I got a ride in the front of one of the team cars. For the first half we sped around the course, spectators leaning in, following the team as they held up a steady 60 km/h. I noticed a camera lying on the road on the Promenade. It transpired that this had been thrown onto the street after an over-keen spectator had stuck it in the path of Benjamin Noval, hitting his finger. He thought his finger was broken and eventually, in pain and unable to hold the handlebar, had to drop from the group; our car followed him in.



If/when I  get a link to the pro photo’s, I may post a couple of them. It was quite a day.



  1. I’ll keep that in mind! I was down at the HIve beach today, which I think is your area, no? Watching the Tour now – I do like the Saxo kit.

  2. What a fabulous couple of days. Did you get to keep the team kit?

    • Thanks – yes, I did! I usually completely avoid the Lycra/team kit look but I do like my new Saxo gear.

      • Well if you decide you don’t like it I know of a good home not far from you ……..

  3. Awesome

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