Photo Credit: Wout Beel Guest Blog: Written by Phil Lowe, Press Officer at Deceuninck - Quick-Step Cycling Team
Back in 2016, our team here at See.Sense had the pleasure of meeting Phil Lowe at our stand at The Cycle Show, NEC Birmingham. And as they say, we ‘clicked’ with Phil who understood See.Sense products, shared our passion for improving cycling and we are proud to call Phil a close friend of ours to this day.
Phil has since gone on to become the Press Officer of the Deceuninck - Quick-Step Cycling Team. We are delighted to share a very special guest blog post written by Phil on the emotions of the 2021 Tour de France…
When I tell people what I do for a job, one of the first questions I always get asked ‘Have you been to the Tour de France then?!’.
It is often asked with a sneer, which soon changes to shock when I tell them that I have. I usually forgive their sarcasm because I get it - people like me, a little boy from suburban Manchester, don’t get jobs with Belgian cycling teams and then get to work on what I consider the World’s biggest annual sporting event. It still feels like a dream to do what I do, none more so than in first few days of the Tour de France.
The magnitude of the race is hard to describe, and you can’t really understand it until you are in it, and those first few days are an attack on the senses. I am a 40-year-old man that most people would probably describe as having a demur demeanour, but I turn into a giggling schoolboy in the days before the start of Le Tour.
Once you get to the start, it becomes a carnival of noise and colour – most of it the mid yellow shade that is synonymous with La Grande Boucle. Hours before the team buses arrive there will be fans lining the parking area, in the hope of getting a glimpse of their heroes, and perhaps even an autograph or that ever elusive selfie. The craziest part of my job is that once I was one of those people – 9 years ago I went to Surrey to watch the London Olympic Road Race. I remember being stood near some Belgian fans who were screaming at Philippe Gilbert as he tried to break clear. Fast forward to 2019 and I remember being sat in a Spanish hotel room with Philippe, talking about things as mundane as the London Congestion charge.
Photo Credit: Wout Beel
There is nothing mundane however, about the Tour de France. 2021 was my third Tour and prior to both 2020 and 2021 I stated there is no way that the upcoming race could be as emotional as last year’s! How could it; in my first tour I looked after Julian Alaphilippe while he held the yellow jersey for 14 days and came within days of winning the whole thing. Then in 2020 we had a delayed start to the race as the world came to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic and as well as Julian taking yellow for another three days, followed by Sam Bennett’s chase to win the points competition. Even thinking about the roar that I let out when Sam won in Paris still hurts my throat. And this year, well we all saw that happened with Mark Cavendish and I don’t think I could ever give it the words to do it justice.
Day one started with all the excitement that I have already described. Since Covid became a part of our lives, the smiles that greet the members of other team’s, race organisers and members of the media are hidden behind face masks, and the handshakes have turned to fist bumps for the people that you are about to share the roads of France with for the next three weeks. You are about to share the sunshine, the rain, the cold of the mountains, some you will laugh with, some you will argue with, but you become a moving, nomadic community. Covid has meant that we are meant to live in a ‘bubble’, but the truth is we have always been a nomadic, chaotic, fast moving bubble, where nothing outside the Tour matters.
And while it is only sport, to me it is the sporting event of the year that matters most, more than any other – the most important of all the unimportant things. And that is why I still have a smile on my face every time somebody sarcastically asks me, ‘Have you been to the Tour de France then!’.