Catching your flight, finding your hotel and getting there from the airport can be complicated. Imagine doing that for a whole team during France’s peak travel period in order to get to the world’s biggest bike race.
HTC-Highroad, one of the most cosmopolitan teams in the bunch, not only had to organise for its nine cyclists to arrive in the Vendée, but also for its sports directors, mechanics, soigneurs and other staff to get there too.
“It was also complicated because of an Air France strike,” explained team press officer Kristy Scrymgeour. “Our directors had the most problems coming from Düsseldorf. Their plane was delayed, then cancelled, so they had to schedule another flight. Then it happened again, so they ended up driving. They spent two hours finding their luggage and then drove 900 kilometres.
“Everyone lives somewhere different, and you have to get them to one airport at a similar time so that the pick-ups are easy,” explained Scrymgeour. “It can be a nightmare.”
HTC has logistics manager Greet Verhulst to book flights and hotels, schedule camps and enter the riders into the races.
“We should all have private jets like Lance Armstrong,” said HTC rider, Tejay Van Garderen.
Van Garderen travelled to his first Tour de France from his base in Lucca, Italy. Air France also delayed his travel, which he said is more complicated in Europe.
“You never reach the terminal – you arrive 20 kilometres out and get shuttled there in a bus. Then your connecting flight is in another terminal, and you end up missing it because it takes you another two hours to get there!”
His next flight, thankfully, won’t be until the penultimate day, when the Tour riders take a chartered flight from Grenoble to Paris ahead of the final stage. Rather than Air France, this will be operated – rather bizarrely – by Qatar Airways.