Following yesterday’s announcement by Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), the organiser of the Tour de France, that Shimano would be replacing Mavic as the provider of neutral service at most of the world’s top bike races, the Japanese component manufacturer has made its own announcement about the new agreement.
A.S.O. also owns La Vuelta as well as Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné, as well as prestigious one-day Classics such as Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flèche Wallonne and Paris-Tours.
“The iconic blue of Shimano will adorn the neutral support cars in all A.S.O. WorldTour, Continental and Women’s races, offering all riders assistance to get back on the road as quickly as possible in the event of a crash or mechanical issue no matter which drivetrain brand they use,” reads Shimano’s press release.
Shimano is not a newcomer to neutral support: the blue cars have already been a feature of races for 20 years, a programme which originated at Spring Classics such as the Tour of Flanders and Amstel Gold, progressing to the Vuelta, where Shimano already had a strong working relationship with the A.S.O., and latterly to the Giro d’Italia.
Shimano will also be supporting selected international amateur events such as L'Etape du Tour and Roc d'Azur.
Taizo Shimano, executive vice president, said: “In the one hundredth year of our existence we are very excited to start a new chapter in our sports history. We are proud to announce a partnership to support the A.S.O.’s events with neutral support. That means we will be providing first-class support to riders at A.S.O. events to get them back on the road and back in the race.
“Shimano’s role is to inspire people to participate in sports and to keep bicycles running at their best. The vital neutral support role, especially at cycling’s most high-pressurized race – and also at one of the world’s most-watched sporting events – will allow us to do just that.
“Working with A.S.O. will allow Shimano to provide more support to the sport and more support to athletes to help them perform at the top level.
“As a company we take great pride in the quality of work that the thousands of global Shimano dealers carry out. This partnership with A.S.O. is the best example of the service that they provide. Not only do we hope this partnership will inspire a new generation of people to ride their bikes more often, but we hope to inspire people to trust in our product quality.”
Yann Le Moënner, managing director of Amaury Sport Organisation, said: "We are incredibly pleased to have extended our partnership with a player as innovative as Shimano. Partnering up on all of our professional and amateur cycling events with a family business and pioneer in the cycling world testifies to our commitment to offering excellent support to athletes as well as all of the cyclists involved in our events. The innovation and consistent level of excellence provided by the brand over its 100 years of existence make Shimano a crucial player in world and everyday cycling and a brand that we are proud to be associated with."
Shimano first engagement for A.S.O. this year comes at Paris-Nice starting in Saint-Cyr-l'École, France on Sunday March 7.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
And the vital statistics:
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