If you were fortunate enough to be camped on the Col du Latauret ahead of the peloton’s arrival on the Galibier for stage 18 of the Tour de France, it’s likely you would have heard the TdF Beefeaters, even if you’d never heard of them before.
Blasting out Euro-pop remixes of top 40 hits the night before the Tour hit the famous climb, they then announced themselves to the wider world when a video of them partying on the route went viral, having so far amassed 1.3 million views.
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Upon returning to the UK, after dodging road closures caused by the landslides in the Alps that dogged the two final mountain days of the Tour, the Beefeaters woke up to find the video being played out on BBC Breakfast.
But who are the men behind the fancy dress?
Andy and Rob were the original Beefeaters, visiting the Tour in 2009 and wanting to show everyone they were British, plumping for the iconic outfits accompanied by Union Jack flags.
They were then joined by four more of their mates, Aron, Jay, Richard and Steve, after a cycling trip to Yorkshire in 2013. One evening someone mentioned the fact the Tour would be starting there the following year in 2014 and that they should dust off their outfits and line the roadside once more.
They brought along a small stereo, which received an incredible reaction, and they’ve gone back to the Tour every year since. As well as the French Grand Tour, they’ve visited the Six Day London twice and the Tour de Yorkshire once.
Despite having posted videos on social media of the energy they bring to bike races for years, it took until this year’s Tour for them to blow up. “We’ve had social media accounts for three years but the last four days has been crazy,” the Beefeaters told Cycling Weekly.
“I just thought it was a funny video when I posted it late on Thursday night after the Galibier stage. I thought something was up when it got 50 likes in the first few minutes but then I fell asleep.
“We’re just glad everyone has been able to see what we’re all about, getting everyone involved young and old from all over the world.”
The Beefeaters all have jobs and families, so only manage to get to the Tour for one stage each year, but spend a few days chilling out and riding in the mountains before what they call “bend day”.
Taking inspiration from Dutch corner on Alpe d’Huez, they have always had some Dutch songs on their playlist, but the “Links Rechts” song in their viral video was only added last year.
“There’s a group of Dutch guys and girls who always visit the same campsite as us in Bourg d’Oisans,” they say. “They joined us on Alpe d’Huez last year and asked us to play it. It was mad. There’s something about it that makes everyone join in. I guess it’s our signature tune now.”
As well as their BBC Breakfast appearance, a number of famous names in the cycling world have apparently shared and commented on the video, celebrating their passion for racing.
“It’s a lottery if we see the messages at the moment,” the Beefeaters said. “There’s been so so many. Seeing some of the pros watching the video on their phones has been so cool and hearing the Eurosport commentators discussing it as the peloton was doing the laps around Paris on the final day was pretty special.”
What’s next for the Beefeaters? Back to the 9-5, daydreaming away the next 300-odd days until the 2020 Grand Départ from Nice?
“We’ve got the Worlds in September,” they say. “At the moment just for the men’s elite event but We really want to get to one of the women’s events to show our support.
“We would like to give Six Day another crack, the London crowd are a tough one to crack. It feels like we have unfinished business there .Then next year we’re talking about a visit to the Spring classics, returning to the Tour de Yorkshire and of course the Tour de France.”