Letter to Chris Prudhomme
Swanning around in your Limousine with a variety of " notable personalities " you will rarely see the "Glitches" that the everyday visitor to " Le Tour " has to overcome ! Certainly your subordinates have done their best to see that you have a " Trouble Free Ride " each day . No doubt you have briefings with your personnel each day to keep you abreast with potential problems .
Whilst you were with France TV you were quick to pick my brains about my activities on the periphery of "Le Tour " and also whilst " understudy to JM Leblanc ", but since becoming " The Man " you rarely deem a simple "hello" as appropriate for a man of your importance . Amazing then that i get to meet some of the General Officers of the Sapeur Pompiers , Army and Gendarmerie as well as assorted Politicians whenever i find the time to be at a " Depart " or " Arrivee " ! Some i have advised of my Blogs , so it may be that their staff have been detailed to have the occasional read . Phillippe Sudre is also aware of these blogs but as to whether he deems it worth his time to read my offerings i couldn't say .
In previous " Open Letters " to you i have suggested ways to improve the security of the " Signage " but neglected to point out that many of the large Roadside Signs proclaiming " Road Closure details of route nos with dates and times " could be better . All Media receive a looseleaf book , known as the "Guidebook" and this is a very helpful tool to ALL , but it neglects to coordinate that very important issue of "Road Closures" ! Surely you want the world to know WHEN the routes of the " Le Tour " each day will close , don't you ? Many of those i speak to at the " Le Tour " tell me that each Department of France has a Web Site that offers info on these " Route Closures " but the general public are rarely aware of this , let alone the Overseas Visitor , many of whom do not understand the French Language whether written or spoken .
BY adding an additional column in the “Guidebook “ to the Caravan and the Racers anticipated passing certain points times , " ASO " will in consultation with the various authorities be able to advise the WORLD of the "Road Closure " times . Media of all persuasions will no doubt pass on to their readers this information, as they tend to copy out your pages , as if it was their own work in the effort to inform their audience . Each Department has it's own branch of the Police National and Gendarmerie responsible for the "Security of the "Le Tour route" and since these signs have to be constructed to inform the public then the information should be accurate and thus ALL will see a coodinated result !
During one Etappe in the Pyrennes , when i was at the bottom of a " Col " , i had a Gendarme Officer , as he was passing me in his official car , tell me that i should stop cycling , as the "Col" was NOW closed ! This was more than an hour before the time PROCLAIMED on the" Sign displaying Closure times " that i had only just passed ! When i arrived at the " Col" there were several " touring cyclists " but none of the private cars that passed me after this rash statement was made . The Gendarme with the rank " Major " then again told me that the road was closed even though there remained 35 mins until the posted time . My solution was to pick up the bike and walk off the road until i reached a point beyond the " Col "
where i could ride once again . Further down the road i found that the times posted had been extended another hour and half , as is normally the case when you pass into a new area of control . As to what happened to the " touring cyclists " i could only speculate , but had they relied on the published information then they were sadly inconvenienced and carrying a "touring bike " with luggage weighing as much as 50kg , in many cases , would be out of the question .
Expect to hear more points of interest from me over the next months as i know how hard it is to get action when too many issues are raised at the same time . Have your people read my " OPEN LETTER to Pat Mc Quaid “ about the " Authorised Driver Permit " , that i feel is required to avoid a repeat of the incident that nearly killed two racers .
No where on page 7 of the " Guidebook " does " ASO " refer to driver conduct in relation to the Racers or even the ordinary cyclist AND since the " Le Tour " as an event is about Cycling , one wonders who was responsible for coordinating the material published ? No doubt Phillippe Sudre after our discussion took a look at that page . After publishing my blog post about the RMC Radio Stationwagon i saw the driver many times but he never again caused me any problems . Whether this was good luck or he had the matter brought to his attention is not for me to say .
Security of the "Le Tour " route is an important concern but having the Public sit on the side of the route for 5 hrs each day is asking too much particularly since the "Tour de Suisse" is able to run an event with "Private Security on motorcycles " and Army reservists causing the routes to be closed for periods ranging from 10 mins to 30 mins before the arrival of the racers unless in the mountain passes when longer periods may be required . Could be that your people need to look at the abilities they display and adopt some of their expertise !