Side of Visma-Lease a Bike's 'Control Room' van unveiled before the 2024 Tour de France.

In news that will surprise almost no one, Visma’s ‘Control Room’ has been barred from the Tour

Goodness gracious, can you believe it.

Visma Lease a Bike’s ‘Control Room’ van unveiled before the 2024 Tour de France.

Kit Nicholson
by Kit Nicholson 29.06.2024 Photography by
courtesy of Visma-Lease a Bike
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The UCI and indeed the Tour de France are not known for bending under the will of innovation when it’s sprung on them, and the latest in a long line of disappointments for the teams that promise *ahem* “limitless thinking” is the barring of the Visma-Lease a Bike “Control Room.”

The story began a few days ago as the Tour de France circus descended on Florence. After the added disappointment of losing Sepp Kuss from their already wobbly yellow jersey defence, Visma-Lease a Bike unveiled what they’re calling their “Control Room,” the release chock full of beautifully predictable phrases like “state-of-the-art” and “the spirit of limitless thinking”. Essentially, it’s a van wrapped in the same Renaissance-inspired pattern of the team’s Tour jerseys, and which was intended to mine a certain amount of data while literally on the road – think the blacked-out and neon-lit utility vans we’ve all seen in spy and thriller movies, usually occupied by a quirky ‘tech analyst’ …

However, hot on the heels of the teams announcement came the UCI’s own inevitable promise that they were opening an investigation into the data van, specifically seeking to verify exactly what data they would be grabbing during the race. That is, while certain information can be broadcast live, there’s plenty that may only be seen live by the rider, like heart rate, core body temperature, etc.

And now, as stage 1 gets underway, the ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) – organisers of the Tour – has barred the “Control Room” from the race.

The statement reads: “The Team Visma-Lease a Bike ‘control room’ vehicle shall not be authorised within any of the premises of the event and shall therefore not bear a vehicle accreditation.”

While the Visma van’s prohibition from the Tour isn’t particularly surprising – remember Richie Porte’s Team Sky motorhome for the 2015 Giro d’Italia? – what is curious is that the ASO took matters into their own hands before the UCI had had a chance to follow up on their own investigation. And the governing body is yet to respond to the race organiser’s decision, so watch this space.

For now though, it turns out there are limits to what Visma is allowed to think do.

Meanwhile, EF has also announced a new vehicular addition to their stable, one that they’re calling a “command centre on four wheels”. Theirs is apparently not quite the same as what Visma-Lease a Bike turned up with, though. EF’s all-new Cadillac LYRIQ, the first ever electric vehicle to serve as in-race support, will instead be a good old-fashioned support van, while also acting as “a quiet retreat for strategy and planning, a lifeline for the racers on the road.” It appears to be more car tech than data, and the release more electrified marketing jargon than “limitless thinking”. Or so it seems.

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