The Tour de France doesn’t need to be so serious

Even at the world's biggest and most important bike race, there's room for a bit of fun.

Matt de Neef
by Matt de Neef 05.07.2023 Photography by
Kristof Ramon
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You know us – we like to do things a little differently here at Escape Collective. Sure, if there’s Serious Bike Racing News to cover, we’ll cover it. But in truth, there’s nothing we love more than covering the less-serious side of the sport.

We love writing fun little stories that most media won’t touch, reporting on the strange things riders get up to off the bike, and really, just telling you about anything and everything that makes us laugh. Because cycling should be fun, right?

So when we see others covering the sport in a similar way, enjoying themselves and entertaining their audience in the process, we’re always happy to give kudos.

You’ve probably heard of Tour de Tietema. Headed up by YouTuber / Continental-level racer Bas Tietema, this channel has made a name for itself by publishing entertaining, cycling-adjacent videos for a few years now, particularly from the Tour de France. You might have seen them challenging Tour riders to wheelie uphill as far as they can, for instance.

Well, the Tour de Tietema team is back making videos at the 2023 Tour de France and they’re off to a great start.

In their first video, the three riders challenged each other to ride from Bilbao Airport to the football (soccer) stadium in the heart of Bilbao, without using any digital navigation at all. The results were entertaining.

Their second video took them to thrift shops in Bilbao in search of oufits for Dutch riders Mike Teunissen and Ramon Sinkeldam, who lost their luggage en route to the start of the Tour.

And just yesterday, they published their most enjoyable video yet from this year’s Tour. The concept was very simple: just like they did at last year’s Tour, they challenged Tour de France riders to a game of “keepie uppie” – seeing how many times they could juggle a soccer ball by foot before losing control. Among those featured in the video: winner of the last two Tour stages, Jasper Philipsen, and his lead-out man deluxe, Mathieu van der Poel.

In a world of staid race reports and boilerplate stories about how so-and-so’s legs are feeling, content like this is a welcome salve. Getting pro bike racers to juggle a soccer ball at the start of a Tour stage? It’s so silly, and such a departure from the Very Serious Business that is the Tour, that it almost feels blasphemous. And yet, it’s so brilliantly effective.

Getting the world’s biggest names to do something dumb like this allows their personalities to come out in a way that you rarely ever see. And that’s a win for everyone: for the riders and their teams, who are humanised to cycling fans in a way they often aren’t; for those of us watching, who get to be entertained and better understand who these incredible athletes are; and of course for the Tour de Tietema team who get some great content to show for it.

Look, there’s a place for serious bike racing coverage. We wouldn’t be here without it. But there’s also room to step back from it all and have a bit of a laugh. We love doing exactly that, and we love it when others do too. So, chapeau Tour de Tietema team. Keep up the great work.

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