What did newbies make of the Netflix Tour de France Unchained doc?

A newcomers review, and some FAQs, to the series designed to introduce the masses to our sport.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 24.06.2023 Photography by
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Tour de France: Unchained has been out for a couple of weeks, and for those not unhinged enough to have watched them all in one sitting the minute they were released, many have now come to the end of the eight-episode series.

The reaction from those who are already fans of cycling, as expected, has been mixed. For the hardcore who are already years deep into a race and a sport they love, an offering intended in part to attract new viewers was never going to tick every single box of the hardcore following (and let’s be honest, cycling fans are difficult to please at the best of times).

So, these new fans then. It will take a while to judge how successful the series has been in attracting a noticeable quantity of new cycling viewers to watching the series in the first place and then convincing them that the Tour is worth watching in real time. However, we can test a smaller sample size. If you’re a pre-Unchained cycling fan, you have maybe had family and friends asking you about the series as they scroll for something new to watch. “Is it any good?” they’ll ask. As the Escape Collective team discussed on our Unchained Binge Podcast series on the show. The answer, regardless of numerous caveats, is undoubtedly “yes”.

Having directed friends and family in the direction of the series, to finally understand this weird sport we dedicate a lot of time towards. Do they get it?

“So, I like cycling now,” one friend with a limited interest in any sort of sport, but a large interest in Netflix documentaries, texted having watched the first couple of episodes.

“I nearly had a heart attack on the tube just from the first episode,” she continued. “Now the COBBLES. Horrible, horrible.”

After the initial reaction comes the questions: “They are all so skinny do they have to be a certain weight or is it just better and quicker to be lighter? Finally how do loads of people not get hurt, the cars and bikes go so fast and then there’s loads of people just standing there so close?!”

These sorts of insights are invaluable to what the series may have missed out. A Grand Tour is a convoluted thing, and the beauty comes in part from its depth as a sporting competition, but it also provides a dense thicket which doesn’t easily welcome newcomers into the fold. Below I have compiled all of the questions that both my heart-attack-on-the-tube friend has asked, as well as an EIGHT-MINUTE voice note sent by my other half Lucy at the conclusion of her viewing of the entire series. These FAQs are both instructional to what the series missed, and could also be useful to you in having material to send on to friends who’ve gotten into the sport via the Netflix doc and have similar questions.

But before that, a review from Lucy. Sure, it is a sample size of one but think she fits the target market bill of being a sports fan aware of the Tour de France but never having given it a chance previously.

The review

Okay, so general musings. I think the series was great. And I didn’t care at all for cycling before this, not one ounce.

I didn’t understand it, I thought it was an individual sport. I thought it looked really boring. And that comes from someone who actually enjoys watching sports like Test cricket and Formula One and has a lot of patience for sports that are endurance-based.

But there’s something about cycling that I just thought, “Nah, it’s just blokes on wheels” doing it for three or four weeks and I don’t care. But this series has honestly changed my whole opinion on that. And I can now see it as such an incredible sport. I had no idea the stress and the suffering (to quote the series) that people go through to be professional athletes in in cycling. It’s got my whole newfound respect. If you were going to ask me are you going to watch the Tour? Are you going to read about it? Yeah, I actually genuinely will probably watch bits of the Tour this year and I’ll definitely keep up with it because I feel really invested in it. Obviously that comes from just being really invested in the characters they had access to for the series. I’m definitely a fully converted fan. I love it. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I’m saying I love cycling. I love it. I love the Tour. I can’t wait to watch it. I’m very invested. And thanks Netflix for doing that again, because yeah, it’s pretty incredible.

My main criticisms, though, are that I feel like this series didn’t tell us enough about how the Tour works. What the grammar of the Tour is, what are the rules and regs, what things mean like the jerseys and the different stages.

I wonder if they were scared off giving too much information about the framework of Tour de France because of the backlash they got with Drive to Survive [the Formula 1 documentary series -ed] when Will Buxton says “the first person to cross the line wins”. I wonder if they thought they didn’t need to explain it because people will pick it up. I really felt like if I’m getting into a sport that I don’t know and I have previously not had any interest or knowledge of beforehand, I actually would like to be given the rules and a grounding of how it works because the problem is I actually got to episode eight and I still didn’t have a good enough grounding. If I’m now going to be a fan and take time out of my life to actually watch it or read about it, I still need to know the rules and I’m not convinced I will get that from watching a stage of the Tour or reading an article in the newspaper because they’re written and made for people who are already fans. That was the thing missing here – a lot more details of how it actually works.

I do wonder if them skimming over those parts is actually a little bit detrimental. I wonder if a lot of people will have enjoyed the series or maybe got to a couple episodes into the series but then thought actually this is too technical and got a bit lost. And with it all being subtitles, it really requires 100% of your focus. Because there were times, for example, where I had to rewind. I would worry that they may have actually lost a portion of a potential fan base because they didn’t take the time just to take it back to basics, take it to the skeleton and give you just the real bread and butter of how things work. I feel it might not have the same impact as Drive to Survive because in that they did that really simply and explained it really well. I hope there aren’t too many other people like me who are sat here asking questions still about the simple facts of the sport.

I’m surprised at the lack of acknowledgement of historical doping in the sport. If you’re new to it (this is also just maybe me) but if I was going to play the word association game, and you told me, okay, what word do you associate with cycling? I honestly think doping would probably be number one, or at least top three. It’s a bit like athletics, right? It’s just one of those things so heavily associated, negatively associated. And I know that maybe there was a lot of external influences out there, that might have been a reason why Netflix didn’t talk about it enough. But it just felt like they skimmed over a subject that has been so relevant for years. And it would have been nice to just have just have a few more sprinklings of questions of doping. And you know, I presume every year it’s a question that comes up: “Are people doing it?” I think I would have liked that because honestly I just ended up having to Google questions around it anyway, which maybe is what they wanted, but I think they had a duty to kind of cover that a little bit more.

Maybe it’s similar to Drive to Survive where people think they’ve got a duty to talk a lot more about the environmental impacts and the human rights abuses that go on in some of the countries where they host Formula 1 and it’s just not what the series is about. It’s about entertainment. It’s about high drama, High action. Interesting people. I can kind of understand it, but at the same time, I would have liked them to include it.

The FAQs

So in episode one, they say there’s like 30 riders in a team to select from, and only eight are chosen. So what does everyone else do when the Tour de France is on? What are they up to?

Some will be at other races going on during the Tour de France (unfortunately, with very few people watching as the Tour dominates the hearts, minds and column inches of cycling fans and media), others will be training for other races still to come in the season. The Spanish equivalent of the Tour, the Vuelta a España, starts in August, and there are also the World Championships to begin preparing for. They’ll be training and adapting their goals depending on how the first few months of the season went for them. The off-season generally begins around October time.

How fast are they riding in miles per hour? Uphill, downhill and on the flat?

Miles per hour … with bike racing being a predominantly European sport we deal in kilometres per hour (plus, higher numbers always sound more impressive). Generally, average speeds for stages are between 40-45 km/h, so between 25-28 miles per hour. This average can go down to around the low 30s on big mountain days or up towards 50 on flatter days where the racing is flat out from the start until the finish. Downhill, speeds can exceed 100 km/h or 60 mph. Up mountains, speeds of 25 km/h per hour aren’t uncommon but mightily impressive.

They are all so skinny, do they have to be a certain weight or is it just better and quicker to be lighter?

Lighter is generally better, especially when going up mountains. It’s all about your watts per kilo, which in simple terms is how much power, in watts, you are able to push through the pedals divided by your weight. The more power you can push out while maintaining a low body weight means you will go uphill faster. Some of the sprinters are heavier than the climbers, meaning they can generate more power which helps on flat finishes when gravity isn’t holding them back.

How do loads of people not get hurt with the cars and bikes going so fast. There are loads of people just standing there so close?!

Sometimes people do, riders can get knocked off when the crowds on the mountains stand in the middle of the road. To be honest, it’s a miracle that more instances don’t occur, especially when people have been standing up at altitude drinking in the sun all day. In terms of normal flat roads with fans standing by the side respectfully, they can sometimes get caught up if a crash spills over, but you’d have to be very unlucky to pick that exact spot on a route that could be 200 km long. The drivers of the cars are also very experienced at driving at such high speeds, and are often former racers themselves, so know how to react and read what’s happening on the course to make it as safe as it can be.

How does a team get to ride in the Tour de France? Because I think one team said at one point “we finally got in”. Is it literally money, like juniors have enough finances to get in? Is the Tour de France based on winning other Tours and other races? And is there like a relegation process as well? Like can you be relegated from the Tour de France? That’s that.

There are 18 teams who have WorldTour status, which is the top level of professional cycling (sort of like the English Premier League for football). All of those 18 teams get an automatic spot in the race and also have to race every other race that is designated a WorldTour race over the year. To be a WorldTour team, you have to apply for a licence and there are only so many to go around. Mostly, you need to be able to show that you have the finances to run the team but there are also a few other parameters like sporting and administrative suitability that the UCI (cycling’s FIFA) judge a team on before handing out a licence. Often you have to wait for a spot to open up when a team folds or steps down to the second division, called ProTeam level. It is more like the NFL than the Premier League and is somewhat of a closed shop. However, that changed recently when a relegation system was introduced. Teams now accumulate points by winning and placing in races over a period of three years and the bottom two teams lose WorldTour status, although the second-bottom still gets automatic ‘wildcard’ invites to all WorldTour races. These wildcard invites are how the final four of the 22 Tour de France teams is decided. Usually, it goes to a few French teams (it is their home race) and then to established second-division teams with maybe a star rider on their squad that the Tour would like to be at their race because great and exciting riders and racing = more people watching = more money for the company that organises the Tour de France, called ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation).

Money, no one really talks about money in the series and I’m really interested to know how much money do they earn? What’s the average salary for your team leader? And also, does the leader get more money than everyone else?

There is a minimum salary of around €38,000 for riders in WorldTour teams and €30,000 in ProTeams. However, if you’ve made it to the Tour de France it’s likely you’re doing a lot better than the minimum salaries. For big name team leaders, they will likely be on well over €1 million a year. Tadej Pogačar is said to be on near to €6 million a year, while some of the bigger name domestiques could have salaries of €500,000, even more depending on how good they are and how pivotal a role they play in the team. Salaries aren’t publicly declared in the same way they are in Premier League football or the American Major Leagues. It’s up to each rider and their agent to negotiate their own salary and length of contract, usually they are around two-years long but have been trending towards longer term deals as teams try to lock down star riders for the future.

What’s with the lame team names? What are they all mean?

Wow, well I guess you’ve never heard of the Loving Potatoes Team then, have you?! (We’ll save that story for another day). The teams are named after the sponsors who fund them and change regularly depending on who wants to cough up the cash to plaster their brand over the kits and get a bunch of mentions on television and the media. So, Jumbo-Visma for instance is a combination of Jumbo supermarkets (who mostly operate in Belgium and the Netherlands) and Visma, a business solutions company. Teams like UAE Team Emirates is technically funded by the Emirates airline company but their money comes from the government of the UAE, via its sovereign wealth fund. Just like with other sports we’ve seen more nations in recent years pushing into the sports space. Teams like Intermarché-Circus-Wanty are made up of three different companies all sharing the title sponsorship. This is the economic model of cycling: teams are funded by sponsors. We could call teams Super Amazing We Heart Friendship Cyclists or simply FLAME EMOJI but who’s gonna pay for everything!

Jonathan Vaughters [team principal of EF Education EasyPost who features heavily in the series] said when he was in his prime everyone was doping. So does that suggest that it’s not happening now? Because that wasn’t spoken about at all, really. And I was watching them all do their bike races and I just thought, I’m just not convinced that none of you are taking drugs.

The general belief is that doping is not as widespread or as powerful as it was in previous eras. People still get caught for doping occasionally but much less often. It’s still a taboo subject amongst riders and teams, most don’t like being asked about it, if not only because it isn’t that brand-safe a topic and advertisers don’t want that sort of attention. There are some riders and teams that push an openly anti-doping message. There are fans who still suspect that little has changed. No-one knows for sure and the culture surrounding the suspicion lingers. This article tackles the impasse and how the sport is struggling to move past being associated with doping. It’s not too much of a surprise that the series didn’t take the issue on as they will be wanting to be warmly invited back by teams and the race for season two. There are some teams and riders more trusted than others. Not everyone is a bad guy or a good guy. And not everyone who dopes is a bad guy and not everyone who doesn’t dope is a good guy. Life is confusing!

The earpieces in the helmets shocked me. That is amazing. Tell me more about that. Do they all just have the earpieces and they’re on some communal zoom call? How does it work? Can they talk to each other? Can the riders talk to each other? Is it like being on the phone?

The sports directors in the car can talk over the radio to the riders and the riders can radio back. It’s all on one open channel so everyone on that team can hear every instruction – just makes more sense that way. Radio communication is used to co-ordinate between the team car and the riders. Warning them of any dangerous bits of road coming up, keeping them updated on the course and when the next climb is. It can also be used to discuss tactics and keep the riders updated on what’s going on in the race, how far ahead a breakaway group or rider is. Riders can also radio the team to say they need a bottle or if they get a puncture and need a wheel change. Some argue it makes riders race like robots, others say its a crucial safety feature for modern-day bike racing. The thing is, the radios don’t always work as well as you’d think. They’re short-range and terrain can get in the way, they cut in and out with static, and wind noise can make it hard for people to hear.

Spare bikes. I want to know is there a limit to the number of spare bikes you can have? If you fall over or get a puncture?

Depends how many you can fit on the roof of a car and how many you think you will need. Technically, I guess you could have an unlimited number of spare bikes, but in terms of necessity, only your team leader is likely to be desperate not to lose any time at all, so you may have a couple of spare bikes for him and a bunch of spare wheels kept inside the car for a quick switch in case of a puncture. What’s more, some teams might have a domestique that’s a similar size to the team leader, so their bike could be set up to be as comfortable as possible for the team leader should they get into trouble and need to borrow their teammates bike instead of waiting for the support car to catch up and provide a spare. There are two follow cars for each team, and the second car usually carries bikes for some of the other domestiques.

And the yellow jersey I feel wasn’t very well explained and I don’t really understand it. So can you just in very simple terms explain the yellow jersey? And how often does it change owner? And how do you maintain it?

The yellow jersey is worn by the rider who has the quickest accumulated time. You take your time from each stage and add it up each day until you get to the end. How often it changes hands depends on the course of the Tour de France. If there aren’t any mountains for the first few stages then it can be worn by sprinters or time triallists. Eventually, it is worn by the real contenders, those who can climb really well and also are pretty good at time trialling – these two places are where the most time can be gained and lost. However, wearing the yellow jersey means you have to do extra media every day before and after the stage, sign more autographs and replica jerseys, and just generally it puts a bit of a target on your back – you are the one to watch as you are currently the leader and your team is expected to contribute to pulling the peloton along all day in pursuit of the breakaway, which is tiring work. All of this piles up over three weeks of racing where the margins for victory are already razor thin. Therefore, the real contenders for the yellow jersey may let a rider who doesn’t have much of a chance of eventually winning the yellow jersey to go into a breakaway and take enough time that they go into yellow. This frees up the best-placed contenders and their teams from the yellow jersey duties in the knowledge that the person they’ve handed it off to won’t have the race lead for too long. Plus, it gives that rider and their team some extra glory, it’s an honour to wear the yellow jersey of the Tour de France; not many people get to do it in their careers, so everyone is keen to do it. ‘Maintaining’ the yellow jersey just means when a real contender wearing it is not losing time to opponents behind him. Basically, ‘maintaining’ their time advantage.

I don’t think they explain the general classification very well. I finished this series today after bingeing it and I still don’t really understand what it is. How does it differ from just winning a stage or just winning the yellow jersey and why is it so important?

The person who wears the yellow jersey is the leader of the general classification, which can also be called the GC, overall, or overall classification. Lots of names! Think of it as the overall standings, like the Premier League table.

I guess while we’re on the subject, what the hell is the green jersey? Woot … Wowt … I don’t know how you say his name but he just suddenly popped up wearing the green jersey and I honestly thought it was a fashion choice. I thought he thought, “You know what, I don’t want to wear the team colours today. I want to wear this green look, because I’ll stand out in the crowd and the helicopter will be able to spot me”. Later on the series, they’re talking about how Wout’s got the green jersey. and I was like what is the green jersey?

Unfortunately, this is not Woot Paul’s Drag Race … the green jersey is for the sprinters, those riders who don’t have any real chance of winning yellow. While the yellow jersey is ranked on time, the green jersey is also known as the points classification. Points are awarded at the end of each stage depending on where you placed and also awarded at an ‘intermediate sprint’ at some place during the stage. These intermediate sprints provide a bit of action during the process of the peloton getting from the start to the finish, it just shakes things up a bit. At the 2022 Tour de France, Wout van Aert finished second on all of the opening three stages, a remarkable achievement, and seeing as no-one else won all three of those stages, it meant that he had accumulated the most points and so was leading the points classification and got to wear the green jersey.

Who gets to go first in the race? And is there a 3-2-1-go? Is it like horse racing where they just try and get everyone to line up roughly and figure it out? As soon as the pedals start rolling? Or is it like Formula 1 where it’s done in rank order, depending on where you placed maybe in the last race?

Riders aren’t that fussy because starting 100 metres further back won’t really matter after 200 km of racing. However, the jerseys such as the yellow and green jerseys all start at the front, in order to show them off to the crowds that have gathered at the start. However, if you are a rider who wants to get in the breakaway for the day, you will want to be near the front of the start. Each stage starts with a ‘neutralised rollout’, where the riders are riding their bikes through the start town in a procession but the racing hasn’t actually started yet. After a few kilometres at a designated point, the race director (a man called Christian Prudhomme who’s sort of in charge of everything) gets out of the sun roof in his car and waves a white flag to announce that the race has begun. Then, riders who are at the front may suddenly sprint away to try and form the day’s ‘breakaway’. The breakaway is a group that rides ahead of the peloton a) because it may give them a better chance if they’re not the best sprinter or climber to win the stage should the peloton behind not catch them before the finish (they usually do catch them) and b) it gives their sponsors more TV time. Less people are in the breakaway than the peloton so it’s easier to see you and your lovely/horrible kit.

What if you come second in a stage? Do you win anything? Or is it just all or nothing to be first?

If you’ve never won a stage before, coming second is a pretty good result. It depends on your situation as a rider. Have you had a successful career or not? Does this count as a good result for you? While you don’t get to stand on the podium, it’s a morale booster for sure. You almost won, so maybe you will tomorrow. If you are only focused on the yellow jersey and the general classification, you could win the jersey and the entire race without even winning a stage so long as your cumulative time is the quickest. So sometimes it’s not all about first place on the stage.

Do you win cash for winning a stage? Where’s the money? Or is it just all for pride? Or does it work like you win a stage and then you’re more likely to get more sponsorship, is that where the money comes from?

Yep there is prize money for winning a stage, coming second on a stage, winning the points classification, winning the yellow jersey. There’s more than €2 million in total up for grabs and it’s generally accepted that each team pools their prize money and then shares it out at the end. Every team will have a different system for divvying it up. Some will include not just riders but also staff who’ve worked on the race.

The episode with Pinot where they’re holding all the bags out. What’s in the bags the domestiques pick up? I’m presuming it’s like water and gel packs? Also how are they doing it such speed? It’s amazing.

Bottles, gels, a snack or two, sometimes some ice to put down your neck if the weather is really hot. Cycling nutrition is a whole thing and different teams and riders will be having different things, ranging from gels to sandwiches, even potatoes. There are designated ‘feed zones’ where team staff can stand to give out musettes (what those bags are called). It is impressive how it’s done at high speed, and sometimes it can go wrong and a rider can crash while taking one or drop it if he doesn’t get a good handover. Riders can also go back to team cars to collect bottles, which usually a domestique will do for everyone to save more than one person the effort of doing it, but taking a bottle handed to you at the side of the road is a much more time- and energy-efficient way of doing it.

Do just piss when riding? If they need to go do they just literally zip off and piss out the side of their bikes at full speed because that’s what it looked like and I thought surely not. What if you need a poo? No one said anything about that but they’re riding for six hours and they’re drinking a lot of water and eating all those gel things which I can imagine run through you.

Lovely. Yep, riders will often just whip it out and piss while riding. Sometimes at the start of the day, after the breakaway has gone up the road and at least the next couple of hours of what the bike race is going to be like has been established, senior riders or the bigger teams in the peloton will order a piss stop and everyone will slow down or even pull off to the side and stop to relieve themselves. Sometimes the TV cameras at the back of the bunch will catch this and the producer will quickly cut to a different camera. If the racing is full on however and you need to go, you’re probably just going to have to piss yourself. It’s fine. This is how it has to be. As for number twos, that’s a more difficult one. In an ideal situation, you don’t have to go or can hold it for a few hours. On the very rare occassion, you can run in to a fan’s motorhome and use their facilities or maybe just stop in a verge and strip off and take a squat. The other grim reality is that maybe you just shit yourself. Sorry! You asked! If you think about it, would you shit yourself for a Tour de France stage win? Yeah you would!

If someone drops out, if a cyclist get injured or has to drop out midway through the Tour do they not get replaced? Is there not a substitute system? Or is the team just left with the number of people left in it? Surely that creates a massive disadvantage, and if you don’t substitute people, why not?

Nope, no substitutions once the race has started. Part of the game is to keep your team healthy and in the race. It can certainly influence the result. If you’re down to only a few teammates while your rival has a whole team that are just as good as the day the race began, that means they can do a lot more to influence the race, control it, chase down your attacks or drag their teammate back into contention. There will also be a psychological factor involved when the numbers are skewed one way or another.

I didn’t understand the whole yellow jersey thing towards the end again? Does the yellow jersey finish in the mountains? Does it get locked in there? And then in Paris you can’t win it? That’s what it kind of sounded like.

If after the mountains the yellow jersey has a two-minute advantage on everyone else and there are only two flat stages remaining, it is very unlikely that he is going to lose those two minutes on flat terrain. It’s a lot harder to create separation on flat ground than when going uphill. Therefore, barring disaster, the general classification is mostly set once the mountains and any time trials are done. The final stage in Paris is a sprint stage, so unless something remarkable happens, the yellow jersey will not change hands.

They didn’t really explain in the final episode why if you don’t finish the mountain stage in the allocated time you can’t go to Paris, so why is that? Why is there set rules for who can do the sprint in Paris? Going all the way back to the first episode they never really explained how the whole bike race works.

Each stage has a time cut-off. It is a race, after all, and it wouldn’t make sense to have someone sandbagging it one day and taking it really easy, coming in 4 hours late so they have more energy to try and win the next day’s stage. That would be logistically quite tough for the race organisers to handle and maybe dampen the racing spectacle, so a sensible time cut is installed. The formula is complicated, and involves a ranking of how hard the stage is and how fast it actually gets raced, with the time cut becoming a percentage of the fastest time on the stage. This can be calculated as the race is ongoing, so teams will know what they have to do. It comes into play more in the mountains as it’s harder for all riders to go as fast as the fastest climbers, and the sprinters especially want to stay in the race to make it to Paris to try and win that final stage. However, sometimes so many riders will get caught out and finish just outside the time cut that the race organisers make an exception and allow them to stay in the race, at the end of the day they want to make it as exciting as possible and losing a bunch of top sprinters isn’t good for that. The riders know this and often try to stay together in a large group, called a grupetto, which is Italian for safety in numbers or something. This is bike racing, a lot of it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense!

So is it basically out of 21 stages, 18 normal stages like sprinting or mountains, cobbles, things like that. And then some time trials. Is that the point? And if so, why did they even have the time trials? I didn’t really understand like, what’s the point in them? I thought in Copenhagen it was like this cute fun thing to get people into it. Like, “Oh, look, how fast they are going!’ But they seem kind of boring … maybe I’m wrong. But yeah, why are all the time trials at the beginning and the end is always the first and last.

Yep, Grand Tours are designed to test riders over all types of terrain (although the cobbles are only included every few years as a special treat – they’re usually reserved for one-day classic races in the spring, but we’ll talk about that another time).

Time trials are regarded as races of truth, as it comes down to a race of man and machine against the clock, no tactics or teammates. It’s more about your skills of being able to ride fast in an aerodynamic position and endure the suffering of doing so. You could say it is a very pure form of racing a bike. A lot of people would agree with you that they don’t really understand the point of them either and find them quite boring, but others absolutely love them as well as the drive by teams and riders to keep improving the technology to allow them to go faster.

Time trials aren’t always at the beginning and end, it just depends on how the race organisers have decided to design the race and course that year. They like to shake things up. Sometimes there are even team time trials where teams compete and try and set the fastest time all together against other teams.

The final thing from me, I was pretty shocked to see Wout in the time trial leader’s chair. It was just a horrible chair that people use for gaming at home and spend 12 hours not going outside and playing Fortnite instead, it’s all like leather and grimy. Is that actually what they have to sit in every year? That should be levelled up. That’s one of my biggest takeaways from this: that leaders chair has to get a glow up.

Thank you for being brave enough to bring this up. You’ll have to direct this one to Tissot, who sponsor the race and specifically the time trials and the chair. The ‘hotseat’ is a TV broadcast innovation to try and drum up some suspense and drama during the time trial stages. Sometimes it creates great scenes, like when Yves Lampaert burst into tears on stage 1 after learning he’d won the stage and the race’s first yellow jersey.

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