Regular CC followers may recall that back in July I posted a piece on a Peugeot 404 Cabriolet that had been used for a support role in the 1993 Tour de France cycle race, and linked it to the start of 2014 Tour de France in Leeds, in Yorkshire.
I also mentioned that I would not only be watching the Tour in Yorkshire, but also helping when it reached south east England on the third day, from Cambridge to London. Inevitably, for something like the Tour de France, there are not only bikes but a whole host of support vehicles of one sort or another. But there was nothing like this.
This a Peugeot 203 saloon that has been modified for use on the Tour de France cycle race in 1958, as a support car carrying team officials and spare bikes, and makes an interesting pairing with the 404 convertible I saw earlier in the year.
The Peugeot 203 as the first monocoque Peugeot, offered with a 1290cc, 4 cylinder 49bhp engine. Production ran from 1948 to 1960, with around 700,000 produced.
Transmission was a four speed, column shift to rear drive, and it was good over 70mph. Front suspension was independent using of a transverse leaf spring, while the rear suspension was coil springs with a Panhard rod. The styling had clear references to contemporary North American trends, and a rear end that looks very Volvo PV444-like.
It also makes a strong contrast also to the support cars used on this year’s Tour de France, which were all estate cars with roof racks for the bikes, and no doubt communication and data logging equipment the 1958 team members could only dream off. Each team seemed to have made a choice from a range of Citroen, Peugeot, Skoda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz esates, or Jaguar XF estates for the British based Team Sky.
I noted in the previous post about the 404 cabriolet that I would be involved in helping on the Tour this year, and watching it at close quarters during the first 2 days in Yorkshire.
These shots of this year’s cars were taken then, as the Tour had a very successful trip through Yorkshire, organised by the regional tourist and development agencies. Competition to host the start of the Tour, known as The Grand Depart (French for the main start of the event) is always keen, with the organisers frequently going outside France for the Grand Depart.
Yorkshire’s Grand Depart achieved all anyone could have wished for in terms of spectacle and public involvement. Indeed, five-times tour winner Bernard Hinault said it was the first time in 40 years that he has seen such crowds on the first weekend of the Tour. “What you did was good for Yorkshire, for sure, but what you did was also good for the Tour. When you said you would deliver the grandest Grand Départ it was the truth. You have raised the bar for all future hosts of the Tour de France.” That’s Yorkshire for you – nice people who’ll help you out.
A great success for Yorkshire, even if pre-race favourite and local rider Mark Cavendish crashed out in Harrogate, his home town, in front of Prime Minister David Cameron. That’s sport, I guess!
In 2015, the Grand Depart will be in Utrecht in Holland, and the mayor of Utrecht was in Yorkshire to share the experience and the lessons of the event. He was reported to have said ‘So I have to get 250,000 people into the city centre to see a bike race that hasn’t started, yellow bikes in every hedge for 200 miles, pubs renamed, a Lancaster bomber over the Cathedral, 10,000 volunteers in blue t-shirts, sunshine, polka dot sheep, and a bunch of royals? You’ve set the bar pretty high! Oh *%$*^&, is that the Red Arrows? I give up!’
And when the Tour got to France, it rained.