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Old 07-16-07, 08:16 AM   #1
GV27
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DS Driving

Hi all, sure this has been discussed before but I can't find it. Not really a TdF specific question either but quite relevant.

Why do the DS's do their own driving? Is it a control thing or "being in touch with the race" thing? I always see these guys driving along with a route map balanced on one leg, a pen in one hand and radio in the other, watching the TV on the dash, talking to the reporter in the back, passing bottles to riders and trying to drive the car in the caravan at the same time. Why do they do this? Seems like they'd be better off sitting in the passenger seat with a "control center" (laptop(s), TV, note pads, radios, cell phones, etc.) built around them barking orders at the poor sod in the left seat who's main job it is to drive the car. Sure seems like the driving part is a big distraction. It's worse than driving while eating a big-mac, sipping a triple venti no-whip almond-vanilla soy latte while applying lipstick and talking on the cell phone!

Thoughts?

Thanks,

Chris
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Old 07-16-07, 08:32 AM   #2
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I don't really have an answer for that, but that's the same conversation my wife and I had. I have enough trouble driving with the radio on and not hitting stuff and I'm not driving in the middle of 40 team cars, innumerable motorcycles, neutral support cars, roads lined with screaming drunks, and, oh yeah, 175 cyclists riding around 35 mph.
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Old 07-16-07, 11:53 AM   #3
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I totally agree! I wonder if there are restrictions on the number of support personel that are allowed to be on the course at any one time and each position is too precious to give up to a guy who is ONLY going to drive.

If they need volunteers to drive though... I'll do it for free.
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Old 07-16-07, 12:36 PM   #4
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Well, that's a pretty good theory.....I don't think there's a restriction on the number of folks in the rules but there is a restriction on the number of vehicles per team and the number of folks the vehicle will hold. I don't know if there is a restriction on the size of the vehicle in the rules but there is a practical restriction. It'd be tough to navigate small french towns and super twisty mountain roads in a Suburban. Plus it would be tough in the caravan and take up too much room when next to the rider and good luck fixing a dérailleur while hanging out the window of a Burban.

I was just reading an article a little while ago (and already lost the location) about the Mavic neutral service car. They have a little wagon of some sort like all the teams do. What they do is have a driver (obviously) and a mechanic. The mechanic sits in the back alone so that he has room to work, room to organize his tools, can jump out either side, etc. This would be the same for any team car - plus in the team car the mechanic might want to hang out of either side to fix stuff and/or cheat. Then the front passenger seat is reserved for Mavic VIPs. I know they let VIPs ride in the front seat of the team cars a lot and perhaps keeping the sponsors happy is more important than giving the DS more 'cycles' to concentrate on the race.

C
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Old 07-16-07, 01:13 PM   #5
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I've always despised "dog and pony shows". Some people are so self important they'd risk the success of the product they support for something as insignificant as having a VIP seat. No one wants some VIP there when they have work to do either. That's life I suppose.
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Old 07-16-07, 01:30 PM   #6
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Yeah, but that can pay big dividends as well. When time comes up to renew sponsorship and the CEO is telling the board "the promotional benfits of this sponsorship, both tangible and intangible, outweigh the associated cost, blah, blah, blah" when he's really thinking "gee, I sure had a blast riding in the car at the Tour last year - I wanna go again this year" that VIP seat is worth many times its weight in gold......
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Old 07-16-07, 01:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GV27
Yeah, but that can pay big dividends as well. When time comes up to renew sponsorship and the CEO is telling the board "the promotional benfits of this sponsorship, both tangible and intangible, outweigh the associated cost, blah, blah, blah" when he's really thinking "gee, I sure had a blast riding in the car at the Tour last year - I wanna go again this year" that VIP seat is worth many times its weight in gold......
Let's also mention that this same things works one spot removed. Yea, CEO, but not of the sponsor, of the company the sponsor is doing business with. Perks matter and can help close deals and maintain relationships.
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Old 07-16-07, 03:08 PM   #8
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From what I've seen, the DS drives, the Mechanic rides shotgun, navigates, does tire/wheel changes, monitors race radio, etc. and there's another guy in the back handing bottles/food to the guys in the front.

The DS drives because if the mechanic has to bail out and run to the downed/mechanical'd rider, then gives him a running push, the DS can drive the car up to the mechanic and not waste time. Also, the DS drives because it does him no good to be the guy in the backseat passing up water.

Last, the guy in the backseat will bailout with the mechanic, and as the mechanic is pushing the rider up the road, the mechanic is putting the bike or wheels back on the rack.

...or so I think.
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Old 07-16-07, 03:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mo'Phat
From what I've seen, the DS drives, the Mechanic rides shotgun, navigates, does tire/wheel changes, monitors race radio, etc. and there's another guy in the back handing bottles/food to the guys in the front.

The DS drives because if the mechanic has to bail out and run to the downed/mechanical'd rider, then gives him a running push, the DS can drive the car up to the mechanic and not waste time. Also, the DS drives because it does him no good to be the guy in the backseat passing up water.

Last, the guy in the backseat will bailout with the mechanic, and as the mechanic is pushing the rider up the road, the mechanic is putting the bike or wheels back on the rack.

...or so I think.
I think you may have hit on a big part of why the DS drives. The team car stops and everyone except the driver may end up out of the car. What happens if something significant happens during this time? The DS is still in hte car and misses nothing. Any other setup could lead to the DS missing something important.
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Old 07-16-07, 04:05 PM   #10
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Its also because the DS is the one who talks to the riders and needs to get as close as possible to do this. Directing the driver on how close to get or how fast to go and talking to your rider is harder than if he/she just drove him/herself and talked to the rider.
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Old 07-16-07, 07:03 PM   #11
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Oh, I don't think so - if you had a pro driver who did it in every race all year, he'd get darn good at it.
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