GoPro Goes “Inside the Race” with Le Tour de France
France in summer conjures up many images… hillsides blooming with sunflowers, cobblestone streets and patisseries, leisurely hours spent at an outdoor café. But for millions of cycling fans around the world, summer in France is all about that yellow jersey. Le Tour de France 2016 is underway and GoPro – as an official partner of the event - couldn’t resist getting in on the action. We brought 20 press and influencers to the historic city of Toulouse to participate in “Inside the Race,” an all-access pass to everything Tour de France.
Our event, which took place during Stage 10 and 11, put attendees in the saddle and on the road, experiencing everything that the competing athletes do along the course. The event began in Castelnaudary, 32km from the finish line of the day’s stage, and several hours before Tour riders would pass through the town on their 184km trek. Media and influencers were outfitted with bikes and official Tour gear for the ride, and GoPro teams helped mount cameras to capture the adventure from every angle. The group was escorted by a police motorcade, follow-cars trailed behind with supplies and gear, and semi-pro racers rode with everyone to help keep the group on course. We certainly looked official!
The 32km ride took the group through iconic villages and farms, picturesque hillsides, sunflower fields in full bloom, quaint homes and town churches. And because the ride was on the actual course of the day’s stage, people were lining the streets, celebrating as we passed by and cheering us on to continue riding, even though it was clear we weren’t Tour athletes.
Attending freelance journalist David Constable notes, “This isn’t the sort of thing that happens everyday! The experience was wonderful and fully immersive with crowds cheering from the roadside and strangers urging me on – a once in a lifetime event!”
About 8km from the finish, the group reached what “Inside the Race” officials had described as a ‘bump,’ but what we would describe as a ‘giant ass hill’ and what is technically described as the Category Three climb of Côte de Saint-Ferréol. It was so hard! But there were people cheering the entire way and everyone made it to the top in the saddle.
After a quick pit stop so everyone could change up their camera locations to capture new perspectives of the final leg of the ride, the group continued for another 7km including a much-earned downhill stretch into the town of Revel. There was another pit stop at the 1km mark so everyone could gather as a group and finish the race together, which happened with much fanfare including GoPro athlete Sam Pilgrim crossing the finish line in a wheelie.
“Riding a portion of the stage was incredible,” said BikeRadar attendee Josh Evans. “The final kilometer was, without a doubt, a memory I will cherish forever and after crossing the line I had goose bumps!”
Everyone was then ushered onto the official athlete podium, given yellow jerseys and allowed to celebrate their official completion of Stage 10 of Le Tour de France.
The “Inside the Race” experience continued that afternoon with VIP viewing of the end of Stage 10, with press and influencers stationed along the final stretch as competing riders sped by. The following day, the group traveled from Toulouse to the watch start of Stage 11 in the picturesque village of Carcassonne, including tours of team busses, getting up close and personal with the riders, watching the daily rider check in and of course, seeing the riders set off on their next trek.
Evans noted, “Walking around the team busses ahead of the stage was super cool. I have experienced this before at a variety of races, but as a cycling fan, the novelty never wears off. I don’t think anyone would tire of rubbing shoulders with their heroes from the past and present.”
For more than 100 years, Le Tour de France has captured hearts of cycling fans worldwide with its athleticism, strength and endurance. The history and tradition is steeped in the villages and cities we visited and palpable among every fan and we are so thankful to have been a part of this incredible event.
For more memorable GoPro moments from Le Tour de France tune into race coverage daily and visit our YouTube page for daily videos, best of each Stage, and behind-the-scenes access that will take you into the heart of this iconic and historic race.