When Roadsign was running its Tour de France

Roadsign is in a traveling mood and usually runs the planet. At this time encounters are so rare, we are a bit nostalgic but refreshed thinking about our 5 years in the caravan of the Tour de France. A strong souvenir for the team members who accompanied us stage by stage, during one or several summers.

[ The caravan: an event in the heart of… the event ]

Over a hundred years old, the Tour de France has gained worldwide fame as a major sporting event but also thanks to its famous caravan officially created in 1930. Emblematic of Australia and linked to adventure, Roadsign joined the Tour caravan by displaying a kangaroo on its vehicles. This dynamic animal – not common on the French roads – has proven to be an excellent communication tool to raise awareness of the brand in Europe.

More than a simple parade of sponsors, the caravan creates an atmosphere reminding carnivals or village festivals. A family and free show accessible to all. Almost 50% of spectators would settle down along the course to enjoy its passage rather than the race! However, its success depends on a rigorous organization and the deep involvement of the team members recruited by the brands each year.

[ The caravaneers (also) make the success of the Tour ]

Joining the Roadsign caravan was an extraordinary experience. This is what many of Jérôme Lollier’s team-mates say many years later. All were students, interested in sports, communication and events.

Aurore Lepaintre joined us as a hostess distributing goodies in 2006 and 2007. “Our mission needs more than a pretty smile,” she says. The vehicle must be cleaned daily, the stage briefing must be attended, the day agenda must be prepared with the driver, etc. “Between smiles, meetings and stringency, it was intense and very formative. It taught me a lot.”

In 2008, Marlene took up the slack. She remembers being impressed by the very demonstrative audience and the family atmosphere of the Roadsign caravan. “What I liked the most is the adventure, we are carried by the energy of the Tour de France.”

That same year, a student in sports marketing, Alexandre Bailleul, took the wheel of one of our vans and helped sharing the backstage of the event. He says it was a perfect mission to gain new professional experience at one of the sport’s flagship events. “This job is based on relationship, whether with teammates, the public or other caravan drivers. Of course, good humor is the rule.”

In 2009, just out of a journalist’s training, Jean-Baptiste realized his childhood dream thanks to Roadsign! Born at the feet of the mythical Pyrenean passes in a family passionate about cycling, the Tour de France and the caravan made him dream. He joins the team to distribute goodies, drive sometimes but also making videos for our blog.

“It was exciting … The atmosphere was relaxed but the working days were long. We were there to work and we had to be flexible… I didn’t know the brand but I soon realized that I shared common values with Roadsign.”

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During our 5 years on the Tour, Emmanuelle Graziano was our Caravan Leader. Her role? Manage teams, daily accommodation changes, vehicles and stock of goodies, be the brand interface with the management of the Tour Caravan and also receive VIP partners for the day. A mix of marketing, logistics and communication. 

“I had an extraordinary experience. An adventure out of the daily routine with some hard moments, a tiring journey but punctuated by very strong human relationships because the caravan brings happiness.”

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[ Summers full of anecdotes and much more ]

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They all have in mind strong moments, funny or moving personal adventures on the Tour de France. Aurore recalls the many challenges she faced with her Belgian pilot Perrine and explains: 

“For a Norman and a Belgian, not always so simple to understand each other and this has earned us many laughs!  Working and living non-stop with a team for a month, it creates links, it’s an extraordinary experience.”

Jean-Baptiste had not travelled much before this experience and keeps many visual and olfactory memories of the discovered regions. This natural accents marked him, as did the adventurous journey of the last stage:

“the day before the arrival on the Champs Elysées, we were at Mont Ventoux, in a lunar scenery. We had to reach Paris in a very short time. The road was long but the trip was entrancing.”

In 5 years, Emmanuelle has known many adventures. She remembers this year where the circuit was made in camper, without stopping at the hotel in the evening. At the arrival of a stage by 40°, a slight stewardship problem and no more water to take a shower! In sympathy, drivers from another team placed two staggered semi-trailers and installed a makeshift shower out of sight, powered by the water from the solar shower of another brand… For humility and sharing, this bike fan remembers one night when the FDJ cycling team was staying nearby,” I went to ask to see their bikes. Seeing my passion, the technician called one of the star racers, Sandy Casar, who just came to autograph his jersey.”

Alexandre evokes the summer camp side of the adventure, the discovery of didgeridoo thanks to the audio spot of Roadsign. Marlène recalls the popularity of the caravan among many Australian spectators present on the roads of the Tour. One of them threw a little stuffed kangaroo into the vehicle… Today, Marlène and Alexandre are the happy parents of a little girl whose comforter is a cuddly kangaroo toy!  

“We can talk about a Roadsign baby, it’s still the starting point of our meeting…”

[ Roadsigner for a day, Roadsigner for ever ]

All these young people joined our caravan thanks to their taste for sport, marketing and communication. This experience forged links between the adults they became and Roadsign. For some of them, the adventure even extended beyond the Tour. Aurore applied to Roger Carthrew, founder of the brand, and completed her Master’s internship with him in Australia.

“A revealing internship and inspiring encounter that led to my specialization in social media and my entrepreneurship.” She now runs her own communication agency specializing in social networks. She is passionate about bush, Uluru and Aboriginal culture and “Roadsign has a special place in my heart,” she says.

This visit to the Roadsign caravan confirmed Jean-Baptiste’s desire to become a filmmaker “to showcase people with a unique philosophy of life, advocating more respect of the environment.” Promoting a return to the essentials and simplicity, he has since produced numerous television reports on this topic.

Marlène says that the experience helped her enter higher course in Communication and Event while Alexandre confirms that meeting Jérôme Lollier and Roadsign allowed him to acquire skills which have proved very useful. “We love traveling. We spent a year in Canada and don’t despair of going to Australia.”

Emmanuelle confirms that her role in the Roadsign caravan has been useful on event files in a first career as a marketing and communication consultant. Now a teaching these specialties at the university, she sometimes uses moments lived on the Tour to illustrate her courses. She sums up her feelings about Roadsign by talking about positive culture, fighting temperament and humanism.

Do you understand why we are keeping such strong memories about the Tour de France caravan?

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