Skip to main content

Gallery: A look at the Tour de France publicity caravan

Image 1 of 27

This was perhaps our favorite vehicle in the publicity caravan.

This was perhaps our favorite vehicle in the publicity caravan. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 2 of 27

Alcatel OneTouch's mascot flies high above the crowd.

Alcatel OneTouch's mascot flies high above the crowd. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 3 of 27

Fancy an inexpensive hotel for the night?

Fancy an inexpensive hotel for the night? (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 4 of 27

Kangaroos of all shapes and sizes were littered throughout the Tour de France. Australians have certainly come out in force in support of current champion Cadel Evans and the Australia-based Orica-Greenedge team.

Kangaroos of all shapes and sizes were littered throughout the Tour de France. Australians have certainly come out in force in support of current champion Cadel Evans and the Australia-based Orica-Greenedge team. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 5 of 27

Professional rider Andreas Klier created MyKnoaky so that people would always have a bit of wood to knock on for luck. A new collaboration with I Ride for the Kids helps families cope with the challenges of a child who falls ill.

Professional rider Andreas Klier created MyKnoaky so that people would always have a bit of wood to knock on for luck. A new collaboration with I Ride for the Kids helps families cope with the challenges of a child who falls ill. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 6 of 27

We've certainly been eating out fair share of St. Michel madeleines in the press room. Oftentimes, it's the only food available.

We've certainly been eating out fair share of St. Michel madeleines in the press room. Oftentimes, it's the only food available. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 7 of 27

In fairness, chocolate milk is supposedly good for recovery.

In fairness, chocolate milk is supposedly good for recovery. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 8 of 27

Catching up on the day's news.

Catching up on the day's news. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 9 of 27

This fellow was dressed as an historical French postman.

This fellow was dressed as an historical French postman. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 10 of 27

These Kleber publicity caravan vehicles would have been even more impressive if it actually rolled on the giant single tire.

These Kleber publicity caravan vehicles would have been even more impressive if it actually rolled on the giant single tire. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 11 of 27

Only those with appropriate credentials can enter the official start village and team parking areas but the regions just on the other side of the barricades are filled with vendors hawking souvenirs.

Only those with appropriate credentials can enter the official start village and team parking areas but the regions just on the other side of the barricades are filled with vendors hawking souvenirs. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 12 of 27

This contraption meandered about inside the start village each morning. The tight confines unfortunately didn't leave enough room to run.

This contraption meandered about inside the start village each morning. The tight confines unfortunately didn't leave enough room to run. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 13 of 27

This giant bottle of Vittel actually looks like it could be quite aerodynamic.

This giant bottle of Vittel actually looks like it could be quite aerodynamic. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 14 of 27

Workers on the publicity caravan vehicles are secured with harnesses for safety.

Workers on the publicity caravan vehicles are secured with harnesses for safety. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 15 of 27

No trip to the Tour de France would be complete without an encounter with the ever-cheerful Haribo mascot.

No trip to the Tour de France would be complete without an encounter with the ever-cheerful Haribo mascot. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 16 of 27

Strangely enough, we actually never came across a Courtepaille restaurant while following the early stages of the Tour de France.

Strangely enough, we actually never came across a Courtepaille restaurant while following the early stages of the Tour de France. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 17 of 27

Company mascots are scattered throughout the start area at the beginning of each day.

Company mascots are scattered throughout the start area at the beginning of each day. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 18 of 27

Anyone fancy a baguette?

Anyone fancy a baguette? (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 19 of 27

We were a little disappointed that the bread oven on this float wasn't actually operational.

We were a little disappointed that the bread oven on this float wasn't actually operational. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 20 of 27

Aerobars are just the thing to help this three-wheeled penny farthing cut through the wind.

Aerobars are just the thing to help this three-wheeled penny farthing cut through the wind. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 21 of 27

The sound system on this bike is apparently based on a Nintendo Wii.

The sound system on this bike is apparently based on a Nintendo Wii. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 22 of 27

So how exactly does one create a rolling bubble machine? Simple: just mix soapy water, a slowly rotating motor, a fan, and a bunch of loops and you're off to the races.

So how exactly does one create a rolling bubble machine? Simple: just mix soapy water, a slowly rotating motor, a fan, and a bunch of loops and you're off to the races. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 23 of 27

Clothing company Le Coq Sportif certainly makes good use of its name.

Clothing company Le Coq Sportif certainly makes good use of its name. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 24 of 27

The UCI would certainly take issue with the fact that this rider isn't wearing a helmet.

The UCI would certainly take issue with the fact that this rider isn't wearing a helmet. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 25 of 27

British tire company Kleber has used a boxer as its mascot since 1971.

British tire company Kleber has used a boxer as its mascot since 1971. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 26 of 27

Festina appears to use the same caravan vehicles each year.

Festina appears to use the same caravan vehicles each year. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 27 of 27

French bottled water company Vittel fielded several vehicles in the publicity caravan with giant tanks to spray down spectators with cool mist.

French bottled water company Vittel fielded several vehicles in the publicity caravan with giant tanks to spray down spectators with cool mist. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)

This article originally published on BikeRadar

The Tour de France is first and foremost cycling's biggest and most prestigious stage race in the world but preceding the peloton from start to finish is another spectacle: the publicity caravan. Consisting of dozens of elaborately crafted specialty vehicles and taking nearly an hour to pass, it's a daily parade – and a parade of advertising and small giveaways – that, according to the Tour de France, is actually the main draw for nearly 40 percent of spectators on hand.

Take a look at some of the elements that bring all those people in. The Tour de France may be a bicycle race but for at least a portion of the folks at roadside, the peloton is merely a sideshow.