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Behind the Blue Curtain
Inside the Discovery Channel bus with Chris Brewer
Chris will be bringing us daily updates from within Discovery Channel HQ, getting the lowdown from team management.
Discovery Channel is the team on everybody's lips at this year's Tour de France. Why?
One name - Lance Armstrong.
This network of riders and staff previously existed as the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, helping Lance win his six Tour de France crowns, and in 2005 they're gunning for a seventh title. Follow the progress of the team here on Cyclingnews.com from 'Behind the Blue Curtain'
July 15, 2005: Iconography
When Lance Armstrong rolled out his new Trek TTx bike for the Stage 1 Time Trial, it was not only aerodynamically and mechanically fast, but very fast looking as well. Painted Lance's favorite "bad ass" black, the TTx also had a very new look, and especially the rear Bontrager disk wheel: lots of symbols all around the disk. I caught up with Nike's Scott MacEachern and he explained that this was all about "Iconography" and it revolved around Lance and a former / famous graffiti artist named Lenny McGurr, aka "Futura 2000".
"Lenny came to the Tour last year and was super-inspired - he's a former racer himself as well as fixed gear messenger back in the day in Brooklyn, New York," Scott said. "He's a well-known graffiti artist and came up with the concept of telling Lance's story through icons. Nike thought this was really cool and started collaborating with Lenny to further inspire him and to develop over 40 icons."
Just before the Tour de France Nike launched Lance's new "10//2" signature line of clothing. "We thought it'd be cool to include these icons as a part of the 10//2 program," Scott said. "We felt that by using these icons as a form of language we can tell his story in a new and in-depth manner that's never been done before."
And as everyone knows, there's always something special done on the last day of the Tour, but Nike's going to up the ante this time around. In the final six days of the Tour you'll see a different series of special icons along the top tube of Lance's bike, commemorating his life and his 6 previous Tour de France victories.
So be on the lookout for "Iconography", and thanks for checking in.
July 14, 2005: The team behind the team
Lance Armstrong often says how proud he is of the eight riders who have supported his string of Tour de France victories. But another basic truth is that without a virtual armada of support staff the riders simply couldn't race, let alone win. The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team is at the top of the list when it comes to the number of staff they bring to France each year. "We're trying to run an efficient ship, but then the Lance Factor changes everything," said team Director of Communications, Dan Osipow.
Dan broke the team's support staff down into these numbers:
At any point in the race Discovery Channel will have 10-20 additional VIPs to not only manage but make sure they have a very good time, and then when the race gets to Paris the number literally goes into the hundreds. "For Paris alone we start working 12 months in advance to secure enough rooms to handle everyone that comes in," Osipow said. "And no matter what you do to plan, I guarantee you'll have a tonne of changes occurring right before the end - people who can't come, people who want to come, and you've got to make it all happen."
It's arguable that amongst all the folks behind the scenes, Director of Logistics Louise Donald is the busiest. "I think she's the busiest person on Tour!" said Osipow. "She handles all the team logistics, credentials for the entire staff, the critical vehicle stickers, and oversees all the guests we have as well." A huge job indeed but one she carries off very well, and somehow finds the time to be married to team mechanic Geoff Brown.
So now you know what it takes to keep Discovery Channel on the road and hopefully atop the podium - and they can get you a nice room with a view, too.
Thanks for checking in,
2005 entries - the Tour de France
Previous Cyclingnews articles on the Discovery Channel team