WAS JAN RAAS ALSO A BIKE RACER?
An annually returning phenomenon particularly in the Tour is the appearance of uncountable guests and VIPS. One of the most particular traditions at many teams is placing guests in the two team vehicles during the stages, one of the most exciting experiences in sports. Where can one live the experience to sit beside the coach on the bench during one of the worlds foremost sports events? However, not all teams offer this possibility. Next to sports director
In the twelve years with Panasonic, Histor Rabobank that I directed the team car during the Tour I had a lot of particular people on board. This caused mixed feelings: on the one hand I knew that we could offer guests an unforgettable experience which possibly in the future could create an opportunity: a new potential sponsor or new customer for the sponsor, important relations that had be tickled. On the other hand you had had to pay a lot of attention to always answering the same questions, some people are critical, most of them very positive, agreeably and sometimes euphoric. Once a ‘camera horny’ ambassador stated me the question if `Jan Raas (famous ex World Champion and former Rabobank manager) had also been a cyclist’. It was special to observe the metamorphosis of many guests during a spectacular Tour stage: of hardened and experience business people, entrepreneurs and politicians into children who experienced their youth dream: waiving and shouting to spectators, spraying with water bottles to scarcely dressed women, ringing to friends and relations with exited live reports of the race. That demanded much energy, energy which was indispensible to concentrate on manoeuvring the car between dozens other vehicles like jury cars, guest cars, organisation cars, motorcycles, media, riders, incautious spectators, as well as the uncountable obstacles. Furthermore you were in contact with the 9 riders in the peloton, the other team cars around the race, getting information from the race by from the internal Tour radio, the telephone rang regularly and you watched TV. During flat, windy staged I always had a detailed road map on my lap. And all this information had be translated in tactics and decisions which had be sometimes taken in a split second. Moreover now and then consultations with colleague team directors took place concerning race matters, it was a little awkward to have some ‘snitch’ beside you to whom you had absolutely nothing to account for. Therefore I pleaded to reserve the right seat in the first team car for the team manager or another sports director who could assist. That the sponsor was opposed to this idea is not surprising. In the meantime I imagined myself making a mistake during a hectic