Back on a Motorbike: Old-School Reporting at the Tour de France

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A view of the Tour de France from the press motorcycle on Tuesday as the overall leader, Chris Froome, in yellow, moved through cars behind the main field in Stage 10.

Credit
Ian Austen/The New York Times

REVEL, France — Most of the reporters at the Tour de France, including me, don’t see much of the racing through their own eyes.

Our daily routine instead involves hanging around at the start for interviews, then jumping into a car and racing ahead to the press room at the finish line to catch the last couple of hours through the all-seeing eye of television. Even the handful of reporters who congregate at the finish line tend to keep their backs to the road to focus on three televisions inside a stuffy tent.

But in the decades before the host broadcaster, France Télévisions, developed its elaborate live broadcasting system, many reporters followed the Tour de France from the back of a motorbike.

On Tuesday, I got to experience that bit of the Tour’s past, if not with a cigarette dangling from my lips. Motorbikes never went away for broadcasters and photographers….

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