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Tour de France (Cycling)

Last modified: 2002-01-18 by ivan sache
Keywords: tour de france | cycling | red pennant | flamme rouge | start flag | danger flag |
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Red pennant

[Red pennant in Tour de France]by Ivan Sache

In Tour de France, there is a tradition, whose origin I am unfortunately not aware of (probably some very old symbol, like the yellow jersey worn by the leader, whose colour stems for the paper colour of the newspaper L'Auto, former organizer of the race): the last kilometer of each stage is identified by the so-called flamme rouge (red pennant).

In a not so ancient past, the red pennant was simply hoisted vertically on a rope fixed up vertically above the road. Nowadays, the red pennant is hardly seen because it is incorporated in a huge multicoloured plastic porch sponsored by an American soda company.

It seems that the red pennant is used to show the last kilometer in several international cyclist races, probably with local nicknames.

Ivan Sache, 9 July 2000

Start flag

There is another flag rarely shown on TV, which is used for giving the "real start" of the stage.
Each stage starts in a city, which pays a huge amount of money for that, but the streets are usually to narrow to give a mass-start. The racers therefore parade after a "fictive start" in good order through the city streets, with the leaders in front line.
When the bunch gets out of the city and the street enlarge, the race director, standing in his traditional convertible red car, waves a white flag with something written on it (in the past, I seem to remember it was simply DIRECTION DE COURSE [race direction], but there might be some sponsor logo now) to give the real chronometric start.

Ivan Sache, 9 July 2000

The start flag is currently a white rectangle flag with the word DEPART [start] in capitals and underscored. The sponsor logo turns out to be on two poles with fixed cloth constructions on the side of the road, marking the imaginary line where the director should wave the flag (or maybe start waving; I don't have the regulations).

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 July 2000

Danger flag

The flags seen most often in the tour the France, however, are the yellow pennnants that are used to indicate danger; either a dangerous curve or an obstacle.

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 July 2000

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