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Wondered what those Halfords ads were all about? Wonder no longer...

If you're like us you've probably been wondering exactly what the storyline is behind those Halfords Tour de France ads on ITV4, whilst also kneeling and thanking the gods of cycling that they're a less annoying than the Chris Boardman ones from last year. Anyway, the full 15-minute video is on the Halfords channel on Youtube, and we've included it below.

The premise, as you may have already guessed, is to take an average Joe on an average bike and stick them onto the Tour parcours to see how they fare. The average Joe in question is Dan Francis, a 29-year-old employee of a pharmaceutical company, and the average bike is, well, probably a bit above average; it's the £999 Carrera Virago which we tested on road.cc not so long ago. "A versatile, comfortable, performance oriented, carbon bike and a real bargain too", was Stuart Kerton's verdict on the bike. Certainly it's one of the best road bikes you have for your cycle-to-work grand.

We meet Dan on the prologue course in Liège, and there's plenty of sunny swoopy shots of him tackling the Tour's sixth road stage from Épernay to Metz, but the real challenges come later in the vid. First he has a go at the 1,993m Col de la Madeleine before tackling the fearsome 2,067, Col de la Croix de Fer. There are hurty legs, triumph, disappointment and tears along the way, plus a cameo from sometime road.cc contributor Phil Gale shouting encouragement from the team car. And to finish it all off Dan tackles the mayhem of the Champs Elysées traffic. Anyway, we won't spoil it for you. Enjoy!

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

40 comments

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
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Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 4 years ago
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no, they're no less irritating. much more imo, who wants to see some idiot on a bloody Carrera? not many, i'd wager ...

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gazzaputt [221 posts] 4 years ago
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Smashing it up by the river.  39

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mavone [6 posts] 4 years ago
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Enjoyed that, just a lad taking full advantage of an oppurtunity, fair play to him!

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Celeste08 [38 posts] 4 years ago
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Looks like he had a great trip. French roads are generally fantastic, people are friendly, scenery is beautiful. I'd love to have the same opportunity.

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amazon22 [261 posts] 4 years ago
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Enjoyed it too - looks as though he had a great time with a helpful team behind him (although I can't believe they didn't know the top of the mountain would be closed). Could have done without the blubbing though - come on, man up man ... As is often said, its not about the bike, although apparently it did behave impeccably.

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 4 years ago
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Every time I hear "smashing it up by the river" I keep thinking "isn't that what Richard Keys and Andy Grey were on about?". Clearly not.

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amazon22 [261 posts] 4 years ago
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gazzaputt wrote:

Smashing it up by the river.  39

Lost me there ...

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WolfieSmith [1327 posts] 4 years ago
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They're irritating. I'm sick of the 'new lads' in cycling. Sick of them at sportives. Sick of them thinking they can then race after never riding at speed in a group and sick of them giving me their opinion on the T D effin F when I've been following it since Merckx and they've only picked it up since Armstrong won 5.

On the other hand - strength in numbers so welcome to them all.

As for the Boardman ads I like Ned and Matt's teasing of CB. 'What is 2nd place on the podium for?' 'You Chris when you lose to Indurain again...'

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titch75 [14 posts] 4 years ago
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hat off to the bloke for doing it, put in the same situation i would give it a go. im sure the 'team' car was a massive help. anyone know where i can sign up?  3 haha

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mattbibbings [81 posts] 4 years ago
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Poor bugger. I hope he got a free bike out of it as well as the holiday because he is being used to annoy lots of us as we wonder whats happening during the ITV ad breaks.

This does nothing for my view of Halfords bikes.

Alex Moulton was always a keen fan of the idea that if you wanted your engineering to be respected then you need to prove it's worth in either competition or adversity. The tour de francis only goes to show that if you offer a bike to a regular dude for a free cycling holiday, he'll take it. I strongly suspect Mr francis would have taken this opportunity regardless of the Brand on offer. Says alot more about free holidays than it does Halfords bikes then doesn't it?  39 39

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Silo [1 post] 4 years ago
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It's excruciating. It's contrived, and 'Dan Francis' is an actor. An actor recruited by the ad agency for his ability to appear average Joe-like.

Of course, I could be wrong. I mean, his surname could be Francis. Couldn't it? I mean it's a hell of a gift for the producers that his surname is almost 'France', but it could've happened like that, right?

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Bigpikle [93 posts] 4 years ago
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^^ I'm with Silo I'm afraid. Contrived, annoying and I couldnt even watch it through  37

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sporran [42 posts] 4 years ago
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Hmm, fair play to the lad - I'm sure he enjoyed it, but I'm not sure that they're less annoying than the Boardman ones, especially when they keep on repeating the same bits!

I swear if I hear "really, really big climb *gasp*" again, I'm going to nut my TV...

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renko [40 posts] 4 years ago
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Teee-wat.

Just awful.
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Barry Fry-up [187 posts] 4 years ago
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wow, what an inclusive bunch we are, eh? heaven forfend that anyone should turn up to one of 'our' rides on one of 'those' bikes, all bright eyed and enthusiastic for the sport...

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Tony Farrelly [2871 posts] 4 years ago
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yeah I enjoyed it… but then I don't shave my legs so I'm not a proper cyclist anyway  3

Plus of course I haven't caught any of the Tour highlights on TV, I can imagine that endless repetition of bits of it would drive you nuts. You'd think given how long the Tour is they could have done one segment for each stage, without shooting any more footage.

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Tony Farrelly [2871 posts] 4 years ago
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…we should find out if he's an actor though, would account for the blubbing maybe - trying to show of his full range in case the casting director from Holby City is watching  1

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Psycling [50 posts] 4 years ago
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Thanks for clearing that up. I have been wondering what they were all about. I'm starting to find them irritating though.

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Psycling [50 posts] 4 years ago
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Thanks for clearing that up. I have been wondering what they were all about. I'm starting to find them irritating though.

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bfslxo [144 posts] 4 years ago
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‘new guys in cycling, new guys in sportives, new guys at races’

I am returning to road cycling after a near 20 year break, I’m 46 – before the break I had a road bike like most of us – then during my break I mountain biked almost every Saturday and mountain bike holidayed in England, Scotland, Wales various places.

So in the sense of the road club I joined two months ago, I’m a new guy!... but I’m not a new guy to cycling? Maybe those other new guys aren't so new either?

I appreciate if someone has been there doing this for years and a whole bunch of unknown faces turn up, changes initially takes us all out of our comfort zone.
New guys don’t know how it works, don’t know how the weekend club run peloton type thing works, but isn’t this were the older wiser members of the club should embrace the new guys!

New members breathe life into the club otherwise club funds dry up, average ages go up & then that club may be viewed as elitist or out of touch!

Existing members have an amazing amount to offer, there is one guy in my club – 65 years old (he’s not the oldest by far!), an incredibly strong cyclist who still races, has taken the time during the runs to chat to me, explain to me how it works, be my wing man when I was going to the front for the first few times,
I admire & respect this man so much and enjoy his knowledge, he doesn’t know it but I look upon him as my mentor, yeh, at 46 years old I’ve adopted a mentor, lol.

Would you not like to think you could be seen as a mentor?

All your years of being there regularly rain hail sleet sh@t.. Experience that is almost impossible to value & certainly impossible to buy!
Yet we all know how we feel when we can pass on our knowledge to someone younger, someone less experienced, we do it every day with our children.

Rather than see the people, the new guys as a bit of an awkward intrusion, why not consider helping them, teaching them mentoring them…
Trust me they will view you with a greater light than you can realize yourself, see you as a friendly approachable individual, as a guiding member of a club they have taken pride in joining
they will tell others about their new club that they love, their sport they love, they will tell others about one person in particular in that club, the one who has unselfishly taught them so much.

Yeah, that one person – their mentor?

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VecchioJo [400 posts] 4 years ago
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Silo wrote:

It's excruciating. It's contrived, and 'Dan Francis' is an actor. An actor recruited by the ad agency for his ability to appear average Joe-like.

Of course, I could be wrong. I mean, his surname could be Francis. Couldn't it? I mean it's a hell of a gift for the producers that his surname is almost 'France', but it could've happened like that, right?

well, apparently he is an amateur cyclist, the ad agency put out a call for average Joes to appear in a series of ads, i remember seeing a tweet about it actually, he is called Dan Francis outside of ad breaks, this could all be a deeply contrived back-story though
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md6 [181 posts] 4 years ago
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He isn't an actor - the 'tour de francis' name was decided before the auditions, and having Francis in your name was a condition for getting an audition as i understand it. As for smashing it up and down by the river...yeah it is a touch annoying now  1

But i guess he had to give the interviews and sound bites, and the production co/Halford decided what to use. I think anyone given the opportunity would want to do this though, a few days cycling around with a full support crew, would just be amazing

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italiafirenze [70 posts] 4 years ago
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He's no average cyclist, those mountains are hard.

It might make the kind of people who tune in to the TDF and have a passing interest in cycling choose a halfords bike.

They have improved in recent years.

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italiafirenze [70 posts] 4 years ago
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mattbibbings wrote:

Poor bugger. I hope he got a free bike out of it as well as the holiday because he is being used to annoy lots of us as we wonder whats happening during the ITV ad breaks.

This does nothing for my view of Halfords bikes.

Alex Moulton was always a keen fan of the idea that if you wanted your engineering to be respected then you need to prove it's worth in either competition or adversity. The tour de francis only goes to show that if you offer a bike to a regular dude for a free cycling holiday, he'll take it. I strongly suspect Mr francis would have taken this opportunity regardless of the Brand on offer. Says alot more about free holidays than it does Halfords bikes then doesn't it?  39 39

Yes but how many of us can say we actually ride bikes that have been tested in the hardest competitions?

Cervelos are used right off the shelf, but I don't know of another.

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zzgavin [193 posts] 4 years ago
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IIRC the person they recruited was from a cycling forum, I certainly saw it mentioned on the lfgss forum, needed to offer up a week. A typical actor wouldn't be up for the longer flat stages

An interview with Dan
http://www.bikeradar.com/routes/article/interview-dan-francis-halfords-t...

Plenty more about this in the retail and marketing press.

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notfastenough [3715 posts] 4 years ago
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Can't believe some of the sniping on here. If Halfords offered you a week of riding in France, expenses paid, fully supported, taking in some great climbs, and the conditions were that you rode their own carbon bike equipped with 105 (covered by a pro mechanic remember!) and they filmed you and played it back ad nauseum during TDF coverage, would you:

a. Grab the opportunity with both hands
b. Turn up your nose and tell them to shove their £1000 bike where the sun doesn't shine
c. Anticipate that the sight of you at every ad break would be too much for the nation's TDF viewers and politely decline?

I'll be honest, I'm jealous of the guy. I read the Bikeradar interview and he mentions that one or two of the support crew were ex-pros', so some of it turned into a mammoth coaching session and he was persuaded to repeat sections several times at different intensities etc. Sounds nothing short of a phenomenal experience.

Apparently the crying was carefully orchestrated, but not by him. The crew waited until he was absolutely burying himself, then the second he reached the mountaintop handed him a phone with his missus on the other end, and got in his face with the camera hoping for a bit of emotion, which they got.

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bigmel [116 posts] 4 years ago
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MercuryOne wrote:

They're irritating. I'm sick of the 'new lads' in cycling. Sick of them at sportives. Sick of them thinking they can then race after never riding at speed in a group and sick of them giving me their opinion on the T D effin F when I've been following it since Merckx and they've only picked it up since Armstrong won 5.

And that's why I do Audaxes.
And shout a lot on club runs!

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sporran [42 posts] 4 years ago
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italiafirenze wrote:

He's no average cyclist, those mountains are hard.

It might make the kind of people who tune in to the TDF and have a passing interest in cycling choose a halfords bike.

They have improved in recent years.

Yeah I saw somewhere (might have been that Bikeradar interview) that he'd done an Ironman, so he's not exactly just your guy cycling down to the pub on his mountain bike.

I'd definitely have taken the chance if it was offered aswell, doesn't stop those adverts being bloody annoying though!

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Simon E [2851 posts] 4 years ago
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MercuryOne wrote:

They're irritating. I'm sick of the 'new lads' in cycling. Sick of them at sportives. Sick of them thinking they can then race after never riding at speed in a group and sick of them giving me their opinion on the T D effin F when I've been following it since Merckx and they've only picked it up since Armstrong won 5.

Opinions are like arseholes, we've all got one. Why is yours so much better? Does everyone else have to serve a grovelling apprenticeship before having something to say? Armstrong won his fifth in 2004, that's 8 effin' years ago. A lots has happened since then.

It's the prospect of arsey people like you that deter me from doing group rides and organised events. There's nothing worse than an snob who tell us all how to tie our shoelaces (well, there is, but jaded teachers are way off-topic).

bigmel wrote:

And that's why I do Audaxes.
And shout a lot on club runs!

At least shouting on club runs is educational. If people don't know how to ride in a group then it's the responsibility of those leading it / experienced participants to explain. If the recipient of the advice is unresponsive then I'm sure there are ways to get the message through.

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