Shimano is set to provide neutral service support in the Tour de France along with other major A.S.O races such as Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It is the first time since 1973 that a brand other than Mavic has had the responsibility at the Tour de France and the move will see the famous yellow cars replaced by the blue of Shimano.
Marking its centenary year, Shimano is celebrating by taking up the reins as the provider of neutral service in a number of Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O) races and events. The blue neutral service cars that have been present at the Vuelta a Espana will now be delivering spare wheels and mechanical assistance to riders in other major A.S.O races including stage races such as the Tour de France and one-day Classics like Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Paris-Roubaix.
Shimano isn’t a newcomer to providing neutral service. The company has a solid 20 years of experience, though today’s peloton sees arguably the largest number of standards that there has ever been with brake types, different speed drivetrains and numerous integrated components that mean that a rider is often likely to take their spare bike rather than waiting for a repair.
In the past, we’ve taken a close look at the spare bikes that sat atop the Mavic neutral service car, so we’ll be looking to do just that with the Shimano replacements. Shimano had been providing Pinarello frames, Dura-Ace groupsets, Pro components and Shimano wheels. Dropper posts have been seen on some neutral bikes to help accommodate various saddle heights easily, but we’ll be keeping an eye on what equipment is offered when racing resumes.
Taizo Shimano, Executive Vice President said: “In the one hundredth year of our existence we are very excited to start a new chapter in our sports history. We are proud to announce a partnership to support the A.S.O.’s events with neutral support. That means we will be providing first-class support to riders at A.S.O. events to get them back on the road and back in the race.
“Shimano’s role is to inspire people to participate in sports and to keep bicycles running at their best. The vital neutral support role, especially at cycling’s most high-pressurized race – and also at one of the world’s most-watched sporting events – will allow us to do just that.
“Working with A.S.O. will allow Shimano to provide more support to the sport and more support to athletes to help them perform at the top level.
“As a company we take great pride in the quality of work that the thousands of global Shimano dealers carry out. This partnership with A.S.O. is the best example of the service that they provide. Not only do we hope this partnership will inspire a new generation of people to ride their bikes more often, but we hope to inspire people to trust in our product quality.”
Yann Le Moënner - Managing Director of Amaury Sport Organisation: "We are incredibly pleased to have extended our partnership with a player as innovative as Shimano. Partnering up on all of our professional and amateur cycling events with a family business and pioneer in the cycling world testifies to our commitment to offering excellent support to athletes as well as all of the cyclists involved in our events. The innovation and consistent level of excellence provided by the brand over its 100 years of existence make Shimano a crucial player in world and everyday cycling and a brand that we are proud to be associated with."
The changing of the guard comes after Mavic was recently saved from extinction by a group controlled by and entrepreneur behind one of France’s largest DIY chains. Unsuccessful bids for Mavic included one involving the five-time winner of the Tour de France, Bernard Hinault.
Shimano’s first A.S.O event will be Paris Nice which starts on Sunday 7th March.