Cycling fans who gather each July to watch the world-renowned Tour de France are treated to the spectacle of highly trained athletes hurtling down steep mountain roads and racing the clock in a grueling sprint to the finish line.
But few people know that logistics professionals are rushing nearly as fast to transport entire "villages" to each of the race's 21 stages, a journey of some 2,087 miles.
With a dedicated fleet of nearly 50 trucks, Norbert Dentressangle SA, the French trucking and logistics company that became a unit of XPO Logistics in June, moves 22 tons of equipment each racing day. The time-sensitive loads include race support facilities, safety barriers, advertising structures, and a constant stream of merchandise for restocking along the race route.
Race organizer Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) says it relies solely on XPO for transportation and logistics during the three-week event, which kicked off this year in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and ended at the famous finish line on the ChampsÉlysées in Paris. The race was first held in 1903; 2015 marks the 35th consecutive year that Norbert Dentressangle has managed logistics for the race.