Cyclingnz.com partners up with Ronan Pensec of Ronan Pensec travel for an insight into the 2010 Tour de France and the ins and outs of a Tour package that delivers. The former yellow jersey and team mate of Lemond has a staggering 23 Tours under his Belt under the various guises of rider, Tour operator and Television commentator
CNZ - The ASO has released an interesting route for 2010, one certainly to unveil a grand Champion given the volume of climbing this coming year. What was your first impression and did you attend the release?
Ronan Pensec - The 2010 Tour will be a difficult Tour as it includes a lot of mountain stages. The organisers wanted to write a big chapter on the Tour by celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1st time that the Tour went through the Pyreneans and that the riders climbed the Tourmalet for the 1st time, the organisers of the Tour de France are always very "respectful" of the story of the Tour de France.
The fact that there will be a lot of finishes at the tops of mountains in this 2010 Tour will imply that the winner of this edition will be a climber, which makes me think that Contador will be the favorite.
CNZ - With the recent confirmation that Lance Armstrong will be lining up for two final Tours de France in 2010 and 2011, the coming two editions will be a legendary site for spectators. With this being the case have you noticed Tour spots at your operation filling at a quicker rate?
Ronan Pensec - Yes, that is correct. Our trips are filing up faster. There is also the fact that there are 5 Anglo-Saxon teams which generate a lot of interest among the cycling fans. And this is the first time in the Tour de France history that this is the case. Those teams are: Radio- Shack, Garmin-Transitions, Columbia HTC, Sky, and BMC.
CNZ - Do you find spots on PensecTours are taken up in numbers by English speakers?
Ronan Pensec - Yes 100% of our Tour parties are English speakers.
CNZ - So cycling popularity is alive and well in the developing cycling countries then! So I guess riders on the trip make friends whilst taking in the scenery, regular NZ and Australian riders?
Ronan Pensec - Yes, we do have quite a good number from Australia and NZ. So far we have a large group from Australia for 2010 and in 2009 we had a 5-6 persons from NZ with us.
That is also true that people make friendship during the tour. After the tour, we also publish pictures from the trip on an online server and the guests have access to it. We know that some of them keep in touch as they ask us sometimes for the contact information of other tour participants.
CNZ - It must be intriguing for the tourists to be in the company of a former yellow jersey of the TDF, This must make the Tourists feel close to the action and heart of the Tour
Ronan Pensec - Yes my interest is to pass full benefit from my experience as a former TdF rider to my clients, and as a VIP operator we have full access to all aspects of the Tour.
CNZ - Since retiring from the peloton you have become a regular consultant to the French TV networks and media, this must give a great insight into the event for the participants?
Ronan Pensec - Indeed! 2010 will mark my 23rd Tour de France and this enables preferential treatment to my clients in regards to small details (in regards to the organization or the comfort during the trip such as the location of the hotels and what it is possible to do) which are not necessarily viewable on the internet.
CNZ - There is no substitute for local knowledge!
Tell us about the partnership you have with French Company LOOK Cycle as well. One Kiwi I have heard from since his return from the Pensec Travel Tour this year was raving about the opportunity to ride the latest from the French manufacturer.
Ronan Pensec - Our partnership with LOOK enables us to test their latest bikes for the days ride and let the participants in our tours to sample what the pro riders are using with the luxury of the LOOK mechanics on hand too.