Have Pitchfork, Will Travel

The Tour de France will hit the Pyrenees tomorrow. When this happens, you can expect to see Didi Senft, the most telegenic fan in professional cycing. Who is Didi Senft? He's the man in the devil costume who is seen at strategic points in most stages of the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a Espana, and a number of other major professional cycling races.

PezCycling interviewed The Devil before the Tour began. Some of what was said in this interview I already knew, because my wife and I met the Devil and saw his van and his bike at Alpe d'Huez during the 2001 Tour de France. I was shooting video at the time that we saw him, so I don't have a still photo of us with him. I regret not changing cameras.

I did some further research into Didi Senft using the Internet. One of the articles that told me something new was The BBC's H2G2 encyclopedia entry Didi Senft - Devil of the Tour de France. In it, I learned that he originally chose to dress as a devil because German sportscasters refer to the last kilometer of a criterium as "the red devil's lap".

This also explains Senft's strategy of positioning himself at the point in the race where he thinks the most intense television and photographic coverage will be. This is generally not around the flamme rouge (French for "red flame", the place where the red flag is over the road signifying 1 km to go), but is someplace further from the finish. He is very partial to mountains, where the riders are moving slowly, and he can run alongside them for a short distance.

If I was looking to meet the Devil at the Tour de France tomorrow, I would look for him mid way up the final climb to La Mongie. Since you will probably have to arrive hours in advance anyway, you can walk along the road looking for the big bike.