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Shimano takes over neutral support at Tour de France

Deal across all ASO races marks end of era for Mavic and its iconic yellow vehicles.

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Shimano will be taking over the neutral support role at the Tour de France and other marquee races in 2021, replacing longtime partner Mavic that began race support with its distinctive yellow vehicles in the 1970s.

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ASO officials confirmed Tuesday that Shimano, the Japanese component maker that provides neutral support at the Vuelta a España, will provide neutral support at the Tour and ASO’s other fleet of men’s and women’s races, including Paris-Roubaix.

Details of the deal were not revealed, but Mavic was struggling in 2020 before new owners stepped in to save the historic brand.  The new partnership comes as Shimano will celebrate its centenary in 2021.

“We have complete trust in the Shimano team to deliver a professional service towards teams and riders, as they have been doing for much of their 100-year history,” said Thierry Gouvenou, ASO’s heading of cycling.

Mavic neutral service car
The end of an era at the Tour de France for Mavic. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

The new partnership will end the Tour’s long association with Mavic for neutral support. The French company helped to pioneer the concept of neutral support at major pro bike races. For decades, riders had to repair their own punctures and deal with other mechanical problems. Eventually, the idea of neutral support was fully embraced, and by the 1970s, Mavic’s support vehicles soon became part of the caravan. It was not immediately known if Mavic is continuing its neutral support role at other events.

Officials said Tuesday that Shimano will provide neutral support cars in all of ASO’s WorldTour, continental, and women’s races, offering riders assistance to get back on the road as quickly as possible in the event of a crash, puncture, or mechanical issue.

“We are proud to announce a partnership to support the ASO’s events with neutral support. That means we will be providing first-class support to riders at ASO events to get them back on the road and back in the race,” said Taizo Shimano, executive vice president. “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 the world’s most-watched sporting event – will allow us to do just that.”

The new partnership will begin at Paris-Nice, in March.