Russ Ellis photo diary: Rod Ellingworth

21 Jul 2018

Russ Ellis photo diary: Rod Ellingworth

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Russ spent the day following our recon team at the Tour de France, with Performance Manager Rod Ellingworth talking us through this key daily routine.

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Rod Ellingworth: I jump on the bus in the morning and listen to the Sport Directors talking through the day’s plans. They’ll talk tactics but then also the day’s roads, wind and the approach to the finish, as well as the trickier parts of the stage. The riders will have their say too, so every day there is always some questions for me. They may have reconned the stage in the past but it might be that once the barriers are up the whole road structure changes.
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I’ll always go away with two or there points that I know I have to feedback on. Stage 13 was pretty straightforward because it was a one-width road for near enough the whole distance, mainly sheltered, but as we got into the final the wind started getting up and it did open up in the last 15 or 20km. You can’t take your eye off the road for a moment because you might think, actually, that’s something they need to know.
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You don’t pass on information about every single pothole etc, but road width and conditions are quite crucial. Also, I’m listening to the race radio, so once I know the break’s gone and the peloton has slowed right down, I stop giving them so much information. When I know they’re speeding up, I try to anticipate that, and give them a little more information on what the roads are like.
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I send messages back to the car but if it’s really crucial then I’ll ring, or even take short videos or certain corners. If they’ve asked for a certain corner that they want to see, I video that and send it over. Then they can watch it and explain it better to the riders.

We've been lucky to have some great cars from Ford in the last three years to do this job. This Tour we've been reconning the stages in the Ranger which we've really enjoyed.
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We also have the new machine called the Scout. It sits on the front of the car and we’re trying to develop that, with Robby Ketchell. At the minute I’m the only one using that. The idea of that is it constantly records everything that’s going on and at any time, the Sport Directors can look where I’ve been, press on a certain point, and see what the conditions were there. That’s working well. Me and coach Xabi [Artetxe] are not having to get out of the car all the time with a wind machine!
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Today there were four roundabouts from 9km out and the roadbook showed you had to go to the right. Traditionally you’d look at that and think it would be very narrow. Even the commentators on TV were saying, these next roundabouts — they’re going to be tight. But it wasn’t at all, it was completely open. It’s little things like that. I communicate that and it totally takes the stress out of the final. 
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In race I’m always reconning, or doing an extra feed. I will recon up to where I will do an extra feed and I also manage all of the extra feeds out on the road too - making sure people are in the right places on the right road. 
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We use the VeloViewer app, we have the Scout, I have the TV and race radio in the Ranger and then there’s my own experience over the years of when I feel like I need to feedback to the guys what is happening. If you get a day where it’s really windy, you’ve got to really be on it. If you miss a section it could be game over.
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