The broom wagon (not to be confused with a sag wagon) is the name for the vehicle that follows a Cycle Road Race picking up stragglers (or sweeping them up) who are unable to make it to the finish of the race within the time permitted.
In the Tour de France the vehicle used was traditionally a Citroën H Van. The expression broom wagon is a translation of the French, voiture balai, and it was seen first at the Tour de France 1910. The broom wagon of the Tour de France did indeed once carry a broom fixed above the driver's cab – except in the years that it was sponsored by a vacuum-cleaner company.
The usage of a broom wagon has expanded to other sports events – especially in marathon events a broom wagon is a common feature. In the various marathon races many people from the neighbourhood join in who are not able to reach the finish line within time such that the broom wagon puts an end to their effort. Also offroad races like the Dakar Rally have come to use a broom wagon that follows on the track picking up motorists who have broken down in between.
Following bike/running races there is usually a "broom bike". Bigger races use a motorcycle but smaller events will be a marshall on his own bicycle. He sweeps the course to ensure that it is clear. Whilst it cannot pick up incapacitated competitors it may offer limited mechanical assistance and phone for assistance.
- Création de la voiture-balai, on memoire-du-cyclisme.net, Access 31 July 2008.[dead link]
- "Hello broomwagon, hello sadness", 2 January 2009, with a youtube video of the broomwagon
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