The broom wagon is the name for the vehicle that follows a cycling road race "sweeping" up stragglers who are unable to make it to the finish within the time permitted. If a cyclist chooses to continue behind the broom wagon, he ceases to be part of the convoy (and the race), and has to follow the usual traffic rules and laws.
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 1910 Tour. 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. Likewise, in other road cycling races it is not rare to see real brooms affixed to the broom wagon.
The use of broom wagons has expanded to other sports events—especially in marathon events a broom wagon is a common feature. In marathons many amateur runners join in, and sometimes are not able to reach the finish line within the allocated time. The broom wagon puts an end to their race, and the runners have to hand in their numbers. Also, off-road races like the Dakar Rally have come to use a broom wagon that follows on the track picking up motorists who have broken down.
Trailing races there is usually a "broom bike". Bigger races use a motorcycle, but smaller events will use a race marshal on a 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.
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