The Tour de France Devil : Didi Senft
Dieter “Didi” Senft is known as “El Diablo”, or the Devil of the Tour de France. If you’ve watched the Tour on television over the past 2 decades, you’ve likely seen this guy bouncing on the side of the road or running alongside the competitors. We’re fairly confident you’ll see him at this year’s race, which began this weekend, as he’s been doing his thing at cycling races in Europe since 1993. We’ll refer to Wikipedia for a bit more background :
Senft (born February 7, 1952 in Reichenwalde, Germany) attributes the inspiration for the costume to German cycling announcer Herbert Watterot who called the last lap of local criterium races, “the Red Devil’s Lap.”
You can often find him traveling ahead of multi-day stage races in a custom-decorated camper vehicle, picking out the best spot for his antics. He loves posing for photos with fans, and typically paints his symbols (trident and large bicycle) on the pavement near where you’ll find him when the race passes.
When he is not traveling with the peloton, you can probably find Didi working on his latest bike creation. He has built over 100 bicycles, including the largest in the world. He is even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for building the largest mobile guitar.
One of our favorite photos of El Diablo is when he encountered the “Specialized Angel” at the Giro d’Italia in 2006. She was created as a publicity stunt by the bike company to play off the notoriety of the Tour Devil :
There are far too many great Tour de France Devil photos to highlight them all, but we’ve gathered an extensive gallery to give you more of an idea. He is just one of the many reasons we enjoy watching the Tour de France, and encourage you to check out our Tour de France Primer for Americans for more.