Backstage – Beat Wettstein has one of the most hectic jobs of the whole Swiss tour as head of security.
This year, the Zurich cantonal police officer is participating in the Tour de Suisse for the 27th time. Beat Wettstein had his first assignment on the tour in 1990 as a motorcyclist for the Zurich cantonal police. He has now been heading the security team, which consists of 37 members, for 17 years. “Most of them are cops.” From a pool of 50-60 motorbike drivers, he nominates the best drivers for the Tour de Suisse. The waiting list is long.
On 34 motorcycles, the security service ensures that the racers and the whole convoy can ride the track safely. Ten minutes before the race passage, the oncoming traffic will be closed, traffic islands, roundabouts and other obstacles will be equipped with security personnel and other safety-relevant precautions will be taken. “In the mountains it happens from time to time that we drive cows off the road just before the race and have to wipe away their dung.” The total closure of the road is then about five minutes before the race is over. Beat Wettstein conducts his motorcyclists from his support vehicle. “I’m always in two places at once in my head. In the now and 15 minutes ahead.” He’s anticipating the course. “I need to know what’s coming next.”
44 motorcycles from Yamaha importer Hostettler
The fact that he is the team boss in the support vehicle does not bother the passionate motorbike driver. “In my spare time, I ride the same Yamaha XT Super Ténéré model as a member of the safety squad.” In addition to the XT Super Ténéré, the Yamaha models MT 07 Tracer and MT 09 Tracer will be used this year. Yamaha importer Hostettler AG is the Official Supplier for a total of 44 motorcycles. In addition there is the IXS-Töff clothing for everyone. In addition to the machines for the security service, five motorcycles will be provided for the UCI commissioners and four for the internal race information radio tour. One motorbike is considered a reserve. “We have a sensational cooperation with Hostettler AG,” says Beat Wettstein emphatically. The importer is making a great effort. “Except for a few flat spots here and there, we’ve never had a problem with the bikes.” Many of his motorcyclists are very fond of the machine after their 10 days of use. “It happens again and again that after the Tour de Suisse, team members buy the Yamaha motorcycle immediately at a preferential price.”
Three weeks before the Tour de Suisse, the motorcyclists will receive their bikes – to get them used to them. The automatisms on the motorbike must be in place until the Tour de Suisse. “My assignment for the drivers is to ride to work by motorbike in all weathers for three weeks.” Beat Wettstein draws the age limit for motorcyclists in security at 50. “It has been proven that the reflexes decrease slightly after the age of 50,” the division manager explains. “Our bikers have to be in top shape.” Sometimes, he admits, he would be sorry if colleagues had been top performers for 10-15 years without exception and were no longer allowed to compete because of their age. Beat Wettstein at the age of 57 is also pulling the lever on himself. “In 2-3 years, I want my successor built.” Because the Tour de Suisse doesn’t leave him untouched either. “When I get to the hotel after a stage, I lie down for half an hour to release the adrenaline.” About two kilos lighter, he returns to his family after the tour of the country. “I force myself to drink enough every day, but food is often a little short.”
140’000 kilometres are covered by all Yamaha motorcycles during the nine-day tour. “For me, the greatest thing is if we can all return home unharmed and bring the motorcycles back to Sursee to Hostettler AG without any accidents or damage”. When the racers, the whole tour armada and the audience have crossed the finish line in good health, Beat Wettstein’s one year’s preparatory work has paid off.
To the Yamaha motorcycles of Hostettler AG you can go here.