Backstage – Ueli Gerber, a long-standing TdS man, is in charge of the Bike Expo and Kids World
He doesn’t get upset easily. Born in 1952, Ueli Gerber is one of the most experienced division managers at the Tour de Suisse. From 1979 to 1995, Gerber was on the road with the tour armada in various capacities for 16 years, then he resigned – and returned after another 16 years.
Ueli Gerber first came into contact with the Tour de Suisse in 1979 as a rider with the neutral race service. In 1988 he was asked to work for the telecom company Ascom for the supply of car phones. “Josef Vögeli and Ferdy Kübler were the first lucky ones to be able to update themselves on the racing action via car phone,” recalls Ueli Gerber with a smile. The result was a collaboration and Gerber was responsible for all communication at the Tour de Suisse for many years. This included the loudspeaker cars on the route and announcements at the finish as well as the radio tour. “Today’s tour speaker, Georges Lüchinger, started out on my team as a speaker in a loudspeaker van.”
After a 16-year hiatus, Ueli Gerber has now been back on board for three years and is responsible for two important entertainment elements. The tour organiser InfrontRingier wants to offer not only top-class sport but also attractions for young and old, which invite them to stroll and linger. Thus, on the two start and end weekends, around 40 exhibitors will be presenting the latest trends and their products at Bike Expo. In the Kids World, the little ones can gain new experiences on the bike in a playful way on various skill courses. On Ueli Gerber’s initiative, short races for toddlers with their bikes are now taking place at various stages in the finish area. “The Kids Challenge is a huge success – with the video sequence posted on Facebook we have now recorded 183,000 hits.”
For Ueli Gerber, the annual preparation begins shortly after the summer. Despite good preparation, his talent for improvisation is always in demand. He remembers: “It already happened that we arrived for the setup and in the middle of the square there was a locked car whose owner was away. At such moments he greatly appreciates the good and solution-oriented cooperation within the Tour de Suisse as well as with the local OCs and authorities.