Didi the Devil is almost an integral part of the Tour de France. Especially for those of us who watched the Tour de France throughout the now barely credible 90s period. We saw a man with a large beard jumping about by the roadside, dressed up in a red devil suit complete with a trident. Also known as the Tour de France Devil, most cycling fans know him as Didi the Devil. Each year we see countless people running alongside the riders during races. Unlike these people Didi the Devil made the jump from ‘a guy’ to a name that all cycling fans knew.
Didi the Devil’s real name is Didi Senft and he was born in 1952 in West Germany. The inspiration for the devil costume came from hearing a commentator refer to the Flamme Rouge as the ‘devil’s red flag’. Surprisingly, Didi also has 17 Guinness world records for inventing various bicycles. An example is building the world’s largest mobile guitar, naturally in the form of a bike.
The devil has been at the roadside of the Tour de France every year since 1993 (except for 2012 due to a blood clot on the brain). In those 21 years, he has been seen on at least one stage. Often with the cameras picking Didi the Devil out of the crowd and a slow-motion replay provided. He has managed to become as much a tradition as the pre-stage caravan.
The Tour de France Devil
The trident symbol of the Tour de France Devil is often painted onto the road a few miles ahead of his actual spot. The riders have also come to appreciate his presence. You also may see him at a few other events such as the Giro, Spring Classics and World Championships. Although these are often a nice surprise and his attendance has varied for these sorts of events.
It was thought that the 2014 Tour de France would be the devil’s last Tour. Mainly due to ill-health and lack of sponsorship. However, his legacy will live on. It’s possible no other cycling fan will replace him in quite the same way. Good-natured and noticeable without getting super close to the riders like some modern fans. Didi still separates himself from the imitators.
2022 Tour de France Update: He’s still going! Didi the Devil was at plenty of races since that possible retirement. Including at Paris Roubaix in 2018 and the Dragon Ride in 2018. I got to meet him too!