If you’ve ever taken part in a race yourself, or even a long club ride, you’re sure to understand the importance of solid prep work. Your own prep for race day likely began the day before, and hopefully well before that with maintenance of your race bike. You know the importance of having your gloves and shoes packed, your favorite sunglasses, a sufficient supply of hydration and nutrition, and all of the other seemingly minor details that all together make a big difference. You’ll need a fresh club kit to sport your teams colors, and don’t forget the spare wheel set for a quick swap after picking up a thorn on your warm up ride.
For a pro team, the riders need to focus strictly on what they’re paid to do, riding. Winning races. That’s where the support team comes in. From obvious details like filling water bottles, to the smaller details that make a big difference like checking into the riders hotel rooms so that immediately after the race they can focus on recovering for the next day’s adventure. Throughout the course of the Amgen Tour of California, we’ll be visiting with a few of the teams to highlight some of these heroes off the race bikes.
We were fortunate enough to be allowed a look at some of the race prep performed by BMC Pro Cycling’s soigneurs and mechanics. The team consists of 9 men and women at this race, and they function like a well drilled team should. While to outsiders it may look like chaos, everyone has a task, and they’re on top of it.
Riders gear bags are packed with everything they’ll need while on the bike. They’re kept in the team cars and hold a treasure chest of team kit, including leg and arm warmers, gloves, socks, all of the bits that could mean the difference in their comfort on the bike.
Chris De Vos is the lead soigneur, seen here with Dirk Leenaert packing ice bags that the riders will place in their jerseys to cool their core. Today they prepped 12 for the lead car, 8 for the second car, and 8 for the riders to use at the start line.
Bottles are crucial, and when faced with keeping 8 riders hydrated in triple digit temps, the team will prep upwards of 250 bottles! Today, being a shorter stage, they limited the quantity to 200-225.
BMC Chief Directeur Sportif John Lelangue doing work.
At the end of each day, every one of the team bikes is washed, lubed and tested. As you can imagine, tools and supplies are critically important.
Mechanics Thierry Viaene check the tire pressure on each of the race and spare bikes.
One function of a race team is serve as research and development for their bike sponsor. At the Tour, GC contender Tejay Van Garderen is riding a new test machine.
Keeping up appearances is important, especially when representing a top tier team like BMC. Team cars are washed and cleaned out. Aaron Fairley take charge making sure the cars look nice for the television cameras.
Thierry Viaene and Ian Sherburne review bike setup notes from the day before.
Jeremiah Ranegar is tasked with the key job of baking the popular Skratch Labs rice cakes for the riders.
After the racks on top of the team cars are packed full, even more spare wheels are crammed into the back of the cars.
Two of the most important tools in the team cars, gps devices, and team radios. Radios have been a hotly contested item over the past couple of years.
Along the theme of the riders doing only what they’re there for, Chris De Vos sets out each riders shoes, helmet and sunglasses. Riders will roll out from the team hotel straight onto their bikes. Nothing to break their focus from the task at hand.
A 15 passenger van is employed by the “advance team”. They’ll depart directly from one team hotel to the next, checking each rider into their room and stocking it with their suitcase. This ensures the riders get to climb off the bike and immediately enter recovery mode. Notice the theme here?
Who doesn’t love Thor?
Last minute discussions amongst soigneur.
All bikes have been cleaned, lubed and dialed in before the race day is considered complete. All that’s left for the new race day is to ensure each tire’s air pressure is dialed in.
Road racing World Champion Philippe Gilbert has abandoned the race, however not for many of the reasons shared by others, he and his wife are expecting their second child! It’s unfortunate that he had to leave before experiencing the central coast and it’s much more acceptable temperatures.