ProTour teams like Quick Step keep close tabs on the thousands of articles of clothing that are used each season.
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An exclusive look at the team's base of operations in Wevelgem
Quick Step have established themselves as one of the most successful teams and, in particular, Classics squads of the past decade. The Belgian squad's service course in Wevelgem has been the base of success for races including Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders and Milan-San Remo, as well stints in the leader's jerseys at both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.
The Wevelgem service course began life in 2001 as the equipment store for Quick Step Director Patrick Lefevere's then Domo-Farm Frites squad. Johan Museeuw's 2002 Paris-Roubaix winning bike sits just outside Lefevere's office, the French mud of that day still caked to its frame.
Eight months after Museeuw's triumph at Roubaix, the sky blue jerseys of Domo-Farm Frites were replaced by the now-familiar dark blue of the Quick Step brand. Despite the arrival and departure of several co-sponsors during the year's since, the team headquarters has remained the same.
Cyclingnews was guided around the facility by Quick Step Head Mechanic Jean-Marc Vandenberghe. Vandenberghe has been with the team since 2003 and is responsible for the smooth running of the six-man team of mechanics who ensure the squad's bikes are ready to go at every race they attend.
Although in recent years he has been responsible for some of the biggest one-day stars in the sport, Vandenberghe has Tour de France winning experience with both of his previous employers. He joined Quick Step from the US Postal Service team, where he served for two years, with his tenure at the US squad preceded by eight years at Telekom.
Vandenberghe is kept busy organising the care and transport of around 120 Eddy Merckx bicycles to races across the world, and also oversees a dizzying equipment list that also includes 150 Campagnolo Record groupsets, 200 sets of Look pedals, 300-400 saddles, 1200 tubular tyres, 80 deep dish wheels, 80 low profile wheels and 40 disc wheels.
Each rider in the team is usually assigned four bikes: Two training bikes - a training road bike and a training time trial bike - remain at home with the rider, while each man's two race bikes - a road bike and time trial bike - are kept at the service course and transported to races by the team mechanics.
The team's marquee riders Tom Boonen, Stijn Devolder and Sylvain Chavanel are privileged to more equipment than most. As Belgian Champion, Boonen has this year been sporting a custom painted machine decked out in red, yellow and black livery to match his jersey. The Belgian superstar has already done his bit to lift the average of bikes-per-man within the squad.
"Tom has already had 10-12 bikes this year," said Vandenberghe. "All the riders' bikes are also swapped mid-way through the season. Those starting the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta will generally start the race on a new bike. The manufacturers will usually launch new products in the middle of the year, so that can mean another switch.
"The old bikes go back to Eddy Merckx to be used for display at trade shows or at dealers. But the oldest bikes are used by Merckx for testing, so the riders play a crucial role in product improvement."
The masses of equipment require a corresponding fleet of vehicles. Quick Step's garage houses two big mechanical trucks, a smaller mechanical truck, two team buses and 15 team cars. With races spread all over Europe, the larger vehicles (and those who drive them) will cover, on average, a distance close to the circumference of the earth.
"The big trucks cover 40,000 kilometres a year, the team cars around 35,000 and the buses, which drive to the start and finish as well as to-and-from the team hotels, will do about 60,000," explained Vandenberghe.
View the gallery of images from the Quick Step Service Course.
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