There's more to professional racing than meets the eye. The closest the majority of spectators get to the action is at the start and finish of the races, or maybe even just watching it all on television and reading the race reports on the 'net and in the written press.
Cyclingnews' Sabine Sunderland was offered the unique opportunity to spend 11 days with the CSC team as the personnel and riders headed to America, where they will be at work in the CSC Invitational and the Wachovia race series. Join us this week for a look behind the scenes of what goes on before, during and after professional bike races.
The story starts in Belgium, more precisely Zaventem airport, at 9.30 am on Friday, May 27.
The first task on the team's program consisted of a two hour long stint in the departure hall, during which ten bike bags, seven suitcases, six toolboxes, six members of the CSC team and yours truly got checked in by helpful airport staff.
Young neo-pro Andy Schleck, Gavin and Joseph (the soigneurs), Magnus and Frank (the mechanics), Scott and myself settled in our not-so-comfortable economy class seats on the 767 of United Airlines flight 951. If any of us had hopes of getting a few hours sleep on our eight hour trip to Washington Dulles we had been too optimistic.
A group of fired-up marketing people of a certain sporting goods company decided to have their office party on board of the plane. They congregated right beside us in the aisle and consumed considerable amounts of alcohol in the shortest time-span. It was kept under control by the stewards but after warnings failed, the seat-belt sign was needed to restrain their movements throughout the plane. Being used to some commotion, Gavin and Joseph kept reading their books, not even remotely annoyed by their noisy neighbours.
Click here for the full first instalment.