By Tim Maloney, European Editor
With advent of the ProTour, a well-equipped team bus has become almost as essential for any ProTour squad as new bicycles. It's a refuge for the riders, where you grab a pre-race espresso, a place to hang out until sign-on, or to decompress after a stressful race. And who knows, maybe after a big win, there's even a bottle of champagne in the fridge!
The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team has a brand new bus and Cyclingnews recently managed to get a sneak peek at the inside, where Lance and his posse will chill during the next Tour de France. We spoke to Johan Bruyneel's right hand man, a.k.a. Geert Duffeleer, Discovery Channel's European Manager, about the big rig for the bigwigs.
Nicknamed Duffy, the likeable Belgian is a jack of all trades and the man who kept things organized behind the scenes for USPS in Europe since 1999. Duffy now takes care of business from soup to nuts at Discovery and smiled when he told Cyclingnews, "This bus is like my child... I've been working so hard to get it ready for the season."
Duffy was the go-to guy for Bruyneel last fall to bring the new Discovery Channel Cycling Team bus on the road. "Our goal was to get it perfect," began Duffeleer.
"Johan had already looked at all the different team bus designs and made notes on what he liked and what he wanted in our new bus. Then we sat down to design the floor plan, and found a coach builder to make it up." Disco's new road rig features a Volvo B40 chassis with a 430 horsepower engine. The 13-meter long Arrow 50 coach was built by Jonkceere in Roeslaere and usually accommodates 50 passengers, but has been reconfigured to take the team and key staff to and from the races and allow the riders to meet with team staff prior to the race.
Another new edition to the Discovery Bus is a new driver, the well know Valentin, who came over from Liberty Seguros and is also a team masseur. "This bus is like the one Rabobank and T-Mobile use", Duffy said proudly, "but it's been completely customized for us."