The service course is the hub of any cycling team. It is where almost all the team's logistics are organised and houses much of the bikes, vehicles and kit needed to keep the team going.
During the Classics, Cyclingnews paid a visit to BMC Racing's service course just outside of Gent. The building, where the team has been based for the past four years, sits at the back of the BMC concept store. It's just a stone's throw away from their old service course, which is now the home of the development squad. The team also runs a second service course in the United States that looks after the US race programme, but this is the main operation centre of the team.
To enter, you come through a large garage door and immediately step into a vast warehouse-style room. Things, such as the team's bikes, boxes of energy gels, crates of drinks and other miscellaneous items, are stored on the shelves around the edge of the rectangular room. At present, it also contains one of the team's trucks, which is getting packed up with kit and equipment ready for the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The rider's rain bags, two each, plus spare helmets, sit on the floor to the right of it. They will all be heading to Spain very soon, along with the time trial bikes that have recently been prepared by service course mechanic Jurgen Landrie.
March and April is one of the busiest times of the year for the staff at the service course as they get the equipment ready for a number of stages races around Europe, plus the one-day races in Belgium. Stage races are much easier for the team to prepare for than one-day races, where the riders chop and change all the time.
When Cyclingnews arrives, Landrie is also making arrangements for the final time trial stage of the Three days of De Panne. Landrie looks after all the bikes that come through the service course, which can be anything up to 300 in a year. Most of those are now spread out across the world with multiple bikes out at the various races while each rider also has up to four bikes at home. Landrie's brother Gunther also works for the team as the head soigneur and is busying around preparing for Pais Vasco.
At the back of the building, stairs lead up to a caged off mezzanine level where spare kit for all the riders and staff are placed in plastic cubby holes. The team's offices are also up top and glass walls at the back mean that you can see right into the concept store. Jerseys, including Cadel Evans' 2011 Tour de France yellow jersey, and Philippe Gilbert's world champion's jersey from 2012 are up on the walls of the office.
Noel Dejonckheere is the European Operations Manager and looks after the service course. He also deals with the team's logistics, organising hotels, travel and making sure the team's vehicles are in the right place at the right time. Plans are made well in advance and in the midst of the Classics, he's finalising arrangements for the World Championships.
On the wall of Dejonckheere's office is a large whiteboard with all the teams up and coming races and a list of all the team cars and where they will be and when. He's also got a slightly more hi-tech way of keeping an eye on where they are, with a GPS tracker allowing him to see where they are in real time. A computer programme also easily allows Dejonckheere and others to access race details and travel plans, plus a lot more, at the click of a few buttons.
Like all teams, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to keep the ship sailing smoothly throughout the season. Flick through the gallery above to take a look inside BMC Racing's service course.