In an exclusive behind the scenes visit to Team Sky’s Service Course in Mechelen, Belgium, Cyclingnews was shown around the team’s northern European base.
At 500 square metres, it’s one of the biggest European Service Course in the sport, in addition to being home to the team’s buses and mechanic's trucks. The huge space is dominated by lines of storage space for the multiple Pinarello bikes for each of the team’s 26 riders.
“It’s very central within Belgium,” Ken Ilegems, the service course manager told Cyclingnews. “It’s close to the highway, the airport and central in northern Europe.”
Ilegems previously worked with the Belgian national track team and T-Mobile, most recently working with Scott Sunderland to find the best possible location for the team to use.
“We have about 100 bikes here right now and 80 pairs of wheels,” said Ilegems. “We hold them here for when the riders want to swap bikes. The riders email in and say what they need. What you’re seeing now is probably worth around two million Euros. At full capacity we can probably store up to four million Euros of bikes and equipment."
Each rider on the team has his own pit station where up to five bikes can be stored. At present Bradley Wiggins’s station is totally bare, with all of his bikes on location at races, while Juan Antonia Flecha has a number of race bikes stored, along with his and the rest of the team’s wheels from Paris-Roubaix. The team will keep all of the wheels onsite for next year’s race.
The pit stops aren’t just for bikes though. The riders also have their own storage box in which all their new clothing is dished out before being taken to events or sent to the riders directly.
The back wall of the warehouse is dominated by race energy products and food. Along with typical crates of gels, drinks and bars the team also has its own cereal, chocolate spread, and branded tomato ketchup to last at least three months on the road.
Of course, no Service Course would be complete without a workshop area, in which each bike is checked and serviced before it’s either shipped to races or stored.
When Cyclingnews arrived on Thursday the team were busy preparing time trial bikes for Mathew Hayman and Chris Sutton before the Tour de Romandie. Carbon fibre race wheels for the Ardennes Classics were being prepared with three layers of adhesive, ready for race tubulars to be fitted.