We regularly bring to you close-up looks at what the riders use in the world's greatest bike races but what about the rolling infrastructure that support them? While cycling may be a carbon-friendly activity, big-time road racing most certainly is not with nearly as many four-wheeled vehicles on the road as two.
Any major road race is accompanied by a flotilla of vehicles with each team operating its own independent fleet. Typically, each squad has around three or four cars, a team bus, a large truck, and often other vehicles, such as a mobile kitchen – all customized for their specific purposes, and not just in terms of the graphics packages applied.
Standard upgrades on the cars include multiple two-way radios that communicate with both the riders and race staff. In many cases, cars are also fitted with television antennas so effectively put eyes on multiple parts of the race.
Most important, though, are the bespoke racks that are installed on each car. Far from off-the-shelf models available from the likes of consumer brands such as Thule and Yakima, these team specials can usually handle at minimum four complete bikes and roughly half a dozen spare wheels – all accessible virtually instantly by team mechanics via special quick-release levers and open-topped wheel trays.
Keep in mind, too, that those cars are generally the only team vehicles spectators ever see in a race. Giant custom buses transport the riders from the team hotel to the start, then go directly to the finish to wait for their arrival. Other support vehicles, such as mechanics' trucks and miscellaneous vans, go directly from hotel to hotel to set up shop for the night.
All in all, it's quite the caravan – and in some ways, a bit of a traveling circus – but a necessary piece of the sport that so many fans worldwide love to watch.