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A day in the life of a pro race mechanic

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A few prototype Abbey Bike Tools from Jeff Crombie's tool bag. The upcoming pedal spanner (top left), a threaded hammer fitting to turn the cassette tool into a light duty whacker (top right), a crank plug for an exact saddle height measurement from the bottom bracket (bottom left) and a compact, super light bearing press with 24 and 30mm steps (bottom right)

A few prototype Abbey Bike Tools from Jeff Crombie's tool bag. The upcoming pedal spanner (top left), a threaded hammer fitting to turn the cassette tool into a light duty whacker (top right), a crank plug for an exact saddle height measurement from the bottom bracket (bottom left) and a compact, super light bearing press with 24 and 30mm steps (bottom right) (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Wheels off, chains are degreased with brushes….

Wheels off, chains are degreased with brushes…. (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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The race ends, riders are taken back to the hotel and the mechanics begin washing bikes

The race ends, riders are taken back to the hotel and the mechanics begin washing bikes (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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…as do the tubes

…as do the tubes (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Rims await for prep and glue….

Rims await for prep and glue…. (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Replacing damaged tubulars also happens in this 'quiet' time

Replacing damaged tubulars also happens in this 'quiet' time (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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While the race is on, back at the event village Geisler spends his time working on other team bikes and whatever else needs to be done

While the race is on, back at the event village Geisler spends his time working on other team bikes and whatever else needs to be done (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Eskys are refilled by passing through a feed station

Eskys are refilled by passing through a feed station (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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As a rider drops back for a quick feed, Tom Southam takes the time to double check all is well in the peloton and that the team is protecting its day's asset

As a rider drops back for a quick feed, Tom Southam takes the time to double check all is well in the peloton and that the team is protecting its day's asset (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Martin Kohler drops back for domestique duties, quickly filling his jersey with multiple bottles handed to him by Crombie before speeding off back into the pack

Martin Kohler drops back for domestique duties, quickly filling his jersey with multiple bottles handed to him by Crombie before speeding off back into the pack (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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A few other riders suffer flats too – they ride behind and between the slipstream of opposing team cars until they reach the back of the peloton. While giving your own riders a draft is a big no-no, giving a helping hand to others is fairly normal to see and is often given a blind-eye by race commissaires

A few other riders suffer flats too – they ride behind and between the slipstream of opposing team cars until they reach the back of the peloton. While giving your own riders a draft is a big no-no, giving a helping hand to others is fairly normal to see and is often given a blind-eye by race commissaires (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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….as are cassettes before being rinsed with water

….as are cassettes before being rinsed with water (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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The rest of the bike is then given a sponge bath

The rest of the bike is then given a sponge bath (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Even the tubulars are cleaned, removing most the debris that can cause flats

Even the tubulars are cleaned, removing most the debris that can cause flats (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Jeff Crombie's tool bag - he told us he leaves the hard-case toolbox at home as it's just easier to travel with a soft bag inside your suitcase

Jeff Crombie's tool bag - he told us he leaves the hard-case toolbox at home as it's just easier to travel with a soft bag inside your suitcase (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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"Cleaning is half job" - Jeff Crombie made it a point to mention that the job is far from just working on bikes. Cars are cleaned, bikes are stored away and that's a day

"Cleaning is half job" - Jeff Crombie made it a point to mention that the job is far from just working on bikes. Cars are cleaned, bikes are stored away and that's a day (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Much of what the pro mechanics do is simple maintenance. Except for crashes or unexpected mechanicals, little goes wrong that needs actual repair

Much of what the pro mechanics do is simple maintenance. Except for crashes or unexpected mechanicals, little goes wrong that needs actual repair (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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At this point in the day, changes to bikes for the next day are made if needed, such as swapping out chainring or cassette sizes. For example, we're told that Wouter Wippert won the race's final stage with a 55T chainring

At this point in the day, changes to bikes for the next day are made if needed, such as swapping out chainring or cassette sizes. For example, we're told that Wouter Wippert won the race's final stage with a 55T chainring (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Geisler checks over a wheel for any sign of spoke damage or trueness issues

Geisler checks over a wheel for any sign of spoke damage or trueness issues (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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After a wash, chains and other derailleur components are lubed

After a wash, chains and other derailleur components are lubed (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Crucial bolts are all then checked for correct torque. Riders at this level put extreme forces through the bikes and the mechanics take no chances

Crucial bolts are all then checked for correct torque. Riders at this level put extreme forces through the bikes and the mechanics take no chances (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Whatever needs adjusting or repairing at this point is done

Whatever needs adjusting or repairing at this point is done (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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While this is all happening, Jesse Geisler is on wrenching duties and starts by drying the bikes completely and then checking them over

While this is all happening, Jesse Geisler is on wrenching duties and starts by drying the bikes completely and then checking them over (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Everything is then hosed off and hung up to drip dry

Everything is then hosed off and hung up to drip dry (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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It's now up to the rider to get back to the pack, Tom Southam briefly driving behind to make sure he's rolling without further issue

It's now up to the rider to get back to the pack, Tom Southam briefly driving behind to make sure he's rolling without further issue (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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A big push and Will Clarke is rolling once again

A big push and Will Clarke is rolling once again (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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As the roads are wide, we were allowed to drive up past the queue of team cars and get to the rider while he was still rolling. Here Crombie makes a quick swap

As the roads are wide, we were allowed to drive up past the queue of team cars and get to the rider while he was still rolling. Here Crombie makes a quick swap (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Joining Sky with perhaps the coolest cars in the peloton, Drapac is now sponsored by Jaguar

Joining Sky with perhaps the coolest cars in the peloton, Drapac is now sponsored by Jaguar (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Drapac’s Directeur Sportif Tom Southam works out the day's exact strategy prior to leaving for the race start of stage four. On the right is an example of the list that sits in the team car for quick reference from race radio announcements

Drapac’s Directeur Sportif Tom Southam works out the day's exact strategy prior to leaving for the race start of stage four. On the right is an example of the list that sits in the team car for quick reference from race radio announcements (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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While the mechanics do final preps to bikes, the soigneurs get the riders' lunches ready

While the mechanics do final preps to bikes, the soigneurs get the riders' lunches ready (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Toe clip straps are always handy, from fixing broken shoes to holding down bikes on the roof in high winds - they go wherever the mechanics go

Toe clip straps are always handy, from fixing broken shoes to holding down bikes on the roof in high winds - they go wherever the mechanics go (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Jeff Crombie is a good friend of Jason Quade, the owner of Abbey Bike Tools

Jeff Crombie is a good friend of Jason Quade, the owner of Abbey Bike Tools (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Even the team staff must represent sponsors while in the public eye. These guys aren't hiding in a basement or at the back of the shop

Even the team staff must represent sponsors while in the public eye. These guys aren't hiding in a basement or at the back of the shop (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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With Jeff Crombie in the team car for the day, his tool bag is packed and awaits

With Jeff Crombie in the team car for the day, his tool bag is packed and awaits (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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The day begins - Geisler inflates the tubulars of all bikes prior to leaving for the race start

The day begins - Geisler inflates the tubulars of all bikes prior to leaving for the race start (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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ustralian Jesse Geisler got his start in the earliest days of professional mountain bike racing. Since then, he's set up a successful fabrication business and built a strong reputation for himself as a mechanic. He's holding a tool he created for his own use, to hold the crank while power meter spider bolts are accurately torqued

ustralian Jesse Geisler got his start in the earliest days of professional mountain bike racing. Since then, he's set up a successful fabrication business and built a strong reputation for himself as a mechanic. He's holding a tool he created for his own use, to hold the crank while power meter spider bolts are accurately torqued (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Jeff Crombie has worked with some of the world's biggest and best teams – and he also has a tool named after him that sits in most pro's tool boxes

Jeff Crombie has worked with some of the world's biggest and best teams – and he also has a tool named after him that sits in most pro's tool boxes (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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The bikes are loaded and everyone is getting ready to roll out

The bikes are loaded and everyone is getting ready to roll out (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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At the start – the race bikes are unloaded

At the start – the race bikes are unloaded (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Jeff Crombie checks each rider is happy and all is well

Jeff Crombie checks each rider is happy and all is well (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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The race radio announces a Drapac rider has a flat. Crombie is out of the car as it pulls up and well on his way to fixing it

The race radio announces a Drapac rider has a flat. Crombie is out of the car as it pulls up and well on his way to fixing it (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Crombie keeps busy by calling out rider names in the break and their general classification standings. Calls over the team radio are quickly made over if the break is threatening

Crombie keeps busy by calling out rider names in the break and their general classification standings. Calls over the team radio are quickly made over if the break is threatening (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Timothy Roe drops back for hydration and a quick chat

Timothy Roe drops back for hydration and a quick chat (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Jeff Crombie sits in the back seat with wheels awaiting in his lap

Jeff Crombie sits in the back seat with wheels awaiting in his lap (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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And the race is on. Following a mechanical problem the day before, Drapac wasn't contending the general classification and so was a bit back in the team car queue

And the race is on. Following a mechanical problem the day before, Drapac wasn't contending the general classification and so was a bit back in the team car queue (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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It's not just about the bikes; the mechanics are there to help the riders

It's not just about the bikes; the mechanics are there to help the riders (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Martin Kohler asks Crombie for a last minute cleat fix

Martin Kohler asks Crombie for a last minute cleat fix (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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The team Directeur Sportif (also our driver for the day) makes key stage notes for the riders on tape. Riders cross reference these distance points with their Garmins

The team Directeur Sportif (also our driver for the day) makes key stage notes for the riders on tape. Riders cross reference these distance points with their Garmins (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Helmets await riders, while the boot holds spares and hydration for the race

Helmets await riders, while the boot holds spares and hydration for the race (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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rombie takes care of a pressure change request from one of the riders

rombie takes care of a pressure change request from one of the riders (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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A day in the life of a pro race mechanic - with Drapac Professional Cycling

A day in the life of a pro race mechanic - with Drapac Professional Cycling (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

The race mechanics to the world's fastest seem to have a near-perfect job – travel the world; work on bikes; hang out with cycling's biggest names... With this enviable stereotype in mind, we thought we'd take you behind the scenes to show what it takes to turn a wrench at this level and what a day in the life of a pro race mechanic generally involves.

We were given this opportunity at the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under, where Australian Pro-Continental Drapac Professional Cycling outfit invited us into their team car.

The Tour Down Under is generally quite relaxed for mechanics – the stages are relatively short and dry, and the home base doesn't change for the week. With stress levels low, we joined two of Drapac's well-established and respected mechanics – Jeff Crombie and Jesse Geisler – to see what their working lives entail.

Jeff Crombie is privileged to have a tool named in his honour

Canadian Crombie, originally from Calgary, has recently worked with the likes of Sky and Orica-GreenEdge but started out in bike stores many years ago. If you're a fan of quality bike tools, the name Crombie may be familiar – with Abbey Bike Tools' cassette tool being named after him.

Jesse Geisler started out in early-days professional MTB racing

Australian Jesse Geisler comes from a fabrication background, where he takes great pride in being able to create things from a concept. Geisler has been in the Australian cycling industry for more than two decades and runs his own repair and fabrication shop, based in Melbourne, when not wrenching for Drapac.

Work days for Geisler and Crombie start with getting the tyres for all team bikes and spare wheels inflated for the race. From here, team cars are packed, with bikes and spare wheels loaded onto the roof. Key riders are given priority in that their spare bikes are positioned in the quickest to reach spots.

Crombie told BikeRadar that if the mechanics do their jobs and have everything prepared in advance, the job needn't be high stress – it's usually just pitching up at the start and helping the team and other staff in general preparation.

A quick fix to a cleat before the stage start

Occasionally this isn't the case, and sometimes last minute things arise. We experienced this with Martin Kohler wanting his cleats adjusted 10 minutes before the stage start, something Crombie completed without issue.

"If riders wake up feeling a bit sore in the back or something, and know what they want adjusted, then we'll oblige," he said. "It's when riders are guessing that it can become a problem and turn stressful for everyone involved in the last minutes before the race or even once the race starts."

Once the stage starts, there's one team mechanic (Geisler and Crombie alternate this each day) who joins the Directeur Sportif (sports director) in the main team car.

We sat with Crombie as he worked with Drapac's DS Tom Southam in closely listening on general race radio for updates of rider mechanicals, riders falling back to feed, pit-stops and general events in the race. Crombie was hands on with finding rider's overall positioning in races, while Southam decided if the breaks or attacks were threatening and communicating this information over the team race radio.

Crombie may be sitting in the back seat, but he's constantly busy either communicating race information or handing out bottles

This is all happening while Crombie awaits with spare wheels ready, in case of a rider flat. Next to Crombie on the cramped back seat is a large cooler, holding the bottles he hands out to the domestique riders when they drop back.

"You can be the best mechanic in the world, but that isn't what the job is about," he explained. "The wrenching is just a small part of the daily role."

Once the stage is over and the bikes are once again loaded onto the team cars and taken back to base (usually the hotel, or the event centre in the case of the Tour Down Under). Here, the mechanics get busy with preparing the bikes for the next day of racing.

Bikes and cars must start the following day spotless

"Cleaning is half the job," Crombie continued. "Our sponsors are what keep the peloton rolling and they want their product shown in the very best possible way – that means keeping them perfectly clean every day, including the cars."

That cleaning is something Geisler and Crombie take in turns, alternating between wrenching and cleaning every second day. Once the bikes are suitably spotless, they're almost ready to be hung up for the next stage.

First though, we'd see Geisler grab a freshly cleaned bike and bring it to his stand. The bike would be dried with compressed air and a clean rag before being completely checked over.

Checking bolts on a daily basis

We watched Geisler check over every main bolt on each bike, check through the gears, the brakes and carefully inspect the tyres and chains for any signs of damage. If all is well, the chains can be lubed and the bike hung up in storage.

Where a rider is involved in a crash – or has perhaps locked a wheel to avoid one – parts are serviced or replaced. As the wheels are all tubular, they're prepared days in advance, so a flat-spotted or cut tubular is simply swapped with a fresh wheel. The swapped-out wheel has its tubular replaced for future days to come when time allows.

"The idea of opening up bearings and replacing cables every stage comes from the days of Merckx – those bikes would otherwise fall apart," Crombie noted. "These days, the bikes are so good you're not pulling them apart after each stage or race – it's mostly about keeping them clean and double checking for any problems that may arise."

When asked about chain wear, Crombie responded: "Things like chains we replace every 1,000 to 1,500km. Often it's not about wear, but really because these guys ride cross-chained so often on climbs and the last thing you want is a rider going head first into the ground because of a snapped chain. We'll replace all the chains after [the Tour]".

"It's a hard job – there's always something to do – and when we're at events, we really don't get time to go see the sights," added Crombie. "It's a bit of a thankless job, especially when you consider that these riders are entrusting their lives in our ability to safely and correctly put their bikes together."

Crombie and Geisler, like all the other mechanics at the Tour Down Under are clearly passionate about what they do, and hard work seems to be part of the job description.

Click through our gallery above for a photo journal of the day with Drapac, as well as a sneak peek at prototype tools from Jeff Crombie's bag. 

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