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Gallery: Inside the new Team Sky service course

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Bradley Wiggins was still the UK national champion on the road when we visited the service course but teammate Ian Stannard now holds the title.

Bradley Wiggins was still the UK national champion on the road when we visited the service course but teammate Ian Stannard now holds the title. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Some reader out there is already calculating the retail value of just this one rack of wheels inside Sky's service course.

Some reader out there is already calculating the retail value of just this one rack of wheels inside Sky's service course. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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fi'zi:k provides Sky with a wide range of saddles comprising different colors, shell materials and shapes, and rail materials.

fi'zi:k provides Sky with a wide range of saddles comprising different colors, shell materials and shapes, and rail materials. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A separate area is used solely for SRM power meters and parts.

A separate area is used solely for SRM power meters and parts. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky is heavily committed to SRM power meters but there aren't enough of them for every bike on hand. Team mechanics have to keep careful track of where each crank is and where it's going.

Sky is heavily committed to SRM power meters but there aren't enough of them for every bike on hand. Team mechanics have to keep careful track of where each crank is and where it's going. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky team mechanics don't trouble themselves with hacksaws when cutting steerer tubes. This rotary saw gets the job done much, much quicker.

Sky team mechanics don't trouble themselves with hacksaws when cutting steerer tubes. This rotary saw gets the job done much, much quicker. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Stems are sorted in 5mm increments so that every rider can be comfortable on the bike.

Stems are sorted in 5mm increments so that every rider can be comfortable on the bike. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team mechanics keep careful watch on all of the gear that goes in and out. Even inner tubes and bottle cages are counted.

Team mechanics keep careful watch on all of the gear that goes in and out. Even inner tubes and bottle cages are counted. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky uses Technogel bedding while on the road.

Sky uses Technogel bedding while on the road. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Stacks of FMB tubulars were awaiting gluing when we visited the service course in April.

Stacks of FMB tubulars were awaiting gluing when we visited the service course in April. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Notes for the mechanics are scribbled on to a piece of masking tape.

Notes for the mechanics are scribbled on to a piece of masking tape. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Each rider has his own rain bag where he stores preferred items of clothing.

Each rider has his own rain bag where he stores preferred items of clothing. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Various backpacks for the team staff.

Various backpacks for the team staff. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team staff can easily bring vehicles inside for servicing, loading, and unloading.

Team staff can easily bring vehicles inside for servicing, loading, and unloading. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team Sky took over this space from the now defunct Columbia-HTC squad.

Team Sky took over this space from the now defunct Columbia-HTC squad. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Heaps of boxes of Shimano componentry are kept on hand at any given moment.

Heaps of boxes of Shimano componentry are kept on hand at any given moment. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Mechanics keep parts carefully organized.

Mechanics keep parts carefully organized. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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This drawer contains consumables such as brake pads and bearings.

This drawer contains consumables such as brake pads and bearings. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Instead of the usual serrated washers, Sky team mechanics mount brakes calipers with brass washers, which they say are easier on the frames.

Instead of the usual serrated washers, Sky team mechanics mount brakes calipers with brass washers, which they say are easier on the frames. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team Sky riders don't have to worry about the quality of their pillows while they're on the road. The team brings their own so at least in theory, each rider will get a good night's sleep.

Team Sky riders don't have to worry about the quality of their pillows while they're on the road. The team brings their own so at least in theory, each rider will get a good night's sleep. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky purchases its own tires and normally uses Veloflex tubulars for standard events - and lots of them, too. Stored below are plastic bins for each rider to store clothing and other items.

Sky purchases its own tires and normally uses Veloflex tubulars for standard events - and lots of them, too. Stored below are plastic bins for each rider to store clothing and other items. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Shimano aluminum clinchers are used for training.

Shimano aluminum clinchers are used for training. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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It goes without saying that the team goes through a lot of tubular glue.

It goes without saying that the team goes through a lot of tubular glue. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Wheels are stored on rolling carts that make it easier for transport and storage.

Wheels are stored on rolling carts that make it easier for transport and storage. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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This area is solely reserved for classics wheels.

This area is solely reserved for classics wheels. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky normally uses Veloflex tubulars but it switches to fat FMB rubber for the uniquely demanding conditions of Paris-Roubaix.

Sky normally uses Veloflex tubulars but it switches to fat FMB rubber for the uniquely demanding conditions of Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky riders mostly used carbon rims at Paris-Roubaix but traditional aluminum box-section wheels are on hand as well.

Sky riders mostly used carbon rims at Paris-Roubaix but traditional aluminum box-section wheels are on hand as well. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Many of the racks for the classics wheels were empty as they were already out in the field when we visited in April.

Many of the racks for the classics wheels were empty as they were already out in the field when we visited in April. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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New wheels are stored with base layers of glue pre-applied for faster tire installation.

New wheels are stored with base layers of glue pre-applied for faster tire installation. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky had just received another allotment of Shimano's latest Dura-Ace carbon tubular wheels when we visited the facility in April.

Sky had just received another allotment of Shimano's latest Dura-Ace carbon tubular wheels when we visited the facility in April. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Dozens of Pinarello Graal time trial bikes - at a cost of over US$8,000 for each frameset - are mounted on the wall inside the Sky team service course.

Dozens of Pinarello Graal time trial bikes - at a cost of over US$8,000 for each frameset - are mounted on the wall inside the Sky team service course. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Matching blue TRP brakes for Sky's Pinarello Graal time trial bikes.

Matching blue TRP brakes for Sky's Pinarello Graal time trial bikes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Adding rider names to the underside of the saddles makes them easier to identify when atop the team car.

Adding rider names to the underside of the saddles makes them easier to identify when atop the team car. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Bradley Wiggins had grip tape applied to his fi'zi:k Ares time trial saddle but the UCI has since banned the practice.

Bradley Wiggins had grip tape applied to his fi'zi:k Ares time trial saddle but the UCI has since banned the practice. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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This area is very busy during the off-season but it was rather quiet when we stopped by since all the mechanics were on the road.

This area is very busy during the off-season but it was rather quiet when we stopped by since all the mechanics were on the road. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Mechanics have tools neatly placed on the wall. Most of the tools are kept in portable cases so there isn't much in view here.

Mechanics have tools neatly placed on the wall. Most of the tools are kept in portable cases so there isn't much in view here. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Yes, Sky even has its own towels. It seems no detail has been overlooked.

Yes, Sky even has its own towels. It seems no detail has been overlooked. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Stationary trainers, padded floor mats, foam rollers, exercise balls, and other gear is stacked from wall to wall and floor to ceiling.

Stationary trainers, padded floor mats, foam rollers, exercise balls, and other gear is stacked from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A strip of tape protects the truing stand from dripping glue. Considering how much glue is applied here, this area in general is remarkably clean.

A strip of tape protects the truing stand from dripping glue. Considering how much glue is applied here, this area in general is remarkably clean. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky even has its own olive oil.

Sky even has its own olive oil. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The service course is deceptively huge. It's obviously big when you walk in but it actually extends much further than you would expect. The apartment is located up top in this image while multiple offices occupy the first floor behind this wall.

The service course is deceptively huge. It's obviously big when you walk in but it actually extends much further than you would expect. The apartment is located up top in this image while multiple offices occupy the first floor behind this wall. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Components are kept in this caged-off area. Security is obviously a major concern.

Components are kept in this caged-off area. Security is obviously a major concern. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Soigneurs get their own separate storage area.

Soigneurs get their own separate storage area. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Sky service course is mostly just one giant warehouse space with the exception of the offices, a second-floor apartment, and these cages for additional secure storage.

The Sky service course is mostly just one giant warehouse space with the exception of the offices, a second-floor apartment, and these cages for additional secure storage. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Not surprisingly given the title sponsor, Sky regularly shoots, edits, and posts its own video content for use on the team web site.

Not surprisingly given the title sponsor, Sky regularly shoots, edits, and posts its own video content for use on the team web site. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The team doesn't just have bikes to look after - team vehicles are maintained and serviced here as well.

The team doesn't just have bikes to look after - team vehicles are maintained and serviced here as well. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Steel cassettes last longer and are much cheaper in the quantities required by the team.

Steel cassettes last longer and are much cheaper in the quantities required by the team. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Mark Cavendish's Pinarellos stray from the stark black-and-white paint scheme only slightly with a set of rainbow stripes around the seat stay wishbone and on the PRO stem.

Mark Cavendish's Pinarellos stray from the stark black-and-white paint scheme only slightly with a set of rainbow stripes around the seat stay wishbone and on the PRO stem. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Every rider gets a specific storage area for their bikes in the Sky service course.

Every rider gets a specific storage area for their bikes in the Sky service course. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky and component sponsor Shimano work very closely together on product. Any items that have failed - for whatever reason, including crashes - are sent back to Shimano for evaluation.

Sky and component sponsor Shimano work very closely together on product. Any items that have failed - for whatever reason, including crashes - are sent back to Shimano for evaluation. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team Sky consumers tens of thousands of bottles each season. This entire stack is nothing but bottles - and this isn't even a complete year's allotment.

Team Sky consumers tens of thousands of bottles each season. This entire stack is nothing but bottles - and this isn't even a complete year's allotment. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky travels with portable air conditioning units to ensure riders have a comfortable sleeping environment when on the road.

Sky travels with portable air conditioning units to ensure riders have a comfortable sleeping environment when on the road. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Sky service course also includes a rather commodious apartment on the second floor for visiting riders and staff.

The Sky service course also includes a rather commodious apartment on the second floor for visiting riders and staff. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team bikes see lots of rain so it's important to seal critical components from water when possible.

Team bikes see lots of rain so it's important to seal critical components from water when possible. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky team staff travel in advance to that night's hotel to prep the rooms before riders arrive. Sleep is critical for recovery so the team actually travels with its own bedding - including memory foam mattresses - so that each rider has a consistent bed on which to sleep.

Sky team staff travel in advance to that night's hotel to prep the rooms before riders arrive. Sleep is critical for recovery so the team actually travels with its own bedding - including memory foam mattresses - so that each rider has a consistent bed on which to sleep. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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At the Tour de France, teams supposedly are assigned hotels at random by the race organizer, ASO. The quality of the hotels can vary tremendously so Sky plays it safe and brings clean sheets, mattresses, and pillows. Even Bradley Wiggins has to endure subpar hotels from time to time.

At the Tour de France, teams supposedly are assigned hotels at random by the race organizer, ASO. The quality of the hotels can vary tremendously so Sky plays it safe and brings clean sheets, mattresses, and pillows. Even Bradley Wiggins has to endure subpar hotels from time to time. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Soft-sided bike travel cases from British company dhb are piled up in one area of the service course.

Soft-sided bike travel cases from British company dhb are piled up in one area of the service course. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Bikes are neatly clamped to one wall of the service course. A team the size of Sky can easily have three campaigns running concurrently so there's a huge inventory of equipment required.

Bikes are neatly clamped to one wall of the service course. A team the size of Sky can easily have three campaigns running concurrently so there's a huge inventory of equipment required. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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White boards in the mechanics' area include important notes for equipment flow, pending tasks, and other communications.

White boards in the mechanics' area include important notes for equipment flow, pending tasks, and other communications. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team sponsor Morgan Blue provides a variety of different chain lubricants.

Team sponsor Morgan Blue provides a variety of different chain lubricants. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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As do many top teams, Sky has its own chef to help ensure the riders are properly fed during key events.

As do many top teams, Sky has its own chef to help ensure the riders are properly fed during key events. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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New frames still in the factory bubble wrap are marked with each rider's name.

New frames still in the factory bubble wrap are marked with each rider's name. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Scores of carbon handlebars are sorted by size and bend.

Scores of carbon handlebars are sorted by size and bend. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Aluminum bars are stored on a separate shelf.

Aluminum bars are stored on a separate shelf. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team riders and staff are treated to an enormous supply of clothing for both on the bike and off. Even staff members get fully custom riding kit, too.

Team riders and staff are treated to an enormous supply of clothing for both on the bike and off. Even staff members get fully custom riding kit, too. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team mechanics use jigs such as this one to accurately set up new bikes.

Team mechanics use jigs such as this one to accurately set up new bikes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team Sky has a lot of vehicles and doors in its inventory. We visited the service course during the spring classics so many of the vehicles were on the road.

Team Sky has a lot of vehicles and doors in its inventory. We visited the service course during the spring classics so many of the vehicles were on the road. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Some bike shops may never see this many Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 levers in a full year.

Some bike shops may never see this many Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 levers in a full year. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Linens for the apartment located atop the service course are neatly stored.

Linens for the apartment located atop the service course are neatly stored. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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More tires and helmets are piled up in another corner of the service course.

More tires and helmets are piled up in another corner of the service course. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Riders are free to choose fork rakes based on their own handling preferences so a separate stock is kept on hand.

Riders are free to choose fork rakes based on their own handling preferences so a separate stock is kept on hand. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team mechanics are constantly washing things: bikes, vehicles, etc. Mechanics even have their own bins for personal gear.

Team mechanics are constantly washing things: bikes, vehicles, etc. Mechanics even have their own bins for personal gear. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The cage at left is used to store team helmets, shoes, and clothing. The one at right is for the teams' 'carers' and contains items such as towels and food.

The cage at left is used to store team helmets, shoes, and clothing. The one at right is for the teams' 'carers' and contains items such as towels and food. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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No work area is complete without a steady supply of coffee.

No work area is complete without a steady supply of coffee. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky is heavily invested in Shimano's Di2 electronic technology. Mechanics are constantly in need of wiring harnesses for new frames.

Sky is heavily invested in Shimano's Di2 electronic technology. Mechanics are constantly in need of wiring harnesses for new frames. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team Sky probably has more Coca-Cola on hand at any given moment than many supermarkets.

Team Sky probably has more Coca-Cola on hand at any given moment than many supermarkets. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Pallets of drinks are stacked high.

Pallets of drinks are stacked high. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Mechanics keep greases, oils, glues, and other fluids neatly stored here.

Mechanics keep greases, oils, glues, and other fluids neatly stored here. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Riders consume an incredible number of calories during a season.

Riders consume an incredible number of calories during a season. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Boxes of new Pinarello frames are stacked nearly to the ceiling.

Boxes of new Pinarello frames are stacked nearly to the ceiling. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)

This article originally published on BikeRadar

Team Sky has only occupied its new service course in Deinze, Belgium since November but with an estimated annual budget upwards of €15M, it's already seen more high-end gear than most bicycle shops will turn over in their entire lifetime. While it's always the rider that has to pedal the bike, our April visit supports the notion that Sky expends an awful lot of time, energy, and money to ensure that that's the only thing they have to worry about.

Sky team members certainly don't seem to be lacking in terms of equipment. Each of the team's 28 riders gets three road race bikes and one time trial race bike at minimum (riders such as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish get more), plus each rider also gets a road bike for home use and in some instances, a TT rig, too. Factor in special machines for events like Paris-Roubaix, the occasional custom paint job, and spare bikes and frames, and, well, you do the math.

Each of those bikes also requires all of the necessary parts to build them up at the beginning of the season plus a sufficient allotment of spares to account for wear and crashes. And then, of course, none of those bikes has just one set of wheels associated with it. Add in race wheels of various depths and with different tires glued, training wheels, and the scores of special wheels just for Paris-Roubaix and it's a simply staggering amount of equipment.

According to service course manager Andy Verrall, there are around 150 bikes on hand at the service course at any given moment – which doesn't include bikes currently being used – and the team goes through roughly 600 chains and nearly 35,000 water bottles alone in a single season.

It's not just hard goods, either. Sky currently employs roughly fifty full-time staff members, including eight mechanics, eight soigneurs (Sky calls them 'carers'), two physiotherapists, and four doctors. Additional freelancers are hired on demand.

Needless to say, it's a lot to manage but Verrall says that despite the volume, everything is meticulously tracked – even inner tubes.

Power meter inventory is especially stringently monitored, not just because of the component cost but also the importance and quantity. SRM supplies the team with some and Sky also buys additional units but even then, there aren't enough to go around.

"It’s a big investment so sometimes we have to switch cranks between the time trial bike, race bike, etc.," Verrall told BikeRadar. "It's an important part of the team because everybody's looking at their training data. Each SRM has got its own calibration number so we can track it and everyone knows what's going on. We can't just have people coming in and taking an SRM off of another bike and walking away with it. Everything's controlled – where it goes, whose bike it goes on, and there's a plan."

Verrall says that Sky can have up to four events running concurrently, each with its own unique rider roster and mobile fleet of support staff, equipment, and vehicles scattered across the globe. Needless to say, logistics is a major concern and there's a full-time staffer who does nothing but manage who and what goes where and when in as efficient a manner as possible.

Part of that efficiency aim is trying to minimize the movement of the vehicles when possible.

"On the truck we keep five groupsets plus all the different shapes and sizes of handlebars, stems, etc.," said Verrall. "You need stuff here to top the trucks up. One thing we try to do is keep the movement of the trucks down. We'll just send a car down or we'll ship to a hotel if the mechanics say, 'we need this' or 'we need topping up'."

"It's pointless to drive a truck all the back from Spain back here just to take it back again the next week. We'll park it up at someone's house or find somewhere safe and someone will fly up and fly back or it might just be easier for them to stay down there for a few days. They can work on the bikes on the truck where they are. If you come back you've got a two days' drive back and another two day's drive out and you've lost a week."

Extensive travel is often unavoidable for the riders, though, and even Sky doesn't get to choose its own hotels during the Tour de France. The quality of the establishments can vary tremendously – some are quite luxurious but some are downright awful – but the team's 'marginal gains' initiative seems to address even that. After all, a rider can't race the next day if they can't rest the night before.

Sky actually sends a dedicated staff member well ahead of the rest of the team to prep the hotel rooms for the evening, which includes a thorough cleaning and a wholesale replacement of standard bedding with linens the teams supplies for itself. Even the mattresses and pillows are replaced with Sky-issued gear and riders get to choose their preferred firmnesses and feels so, at least in theory, they get to sleep in the same bed each night regardless of where they are.

In case of uncomfortably hot weather, Sky brings portable air conditioning units, too.

Sky may have suffered a modest start to its much-hyped existence but given the team's current performance in this year's Tour de France, it finally seems to have found its groove.

Marginal gains, indeed.