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Preparing for Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders at the Team Sky service course

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The name says it all

The name says it all
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The team's Roubaix bikes

The team's Roubaix bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The team's wheels for the Tour of Flanders are waiting

The team's wheels for the Tour of Flanders are waiting
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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That's a picture of Juan Antonio Flecha, sent in by a young Sky fan

That's a picture of Juan Antonio Flecha, sent in by a young Sky fan
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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CJ Sutton's donkey from his Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne win earlier in the season

CJ Sutton's donkey from his Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne win earlier in the season
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Some of the spoils from the last two season

Some of the spoils from the last two season
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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 Jeppesen takes an important call

Jeppesen takes an important call
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Fans send in pictures of the team, which then get posted on the team's notice board

Fans send in pictures of the team, which then get posted on the team's notice board
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The team collect a lot of these out on the road

The team collect a lot of these out on the road
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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It's not just about the Classics. Here another mechanic works on building Simon Gerrans's fouth bike of the season

It's not just about the Classics. Here another mechanic works on building Simon Gerrans's fouth bike of the season
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Tisma works on Wiggins' Roubaix ride

Tisma works on Wiggins' Roubaix ride
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Filip Tisma was a former rider but now works as Sky's mechanic

Filip Tisma was a former rider but now works as Sky's mechanic
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The Elite bottle cages

The Elite bottle cages
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Bradley Wiggins's ride on the bike stand

Bradley Wiggins's ride on the bike stand
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The standard Elite bottle cages will be replaced by ones tailor-made for the cobbles

The standard Elite bottle cages will be replaced by ones tailor-made for the cobbles
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The mechanics have to build 16 bikes specifically for Roubaix

The mechanics have to build 16 bikes specifically for Roubaix
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Team Sky's Paris Roubaix bikes

Team Sky's Paris Roubaix bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Broken frames from last season

Broken frames from last season
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The team has a room filled with parts

The team has a room filled with parts
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Ready for action: The Classics bikes

Ready for action: The Classics bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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No service course would be complete without tones of energy product

No service course would be complete without tones of energy product
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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A handful of frames from the team's first season on the road

A handful of frames from the team's first season on the road
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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At 500 square metres, it’s one of the biggest European Service Course in the sport

At 500 square metres, it’s one of the biggest European Service Course in the sport
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Cap that. The team has enough kit to see them through the entire season

Cap that. The team has enough kit to see them through the entire season
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The team travel all over the world so a few creature comforts are essential

The team travel all over the world so a few creature comforts are essential
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The team's product supplies are well stocked

The team's product supplies are well stocked
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Each rider has their own pit for bikes and clothing

Each rider has their own pit for bikes and clothing
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Most of Flecha's bikes are out on the road

Most of Flecha's bikes are out on the road
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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British champion Geraint Thomas's pit

British champion Geraint Thomas's pit
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The team has kit for all occasions

The team has kit for all occasions
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Michael Rogers's road and time trial machines

Michael Rogers's road and time trial machines
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The team's office

The team's office
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Memories of the team's first win in 2010 are still visible

Memories of the team's first win in 2010 are still visible
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Boasson Hagen's spare time trial bike

Boasson Hagen's spare time trial bike
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Filip puts the finishing touches to Wiggins's bike

Filip puts the finishing touches to Wiggins's bike
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Ready for action: The Classics bikes

Ready for action: The Classics bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Team Sky's Paris Roubaix bikes

Team Sky's Paris Roubaix bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)

With the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on the horizon, riders are putting the final touches to their training and preparation, but behind the scenes teams are working overtime to make sure that their bikes and equipment are in perfect condition and ready for the challenges ahead.

At Team Sky’s service course in Mechelen, Carsten Jeppesen and his team are working around the clock to make sure that the team’s bikes are ready.

“This is without doubt one of the busiest times in the year for us,” he told Cyclingnews during an exclusive look around the service course.

“We do 16 bikes for Paris-Roubaix, ten new ones for the race and the rest built up from last year,” he says while one mechanic begins the build on Bradley Wiggins’ Kobh frame.

“We have to make them all fit for the riders and that can take up the most amount of time, perhaps an hour for each bike because the measurements are different from these bikes to their road bikes,” adds the team’s Croatian mechanic Filip Tisma as he plays with Shimano’s new prototype outer-chaining that will be used for the first time at Roubaix.

“We have all the sheets with all the standard geometry but it’s different on these bikes. They want to keep the same position on a frame that has different geometry which is the tough part,” he adds.

For Roubaix both team leaders Juan Antonio Flecha and Edvald Boasson Hagen will have two of the new Pinarello Kobh bikes. The rest of the team will have one, with their spare bikes coming from last year’s stock. If a rider is new to the team and didn’t ride Roubaix last year his spare will come from the service course’s stock from 2010.

As for the wheelsets, which are kept secret until the race day, the team must prepare 35 pairs for Roubaix where they’ll move up to 27mm tyre width.

“It just absorbs the bumps a little better,” adds Jeppesen.

“The standard is 22 and we go to 24 for Flanders.”

In this video Tisma takes us through Wiggins’s bike, pointing out technical changes from his standard road machine.

 

“For the cobbled classics Shimano have changed the setting on the Di2 gearing indexing,” says service course manager Andy Verrall.

“They’ve done research on it, testing it on the cobbles. They came down to our team hotel on Friday and gave us a talk about it.”

Back in the office, Andy and Carsten discuss some of the logistics for the weeks ahead but the continual barrage of races mean that they can’t just plan for the races in the coming week, but instead must look towards the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.

“It’s very busy with the current racing. We’ve got mechanics coming in and out but we’ve got three teams on the road. We’ve also got the Giro a few weeks away and we have o start planning for that. The riders will of course have new bikes for the Giro. And you can t ignore the Tour for a second. It’s just constant motion.

“But for the Classics we’re expecting a lot of work, not just the initial burst but you have to prepare for the scenario of crashes. It’s a big push. It’s the busiest time of the season.”

On average a Sky rider will be provided with between three and four road machines and two time trial bikes.

“We phase in bikes throughout the season, so last year’s race bike became a training bike, their first bike at the start of the year was built up during the winter and it goes on and on throughout the year. On average, without a Grand Tour they’ll have between three and four bikes. A Grand Tour rider gets a new bike.”