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.”