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From pillows to Pinarellos: Inside Team Sky's marginal-gains world

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BikeRadar got to poke around Team Sky's service course during the Spring Classics

BikeRadar got to poke around Team Sky's service course during the Spring Classics
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A wide range of stems are available to the team

A wide range of stems are available to the team (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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The service course has accommodation for staff

The service course has accommodation for staff (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Each of the riders will have their own pillows to use throughout the season

Each of the riders will have their own pillows to use throughout the season (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Memory foam mattresses are used during races

Memory foam mattresses are used during races (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Sandpaper tape is used to help keep the bottles in position during cobbled races

Sandpaper tape is used to help keep the bottles in position during cobbled races (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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The team cars outside are some of the only signs of Team Sky's presence at the warehouse

The team cars outside are some of the only signs of Team Sky's presence at the warehouse (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Some of the mechanics' notes ready the bikes for adjustment

Some of the mechanics' notes ready the bikes for adjustment (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Leo Konig customises his TT saddle for that extra bit of grip

Leo Konig customises his TT saddle for that extra bit of grip (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Vasil Kiryenka's custom paintwork celebrating national, European and world champion time trial titles

Vasil Kiryenka's custom paintwork celebrating national, European and world champion time trial titles (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Ian Stannard's podium finishing Paris-Roubaix bike

Ian Stannard's podium finishing Paris-Roubaix bike (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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No need to hunt down a laundrette

No need to hunt down a laundrette (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Elia Viviani's K8-S

Elia Viviani's K8-S (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Old bidons are used to apply the tub glue

Old bidons are used to apply the tub glue (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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There are reminders throughout the service course of the team's past victories

There are reminders throughout the service course of the team's past victories (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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The team's workshop area

The team's workshop area (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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A look around the service course

A look around the service course (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Various Kask helmets are available to the riders

Various Kask helmets are available to the riders (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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A selection of the wheels available for the season

A selection of the wheels available for the season (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Enough clothing for the whole season

Enough clothing for the whole season (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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The mechanics keeping things simple

The mechanics keeping things simple (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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A selection of the riders' frames

A selection of the riders' frames (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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K8-S rear shock

K8-S rear shock (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Thomas' Bolide TT machine

Thomas' Bolide TT machine (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Some light reading available at the service course

Some light reading available at the service course (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Chain guards were used during the cobbled races

Chain guards were used during the cobbled races (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Carsten Jeppesen talks through the different frames available to the riders

Carsten Jeppesen talks through the different frames available to the riders (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Spare carbon parts

Spare carbon parts (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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The team bus has rider comfort as its main priority

The team bus has rider comfort as its main priority (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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A box of old brake pads and discarded carbon

A box of old brake pads and discarded carbon (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Spare Shimano Dura-Ace bottom brackets

Spare Shimano Dura-Ace bottom brackets (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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A variety of body care products are available to the riders

A variety of body care products are available to the riders (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Sometimes there are less refined methods of monitoring stock levels – Team Sky get through 32-35,000 bidons every season!

Sometimes there are less refined methods of monitoring stock levels – Team Sky get through 32-35,000 bidons every season! (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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One of Chris Froome's Bolide time trial frames

One of Chris Froome's Bolide time trial frames (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Spare custom parts for Team Sky's champions

Spare custom parts for Team Sky's champions (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Geraint Thomas' K8-S

Geraint Thomas' K8-S (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Chris Froome's custom paintwork

Chris Froome's custom paintwork (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Small reminders of past victories adorn the team vehicles

Small reminders of past victories adorn the team vehicles (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Some more support for the riders

Some more support for the riders (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Team Sky age the tubs for at least a year in advance for the races

Team Sky age the tubs for at least a year in advance for the races (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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Team Sky use the handmade FMB Paris-Roubaix tubulars during the one-day Classics

Team Sky use the handmade FMB Paris-Roubaix tubulars during the one-day Classics (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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F8 Disk down tube

F8 Disk down tube (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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A member of staff operates the expanding mechanics trailer

A member of staff operates the expanding mechanics trailer (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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The fork steerers are cut for the different riders

The fork steerers are cut for the different riders (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
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The team also take their own hypoallergenic bedding for the riders to use

The team also take their own hypoallergenic bedding for the riders to use (Image credit: Josh Evans / Immediate Media)

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

In its seventh year competing in the WorldTour, winning has become synonymous with Team Sky. For 2016 that seems to be continuing, at Liege-Bastogne-Liege with Wout Poels' victory (and Team Sky's first monument) – not to mention Chris Froome closing in on his third Tour de France victory later this year.

During the one-day classics season, BikeRadar was invited for an exclusive look into the Team Sky service course in Belgium where the concept of marginal gains and the foundations of Team Sky's success begins.

We were shown around the service course by the team's head of technical operations and commercial, Carsten Jeppesen. The Dane works closely with each of the team's brands to develop products specifically to enhance performance. He's behind many of the incremental tweaks that have contributed to the success of the team in recent years.

With little more than a few team cars outside to identify the nondescript warehouse in Deinze, Belgium, the service course is a case of 'more than meets the eye'. Put it this way, Team Sky certainly isn't short of equipment.

The team has approximately 290 bikes at any one time. With riders keeping a training road and TT bike at home (usually the previous year's), the service course stores the current season's fleet of race bikes, along with around 250 sets of wheels and a huge selection of tyres. However, this is just the beginning…

The phrase Aladdin's Cave may spring to mind when seeing the famous black and blue clad Dogma hung upon the walls of the service course – and this is only the beginning. With spare racing and podium kit from Rapha, helmets from KASK, components from Shimano, tyres from Continental and FMB ageing and enough nutrition to supply a small army Team Sky has every eventuality of the season covered.

Among the carbon, Lycra, tools and rubber you might come to expect from a World Tour cycling team, we were also shown around some of the other supplies with which the marginal gains of Team Sky are truly showcased.

With memory foam pillows and mattresses (with different thicknesses for different riders), hypoallergenic bedding, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, air conditioning units and heaters, Team Sky ensures every rider gets the best possible rest during races. Combined with a dedicated team of carers preparing, cleaning and laundering each hotel room night after night the infrastructure behind the riders before and after each race is astounding.

Arguably, many changes in the pro-peloton that would have seemed alien even 10 years ago have been fashioned by Team Sky. Jeppesen recalls the introduction of cool-downs into the team and working closely with Wahoo to develop the Kickr.

"Team Sky were the first to start cooldowns after a race, and the other teams called us crazy to begin with," he says. "Now, name me a WorldTour team who doesn't cool down post race. It provokes recovery and for us there is no other option."

With thousands of products to choose from and millions in budget, Team Sky's recent success may not seem that surprising. But the infrastructure behind the team is as impressive as the teams palmares, and on the evidence of our visit to the service course, we see no signs of the team stopping anytime soon.

Click through our image gallery for a full insight into the service course.