For teams that spend the year travelling around the world, the service course is the one place that they can call home. Cyclingnews paid a visit to Lotto-Belisol’s service course in Herentals in northern Belgium as they prepare for the Tour of Flanders.
It is where they keep the kit that isn’t already out at a race and where the mechanics can fix and tinker with the bikes. Occasionally a rider might drop by to have one of them attend to his bike, but that is a rare thing. The building that houses the masses of bikes and equipment is non-descript, not what you would expect from a WorldTour level team. It isn’t out of modesty, though, that they do this, but for security. With a number of teams becoming the victims of theft, Lotto would like to keep the place as discreet as possible.
While you might be forgiven for driving past, there is no question about your current location once you’re inside. There is a giant Lotto-Belisol flag hanging in the mechanics’ area and the office walls are decorated with pictures of the riders and team jerseys from the past two seasons. It also stores the spare team bus and car, liveried up and ready to go
When we arrive the team bikes are being busily prepared by the mechanics for a team reconnaissance of the Tour of Flanders route on Wednesday. One notable omission is André Greipel’s bike, it is up on the racks with the many other unused frames after he crashed out of Gent-Wevelgem. The German will have to sit out of the remaining classics, but the team hope to have him back in action at the Tour of Turkey.
Of the bikes bound for Flanders, the riders will use one of two Ridley frames. Team leader Jürgen Roelandts will be riding the Fenix frame, which is the same one he used for the race in 2013. At Gent-Wevelgem he used the Noah, but decided that it was too stiff and reverted to the Fenix. However, Tony Gallopin and the majority of the team will use the Helium frame which is lighter than the one that will be used by Roelandts.
Team mechanic Chris van Roosbroeck, says that this changing of frames is something new. “Five or ten years ago you wouldn’t have seen this, now riders are changing bikes all the time,” he explains to Cyclingnews. “It’s not just the younger riders either. Riders like Marcel Sieberg he is always changing his bike, like he changes his pants.”
Along with the many frames there is all you could need out at a race. Boxes of bidons are pilled high next to crates of coca cola, soya milk and energy gels. There are also plenty of spare helmets, tyres and wheels for the discerning cyclist. The team go through large quantities of most things, with 14,000 energy bars, 25,000 bidons, 100 helmets, 400 jerseys and 90 pairs of shoes passing through the service course in a year.
Click here for the gallery of Lotto-Belisol’s service course.
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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.
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