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Race tech gallery: Race vehicles of the Giro d'Italia

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Note the custom license plate, too

Note the custom license plate, too (Image credit: James Huang)
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Switching team vehicle sponsors can be a major pain since racks have to be refitted as well

Switching team vehicle sponsors can be a major pain since racks have to be refitted as well (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Cannondale team goes with cars from French company Citroën

The Cannondale team goes with cars from French company Citroën (Image credit: James Huang)
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The slideout on the side of Trek Factory Racing's support truck creates enough room to work inside when the weather is ugly. Riders unfortunately don't enjoy the same luxury

The slideout on the side of Trek Factory Racing's support truck creates enough room to work inside when the weather is ugly. Riders unfortunately don't enjoy the same luxury (Image credit: James Huang)
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Team mechanics rely on hotels to provide electricity and water hookups like these

Team mechanics rely on hotels to provide electricity and water hookups like these (Image credit: James Huang)
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This is about as dirty as you'll ever see a team car, which is saying quite a bit. Team vehicles are washed just about as often as riders' bikes

This is about as dirty as you'll ever see a team car, which is saying quite a bit. Team vehicles are washed just about as often as riders' bikes (Image credit: James Huang)
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Radio gear in the Trek Factory Racing cars is tucked away beneath the front passenger seat

Radio gear in the Trek Factory Racing cars is tucked away beneath the front passenger seat (Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek Factory Racing prefers the all-black approach

Trek Factory Racing prefers the all-black approach (Image credit: James Huang)
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Another set of Skoda Octavias, this time for Trek Factory Racing

Another set of Skoda Octavias, this time for Trek Factory Racing (Image credit: James Huang)
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The soigneurs' area of the Trek Factory Racing truck includes a full-sized washer. And yes, there appears to be a bottle of wine on the counter because you never know when it's time to celebrate

The soigneurs' area of the Trek Factory Racing truck includes a full-sized washer. And yes, there appears to be a bottle of wine on the counter because you never know when it's time to celebrate (Image credit: James Huang)
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This forward cargo hold is used by the Trek Factory Racing team for drinks but there are also two slide-out tables for workspace

This forward cargo hold is used by the Trek Factory Racing team for drinks but there are also two slide-out tables for workspace (Image credit: James Huang)
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The underbellies of the trucks are used for storage and mechanical equipment such as pressure washers and compressors

The underbellies of the trucks are used for storage and mechanical equipment such as pressure washers and compressors (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Trek Factory Racing truck is notably plush. If the weather is particularly bad, there's enough room to work inside (especially with the slide-out section on the left side of the vehicle) and glass doors to seal out the wet and cold

The Trek Factory Racing truck is notably plush. If the weather is particularly bad, there's enough room to work inside (especially with the slide-out section on the left side of the vehicle) and glass doors to seal out the wet and cold (Image credit: James Huang)
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Riders, on the other hand, typically travel in these enormous custom buses

Riders, on the other hand, typically travel in these enormous custom buses (Image credit: James Huang)
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Automatic transmissions are more common in the peloton but you do still see manuals on occasion

Automatic transmissions are more common in the peloton but you do still see manuals on occasion (Image credit: James Huang)
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Want to get a rack like this for yourself? Here's another number to call

Want to get a rack like this for yourself? Here's another number to call (Image credit: James Huang)
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We obviously couldn't see the top of the Cannondale team bus but we're guessing it's just as clean as the rest of it

We obviously couldn't see the top of the Cannondale team bus but we're guessing it's just as clean as the rest of it (Image credit: James Huang)
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Team Sky has perhaps the snazziest cars in the peloton. These Jaguar XF Sportbrakes unfortunately aren't available in the US but that's not an issue in Europe

Team Sky has perhaps the snazziest cars in the peloton. These Jaguar XF Sportbrakes unfortunately aren't available in the US but that's not an issue in Europe (Image credit: James Huang)
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French Renaults for the French Europcar team - and as usual, it's probably best not to purchase this rental once it's put on the market

French Renaults for the French Europcar team - and as usual, it's probably best not to purchase this rental once it's put on the market (Image credit: James Huang)
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Tinkoff-Saxo uses these BMWs in the caravan

Tinkoff-Saxo uses these BMWs in the caravan (Image credit: James Huang)
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Just how custom are the roof rack installations on team vehicles? This should provide some clue

Just how custom are the roof rack installations on team vehicles? This should provide some clue (Image credit: James Huang)
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Small vans like this Volkswagen offer much more room than wagons while occupying similar footprints so why aren't they used in races? For one, they don't handle as well, but they're also too tall for the riders to see over them, which presents a safety hazard

Small vans like this Volkswagen offer much more room than wagons while occupying similar footprints so why aren't they used in races? For one, they don't handle as well, but they're also too tall for the riders to see over them, which presents a safety hazard (Image credit: James Huang)
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Lights are often installed on the back of the rear liftgates. The work doesn't end when the sun goes down

Lights are often installed on the back of the rear liftgates. The work doesn't end when the sun goes down (Image credit: James Huang)
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Astana team mechanics at least get to glue tubulars 'indoors' - hopefully with the rear door open

Astana team mechanics at least get to glue tubulars 'indoors' - hopefully with the rear door open (Image credit: James Huang)
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Somehow it seems like the Astana team bus would still look appropriate floating through space

Somehow it seems like the Astana team bus would still look appropriate floating through space (Image credit: James Huang)
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Another option if a custom roof rack is in your future

Another option if a custom roof rack is in your future (Image credit: James Huang)
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Volkswagens for the Astana team

Volkswagens for the Astana team (Image credit: James Huang)
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Instead of constantly wondering who has keys, Astana's team bus is accessed via keypad

Instead of constantly wondering who has keys, Astana's team bus is accessed via keypad (Image credit: James Huang)
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Backup cameras can be lifesavers for the team bus drivers

Backup cameras can be lifesavers for the team bus drivers (Image credit: James Huang)
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A huge awning is hung off the side of the Astana team bus

A huge awning is hung off the side of the Astana team bus (Image credit: James Huang)
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Astana's team support truck is certainly hard to miss

Astana's team support truck is certainly hard to miss (Image credit: James Huang)
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Need a place to hang a race radio? Why, of course the solutio is to screw a hook into the dashboard

Need a place to hang a race radio? Why, of course the solutio is to screw a hook into the dashboard (Image credit: James Huang)
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Wind resistance must be massive when these racks are fully loaded

Wind resistance must be massive when these racks are fully loaded (Image credit: James Huang)
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Ag2r-La Mondiale uses these sleek Hyundai wagons

Ag2r-La Mondiale uses these sleek Hyundai wagons (Image credit: James Huang)
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Radio antennas are usually stored inside the vehicles when they're not being driven in a race. They're easily removed and, therefore, easily stolen

Radio antennas are usually stored inside the vehicles when they're not being driven in a race. They're easily removed and, therefore, easily stolen (Image credit: James Huang)
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Omega Pharma-QuickStep uses Peugeot 508SW wagons. Note the television antenna up top

Omega Pharma-QuickStep uses Peugeot 508SW wagons. Note the television antenna up top (Image credit: James Huang)
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Katusha mechanics operate out of these spacious Volkswagen Transporter vans

Katusha mechanics operate out of these spacious Volkswagen Transporter vans (Image credit: James Huang)
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This is the mechanic's office for each day of the race

This is the mechanic's office for each day of the race (Image credit: James Huang)
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Wheels are stored up high inside the Katusha mechanics' van

Wheels are stored up high inside the Katusha mechanics' van (Image credit: James Huang)
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This custom enclosure is basically a distribution point for electricity and compressed air

This custom enclosure is basically a distribution point for electricity and compressed air (Image credit: James Huang)
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Mechanics will generally drive these vans directly from team hotel to team hotel. They're heavily customized to not only store a lot of gear but also operate as mobile work shops

Mechanics will generally drive these vans directly from team hotel to team hotel. They're heavily customized to not only store a lot of gear but also operate as mobile work shops (Image credit: James Huang)
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Opinions seem to be mixed on whether it's better to transport spare wheels in the front of the rack or the rear. Katusha prefers its wheels to be accessible from behind the vehicle

Opinions seem to be mixed on whether it's better to transport spare wheels in the front of the rack or the rear. Katusha prefers its wheels to be accessible from behind the vehicle (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Skoda Octavia is popular partially because of how much gear can fit in the back

The Skoda Octavia is popular partially because of how much gear can fit in the back (Image credit: James Huang)
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Teams run summer-specific tires on the cars when there's no chance of snow or ice. The riders can typically descend much faster than the support vehicles so any little bit of extra traction helps

Teams run summer-specific tires on the cars when there's no chance of snow or ice. The riders can typically descend much faster than the support vehicles so any little bit of extra traction helps (Image credit: James Huang)
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Katusha also uses Skoda Octavias

Katusha also uses Skoda Octavias (Image credit: James Huang)
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Just as there are just a handful of standard roof rack companies, there seem to be just a few outfits making these custom setups for the teams

Just as there are just a handful of standard roof rack companies, there seem to be just a few outfits making these custom setups for the teams (Image credit: James Huang)
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Team vehicles use custom-made roof racks that not only pack in many more bikes than what's typically available in stores but are also much faster to load and unload

Team vehicles use custom-made roof racks that not only pack in many more bikes than what's typically available in stores but are also much faster to load and unload (Image credit: James Huang)
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Team vehicles are typically festooned with multiple radio antennas since different frequencies and systems are used to communicate with the riders and receive race information, for example

Team vehicles are typically festooned with multiple radio antennas since different frequencies and systems are used to communicate with the riders and receive race information, for example (Image credit: James Huang)
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Inside this Omega Pharma-QuickStep team car are multiple radios plus a small television

Inside this Omega Pharma-QuickStep team car are multiple radios plus a small television (Image credit: James Huang)
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Many teams also employ box trucks for the mechanics and soigneurs. They're remarkably spacious and incredibly useful. Team staff can basically live out of these things

Many teams also employ box trucks for the mechanics and soigneurs. They're remarkably spacious and incredibly useful. Team staff can basically live out of these things (Image credit: James Huang)
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Bottles aren't just for water, you know

Bottles aren't just for water, you know (Image credit: James Huang)
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Vises serve double duty as truing stand mounts for the Ag2r-La Mondiale team so that mechanics don't have to carry dedicated bases. Check out how spare inner cables are stored, too

Vises serve double duty as truing stand mounts for the Ag2r-La Mondiale team so that mechanics don't have to carry dedicated bases. Check out how spare inner cables are stored, too (Image credit: James Huang)
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Tubulars are constantly being stretched on old and spare rims

Tubulars are constantly being stretched on old and spare rims (Image credit: James Huang)
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One can only imagine what goes through the minds of the mechanics when driving along bumpy roads…

One can only imagine what goes through the minds of the mechanics when driving along bumpy roads… (Image credit: James Huang)
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Short bungee cords help keep bikes stable inside the Lotto-Belisol truck

Short bungee cords help keep bikes stable inside the Lotto-Belisol truck (Image credit: James Huang)
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Bikes and wheels are tightly packed

Bikes and wheels are tightly packed (Image credit: James Huang)
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Wheel selections vary nearly daily so mechanics are constantly reconfiguring race bikes

Wheel selections vary nearly daily so mechanics are constantly reconfiguring race bikes (Image credit: James Huang)
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Lotto-Belisol says this truck can hold nearly fifty bikes, plus wheels and other gear

Lotto-Belisol says this truck can hold nearly fifty bikes, plus wheels and other gear (Image credit: James Huang)
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Many of these trucks are better equipped than some brick-and-mortar bicycle shops

Many of these trucks are better equipped than some brick-and-mortar bicycle shops (Image credit: James Huang)
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Retractable awnings don't keep the mechanics warm but they certainly help when it's raining

Retractable awnings don't keep the mechanics warm but they certainly help when it's raining (Image credit: James Huang)
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Lotto-Belisol uses these box trucks made by Iveco

Lotto-Belisol uses these box trucks made by Iveco (Image credit: James Huang)
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BMC goes a little more upscale with these vehicles from Mercedes-Benz

BMC goes a little more upscale with these vehicles from Mercedes-Benz (Image credit: James Huang)
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Inside almost all of these support vehicles are espresso machines to help keep everyone going

Inside almost all of these support vehicles are espresso machines to help keep everyone going (Image credit: James Huang)
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The cargo areas of these trucks are usually split in two. The mechanics basically get the rear of the vehicle and the soigneurs a smaller section up front

The cargo areas of these trucks are usually split in two. The mechanics basically get the rear of the vehicle and the soigneurs a smaller section up front (Image credit: James Huang)
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We've shown you on numerous occasions what team riders ride. But what about what the support staff drives? Lotto-Belisol uses these Skoda Octavia wagons, which are quite popular among the peloton

We've shown you on numerous occasions what team riders ride. But what about what the support staff drives? Lotto-Belisol uses these Skoda Octavia wagons, which are quite popular among the peloton (Image credit: James Huang)

We regularly bring to you close-up looks at what the riders use in the world's greatest bike races but what about the rolling infrastructure that support them? While cycling may be a carbon-friendly activity, big-time road racing most certainly is not with nearly as many four-wheeled vehicles on the road as two.

Any major road race is accompanied by a flotilla of vehicles with each team operating its own independent fleet. Typically, each squad has around three or four cars, a team bus, a large truck, and often other vehicles, such as a mobile kitchen – all customized for their specific purposes, and not just in terms of the graphics packages applied.

Standard upgrades on the cars include multiple two-way radios that communicate with both the riders and race staff. In many cases, cars are also fitted with television antennas so effectively put eyes on multiple parts of the race.

Most important, though, are the bespoke racks that are installed on each car. Far from off-the-shelf models available from the likes of consumer brands such as Thule and Yakima, these team specials can usually handle at minimum four complete bikes and roughly half a dozen spare wheels – all accessible virtually instantly by team mechanics via special quick-release levers and open-topped wheel trays.

Keep in mind, too, that those cars are generally the only team vehicles spectators ever see in a race. Giant custom buses transport the riders from the team hotel to the start, then go directly to the finish to wait for their arrival. Other support vehicles, such as mechanics' trucks and miscellaneous vans, go directly from hotel to hotel to set up shop for the night.

All in all, it's quite the caravan – and in some ways, a bit of a traveling circus – but a necessary piece of the sport that so many fans worldwide love to watch.