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Tour de France tech: Pro mechanics' tools

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Tinkoff-Saxo is sponsored by SRAM, but keeps FSA rings on hand, too

Tinkoff-Saxo is sponsored by SRAM, but keeps FSA rings on hand, too
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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Two more Cannondale mechanics display highly individual customised tool cases

Two more Cannondale mechanics display highly individual customised tool cases
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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appears Astana even polish their bikes

appears Astana even polish their bikes
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Close up of the Lotto bike fitting jig

Close up of the Lotto bike fitting jig
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Giant-Shimano use their Bikesettings.com jig to fine tune rider's setup

Giant-Shimano use their Bikesettings.com jig to fine tune rider's setup
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A pro mechanic's setup for bulk tubular gluing

A pro mechanic's setup for bulk tubular gluing
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A plastic bottle for applying a thin bead of glue, and a paint brush to spread it evenly

A plastic bottle for applying a thin bead of glue, and a paint brush to spread it evenly
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A part-glued tubular rim on Astana's truck and vast selection of stems

A part-glued tubular rim on Astana's truck and vast selection of stems
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A no-nonsense torque wrench and traditional chain checkers

A no-nonsense torque wrench and traditional chain checkers
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A Lotto-Belisol mechanic's bike setup bible

A Lotto-Belisol mechanic's bike setup bible
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A clever folding tool kit beneath a map of this year's Tour on AG2R's truck

A clever folding tool kit beneath a map of this year's Tour on AG2R's truck
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Checking the angle of a rider's drops

Checking the angle of a rider's drops
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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BMC's Bikesettings jig ready for action

BMC's Bikesettings jig ready for action
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A neatly laid-out tool case

A neatly laid-out tool case
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Just in case you were in any doubt. BMC's Ian Sherburne doesn't plan to lose this wrench

Just in case you were in any doubt. BMC's Ian Sherburne doesn't plan to lose this wrench
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Lotto Belisol's mechanics have a freestanding bike position jig

Lotto Belisol's mechanics have a freestanding bike position jig
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Top mechanics even keep notes of every rider's preferred saddle angle

Top mechanics even keep notes of every rider's preferred saddle angle
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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The rear seat of Movistar's team car. Just add a mechanic - although we're not sure where - and you're all set

The rear seat of Movistar's team car. Just add a mechanic - although we're not sure where - and you're all set
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Spare Campagnolo chain rings on Movistar's truck

Spare Campagnolo chain rings on Movistar's truck
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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ovistar mechanics have a tidy solution for organising Campagnolo cassettes

ovistar mechanics have a tidy solution for organising Campagnolo cassettes
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Gluing tubulars is a job best done outside in fresh air

Gluing tubulars is a job best done outside in fresh air
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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MC's Ian Sherburne dials in the lever position

MC's Ian Sherburne dials in the lever position
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Want to venture a guess at the retail value for these stacks of Shimano Dura-Ace casssettes?

Want to venture a guess at the retail value for these stacks of Shimano Dura-Ace casssettes?
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Specialized work requires specialized tools

Specialized work requires specialized tools
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Plenty of bike wash

Plenty of bike wash
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Only the finest natural sponges for bike washing

Only the finest natural sponges for bike washing
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Movistar had yet another variant of position-setting jig

Movistar had yet another variant of position-setting jig
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Mechanic's musical taste

Mechanic's musical taste
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Amongst this Astana mechanic's tool case is a fork dropout on a wire for setting the QR gaps on spare wheels and assisting a faster change

Amongst this Astana mechanic's tool case is a fork dropout on a wire for setting the QR gaps on spare wheels and assisting a faster change
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A rather more old school angle finder and a hole punch for fitting frame numbers

A rather more old school angle finder and a hole punch for fitting frame numbers
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Kristensen shows off a common tool for measuring from the bottom bracket

Kristensen shows off a common tool for measuring from the bottom bracket
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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At Tinkoff-Saxo, there is no tool sponsor, which mechanic Rune Kristensen says is a great thing because he can use what he wants, like this Feedback Sports Sprint stand

At Tinkoff-Saxo, there is no tool sponsor, which mechanic Rune Kristensen says is a great thing because he can use what he wants, like this Feedback Sports Sprint stand
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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When it comes to brand of tools, teams are split. Some have tool sponsors for everything, and some allow or require mechanics to furnish their own tools

When it comes to brand of tools, teams are split. Some have tool sponsors for everything, and some allow or require mechanics to furnish their own tools
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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…most mechanics prefer more exacting measurement tools

…most mechanics prefer more exacting measurement tools
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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While some riders like to double check mechanics' work with a tape measure…

While some riders like to double check mechanics' work with a tape measure…
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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While this system does assume that multiple shoes will have identical outsoles, it seem to be a great way to replicate cleat position

While this system does assume that multiple shoes will have identical outsoles, it seem to be a great way to replicate cleat position
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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Then a new pair of shoes are clipped into the pedals, and once all the reference points line up, the cleats are tightened down

Then a new pair of shoes are clipped into the pedals, and once all the reference points line up, the cleats are tightened down
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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We weren't the only ones interested in watching the process

We weren't the only ones interested in watching the process
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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hen new pairs of shoes are mounted up with cleats, with the bolts not quite tight

hen new pairs of shoes are mounted up with cleats, with the bolts not quite tight
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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Along with a set of calipers, the mechanics set points of reference fore, aft and laterally

Along with a set of calipers, the mechanics set points of reference fore, aft and laterally
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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First, the old pair of shoes is clipped into the pedals, and a system of Allen bolts are dialed in

First, the old pair of shoes is clipped into the pedals, and a system of Allen bolts are dialed in
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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Kristensen's favourite tools? That's easy: his preset torque wrench

Kristensen's favourite tools? That's easy: his preset torque wrench
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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Although not used as commonly as cycling-specific tools like Allen keys or air pumps, the vice has clearly seen plenty of service over the years

Although not used as commonly as cycling-specific tools like Allen keys or air pumps, the vice has clearly seen plenty of service over the years
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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A Ritchey Torque Key and rear derailleur hanger straightening tool are everyday essentials

A Ritchey Torque Key and rear derailleur hanger straightening tool are everyday essentials
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A case that looks like it's been around for some years

A case that looks like it's been around for some years
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A Cannondale mechanic's individual tool bag

A Cannondale mechanic's individual tool bag
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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 box of spare Shimano cassettes

box of spare Shimano cassettes
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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A BMC mechanic's Park Tool box

A BMC mechanic's Park Tool box
(Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Future Publishing)
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Two Park Tool cases, two completely individual outfits

Two Park Tool cases, two completely individual outfits
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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When you need to dial every setting correctly in to each one of these, a laptop can come in handy

When you need to dial every setting correctly in to each one of these, a laptop can come in handy
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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Mechanics are tasked with top visual presentation of the machines as well as top mechanical performance, so a mobile washing station is a must

Mechanics are tasked with top visual presentation of the machines as well as top mechanical performance, so a mobile washing station is a must
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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From 34 to 56t, FDJ.fr mechanics have rings for every type of course

From 34 to 56t, FDJ.fr mechanics have rings for every type of course
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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Color-coded Allen keys help maximize efficiency

Color-coded Allen keys help maximize efficiency
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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When you are airing up dozens of tubulars a day, a floor pump just doesn't cut it

When you are airing up dozens of tubulars a day, a floor pump just doesn't cut it
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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he Tinkoff-Saxo grinder? Kristensen can't remember the last time it was used, but it's bolted to the truck's workbench, so there it stays

he Tinkoff-Saxo grinder? Kristensen can't remember the last time it was used, but it's bolted to the truck's workbench, so there it stays
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)
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Orica-GreenEdge mechanics have a custom tool for replicating cleat position on multiple pairs of shoes for a rider

Orica-GreenEdge mechanics have a custom tool for replicating cleat position on multiple pairs of shoes for a rider
(Image credit: Ben Delaney / Future Publishing)

At the Tour de France, team mechanics' roles require a few skills: logistics, presentation and, yes, wrenching quickly and competently on scores of bikes.

As with tactics for a race, each team cooks up its own strategy for dealing with the seemingly endless array of moving parts. Most teams mix a blend of old school and new school techniques, from storing rider measurements and parts inventories on digital spreadsheets to applying tubular glue by hand.

Some of the most interesting tools are those custom-made for particular jobs, such as the jig Orica-GreenEdge uses for replicating cleat positioning on multiple pairs of shoes for a given rider. If you have ever been frustrated by getting a new pair of shoes and struggling to get the cleats just right, then you can sympathize with a pro rider not wanting to deal with this scenario mid-race.

Even relatively straightforward tasks like measuring saddle height have dedicated tools. While most amateur riders — and even some pros — will settle for a tape measure, pro mechanics need something more exacting, so metal rods that anchor at the bottom bracket and clamp down atop the saddle are used.

You might be content to measure saddle height with a tape measure. Tinkoff-Saxo's Rune Kristensen is not

BikeSettings.com makes a few frame jigs that are popular with pro mechanics for measuring X and Y axis points on a bike.

At BMC, mechanic Ian Sherburne uses digital angle gauges, among other tools, to dial in riders' exact preferences, and ensure that the spare second and third bikes match the primary bikes in every way.

BMC's Ian Sherburne doesn't 'eyeball' angles; he measures them

For the more straightforward tools, such as Allen keys, chain whips and the like, Tour de France mechanics fall mostly into one of two camps: use everything provided by a sponsor, or pack their own.

"For Tinkoff-Saxo, we choose not to have a tool sponsor so we can choose our own based on what we need and what we prefer," said mechanic Rune Kristensen. "Each mechanic has his own private tools."

For Kristensen, whose toolbox contains a mix of brands, his favorite tool is easy to name: the preset torque wrench.

Some mechanics always have a tidy organization for their toolboxes; others are a bit more jumbled. But one universal rule always applies: never touch the mechanic's tools.

Check out the huge gallery above for a detailed look at many of the tricks of the trade employed at the Tour de France.

What type of tool is this, you ask? Not yours, that's what