They are the unsung heroes of the professional peloton. Their work, critical and demanding, requires long hours and nothing less than absolute perfection. And to help their riders reach the top of the world, they must have more than one trick up their sleeves.
Here’s a behind the scenes look at the Tour de France with BORA – Argon 18’s mechanic Risto Usin.
Up at dawn, mechanics later join the soigneurs and team personnel to establish the day’s schedule. They will then unload the bikes and get them prepared for the upcoming stage. Some of this preparation, such as tire pressure, is based on weather and road conditions.
Every day, all bikes must be degreased, cleaned and greased again. They’re also check to identify any anomalies and to ensure that they are top notch. At this point, attention to detail, dexterity and accuracy are essential. Everything must be perfect.
Mechanics also share responsibilities: some of them get in the truck with the spare bikes, while the others hop in the Directeurs Sportifs’ car to follow the race. They will meet up at the finish line.
Depending on the stage and circumstances, mechanics can do more than a dozen interventions during the race. But the average number of interventions is between 3 and 5.
They will also do all in their power to ensure that riders are comfortable. During the Tour de France, some riders get injured or experience chronic pain and extreme fatigue. This was the case for Sam Bennett, who severely crashed in the sprint of the first stage of the Tour. Mechanics had to double his handlebar tape and bring his brake levers closer to the handlebars to help his braking.
Always on the alert, the mechanics are also prepared for victories on points, sprints, KOM and GC in case they need to prepare a special bike for the winner. This is what happened after the first stage, when Paul Voss won the polka dot jersey. The day after, Voss had polka dot Gallium Pro for the stage.
By late afternoon, when the stage and the hotel transfer are completed, mechanics prepare the bikes for the next stage. Most of their work is focused on the tuning, checking and preparation of bikes after stages.
A typical day for a mechanic of the Tour de France usually ends around 9 pm.
And here we go again the next day on the road to Paris!
- 4 – Number of mechanics on the team
- 3 to 5 – Number of daily interventions on the road. Sometimes the mechanics are very busy and can make up to ten interventions a day
- 80 – Average number of tubulars used during the TDF
- 60 – Average number of chains used during the TDF
- 14 hours – Average duration of a mechanic's working day