A few weeks ago, Ashley from CNP invited me to visit Team Sky’s service course in Belgium, I took one for the team and reluctantly (NOT) tagged along. I was really looking forward to visiting the base of Team Sky as the prospect of seeing their famous ‘marginal gains’ approach up close and personal was fascinating.
We left our hotel in Kortrijk mid-morning and jumped on one of the Team Sky team buses, which was a very interesting and it was interesting to see where the team spends the transfers before and after stages. We arrived at Deinze shortly and we rolled up to a nondescript warehouse – from the outside, there was no sign that would have given away Team Sky’s presence.
I spotted a ‘Team Columbia’ sign near the road, it later turned out that when the HTC-Slipstream team folded in 2011, Team Sky took over their warehouse. The previous service course used to be north of Brussels but the traffic had been so busy on the ring around Brussels that it made life unnecessarily hard for everybody and that was when they decided to move to Deinze, which has great transport links but less traffic.
We were shown around, you can find below a few of the most exciting things during our tour.
Edvald Boasson Hagen's bikes.
A lizard-like saddle surface covered few of the time trial saddles, apparently, for better traction.
New Pinarello Dogma 65.1 bikes with 11 speed mechanical Dura Ace groupsets. This bike is one of Ian Stannard's many bikes, wearing the Union Jack proudly on the seat stay.
Luke Rowe's bikes are waiting to be ridden.
Each rider has got an allocated place where they can leave gear that needs to be washed, cleaned or replaced.
Crates of Gatorade.
Prototype Shimano deep-section wheels, that were being prepped for the Giro d'Italia.
I loved these very clever bags. Every rider had his own bag, with his name on it and all clothing accessories had a dedicated little pocket. So when, say, Chris Sutton drops back to the team car and wants his waterproof jacket, the support staff can find his bag easily and give him what he wants straight away.
Deep-section wheels for every occasions
Ian Stannard's podium bag.
There was a whole room with big boxes of Rapha kit, in every size and colour
One of the team's Jaguars
Nothing is left to chance: after a bike was serviced, another mechanic checks the bike all over, to make sure that everything is in perfect working order. There is an elaborate system in place that records every data about the bikes, so they can track the age of each component on a bike. When someone makes a change on one of a rider's bikes, they also have to make sure that the change is implemented on every other bike.
Dozens of tubular tyres are waiting to be glued on wheels. As most tyres need a certain amount of ageing, a fair amount of forward planning is necessary. This meant that by the time of our visit (just weeks after the 2013 Paris-Roubaix), the tyres for the 2014 Paris-Roubaix have already arrived.
A team mechanic builds up a new bike.
Clean and well-organised workshop bench.
Nutrition options for the riders. Team Sky looked around on the market and they approached CNP to be their nutritional partner as they were convinced that CNP's products are the best
They even have their own olive oil
What you see here is a few hundred thousand calories worth of CNP gels and bars
The room with the bike components: every conceivable size and variant
You can see the wall of pride in the background, a pretty cool jersey collection, don't you think?
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