The Savings & Loans Cycling Team is racing the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, one of
While the riders certainly work hard during the tour (today’s stage was 164km, yesterday’s was 141km and Monday was 141km), there’s also a lot going on behind the scenes to get them on the road each day.
The seven riders have a support team of five:
- Team manager
- Food and energy support
The Savings & Loans team is managed by Pat Jonker, a seven time Tour de France competitor and Olympic medallist. During the tour he works out the tactics for each stage and coaches the team via radio from the chase car while the race is on.
Physiotherapist and masseuse
After riding up to 170km a day for seven days, the riders’ bodies are under a lot of stress and they have sessions with either the physio or masseuse after each stage. The physio also rides in the chase car, occasionally leaning out of the car to treat a rider while going up to 40 km/hr.
It takes around 3 hours for all of the riders to have their treatment at the end of each stage.
The riders can only go as fast as their bikes can take them, so they have to be in complete working order at the start of each stage. The team mechanic rides in the chase car with the physio and team manager to help with any breaks during the race, sometimes making small repairs while the bikes are still on the road.
There are two spare bikes on the roof of the car in case anything can’t be fixed straight away – every second spent on the side of the road is another second to be caught up later.
At the end of each day, every bike is stripped back, washed and the rebuilt to make sure they suit each rider’s specification. While all bikes might look similar, each rider has different preferences regarding seat height, gearing, brakes, wheels and a host of other ‘tweaks’.
If there are any crashes during the race – and this year there have been more than a few – then it can mean a lot more work for the mechanic. Thanks to a mix of good luck and being alert, the Savings & Loans riders haven’t been in too many bingles so far.
The mechanic works well into the night after each stage, which isn’t made any easier by the wild weather the Jayco Herald Sun Tour has encountered each year!
Food and energy support
It’s important that the riders can just concentrate on racing during the tour, so someone needs to make sure their uniforms are ready to go each day, they have enough food and energy gels during the race and their drinks are all ready.
As the cyclists can ride up to 170km each day, it’s important that they get plenty of calories in their system before, during and after the race. Most stages have a feed stop somewhere along the route, where the riders pick up a bag with replacement food, drinks and energy gels. Food ranges from cake to sandwiches or whole bananas.
Two support staff from each team stand on the side of the road at the designated feed zone and somehow make themselves visible to their riders. The cyclists then ride past and grab a bag filled with their food and drinks, all without stopping. Sometimes a group of up to 50 or 60 riders can come through at once, making the feed zone just short of pandemonium.
Immediately after finishing the stage, each rider is given a wipe down, some sugary drink to start replacing the energy they’ve lost and a sandwich. The cyclists don’t get a chance to be too picky about what they eat – if they’re not interested in a ham, cheese and tomato sandwich then they can wait until dinner before they get something to eat!
The Savings & Loans team is currently in a good position in the Tour after five days of racing in atrocious conditions. The Tour finishes with a street circuit in