FEATURE: How many bikes for a Grand Tour?

Fri 24 Aug 2018

Have you ever thought about how much equipment is needed for a three week Grand Tour?

With eight riders in each Grand Tour team and 21 stages over various terrain and different weather conditions, at least 40 complete bikes are required and their daily maintenance is a huge priority. For the Mitchelton-SCOTT team mechanics it is important to be well organised before embarking for the 21-day race around one country with an abundance of equipment.

“A Grand Tour is the hardest race to organise and prepare for with all the different material we have,"  explained Mitchelton-SCOTT mechanic Xabier Remon. “Before we even go to the race all the mechanics meet at the team service course and before we start to pack any bikes into the truck, we weigh each bike to double check that they are above the minimum weight of 6.8kg. Then we measure each bike of the rider again to be sure they are all exactly the same measurements before we set off.”

“We need five SCOTT bikes minimum for each rider - that’s one race bike, a first spare bike for the first race car, second spare bike for the second race car and then also a time trial bike and spare time trial bike. So we always have 40 complete bikes with us at the race and for this we need one truck and one mechanics van. It's alot of material to carry around a country for one month.”

The changing terrain and weather conditions during three weeks of racing means daily changes have to be made to all the bikes, such as the wheel models or gear sizing, and therefore means more equipment.

“Normally in a Tour we use 24 sets of the C40 model Shimano wheels which are more usual for the mountain stages," Remon said. "We also have 24 sets of C60 Shimano wheels which are more for the flat stages. Then for the time trial or prologue days we have tri-spoke wheels and disk wheels. It means we carry a lot of material with us, but we always use it all and actually change it daily.

“Every day each rider chooses their wheels, gears combination or bike model that they want for the next day, so after each stage we have to prepare the equipment they prefer for the following day. The most usual gear most riders use is a 34/36 and 39 tooth ring as the small chain rings then 53/54 for the big chain ring and sometimes 56/58 on the TT bikes. Then for the cassettes we have 28/30 or 32 tooth.

With thousands of kilometres of racing covered during 21-days of racing, the chances are there will always be some misfortune with punctures or crashes and therefore even more spare equipment is needed so the mechanics are prepared for any situation that can arise.

“Along with the 40 complete bikes, we also have 10 extra SCOTT frames with us always. We have one frame in each size and each model, the SCOTT Addict or SCOTT Foil," Remon continued. "This is just in case there is a crash and a broken frame, then we can easily swap the Shimano components over and build a new bike, so always each rider has two spares in every stage.

“We also always carry seven complete Shimano groupsets with us, usually five in the truck and then one in each race car incase we need to change something then we are always prepared with spare equipment a during a three week Grand Tour we can put around 50 new Pirelli tyres on the bikes as maintenance or replacements for punctures."

And how is it possible to transport all the equipment mechanics require, plus soigniers equipment, eight riders and around 15 staff members?

“On top of all the bikes, wheels, tyres and other spare equipment, we need space to carry this around and so generally for a Grand Tour we have one mechanics truck, one team bus, one mechanic van, one ice van and five teams cars minimum - which is two race cars, one avant course car, one soignier car, one car for the hotels or the extra bottle points.”