MECHANIC
06
Emotions
and behind the
scenes of
the Tour de France
↥ ESPERANTO

Tour de France mechanics have one of the toughest jobs in cycling. They wake up early and go to bed late, and in between they sometimes have to fix a transmission gear setting for a car’s window or fix a flat in no time. As they usually originate from all over the world, they use an ‘’Esperanto’’ dialect which is a mix of Spanish, Italian, French and English to communicate inside the team and on the road with the riders.

Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

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To stay in shape both physically and mentally, they usually go for a 45-50 minute run at sunrise. This is the perfect occasion to set up the day and to enjoy the nice French scenery. Later on, at 8:00am, they join the soigneurs and other staff members for a power breakfast which for them is the calmest moment of the day.

Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

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After unloading the race ready bikes from the truck, they usually air up the tires. No floor pumps here- mechanics use an air compressor to top off the tires. Though most bikes get the same pressure – 8.5 bars – mechanics vary the pressure from day to day, making changes based on the weather and road conditions.

Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

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Image: Jered & Ashley Gruber

↥ METICULOUS

Each bike is carefully checked, degreased and greased again. Mechanics have the dexterity and the patience to work in the high quality watch industry; they pay attention to each and every detail and ensure that each bike is top notch to help the riders to perform. Welcome to the world of perfection.

Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

↥ SPLIT

The mechanic team is split in two as soon as the race starts, half will get into a Sport Director’s car while the other half will handle the truck, spare bikes and will be ready at the finish line.

Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

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Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

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In the car, mechanics store their tools inside their personal toolbox according to the standards they have developed through the years. Keeping their tools in the same spots lets them grab what they need quickly and without looking. They also prepare the quick-releases of spare rear wheels with disembodied dropouts to allow faster wheel changes. This ensures the spare wheel will fit securely into a bike’s frame just by closing the QR lever, without needing to turn the axle nut.

Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

↥ CLEAN

Before setting begins, all the bikes that were used in the race are washed. Typically teams will hook up to the water source from their hotel. The mechanics are also responsible for washing the team vehicles, including the bus and the truck stage after stage. The daily cleaning’s primary purpose is less function and more presentation. No sponsor wants to see its logo or gear dirty.

Photo: Kristof Ramon

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Stage 6 took us to Reims, where French Kings and Queens were crowned. Several crashes led to three more riders abandoning the race, and the day was decided by yet another dominant German Sprinter.

Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

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Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

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Photo: Jered & Ashley Gruber

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