H&R Block Pro Cycling Team at Tour of Alberta (Photo credit: Stirl and Rae Photography)

Behind the Scenes of a Professional Cycling Team at the Tour of Alberta

Jasper, AB – There is a lot that goes on “behind the curtains” of a Professional Cycling Team to bring the athletes to the start line. All season our athletes have been competing and winning races in an effort to get them to the penultimate race of the 2015 race calendar – the Tour of Alberta. As the team progresses through this week, we want to bring you behind the scenes to see who is involved and the work that goes into moving around 8 Athletes, 6 Managers, and LOTS of gear across Alberta to compete in this prestigious 6 day stage race.

Prepping the Caravan Vehicle with drinks for the final few KM's at the Tour of Alberta (photo credit: Stirl and Rae Photography)

Prepping the Caravan Vehicle with drinks for the final few KM’s at the Tour of Alberta
(photo credit: Stirl and Rae Photography)

 

The Tour of Alberta presented by ATB Financial is Canada’s first and highest ranked professional road cycling stage race, running from September 2 – 7, the Tour takes the athletes from Grand Prairie to Edmonton over 6 stages.

Beginning each day, the support staff load up 3 vehicles with all the bikes, extra gear, luggage, nutrition and other supplies needed to complete a stage.

Vehicle 1 – Caravan Car: In this vehicle will be the Team Director who will drive behind the peloton during the race with a mechanic in the back seat. All race needs and support happen from this vehicle, so it needs to be prepared with enough spare wheels, spare bikes, nutrition and hydration to ensure that all riders get to the finish line.

The Team Director, Mark Ernsting & Mechanic, Ryan Sweeney in the Caravan Car awaiting the Team Time Trial Start. (Photo credit: Byron Seef)

The Team Director, Mark Ernsting & Mechanic, Ryan Sweeney in the Caravan Car awaiting the Team Time Trial Start.
(Photo credit: Byron Seef)

 

Vehicle 2 – Team Van / Feed Van: In this vehicle goes all of the team equipment from the start line as well as all the Feed Zone hydration and nutrition for the athletes. The Assistant Director and/or Team Soigneur will head onto the course to the designated feed zones prior to the start of the race to ensure they are in place for the feed. The Feed Zone is a vital component of the race as this is the only opportunity to get nutrition directly to the athletes from outside the race caravan.

Travis Samuel receiving a feed bottle from Jeff Ain, Assistant Director for the Tour of Alberta. (Photo credit: Stirl and Rae Photography)

Travis Samuel receiving a feed bottle from Jeff Ain, Assistant Director for the Tour of Alberta.
(Photo credit: Stirl and Rae Photography)

 

Vehicle 3 – Team Mechanic: This is the workhorse of the group! The mechanics work tirelessly through the night to ensure the bikes are brand new and ready to roll for the stage. After the stage they will meet the team at the finish line and collect all the bikes along with the athletes feedback on tweaks and performance adjustments necessary to race a good race the following day. At the Tour of Alberta, the H&R Block Pro Cycling is supported by the Norco Bicycles Factory Mechanic Team.

The Norco Bicycle Factory Mechanics making final adjustments to the Team Bikes before the start. (Photo credit: Stirl and Rae Photography)

The Norco Bicycle Factory Mechanics making final adjustments to the Team Bikes before the start.
(Photo credit: Stirl and Rae Photography)

 

Of Course as the week progresses the team gets into a good rhythm and if all goes well the athletes can sleep well, race hard, and get some relaxation time in between stages! With the Canadian winter approaching, the field is being tested with the weather and the pressure builds on the team to ensure all the Laundry is done in time and the athletes heat up and get a good sleep to attack hard on the next stage.

The team's mechanic prepares the Caravan car for speedy service during the stage. (Photo credit: Stirl and Rae Photography)

The team’s mechanic prepares the Caravan car for speedy service during the stage.
(Photo credit: Stirl and Rae Photography)

 

Most of these responsibilities fall on the team’s Soigneur, checking into the next day’s hotel, unpacking cars, doing the laundry and ensuring that all athletes and staff are free to do their respective jobs without hassle. As well, the Soigneur will be the one who provides social updates and information to stakeholders as the stages progress, keeping the fans and sponsors in touch with the team as they progress through the week!

 


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