Sh*t mechanics say: sights and sounds from the Tour Down Under service course.

Author James Raison.Photos: Chris Komorek, EcoCadd

I talked baby wipes, infinite cassettes, and dishwashing detergent with the Tour Down Under mechanics at the cycling village that springs up in the middle of Adelaide, South Australia.

“I’ve never worn out a cassette.”

Mechanic “Brownie” has my undivided attention as he scrubs down one of Katusha’s gorgeous Canyon bikes, its rider Tiago Machado hovers nearby.

You’ve never worn out a cassette Brownie?

“Nope. I have 3 chains. Every Friday I change the chain. I take it off, clean it, and put on one of the others, and I’ve never worn out a cassette.”

Brownie’s making a big claim, but if there’s no friction, it could last a long time. Could it last forever?

   
  
 
  
    
  
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   “John working hard on the Lotto-Soudal bikes”

“John working hard on the Lotto-Soudal bikes”

I wander down the line of mechanics, past hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pro bikes. I stop and chat to “Nashy,” who’s cleaning some strikingly green Cannondales, to get his thoughts on Brownie’s bold claim.

“Ahhhh Brownie!” he shouts down the line, “you don’t wear out your gears because you don’t do enough kays (kilometres) mate!”

I love the service course.

Mechanics furiously scrubbing, de-greasing, spinning frames on their service stands, standing in soapy mud, and always shouting jovially to each other. 

   
  
 
  
    
  
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    “Machado makes sure Brownie doesn’t miss a spot”

“Machado makes sure Brownie doesn’t miss a spot”

The rapid clicking of gears, clanging of freewheel ratchets as they engage, and the explosive noise of air compressors drying the bikes inside the tents.

You see things here you won’t see anywhere else.

Earlier I saw riders stream back in from the end of today’s stage, a hot and dusty outing in the South Australian sun. They’re wearing backpacks, gilets in the summer heat, some have torn kits from crashing. They shove each other playfully, pretend to run into their mechanics, pick up the hoses and spray their team assistants, and dive into tubs of pasta covered with grated cheese.

Because teams usually bring one or two mechanics from home and then draft in locals to save some costs there is a melting pot of accents and languages.

I carefully pick my way through the carbon jungle to John, Lotto-Soudal’s Adelaide-born mechanic and ask for his pro tip

“Baby wipes,” he says. Baby wipes? “Yep, baby wipes.”

John points to his immaculate Cipollini RB1K sitting nearby, as Adam Hansen’s Ridley sits on his service stand.

“I use baby wipes on everything, frame, drivetrain, wheels. After every ride I hold a baby wipe over the chain and just turn the cranks.”

What’s John’s preferred baby wipe?

“Johnson & Johnson” he answers quickly, “I dunno, I think it’s the oils in it.”

I wander over and inspect his bike. Story checks out: gleaming. I make a note for next time I go shopping.

Alex at Giant-Alpecin ponders my request for a pro tip carefully, surprised that a journalist is even in the filthy service course.

“Just the regular stuff, really” he shrugs. Behind him I spot the scoop I’ve been looking for: Fairy dishwashing liquid.

There has been an explosion in bike cleaning products over recent years, but the pro peloton runs on ordinary dishwashing detergent. Bottles of green and yellow Fairy are at every cleaning station. I wander back to Alex. Surely dishwashing detergent isn’t good for bikes?

“It’s fine. We just wash it down with water afterwards. No worries.”

The answer was in our kitchens all along.

I notice Francaise Des Jeux (FDJ) mechanic, Nick, standing idle by a rack conspicuously empty of Lapierres.

Nick has a hard job, FDJ have that most oh-so-pro touch on their bikes: white bar tape. How does he keep them looking new every day?

“Morgan blue chain cleaner in a bit of water. Then you just use a sponge. A clean sponge obviously!”

Great tip. I’m sticking with black tape though, ain’t no-one got time for that.

I run Brownie’s claim by Nick. He coughs into his hand with a clearly audible “bullshit!”

If you are ever lucky enough to go behind the scenes at a bike race, spend some time in the service course. Have a chat to the mechanics too. Those clean, shiny bikes, gleaming kits, and silent drivetrains are all thanks to their hard work. As they say, a clean bike is a fast bike.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to stock up on Fairy and baby wipes.

THANK YOU from the SD TEAM

 

Jay McCarthy escapes late crash, takes the stage and the Ochre Jersey at the Tour Down Under.

STAGE 2 REPORT FROM JAMES RAISON in Australia at the TDU.

Photo credit: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

 Stage2a-Australian Jay McCarthy(Tinkoff) beats Italian Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) on the Staging Connections Stage 2 finish line.

Stage2a-Australian Jay McCarthy(Tinkoff) beats Italian Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) on the Staging Connections Stage 2 finish line.

“I definitely have the chance to go for the GC this week” says Stage 2 winner Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) who avoided the chaos of a late crash to take the Ochre jersey.

The second stage of the Tour Down Under (TDU) rolled out of Unley, just 2km from the Adelaide CBD, before heading into the eastern hills for five laps of a 21km loop through the towns of Heathfield, Mylor, Aldgate and finishing in Stirling. Ahead were 132kms, over 3000 metres (10,000 ft) ascending, and more 30°C+ temperatures.

 Stage2c-Australian Jay McCarthy(Tinkoff) wears the Santos Ochre Leaders jersey

Stage2c-Australian Jay McCarthy(Tinkoff) wears the Santos Ochre Leaders jersey

Manuele Boarro took the points on the KOM, and the jersey with it, at Range View Road after 13.8km.  He beat out current polka dot jersey wearer Patrick Lane (UniSA), and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal).

Orica GreenEdge then closed down the break immediately so they could lead out their GC man Simon Gerrans at the first sprint point. Gerrans took full points and bonus time ahead of teammate Caleb Ewan. Dimension Data’s Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg crossed third.

Peloton strongman Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) then threw caution to the wind and soloed away from the field in the post-sprint lull. 

 Stage2d-Lampre-Merida rider Tsgabu Grmay meets the local wildlife

Stage2d-Lampre-Merida rider Tsgabu Grmay meets the local wildlife

The second sprint point was taken by the solo Hansen, with an aggressive Gerrans second, and Ewan third. The TDU is often won by a handful of seconds, so those efforts by the Orica GreenEdge duo could be crucial come the final on Sunday.

Orica GreenEdge again took pace making responsibility as they did on Stage 1, allowing Hansen to hover two minutes up the road.

 Stage2e-Ochre Jersey wearer Caleb Ewan signs autographs for the fans at race start

Stage2e-Ochre Jersey wearer Caleb Ewan signs autographs for the fans at race start

The red BMC mist descended on the front of the bunch at 26km to go, protecting their two-headed climbing GC monster of Richie Porte and defending champ Rohan Dennis. 

Orica GreenEdge took control again at the final lap bell, swallowing up Adam Hansen 19km from home. 

Kiel Reijnan (Trek-Segafredo) made the save of the day as he flew off the road, brakes locked, with a double-puncture with 10km to go. It’d be a car convoy finish for the unlucky American.

 Fans at the start line

Fans at the start line

The lead of the race became hotly contested territory with Giant Alpecin, Trek-Segafredo, and Tinkoff joined forced to string out the bunch. Dimension Data sprinters Tyler Farrar and Mark Renshaw were among the big names sliding off the back. 

Sky swarmed to the front and lifted the tempo again, causing race leader Ewan to drop off the back. Ewan knew before the stage that he “can’t go through the whole tour wearing Ochre” but rode valiantly until conceding.

 The race start at Unley

The race start at Unley

The Sky lads dropped back soon after, replaced by Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, Giant-Alpecin, then Lampre-Merida.

A touch of wheels between an Astana rider and Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) caused a crash at 800m from the line, bringing down several riders including Simon Gerrans, and disrupting many others. Tinkoff and Cannondale took advantage and pushed on the front. 

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) was the first to open the uphill sprint. The Italian looked like he’d take the stage but young Jay McCarthy Aussie ground him down before winning with a bike throw. Defending champ Rohan Dennis (BMC) avoided the chaos to finish third.

 The peloton on the look-out for Kangaroos

The peloton on the look-out for Kangaroos

After the stage McCarthy revealed he “had an eye on this stage”. 

“This year I knew I was in really good shape,” he said of his aspirations.

Dennis was another beneficiary of the chaos but said he hoped Gerrans can come back. 

“I hope the crash doesn’t hinder Simon (Gerrans), because no one wants to win like that,” Dennis said.

 Solo breakaway rider Adam Hansen gets a tyre change

Solo breakaway rider Adam Hansen gets a tyre change

Gerrans was realistic after the stage. 

“It’s a shame to lose time bonuses, because a second counts for a lot in this race,”  he said. There’s plenty of reason for optimism, Gerrans efforts chasing intermediate sprint bonuses leave him in third spot in the GC. 

McCarthy was also realistic about the hard yards ahead.  

“Now I have to go back, recover for Corkscrew. There’s plenty more work ahead of us.”

Stage 3 begins by the seaside at Glenelg, 12km south of Adelaide, and finishes in the Adelaide suburb of Campeltown. The stage could be decisive with Corkscrew road guaranteed to blow apart the race.

What were they thinking?

The non-Orica-GreenEdge teams with GC hopes were caught out twice letting Gerrans and Ewan take the sprint bonus seconds. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Great job Orica-GreenEdge, that tactical nous could see you win the TDU.

 Adam Hansen Lotto-Soudal,was the Alpecin Most Competitive Rider of the day

Adam Hansen Lotto-Soudal,was the Alpecin Most Competitive Rider of the day

Stats:

Santos Tour Down Under Classification Leaders after Staging Connections Stage 2 

                Santos Ochre Leader’s Jersey - Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff)

                iiNet Sprint Jersey - Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge)

                Subaru King of the Mountain Jersey - Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff)

                Alpecin Most Competitive Rider - Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal)

                Wilson Parking Winning Team Competition - Cannondale Pro Cycling

Thank you James and "THE LEAD SOUTH AUSTRALIA".

SD TEAM


Caleb Ewan racks up his 6th victory in 2016 on Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, South Australia

Legendary sprinter Robbie McEwan summed up the first stage of the Tour Down Under in South Australia with poetic simplicity. 

“Too much fitness, too much form, too much speed,” McEwan said of Caleb Ewan’s win, his sixth of the year.

 

Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under set off just 3km from the Adelaide CBD in the inner-northern suburb of Prospect. It was steamy, windy, dusty and 130km to the finish line after three laps around the famous Barossa Valley wine region in to the town of Lyndoch.

Sean Lake (UniSA), Martijn Keizer (Team Lotto NL Jumbo) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) jumped ahead of the field as soon as the flag had waved.

Lake took the only categorised climb of the day at the 12.8km mark, edging Keizer in a photo finish. The UniSA rider donned the polka dot jersey at the end of the day, continuing a strong start to 2016 for Lake after a bronze medal at the Australian national time trial.

The three-rider break was kept on a short leash. Their advantage rapidly declined from 80km out as Orica GreenEdge set the tempo behind to keep Caleb Ewan “the guy with the freshest legs that wins the sprint in the end”.

The break jostled for the first Cockatoo Valley sprint point. Frenchman Gougeard opened hostilities from third wheel and crossed the line ahead of Keizer and an indifferent Lake. The second sprint points on the following lap were then taken in a bizarre fashion by Gougeard ahead of Lake and Keizer. The police motos were caught unaware of the acceleration behind them and accidentally blocked the riders from a proper sprint. Oops. Keizer would drop back to the peloton soon after.

With 47km to go, the field started to spread across the road and the Orica GreenEdge presence reduced to just Michael Hepburn. Hepburn wouldn’t leave the front until 15km to go.

Sean Lake gapped Gougeard with 22km to go, the Frenchman showing no interest in fighting for the diminishing 25-second gap in the scorching 40°C heat.

Lake’s move impressed Robbie McEwan as he commentated on the race.

“This sport is about having a big engine, and knowing how to suffer,” McEwan said about strongman Sean Lake.

Lake bravely stretched his gap to 55 seconds with 16km to go, but was swallowed by the group at the 6km mark.

Sprint trains began forming with 10km remaining. Lampre, Lotto-Soudal, Sky, and Dimension Data appeared to have the best organisation in the punishing wind.

Peter Kennaugh (Sky) took control at the 1km mark, leading a well-organised Sky train. Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge) dragged Ewan up the side of the Sky line, dropping him into the perfect position behind fellow Aussie Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data). Adam Blythe (Tinkoff) opened the hostilities from a long way out, but faded as the other sprinters wound it up.

Renshaw was sprinting for himself, but inadvertently gave Ewan the perfect lead-out. The 21-year old Australian jumped out from behind Renshaw and powered for the line, winning by two bike lengths. Renshaw would cross second, with Wouter Wippert (Cannondale Pro Cycling) third.

The impeccable timing, mind-blowing power-to-weight, and impossibly low position begs the question whether Ewan is beatable for the Tour Down Under.

“I need to thank Gerro (Simon Gerrans) for sharing the team with me” said Ewan, still panting from his sprint effort. “For a guy like that who can win overall to say I can have the team to chase a sprint, it means a lot.”

Ewan will lead the GC, sprint, and young rider classification for 132km Stage 2 on Wednesday (20 Jan) from the suburb of Unley to Stirling in the hills east of Adelaide.  

What were they thinking?

It’s surprising that a 20-team race allowed a three-man break to fight for the first polka dot jersey, decided only 12.8km in. In the end it was only two men contesting the KOM. This is a short race, every point matters. Also, polka dots look awesome, it has been scientifically proven. Good luck pulling the jersey off Sean Lake, the ex-rower is burly. 

Author James Raison

Thank You James and "The Lead South Australia"

SD TEAM.

Santos Tour Down Under 2016

Few weeks ago I was contacted by the Editor of "The Lead South Australia" in reference the TDU 2016. Jim, asked me if I wanted the daily coverage of the event so I could share with all SaddleDrunkers worldwide and with great joy I certainly accepted.

Therefore please find the TUD overview story from James Raison.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that. Not just in this race, but in any race.”

These were the breathless words from Australian sprinter-turned-broadcaster Robbie McEwan just seconds after the Stage 5 Willunga Hill battle between Rohan Dennis and Richie Porte ended in Rohan winning the 2015 Tour Down Under by two seconds. The fans, crammed more than seven-deep along the roadside, couldn’t believe it either. They had just witnessed two of the world’s top cyclists battle with everything they had. A week of cycling, decided by two seconds. This moment will go down in cycling folklore. Such a spectacle could only have been dreamed of when the event began.

The Tour Down Under has enjoyed staggering growth in popularity and status since its first edition in 1999. Now, 18 years later, is affectionately called “The TDU” and is South Australia’s biggest sporting event, drawing crowds of 786,000 in 2015. How did this phenomenal growth happen? It just needed a winning formula.

Mike Turtur, the Tour Down Under Race Director, was the man who thought up that formula. The 1984 Team Pursuit Olympic Gold Medalist proposed a race made up of six days of up to 150km, always returning to the Hilton Hotel in Adelaide’s CBD. The teams would sleep every night in the same hotel, and all of their bikes and equipment would be housed just across the road in the temporary Tour Village that springs up every Australian summer in the town square of the very European city.

That local focus proved to be a hit with not just the fans but, more importantly, also the riders.

 The growth has even surprised Race Director Turtur, who says the crowds have been exceptional the last five years in particular.

This popularity is partly due to the race becoming the inaugural event of the UCI World Ranking calendar in 2009. The higher status of the race has attracted the higher caliber riders. This year is no different. The field includes multiple national champions, grand tour winners, and Rio Olympic Games medal hopefuls.

But the burgeoning cycling culture in South Australia has also played a role in the success of the event.The event and the cycling culture have grown together, both feeding each other.

Adelaide is an ideal place to host a bike race because it is an ideal place to ride a bike. The city is surrounded by hills within 10km to the east, all the way around to the south. The spectacular metropolitan beaches are just 8km to the west. Significant investment in bike infrastructure, and recently passed laws to protect and encourage cycling, are all working to make South Australia a bike friendly state. The city is flat, the weather is warm, and the coffee is exceptional.

 “The indicators are quite clear that we are going to match what we’ve had previously,” Turtur states.

A host of new and bigger events support his confidence.

“There’s a whole week of entertainment with all of the additional street parties, the Tour Village, concerts, the team presentation, women’s tour coming on this year… The race has been complimented with a lot of other activities which make it a complete package for fans,” he says.

 Fans

The success of the event is driven by how easy and accessible it is to the fans. The Tour Village gives them a chance to rub shoulders with their heroes, geek out at the 10-day bike expo, and watch the pre-event criterium and Stage 6 without even leaving the CBD.

Lucky fans are treated to spotting the pros doing their training and recon rides before the race and more spritely cyclists may even get to suck a wheel up a climb.

Fans don’t have to travel far to enjoy the festival of cycling either.

Turtur says “all of the starts on this year’s race [are] hosting street parties.”

There is only one stage that begins more than 5km from the CBD, in the famous McLaren Vale Wine region – but even then most of the pros cycle down and back from the race.

Race routes are designed with fan engagement in mind as well. Four of the stages feature laps around a set course so fans can see the race multiple times. Turtur is expecting “a massive crowd” for the Stage 2 finish in Stirling, just 16km outside the city in the Adelaide Hills. Crowds will be treated to a five-lap circuit before the exciting sprint finish up a hill into the picturesque town of Stirling.

Thousands of amateur riders can take part in the BUPA Challenge Tour, riding the Friday stage a few hours before the pros do. Last year saw 6,028 riders take on the 151km challenge from Glenelg to Mt Barker. There are also multiple start points so riders of all abilities can get involved.

 Riders

Sky’s Welsh superstar Geraint Thomas says he loves making the trip Down Under because of the simplicity of the race.

“It’s the one hotel, everything’s within half an hour,” he says. “I think it’s the seventh time I’ve been here now.”

Thomas, and other members of the Sky team, enjoy the South Australian summer so much they come well ahead of their international counterparts. On the eve of the race, Thomas has already “been here for just over two weeks now.”

His big season ambitions are still the European Grand Tours, be he feels the Tour Down Under is “a great way to start the year. It’s got stages for sprinters and it’s got some tougher days [for the climbers].”

Quality riders like Geraint Thomas make Race Director Mike Turtur “extremely happy with the start list”.

“If organisers throughout the world had our start list, I think they’d be pretty happy,” Turtur says, flanked by defending champion Rohan Dennis, Geraint Thomas and Australia’s sprint sensation Caleb Ewan at the preliminary news conference.

Ewan has been overwhelmed with the crowd response to the race.

“The crowds here are unbelievable. It’s just like racing in Europe but you have more supporters,” he says.

His Australian Orica GreenEdge team is a local crowd favourite.

“Everyone knows you here and being in GreenEdge we have most of our supporters here so it’s a pretty exciting place to come to,” Ewan says.

 2016

The Tour Down Under party kicked off with the Santos Women’s Tour on Saturday (16 January) with Katrin Garfoot of Orica GreenEdge taking out the first 95km road stage and local girl Annette Edmonson claiming victory in the first of two criteriums. The men then lined up in the People’s Choice Classic criterium on Sunday evening (17 Jan), with Caleb Ewan of taking out the honours.

 Corkscrew Road

Corkscrew Road

The actual race runs from Stage 1 on Tuesday (19 January) to the city street circuit on Sunday (24 January). The riders face a balanced parcours. The overall winner will be a climber, but there are plenty of opportunities for sprinters and breakaway specialists to snatch some glory.

Stage 3 will be key, with the GC men battling it out on local icon Corkscrew Road. The queen Stage 5, ending on Willunga Hill, will decide the overall winner. There are time bonuses at the end of each stage and for intermediate sprints on the course. The race is usually decided by seconds so expect aggression from all of the contenders.

The men to watch are Australian trio of defending champ Rohan Dennis, last year’s runner-up Richie Porte, and three-time winner Simon Gerrans.

International riders looking to spoil their party are Sky’s Geraint Thomas, former 3rd place runner-up Diego Ulissi, and previous winner Luis Leon Sanchez.

More / Quick Facts / Box Out:

ADELAIDE                                                                                                                                       South Australia has seen an explosion in cycling culture driven by the Tour Down Under.

The flat, sunny city of Adelaide is perfectly suited for cycling. Hills surround the city from the north-east all the way around to the south. Golden beaches are just 8km to the west. Road warriors can get their fix of tough climbs and flying flats all within view of the city skyline.

Dirt enthusiast are treated to dedicated mountain bike trails through the eastern and southern hills. They can test their suspension travel on several downhill tracks, including the local favourite Eagle Mountain Bike Park. Gravel grinders are spoilt by hundreds of kilometres of unsealed back-roads to get a healthy coating of dust before stopping at a winery, or country café.

Looking for a more sedate pace? Dedicated bike paths snake their way all over the City of Adelaide, right next to the suburban beaches, along the River Torrens, and all through the nearby country towns.

CAFE

Café culture has grown alongside cycling, and two-wheeled enthusiasts are overwhelmed with choice of eateries to re-fuel. Need caffeine fix? Rundle Street in the city’s east-end can help. Café strips of Prospect Road to the north, Norwood Parade in the east, and King William Road to the South can all satisfy your craving within 5km of the city. Head to Glenelg in the west if you want a latte with the sand between your toes.

Best cafes for cyclists:

·      Pavé café, Norwood Parade. Fill your stomach before emptying your wallet at Trak Cycles next door. 

·      Red Berry Espresso, Glenside. When you see retro podium caps decorating the walls, you know you’re home. 

·      Velo Precinct, Victoria Park. Hang up your bike and grab some grub at ex-pro Stuart O’Grady’s café. Check out his bikes hanging on the walls. 

·      CIBO King William Road. Hang up your bike and enjoy SA’s favourite local coffee franchise.

The tour/past winners

Predicting winners is always headache, with the race usually decided by seconds. Stage victories, and even intermediate sprint bonuses, can decide the victors. Overall honours have gone to every type of rider:

·      sprinters (Andre Greipel)

·      Classics strong-men (Stuart O’Grady)

·      time-trialing climbers (Luis Leon Sanchez, Michael Rogers, Rohan Dennis),

·      all-rounders (Simon Gerrans)opportunistic young-guns (Cameron Meyer, Tom-Jelte Slagter).

By the numbers

·      781.3km of racing distance. 832.3km including the People’s Choice Classic

·      62, the number of metropolitan and regional towns the race runs through

·      786,000: the number of spectators who watched the 2015 race.

·      18 teams compete in the race

·      140 riders in the peloton

·      6,028. The number of amateurs riding in the 2015 BUPA Challenge Tour ride following the official 151km race route from Glenelg to Mt Barker. 

Thank you JAMES & JIM for the story.

WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD FOR TOMORROW UPDATE FROM AUSTRALIA.

SD TEAM