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Tour de France

Photos: Mechanics prep for Tour’s Grand Départ

As fans, we tune into the Tour de France in the moments before Stage 1 takes off. For the riders, mechanics, and team staff, the Tour has already started. In fact, it’s been been in full swing for several days or even weeks now. The riders spend time on recon rides,…

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As fans, we tune into the Tour de France in the moments before Stage 1 takes off. For the riders, mechanics, and team staff, the Tour has already started. In fact, it’s been been in full swing for several days or even weeks now. The riders spend time on recon rides, training sessions, and media interviews. The mechanics keep countless tubular tires glued, wash dirty bikes, lube chains and replace cables deep into the night.

As the start gets closer and closer, the scrutiny on riders and mechanics increases exponentially. Here’s a glimpse into the moments before the fans tune in, when everyone readies for the big weeks ahead.

The Riders

Perhaps no other professional sport allows fans to get as close to the pros as cycling does. In the weeks before the Tour, riders are able to fly under the radar, going on training rides without the throngs of fans lining the roads. But as the Tour nears, riders find themselves constantly in the spotlight. The balance between playing the media game and getting a good day’s training becomes increasingly difficult to maintain.

The Mechanics

They’re up early in the morning and often work late through the night. In between, they drive from one location to another, breaking down the work stands on one end and setting them up on the other end. It’s a brutal schedule that only the most dedicated — and sometimes surly — breed can handle. They are married to their tools and they embrace humor as they stand all day, gluing tubulars and washing bikes, making fine adjustments before the riders whisk the bikes away to abuse them once more. Their worlds are hectic, yet they create a balance with unexpected organization.