FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Team Sky will roll out a Formula One type “Race Hub” truck with a kitchen and mobile headquarters in the Vuelta a España, starting this weekend, in an effort to further leave behind the unpredictable trappings of team race hotels. If successful, Chris Froome and the other team cyclists could continue to use the flashy two-story vehicle in the 2018 Tour de France.
The Race Hub is an expandable trailer, pulled by a large truck, which folds out to two levels when parked. Sky described the trailer as a “flexible space for riders and staff that can be used on race in a variety of different ways – for example, communal eating, team briefings and pre and post-race relaxation. It can also be used for guest hospitality and media.” It’s a rolling hotel lobby, kitchen, and more. Thanks to a UCI rule, Sky riders will still have to sleep in their designated hotels.
The Race Hub can be parked near the buses at the race starts or finishes or at the team hotels over the three weeks of a grand tour. Sky will still rely on its black and blue bus, commonly referred to within the peloton as the Death Star, to transport its riders to starts and finishes.
“The nature of our sport inevitably involves thousands of kilometers of racing, constant travel between stages, ever changing hotel accommodation and long hours,” said team Sky boss David Brailsford.
“We know how much all our people give to the Team and the sacrifices they make. As a result, we have become increasingly focused over the past year on the need to provide our staff with an environment where we can look after them even better – a space where they can relax more easily, eat and be briefed together. Rest and recovery are obviously every bit as important as training for performance.”
Sky, however, has come under fire in the past for congesting hotel parking space with its fleet.
“It’s really not easy with all of Sky’s additional vehicles,” LottoNL sports director, Frans Maassen said in 2015 after the teams shared a hotel.
“Sky had three mega-campers. They had them parked long before even one car or truck of ours had arrived. It does not work.”
The truck is the latest in a long line of innovations intended to provide a more controlled working environment for both staff and riders. In 2015, Sky purchased a mobile home for team leader Richie Porte in the Giro d’Italia. The idea was to allow its leader, and eventually all Sky cyclists, to sleep in his own room for three weeks instead of changing hotel rooms nightly. The quality of hotels is notoriously unpredictable in Europe, and many suffer from poor air conditioning or dirty rooms. The UCI, however, quickly updated a rule to read that riders must stay in the hotels provided by the race organizer.
Sky also tried a telescoping strobe light to help riders locate the team bus in its debut year, 2010, and now uses a separate truck with nine washing machines in some grand tours. Each machine is for each of its riders to avoid germs spreading from one rider to the next. The team has a small silver mobile home caravan for the top brass to meet and if needed, sleep. It often parks outside the team’s hotel for the evening
The super-sized Race Hub, however, takes this infrastructure to a new level. It could replace the team’s current kitchen truck with appliances and space inside for the team cook to prepare meals.
“I believe the Race Hub will help strengthen our team culture further and foster even greater communication and camaraderie between riders and staff,” Brailsford said.
“We will be trailing the new Race Hub at this year’s Vuelta and looking at how we can best use it going forward to support the Team. We are constantly looking for ways where we can innovate, modernize and improve and we see this as an important next step of that program.”