How the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl mechanic works overtime to keep the Tour of Flanders going smoothly

“], “filter”: { “nextExceptions”: “img, blockquote, div”, “nextContainsExceptions”: “img, blockquote”} }”>

Access everything we publish when you >”,”name”:”in-content-cta”,”type”:”link”}}”>join VeloNews or Outside+.

KORTRIJK, Belgium (VN) — Mechanics are working overtime at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl so they don’t have to come on race day at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

Accidents and punctures are impossible to avoid, but any other mechanical problems are ideally avoided by proper preparation and meticulous attention to detail.

Kurt Roose is one of four mechanics working with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl this week, and after a final check of the bikes on Saturday night, he hopes to get a good night’s sleep before Sunday’s big battle at Round.

“Of course, when the team wins, you’re super happy. Winning is the focus of everyone in the organization,” Roose said. BikeNews in a short break on Saturday. “For the mechanics, when there are no problems during the race, it’s a very good day for us.”

Read also :

Roose is one of the key mechanics in the powerhouse of the Belgian classics. A top-level mechanic for nearly three decades, he joined Patrick Lefevere’s team 21 years ago.

The Belgian mechanic has had a front row seat to Johan Museeuw and Tom Boonen’s victories, with major innovations ranging from disc brakes to carbon fiber wheels.

“Over the past 20 years, bikes have changed 120 percent,” Roose said. “We started with steel bikes, then aluminum, and now it’s full carbon. The derailleurs went from 10 to 11 to 12, fully electric and wireless, from tubular to clincher to tubeless. From steel and aluminum wheels to full carbon fiber wheels.

“Everything has changed so much,” he said. “Cobblestones and hills are the same.”

Preparing for the classics: “It’s like Formula 1 with bikes”

Kurt Roose has been one of the main mechanics of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl for over 20 years. (Photo: Wout Beel/QSAV)

The move from steel to carbon fiber to full integration represents a complete overhaul of what elite pros race on, and Roose has seen it all.

“There’s so much more engineering and integration in bikes today. It’s like Formula 1 for bikes,” Roose said in a phone call. bikes two days before Paris-Roubaix Today, everything is tested months before and nothing is left to chance.

Roose said none of the bikes, wheels or other components will be used in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday or in two weeks in Paris-Roubaix without undergoing rigorous testing weeks, months or even years in advance.

“When Specialized brings us something to use, they also bring the numbers,” he said, referring to the lab tests. “It’s 5 watts faster or 100 grams lighter. The numbers are more important than ever. When runners see the numbers, they accept the changes more quickly.

There won’t be any surprises Sunday on Quick-Step’s bike like the way Matej Mohorič surprised everyone by using a dropper post to win Milan-San Remo last month.

Read also: Mohorič and his secret weapon in Milan-San Remo

The bikes for Flanders will feature the same frames and wheels the team has been using all spring. All bikes will feature 54-39 x 30-11.

The only significant tweaks will come at Paris-Roubaix, where a slightly different frame that’s 1cm longer than his everyday road frame. These bikes are used once a year for the unique and brutal rigors of Paris-Roubaix.

The team will also use the Future Post shock absorber which has been deployed in the last two editions of Paris-Roubaix. The team will use a lockout version that gives 20mm of travel but offers the ability to lock it out when the rider wants on cobbled sections.

For tire choice, the team will race 26mm tubeless in Flanders and 32mm tubeless in Paris-Roubaix. Tire pressure at Roubaix remains an internal trade secret, with each driver having their preferred pressure, but Roose said the entire team will race at between four and five bars (58 to 72 psi).

Also at Paris-Roubaix, the 39 front ring is replaced with something bigger, probably a 42 or 43, to give riders more spin when battling headwinds and cobblestones from “hell.” North”.

Roose pointed out that Flanders team boss Kasper Asgreen prefers to run on 26mm tires instead of the wider 28mm option, and therefore the whole team will be running on 26 tyres. mm Sunday in Flanders so that everyone in the team is on the same configuration.

“The leader decides the measurement and everyone else will run the same way so there is no confusion later in the race,” he said.

Another big difference is the number of wheels the team has. Twenty years ago the team had 10-20 sets for the Spring Classics, and now the team will have 100 pairs across the Monuments.

Disc brakes have already been standard for three years, and Quick-Step doesn’t even have the ability to race with rim brakes if a rider wants to. Only a handful of WorldTour teams even have rim brake options following the full fit of disc brakes across the peloton.

For Sunday, each team rider will have a spare bike in the team’s two sporting directors’ cars, with defending champion Asgreen having two spare bikes.

A fleet of VIP cars driven by ex-pros will follow the race in Flanders with additional sets of wheels and cans to pass along key climbs and cobbled sections.

A complex plan is already drawn up for Sunday, and the riders and sport directors know where the key points of the course will be in the event of an urgent need for a spare wheel.

Each racer will also have two complete sets of wheels available to them in the directors’ cars, as well as dozens of spare wheels waiting along the route.

Four mechanics for the Tour of Flanders at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl

The profession of mechanic requires many skills. Here’s Roose at a previous race adjusting a rider’s course radio. (Photo by Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

Roose is part of a team of four mechanics working all week preparing for Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

“We have more work than 20 years ago,” Roose said. “We used to come to the hotel on Saturday mornings to build the bikes, now we’re working on the Flanders bikes from Thursday.”

In fact, he said the team of mechanics were at the team hotel from Ghent-Wevelgem and worked long hours to keep the classic team well equipped and running smoothly.

Long gone are the days when tubular tires were hung up in a secret “dark room” to help them cure and age properly for months before racing. Today the tires are taken out of the box and mounted directly on the rims.

Pre-built carbon wheels mean less work in one aspect of the job, but integrated systems and internal wiring create new challenges.

The puzzle never ends, and the hours are always long.

Race day routine for the Tour of Flanders:

5:30 a.m. — Wake up for a long day.

6:00 a.m. — Carbo-loaded breakfast for mechanics and staffers.

6:30 a.m. — Last morning checks and adjustments, cars and vans are loaded with bikes, wheels, cansextra clothing, gear and food bags.

8:15 a.m. — The team starts in Antwerp

9:45 am — Final adjustments before registration. A mechanic will drive in each of the two DS team cars, two more will be on the road in vans loaded with wheels, water bottles and extra gear.

5:15 p.m. — As soon as the race is over, the mechanics load up all the bikes, and start cleaning and dismantling them.

8:30 p.m. — Work ends at the team hotel. It’s then time for lunch with the whole team and the staff, and if everything went well, champagne to celebrate a victory or a podium.

Shimano remains a component partner and the 2022 Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Tarmac SL7 bikes feature the Dura-Ace 9270 groupset.
Shimano remains a component partner and the 2022 Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Tarmac SL7 bikes feature the Dura-Ace 9270 groupset. (Photo: Alpha Quick-Step Vinyl)

Jack L. Goldstein