15 March 2020

Blog: from Yorkshire to Belgium: insight into race weekend logistics

Q What does it take to get a Yorkshire based cycling team to a race in Belgium? 

A One van, two cars, eleven people, thirteen bikes, one rice cooker, numerous bits and bobs and a fast Channel crossing.

Cycling teams don’t travel light!  So many eventualities to plan for – punctures, crashes, what will the weather be like (especially in Northern Europe in early spring) – as well as ensuring the whole team arrives at the start line fresh and ready to take on the demands of the parcours.

For our trip to Belgium for the Grote Prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré, we left Yorkshire on Friday morning; the traffic was kind and so were the weather gods (blue skies all the way to Folkestone), using Eurotunnel – Le Shuttle, our Channel crossing was super quick, and we arrived at our beautiful Air BnB in West Flanders in time for dinner.

Saturday: pre-race day

A relaxed affair – bike fettling to check the set-up of race bikes and spares, a two-hour café ride on local roads to loosen the legs, then back to our base for rest, relaxation and pre-race massage.  As a UCI race, the rider sign-on and Team Mangers’ meeting is held on Saturday afternoon, meaning one less thing to worry about in the morning.

After dinner, it’s time for the team discussion of the race plan.  Then as the riders relax, the support crew are busy with their preparations – pre-race food, in-race food, staff lunches, post-race food, fixing of bike frame numbers and transponders, car washing – it’s a long day.

Follow our journey...

Sunday: race day

Grey skies and a strong wind; but this is springtime in Belgium so entirely predicted.  A twenty-minute transfer to the race start, then the job of keeping warm in between the stage presentation and the drop of the start flag. 

Four and a half hours later, race over.  

Operation ‘get back to Yorkshire’ kicks in.  Protein drinks, change out of wet race gear, return the transponders, eat post-race food, pack up the van, get on the road.  

Photo credits © Carolyn Nelson

We arrive at Calais two and a half hours after the riders have crossed the finish line and are quickly driving onto our shuttle for the journey home. 

The thirty-five minute crossing gives us plenty of time to share stories from the race – the riders view from the peloton, the Team Manager’s view from the team car and the support crew view from the road side.

It's also a perfect secure space to ‘juggle the luggage’ to ensure the right bags and bikes are on the right vehicle for the scheduled drop offs en route back north.

Safely back in Folkestone, it's just the five hours back to Yorkshire....

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