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There was a solitary Skoda parked outside a nondescript industrial unit on the outskirts of the small Belgian town of Herentals. Apart from the Lotto-Soudal team décor adorning the car there was little on the outside that would give any clue as to the Pandora’s box inside this building. This is the Lotto-Soudal team’s service- course (SSC), the place where the UCI WorldTour team houses its entire season’s stash of bikes, kit, vehicles and just about anything else it takes to keep the team running smoothly.
words/images: Steve Thomas
It’s an expansive place, and it’s kept somewhat secret for obvious security reasons—the value of the high-end gear here is astronomical. In one guise or another, the Lotto team has been present in the pro peloton for more than three decades, and with phenomenal success—especially when it comes to its favored classics and grand tour stage assaults. This is a very old-school, Belgium-oriented squad with a deep heritage, and many of the team’s suppliers and sponsors can be found within a short ride of the SSC.
It’s very rare, if ever, that there is a full complement of team staff, vehicles and equipment to be found here at one time. For most of the year, at least half of this armory is fully mobile, with two teams competing somewhere or another at any given moment. The SSC is a place overseen and managed mostly by one person, and where there are usually just two mechanics working full time preparing bikes for upcoming spring classic races and, of course, repairing them from past battles.
5 full bikes of differing styles (only training bikes are taken home)
15 race kits
3 long-sleeve jerseys
4 rain jackets
30 pairs of socks
8 under vests
2 sets of winter kit
(Plus numerous gloves, mitts, hats, arm and leg warmers.)
14 Skoda team cars
3 VW minivans
3 team buses
2 mechanics’ trucks (Team sponsors also regularly offer up their own vehicles for hospitality and logistical services.)
Predominantly, the internal ground-floor space is reserved for the team’s trucks and vans, which were out on duty during our visit. To one side of the space is a small reception area and offices, which are manned by team managers, staff and mechanics on a revolving basis. Behind the offices is a small kitchen area, where staff eat and drink and prepare team food for nearby races. This also acts as an informal trophy room.
Along the back wall of the unit is row upon row of Ridley team bikes and frames, which are stored here between events. Running parallel to this is a huge wheel rack, with every conceivable combo of tires and wheel styles. Sandwiched between the hardware is a long workshop area, which is flanked by numerous boxes and storage containers with everything from group sets to race caps and energy gels stored inside.
“This is a very old-school, Belgium-oriented squad…”
The team, as a whole, gets through around 140 sets of wheels, 1,000 tubulars, and countless chains, brake pads, spares and more in an average season.
The logistics of managing all this and its administration is done on a LogiCycle software system, which is a program developed by none other than the Lotto rider with the craziest bike set-up on the team, Adam Hansen.
7 sports directors
5 promotional/media staff
4 office/admin staff
1 bus driver
1 team CEO
(Not all team staff are full time, and additional drivers are used during busy race periods.)
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