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THE UNSUNG HEROES OF PRO CYCLING

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In the world of professional cycling, where the spotlight often shines on the riders conquering the grueling races, there exists a group of individuals working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure every pedal stroke is supported by a perfectly tuned machine. These unsung heroes are the mechanics, the wizards of the workshop who transform bikes into race-ready steeds capable of enduring the harshest conditions and most demanding terrains.

Picture this: every time a pro rider lines up at the start line of a race, they do so atop a bike that feels as good as new, regardless of the thousands of kilometers it has conquered. This seamless performance is not by chance but by the dedicated work of a team of mechanics, whose expertise and commitment keep the wheels turning smoothly.
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At the heart of teams like Soudal Quick-Step lies a squad of mechanics who are as integral to the success of the riders as the athletes themselves. These seasoned professionals, often weathered by minimal sleep, constant travel, and grueling hours, redefine the boundaries of what is achievable in the world of bike maintenance.
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Take Nicolas Coosemans, a 39-year-old Belgian mechanic with a decade of experience in the professional cycling world. His journey from a small team to the prestigious ranks as technical and development manager of Soudal Quick-Step showcases the dedication and passion that drive these mechanics to excel in their craft.
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With an average of seven bikes per rider per season, mechanics like Nicolas are tasked with ensuring each bike is in optimal condition for training and racing. From setting up a bike in three to four hours to handling the challenges of new technologies like disc brakes, electronic shifting, wider and tubeless tires, these professionals tackle every obstacle with precision and expertise.
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Yet, their role extends beyond mere technical proficiency. Mechanics like Nicolas share a deep sense of camaraderie with the riders, celebrating victories as a team and bearing the weight of mechanical faults as their own. Their dedication is evident in every meticulously maintained bike and every seamless gear change during a race.

While some riders may show a keen interest in the mechanics of their bikes, often engaging mechanics in discussions akin to fellow experts, it's the collective effort of the entire team that ensures success on the road. As Nicolas recalls working with riders like Kasper Asgreen whose knowledge rivaled that of the mechanics themselves, it's evident that the bond between riders and mechanics transcends the boundaries of their respective roles.
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And what about the secrets of the trade, like the perfect tire pressure for the cobbled classics? Well, that remains closely guarded by the mechanics themselves, a testament to the expertise and specialized knowledge that sets them apart in the world of professional cycling.
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So, the next time you watch a pro race unfold, remember the unseen heroes behind the scenes – the mechanics who keep the wheels turning and the dreams of victory alive. Theirs is a story of dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to the pursuit of excellence in the sport they love.
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Photos: Soudal Quick-Step, Wout Beele, Getty Images 
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