The faces of the Tour Down Under
After attending dozens of WorldTour bike races it becomes apparent that many of the people behind the scenes have just as interesting, if not more interesting stories as the public figures themselves. And often in casual conversation is when the stories come out. Here are a few of those short stories we stumbled upon last week at the Tour Down Under.
Alejandro Torralbo, Mechanic, Tinkoff-Saxo
As a little boy I used to spend a lot of time in my uncle’s bike shop after school and eventually by the age of 16, I was a mechanic on a small professional Spanish cycling team, Chipolatas Hueso.
36 years on I have seen alot of in cycling and have been on many great teams and seen many great victories (3x Giro, 8x Vuelta, 1x TdF and 1 x World Championship). One of my great successes in cycling was a personal one, it’s how I met my wife. In 1999 I was at a Spanish race, Subida al Naranco, and she was the race commissaire (Spanish Federation). Unfortunately for me at that time she was seeing someone else. A year later in 2000, I was back at the same race so I went looking for her and the rest as you know is history.
Jose Luis Arrieta, Director Sportif, Movistar
Sometimes it’s the most smallest and trivial tasks that can easily get out of hand and we don’t wait for another day because that time might come to resolve these problems. Often this can easily turn into a much bigger problem. So whenever I have any free time after a race I will speak with my mechanics, team doctor, masseurs and chef to see if there is anything I can do to help them out. I strongly believe that as a team we all work and race together no matter who you are. So if I have to help with washing bikes, replacing tubulars or picking up laundry then I will do it because it’s alleviating pressure for someone else.
Cliff – Cycling Fan and TDU volunteer
I have been riding since I was a kid and did racing on the track as well. I have always loved riding and it came to a point one day that I couldn’t keep riding but I still wanted to be part of cycling. Since the Evolution track series I have been volunteering my time at all the big cycling events including Tour Down Under. The sport of cycling has given me alot and by volunteering I am giving back to the sport. I am perhaps the most strangest Australian because I hate footy and cricket but I love cycling.
Davide Malacarne, Pro Cyclist, Astana
Out of all the races I have done nothing that compares to the brutality of Liege Bastogne Liege. Every edition of Liege I have done has been tough, you are going full gas all day long and there is no where to hide. It’s not like last year’s Giro when we went through Gavia and Stelvio in the snow, at least we had a grupetto and survived, but Liege no chance for a grupetto. It’s hell and you are always fighting for position on the most narrowest and steepest roads but that’s why I became a cyclist because you have to fight to win.
Kenny Dehaes – Pro Cyclist – Lotto Soudal
All riders have different ways to motivate themselves, for me I have this tattoo as a permanent reminder to stay focused and motivated all the time: I want (volo), I can (possum), I do (facio).
Kogawatcr, Cycling Fan from Japan
I have been doing cartoon illustrations since I was a kid and my interest in cycling has been recent. I started cycling in 2011 and it wasn’t till the 2012 Tour de France that my interest in cycling increased. Mainly due to following Bradley Wiggins dream of wining Tour de France coming to fruition. It was about the same time I started with cycling illustrations which was just a hobby and most of it was focused around Team Sky. In 2013, I had the opportunity to come to Tour Down Under and I met Team Sky. One of the best moments was the reaction I got from Team Sky, they loved it!!! I couldn’t believe their reaction, it was rather dream like. Since then I have gone to Tour of Britain, Giro d’Italia, Enceo Tour, however I still would love to go to Tour de France one day. You could say I am a little crazy about cycling.
Masanori Miyajima – Masseur – Tinkoff-Saxo
My journey in becoming a masseur for a world tour cycling team is not as straightforward when compared to my friends who are masseurs. When I was young I was obsessed with baseball just like every other Japanese schoolboy. In high school I was a good baseball player but due to a shoulder injury as well as the strong competition for turning pro, I knew baseball was not a career option. However, I still wanted to have a career related to sports.
So I became a fitness instructor at a local sports centre then a few years later I studied at a massage school. One of the first teams I worked was a local Japanese team, Team Nippo, during two races (Tour of Hokaido and Tour of Japan).
When I was 38 years of age, I moved to Italy with Team Nipoo Endeka. Life in a small team was hard because you had many responsibilities other than being a masseur and I couldn’t even speak Italian. It was a challenge I had accepted. I changed to another Italian team, Team Amica Chips, but resulted in alot of problems and I faced many hardships. Luckily another Japanese masseur, Nakano, helped me get on another team, Team ISD. After a few years in Team ISD/Farnese Vini, I joined Saxo Bank (with various team name changes) with whom I have stayed with ever since.
Patrice Diallo, Television Motorpilot
I have been a motorpilot for over 30 years and how I got started in this business was a friend returning a favour. Back in the 80s a friend, Denise Clement, had lost all his camera gear in a sailing accident and I had some camera gear similar to his so I lent him mine while he got back on his feet. In 1984 I got a call from Denise that he was working for Le Equipe during Tour de France and he needed a driver to take him from the hotel to the start line as well as covering the last 70km of each stage which the womens teams raced. To be quite frank, I was getting bored driving a car so I switched to a motorbike which was more exciting, I felt alive!!!!
In 1985, Denise contacted me about a young English photographer, Graham Watson was looking for a motorpilot for the last two stages of Paris Nice. That same year we did Milano San Remo and together we have done 22 editions of Milan San Remo, Paris Nice, Giro d’Italia, Giro di Lombardia, and one edition of Paris Roubaix.
During the 1985 TdF, I met CBS TV cameraman, Pascal Charpentier and I told him he had the best job in the world. Later In 1986 Pascal contacted me because he wanted a motorpilot as his previous motorpilot had committed suicide so in a heartbeat I said, “YES”. Since then I have mainly worked with TV cameraman and consequently worked with many television networks all over the world including China, Philippines, Malaysia, England, Ireland and Australia. My experience in Philippines to date has been the most craziest but that’s another story for another night.
Steven Van Olmen – Mechanic – Lotto Soudal
One of my best memories to date has been the victories of Philippe Gilbert back in 2011, he was simply unbeatable in the Ardennes classics. On the other hand the most stressful time for me had been during Tour Down Under a few years ago when Gripel had issues with bottom bracket cups. Especially during the sprints I was nervous for Gripel because the chances of him having a crash was high as well as the crash taking out other riders.
Telly Tubby, Cycling Fan
The Telly Tubby started out as a dare but it’s actual start was through the talks I was having with the Herald Sun Tour organising committee back in 2010 pertaining to Arthur’s Seat stage. At the conclusion of the talks I was told to bring suits. I was a little perplexed but later that evening I was out to a friend’s place and we chatted about “suits”. Turns out they had a tele tubby suit and the dare was for me to wear the suit but I raised the stakes and said, “I will get myself in a photo that will be published in a magazine”. Suffice to say I won the dare and since then Telly Tubby has become a permanent fixture.