The Tour Down Under’s ring-in mechanics

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Last week when I was making the rounds and photographing all the 2015 WorldTour team bikes at the Tour Down Under I noticed that many of the mechanics I was asking permission from were not French, Belgian, Italian, Dutch, etc. They were Australian. To be precise – they were from Adelaide. That got me asking: how did they get into being a WorldTour mechanic and helper for just one week a year? It’s not an easy job, but for many cycling enthusiasts, it’s a dream job. Here are a few of their stories.

Cameron – AG2r:   “I’m a musician with the symphony orchestra here in Adelaide on principle trombone. I got into this through being a cyclists and working with a few bike shops. About 10 years ago an emergency opportunity came up and they needed an extra mechanic for the UniSA team and I just stepped in at the last minute. From there I got a recommendation to work for other teams in later years – Ag2R, Crédit Agricole, Saunier-Duval. It’s a great diversion from my regular job. Every year they ask for me and I speak to the directors. Every year I get more responsibilities. I now do the training routes for the team and schedules for riders the week before the race.   I’m a collector and restorer of bikes. Mostly steel frame bikes, fixed gear track bikes, and Australian built ladies bikes.“
Cameron – Ag2r-La Mondiale:
 
“I’m a musician with the symphony orchestra here in Adelaide on principle trombone. I got into this through being a cyclists and working with a few bike shops. About 10 years ago an emergency opportunity came up and they needed an extra mechanic for the UniSA team and I just stepped in at the last minute. From there I got a recommendation to work for other teams in later years – Ag2R, Crédit Agricole, Saunier-Duval. It’s a great diversion from my regular job. Every year they ask for me and I speak to the directors. Every year I get more responsibilities. I now do the training routes for the team and schedules for riders the week before the race.
I’m a collector and restorer of bikes. Mostly steel frame bikes, fixed gear track bikes, and Australian built ladies bikes.“
Michele : Astana   “I’m originally from Italy but I’ve lived here most of my life. I used to be the manager of the UniSA team for their first five years. We won it in 2004 with Patrick Jonker. My last year as a team manager was in 2005 when the TDU became a ProTour event and that team became a National team and they wanted their own staff.    After that I took a couple years off and then came back helping out other teams. Steven Nash and myself own a business down the road called Corsa Cycle Centre. This is my third time helping Astana. I know these guys quite well. I’ve also worked with Saeco, Telecom…and other teams. They get to know you. Sometimes team mechanics change teams and then then they ask for you to help with that team.    I started cycling when I was 13. Then I went back to Italy in the 90’s and raced there, but had back problems so I gave it away, and that’s how I got into managing teams. I run the Lightsview team which is NRS. I also work with SRAM neutral support. I did the Nationals, I’m doing Cadel’s race and the Sun Tour coming up. I’ve done about 17 Sun Tours - 10 as a team manager, and 7 as neutral spares. “
Michele – Astana:
 
“I’m originally from Italy but I’ve lived here most of my life. I used to be the manager of the UniSA team for their first five years. We won it in 2004 with Patrick Jonker. My last year as a team manager was in 2005 when the TDU became a ProTour event and that team became a national team and they wanted their own staff.
 
After that I took a couple years off and then came back helping out other teams. Steven Nash and myself own a business down the road called Corsa Cycle Centre. This is my third time helping Astana. I know these guys quite well. I’ve also worked with Saeco, Telecom…and other teams. They get to know you. Sometimes team mechanics change teams and then then they ask for you to help with that team.
 
I started cycling when I was 13. Then I went back to Italy in the 90’s and raced there, but had back problems so I gave it away, and that’s how I got into managing teams. I run the Lightsview team which is in the NRS (National Road Series). I also work with SRAM neutral support. I did the Nationals, I’m doing Cadel’s race and the Sun Tour coming up. I’ve done about 17 Sun Tours – 10 as a team manager, and seven as neutral spares. “
Ben - Tinkoff-Saxo:    This is my fourth year being a mechanic for Tinkoff-Saxo. I worked with Brad McGee before when he was working with Saxo and he got me a couple gigs overseas and then at the Herald Sun Tour and the Tour Down Under. He’s no longer with the team but I’ve still kept the relationship and continue to work with these guys at the Tour Down Under.   I do a little freelance work with NSWIS and paracycling. At the moment I’m going back to be a psychology student, so that’ll be my 9-5 for the next four years. But I’ll still be able to do this during summer holidays.
Ben – Tinkoff-Saxo:
 
“This is my fourth year being a mechanic for Tinkoff-Saxo. I worked with Brad McGee before when he was working with Saxo and he got me a couple gigs overseas and then at the Herald Sun Tour and the Tour Down Under. He’s no longer with the team but I’ve still kept the relationship and continue to work with these guys at the Tour Down Under.
 
I do a little freelance work with NSWIS and paracycling. At the moment I’m going back to be a psychology student, so that’ll be my 9-5 for the next four years. But I’ll still be able to do this during summer holidays.”
Jaed: Etixx-Quick-Step   “I was involved in Bike Society in Adelaide [a local bike shop] and a friend of mine had been working with this team from the start. At the beginning of the TDU a lot of the teams relied on volunteers and many of those relationships have stayed through until now. Last year my mate couldn’t do it and I was asked to do this.   The last three years I’ve been studying - I got a masters degree in public health. I had a psychology degree before that. I’m now looking at studying medicine. I got to the final stage of selection this year but didn’t get selected, so I’ll try again next year.    As a young kid I used to race in the SASI squad. Stuey O’Grady and I came through the program together. I didn’t have the success that I wanted to so I left the sport for a while and then came back about 10 years ago. Got back into riding and spent 12 years working in the media on radio. I reported on the TDU about 8 times.    Mechanics has been something I’ve always been interested in. Even as a kid my coaches taught me how to build wheels and stuff. I worked as a bike mechanic when I quit cycling. I’ve always fixed my friend’s bikes. “
Jaed – Etixx – Quickstep:
 
“I was involved in Bike Society in Adelaide [a local bike shop] and a friend of mine had been working with this team from the start. At the beginning of the TDU a lot of the teams relied on volunteers and many of those relationships have stayed through until now. Last year my mate couldn’t do it and I was asked to do this.
 
The last three years I’ve been studying – I got a masters degree in public health. I had a psychology degree before that. I’m now looking at studying medicine. I got to the final stage of selection this year but didn’t get selected, so I’ll try again next year.
 
As a young kid I used to race in the SASI squad. Stuey O’Grady and I came through the program together. I didn’t have the success that I wanted to so I left the sport for a while and then came back about 10 years ago. Got back into riding and spent 12 years working in the media on radio. I reported on the TDU about eight times.
 
Mechanics has been something I’ve always been interested in. Even as a kid my coaches taught me how to build wheels and stuff. I worked as a bike mechanic when I quit cycling. I’ve always fixed my friend’s bikes. “
Nick FDJ   “I live here in Adelaide and have been working with different French teams since the second year of the TDU. FDJ was the first team I worked with. Always through guys who know guys.    A couple years ago there was less call for people like me because teams went crazy with the whole Lance factor, because they were sending all their people over here. Now the teams are cutting back a bit because it’s easier to hire people like me. I mostly wash the bikes and little bits and pieces like that. I work for a pacemaker company  the rest of the year. I’m the territory manager…It’s far removed from this work, that’s for sure.   Mechanics I’ve known for 10 or 20 years were my connection into this gig.”
Nick – FDJ:
 
“I live here in Adelaide and have been working with different French teams since the second year of the TDU. FDJ was the first team I worked with. Always through guys who know guys.
 
A couple years ago there was less call for people like me because teams went crazy with the whole Lance factor, because they were sending all their people over here. Now the teams are cutting back a bit because it’s easier to hire people like me. I mostly wash the bikes and little bits and pieces like that. I work for a pacemaker company the rest of the year. I’m the territory manager…It’s far removed from this work, that’s for sure.
 
Mechanics I’ve known for 10 or 20 years were my connection into this gig.”

Chris - IAM:    “First off I had a job with HTC and that was through Leigh Howard being a friend. I worked with the team in Europe and that was my first ever taste of working as a team mechanic. It was a different lifestyle than I was used to but it was good.   Working at Tour Down Under is a bit of fun. It’s a cruisy event to work at. I got involved with IAM by a guy named Tom Patton who is a full-time soigneur for IAM and is from Geelong, where I live. He asked me if I wanted to do it this year. It’s all about who you know and if you have a good reputation.   For the other 11 and a half months of the year I work with Baum Cycles just outside of Geelong.”
Chris – IAM:
 
“First off I had a job with HTC and that was through Leigh Howard being a friend. I worked with the team in Europe and that was my first ever taste of working as a team mechanic. It was a different lifestyle than I was used to but it was good.
 
Working at Tour Down Under is a bit of fun. It’s a cruisy event to work at. I got involved with IAM by a guy named Tom Patton who is a full-time soigneur for IAM and is from Geelong, where I live. He asked me if I wanted to do it this year. It’s all about who you know and if you have a good reputation.
 
For the other 11 and a half months of the year I work with Baum Cycles just outside of Geelong.”

Mitchell: Wiggle-Honda    “I used to work for Shimano at their office on the phones for customer support. The last three years has been all about progressing towards getting on a team as a mechanic. This came up with Rochelle Gilmore to help with Wiggle-Honda. I got a random phone call from her after I did some demo bike work for some other stuff. My first job with her was at the Shimano Supercrit and then she asked me to come down for the summer series - The Bay Crits, Nationals, this and Cadel’s Race.    Now I’m working my way to get over to Europe. That’s my end goal. “
Mitchell: Wiggle-Honda
 
“I used to work for Shimano at their office on the phones for customer support. The last three years has been all about progressing towards getting on a team as a mechanic. This came up with Rochelle Gilmore to help with Wiggle Honda. I got a random phone call from her after I did some demo bike work for some other stuff. My first job with her was at the Shimano Supercrit and then she asked me to come down for the summer series – The Bay Crits, Nationals, this and Cadel’s Race.
 
Now I’m working my way to get over to Europe. That’s my end goal. “

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