Racing is Racing. At it’s purest form, it is competitor against themselves. Seeking every last fraction, every microcosm of performance advantage available to them, all to stand a top the podium.
This has always been the case. It will remain this way as long as there are pathways open to the top of the sport for those blessed with talent.
Yet, behind the glamour of the champagne , TV and heroic deeds on track, there are teams of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes.
Mechanics, Chefs, Soigneurs , and team managers all help pull the strings in what has become a very professional sport.
We managed to get in the pits and behind the scenes with the Polygon UR team for an insight into how Pro life really works…..
New season means new sponsors. The teams truck driver and camera / stock control Jordi Boulliard applies the finishing touches. Sponsors keep the teams going, and each team is seeking ways to fight for funding in a competitive space and provide marketing for those sponsors.
Jonty Neethling, himself an incredible rider, is mechanic for his brother, Andrew. Attention to detail is vital on the bikes. All riders have their own unique nuances and the understading between mechanic and rider is paramount,.
Pride in your work.
The team at Polygon is international. Primarily a French team staff wise, there are also three Brits on board, two South Africans and two Aussies. The non racing staff live in the team truck for most of the year, or when in Europe. It is a big truck, but conditions are cramped for 6 grown adults and getting along with everyone is important.
The coffee machine sees a lot of action.
Seeing the sites of the venue is part of WC life. Spare time is not in abundance, so if you can get, take it.
The team is big. The riders are there to race and win, and the team is pushing towards that. Everyone has a job to do and there is mutual respect all round.
Rider Mick Hannah and Jon Stout discuss options. It helps that Jon is a competent rider himself. As Mick’s mechanic Jon plays a big part in Mick’s success, in the same way that Golf Caddy’s do.
Head Mechanic James Tilbury works tirelessly. It is a job that goes largely unnoticed in a world where snap shots and victories are seen, then forgotten.
The business end of proceedings.
Andrew Neethling is not afraid to get stuck in. He doesn’t need to do this, but if it helps things move along , he will.
Mick Hannah and Andrew Neethling have been around for quite some time, having been team mates at Global Racing nearly 15 years ago. They have a wealth of experience and while they want to win, they are open discussing the track.
The little tricks can make all the difference. Tracey Hannah warms up her custom 5.10 shoes before her qualifying run.
This highlights the family attitude that the UR team has tried to adopt. Here , Alexandre Fayolle’s Dad, a physio, helps Mick with an on going injury problem.
There is also riding to be done. Everything leads up to this point.
Mick and Alex prefer the rollers, where as Tracey and Andrew prefer the turbo trainer. Andrew, after a tough season in 2015, prepares for his qualifying run.
The moment where it is out of everyone hands, bar the riders. With the start gate in the background, all the mechanics can do is hope that the run of their riders goes to plan, confident they have done their party of the job well.
Shit happens. Tracey Hannah. qualifying run.
Rookie pro Alex Fayolle had a rough time here. Qualifying 11th was huge. In his final run his tyre left the rim, leaving him to coast down the track. He got huge applause, but racers want to win…..
We could have ended with a podium shot, but instead take a look at the #baguette diet…..
We’ll be getting more in depth as the season goes on, so stay tuned for some more ” Behind the Glamour ” pieces throughout the year.