Inside the Team Sky bus

Sneak peek into the team's rolling base this season

By Nick Howes   Last updated: 29th January 2010

When Team Sky roll up for their European campaign, they will do so in arguably the most cutting-edge team bus on the planet.

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"That's what it's all about, making these guys so proud they're riding for Team Sky."

Gwilym Evans

This state-of-the-art behemoth and its identical sibling have captured the imagination since even before the team's official launch in January. Here we take a closer look at what is onboard both vehicles, and the role they should play in ensuring Team Sky are one step ahead of their rivals.

Early beginnings

Team principal Dave Brailsford first briefed head of transport Gwilym Evans last June with relatively modest ideas about what he wanted from his travelling HQs, but after discussions with affable Welshman, he was convinced to aim for the stars.

Evans said: "I told him this was the chance to raise the bar and make something that had never been seen before in professional cycling."

Brailsford was quickly convinced and joined Evans at the opening stage of the 2009 Tour de France in Monaco to pour over rival teams' coaches in order to see what they were up against.

With 25 years experience in Formula One with the likes of Honda and Benetton, it soon became clear to Evans that professional cycle teams were lagging way behind their gas-guzzling counterparts.

Evans shared his findings with the team, who decided to start from scratch and build a vehicle perfectly-suited to the riders' needs.

Head of marginal gains Matt Parker said: "We thought 'when the riders finish the race, what is the sequence we want them to go through to best help them recover and prepare for the next day?'

"We went in with a blank canvas, took a real performance approach, and worked step-by-step from there."

The team acquired two newly-built Volvo 9700s and enlisted the help of Oxfordshire-based coachbuilders JS Fraser to rip them to pieces until only the shells and chassis remained. Evans joked: "If the Volvo engineers had been there they would have been crying in their sleep."

Welsh satellite and communications company Excelerate also came on board and from then on it was all about designing the space-age interiors, the likes of which had never been seen before.

In the end it took 9000 man hours - approximately four months - of blood, sweat and toil to get the machines kitted out, but the results were staggering.

Riding the giants

From the outside the bus looks just like any other, but step aboard and you are greeted by a scene more akin to a club class air cabin than sweaty team bus.

Nine leather-furnished seats dominate the space and each one is kitted out with gadgets to cater for every possible need.

The seats are adjustable to the hundredth degree and come complete with electric calf supports, Sky+ boxes, Bose headphones, and integrated storage units to house the riders' team-issue Apple iPhones and Macbook Pros.

A projector and rolling screen hang at the front of the bus for those all-important pre-race briefings, and team psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters has even overseen a mood-lighting system that he believes will enhance the riders' focus.

Tip-toe through and you come to a set of clear sliding pulse doors which ice up at the touch of a button.

On the other side of those is the shower, with base lowered so it fits even the tallest riders, and toilet facility, and then on to a third section - the meeting room-cum-massage area.

Here the races will be planned out beforehand in minute detail, and after the action carers have a space where they can rub down the riders seconds after they cross the finishing line.

And the technological wizardry does not end there - the luggage holds house built-in washing machines and tumble driers that can whir away while the wheels are in motion, and there's even a red LED beacon which extends skywards to ensure the riders can find their way back to base after a hard day in the saddle.

Feedback

The riders were integral to the whole design process and have been suitably impressed by what they have seen.

After joining Team Sky, Wiggins joked that the bus was the part he was most looking forward to, and Evans has been delighted by the feedback he has received.

He said: "The riders were blown away by it. I spoke to Sylvain Calzati and he said 'I've never seen anything like this'. He felt so proud."

"You'd like to think that when the team arrives at these races they can leave the bus with their chests puffed up.

"That's what it's all about, making these guys so proud they're riding for Team Sky."

Parker agrees: "Everyone is really happy with it. The people that have contributed to it have all said it's turned out as good, if not better, than they ever thought it would.

"These buses are flagship vehicles for the team and they make a very big statement about the philosophy and mentality of the team."

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