SRAM NRS keeping riders moving in Amgen Tour of California men and women’s races
It could be a water bottle, or a whole new bike. The SRAM Neutral Race Support Team’s job is to provide the pro riders of the Amgen Tour of California what they need when their team car isn’t nearby to help.
For the seventh consecutive year in the men’s race and second in the women’s race, SRAM NRS is ready to help a rider suffering a mechanical or mishap, regardless of team affiliation. The team’s easy-to-spot red cars and motorcycles are loaded with SRAM, Zipp, and Quarq power meter-equipped bikes as well as Zipp spare wheels.In California, SRAM NRS has 24 staff to cover the men and women's races using five Volvo XC70 (3 for the men, 2 for the women)and four Honda NC700X motorcycles (2 each).
In Thursday’s Stage 1 of the women’s race around Lake Tahoe, SRAM NRS’ duties included providing a replacement bike for a rider whose bike had a broken shift cable. The crew also handed up bottles and helped get a rider who crashed in the final 3km to quickly get going again.
The SRAM NRS crew is made up of ace mechanics who work well together. Communication and preparation are crucial. When it comes to servicing riders during a race, slow is fast. Taking proper time and preparing makes for quicker roadside fixes. This is especially true in neutral race support, where the mechanics work on varying frames, wheels and component types.
(Top photo) The Amgen Tour of California women's race start list on the dashboard of the SRAM NRS car notes whether each team uses wide (W) or narrow (N) rims. The sheet also notes each team's position in the race caravan so the NRS crew better knows if a rider does not have a team car near by. (Bottom photo) Spacers are used to set the skewer gap in NRS wheels for quick wheel changes.
In the SRAM NRS car driven by James Stanfill in Thursday’s Stage 1 of the women’s race, taped to the dashboard was a start list with notations for each team whether they are riding wide (such as Zipp Firecrest) or narrow-rim wheels. That way, the mechanic “jumper” would grab a similar wheel when servicing a rider as to avoid having to adjust the brakes. The sheet also noted each team car’s position in the caravan. Stanfill also has a set of skewer gauges to help set up proper skewer gap for quick wheel changes.
Just as pro cycling teams carefully prepare for every race scenario, so do pro mechanics. Watch for the SRAM NRS crew at the Amgen Tour of California, or at a cycling event near you.
All photos except bottom two by Wil Matthews Photo