A Mechanic with Passion
14/01/2012 - To say Alejandro Torralbo and his team of eleven mechanics work away from the spotlight is an understatement.
Team Saxo Bank’s mechanics have spent the last two weeks of training camp in sunny Gran Canaria confined their dimly lit makeshift workshop in the car park of Anfi Emerald Club.
His working surroundings however have not dimmed his enthusiasm for his job. On the contrary, Alejandro’s eyes shine and his smile is bright as he tells us about his passion for his job.
“I’ve been a mechanic for thirty three years, having started work at nine years old fixing bikes with my father. I’ve seen an incredible number of changes in my working life - the technology and materials have changed so much. Nowadays, bikes are made of lightweight aluminium and fibre carbon. It used to take us two hours to put a bike together but now it takes us only forty minutes.”
He continued, “Before, there was more maintenance but now, instead of repairing, it’s a question of replacing parts. Our sponsors provide us with the parts: gears, wheels, handle bars etc. It makes our job easier and less costly.”
How much might such professional level bicycles cost?
“Training and competition bikes can cost between seven and eight thousand Euros. Wheels alone can cost three thousand Euros. We have twenty eight riders so if you can calculate that each rider has at least five bikes each, with some having as much as seven, it’s a costly investment.”
And what is it that keeps him and his colleagues confined to the workshop all day?
“Riders are aware of even the most minimum modification in their bikes. We work very closely with them testing, adjusting and testing again. We modify gears, tension, handlebars, saddle, pedals right down to half millimetre changes until the bike is perfect for each rider.“
“We have to note and file all the modifications to make sure that by the end of training camp the bike we’ve created for the rider is identical to the one they’ll ride in the competitions. The more successful riders can very quickly tell what modification they need - and they stick with them.”
And how is this training camp going?
“Gran Canaria is an ideal location. There is no wind, no rain. The weather is perfect, meaning we have no interruptions to the training schedules. I’ve been to other trainings camps in Mallorca, Formentura, Fuerteventura, Tenerife etc . But for me, nowhere beats Gran Canaria.”
And how does he think the Team Saxo Bank will do in 2012?
“I think they’ll do very well and Contador has a very good chance of winning all three main races”
After thirty three years does he still feel the same excitement during the races?
His smile brightens still further, “Yes, oh yes. I feel the same pride and emotion as I felt from day one”.