The neutral race support accompanies each Tour de Suisse stage with 3 cars, each equipped with three complete bikes and 18 wheels.
The three riders and three mechanics of the neutral race support team carry a complete Trek road bike on the roof of the car for every common pedal system. The 72 DT Swiss wheels cover a very wide range; from deep carbon wheels (PRC 1400 SPLINE 65) to flat carbon wheels (PRC 1400 SPLINE 35) and aluminium wheels (PR 1400 DICUT 21). Rennsupport also carries rear wheels for the three common component manufacturers, each with and without disc brakes. Furthermore, different disc brakes are used depending on the team. Therefore the neutral race support carries both wheels with 140mm and 160mm disc brakes.
The mechanic has a clear list in the car, on which each team is included. This shows which pedal, brake and component systems are in use.
21 teams will start at the Tour de Suisse, which will be accompanied and supplied by 2 team cars each during the race.
So why does it need a neutral race support?
During a stage race such as the Tour de Suisse, the course of the race can be very different.
This often means that a leading group separates shortly after the start. After a lead of more than 30 seconds on the field, the race commissioner allows the neutral race support to the leading group. Because the team cars are only allowed to take a one-minute lead over the drivers.
At mountain arrivals or generally mountain stages, the race commissioner often does not allow any team cars to enter the leading group in order not to influence the race events. That’s why on the last climb of the stage, the neutral race support at the front of the race, directly behind the commissioner, usually drives.
In addition, on hard mountain stages the field of riders usually breaks up into many small subgroups. So it is no longer possible for a team to look after all its drivers.
How often the neutral race support is actually used depends strongly on the course of the race and the weather. When it rains, there are far more breakdowns, falls and flats.
In the past, there were TdS stages where 2-3 bikes plus one bicycle were used daily, but at other Tour de Suisse events over 10 days only one bike was used.
After each stage the finish area is fast and all teams are gone. Therefore the neutral race support takes a defective bike, which has been changed, to the hotel and cleans it. The next day before the next stage the bike will be exchanged with the team mechanics in front of the respective team bus. Of course the teams also return the DT Swiss bikes in perfect condition.
Race support at the TdS Challenge
The Tour de Suisse Challenge is both a great effort and an extremely exciting event for the neutral race support. There are always many defects – because the participants do not always come to the start with the best material.
At the TdS Challenge, the neutral race support is always with one car at the front and the other two serve the drivers from behind. Then each of the three cars has a lot to do.