On an average day you'll probably be working for more than 18 hours, but you're doing it not for the money or the fame (there isn't any), merely the love and passion for the sport of cycling.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

That's the mindset that staff members of National Road Series squads across Australia have, and need to have, to sustain themselves on a day to day basis.

Wake up early, help pack up team vehicles, make sure riders are fed, run through the day's tactics, take photos, tweet or facebook through the social identities of the team, write a release if a rider gets a result, pack up, help to clean dirty bikes, debrief, feed the riders again, co-ordinate the next day's activities with other staff and much more.

"You can't do it for the money," said one team manager at the Tour of Tasmania. "I was getting a significant amount more as an engineer. I do it because I enjoy it. If that ever changed I'd get out."

Another team manager, recollected how after having to fire a staff member at the last moment he'd been forced to drive, not one but two vehicles from one inter-state destination to the next. He drove one down, flew back up, and did the same again.

But it's just what had to be done.

"I've missed father's day, mother's day, my partner's birthday, my youngest child's birthday, because I've been away so much this year.

"I'm not going to be away for my daughter's seventh birthday.

"I'm lucky to be with someone that understands just what the job entails, what it means to manage a sporting team. She's a background in sport herself, so she gets it. She doesn't complain, she knows it's the job."

It's a huge responsibility, and the burden, is rarely at the domestic level shared by more than a small handful of people. The bigger Australian teams have perhaps two or three soigneurs on hand for a race, a mechanic, and sometimes another driver to help with the logistics.

A lesser team might have only two or three staff. Some teams have only one person to do everything. When it comes to stretching a budget for the full duration of a year, a manager often needs to make calls on things ProTeams wouldn't even put a second thought into.

Should I get an extra soigneur for that race? Should we have a mechanic? Do we have a second vehicle on hand? How big a car do I hire?

Contrast those decisions to the luxury of a team like Omega Pharma-Quickstep, which has the tidy sum of 42 full-time staff individually specialising in all sorts of disciplines. The team has a psychologist for Pete's sake! And that doesn't include riders, or casual soigneurs, and other contractors.

What domestic managers do on a daily basis is nothing short of gargantuan. It takes talented, and motivated people to pull off the success of a business, and it's absolutely the same for a cycling team. In my experience those that have been involved for a year or more and are still there know their way around things as diverse as an accounting ledger to a bottom bracket, from the basics of physiology to race tactics.

These people are invaluable, but don't get paid anywhere near their true level of expertise in remunerations. They may love their jobs, but they also work damn hard. They live and breathe cycling because they want to help riders flourish, because they want to move their team from seventh to sixth on the overall series rankings. Because next year they're hoping to get an invite to this race or that overseas. Some are juggling other commitments, others are volunteers.

One thing is certain. We couldn't have a domestic series in Australia, and it's a great domestic series, without them. And for that, I say chapeau.