Team Spur Assistant Manager and Soigneur, Tim Bassingthwaighte and Technical Manager, JP Jacobs are usually responsible for looking after the every racing need of XC hotshot (and newly-crowned Cape Pioneer Champ, with Matt Beers), Alan Hatherly, and marathon queen Ariane Lüthi. Now it’s their turn to pull on the red-and-black lycra… And there is some disagreement as to how this is all going to pan out.
“A week or two ago JP was joking, saying what I do is easy,” laughs Alan Hatherly. “He reckons, ‘I just have to ride my bike and can go have fun all the time.’ This is a bit of a role reversal for him and he can go and experience three days of hurt! So he can learn a lesson. Hahaha!”
“No, they’re incredible guys and just the best support any rider could ever ask for. Everything is always sorted, you know, I don’t need to worry about anything. Tim does so much behind the scenes: Flights; car hire; buys the food; cooks the food. A whole bunch of other stuff… I’m really happy they get to do something fun together and I hope that they come out the other side with their friendship intact.”
“Huge respect to them! I really hope they survive it well because we are going to need them a weekend later,” Ariane echoes Alan’s sentiments. “And, I don’t think they would want us to do their jobs - they’re going to be a lot better at doing ours than we could ever be at doing theirs.”
“Anyone who knows my mechanical skills know how important JP is for me, I’m really reliant on a good mechanic! Body and legs are crucial, but equipment plays a big part in successful mountain-bike racing too. JP is not just a mechanic, I’ve worked with many different people in my career and I can honestly say JP is the best mechanic I’ve ever worked with, in all aspects. He’s a perfectionist, when it comes to stock and those kinds of logistics too, which is a big thing,” she says.
According to Ariane, not even the toughest of stages will test the bond JP and Tim have forged while on the road. “I mean, these are two guys who – when we go to Spur to eat – they’ll order different things and then share, going as far as to count out the chips. Double beds…who knows what else they’ve shared while on tour,” Ariane jokes.
Team Director Nic Lamond looks at it from a practical, stage-race riding point-of-view. “Much as some of our top pro teams have to work out the strengths and weaknesses of their riding partners, JP and Tim are going to have to do the same,” he says.
“JP is an incredibly skilled bike handler, but travels the most of anyone in the team. Supporting both Ariane and Alan, and, has come off the back of a very successful but also very strenuous season, so probably hasn’t put in the kind of time he probably should have. I think Tim probably has more of a diesel engine, so look for Tim to lead up the climbs and JP to fly the downhill singletrack sections.”
According to Nic the sacrifices that pro athletes make is well documented, the sacrifices these two make behind the scenes of a successful racing outfit, is not. “Really it’s an opportunity to have the freedom of riding their bikes for a couple of days, without any worries of looking after someone else.”
So, what do the boys think about these up-coming three days of ‘freedom’? Well, they are under no illusions:
“Preparation wise, it is quite simple - JP and I aren’t prepared…at all,” Tim says. “We’ve been on one or two rides, wouldn’t call them training rides. Having said that, we really are looking forward to the event. We’ve heard some great stories and stuff about the route - some people say we will be fine, others have a complete opposite point-of-view.
“We didn’t prepare for the event, because earlier this year we planned to ride but couldn’t get an entry,” JP explains, playing down the lack of time they would’ve had to prepare for a three day stage race of this nature anyway. “Then, at the 11th hour, Specialized gave us a ticket. At first we were going to turn it down because of the lack of training. However, after a bit of back-n-forth we decided, ‘screw it we’ll show them what we made of!”
See just what the Team Spur boys are made of by following their antics at the FNB Wines2Whales Ride, on Team Spur’s social channels. Indeed, Tim might just have enough time at the top of some of the climbs to tweet….