No panic from this Paralympic mechanic! | SASCOC - SASCOC

No panic from this Paralympic mechanic!

Sport always has its fair share of unsung heroes and just because of its nature the Paralympics probably have more than most, writes Mark Etheridge in London.

Cycling has a team of six riders at the 2012 Games and their own unsung hero is one Pieter Jansen, the man who gets his hands dirty to make sure our riders have nothing to worry about but their race and hopefully clean up when it comes to getting medals.

The 38-year-old’s title is mechanic and he told Road to London 2012 what it entailed: “Plain and simple my job is to make sure that our riders feel comfortable in the saddle, they mustn’t have to worry about a thing.

“I help with their warm-up, get their different gear ratios from the coach because everyone is different and generally fine tune things.

“During a road race then I’m with them in a car in case anything goes wrong with the bike.”

Track and road bikes are his preferred choice, he’s not that keen on the mountain bike scene. “The track bike is the easiest to work with in my opinion.”

After the race Jansen will ask the rider if he was happy with the bike, if so, then it’s just a simple washdown (for the bike!) and checking that everything’s still functional.

Having first started as a mechanic 22 years ago, Jansen says there are often new things coming on the scene. “The electronic STI gear-shifting device has to be learnt. There are a number of things that can go wrong, such as the drive train and cassette, chain and blade.”

A top amateur rider himself, Jansen won provincial colours for both Boland and Western Province and rode the B World Championships in Malaysia in 1997.

Living in Paarl, his day job is just as he’s doing in London, working for the Flandria Cycle Shop in Stellenbosch where his task is to, well, make sure that everyone feels as comfortable as possible in the saddle.