The role of the soigneur is a hectic one. They are often the first ones up and the last to bed. We asked Pascal Van de Kerkhove, soigneur to the Wiggle Honda team to talk us through his average day at a big event like the Women’s Tour. It certainly looks far from a walk in the park.
A typical race day for me starts very early in the morning. It really depends on when the race starts but normally I am up between 6:00 and 6:30 before everyone else wakes. After a shower my daily routine is more or less the following:
-I take the breakfast box to breakfast for the athletes. Then I have breakfast myself before I start making bottles and food for after the race.
- I will then take the athletes in the camper to the start of the race.
- I have a number of jobs from rubbing legs, food, bottles and everything else they need for the race.
- I supply the bikes with two bottles and put one cooler in the teamcar for during the race. Every athlete has their own wishes with what they want in the bottles. Some only water, other one water and energy drink, some only energy drink etc.
- After the race has started and the athletes have given their jackets, leg warmers, arm warmers to the swanny it is time to drive to the feed zone. There is is a fixed feed zone but most of the time you can feed anywhere you want after 50 km into the race and before the final 20 km.
- After I’ve done the race feeds, I drive back to the finish. In the camper I prepare recovery shakes, laundry and sandwiches for the drive back to the hotel.
- At the finish I will handover the recovery shakes or other drinks like Coca Cola, Fanta, Water or which drinks they prefer. I give them their jackets, leg and arm warmers in case they need it to get back to the camper. If someone rides podium I will have to stay with the athlete until it is done. I even have to check if someone has to go to the doping control in between. Mostly they have chaperonnes but sometimes they haven’t.
- After the athletes are done with changing clothes and refreshing a little we all drive back to the hotel.
- Back at the hotel I put the girl's laundry in the washing machine before starting with massages. Depending on the time, I will try and have dinner first. Otherwise with six athletes I try to have as many massages before dinner and some after. In the meantime I will regularly check the laundry and give it back to the girls when everything is ready.
- After all that is done it is time to relax a little bit before going to have a shower and a good sleep. In a stage race this routine will be day in, day out.
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