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Team Jumbo-Visma is currently participating in the last World Tour race of the road season, the Gree-Tour or Guangxi. Our experienced soigneur Dimitri Van Boxstael has given us a look behind the scenes of our team. Cycling journalist Nico Dick joined him for a while on behalf of WielerFlits to find out what is involved in arranging all matters for the riders.
For Van Boxtstael, it is his second time as a soigneur in the Gree-Tour of Guangxi. According to him, much more is involved for the team’s staff than for an average race in Europe. “The logistics in particular are quite difficult. This starts in our own country. Not only does everyone need a visa, they also have to fill out lists containing everything that is imported into China. Bicycles, wheels, food, other materials. Everything, really everything that we take with us, must be enlisted in detail.”
The enthusiastic Belgian tells us about the loading of all necessary goods. “We are limited in weight. Everything must be brought in bags and boxes. So we strive for a minimum of material. The race here is different from European races. The more weight, the greater the cost. I estimate that we have about five thousand euros in costs for that part of the trip.” A total of 33 pieces of luggage were boarded for Team Jumbo-Visma. “Fourteen bicycles, five cool boxes and a number of wheel and bottle bags. And our personal luggage of course.”
On site, much more is involved, Dimitri tells WielerFlits. “Hardly anyone speaks English here. So you need an interpreter for everything you do”, he says. “Another limitation: as a European you are not allowed to drive a car here. That does not make it any easier. Just think of a simple visit to a store. For that you’ll have to arrange a driver and an interpreter. On top of that you cannot pay with a Visa or Mastercard in shops. So you always have to make sure that you have enough cash with you.” Van Boxstael compliments the organisation of the Gree Tour of Guangxi. “They are doing their utmost to help us. And everything is tightly arranged. In 2012 I was in Beijing. That was a different story altogether. Here we sleep in the better hotels of Guangxi. The organisation does what it can. You have to take this race as an adventure.”
"You have to take this race as an adventure."
Being creative is key to success. Van Boxstael gives the example of doing the laundry. “Most teams have their laundry done at the hotel where they are staying. The clothing is handed out in the evening and you’ll get it back in the morning. Upon our arrival in China, we bought a simple washing machine for one hundred and fifty euros. It gives us some extra freedom and within a few days we already get return on investment.”
What about the meals in China? The organisation Wanda Sports indicated that there is no need to worry. Team Jumbo-Visma, however, does not take any risks. Van Boxstael continues: “Of course we have to be a bit more flexible here than in Europe. But we still try to follow our own guidelines as strictly as possible. For example, we prohibit our riders from eating Chinese meat. Remember the Contador case? We brought canned chicken and tuna fillet from the Netherlands. From the buffets in the hotel restaurants - no matter how neat - we only eat rice, pasta and vegetables”, the soigneur concludes.