In pictures: Team Jumbo-Visma riders enjoy well-deserved vacation
The road season is over! Most riders are therefore currently enjoying their vaca...
An ideal training schedule, the appropriate nutrition at the right times, enough rest, well-maintained equipment, a positive mindset... Success is a sum of many factors. Another factor is how well we care about our riders before and after each race.
Soigneur Gerard Spierings knows all about it. He used to be an avid amateur biker and has been a soigneur for about 20 years. Gerard has attended hundreds of races with the team, endured numerous setbacks, but most importantly, has cherished many victories. During the 2022 Tour de France opening stages, Team Jumbo-Visma riders Jonas Vingegaard and Wout van Aert won the yellow and green jerseys, respectively. Gerard was also working during those stages.
To suggest that "excellent preparation is half the battle" applies to the field of soigneur is an understatement. Effective planning is essential. Gerard and his coworkers depart from the Team Jumbo-Visma headquarters in Den Bosch with all the equipment required for the best care of the riders. Water bottles, sports nutrition, tape, massage oil, and cream to stop chafing in riders are all included. "The rule is to always pack plenty", Gerard says. "Because you don't want to run out of anything, especially Anti Friction Balm. For the 21 Tour stages, we utilised more than four jars altogether. Thankfully, we had six jars on hand. We can't live without that balm because almost all the riders swear by it."
"FOR THE 21 STAGES OF THE TOUR, WE USED A TOTAL OF OVER FOUR JARS OF ANTI-FRICTION BALM"
After a long day grueling on the bike, sixty minutes on the massage table is a welcome moment of rest for many riders. Gerard sets up his hotel room and, together with the riders, decides who will receive a massage and when. "I do a few tests to gauge the rider's condition before I begin the massage. I focus a lot on how the hips are positioned, but I also look at the arms and other things. When the rider stretches both arms, and they are not the same length, it may be a sign that the respiratory muscles require more attention."
The Team Jumbo-Visma soigneurs give sedative massages. “We massage the riders to support their body's ability for recovery", Gerard explains. "I frequently use the Energize Oil or Muscle Repair Lotion for this. The latter has an extra benefit on the airways, with the added effect of giving riders a mental boost. They immediately realise: this will help me feel better, as they walk into the massage area and smell the oil."
"Some cycling teams work with changing baths after a race. We don't do that", Gerard continues. On sweltering days, we do use Cooling SOS Gel. Its effect is similar to that of a changing bath. The cold gel deceives the brain into believing that the legs are cold, which closes pores and temporarily lowers blood flow to the legs. When the gel's efficacy wears off, you experience more congestion. It encourages recovery."
At their request, riders receive a quick, energising massage in the team bus just before the race begins. It must be last-minute because the impact lasts only around fifteen minutes. "To further warm the muscles, we use the Mild, Medium, or Hot Warming Balm on chilly days and the Energize Oil on other days", Gerard says.
"My experience is that male riders require warming lotion on their legs in the winter or early spring but not during the warmer months. With female riders, things are a little different. Because it makes them glow, some use oil all year round. Additionally, women are particularly fond of bronzing oil. It offers protection for the legs as well as a lovely golden shine. It looks super sophisticated. So I do understand why they apply it, mind you. I once desired it for myself."
Do you want to use the same products as our riders and soigneurs? You now have the chance to win a Sportsbalm package!
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