Winter series 3/4 – The soigneur
Tour de Suisse: So Rudy, you are currently working at the Tour Down Under in Australia. Could you give us an idea about what exactly a soigneur does, cos I’m sure it’s more than just handing out musettes on the road.
Rudy Pollet:We do a lot indeed; massages, filling bottles, cleaning cars,shopping, picking up riders at the airport, managing hotels, laundry, lunch packets for the staff, food for the riders.
TdS: So you guys are some kind of team Scouts: always prepared and always ready for whatever is needed?
RP:Yes, we have to be ready for every situation.
TdS: The word soigneur originally comes from massage; in modern cycling you have so many tasks to look after, how do you find the energy and strength for those sport massages in the evenings?
RP:Passion for the sport helps, and working with young people. (laughs)
TdS: You go from hotel to hotel in foreign countries; how do you make sure that the riders get a proper dinner and breakfast?
RP:I always contact the hotels before the race starts, via phone and email. Talking and discussing the rooms and food. For the big Tours, we have our own kitchen truck with a chef.
TdS: Staying in the same hotels as teams at the TdS, I noticed that soigneurs tend to pimp up hotel breakfasts. What do you bring to the breakfast for the riders?
RP:We provide the riders with muesli, oats, honey, jam, avocado, blueberries, our own coffee machine, nuts, dried fruits and vitamin supplies.
TdS: Where do you prepare all the food for the race?
RP:We have a truck with a department for the mechanics and a department for the soigneurs (the kitchen).
TdS: What can you always find to eat at the Deceuninck-Quickstep bus?
RP:The riders normally eat rice and tuna or a sandwich after the race. But first, the recovery drink!
TdS: How many bidons per rider do you fill up for each stage?
RP:Depends on the heat and the strength of the race.
Can be 5 but also 15.
TdS: Who makes the best coffee in the Wolfpack?
RP:Bus driver Dirk Clarysse. He make it sometimes with Slimovich(laughs)
TdS: What was the strangest or most extraordinary food wish a cyclist has ever asked you?
RP:That was to make fresh popcorn. (laughs)
TdS: Is there something you always bring to the Tour de Suisse because it’s hard to find in Switzerland? And do you usually bring anything back home from Switzerland?
RP:You can find everything in Switzerland. But I try to buy everything in Belgium, we have a lot of storage space in the truck. If I have to go shopping, there are enough Lidl shops in Switzerland.
TdS: Thank you very much for your time and all the best for the 2019 season!