During the Tour Down Under we talked to Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Soigneur Rudy Pollet about the tasks of a Soigneur, passion and special wishes of the riders. He also tells us what the drivers eat for breakfast and who makes the best coffee.
Tour de Suisse: So, Rudy, you’re currently working on the Tour Down Under in Australia. Could you tell us a bit about your work as a soigneur? I’m sure it’s more than just handing out musettes on the street.
Rudy Pollet:We actually take care of a lot of things. Massages, filling bottles, cleaning cars, shopping, picking up drivers at the airport, managing hotel bookings, laundry, packed lunches for the staff and catering for the drivers.
TdS: So you are a kind of team scout: prepared for all eventualities and always there when you are needed?
RP:Yes, we must be prepared for every situation.
TdS: The word Soigneur originally comes from the field of massage. But in modern cycling, soigneurs have so many more tasks to master. Where do you get the energy and power for the sports massages in the evening?
RP:The passion for sports motivates me and working with young people probably contributes to theirs. (laughs)
TdS: You travel from hotel to hotel abroad. How do you make sure that the drivers get a proper dinner and breakfast?
RP:I always contact the hotels before the start of the race, by phone and e-mail to discuss all questions about the rooms and meals. For the big tours we have a kitchen car with its own cook.
TdS: As I stayed in the same hotels as teams during the TdS, I noticed that soigneurs tend to spice up breakfast at the hotel. What do you bring the drivers for breakfast?
RP:We supply the drivers with muesli, oatmeal, honey, jam, avocado, blueberries, coffee from our own machine, nuts, dried fruit and additional vitamins.
TdS: Where is all the food prepared for the race?
RP:We have a car with a section for the mechanics and a section for the soigneurs (the kitchen).
TdS: What food is always in stock on the Deceuninck Quickstep bus?
RP:After the race the drivers usually eat rice and thon or a sandwich. But first comes the recovery drink!
TdS: How many bidons per rider do you fill for each stage?
RP:This depends on the heat and intensity of the race.
It could be five or even 15.
TdS: Who makes the best coffee of the wolfpack?
RP:Bus driver Dirk Clarysse. He sometimes makes it with Slivovitz(laughs).
TdS: What is the strangest or most unusual food a driver has ever asked you to eat?
RP:fresh popcorn. (laughs)<
TdS: Is there something you always bring with you to the Tour de Suisse because it is hard to find in Switzerland? And do you usually bring something home from Switzerland?
RP: In Switzerland you can find everything. But I try to buy everything in Belgium, because we have a lot of storage space in the car. If I have to go shopping, there are enough Lidl branches in Switzerland.
TdS: Thank you for your time and all the best for the 2019 season!