Velogal's Blog

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A totally quiet morning in Solvang – I chose to bypass the chaos and hysteria of the team presentation in Los Angeles and hang out here this morning. The photo, of course, is a morning shot of where the staff and team usually get ready to ride. The soigneurs and wrenches have a bit of breathing space this morning, and have time for a leisurely breakfast.

I received a couple of comments/questions from Bill on my podcast site, and now I have time to respond to one of them this morning. This Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team of 27 riders requires a big support staff for the different races that are scheduled, often for the same dates in different countries.

On the frontlines, so to speak, there are now seven wrenches (mechanics) and five soigneurs, two bus drivers, four Directeurs sportif, an administrative/logistics person, a couple of media/publicity persons, a chef in Europe, and an operations director in Europe. There are also numerous behind-the-scene folks who work to make the whole operation go smoothly.

Louise is the logistics/administrative gal, and she is in charge of all travel, lodging, car reservations, dining and team registration for all races in America and Europe - for all riders, staff and sponsor events. The job is unbelievably demanding, stressful and exacting – she does an awesome job… Arrangements have to be made months in advance.

The soigneurs do a bit of everything – mainly the “rubs” or massages, but they also do the team laundry every day, run errands, shopping, and preparing the food and drink that has to be ready for the ride every morning in ice chests to go in the team cars. They make airport runs, haul luggage and boxes – Whatever is needed - they do it. Their hours are long – from early morning to late at night. During the Tour de France, they are up at 5 am and are still going at midnight or later.

The wrenches work equally hard, and of course making the bikes perfect for each individual rider is the goal. A great deal of time is spent gluing tires… The bikes and team cars are washed every day and numerous parts and pieces are tweaked, assembled and repaired constantly. Keeping the truck stocked with every tiny item that might be critical is crucial. The wrenches are also responsible for getting the truck and team cars to races. Vince has the team truck in Sacramento, so he has to drive it to wherever the race is in the States: Georgia, Philly, wherever…. Same for the wrenches in Europe – they do some heroic long-distance transports.

I have to say that all these people work so well together, like each other, have fun and joke around. In the midst of hard, demanding work, they are a joy and pleasure to be around.

As with all teams, the team meals, lodging and direct costs are covered by the team budget. The team and staff all eat together, usually the riders sit together and want tables to be pushed together to accommodate them all. The wrenches and soigneurs sit together, and sometimes the Directeurs sit at a separate table, but often sit with the riders.

As far as salaries, I have no idea at all about that….

And, I can’t resist reminding you all that most of these kinds of questions and answers are in the Tour de France for Dummies book that I co-authored! Click on the Amazon logo on any of my sites to buy this book (or any book) and I'll make a couple of bucks to cover my costs. Thanks!


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