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BMC Racing Team soigneurs – like Freddy Viaene – do much more than just hand out lunch. (Tim de Waele photo.)
BMC Racing Team soigneurs – like Freddy Viaene – do much more than just hand out lunch. (Tim de Waele photo.)

Behind The Scenes With The BMC Racing Team Soigneurs

6. December 2010

Santa Rosa, California

It's not the long hours or the sheer breadth of the workload that makes things tough for the soigneurs on the BMC Racing Team. "The hardest part is the traveling," says Chief Soigneur Freddy Viaene.

'Love Our Jobs'

Viaene has been providing care to professional cyclists in the peloton the past 29 years. It's a labor of love. "We give the guys massages and look after their every need – which means working long days," Viane said. "But ll of us do this with a great heart because we love our jobs. It's our life." But the logistics of getting from race to race or stage to stage is difficult. This week it was driving equipment and personnel from the BMC Racing Team's service course in Belgium to a hotel in Spain. For Viaene and his crew, that meant 25 hours of treacherous driving on snow-packed roads.

Long Days
Managing the workload at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia is often easier than the smaller, one-week races, Viaene said. "At the Grand Tours, we are well prepared with more staff to give the best service to the guys," he said. "But at races like the Tour de Suisse or the Tour of Poland, there are late finishes and sometimes long transfers to the hotel. We arrive around eight o'clock at the hotel, then try to give the guys a good massage before dinner, then it's time to do laundry. So you're going to bed late at night and getting up very early the next morning."

Challenge of Paris-Roubaix
Of all the races he has worked, Viaene said Paris-Roubaix remains his favorite. "It's one of the nicest races, but it's also one of the most extreme for the riders and for the soigneurs," he said. "Since the cars are never able to go up to the guys, we try to give them the best service – providing extra feed zones, getting them warm clothing or an extra rain jacket or handing up bottles and First Endurance along the course."