SPECIAL FEATURE: ‘Soigneur’ has a key role to play

Cadel Evans
Cadel Evans

While the most obvious role of keeping a professional cycling team on the road is the mechanic, an even more important, and often unseen job, surrounds the work of the Soigneur (pronounced swan-ure).

He or she is the fulcrum of any team. They are versatile in the extreme and do anything from massage therapy before and after racing, to food preparation, hydration, on-the-road assistance to washing the rider’s clothes at the end of each stage.

Frankly, without them, a team, that will have 30 team members including riders during the Giro stages, would grind to a halt.

For over a decade, Denver-born Alyssa Morohan has been with Slipstream, the American company that run the Garmin-Sharp team and she gave some idea on how the riders’ nutritional needs are catered for.

“Overall, general nutrition is all about pre-ride, followed through until the dinner hour, because the worst thing that can happen on a bike is a bonk,” said Alyssa. “Bonking” is abnormally low levels of blood glucose. in other words, riders have not eaten enough carbohydrates and have a sugar low.

“We make sure that all the riders fuel up well in the morning. We have a fair amount of carbohydrates and for hydration in the morning it is mostly water.

“We generally use an electrolyte mix for shorter training runs, but for longer runs one bottle of electrolyte and another with just water.

“We get our stuff from Scratch Labs in the States and it is called The Feed. They provide us with the drink mix that they have sourced.

“Obviously we also have bars and gels, and a product called blocks which is an electrolyte chew. So while they are on the bike they are constantly getting calories.

“Anybody can stock up by going down to the local shop and getting granola bars. But it is very important to keep the intake consistent so that you don’t have a sugar spike (a false high) or a sugar drop. Eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty.

“It’s all about building up a routine on the bike.

“Obviously, what’s also very import is post-race. It is important to do a well-balanced carbohydrate and electrolyte replacement.

“We at Garmin use a drink for that purpose and we follow that up with a meal that is not to heavy, but one that contains quality protein.

“We try and keep the fats down.During the day the riders will also take a protein drink. SIS do good ones and another called Muscle Milk. Our riders would generally have a race meal three hours before they start. So that main meal would consist of the carbohydrates and proteins.”

Sleep, naturally is also a very important part of the rider’s itinerary.

“Deep sleep allows your body to start repairingand regenerating cells and muscle tissue. So the focus is not on quantity but the quality of the sleep.”