Although the peloton are visible on your TV screens day-in day-out throughout the summer, there is a whole network of staff at-race and back at HQ who help to keep the wheels turning. Long days and an unpredictable and ever changing daily office, we wanted to take a deep dive into what exactly someone at the Tour de France Femmes does; so before dinner one evening we caught up with soigneur Jens Van Slycke.
Hailing from Belgium, Jens has been with the team since 2019 and despite also working with the Men’s program and Development program, the majority of his race days are spent with our Women’s program. A friendly and happy face, Jens explains how is day is split into different parts.
With the first morning duties out of the way, Jens is also a licensed bus driver so he makes sure everything is ready to go before leaving the hotel and making their journey to the start location.
As the riders make their way to the start through the adoring fans and the crowds dissipate from near the buses, the coach and mechanic will head off in the race car, while the other soigneurs have already left on their way to the bottle points. As the bus is last to leave, Jens uses it as a good opportunity to do some checks.
With all of that set up, Jens normally then heads to the finish where he is on hand to help the riders across the line, give them the drinks they need, point them in the direction of the bus, or be there to assist at any podium ceremony. Yet, one of the more “unseen” so to speak roles that Jens and any finish line soigneur does is to be there and provide support for the riders.
After then driving the bus back to the hotel, it’s a similar set of tasks as the morning such as cleaning the bus and making sure that everything is as prepared as possible for the next day, before Jens then does rider massages – putting his Bachelors in Sport and Movements to great effect.
With massages complete and riders enjoying their dinner, the staff group will then sit down for their own dinner together before holding a meeting to discuss the day’s events and what is on the agenda for the next day; before going to relax afterwards.
It often can be a tough and demanding job but Jens thoroughly enjoys the family atmosphere and human aspect of it all.
Reflecting back on his time with the team so far we asked Jens what is favourite memory is with us.
We’re sure that moment will last for a long time with everyone who was part of that success and with all of those watching along at home too. We hope you enjoyed a look behind the curtain at what exactly goes on for one of our staff members at the Tour de France Femmes; and we hope you can now appreciate the amount of hard work all of our staff do throughout the season as much as we do!