Cycling’s Soigneurs: 2,016 Water Bottles
2,016 Water Bottles
25”I am here to make what you do go as smoothly as you do. Remember that on the 15th hour when your laundry is not quite dry, or when I’m late to pick you up from the airport. There are always things that are not seemingly put together. We just need to know you appreciate our love of this sport.” Janis Burns, Soigneur
Thousands of times are approximately how often a team support person must mix up bottles for one Grand Tour. If the mechanic works the most daily hours, the soigneur probably works the most total hours because of work before, during, and post-event.
A soigneur works between races driving…everywhere: delivering team vehicles or personnel to airports, buying supplies, and from one feed zone to another. They are the logistical implementers and the multi-taskers extraordinaire. Their tasks vary per team but they are the team’s real domestiques doing at all times what their on-the-bike counterparts only do in races – whatever’s necessary for the feeding, care, and success of a rider.
I’ve never met a soigneur that didn’t feel love for their athletes; if not, they left the profession. Arguably, the pressure for success is felt as much by the soigneur as by the rider for their purpose is to ensure it by controlling all the practical variables related to living it. Soignée means pulled together; their role is the hub of the team connecting its vital parts for movement. It’s no wonder loyalties to team have led to predictable 26improper behavior. It may be that this is the role in our community which is at greatest risk for compromise, and therefore needs our most earnest prayers.
Prayer for Soigneurs
“The good people taste your goodness, The whole people taste your health, The true people taste your truth, The bad ones can’t figure you out.” 27Psalm 18:25-26
We see this example of love serving its community. We confess that love can be compromised without strong boundaries. We ask for pure love, which can be tough love doing what’s best for another; and for moral courage to resist what’s wrong despite social pressures.
Ponder Am I asking anyone to compromise what’s right for what I want? Is anyone trying to compromise me? Affirm I can be more successful in the long-term by doing what’s right now than by looking for short-cuts to success. Watch carefully what others are doing to support you, check them; and ask others to hold you accountable also.
25Conversations with Janis Burns, American Soigneur to several pro teams so far in her career. She has also fought prejudice against females to contribute to men’s pro cycling.
26Massacre à la Chaîne or Breaking The Chain by Willy Voet records a well known incident of the bust of a soigneur’s drug trafficking on behalf of his team. Published Calmann-Levy, Paris, 1999.
27The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson