Part TWO – We’re a team, and that doesn’t just mean the riders…

Today we’ll begin with the only two women in the team. Firstly we have Valérie D’haeze. Although she is not on location with us, she is the person we turn to with all almost all organisational questions. She coordinates all our event entries, makes the travel arrangements for everyone on the team and much much more. After two riders pulled out of the race Velérie was responsible for making sure that they got home. Without Velérie a great deal would go haywire on the team. Secondly we have Brunhilde Verhenne. She deals with everything involving PR. She is on-location with the team and tries to coordinate and plan how to best deal with the daily pressure from the media. She also takes care of VIP guests and their access to the riders at the start and also their transport while a stage is underway. The VIP guests ride along in two mini buses and can then get out at certain places along the route where we then ride by.

Why do we need a team doctor? He’s responsible for far more than one might think. He organises our nutrition, and also what we eat both before and after a stage. Unfortunately, he is also often needed when a rider has a crash and his wounds require treatment. The doctor is also there to complete tasks such as supervising doping checks and after every stage he is required to find out if a rider needs to be tested. He also arranges visits to hospital when x-rays are necessary, carries out body fat measurements and weight checks, but also urine tests to find out if the rider has drunk enough fluid. In addition he drives along the route of every stage in advance so he can locate the dangerous areas on the course and know where the nearest hospitals are in the case of an emergency.

The control centre of the team, or the sports management as it’s known is led by Herman Frison, Marc Sergeant, Roberto Damiani and Marc Wouters. Marc Wouters always drives with the doctor ahead of the race and can thus relay us key information about what is happening on the stage for example, what a climb is like, the approach to the climb, the descents, are there any areas where there’s a hefty cross-wind and above all how dangerous the run-in to the finish line is. The two main people in the team Herman Frison and Marc Sergeant follow directly behind us riders, give us tactical instructions and make the key decisions about what we should do on the stage. Before every stage we always have a general team talk in the bus where we already find out what our aims are for the particular stage. Herman Frison and Marc Sergeant concentrate exclusively on the general classification and therefore have an overview of the critical situations and moves on the stages. Roberto Damiani drives in the second convoy of cars and looks after the dropped riders from our team or rides along behind the leading group in the event that we have a rider in there. We use English over the communication system so we all know exactly what’s going at any particular time.

As you have now read in the two reports, there’s a hell of a lot involved in the running of a team. And believe you me, if I went into every single detail I’d have a great deal more to tell you: telecommunications licenses, what you need for the breakfast pack, allocation of hotel rooms, the transport of all our equipment etc., but unfortunately I’m a bit exhausted after the 2000 kms we’ve already completed in this year’s Tour.

See you tomorrow,

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