We work with the fantastic Athletes’ Angels who provide an incredible team of physios and massage therapists on tour with us who have loads of experience of both cycling and endurance events. Shim, who has just returned from the first half of the tour, gives us her perspective.
My first ever tour was in 2016 where I helped out at the first 9 stages and I did the same for this year too. It was great to be back and get straight into the tour spirit and meet the amazing team again as well as some of the cyclists that took part last year and new ones too!
So, my role on tour is a Sports Therapist for the day time (travelling in the feed stop vans) as well as going into early evening. What this means is I help mend those broken legs and more day to day niggles as cyclists ride through the stages (some of them are pretty tough!). A typical day for me starts at 5.30am by driving to the stage start point (if that isn’t at the hotel), unloading all the bikes and then heading on to our feed stops to set up just in time for cyclists arriving. At the feedstops we handle any problems/injuries on route as well as when they arrive at the stage finish hotel. Feed stops are great to get to know some of the cyclists and why they are doing the Tour De Force which is inspiring … as well as tucking into delicious Jam and cream cheese sandwiches!! (euw! Really? Ed.).
For me, working on the Tour de Force is about being part of something incredible: The Williams Wates Trust which helps many disadvantaged young people to keep away from a life of crime; to actually see and experience the same route as the Pros ride; to meet incredible people who organise and put together such a big event and for those dedicated, amazing cyclists who give up their time, who put their mind and body through gruelling stages of the Tour De France and raise money for the trust! I can’t think of anything better to work on and be a part of!
When you start at the very beginning of the tour, you start to build a rapport with all the cyclists and its gets harder as stages go on. It becomes quite emotional for them at times as well and to just be there for them every step of the way and to see that smile on their faces of achievement is always the highlight for me! I am always gutted to leave the Tour halfway because I want to help and see all of them at the finish! Now that I’m back home, I’m still following their progress on line via the website and social media.
But I have to say I was really looking forward to my own bed and hot, salty chips! For some reason, I really craved them this year.
Thanks to Shim and all the Athletes’ Angels who do such an incredible job for us on tour. We know that many of our riders simply wouldn’t make it without you!