Except for following procycling races and its riders, the WheelerWatchers are also interested in what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. There is so much more to it than the races and riders only – after all, they couldn’t do without the support of their staff! Ever wondered what it is like to be a physiotherapist at a procycling team? For our next interview we got in touch with Gijs, who recently became a physiotherapist at Skil-Shimano, asked him all about his job and found out he’s not only there to provide post-race massages…
- How did you become a physiotherapist at Skil-Shimano?
For a long time, I wanted to become a physiotherapist at sports events or overseas. For example, at the World Championships of Football, Tour de France or Olympic Games. I told this to as many people as possible, which eventually led to the management of the Skil-Shimano Pro team approaching me. My classmate could exchange phone numbers and an interview at Service Koers quickly followed.
- What exactly do you do in your job?
My main task is to take care of the riders. Together with my colleague, I make sure there are enough water bottles and food supplies available to them and that they get a massage during their recovery after a race. Apart from that, the riders have to be transported from the hotel to the parcours and back again which often happens by camper or touring car/bus. Besides, as a physiotherapist, I also assess certain physical complaints and try to improve these and provide advice. Apart from the physical work that needs to be done, the job also includes providing some mental support.
- Why work in the procycling world?
As I mentioned earlier, I have always wanted to work in sports as a physiotherapist. To me, it is very exciting that the races are ridden all over the world; I think it’s really great to travel around like this.
- What do you like most about the work you do?
To have a connection with an athlete and provide him/her with advice and hear later on that it really helped them. This motivates me enormously.
- How would you describe the procycling world in 5 characteristics?
Team, inspiration, improvement, integrity, innovation.
- Are you passionate about procycling yourself? Do you cycle as well?
I just started working in procycling and to say that I’m already very passionate about it, is a bit quick. However, I do train for a triathlon myself in which cycling is also included. I like to see new bicycle models and it’s cool that I’m able to ask all sorts of questions to the mechanics. So, I am getting more into the sport and with every race, I learn more and more about it. When I follow a race on Sporza now, I am also on the edge of my seat!
- How would you describe the atmosphere within the team?
The atmosphere in the team is really pleasant. You’re really working together all day and at night, you share a hotel room with a colleague. Everyone gives each other space to enjoy the spare time we have and our meetings are very relaxed.
- What do you most look forward to the rest of this season?
I actually just “experienced” it all so far. I have already learned so many things and met so many new people – I just go with the flow!
We would like to thank Gijs for this interview and wish him and his team Skil-Shimano all the best for the rest of the season! With the number of wild cards they received, a recent win for van Hummel in the last stage of the Tour of Turkey and earlier stage wins by De Backer and Geschke, this Dutch team is certainly on a roll. We’ll keep watching 😎