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Jack it all in to be a soigneur

Marek Sawicki is one of Team Sky’s dedicated team of soigneurs or ‘carers’ who work as personal assistants to pro cyclists. Sawicki worked with 2015 Tour de France winner Chris Froome and 2014 world champion Michal Kwiatkowski. From massaging muscles to making mid-ride paninis, he has spent 18 years travelling the world to help them win.

Care for

Most cycling teams call people in our profession ‘soigneurs’ but Team Sky prefer to call us ‘carers’ because we have many responsibilities. In the past, soigneurs mainly did massages, but we are more like personal assistants. Although we still massage the riders before and after races, we also prepare race food, like little sandwiches and rice cakes for energy, hand out drinks and clothing at feed zones during the race, and organise kit and clothing.

A global game

When you are young this is the best job in the world because you get to travel everywhere from Australia and America to the Middle East and Europe. You get to be a part of the big professional cycling circus that travels around the world. We can be away for 200 days a year and every day you move to a new place and meet new people.

Proudest moment

We experience very close relationships with the best cyclists in the world. Before I joined Team Sky I was working with the Belgian cycling team Quick-Step and I was a carer for Michal Kwiatkowski when he became the 2014 world road race champion. It was a proud moment for me. When he joined Team Sky this season, I moved with him. However, I have responsibilities to all the riders and we never get too close to any one rider.

Mind Mechanics

Because we give riders massages before and after races, they talk to us very openly and honestly. They have been racing all day and this is the time when they can discuss all their moods and worries and emotions. For the first 10-15 minutes we talk about the race but then we discuss anything from home life, kids and wives to music and film. This time is an important part of the riders’ recovery and we almost become their psychologists.

Magic Hands

The massage requirements of this job mean you have to learn about the anatomy of the body and go to massage school. But what really matters is how you care for the riders. You have to be the cook, the mother, the father, the psychologist and the friend. You cannot train for that.

Late nights are the best

It sounds strange but the later I come home to the hotel after a race, the better. If I am home late it means one of the riders has been standing on the podium and I have had to stay late to look after him. This is always the goal for the rider, the team, and for us too. I am very proud to have a chance to be a part of sporting history.

 

JOB SPEC

Hours

Soigneurs often have to get up at 6am to prepare food, drinks and clothing for the riders and they are usually the last to bed too. At a top team you could be away for 200 days a year.

Salary

Wages vary a lot, according to the size of the team and the hours in your contract, but soigneurs can expect to earn £20,000-40,000 per year. You also get bonuses with team victories, and food and travel costs are covered.

Location

Worldwide

Responsibilities

Performing massages, preparing race food and energy drinks, managing hotel check-ins and transfers, organising and washing kit, and looking after riders before and after races.

Benefits

You’ll see the world and develop close friendships with top professional cyclists.

Qualifications

Massage qualifications are important but massages are only part of the job. A positive and pro-active attitude is much more important.

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