This blog post was first published in 2019.
What is it like to be behind the scenes during a cycle race? As a sponsor, we had the pleasure of attending Brugge-De Panne with Team Jumbo-Visma – take a look.
Visma is the main sponsor of Team Jumbo-Visma – one of the world’s best cycling and speed skating teams. The sponsorship is an important step in increasing our footprint in Europe as we go from being a Nordic company to a Pan-European one.
Sponsoring Team Jumbo-Visma is so much more than exposing our Visma logo on the race outfits. It is about activation and connecting with our audience in an entirely new way. And for our employees to feel that they are part of something significant, something that interests people worldwide.
I have always been interested in all kinds of sports, and as a sponsorship manager, it is important to understand what goes on behind the scenes as well.
When it comes to cycling and speed skating, I have only watched the pros on television and not live on site. To get first-hand experience of what goes on before, during and after a race, I travelled to attend Brugge-De Panne with a Dutch colleague.
Tactic before the race
Before the race, the team management and the riders have a strategy meeting, so all the riders know exactly what their role will be in the competition. And for this particular race, the strategy was to stay in the peloton (main group) and keep the group together as long as possible and then, just before the finish, let Dylan Groenewegen go for the victory.
500 extra tires and 100 extra bikes
Everyone knows that the bikes have to be in perfect condition in front of a race. With 27 riders in total, Team Jumbo-Visma has 9 dedicated cycle mechanics. In front of each race, they make sure that the bikes are lined up, perfectly adjusted for each and one of the riders.
During the race, the mechanics follow the riders in the team car, prepared to change tires, fix the gears and similar. And if they can’t fix it right away, they swap bikes and fix the bikes in the back of the car. Just imagine how easy that is when the car is following the riders at high speed on very curvy roads.
The Foodcoach app tells the rider what to eat
Jumbo (the other main sponsor) is a Dutch supermarket with focus on healthy food. Healthy and balanced nutrition is of great importance for the performance level of top athletes. The performance staff of Team Jumbo-Visma guides the riders through a personal nutrition plan that is geared to the cyclist’s race and schedule. Based on this, the Foodcoach app proposes suitable meals with the correct amount of calories, fat, carbs and proteins.
The team even has its own food trailer with all the food they need and a cook who prepares their meals.
Sleep well with their own mattress
Have you ever experienced staying at a hotel where the mattress is either too soft or too hard?
For these top athletes, a good night’s sleep is crucial to be able to perform. So when the team arrives at the hotel, they bring their own mattresses to the hotel room. So that explains the mattresses outside the hotel rooms.
Need a tire, anyone?
During the race, several team support cars drive to appointed places where the riders get drinks, energy gels, or the possibility to change tires if needed. This sounds like quite an easy job. But, these support cars do not follow the track of the race; they have to find alternate routes to be able to get to the “meeting point” in time.
I was sitting in the back of the car when we were driving on small, narrow roads, looking at the GPS at the same time. Not a joyful ride if you get car sick easily. But for me, I was enjoying the kick of trying to find the right road, finding a place to park the car and then running to the meeting point in time for the riders on top of the hill.
Luckily no one needed our tires, but I felt sorry for the ones that did not manage to grab the energy drink in time.
Close to the riders
In many sports, the athletes are “protected” against the public, and only certain journalists can talk to them. I was surprised that there were no barriers and that people were allowed to get close to the riders both before and after the race. To connect with the audience in that way is so positive for the sport.
What about the result, then?
So, how did the Brugge – De Panne go? There were no problems with the bikes, no injuries of any of our team riders, the team followed the planned tactic, and Dylan Groenewegen got the victory after a very impressive and exciting finish. So we had a great day full of adventure topped off with an amazing victory.
Want more behind the scenes content?
We have made several videos from behind the scenes with Team Jumbo-Visma. Enjoy the videos!