OBERNAI, France (VN) — The team buses are an important affair at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, whether you’re a racer, rider or staff.
They’re a place to recover, shower, eat, and maybe — hide from journalists.
Every morning, we make our rounds of the team zone, grabbing interviews with riders before the stress of the day begins. Mornings are a much less chaotic affair than after the stage when riders are trying eat, drink, and spin out their legs on the trainers. We still pursue them then, for the post-race takes.
With the increasingly professionalization of women’s cycling, team budgets and thus their resources, are growing.
The majority of teams at the Tour de France Femmes have full-sized buses and multiple cars, some with refrigerated trucks for their chefs and mechanic’s vans. Nevertheless, some teams still try and make it work for less than a million euros, which is nothing when providing support to a dozen riders and as many staff.
Here are a few snapshots of my moderately successful attempt to get on team buses one morning. It was a crapshoot which staff would let me in.
At Belgian TT champ Lotte Kopecky’s front row seat on the SD Worx bus: number plates, first aid, sneakers, a foam roller, and a bottle of Champagne.
Marlen Reusser’s stage 4 gold medal.
Unfortunately, the Swiss rider was forced to abandon the race after stage 6 with a head injury.
It’s like Anna van der Breggen told me: ‘you should always keep on fighting because you never know what happens.’
Unfortunately, plastic bottles — and tens of thousands of them — are ubiquitous at the race, from the press room to the peloton.
Can you guess whose bus this is?
Marianne Vos will be going back to the Netherlands with a collection of stuffies.
Important reminders at the Human Powered Health bathroom.
The American squad moved into the WorldTour this year, and now has the big bus — espresso machine and rice cooker — to go with it.
All team buses have a clinic’s-worth of basic medical supplies. They’re being used and replenished daily.
Post-race quinoa bowls for Le Col-Wahoo
Le Col-Wahoo is one of the teams without a full-sized bus; six riders and most of their gear squeeze into a souped-up van that measures just over eight meters.
Parking can be tight and perhaps one of the only times when having a little bus is advantageous.
Pink Lady — yes, as in the apples — is an official partner of the Tour de France Femmes.
In 2016, the corporation started the Pink Lady Foundation Endowment Fund with a mission to promote entrepreneurial and collective projects initiated by women, or for the benefit of women.
Valcar Travel & Service is a stalwart presence at Women’s WorldTour races, but the Italian outfit isn’t a WorldTeam, yet.
The squad has produced multiple riders who’ve gone on to race for WorldTeams, including Marta Cavalli and world champ Elisa Balsamo. Its GC favorite Silvia Persico has put in a valiant effort throughout the race.
Veronica Ewers‘ tiny Crocs.
Dutch development squad Parkhotel Valkenburg is another squad with smaller acommodations.
However, the digs are currently decked out with the number plates of Femke Gerritse, who spent the middle days of the race in the climber’s polka dots.
A constant cycle.