Some people who are unfamiliar with the Tour de France are surprised to learn that it is still a men only sporting event. This year is a grand exception. An inaugural women’s race is taking place in Paris on Sunday. I will be able to watch from my Thomson Bike Tours VIP viewing on the Champs Elysees.
Meanwhile, most of the staff supporting the teams are men, but women are not relegated to sponsor liaisons only. For example, Mariah and Alyssa with team Garmin Sharp are a communications director and soigneur, respectively.
The communications director wrangles television and radio interviews, new media as well as managing press releases and Twitter and Facebook accounts. Both Mariah and Alyssa laughed at the idea of having a narrowly defined job. On the Tour you do whatever is needed.
Alyssa could be assigned to hotel massages when the team bus roles in, or making the bags of food up for the feed zone, or filling water bottles among the many possible tasks. And filling water bottles is not just about filling them with water. Each rider has preferences for their liquids—gatorade, water, water with electrolytes, and so on. Read this article from Ride magazine to learn more about life as a soigneur.
They travel with the team over 200 days a year. Alyssa has been with the “Argyll” team since the beginning and has been living in Spain and will move to Ireland to be closer to family.