If you were around the Scottish race scene a few years back then you’ll remember Rob Palmer, he was at university up here in Bonnie Scotland – VeloVeritas mentor and Cycling Sage, Vik always reckoned that the man bore a striking to another Robbie – Mr. Williams.
But our man isn’t into communicating with Aliens – unlike the ex-Take That man – not that we know of, anyway.
But I digress, Rob has landed his ‘dream job’ with Cannondale on the World Tour – we thought you might be interested to hear what he has to say about working at the sport’s highest levels.
Where are you from Rob and how did you get into cycling?
“I’m from Manchester.
“I became interested in cycling at secondary school. The school switched to a Sports Academy and struck up a relationship with Manchester United FC.
“The football club put some money into the school for sports equipment, so amongst other things, they bought a few mountain bikes and a bike trailer for the school minibus.
“We went out into the Peak District National Park at weekends. I really enjoyed the freedom on two wheels and wanted more of it but there aren’t any mountains or even off road tracks where I live.
“My interest then switched to road cycling as a way of getting out into the countryside under my own steam.”
Do you have a mentor for your craft?
“Yes, Steffan Meerseman in Belgium.
“He fixed me up as a rider when I spent time racing in Belgium and inspired me to go on and become a chiropractor. ”
How did you get the Cannondale gig and what’s your job title?
“I’m team Chiropractor.
“I read an article in a professional association magazine by Matt Rabin. It was about his work as chiropractor with the team at the 2008 Tour de France.
“I kept the article and made contact with Matt.
“I just kept him up to date with what I was doing.
“I fancied getting out of clinic a bit and involved in cycling so I messaged John Herety of Rapha-Condor. I did the whole soigneur thing for them plus some chiropractic if needed, but above all John really taught me how a bike race works from the team staff perspective.
“They were fun times and something completely different to clinic.
“I kept Matt updated with what I was doing and discussed ideas on some cycling injury cases with him that I came across.
“He needed cover at Garmin-Sharp during the birth of his first child back in 2013; that was my opportunity to get aboard and hope I didn’t mess it up. ”
How many days/year are you on the road?
“2016 was my fourth season with the team. Previous seasons I had remained in a busy practice so did just 25-55 days per year.
“For 2016 I upped it to 110 and left the busy practice – I wanted to change the way I practice, no more high volume. I wanted to afford people more time and focus on long term fixes and offering more advice; the intensive chiropractic work I get that when working on races.
“So far it’s working out well. ”
And your fave part of the gig?
“Being part of a team striving to achieve together.
“The opportunity to learn from great practitioners around me such as physiotherapists, massage therapists, sports scientists, medical doctors, nutritionists etc.
“It’s great to see new places that I put on the list to go back and visit in real life.”
“I hate the inactivity.
“I seems strange being in such an active sports environment but if you don’t make a concerted effort to put time aside for yourself to exercise you can really become unfit and put on weight at the help yourself buffet. ”
Who’s laid-back on the team?
“I’d say Sports Director Andreas Klier (former Gent-Wevelgem winner and Tour of Flanders podium finisher, ed.) is almost horizontal at times!
“He is able to take a step back and have a philosophical view on most things and when something goes wrong he usually finds a funny side to it! ”
“Team mechanic James Griffin is the most fastidious person I have ever met!
“The riders are all very thorough, that’s the thing you notice at this level.
“Even the guys that come across as really relaxed and joking have always done their homework on the race.
“Simon Clarke and Sebastian Langeveld are natural leaders and have been great in driving the team to improve in certain areas. ”
The commonest complaint you have to deal with?
“Lower Back Pain and feeling twisted on the bike.
“Crash damage to hips and wrists.
“Overload injury to the anterior knee and ITB (Iliotibial Band) Syndrome.
“Postural neck and shoulder pain. ”
Your fave race and why?
“The way it is so engrained in the culture and fabric of the Flandriens gives authenticity to the race that’s hard to beat. ”
Least fave and why?
“Perhaps Milan-San Remo or Lombardia. I just go to the race hotel, do my thing, and leave the next day.
“Don’t even go to the race at those ones.
“Sat in Milan Bergamo airport watching the race live on telly whilst Dan Martin was fighting it out for the win at Lombardia.
“That kinda sucks a bit to be honest – you feel like a hitman when really you want to share in it with the team. ”
No Millar, no Ryder, things are changing…
“Indeed – it was Zabriskie, Hesjedal, Millar, Van de Velde in my first season.
“With Ramunas Navardauskas and Jack Bauer leaving at the end of the year it will be a completely new team.
“I think we have the youngest average on the World Tour?
“We still have that American core though in Joe Dombrowski, Alex Howes, Andrew Talanski, Taylor Phinney plus American medical staff.
“I really like that it stays American at it’s core – it’s the team’s identity.
“I see Slipstream Sports as the Kelly’s Heroes of professional cycling so it has to stay American but in Europe. ”
JV’s not around so much I notice?
“No, don’t see him so much.
“He ran the pre-Tour de France altitude camp in Andorra this season.
“He showed up, made the guys ride in a sauna, drove the team car into a snow pole, then went home.
“You’ve got to admire the man’s style. ”
One professional piece of advice for our readers looking after themselves.
“Find a good therapist local to yourself and work with them.
“Getting that relationship going so they know what is normal for you will pay dividends in the future.
“They will often be able to recognise a potential injury before it manifests as pain.”
The boy’s done good; even Vik concedes that – he reckons it’d be better if he was on a Belgian team tho’ … those American teams will never catch on …