So what brings a surfer dudette to West Flanders? The smart answer would be — ha! The team car! Robyn Taylor is a CSC soigneuse, she comes from Brisbane and has arrived in the male dominated world of pro cycling via water polo, surfing, The AIS (Australian Institute of Sport), and the now-defunct Team Fakta.
Robyn found a few minutes to talk to us between stages at the 2006 de Panne 3 Day.
You into doing any sports yourself?
“Yeah, my own sports are water polo and surfing. I studied at the AIS and gravitated towards rowing, then triathlon and cycling. I got the job with Fakta thanks to Scott Sunderland, and then when the team folded I got this job.”
What about the macho world she finds herself in?
“With it being a Scandinavian team attitudes are more liberal, it’s really not an issue. In fact, I think I contribute to good morale. The guys can banter with me in a different way to the way they would with each other.”
In other interviews with CSC personnel, we hear various stories about director sportif Bjarne Riis’ attention to detail, and demanding high standards. How does you find him to work with?
“Bjarne is very professional; the only thing that matters to him is that the job is done properly.”
The old cliché about a woman’s work never being done must have been written with Robyn in mind: A typical day on a race such as today’s is pretty hectic. She rises at 6.00am, and first on the agenda is to prepare the rider’s breakfasts, then sort out the race food and drink for the day.
The riders’ pre-race treatment depends on the weather and the individual rider’s preferences. Hot weather may see some ride with no preparation on their legs at all; some may want “a light oil”. Cold weather requires:
“a hot oil or balm – if it is cold and wet a protective layer of Vaseline or bees wax will be applied over the warming agents, particularly around the knees where tissue is most delicate.”
Robyn doesn’t get to see much of the race action – during the race she will travel on to the next hotel and set up shop ready for the evening massages. Her role in the team is absolutely fundamental to their success – a rider could not finish a three week stage race without massage, the process of recovery by easing bruised blood out of tired muscles is essential to daily survival.
The massage process is also a good relaxant, helping to ease away anxieties. It’s hard work, each rider will be on the table for around an hour. Some prefer their massage before their meal, some afterwards. The next day it all happens again – or it could be a drive across central Europe.
We wonder whether she’ll be going to the Olympics with the Aussie team being full of medal contenders?
“Yeah, that would be good, but I’ve been too busy all year to think about it really.”
Thanks for your time Robyn and good luck with all your riders for the season.