Phil’s Tour of Britain as Soigneur for Team UK Youth
Phil Borrett from TheTriTouch provided sports massage support to Team UK Youth during The Tour of Britain 2012
“Coming from being a racing cyclist competing at Elite level to reversing my role and being sports therapist and soigneur for Team UK Youth at the Tour Of Britain was an eye opening experience. What goes on behind the scenes to make the day and race run smoothly involved a lot of hours of hard work and team work. Timings has to be right and riders kept as stress free as possible to ensure they could produce their best performances.
The week started in Ipswich and my first duties were to prepare the riders for the coming racing miles by loosening the legs with an easy and light massage.
The first stage was my first experience of feeding duties, normally I’m on the other end of things, collecting from guys handing bottles and musettes from the side of the road. I have never given much thought to what they do to get there and the pressure they are under to ensure a smooth change over. Doing the feed is actually a bit of a buzz and getting it right is key to riders’ safety, nutrition and recovery.
One of our riders, Dave McGowan, was involved in a crash on this first stage and suffered some heavy bruising and swelling in his lower back, gluts and calf. This made massage difficult because he needed re-alignment and as much massage as possible in order to recover for the next stage. I applied arnica and we helped as much as we could with taping and relaxing the spasmed muscles.
The rest of the week didn’t involve many more crashes. I had a few sticky moments myself, once getting the Sprinter van stuck on a muddy verge at a feed station. I was lucky a local helped with a land rover pulling me out so I could get to the finish still in good time!
Every morning I would give the riders a pre race massage with baby oil to repel rain and on colder days a mixture of oil and warm up cream to keep muscles supple and warm. I also prepared all the nutrition they would need during the race in the morining and made sure they had enough food in them before they left.
The crowds were amazing and the support before the start, during and at the finish was bigger and better than at any cycle race where I have ever been. At the finish we prepared post race drinks, food, transport, got the riders cleaned up and away in a few manic moments to get them back to a warm, comfortable hotel ready for massage.
The post race massage was interesting because every rider had different problems dependent on the weather, the intensity of the race, duration of the stage or knocks or crashes. It was interesting to see how their bodies change over the period of the race and how with massage the muscles could change texture and be back to suppleness. It made me feel I had an important role to play in each rider’s performance and race.
Overall I think UK Youth had a great tour, we had some great results with Magnus Backstedt 7th on stage 4 and Yanto Barker 6th on Stage 8 in what was a world class field of riders. Every rider had their moment in the spot light and they got some great TV time. The support staff are now great friends which I hope I can work with again in the near future.”