A soigneur for Deceuninck – Quick-Step since 2007 and the responsible of the hotels at this Giro, Rudy is making sure all the riders and staff can have the best rest after each stage.
“I started with Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 2007, and since then I haven’t done the Giro only on two occasions. This edition has been quite special, as we came here with GC expectations. Of course, it wasn’t for the first time, as in the past we had the same approach with Uran, who finished second. We came with expectations at the start, the entire team did a great job and João is now currently in eighth place. The Giro isn’t over yet!”
Rudy’s days at the Giro start early and end late: “I wake up early to make the food bags for the staff, then I start to prepare everything to go to the next hotel. Before this Giro I already did a lot of preparations, as I contacted every hotel. Each hotel has different questions and I want to be sure everything is organised in the best way possible”. When he arrives at the next hotel, Rudy makes a rooming list.
“I do it based on where each person sleeps best. For example, the doctor always needs to have a room close to the riders, also myself as I have the food room. Now we have Kookeiland with us, who take care of the riders’ meals. This is a big help for me, so I only have to make the arrangements with the restaurant for the staff.”
Missing the race atmosphere
Rudy’s days are never boring, as he always has something to do: “But still I miss being on the race sometimes, the atmosphere and the contact. Of course, in the evening I still have a moment with some of the riders, for the massage. Then we just talk about everything, or some of them sometimes have no need to talk and just rest. When there’s disappointment of course you also have a role to motivate them.”
The Giro d’Italia is the most beautiful Grand Tour, according to Rudy: “The parcours, the environment, the chaos… you just never know what will happen the next day. It’s such an exciting experience. Now that I’ve already done the hotels in the Giro for quite some years, I already know some hotels and I know how it works. Also, this year I got eleven hotels that I asked for, which is a huge advantage.”
Rudy came from a totally different background, as he was a butcher in the past: “Food is still my passion, but the job was just too hard physically at one point. I had back problems, and, in comparison with what I do now, this is peanuts. It’s not physically intensive. I just needed something new, and then I had the opportunity to join the team.”
Being away from home
After almost one month on the road, Rudy is happy to see his family once he is back home: “When you leave for a race, it’s always a difficult moment. But then when you are in the bubble, you just have so much on your mind that you don’t have the time to think about home or to even know which day it is”, Rudy laughs. But Rudy won’t have a lot of time to spend at home, as he will leave again for the Tour de Suisse quickly.
Looking back on the years spent with the Wolfpack, a lot of beautiful memories pass through Rudy’s mind: “Last season, of course, we had 15 amazing days with João in the pink jersey. Also the win of Wouter Weylandt in 2010 and the ciclamino jersey of Elia Viviani in 2018 are some of the special memories that I’m very fond of. But for sure there are other things, as throughout the years there have been a lot of moments that I’ll never forget.”
Photo credit: ©Wout Beel