Soigneur Sara Clawson (center) with the USA Cycling juniors in Sittard, Netherlands.
Soigneurs may very well have the most thankless job in professional cycling. They take care of the grunt-work details necessary to keep a pro team running smoothly while remaining mostly anonymous. Sara Clawson is a sports massage therapist in Greensboro, North Carolina who’s making inroads to a soigneur career. This spring, she spent two months working as a soigneur with the US elite junior team at USA Cycling’s training center in Sittard, Netherlands. Over the next month, Sara’s writing (originally posted on her blog) will shed some light on the “swanny life” as she recounts her experience traveling around Europe working with the next generation of American professional road cyclists. In part one, Sara talks about her path from aspiring soigneur to the USAC house in Holland.
The French word â€œsoigneurâ€ literally translates toÂ â€œone who cares for the troubles of others.â€ On a bicycle racing team, a soigneur performs a multifaceted job of keeping the cyclistsâ€™ bodies and minds optimally primed for competition, doing everything from sports massage and minor first aid to food and bottle prep to tasks like laundry and chauffeuring riders.
When I was first getting into cycling as a teenager, I read a USA Today article about soigneurs that described it as one of the â€œ10 Worst Jobs in Sports.â€ The article is a fun read (and to my experience thus far, quite accurate), making the soigneurâ€™s job sound like a lot of hard, thankless work. It sounded exactly like the kind of job I wanted to make my career.