Vince Gee

I made the podium

At the January training camp early this year, Julien had decided to come to Georgia to work with me. He also was coming to help Lorenzo our new assistant director. Lorenzo had just hung up his cleats so he had some knowledge of what a director does, but Julien will help. Julien had tons of caravan experience and can make the transition fast for Lorenzo. Since Julien will be going in the car each day, I will get to be hotel guy for the race.
We have a good staff here. Three soigneurs, two mechanics and a director. As I said, one mechanic goes in the car and one drives the truck to the next hotel at the same time the race is starting that morning. Two soigneurs go to the start, then to the feed zone and onto the finish. One soigneur goes in a separate car to the hotel to get room keys so when I arrive with the luggage in the truck, we instantly put luggage in the riders and staffs rooms. Dave has done this job before. Lots of times he has been hotel guy including at the Tour de France. The tour is the show (and really hard work) so if he can do hotel soigneur there, this had got to be cake for him.
Like getting good parking, water and power it is important to get good choice of hotel rooms. Preferably on the ground floor so we don’t have to walk up and down stairs. Preferably all together so riders don’t have to traverse the entire hotel to come get things like their massage. Preferably by an exit so getting luggage in and out is fast and easy.
Before the start of the stage race we were given a hotel guide. This tells us what hotel we will be staying at each night. It tells you the directions to get there from the finish of the race. This way the riders can ride the short distance the hotel. And if it is far it tells the staff how to drive there. This guide also tells how to get to the next hotel from the mornings hotel. The guide also tells what other teams (if any) are at each hotel. Some hotels are big and all teams stay there. Some are small and only a few teams will stay there. Last night there were only 5 or 6 teams at my hotel and I was the only one with a truck so I was not worried about the race for the hotel. Tonight in Macon ALL teams will be here.
So the race is on. Dave drives to the next hotel after getting all the bottles and mussetts done and what ever else the soigneurs need for the day. Luggage out and into the truck and I’m on the road 30 minutes after he is. I arrive at the hotel to find the 7-Up team trailer and the Prime Alliance truck there already. Darn, I’m not first. But luckily I (think) that I find the best spot close to water and power and get situated first. US teams are stepping up their programs and thus getting more stuff like trucks and trailers. Here there are 4 teams with big trucks and 3 teams with big trailers. I made the podium. Not bad.
On an unfortunate note the Navigators trailer broke down. So they were very late to the hotel. They had to come to the hotel with the van drop off stuff and work while the trailer is getting fixed. Go back and get the trailer after it was fixed. Mike and Eva had to work their asses off that night. I felt really bad for them today.
On yet another note. Last night in Augusta our part time soigneur Amy got to work at home. Sort of. She is originally from Georgia and was born and raised in Augusta. Her dad lives less than 10 miles from our hotel so she had a rare opportunity to work a race AND have lunch with her dad in her home town on the same day. Few of us can have that luck of working a race in their home town.


Owner of and long time professional race mechanic.