Tour de France Day In The Life: Feeding a Pro Team

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On the OPQS menu every morning: pancakes and omelets.

Tom Caubergs cracked a lot of eggs during the Tour de France. How many? Well, he isn’t quite sure, but as Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s team chef Caubergs cracked at least 40 eggs every morning while making pancakes and omelets for the WorldTour team’s riders, staff and management.

Caubergs is in his second season as chef at Omega Pharma. He’s a triathlete, and like a lot of the journalists at the Tour, Caubergs came to this year’s race with a pair of running shoes in his travel bag and ambitions of getting some exercise.

“I haven’t used them yet,” he said while preparing meals in the team’s cooking trailer. “I hope maybe the final day I can get out for a run.”

You see, overseeing the daily menu for a WorldTour team at the Tour de France required a full day’s commitment. Caubergs was up before 7 a.m. to start cooking the oatmeal, pancakes and omelets, and then he put out the cold cereal, bread and jam before the riders woke up with grumbling bellies.

During each stage, Tom Caubergs cooks enough chow for an army — or at least for a bunch of hungry cyclists.

During the race, Caubergs was back in the kitchen cooking dinner. He tweeted photographs of his dinner creations on his twitter handle, @TCaubergs during the entire race. On the eve of the final stage, Caubergs prepared hamburgers, which the team specifically asked for.

“We’re not having frites,” he said. “Tomorrow after the race is OK.”

At night, Caubergs cleaned up after dinner, and then packed up the dishes and the kitchen into the team’s hulking kitchen/laundry trailer for transport to the next day’s start town. Caubergs said he was rarely in bed before midnight.

“The timing is the most challenging thing — you learn to be very flexible,” Caubergs said. “The only thing you don’t do is not have food ready in time. You don’t want [the riders] showing up hungry.”

Caubergs said the team was fairly relaxed with its dietary requirements, although several riders are lactose intolerant, and others are were to cut out gluten. A few riders were even creatures of habit: German Tony Martin ate shrimp scampi for dinner every night, and Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel had a fruit smoothie every morning for breakfast. Mark Cavendish ate one big pancake in the morning. All of the riders liked tortillas stuffed with cold cuts or salmon after each stage.

We spied this secret stash in the OPQS trailer. We’re guessing the team’s post-stage party on Sunday night was to remember.

Caubergs is a dietician, and he teaches cooking classes in Limburg, Belgium when he’s not working with the cycling team. He said the riders were mostly interested in simply replenishing their spent calories with well-balanced meals after each stage.

Caubergs said there is one food, however, that tantalizes even the most steadfast weight-weenie.

“Nutella — we do have it,” Caubergs said. “But they were not supposed to eat a lot.”

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