By Stan Purdum
Soigneur (approximate French pronunciation: SWAN-yea) is one of the many French words relating to cycling. With the Tour de France being the world’s premier cycling event, French words connected to the sport have been picked up by cyclists around the globe.
In short, a soigneur is an assistant who is responsible for feeding, clothing, massaging, and transporting professional bicycle racers and generally assisting the team. The term comes from the French for the “one who provides care.”
Typically, during a stage race, soigneurs, colloquially known as “swannies,” are part of the support team there to make riders’ lives easier and allow them to say focused on competing in the race rather than dealing with details surrounding it.
Star riders may have their own soigneur while other riders may share soigneurs.
Soigneurs are generally on call from early morning to late at night. They are part valet, part masseuse, part chauffeur, part cook, part launderer, part confidant, and part flunky.
It’s the sort of job you must love, or you’re not likely to stay with it.