Throughout the Tour de France, VeloNews will be speaking to some of the unsung heroes of the peloton – those riders who fight every day without the recognition that big GC favorites or sprint stars receive.
For professional athletes, exercising your profession can sometimes be a difficult balancing act.
Athletes need extreme focus to be at the top of their game, but there are also tradeoffs when trying to enjoy and live away from sport.
Jacopo Guarnieri, who is Arnaud Démare’s spearhead at Groupama-FDJ, must reconcile his career as a professional rider and that of a single parent. It’s a fine line to cross as he tries to make sure he can put in the hours he needs to be in great shape, without wasting the time he has with his four-year-old daughter.
Read also : Tour de France of unsung heroes: Hugo Houle wants to win a stage in memory of his brother
We organize our call for Monday afternoon before the Tour de France takes place in Brittany, but we have to delay it a bit because Guarnieri is giving his daughter a nap. She’s had a busy day running and playing at school, and the wheels have finally come off and she’s tired.
“They have so much energy, like, I don’t know where they get the energy from. They are really impressive, ”said Guarnieri. VeloNews. “It’s not always easy and I’m a single parent so it can be really tough for me. When I go to the races, it is really like a rest for me. Especially since I don’t want to give up having fun with my daughter because of my job or because I’m away.
“My problem is also that I’m not really a precocious guy for training. You know, it’s really hard for me to leave before 11am. So sometimes I just come back, you know, like at three o’clock and in an hour I need a shower to eat and rest a little then get her back and then when you have her and she asks you ” what are we doing ? But sometimes you get really tired.
“I’m lucky because she is, she loves books. So if I sometimes try to lie on the couch and read books, she says “okay” to me. Maybe it doesn’t last very long but for half an hour it can be good.
Guarnieri’s daughter stays with her mother when he races. As many parents know, it can be difficult to leave your children for an extended period of time.
Read also : Unsung heroes of the Tour de France: Lukas Pöstlberger – big beats, pizza in the grupetto
Week-long races are tough, but manageable, while big laps are on another level. It can also be especially difficult when trying to balance the concentration needed on a big tour with the house missing.
“It’s not pleasant,” Guarnieri said. ” For a week. I can see she’s fine. But, maybe after four or five days when you call, she asks when you come home daddy? But, of course, the big tours are much more difficult.
“We are mentally in our bubble. You know, we’re really focused on what we’re doing. But then when you call home she can handle it and she gets it, but you see they really miss you. Sometimes you kind of fear that they are in too much pain.
Move quickly and move
At four years old, Guarnieri’s daughter knows what her father does for work, but she has yet to delve into the finer details of racing tactics. Childish logic means that it also assumes that Guarnieri must know every person on a bicycle that he meets. Why not?
“She loves the bike. When she’s on the bike she really feels like she can go somewhere really fast, but I don’t think she’s watching the race. I agree with that, it can be boring, ”said Guarnieri. “When we take the tour you know she will see a cyclist and ask ‘are they a friend of yours? I say: Yeah, definitely a friend of mine.
Read also : Unsung heroes of the Tour de France: Nils Eekhoff a wise head on young shoulders
“When I came back from the Route du Sud and said ‘you know, we won a stage’. She says, ‘Oh nice, but did you win?’ I said ‘actually no I didn’t, but I helped a friend.’ She said ‘ah, so you pushed him?’ Yes something like that.
“I was at the Italian championship and I said, ‘I didn’t win’, and she said, ‘Why didn’t you win, nobody pushed you?’ I said ‘yeah, I didn’t have anyone to push me,’ ”he laughed.
– Groupama-FDJ Cycling Team (@GroupamaFDJ) July 1, 2021
Guarnieri is happy that his daughter enjoys being active and would not be totally against her learning to cycle competitively, but he is concerned about the safety of Italian roads.
“I mean, I won’t stop her, if she wants to. It’s not like we’re crazy about it but if she wants to give it a try, why not? She can be free to do whatever she wants, ”Guarnieri said. “We’re lucky, because I moved from where I grew up, but not a lot like 40k, let’s say. When I first started cycling, it was in the city. And here there is a very nice cycle path, which is quite wide. And it’s totally closed, you know, traffic. So if she wanted to start this would be the place to go.
“You should have a safe environment. With this I’m sure you will find someone who will love it but on this side we are [Italy] really, really, really bad.
Guarnieri is back on the Tour de France this year after guiding Démare around the Giro d’Italia for the past two years. This is his fifth participation overall in the Grand Tour de France, after his debut with Katusha in 2015, and his third with the Groupama-FDJ team.
The team did not have much luck in the first few days, Démare catching up with at least one of the big crashes in the final kilometers of Stage 3. There are still opportunities for the team to deliver a win, this which is all the more important because it is their home race.
“What happens in the lap is always like, twice compared to other races. So if you do a good job of securing a victory with your team or your captain, on the Tour it’s always huge, ”said Guarnieri. “We are a French team with a French leader. Yes, if we can get some glory in the Tour de France, that will be great. “