By Dr. Millie Clark, Osteopath at North Carlton Osteopathy
In January and February 2021, I was privileged to work with Team Bike Exchange (previously known as Mitchelton-Scott); an elite pro cycling team. I worked as an Osteopath during the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide and the Road Nationals in Ballarat.
Bike Exchange were the only professional cycling team that rode in the Santos Tour Down Under this year due to COVID-19, but it didn’t change the determination and drive for podium positions. If anything, the expectations were higher than ever, and this tension permeated the team from day 1. The World Tour races in Europe were delayed last year, so technically the team were a month behind in training. The other teams were Australian State teams. These races were the highlight of their season – they were more ready than ever as lockdown gave them that extra training grunt time. The intensity was high, and it was going to be competitive.
My days would start at 6am and finish at 8pm and consisted of looking after the cyclists. In addition to treating and managing their pains and aches, I got involved in the day-to-day running of team operations. This included providing nutrition and hydration for the athletes – in other words, feeding the cyclists snacks and ensuring the eskies were full of biddons, soft drinks and juice boxes for before and after each race!
I worked primarily with the women’s team. Lucy Kennedy came 3rd overall in the Santos Tour Down Under, and to our great delight, Sarah Roy and Grace Brown came 1st and 2nd respectively in the Road Nationals! The men also had successful outcomes which gave us even more reason to celebrate with the excitement and uplifting energy felt by all. It was an incredible experience to be a part of a team who had podium finishes. And to top it all off, Jerry Ryan, a successful businessman and owner of Bike Exchange, put on a mighty feast and the team was treated like royalty! This was one of the highlights.
Overall, watching elite cyclists, some of whom rode in the Tour De France, ride around a 1km track loop at 45-65km/h (also known as the criterium) was another highlight. I also enjoyed listening to the cyclists debrief directly after the race which often involved reflecting on predicted tactics which had either played out well or not quite to plan.
It was truly rewarding to be a part of a team that were respectful and welcoming. I felt like I was talking to friends, not just elite professional cyclists. I was proud to be representing Team Bike Exchange, not only because they were Australian, but also for the respect and kindness they showed me and all those around them.
It was an awesome experience professionally too – working with elite athletes, their coaches and fellow health professionals was a great thrill and learning opportunity. It’s one that I would love to repeat, and the learnings I made can be taken straight to looking after my patients at North Carlton Osteopathy.
To book an appointment with Millie or any of the great practitioners at North Carlton Osteopathy, click here.