Karin has already cooked during three entire Tour de France events, 3 times a Giro d’Italia, and the 4 times the Vuelta a España. Additionally, she often joins the team during (high-altitude) training camps to provide the riders with delicious meals. She spends around 200 days a year on the road with the riders. As the head performance chef, she leads a team of 10 chefs. It's time to ask her about nutrition within Team Jumbo-Visma.
What do you exactly do at Team Jumbo-Visma?
"It all starts with preparation. My colleague Martijn (nutritionist) provides me with a forecast of all the stages of the Tour de France. This shows me exactly how many calories each rider on the team is likely to burn per day and what macronutrients they need daily.”
“Based on that forecast, I begin planning the meals. Five meals a day for 23 consecutive days. The fun part is that I can use the FoodCoach system to really play with the numbers. Sometimes a meal doesn't fit perfectly, so I keep adjusting until it does. But it still has to be a delicious meal!"
“We order the groceries from Jumbo and pick them up ourselves with our refrigerated truck and drive to the race. During the race, we have our own cooking truck. Inside, we prepare the meals every day with two chefs. When the riders return from the stage, we receive the current data so that we can make adjustments to the plan. For example, a rider might be allowed to have a bit more pasta if they've cycled longer or more intensely.”
What’s the difference of a musculair rider as Wout van Aert and a leight-weighted gus as Jonas Vingegaard?
"The biggest difference is in their energy needs. Because Wout van Aert is taller and heavier than Jonas, he needs more energy each day. Their meal plan during the Tour the France looks quite similar, because they both ride trough the mountains or having a rest day on the same day. But the amount off energy that the meal contain is different.”
“So basically they eat the same meals, but hte portion size of Wout’s meals are often bigger than Jonas meals.”
Do the riders really use the app every day?
"Yes, they are real precision guys. For them it's about millimeters in saddles, to grams in food. They do check what I cook. Some riders even weigh it themselves just to double-check. It keeps us all on our toes. Sometimes, we have to temper them a bit in this. They are increasingly placing trust in the chefs, enabling them to truly enjoy their meals in peace."
"You talk a lot about 'enjoyment', can you explain that?
“During major cycling races like the Tour de France, riders sometimes have to eat as many as 8000 calories a day for 23 consecutive days. That's four times more than I need on a regular day when I'm not very active. Try doing that for a week! These guys do it for three weeks.”
“To sustain this, we aim to serve five delicious meals a day, with a focus on variety. In the past, riders used to eat pasta and steak every single day for 23 days. After two weeks, they would lose their appetite and start eating less, leading to weight loss and illness, forcing them to drop out of the race. By cooking diverse and tasty meals, our riders maintain their desired weight and are less likely to get sick!”