Chris Froome and his teammates receive a home service during the Czech Tour. The masseur of the Israel-Premier Tech team, Tomáš Rak, is from Hlušovice near Olomouc. Therefore, his home also serves as a remote base for the team that celebrated victory in the opening stage of the biggest domestic stage race.
Tomáš Rak, who looked after Froome last year during the Tour de France, was also involved in the most famous stage race on the planet this year. He was there when the team celebrated victory on the legendary Puy de Dome volcano, where Michael Woods literally "flew" along. He was still in Paris on the Tuesday, when the family of the man with "golden hands" arrived for the final stage of the Tour de France.
"The boys play football, so we went on a tour of the PSG stadium, the Eiffel Tower and other Parisian classics on Monday," smiles Tomáš Rak. On Tuesday, he got into the team car in the French capital and set off with his family for Olomouc. On Wednesday he was ready to fulfil his duties with the team at the Czech Tour.
"We were seven masseurs on the Tour. There are two of us here. We both came from France. I'm already working a little on empty, but there was no other choice, we have a terribly busy calendar," shrugs the man who in the past took care of Olympic champion Martina Sáblíková. He assures us that after the French race, he could easily have sat out the home race. "I didn't sleep much. Right after the Czech Tour I have a week off. That way I'll catch up on the sleep deficit," says Tomáš Rak, clearly looking forward to a rest.
However, during the four stages, it is not just the Israel-Premier Tech masseur who is on duty. He has also involved his wife. “We don't have a food truck or a team chef here, so she helps me prepare food at home for the riders and car guys," explains Tomáš Rak.
After Thursday's winning stage, he first headed to the hotel in Olomouc, where the team is staying. Here he massaged the weary muscles of the riders. He then had dinner with the whole team and a glass of champagne to celebrate the victory in the opening stage. "Then I prepared the food room in case the boys wanted to grab something else in the evening or take something to eat in their room."
He then headed home. There he threw team jerseys and shorts into the washing machine, then everything went into the dryer. Meanwhile, he and his wife were preparing food. Chicken with rice for the competitors, chicken wrap with vegetables for the team. "My wife baked cookies as a bonus, but really only for the drivers, mechanics and sports directors. I weigh everything carefully for the riders based on the instructions of our nutritionist, who gives me a plan for each day. So I put food in boxes for them and in the morning put them in the fridge in the camper, which was waiting for the boys at the finish line so that they could replenish their energy right after the stage," says Tomáš Rak.
His day begins long before the alarm clock of the first member of Israel-Premier Tech. At home in Hlušovice, he threw all his things into the car and hurried to the hotel in case Froome or any of his teammates had any special wishes after breakfast before the start of the stage.
And the biggest reward aside from another potential win? “About a month off in September when my two boys go to first grade, so I'll be able to enjoy it with them. Then I still have a stage in Luxembourg, a block of Italian races and Lombardy before the end of the season."