He is waiting, mostly riding on his Elite indoor trainer, and desperately hoping – together with his brother Pierre – for a fast continuation of the 2020 cycling season. But Rudy Barbier is afraid too, that it will last for a long time. Meanwhile, he is impressed by doctors who help his fellow countrymen. “I have a lot of respect for all those people working day and night to fight this crisis. When I read the article about our team doctors, now fighting corona, I was impressed. I am glad to help, although it is little, collecting face masks for medical staff and hospitals in need via our Stay At Home Medical Rides. Riding outside is a no-go for me now, and helping that way is the least I can do.”
Barbier was more motivated than ever before when he stepped with Israel Start-Up Nation onto WorldTour. The French sprinter wanted to show that he was able to perform on the world’s highest level of cycling. He did, as he was ready from the very first day in the 2020-racing season.
It was the very first race day, in San Juan, where Barbier immediately showed his power with an incredible victory. Afterwards he proved his sprinting skills on WT-level in the Emirates. But it was right there where the peloton faced COVID-19 for the first time, the virus that would put the season abruptly on hold.
“We all know what happened during that UAE Tour: the last races were canceled, we were stuck in the hotel and tested. I was relieved I could go back home after those days”, he says.
He prepared for Paris-Nice, which was the last race of the Pro-peloton for a long period of time. Now, practically locked up at home. “It is a tough situation for everyone”, he knows. “I have a lot of respect for my fellow countrymen who work day and night to fight this crisis. Also, when I read the article about our team doctors and how much effort they put in to help people I was impressed. Every day there are a lot of people dying because of corona, it is incredible, and all the doctors are putting everything aside to help those who need it the most. I find that impressive.”
Stay At Home Rides
“We can only overcome this crisis together, by working hard together. We need to stay at home while doctors are carrying out the best of their ability to save lives.”
Barbier feels the urge to help where he can. “There is not much I can do, but I do know that staying at home is essential. Also, I fully support Israel Start-Up Nation’s ideas for virtual rides. Now that ISN is organizing a ride to raise attention and gather medical equipment for hospitals in need, I am willing to help as much as I can.”
“I know the team is working hard every day to gather resources to make it bigger every week. We started with a Stay At Home ride, then we collected masks to donate to hospitals in need, which we will next Sunday again, but then even bigger. And the number of participants increase too, which is fantastic to see. I think I speak for all the riders that we are happy to join the Stay At Home Rider for a good cause. Together we are collecting as many masks as possible for the people, especially in the medical sector, who need it.
Also, Barbier is nowadays staying fit on his Elite indoor trainer. “I got it by post a few days ago and I am really happy with that. I am not allowed to train outdoors anymore and with this trainer, I can ride. I am able to join those events now, which is exciting. Last Stay At Home Ride I was not able to join as I did not have my trainer yet. However, now that I can use it, I am looking forward to joining my teammates and the followers of the team in Stay At Home Rides and Challenges!”
“I learned that hard work pays off”
Barbier finds it disappointing that everything is canceled, although he fully understands it as well. “I felt better every day and I was extremely motivated. From this winter I learned that hard work pays off and I wanted to keep that attitude for the rest of the season. It was the only right decision to stop racing, though, likewise it is to ride outside here in France.”
“I felt good from day one this season”, Barbier says, looking back on the races he could do till today. “I worked a lot this winter, together with my brother, to be in shape from the start. Every day Pierre and I were on the streets, whatever weather. We did everything to be in good shape.”
He has to share the trainer with his brother. “Yes, also Pierre did not have an indoor trainer, so we are now using it together. We are making the best out of this situation, like everyone else in the world is doing. A problem of sharing a trainer, so we cannot train together (on a 1,5-meter distance) is very small compared to the problems infected people have.”
Talking about challenges, Barbier has been active on Instagram as well: “Pierre, Hugo Hofstetter, and Alexis Renard have been tagging me many times in social media challenges, like juggling with a toilet paper roll, or race-day-face-pictures. It is fun to spend the time a little bit by doing these kinds of activities”, he laughs.
Meanwhile, he keeps his motivation up by watching the statistics from that opening stage in the UAE Tour. “Velon published a graph last week, showing the max speeds of the sprinters contesting in the sprint. Pascal Ackermann reached 77 km/h, and I got the 76.8 km/h. The third was Dylan Groenewegen (72.3 km/h). I want to be the fastest one when we are able to race again.”