The life of a professional bike rider inevitably means months away from home and one’s loved ones.
Whether it’s flowers, chocolates or even poems (see below), in what is becoming a time honoured tradition, Cycling Weekly asked riders out racing in the Middle East how they celebrate Valentine’s Day when they are away from home.
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Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge)
“I’m flying back tomorrow so I’ll meet my wife in Barcelona. We’ve been saving a bottle of vino, and we’ll just have a nice evening. I proposed to her last year on Valentine’s Day, not because of Valentine’s Day but that’s how everything aligned.”
Christopher Jones (UnitedHealthcare)
“Are you trying to get me in trouble!? I have done nothing. Since my wife and I have been married we’ve never spent a Valentine’s Day together.
“I used to arrange for flowers, and she doesn’t really like that because they die. She’d rather have a plant, but it’s kind of hard to have a plant delivered in Spain. I sent her a message saying, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, I’ll make it up to you when I get back.’”
Hugo Houle (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
“I live in Canada, and we are away for a long time. I wrote a card and put it in the post nine days ago, so that it could make it back home to Montreal in time. It worked pretty well because it got there yesterday, so timing was good.”
Luke Rowe (Team Sky)
“When I go back home tomorrow we’re having a fake Valentine’s Day, so we’re going to have a meal. Good film, a nice bottle of red, and then Sunday morning we’ll take the dog for a walk. That’s quite romantic. I’ve got ‘Despicable Me 2’ lined up to watch. If that doesn’t make you happy then you’re not for me!”
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
“Nothing. I do nothing for Valentine’s Day. We celebrate Valentine’s Day every day of the year.”
Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare)
“I can’t say I was particularly responsible about it – I waited until this morning – but I did arrange some flowers for the wife. It’s standard procedure now but for the significant others, sending flowers or chocolates doesn’t really replace us not being there.
“The nice thing is I convinced her to get married in late autumn, so I won’t ever miss our anniversary. A lot of guys get married in summer, and they never get home for their anniversary.”
Martin Tjallingii (Belkin)
“I arranged for some flowers to be sent to my wife. I’ve been with her for 16 years and it’s been most of the time that we’ve been away. But I’m still waiting for the day that she sends me something!”
Ian Stannard (Team Sky)
“I got some flowers. She’s back in England so they’ll be dropped off today, along with some Belgian chocolates. I might take her out for dinner when I’m back, I’ve got to plan that though. Work in progress!”
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
“It’s always flowers because I’m never at home. The last four years I’ve been away on Valentine’s Day. This year when I get home from Oman I’ve got to unpack from moving house, so that will be my Valentine’s Day present!”
Bernie Eisel (Team Sky)
“I ordered her some flowers, nothing spectacular. It’s time for us to go home. I think that’s what counts more than Valentine’s Day at the moment. And actually going home in one piece after this race!”
Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
“I sent some flowers and my girlfriend sent me some sweets. She put them in my luggage but I didn’t know it, and today she sent me an SMS saying, ‘look there,’ and I found some sweets. They were heart shaped ones. I’m saving them until the end of the race.”
Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
“I have something very special arranged; I’m coming home. Since the beginning of January I’ve been home for about five or six days in total. We will celebrate St Valentine’s tomorrow.”
Martial Gayant, directeur sportif (FDJ.fr)
“I wrote my wife a little poem, are you ready?
“”I went out this morning because it was Valentine’s Day and I was in love. I went to a school and I saw a blackboard; I took the chalk and I wrote my lover’s name but soon after the teacher took the duster and rubbed it out.
“Then, a bit later, I went into the forest and I saw a tree. I carved her name into the tree. But then a lumberjack, with his chainsaw in hand, cut the tree down.
“So I decided to go to the beach, and I wrote her name in the sand but the sea washed it away.
“I was overcome by sadness but I knew what to do; I wrote her name here, in my heart, and it has stayed with me forever.””
Valentine’s Day 2012 in the peloton