Italian-born Andrea, or Biso as he’s called, is a bus driver for the EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale cycling team. Of course, that’s just his job title. Like most of the staff at EF Education First, his role spans much further.
An experienced traveler and multilingual global citizen, Biso is on the road over 180 days a year. In the last three months alone he has shepherded riders to over seven major races throughout Spain, Italy, Slovenia, and France.
While preparing for the Tour de France, Biso took a few minutes to share his first impressions of becoming part of EF, his busy schedule, and which language he wants to learn next.
How did you get involved with professional cycling?
I started with cycling about 18 years ago as a bike mechanic. Then, ten years ago I joined the EF-Drapac team and began to drive the bus, which is where I stayed. It’s a cool job. Of course, I bring the riders from the hotel to the start and then from the finish to the hotel, but there is a lot more to it than that.
When EF acquired the team, what were your thoughts?
For top riders, they can usually find a contract for the next season. For the rest of the staff and the other riders, it’s more difficult to find another team in September, because all the teams are more or less closed.
When EF rescued the team last year, it was so great. Everybody got to stay with the family and keep the team going. All the EF staff I have met have given me a good feeling about the future. Everyone is interested in us and the sport. It’s not just an investment. We now have a new family.
What’s your schedule during a race?
I start the day by cleaning inside the bus, because sometimes we go get coffee or other food at night. Then I look at the map and roads for how to reach the start. Once we get there, there’s not much to do, so I stay around the bus in case some of the riders need something. When the riders leave, I go straight to the finish. I mix the two different recovery drinks. One is for reconditioning, the other is a protein shake. We also prepare the riders’ rice and meat for after the race.
Outside the parked bus, I have an area blocked off and the foam rollers ready for the riders’ cool down. Then I prepare the towels, because as soon as the riders arrive and cool down, they jump in the bus and shower. I also collect all the earpieces they use to communicate with the caravan as soon as they arrive and charge them. I collect their laundry and start the washing machine as we drive to the hotel.
Simple things save a lot time. When they are done with showering, we drive to the hotel and then I clean the inside of the bus, finish the laundry, including the dirty towels, and wash the outside of the bus. Before bed, I have a quick check of the roads for the next day.
What is the bus like?
The bus is like a big motor home. There is a toilet, two showers, a fridge, a small kitchen, blinds, comfortable seats, and a big sofa in the back. Under the bus is storage, an electric generator, 800L of clean water, 400L of dirty water, a water heater, and space for the bikes.
Do you always travel with the team?
Normally, my season starts with training camp in January and finishes around mid-October. Then I have a long holiday in the winter. I’m traveling around 180 days a year. I used to work for another team and traveled 220 days, but that was too much. One-eighty is a good number for me.
What are some of your travel habits?
Now that I’ve been in the business so long, I bring less and less with me. The first time I traveled with a team, I brought a big suitcase. There was a washing machine, so it was not necessary for me to bring so much. I now bring three t-shirts, underwear, pants, and always bring clothes for the rain, like a pair of waterproof shoes, waterproof pants, and a jacket.
I often bring books to read, but I never have the time. I don’t know why I always bring them.
Do you have a favorite cycling race?
I prefer stage races over one-day races. Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España—the three longer races. It’s hard to say which is best. Giro d’Italia is in my home country. Tour de France is the best in terms of the environment, spectators, and how the country reacts when the race passes through. Vuelta a España uses twelve very short stages, so the race is more intense, there’s more attack, and it’s unpredictable.
You speak five languages—are there others you want to learn?
In total, I can ask for food in five different languages, so I will not die of starvation! Italian, Catalan, French, English, and Spanish. I’ve learned most while on the road.
I’m missing languages from Northern Europe like German and Flemish. If you don’t know those languages, you can’t understand them. For example, I don’t speak Portuguese, but I can understand Portuguese, because it’s similar to Italian, French, and Spanish.
I have books for German, but it’s a bit complicated. I’ll become a better EF ambassador by learning German!