As the world of cycling – and indeed all sport -shuddered to a halt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, most cyclists mourned the loss of races, form and time on the bike.
However, while the advice for most is to stay locked down at home, recently-graduated doctor of medicine Elise Chabbey is facing the worst health crisis of a lifetime head on. She has become quite used to balancing her two careers – medicine and sport – alongside each other over the years and now has the biggest challenge yet in front of her.
As the Katusha-Bigla rider’s Spring Classics program quickly fell away – from Strade Bianche to the Belgian semi-classics – Chabbey could not just sit by and wait for racing to start again.
Simply put, she stated: “Doing nothing is really not in my nature.”
The Swiss national is now at Geneva University Hopsital tackling this pandemic from the front, as they called for staff reinforcements. She has been tasked with looking after general patients and coronavirus patients, assisting and monitoring their conditions.
“What’s happening now is unprecedented, and given the severity of the situation, I feel like I have to do something. We anticipate there will be larger numbers coming to us over the next few days.”
Yet cycling is never far from her mind and she has certainly not hung up her wheels. With a home World Championships in Martigny in Switzerland this September looming on the horizon, the 26-year-old continues to train every evening after returning home from the hospital, to maintain a level of fitness, and to ensure when racing does start up again, she will be ready to go. The motivation is still high, while athletes in many sports may be left somewhat lost with no concrete racing commitments to throw themselves into.
Long days at the hospital, saving lives, and long evenings on the bike maintaining form is proving to be as exhausting as it sounds. But Chabbey was a full-time student just last year, while training and competing in some of the biggest races in the World Tour including the Giro Rosa. She is quickly becoming accustomed to this new level of pressure.
“When this crisis has abated, I’ll know that I tried to do my part, and I hope I’ll be proud of that. I think that doing this now will actually help me mentally. And when racing eventually commences again, I’ll be more than ready and completely motivated to join my teammates back on the road.”