Riding to the top together
Sara joined Umicore six years ago. She started working as a procurement manager and is now Director Global Purchasing & Transportation Excellence. Two years later, she joined the Umicore Mont Ventoux team, a group of Umicore colleagues who cycle up Mont Ventoux every summer.
“We’ve done it four times so far. Before that I did do sports, but I didn’t cycle much, especially in the mountains. But when I heard about it, I felt that I had to join. I love a challenge and a reason to train. There is always an excuse not to exercise, and this gave me a purpose”.
At first only colleagues from our site in Olen joined, but then it expanded to other sites in the vicinity. The group kept growing over the years. More and more people decided to move out of their comfort zone and train together. “Last year we had more than 150 colleagues. That is fascinating. 150 Umicore outfits pedaling - or for the first time hiking - up the mountain. It was amazing. As you climbed, you knew you were not alone”.
Cycling is great for physical health, but it also has a big impact on Sara’s wellbeing. “For me it felt like being part of a family together with colleagues and friends, all with the same purpose and challenge ahead. It is not only about the day itself, but the whole training process and the journey where you connect. That’s what makes it fun. You feel the energy as it recharges your battery and helps you decompress during the week”.
There is no team building like training to cycle up a 1912-m mountain. “We all motivate each other and build towards that moment together. We each have a personal purpose. Last year I had back surgery and wasn’t sure I could make it. I was so happy after eight months to see that I reached the top.” Her personal commitment drove her, but she admitted there is nothing like getting to the top together. “It’s pure emotion. The person by your side is very important to you. You create a bond. You hear your name through the microphone as you cross the finish line and other colleagues cheer you when you get there. But crossing the line is amazing, because we do it together. We share the moment as a team. We are all colleagues on bikes, equals no matter what our origin, age, type of job – it’s who you are and not what you do.”
Cycling and training for an event like this gives you a mental boost, too. “It’s not just because you are ready physically that you can reach the top. It’s also about training mentally not to give up together with your colleagues. So far, except for technical difficulties, we’ve all succeeded.”
Aside from all the training, there are also many memories. “When I reached the top last year after my two back surgeries, it was very special. Getting there with my colleagues Pascale and Elsje made it even better. They supported me on the way up and we heard our names together when we crossed the finish line. We had a funny experience, too. We took a wrong turn going down. Of course, after all that climbing you don’t want to go back. Luckily a car passed by to pick us up. The driver was Marc Wouters, who participated in the Tour de France. That’s something we will surely never forget.”
“It’s great to be part of the Umicore Mont Ventoux team, there is a vibe that is there every year. I wish the full Umicore Mont Ventoux team a great climb and lots of fun together”.