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  • Samuel Dumoulin: In the Business of Pain

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    Long hours, physical work and a quest for perfection at the family bakery: an unusual way to relax in the off-season with Ag2r-La Mondiale rider Samuel Dumoulin

    Photographs: Yves Perret/www.ypmedias.com

    The Dumoulin brothers know a thing or two about long hours and demanding, physical labour.

     

    They are both well acquainted with competitive businesses; with métiers deeply rooted in tradition but with ample capacity to cultivate a lifestyle well beyond the sacred 35-hour week.

     

    Samuel is a professional rider with Ag2r-La Mondiale in his 16th season as a pro. The other, Grégory, is a pastry chef and baker. Both work together at Les Dumoulin, their bakery, patisserie and cafe located just outside Chambéry, which opened in October 2016.

     

    “It’s a hard, hard job,” Samuel says. “But fortunately I can leave the bread and pastry making to my brother.”

     

    While Samuel, 36-years-old and the eldest by six years, focusses on communications and administration, he’s never far from mucking in and serving cakes over the counter when he’s back at home.

     

    Read: Romain Bardet: Building the Romain Empire

     

    Having a well-known professional cyclist involved does no harm when it comes to promotion and publicity. Ask yourself this: would you really be reading about a bakery in Chambéry if it weren’t for Samuel Dumoulin?

    Samuel Dumoulin, always playing the loyal domestique to Romain Bardet

    The similarities between baking and biking suggests there might be something the Dumoulin genome that exhibits itself as a predisposition for sacrifice and toil.

     

    “Like every other baker my brother’s up at 3:00am, and as a pâtissier you have to focus on being ‘artisanal’, so that means you have to really work hard on the your product and the inside of the building and the experience,” Samuel Dumoulin says.

     

    “Just like cycling you have to be attentive and precise. It’s very demanding.

     

    “My brother works 12 to 14 hour days, non-stop, and just before the opening he did 15 days straight. It’s very impressive.”

     

    Shop: the finest cycling-inspired mugs at Rouleur.cc

     

    Located at the foot of the Col du Granier in the alpine town, les frères Dumoulin hope their bakery – complete with café and terrace – will grow to become a focal point for the local cycling scene, which includes the Chambéry Cyclisme Fondation amateur team with close links to Ag2r.

     

    Dumoulin senior has no immediate plans to hang up his wheels and swap a jersey for an apron just yet; the road captain and 2016 Coupe de France winner (his third season long French title) has signed a contract to see him through to the end of 2018.

     

    Despite being a long way from what you might call ‘relaxing’, the bakery remains a welcome diversion from the travails of the cycling world.

     

    “It lets me think about something other than cycling. It reminds me that there’s a life outside cycling: a real bakery and a real business.”

    Samuel (l) and Grégory (r) – Les Frères Dumoulin

    Although the bakery has experienced its fair share of misfortune – thieves broke in and raided the till the very evening after the grand opening with Bernard Thévenet and Romain Bardet – the diversion hasn’t done his cycling career any harm; Dumoulin won the opening stage of the Tour Du Haut Var in mid-February.

     

    “Anyone in this business does it because they love it, they are artisans, they are passionate, they don’t mind all the work.”