Elise Chabbey swaps cycling kit for a medical coat amidst the Coronavirus crisis


Elise Chabbey is a recently-graduated doctor of medicine. Juggling her medical career with her sporting career is something that the 26-year-old Swiss rider has become accustomed to doing over the past few years, and she’s taken up the challenge once again, yet this time, in quite a different way.

Initially on the roster for the iconic Strade Bianche, as well as a series of Belgian semi-classics, Elise was looking forward to continuing what had already been a very strong start to the season for the team. However, with all races being called off for the near future due to the Coronavirus crisis, she wasn’t content to sit by and wait for racing to resume. “Doing nothing is really not in my nature,” she quite succinctly explains.

Just over a week after the cancellation of the races, Elise found herself at the Geneva University Hospital. “What’s happening now is unprecedented, and given the severity of the situation, I feel like I have to do something,” she tells us.

The hospital is in need of reinforcements to their staff. While in attendance, Elise is charged with looking after patients, including those with COVID-19, as well as general patients, where she monitors and assists in treating their conditions. “This week,” she explains, “I had nine patients, and we anticipate there will be larger numbers coming to us over the next few days.”

However, while her focus now centres on her patients in the hospital, she has by no means hung up the bike. She continues to train every evening after returning from the hospital, in order to maintain her fitness for when racing ultimately does resume. A particular goal that she is looking forward to is her “home” World Championships in Martigny, Switzerland, this September, a prospect that provides particularly strong motivation to continue training, in a time when some riders may find it difficult to put in the long hours, with no concrete goals in sight.

While assisting as a medical intern in the university hospital in Geneva, she once again finds herself combining her two passions of cycling and medicine, a challenge that is not new to Elise, who was a full-time student while riding for the team last season, when she even participated in some of the biggest races in the calendar, including the Giro Rosa.

For now, the long days split between the hospital and the bike may be exhausting, but as she tell us: “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.”

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be giving you an insight into what our other riders are getting up to during this time, so stay tuned for more content like this!