How do you spend your Christmas day? We asked the pros

Joe Dombrowski, Veronica Ewers, Mads Pedersen, Elisa Longo Borghini, and more tell VeloNews about their Christmas plans.

Photo: Getty Images

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Christmas day is here, the turkey (or non-meat alternative) is in the oven, the candy is out, and the first family disagreement is out of the way.

December 25 is a rare chance for many of us to spend some time with our family, exchange gifts, and eat our body weight in sugary goods.

For much of the professional road peloton, it is the last true day off as the new season approaches. How do riders spend the day? Do they go out on their bikes? Do they indulge like us or keep their distance from the less nutritious food?

VeloNews asked some of the pros how they plan to spend Christmas day 2022.

Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo)

I’m a family man so I’m going to go home. In Denmark, we only celebrate the 24th so I’m going to spend the evening with my parents and my girlfriend will spend the evening with hers. Then, we will meet together afterward and talk about our day and exchange gifts.

Mostly, it will just be with my family. I don’t really like it being a big group of people, I like it to just be calm and be with the people that I love and that’s the best place for me to relax my head. I usually go out for a good ride on the 24th and then on the 25th I relax.

I will eat the duck and the pig but I also try to cut out the sauces and all the bad stuff but you also need to enjoy it because it’s only once a year and it’s still quite long until the season starts where you need to be really slim. I think if you don’t overexaggerate it then it’s fine.

Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB)

Oh man, my family loves Christmas. It’s like clockwork. My brother is four years younger than I am and we’ll always wake up, run downstairs, and grab our stockings and our parents’ stockings. We’ll then go up to my parents’ room and open the stockings on our parents’ bed. Our stockings are usually filled with a lot of fun things. It was very obvious when we started to get older because the gifts in the stockings became more functional like kitchen utensils. It’s really fun to see how our lives changed that way.

I really enjoy opening gifts that are still signed off as coming from Santa, which is great. You got to keep the magic alive. After that, it’s breakfast and coffee and then it’s several hours of cooking and prepping and then around three o’clock family and friends come over and we just have food out and play some fun games. It’s really fun. We’ll have so many different kinds of cookies and my mom makes this really great artichoke dip. You have to enjoy a day like that.

Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)

I don’t care [about eating], that one day doesn’t matter. It’s all the other days you have to think, but that one day it doesn’t matter, for me. Maybe for a climber, it matters more. It is one day of eating and cheating. Whatever you want to call it. I’m still riding the bike, I’m still riding my hours, and that one day doesn’t change anything.

We also have a training group in Denmark and we always do the same four-hour ride.

Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo)

I like to prepare the Christmas lunch because we have lunch. I like to have my nieces and nephews at home and to see them opening all of the presents and to just stay with my family. It’s the best when you have children around at Christmas.

Joe Dombrowski (Astana-Qazaqstan)

We’re going to be in Nice, my wife and I. Normally every year we’ve gone back to the US, until last year when we spent it in Nice. For us, it was nice. My wife and I are from the same area and we didn’t ever know each other when we were growing up but her dad’s house is probably 10 minutes from my parents’ house. It makes it a bit chaotic around the holidays because typically we would do lunch at my parents’ and then dinner at her family’s house so we would have double to eat.

It was super nice last year. I love my family but it was good to be a little more relaxed. Since we’d never really done it on our own we were wondering if we should get a Christmas tree. So, we got a Christmas tree last year, we had a nice breakfast, hung around all day, and had a nice dinner. It was pretty relaxed.

I think last year I didn’t ride. I definitely wouldn’t do a serious training ride but I would be up for going for a ride with friends if it was just a fun ride for a couple of hours and then we go home. I will have to check with who of my buddies are around and if they want to do a ride in the morning then I’d be up for it, but also to do nothing is fine.

Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo)

In Italy, we always do a very long lunch with a lot of food, so we will do this. For an Italian Christmas, there are always a lot of people, the whole family is together. We start with the appetizer, and then we have the first meal, the second, and then the dessert, panettone, and then we play all together doing some games. It’s a very long day but we stay all together.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.