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October 19th 2021, Tuesday
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EY mountainbike Heroes Marc & Tristan!


We love sport at EY! It’s energizing and inspiring and it brings people together. Vitality, passion and a good environment play a major role in fulfilling our goal of Building a Better Working World. We believe that a healthy body makes for a healthy mind. Marc Cosaert and Tristan Dhondt are the perfect examples of this motto. They share their views of sport with us and take us to South Africa!

Why is sport important to you?

Marc : Sport is important to me because it clears my mind. And because I firmly believe that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Sport makes me healthier, increases my attention span and improves my all-round performance. I’m a real outdoor type, I love the peace and quiet of nature. We spend too much time sat inside during the week, so I really need to get outside and do some sport.

Tristan : Sport keeps me more alert and more focused, too.

Marc : I consciously make time for it – about 4 hours at the weekend. But in the run-up to a sport event I subscribed for, I train during the week as well.

Tristan : I know that ideally you should do one or two hours of sport twice a week. And then I always plan a 4-hour training session at the weekend.

Marc : Another aspect of sports that I like is networking. Thanks to various sporting activities I’ve developed new relationships and contacts with clients. Every year I invite (potential) clients to go mountain-biking. It’s the perfect way to network and get moving at the same time!

Tristan : Yes, that’s an upward trend. And, of course, we work a lot with entrepreneurs, they all like a challenge. That’s what drives us, it’s a perfect way to clear our heads!

Marc : Basically, for me, sports is a combination of mental and physical health and nutrition. These three aspects are important to keep everything in balance.

Tristan : The nutrition aspect is important. You need to know your body. In the run-up to a competition, certainly, it’s important to watch what you eat: no alcohol, healthy food, more high-protein meals, like chicken, fish, yoghurt.

I heard that recently you both participated in an epic mountain bike event in South Africa. Can you tell us more?

Tristan : Last year, in the view of my 50th birthday this year, I challenged Marc to participate in a crazy adventure. It was the Cape Epic – an epic 8-day, 650 km mountain bike event, for teams of two people. It’s held in the Western Cape in South Africa, and it takes you up to altitudes of 14,000 meters. Another important factor we had to take into account was the heat. Riding in temperatures of 45°C is not something you can train for in our rainy country! This is the most challenging mountain bike race that exists. It is a race, but you have to stay with your teammate throughout. ­A lot of mountain bike professionals participate. It’s like the Tour de France for mountain bikers. And it’s definitely on every mountain biker’s bucket list.

Marc : ­­­­Since we came back – only a week ago – we’ve had a lot of positive reactions from colleagues, clients and friends. The event is very well known.

How did you train for this event?

Marc : Once we knew we were registered, we could start training! We had the same coach, but we each had our own individual training scheme. During the last three months, we trained about 10 hours a week, sometimes even 12 hours. I did a mixture of spinning, running and mountain biking.

Tristan : I trained on my bike, on the rollers as well as outside. We spent a lot of time training at the weekends.

Marc : And because the Cape Epic is for teams of two, we trained together in the Ardennes, as well. The team aspect is very important in this race, you’re dependent on each other. During the race the distance between you and your teammate must never be more than 2 minutes, otherwise you are disqualified. Our teamwork was great, we helped each other a lot.

Tristan : We even designed our own cycling outfits, with our team name on them – Amicitia Fortior, which means Stronger through Friendship.

Has sport always played an important role in your life?

Marc : Unfortunately not. I started to be more active and do more sport about 6 or 7 years ago. The reason was the Fit4The Job partner program at EY. It was a real wake-up call for me. And one of my friends challenged me to cycle up the Mont Ventoux, as well. So, I started training. From the start it really excited me, and I haven’t stopped cycling since.

Tristan : I started in 2002. I was much heavier then, and I didn’t do any sport at all. With work and the kids, I just didn’t have time. There was an old bike at our holiday home in the Pyrenees, so I got on it and started pedaling – a little bit further every day. And I set myself a goal. Gradually cycling became a passion. The great thing is that it not only benefits yourself but your family too, as you’re less stressed, you can clear your mind, get new ideas and fresh ideas. It helps you to keep the perfect work-life balance!

What do you like about cycling/mountain-biking?

Tristan : I became a fan of cycling accidentally, thanks to that old bike in the Pyrenees. I think you have to focus on just the one sport if you opt for cycling. Because you spend a lot of time in the saddle. I like cycling because you see a lot of the countryside.

Marc : Cycling’s accessible, and you can cycle longer without injuring your body. On top of that, I live in a cycling-friendly environment – the Flemish Ardennes. That really motivates me to get on my bike.

What was a race day like?

Marc : We woke up at 6:00 am and had breakfast at 6:30am. At 7:00am they would bring us to the starting line. We started cycling around 7:30 – 8:00. During the day we cycled 7-8 hours till the finish line where we got recovery drinks and food, and our bikes had a wash. Then we went to the Bed & Breakfast to rest, eat and go to bed around 21:00. And that’s how it went on, for 8 days – cycling, eating and sleeping. During the race, we ate high-calorie sports food every 45 minutes, and there was a food & drink supply station every 40 km. The whole organization and the food and drink supply was fantastic.

Tristan : The team aspect also played a big role in terms of food and drinks. Sometimes Marc checked to see if I had eaten enough and vice versa. We kept an eye on each other, too. What’s the other’s mood like? What has he eaten?

Marc : We cycled together, not against each other. We were extremely complementary. My weakness was Tristan’s strength and vice versa.

Tristan : It wasn’t always easy, of course. The race started on Sunday, but on Monday I had a technical breakdown. It was really important that Marc was close to me then. On Wednesday I fell and torned my ligaments at the shoulder. At the time I didn’t realize that it was serious, so I continued the race another 2 more days or 200km. Although it hurt a lot, I didn’t want to quit, so I kept going. But at a certain moment I needed to. It was a very intense experience.

Marc : Les extrêmes se touchent in that race!

And how do you look back on it?

Tristian : It’s something I’ll never forget. A very intense experience. I’m already looking forward to our next challenge, perhaps the Swiss Epic.  I need a new challenge every year.

Marc : This summer I want to take on a challenge with some friends and clients. We will do the longest single track in Colorado, a 750 km mountain bike trip in the Rocky Mountains.

And finally, what sporting advice would you give our readers?

Tristan : Motivation is important. Find a sport you really love. One that drives you.

Marc : Find your (sporting) challenge. A sport that gives your life balance, mentally, physically and nutritionally.

Thanks & RESPECT guys!


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