“The 9th served as a bit of a travel day, since when you have people arriving from allover the world it takes a full 24 hours to get everyone together,” Sport & Development Manager Rolf Aldag said. “Plus they are tired from the travel, so we give them that first day. Then we arranged the camp so that all work that wasn’t bike related would be completed in the first days. We wanted to get all of that finished so they could fully focus on riding their bikes. The riders cooperated really well between photo and video shoots, as well as the physical testing done by our staff in close collaboration with Bakala Academy.”
Training, Aldag said, was split into three days before a day of rest, followed by another three days of training.
“We wanted to always give a workload to the body of each rider so it would get stronger and stronger,” Aldag said. “But in order to do that we wanted to also give them a chance to recover in between. The first day it was a motivation thing. Everyone was really just looking forward to doing work on the bike. The second day the tiredness set in a little — a little muscle soreness — but they knew there was only one more day before they could stay in bed and their brain could shut off and relax. We wanted them to go out there knowing there was a little light at the end of the tunnel, because even after the rest day it was just a few more days of training left.”
Aldag said the choice to train in Oliva was certainly a good one.
“It gave us a lot of different opportunities,” Aldag said. “It’s not very far from where we used to stay in Calpe. There are some flat areas that maybe aren’t very exciting to ride, but it is great for our trainers to control the workload better. It’s not just up and down on one road. Also, it’s a great place because of the support here in Spain. We felt really welcome, so it was nice to be here. We had nothing to complain about and could just focus on doing our jobs.”
There was also a hidden benefit to the first training camp of the year: Team bonding.
“I think the good thing about the first camp is there is always a lot to talk about,” Aldag said. “They haven’t seen each other in a while, some don’t know each other as well and they even were once competitors. Really the interesting thing is how they are all looking forward to coming back from a break. Sure, there is hard work at this training camp, but it’s not like we are in the final period before an important race. It’s not super stressful. We wanted the riders to do some physical work, and then really spend time time together.”
The riders got to know each other in situations such as team dinner, or even over some coffee in the afternoon. Furthermore, the team practiced communicating with English as the “team language.”
“You know, it’s really impressive to see a table of 30 professional bike racers,” Aldag said. “It’s a really long table of very athletic people sitting together with nothing more planned than coming together at places like a restaurant. Their only choice is to start talking to each other. It’s actually quite fun. Also, because we want to use English as our team language, people can really communicate about all the good things and even the problems with each other regardless of background. Situations like that are why it’s really important to have this kind of kick-off training camp. You may have someone like Mark Renshaw from Australia talking to Rigoberto Uran, who came from Colombia. It’s surely not easy, but it’s needed and really beneficial for the upcoming season.”
All photos by Tim de Waele/OPQS Team.