It’s very nice to be invited to come to a ProTeam press day, or two days in the case of BMC, but when they look after you like a King…well what can I say. Another well known team didn’t even answer their e-mails when a training camp visit was requested, so when Sean at BMC sends you an invite to one of the best hotels in the area for two days of bikes and riders…you jump at it!
The Denia Marriott Hotel (Golf Resort & Spa) smells of money, after I paid Ђ2.62 for an herbal tea that I would normally pay Ђ1 for in my local, I thought it best not to ask the price of a room or a round of golf! But seeing as I am a guest of BMC there are no worries. There is a bit of a contradiction as the hotel is next to a village called “Jesъs Pobre” (poor Jesus), there was nothing poor round here!
I arrived early to see what was (if anything) happening, the team had been out for a cold, but dry ride in the morning and were now waiting in line to have their individual team photos taken, first head and shoulders and then riding towards the camera. For most of the riders this was a piece of cake and one or maybe two passes were enough for the desired effect. The exception was the man himself Cadel Evans. First he needed to be further to the right, then he had to start further back, then a car came, in the end it was all good, but he must have done a few extra kilometres, and it was getting very cold.
The team presentation was to take place on the lower level of the hotel in the large room the team use for their early morning yoga classes before breakfast.
After a quick video round up of last year:
First up was Jim Ochowicz to tell us about this year’s hopes and aspirations. He started by describing why they chose this hotel and this area back in December for this training camp in January; this was obvious as the roads in the area are the first choice of many Pro teams and I’ve already told you about the hotel. Last year the camp was in Santa Rosa, California, this year due to the calendar it would be difficult to have all the riders in the same place at the same time.
He carried on to explain that the group that was here, not including the Tour Down Under riders who had just arrived, had 13 days of great training and preparation in dry, cold temperatures.
“The most important thing for the team was that it was a Pro Continental team in 2010 and that meant we were not automatically selected for the big races. From 2009 the team were planning and recruiting riders towards the 2010 Tour de France, and then we had the opportunity to sign Cadel Evans, which helped us receive that Tour 2010 spot. The team held the yellow jersey for one day, but then as we now know Cadel broke his elbow and couldn’t continue in his usual competitive state.”
The eloquent team boss; Ochowicz moved on to this year and pointed out that he was sure the team had done enough to receive a 2011 ProTeams licence, due to some reasonable results that pointed to the high quality of the organisation.
As to the riders he said they have strengthened the team, in three departments, for the mountains, for the classics they have brought in Greg van Avermaet, and thirdly, the younger riders in the team. “We are going to be a team that is going to contend in every aspect of the sport of cycling. We will get some wins, we will take some lumps, and we accept that. As we progress through the year, you will see a definitive change from the our performance in 2010.” Ochowicz finished and handed over to John Lelangue the Chief Directeur Sportif to introduce the other DS’s and the riders.
“Our ultimate goal is the Tour de France for Cadel Evans. We are building a team for this, and this is the main objective for the season. Every day we are thinking about this and trying to bring the best team together for him in July,” stated Lelangue. He reiterated the fact that the team is registered in the U.S. and half the team is American, so the team will focus on the U.S. Calendar.
Max Sciandri joins the team to help the younger riders as well being the man behind the steering wheel of a team car, Rik Verbrugghe and Fabio Baldato bring in loads of experience and Michael Sayers who will run the U.S. calendar, if you look at the races these guys have ridden and won you can see the expertise behind the riders.
First up were the young U.S. riders; Chris Barton, Chad Bayer, Brent Bookwalter, Chris Butler and Jeff Louder. All young, but a fair bit of experience. Bookwalter rode the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France last year and said “I was on my limit 42 days last year, every day of the Grand Tours. It gave me a lot of confidence!” Next were the “older” U.S. hands of the team: John Murphy, Larry Warbasse, Taylor Phinney and George Hincapie. Murphy and Warbasse will be focused on progressing in their careers; Murphy is a strong sprinter and will be looking to Belgium. Taylor Phinney may be young, and he has a great future with BMC, that’s why he chose them over other teams. George Hincapie…what can you say, the man is a legend; he rides the classics for the win and buries himself in the Tour for his team leader.
The mixed group was next; Marcus Burghardt, Karsten Kroon, Yannick Eijssen, Amaлl Moinard, Alexander Kristoff and Greg Van Avermaet. A mixed bag for mixed roles, classics riders, sprinters and climbers to help Cadel in the Tour. Then the Italian section was led on by ex-World Champion; Alessandro Ballan with Manuel Quinziato, Mario Santambrogio and Ivan Santaromita. Before the “Top Man” Cadel Evans came out the Swiss contingent paraded; Mathias Frank, Martin Kohler, Steve Morabito, Michael Schдr, Johann Tschopp, Danilo Wyss and Simon Zahner. These riders must be some of the best riders from Switzerland (err…Cancellara), strongmen for the stage races and the classics.
Last up were the men from Down Under; Cadel Evans and Tim Roe. The future of Australia and one of the best riders from the country. I’m sure you all know about Cadel; Worlds, Giro, Tour, Fleche-Wallone etc. etc. Young Tim, like Taylor Phinney, has it all ahead of him and BMC are expecting great things from him in the years to come.
As soon as all the riders had been paraded before us it was time for the interviews with Cadel Evans, George Hincapie and Taylor Phinney; which you can read on PEZ soon.
With all the rider stuff done it was time for a little wine tasting and an announcement from BMC racing team owner Andy Rihs on a new team sponsor; La Coquillade French winery hotel in the Provence region. Andy Rihs is the man behind the bikes and he owns this luxury getaway resort a grapes throw from one of the most well known climbs in France; the Mont Ventoux. “The decision to promote La Domaine de la Coquillade through the BMC Racing Team was easy because it provides so much variety for the cycling enthusiast – some flat terrain, some mountains and beautiful weather,” Rihs said. “This will also be a flagship center for BMC to bring dealers to test the bicycles.”
If you fancy a luxury break in Provence check out the La Coquillade web-site.
It only left time for a very nice meal thanks to BMC and the thought that tomorrow’s photo shoot on the team training run would not happen due to the rain and cold conditions. But that’s tomorrow, where is that wine?