Team HTC -Columbia Mallorca Camp & Launch 2010
Aspiring young rider Dan Patten reports from inside the HTC-Columbia Camp - Day
1: team presentation and media training ride...
Report & photos by Dan Patten
Spending the month of January In Majorca for my own training purposes to
prepare for racing in Belgium this Spring... Enjoying the change of weather was
nice diversion for a few days when I was asked by Vaughn at Daily Peloton If I
would like to cover a training camp. When he came back to me with the HTC
Columbia gig, I was more than delighted to do it. I would be covering the teams
camp for Daily Peloton, but at the same time getting an Inside look on how
the worlds most successful team In 2008 and 2009 operates.
As expected, I was
nothing but Impressed by what I experienced and It has once again reinforced how
much I aspire get to the same level. Over the last two seasons the team has had
285 race wins and this years roster Includes no less than 10 current national
champions, as well as 6 current or former world champions.
This year the team
has a younger look with 21 riders under the age of 26, making HTC Columbia the
youngest team at the top level of pro cycling. However another successful year
is expected, and after spending a few days with the team and management, I
wouldn't bet against It. Confidence In the camp Is high and quite rightly so; and
no stone Is being left unturned as the team looks to retain its number one spot
for another year.
So to the camp Itself. I made my way down from my base for the month In Port de
Pollenca to Palma where the team was holding Its camp. Trouble finding the
hotel... not a chance, as the two large yellow HTC Columbia buses parked up
outside the hotel made It clear that this was the hotel. The first evening
comprised a few presentations/talks before heading down to dinner with
the team and the rest of the media.
The men and women's teams took the stage for introductions and presentations.
Talks were given by Sebastian Weber (team
trainer) on training, power output and testing; as well, Rolf Aldag (Manager) ran through Mark Cavendish's wins at last
year's Tour de France with a focus on strategy
and explaining quite simply how, when they do It right, Cav Is pretty much
As a rider myself and coming from a Sport Science background I really enjoyed
the opportunity to hear from Sebastian Weber regarding the meticulous approach
they apply to every aspect of performance. Nothing Is left to chance with this team.
The setting of training programs, the use of SRM power meters, nutrition, core
training, testing, time trial technique - everything Is set, closely monitored
and clearly communicated within the team and this holistic approach clearly has
paid dividends for HTC Columbia.
Rolf Aldag next spoke about sprint strategy within the team and
made it clear straight away that the green jersey and stage wins In this years
tour would once again be the main focus of the team and they would be all doing
possible to prevent any disruption to this aim.
Regards the main man himself,
Mark Cavendish, much praise went to other members of the team making up Cav's
lead out train, including the roles Mark Renshaw and George Hincapie played In
their success In 2009. Whilst Renshaw stays with the team, Hincapie moves onto
the BMC team for the 2010 season and there was no hiding the fact that all of
his strength, tactical skills and respect In the Peloton would be hard to
replace. However with the likes of Andre Greipel and Bernhard Eisel still on the team, as well as
the signing of Hayden Roulston (Cervelo TestTeam), who won silver In the Olympic
Individual pursuit to Bradley Wiggins (obviously a big engine); it is felt that
the teams dominance can once again be continued in 2010.
Training ride - Erik Zabel in black rides alongside Mark Cavendish as I trail
off the back to catch a photo of the team.
Mark Renshaw was compared to a Swiss watch -100% reliable. He
unfortunately had to miss out on this camp due to illness however the word from
Rolf Is that he Is health Is getting better. He has been undergoing tests every week and his heart rate limits have been allowed to increase. It
would have been dangerous to start too early - but now things are
stabilizing, and he
will soon be back Into full training. Renshaw has no point to prove, his place Is
secure In the team, It's just a case of being ready for the Tour of California
and of course the Tour de France. Another goal of course will be the World
Championships, being held In his home country.
The second day began with a ride with the team. An opportunity for the media to
get some snaps of the riders In action, I used It as an opportunity to get a
spin on the bike with the worlds number one team (although I did manage to get
some pictures whilst riding, In particular of Cav and Erik Zabel who were
chatting to each other throughout the short ride). The day's ride was billed as
a recovery day for
the riders with everyone spending a little time on the front before peeling off
and going back Into the line. None the less, it was great to get out with
everyone and was interesting to see the media circus that surrounded a ProTour
team on the ride,
moving up and down the bunch to get their shots.
The team prepares for the morning ride.
The afternoon consisted of the team launch, team photo and an opportunity to
grab Interviews with riders. Aldag opened with the question ‘can we come back
stronger and repeat the success of the last two years?’ and using a typical President Obama
response he answered “yes we can”.
Each rider was Introduced (men and women) even though there were some
absentees with some of the team in Australia
preparing for the Tour Down Under.
Some notes on a a few riders: Vicente Reynes
was described as the ‘owner of the Island’ having been born and bred in Majorca, Michael
Rodgers (who was absent), classed as the captain on the road, Maxime Monfort - surprise Belgian time trial champ, overall GC rider, good climber and overall good team
worker. Other notable Belgians Included Jan Ghyselinck (Tour of Flanders U23
champ) and Gert Dockx In his second year as a pro. Bert Grabsch is the oldest
member of the team at 34.
Michael Rodgers at the Tour Down Under
Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter
The equally talented women's team presentation followed, notable mentions go
to Evelyn Stevens (who Is a relatively new to cycling) and 19 year old Chloe
Hosking who has taken the teams first win of the season by becoming the
Australian National Criterium Champion.
The Right to Play Initiative
Once the riders were introduced attention
went to the Right to Play Initiative**, which the team are Involved with again for
a third year. The program uses sport to tackle problems of war, poverty and disease and
last year reached almost 1 million children. The aim is to use sport to bring
hope to children. The presentation included a short video showing a trip to
some remote villages In Peru, which the team was involved in. The Right to Play
scheme is clearly something HTC Columbia strongly supports.
** About Right To Play -
Right To Play
is an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs
to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and
communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Working in
both the humanitarian and development context, Right To Play builds local
capacity by training community leaders as Coaches to deliver its programs in 23
countries affected by war, poverty, and disease in Africa, Asia, the Middle East
and South America. Founded in 2000, Right To Play is headquartered in Toronto,
Canada and has national offices in Canada, Norway, The Netherlands, Switzerland,
United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The national
offices raise funds, build awareness for Right To Play programs and advocate for
Sport for Development.
A dramatic sky forms the background for the team photos on the beach.
After a short trip to the beach to get some team photos, It was back to the
hotel and a chance to get interviews with the riders. Obviously Cavendish was
going to be popular, so he was saved for a round the table interview with all the journalists
towards the end of the afternoon. Before Cavendish was front and center, I
managed to chat with
both Martin and Peter Velits, the women's Swedish national champion Emilia Fahlin
as well as Tony Martin.
Team HTC -Columbia
camp report continues in Part 2