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Team HTC -Columbia Mallorca Camp & Launch 2010
 
By Staff
Date: 1/20/2010
Team HTC -Columbia Mallorca Camp & Launch 2010
 

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 a 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 unbeatable!

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 everything 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.

Day 2
Morning ride...

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.

Team Presentation
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 Sirotti  

Women's Team
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 assembled.  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

 
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