Training camps are quite an odd environment. Lots of riders often crammed into small hotels, often in the middle of nowhere and often with little else but journalists to keep them company.
You can really see how cabin fever sets in over the course of a three-week tour with the pressure to perform looming over you. Thankfully the Italian national womens’ team was at the same hotel and seemed to provide some light comic relief with their terrible snowboarding tan lines.
The first training camp of the season provides an important reference point for the team. It’s the first important steps the riders take in riding together and practicing race tactics because receiving some power numbers over the Internet doesn’t give you the whole picture. It’s also the first time the older guys will meet the new recruits and teach them how it’s done.
This particular training camp took place with Lotto-Belisol in Valencia. Bert Ackaert, the team trainer, likes the location because you can go out and do 150km of pan-flat riding down the coast, or go the other direction and you’re ascending a Cat 2 climb within minutes. He’s also quite partial to Majorca, for similar reasons.