MALCOLM ELLIOTT, Russell Downing and the rest of the beefed up Pinarello RT squad spent last week on an ?old school? skiing and riding training camp in the Pyrenees.

The 10-rider squad stayed at Bagneres-de-Luchon, riding around 70 or 80 kilometres in the morning before heading to the ski station at Bacquiera-Beret in the afternoon.

It was team-building session that harks back to an era when many professional teams would go skiing in the off-season. The team?s backer, Phil Griffiths, wanted the squad to bond off the bikes and was unconcerned by any risks of a fall on the piste.

?I remember when it was common place for teams to go skiing but a lot of people are worried about their star rider having fall these days,? said Griffiths. ?But I think it?s a great way to get to know each other and make it fun before the serious business starts.?

The squad will be a UCI professional team next season, in the third tier of the rankings, but the priorities will be a major challenge in the Premier Calendar and earning a place in the Tour of Britain.

Elliott and Downing will present a formidable spearhead to the team and the signing of Sweden?s Freddy Johansson from Plowman Craven adds another dimension.

Elliott, who rode for Griffiths with Raleigh and then ANC in the 1980s, has signed a five-year contract with Pinarello RT, although it?s likely he?ll race only a couple of those years. After that, said Griffiths, he will ride cyclo-sportives for the company.

According to Griffiths, his appetite for cycling is greater now than it was 20 winters ago when he joined the French Fagor team. ?At 6am he?s the first man down to breakfast. Twenty years ago at ANC, he was last.?

PINARELLO RT 2008

Malcolm Elliott

Russell Downing (from Health Net-Maxxis)

Freddy Johansson (from Plowman Craven)

Andy Roche

Peter Williams (from Kinesis)

Tom Murray (from Merlin)

Lee Davis

Sam Webster (from Glendene)

Ben Price (from Rapha-Condor)

Matt Kipling (from Inkland)

PICTURE Freddy Johansson, Ben Price, Russell Downing and Malcolm Elliott looking smart in Pinarello’s retro-style tracksuit top by Andy Jones

RELATED LINK

Our snapper Andy Jones in the Pyrenees with Pinarello. Read his blog here