Training groups containing different riders every day and lots of emphasis on team bonding are all part of the program of Team Sky’s ongoing training camp in Valencia, Spain which is now well into its second week.
“Considering this is a totally new team, it’s getting off to a great start,” Sky’s only Spanish rider, Juan Antonio Flecha, tells Cycling Weekly.
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“Everybody on the staff has got a really professional attitude and it’s interesting how everyone has really specific jobs.”
“There’s a lot of emphasis on communication and feedback from us riders, which is ideal.”
Flecha reckons that Sky’s choice of Valencia, close where he lives in Catalunya, is a good one. Although Spain has been badly affected by the poor weather, just like the rest of Europe, Valencia is one of the regions that has come off the lightest, and Sky’s riders have only been prevented from training on one day as a result.
“We’ve worked out all sorts of training circuits throughout the area, which is pretty flat, so we can practise lead out trains and sprints there.”
“But the bigger climbs aren’t too far away, either, so when it’s not too icy we can get up those as well.”
One unusual features of the Sky camp is that there is not the standard division of riders for training into the Classics group, the major Tour group and the riders wanting to make an impact in the early races.
“It’s very different. Instead they’re mixing us up a lot more than that. I think the idea is that way we’ll get to know each other better as riders and want to put the emphasis on team bonding instead.”
“In any case, I’m not just looking at the Classics, I’ve got other goals further down the line and I need to know my team-mates that will be riding in other races.”
“There’s a lot of work going on with us individually, too. Everybody’s position on the bike has been studied in detail.”
One usual feature of pre-season training camps, power output tests for each rider, are conspicious by their absence. Flecha says he feels it’s another good move by Sky.
“They can see from the way we’re riding what our condition is, in any case and all you would get from power output tests here is a load of data that’s pretty irrelevant after a couple of races, anyway.”
“Personally, I appreciate that. It’s like they’re saying to us ‘we know you’re good already, that’s why we signed you, we don’t have to check that out with tests.’ That’s a good approach.”