Staying in the Fornells Park Hotel on the edge of Girona and close to the team’s ‘Service Course’ industrial unit, it was a perfect location for the invited press to catch up on all the news from the team as they prepare for the start of the 2009 season.
Thursday and Friday were the designated press days with Friday being a chance to follow the team out on a leisurely two hour ride which included a cafe stop on route. I jumped in a team car piloted by ex-pro rider Johnny Weltz who is now one of Garmin’s director sportifs and was able to photograph the team group as they road out in to the Catalan countryside.
Thursday night’s heavy overnight rain had left the roads damp and particularly muddy in places as Millar’s route took in some narrow farm roads which soon made riders new team kit and bikes look as though they had battled through a ‘classic’ Flanders or Roubaix. Fortunately the weather stayed fair for the duration and even improved as the morning went on with temperatures lifting after a cool start to the day.
Both Backstedt and Millar were suffering from the after effects of a cold virus from earlier in the week and the ride was a perfect leg and lung loosener which included the pine covered slopes of the Mare de Deu Dels Angels climb before the long snaking descent towards the cafe stop.
On the short leg back from the cafe, again through more pleasant rolling farming landscape, the snow capped Pyrenean peaks could be seen in the distance, a reminder to what will be the terrain for battles ahead in July.
Back at the hotel it was a quick shower and change for the riders as we were all invited to join them in the dining room for dinner which included a fine Paella.
Following dinner it was time given aside for interviews with riders and team personnel. There was also opportunity to see the ‘Service Course’ and check out what goes on in the way of preparation for a top team like Garmin.
Sorting new team kit allocations and building up new road and TT bikes for the season is no small job. Then there is making sure the team cars, team bus and service trucks are all re-wrapped in the 2009 team livery. More on all this along with tech news and rider interviews in a future edition of Cycling Weekly and Cycle Sport magazines.
Riders present: David Millar, Bradley Wiggins, Magnus Backstedt, Martijn Maaskaat, Hans Dekker, Huub Duyn, Will Frischkorn, Kilian Patour and Ricardo Van der Velde.
You can read more about the Garmin-Slipstream training camp in this week’s issue of Cycling Weekly magazine, on sale on Thursday January 29
Bradley Wiggins: mud spattered
David Millar wraps up against the cold
Millar and Wiggins have a chat
Magnus Backstedt straps up
Even the pro’s stop for a cuppa
Wiggins on the front