With just 58 days until the start of the Tour Down Under, professional riders are beginning to wake from their off-season slumber and embark on a winter training programme ahead of the 2013 season.
The season is now longer than ever, starting in Australia in January and running until the Tour of Beijing in October, and, after only a couple of weeks off the bike, riders are heading back to work to prepare for another arduous season.
November traditionally sees squads assemble for their first training camp but there’s little riding involved. Instead it’s a chance to complete pre-season admin, and a meet-and-greet between recently signed riders and existing team members.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders and staff, Mark Cavendish among them, will meet in Brussels before heading to the squad’s team building training camp at a military base in Slovakia. The camp is an annual event for OPQS and last year the team spent a week with the Belgian special forces.
Details of this year’s camp are “top secret”, say Omega Pharma-QuickStep, only revealing that the “special” activities and “unique scenarios” will call for “discipline, respect for the rules, adaptability and reciprocal help.”
OPQS coach Tom Steels, a former pro who won nine stages of the Tour de France before retiring in 2010, said: “Our guys and our staff will spend two days working on a series of activities that have nothing to do with bicycles but which will surely help us to form a cohesive group before the start of next season.
“It will allow us to understand some of the team dynamics, which could turn out to be important to better get to know some of the skills of our new members.”
The demands of life on the road as a professional cyclist mean this will be one of the few occassions the team will get together as one.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep were, along with Team Sky, the most successful team in 2012, with 51 wins, and while two days in Slovakia may be a far cry from the duties that will come before them over the forthcoming season, it could put in place the building blocks for another lucrative campaign.