BMC Racing Team always has a few training camps in January with different combinations of riders. Some guys are already racing in Australia while a few guys like myself missed the first January camp right after the New Year; I stayed in the US a little extra longer.
For those of us that aren’t racing in Australia, these later January camps are meant to be a final tune-up before the racing season begins.
Since 2011, we’ve been staying at the same hotel in Denia, Spain for camp. It’s nice having a go-to spot that welcomes us. We are outside of the city and a little off the coast. It’s quiet and they let us take over. We have plenty of room for all the team vehicles, so envision a mini team service course for the winter months where we get all our gear dialed in.
A good chunk of the pro peloton is in this area during December and January. It’s a good choice because it is convenient for travel from most places in Europe, the climate is generally good, and there are a decent variety of terrain options. At times, the familiarity can get a little boring, but I remind myself that the season will be filled with unfamiliar terrain and often uncomfortable places.
January is the time when we start ratcheting it up a few notches for the quickly approaching races.
My training depends a bit on what group I find myself in. Lately, I’ve been with some of the riders who will race the Northern Classics this spring, and these guys hammer down, ride hard and are more spontaneous than the group with the climbers and GC riders. It’s not always comfortable, but it’s a good way to start assimilating to race pace, which is always a bit of a shock no matter my preparation.
At this camp, I’m in my own room, which I don’t mind. We have a long season ahead where I will usually have a roommate, so I’m banking some quiet time.
- 8am: Breakfast
- 9:15am: movement prep/activation session
- 9:45/10am: Head out on the bike for 4-6 hours
- Lunch when we return prepared by our Italian chef, Mirko
- Afternoon: massage, work with the physios to address any physical issues, chats with the mechanics to iron out any details on our bikes
- 8pm: Dinner followed by bed
Now that I have years of experience transitioning from the off-season to racing, I’m less nervous now than I used to be, but the World Tour level is high and demands respect, as do all my teammates.
When we are out training, we have fun, but it’s also hard work. Training camp is all about finding that balance: work on your weaknesses balanced with making the most of the group environment. My experience has taught me to use the group to help me get stronger and more confident.
When I was a younger pro, I would go just as hard as I could go every day in an attempt to prove myself. Now I’m a little more measured with my efforts and energy. It’s nice to show my teammates I’m strong and ready, but it’s even more important to actually be ready to race in the days, weeks and months ahead.
At this camp, I’m looking to build condition and confidence for the upcoming races. I want to come out better than I came in. I also want to reconnect with my teammates and support staff, smooth out any bike fit nuances, and just be relaxed and get focused.
Looking ahead, I always prefer to start the season strong with some early solid performances. Yet I’ve done this for 10 years now, so I know each time is a little different.
More than anything, I’m really thankful to have the concussion behind me. The 2017 season ended unexpectedly, and now I’ve set my sights on using these first races to build confidence and condition while contributing to the team’s goal of earning results.