Happy New Year from Majorca. Yes, I know, last time I wrote I was just about to head to the island for training and here I am again. But I don't want you to get the wrong idea; I haven't been kicking back on the beach, there's been plenty of work done both here and at home in the past few months.
The temperature here in Spain has been around 15-20 degrees Celsius this week for our official Skil-Shimano training camp. Nice? Yes, and definitely a long way from temperatures at home. Don't get me wrong, I love being at home, and I have no problem training there, but let me give you some idea of what's been required to contend with the winter we've been having in The Netherlands:
1 x pair ski gloves. Check.
1 x pair thick overshoes. Check.
2 x long pants. Check.
2 x thermal jackets…I think you get the idea.
It's a lot of clothes, but when I've got to do five hours, I've got to do five hours. Besides, I'd much rather be out on my bike looking like the Michelin man, than indoors on the rollers. I've done pretty well. I've only stayed indoors to train on a couple of occasions. The snow and ice have seen me grab the mountain bike from time to time, but I prefer to use my road bike whenever possible because it's much better for doing the efforts I need to in the lead-up to the season.
I'm starting the season at Challenge Mallorca. Yep. It'll be the third time I'll have been here in as many months. But I'm hoping for a good start to the season and hope to be in top form by April and May.
I was happy to spend some time indoors earlier this month at the Six Days of Rotterdam. My career is on the road, but it's always fun to hit the track, especially in front of the huge crowds that six day events attract. I was really pleased to be partnered with a German mate Andreas Beikirch for the race. I rode with him on the track before in Amsterdam in 2008, so we were had a pretty good understanding of how to work with one another and it was a lot more fun because we could be a little more competitive. That said, we were never likely to win, and with a lot of crashes I was happy not to put my season in jeopardy. It was a great way to get some high cadence work in before my sprint objectives begin next month.
Rotterdam was also the site of our Skil-Shimano team presentation last week. We had the usual on-stage interviews and our whole organisation together for the team photos. But one thing that really made this year's presentation special was after all the on-stage formalities were finished, we jumped on our bikes to ride the prologue course for this year's Tour de France. It was fantastic riding through the streets of the city, and it's going to be an awesome start to the Tour. Obviously, we're really hoping to be there for it, and we'll fight hard in the months leading up to it to impress for an invitation. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get selected so I get a chance to finish what I started last year.
July's a little while away yet and there's a lot of racing to be done. Time has flown since the end of last season, but after three months of hard training, I'm itching to get back into it. Thanks for reading and I'll keep you posted on how everything goes!