News feature, January 20, 2006
The Discovery Channel team assembled in Solvang California earlier this week for its traditional early-season training camp. A handful of riders arrived early and spent a day training and tweaking their riding positions on the velodrome at the ADT Event Center in Los Angeles (venue for this weekend's round of the track World Cup).
Then it was a day that will have every gear-freak green with envy as the remainder of the squad assembled in Solvang and were issued with their 2006 bikes and team strip. “We told them to bring nothing old from last year,” directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel told thepaceline.com.
That meant Discovery's mechanics were kept busy in the days before the team arrived, building up 27 standard road bikes for the riders, plus a few spares, and checking over the time trial bikes that would be used for the velodrome and wind tunnel sessions.
“We’re also looking ahead to the Tour of California,” said team mechanic Vince Gee before the camp. “We spent part of today putting the first of four layers of glue on our race wheels. Each layer builds up to a very strong bond to our carbon Bontrager wheels, and by Friday we’ll be ready to add the tubular tires and be a step ahead as we look towards California.”
With the mechanical details out of the way, the riders just had to turn up and, well, ride. Gee said the camp was like a stage race, with riders on the road every day, performing specific tasks - in this case training rather than racing - and then eating, resting and recovering.
Without the team's long-time superstar and Tour de France main man Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel is expected to put more emphasis on its program of racing the Spring Classics in 2006. The team has a strong roster of one-day specialists in riders such as George Hincapie, Stijn Devolder, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Lief Hoste and 2004 Paris-Roubaix podium Roger Hammond.
Hammond, who recently won his seventh British cyclocross championship, thinks the team will do well in teh early season. "Of course Paris-Roubaix is very special to me," he said, "and I think we’re going to get at least one World Cup / Pro Tour / major Classic victory. I myself would like to get some results early on before Roubaix to take some of the stress off beforehand. We just need a bit of luck this year and it should all work out."