Tales from the peloton, January 14, 2006
There are advantages of having a team registered in the Bahamas. The newly created VMG Racing team discovered some of these during its recent sojourn in Nassau. Take it away, VMG...
The new VMG Racing (VMG) professional program completed its first full training camp in Nassau last week getting an early season head-start with on and off road team building. The team logged over 24 hours of cycling in New Providence and Eleuthera, were treated to a seminar on sports nutrition, held an informal race at week's end, and participated in formal photo shoots for sponsors and publicity.
While the week's schedule was full of varied training, educational, and social events and the riders were thrilled to be in The Bahamas, the main focus of the training camp was certainly serious business. Team Manager Dan Larson stated, "The idea behind the training camp was to give the riders a chance to get some base mileage in while getting to know their teammates, to get a feel for the riders they will be spending much of 2006 with." The low-intensity, high-duration training camp gave the riders an opportunity to get a feel for their form compared to the rest of the team and enabled them to set their personal and team goals for the year.
Riders agreed that important goals were met. VMG team member Zach Taylor, 2005 US National Time Trial Champion, commented, "I think the experiences we got to share down in the Bahamas gave us all a common bond that will help us function better as a team throughout the coming year." While many other UCI teams develop team familiarity and cohesiveness as the season progress, VMG Racing is now well on its way to having achieved these early in the season.
The seminar on sports nutrition was held early in the week supporting the importance VMG places on this aspect of the demanding sport of cycling. Riders were treated to a robust sport nutrition discussion hosted by well known US researcher/nutritionist/writer Monique Ryan. Having worked as a nutritionist for several professional cycling teams in the past, Ryan offered insights into specific issues facing athletes at the elite levels of cycling. In addition to basic topics of pre- during, and post-race nutrition, the discussions delved into areas of sport supplement safety, weight control, and disordered eating - all important, and some challenging, issues for professional riders.
A growing number of sponsors and technical supporters are joining ranks with VMG. ABN AMRO is a major VMG sponsor. The world's seventh largest bank, ABN also sponsors the La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon, the Dutch professional soccer team Ajax, and its sailing teams, currently contesting the demanding and dangerous Volvo Ocean Race, are in first and third place. Other sponsors include: Fuji Bikes, supplier of VMG's team bikes; Vittoria and Chain Reaction, parts and supplies; Limar Helmets and Rudy Project have provided head and eye gear respectively; and Technical health services are being supplied by UF and Shands Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Institute. At the team's first gathering in Gainesville, Florida last month, riders were put through a series of medical and fitness tests at the Sports Medicine Institute.
Founded by Mark Holowesko, an accomplished athlete and Olympian, Bahamas-based VMG, is centered on giving athletes the tools and support they need to improve their performance while maintaining the highest ethical standards of sportsmanship. VMG's goal is to help its athletes develop into world-class competitors as well as great citizens. The company also aims to raise the profile of cycling in the Bahamas and inspire future generations of Bahamian competitors. In addition to professional cycling VMG supports a local elite-amateur cycling team and professional and elite-amateur triathlon teams.
VMG Racing was only formally constituted a year ago. Its growth and development in the last 12 months has been remarkable, catching the attention of the competitive cycling world in North America and beyond. Its inaugural season closed on the very positive note when its application for rating as a UCI Continental Team was approved in December. This will enable VMG's professional team to compete at elite events throughout the United States and Canada.
VMG's professional and elite-amateur cycling teams will be back together again and in the saddle in a few short weeks as they compete in the third annual Tour of the Bahamas, slated for February 11th and 12th.