By Susan Westemeyer
T-Mobile's Marcus Burghardt missed much of the 2006 season due to a knee injury and subsequent surgery, so the German has already started training for the coming season - not on his racing bike, but on a cross bike.
After having been plagued by problems all season, he underwent surgery in August. "I was injured for a long time, so I don't need a time-out any more", he said on the team's website, explaining why he already started training.
He gave the cross bike a workout last winter, too, participating in a few races along the way, even coming in second in one event. But "the fun factor is clearly the most important thing for me," Burghardt said. "Riding in the forest is great and more liberating than riding on roads. I will continue to slot cyclo-cross rides in my training schedule, even though I'm no longer living in the Erzgebirge."
He has moved from his native German mountains to the small town of Auenstein, Switzerland, where a neighbour and sometime training partner is former teammate Steffen Wesemann. The two share a passion for one particular race - Paris-Roubaix. "The 'Hell of the North' inspired me already as a teenager", Burghardt continued. It is a race that requires outstanding bike handling skills. "That's also important in cyclo-cross. And I benefit from that, particularly in races like Paris-Roubaix."
His team doesn't worry about this hobby - at least, not too much. "I cleared that with Rolf Aldag," Burghardt said. "He told me to be careful and that we should be responsible with our bodies." After all, cross riding is only a small part of his winter training. "Building up basic stamina is absolutely essential. Of approximately 16 hours of training per week, only one hour is devoted to cyclo-cross training. This way, I don't run any risk of lessening the endurance training effects."