By Kirsten Robbins in San Luis, Argentina
Colavita-Sutter Home's twelve-man team met the end of a week-long training camp in San Luis, Argentina. The camp was held prior to the Tour of San Luis, which is set to begin Monday, January 19. According to team directeur sportif Sebastian Alexandre, half the team will compete in the seven-day stage race while the other half continues to train in the warm climate – all in preparation for the start of the North American season at the Tour of California in mid-February.
"Training and racing here for the two weeks is an advantage for us," said Alexandre. "We have four Argentinean riders and the benefit being invited to compete in this race. It works well for us to bring the rest of the team to Argentina for training in the nice weather because most of our American riders come from cold conditions. I believe the Tour of California will be the biggest race of the year for us. The whole world is going to be watching because of the level of riders attending. All our guys are proud to be a part of that and we want to show that we can be competitive at that level."
The US-based Continental team designed a similar program last year and reaped the rewards of the early season fitness gained in South America. "We had good results last year when we did this program," said Alexandre regarding their second-place ranking in the NRC. "We started with two podiums in this race last year and went on to have a good season in California. By the end of the year we hand nearly thirty wins in NRC and UCI races."
The Argentinean strong-men include brothers Alejandro and Anibal Borrajo along with Guido Palma and Sebastian Haedo, younger brother of Saxo Bank sprinter Juan Jose 'JJ' Haedo. Their American counterparts include Aaron Olson, Andy Guptill, Dan Villancourt, Kyle Wamsley, Anthony Colby and Tyler Wren, Italians Davide Frattini and Luca Damiani, and Cuban Luis Amaran.
"I believe it's important to have good off-season training if you want to have a good race season," said Alexandre. "I don't think it works anymore to spend too much time off the bike in the winter. I believe it's important for them to spend a couple of weeks training in good weather, ride a lot of miles and have the team all together. This year it was a good camp and I'm happy with the fitness the guys showed me for this time of the year."
According to Alexandre the team is focused on stage victories supporting their sprinters Haedo and Borrajo. "There's only one rider that I think will be the guy to beat in every sprint here and that is Juan Jose [Haedo]," said Alexandre revealing the team's plan to out-sprint the elder Haedo with friendly competition. "There are really only two stages for sprinters here and he won both of them last year. Right now the fastest sprinter on our team is Sebastian, his brother. I think Alejandro is also very fast so we have one of the fastest guys in the peloton leading out the other fastest guy in the peloton. This is the only way we can beat JJ."
The Tour de San Luis team includes Haedo and the two Borrajo brothers along with Tyler Wren, Andy Guptill, Davide Frattini, Aaron Olson, and Luis Amaran.