The Polartec-Kometa Continental team run by the Alberto Contador Foundation closed out its Tucson, Arizona, training camp on Sunday with an ascent of Mt. Lemmon, the southwestern town's iconic 46km climb that gains more than 2,100 metres at an average grade of 4.3 per cent.
Contador himself tackled the climb, along with the team, foundation staff and guests from the US and Europe who had been invited to the camp. The two-time Tour de France winner struck fear in some hearts when he went to the front at the climb's base to set the pace, but he eventually dropped off the lead group to help some struggling riders back up to the bunch, yo-yoing between the front and back with the ease one would expect from a recently retired 15-year pro.
Polartec-Kometa is the next step for Contador's foundation, which already operates a cycling school for children, a junior team and an Under-23 team. The new Continental team will serve as a feeder program for Trek-Segafredo. Polartec-Kometa's 11-rider roster includes four Spaniards, two riders from Italy and one rider each from Austria, Eritrea, Netherlands, Colombia and Luxembourg.
Polartec, a US-based textile manufacturer whose business includes working with multiple cycling apparel companies, brought the team to Arizona to provide some opportunities for team and staff bonding, and, as Polartec CEO Gary Smith said, "To have a fun experience."
The team took on a ride through the desert on Friday, a trip through the Saguaro National Park on Saturday, and the assault of Mt. Lemmon on Sunday. The team and staff will now return to Spain and Italy for more training camps before starting competition in February.