Alberto Contador put his doping problems aside for a few days to spend time with his new Saxo Bank-SunGard teammates in the Canary Islands.
The Spaniard does not know if he will be able to race with Bjarne Riis’ team in 2011 after testing positive for Clenbuterol during the Tour de France. However he seemed to enjoy the get-together in Fuerteventura as he got to know new teammates including Richie Porte, Baden Cooke, Nick Nuyens and Jonny Bellis.
Team owner Bjarne Riis is known for his tough boot camps, that push the riders and staff to their limits. In the past he has taken his team to the wilds of Northern Denmark and even South Africa, forcing everyone to overcome their fears of water and even dangerous animals, to prepare them for the problems of the season ahead. With budgets tight for 2011, the Danish team held a more traditional camp at the resort of sponsor Playitas in Fuerteventura. The riders spent a week together, riding their new Specialized 2011 bikes and competing in teams as they learnt to wind- and kite-surf, and perform as a group of acrobats.
Because most riders are still under contract with their 2010 teams, they rode in their old kit. Contador rode in his Astana clothing and Nuyens was in his Rabobank kit. They will be able to wear their new kit from January 1.
The atmosphere was relaxed but Riis kept an eye on everyone in the team.
“To me, the most important issue during this year's team building has been to integrate all the new riders and staff and to establish a team spirit based upon good and memorable experiences which will be remembered and talked about throughout the whole year,” Riis said.
“And I can already see that it is paying off. The atmosphere is relaxed. People are laughing, having a great time and it's important for me to know that everyone gets the feeling of being part of the well-known Saxo Bank-SunGard team spirit.”
The riders are set to return to the Playitas resort in Fuerteventura for further training before the start of the 2011 season.