Tour de France winner Chris Froome has chosen to train in the Mpumalanga region of South Africa in between winning the Herald Sun Tour and racing the Volta a Catalunya, skipping the intervening European races including Paris-Nice. Froome has been joined by American Ian Boswell for the camp through the end of this month.
When asked by TeamSky.com why he chose the camp over racing, Froome admitted he's a "fair weather cyclist". "The conditions back in Europe right now can be very hit and miss. You never know what you're going to get out of those early-season races and I definitely go better when it's hotter. Because of that I think it makes sense for me to follow the sun for as long as I can."
Mpumalanga, in the eastern part of South Africa, borders on Mozambique, and is divided by the Drakensberg escarpment into high altitude grasslands and low altitude bush lands. With a variety of terrain, it's well suited for a training camp.
"There also aren't many places in Europe at this time of year where you can stay and train at close to 2000m," Froome said. "The weather in Australia was great and out here I'm feeling really fit and healthy and none of my training has been interrupted by snowfall, illness, or anything like that. The roads are pretty quiet as well, so I couldn't ask for much more than that."
Froome will head back to Johannesburg at the end of the month before returning home to Monaco to prepare for the Volta a Catalunya, skipping Paris-Nice.
Until then, he is training with teammate Boswell, the only rider who was able to make it for the camp. "We were hoping to get a few more riders out here this time around, but a few guys got ill or injured so it ended up just being myself and Ian," Froome said.
"He really impressed everyone at the Vuelta last year and has got a big season ahead of him with his sights set on the Giro team this year. This camp will certainly lay the foundations for his preparations for that.
"We're spending long hours in the saddle and put in some tough rides but that's exactly what we need at this time of year. We've been doing a lot of different sessions - similar to most of our training camps really - just getting miles in the legs and spending time on the climbs. The terrain's very hilly, and with there being only two of us here we're certainly not spending any time sitting in the wheels."