The Cannondale team is about to wrap up its pre-season training camp in Tuscany after 11 days of intense work that included quality training on the bike under a warm winter sun but also early morning gym, core and roller work.
Peter Sagan, Ivan Basso, Moreno Moser and Elia Viviani will again be the team leaders, chasing success in the Classics, the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and the sprints.
The 20 riders retained from 2013, including Ted King, Canada's Guillaume Boivin and Australia's Cameron Wurf, were joined by new recruits Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini), promising Kiwi George Bennett (Radioshack), Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM), plus neo-pros Matej Mohoric, Davide Villella, Alberto Bettiol and Davide Formolo.
Cannondale now owns the team entirely after buying a major stake from long-time owner Paolo Zani, but the team remains registered in Italy for 2014, with riders and staff switching from English to Italian and back again throughout the day. The team colours remain the same bright green and white, with vertical stripes on the chest.
Weber combines science with competitive training
Cannondale recently announced Sebastian Weber as the team's new head coach but he and assistant coaches Mattia Michelusi and Samuel Marangoni have been working with the riders since the end of October, when it previous coach Paolo Slongo left to work with Vincenzo Nibali at Astana.
Weber's discipline, eye for detail and scientific approach were easy to see when Cyclingnews visited the team on Monday. The riders were clearly motivated and enjoying the added dimension of competition and rivalry Weber has combined with the use of power data during daily training.
Everyone was already working hard at 7:30 in the morning, either waking up their metabolism with 30 minutes on the rollers, strengthening their core muscles or working on their muscle strength before breakfast. Nothing was left to chance, with Weber leading the core exercises like a school gym teacher. A second class was held after breakfast, with training rides rolling out on time at 10:30.
The training load consisted of three days of specific work, divided by rest days. The rest of the time was filled with sponsor presentations, bike fits, training discussions, meetings, video and official photographs.
One day of training included a 12km road race between three teams of riders. On Monday the first half of training was about team time trials, with focus on instilling a sense of unity, team spirit and balance of effort.
The coaches divided the riders into three mixed ability groups based on body surface area and they raced on a 12km flat course near the Tuscan coast. Each team had to ride faster than 47km/h, with the team producing the lowest average number of watts declared the winner.
Peter Sagan's team won the TTT test and so enjoyed bragging rights at the dinner table and a prize of some prosecco wine paid for by the losing team.
Following the camp the riders will head home for some recovery and some time at home before the start of the 2014 season. The team will hold an official presentation in California in early January, with riders then heading to Argentina for the Tour de San Luis and Australia for the Tour Down Under.
Cyclingnews will have a series of exclusive interviews with Peter Sagan, Ivan Basso, Ted King and many other Cannondale riders in the days ahead.