The Etixx–QuickStep team enjoyed a rest day on Sunday after six days of training at their first major camp for the 2015 season in Valencia, Spain.
Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, Tony Martin, Rigoberto Uran, world champion Michal Kwiatkowski and their teammates have been mixing hours on the bike with sessions in the gym to build core and muscle strength. They have also undergone threshold testing, been given nutrition advice and have fine tuned their bike positions.
Last week the Belgian team revealed their new 2015 clothing with Etixx replacing Omega Pharma as one of the two title sponsors. The team's jersey continues with sky blue, white and black, with the logo of Latexco and bike sponsor Specialized also prominent on the clothing. Etixx is Omega Pharma's sports nutrition brand, which is sold across Europe. Omega Pharma was recently sold by founder and owner Marc Coucke for a reported $3.1 billion but Coucke is a keen cycling fan and intends to continue the sponsorship.
This first training camp will end on December 18 with the riders returning to Spain in early January for a second block of training. Some riders will travel to Australia in January for the Tour Down Under, while Cavendish and Kwiatkowski will begin their season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.
Three training groups based on goals and race programmes
The riders have been doing different kinds of training depending on their 2015 goals and racing programmes.
"We split the groups into three. We had one group with the guys from Tour Down Under, as they need harder and more specific training to prepare them for earlier races. Then we have the group that consists of the guys of the Belgian Classics and the sprinters. Then, of course, you have the climbers." Etixx–Quick-Step trainer Koen Pelgrim explained in a statement from the team.
"Our longest ride until now was around 150 kilometers. That was yesterday (Saturday). Two days before we did between 100 and 120 kilometers depending on the group.
"Tomorrow (Monday) a lot of rain is predicted so we will have to freestyle it a bit. We will see what we can do that day if the rain is heavy. The day after there will be some hard training, interval training for Tour Down Under riders. For the Belgian Classics and sprinter group they will do some 200 meter sprints one-by-one. The third group, the climbers, will do some endurance training with strength training after.
“The last day we will have long rides for the climbers, an endurance ride and also some time on the time trial bike for the Belgian Classics and sprinter group, and the Tour Down Under group will do long training in the mountains. So, as you can see, there is still plenty left to do for our guys and each group will perform efforts specific to their needs."
The Belgian team has trained in Valencia and the Calpe region for several years and now knows the best roads in the area.
"The quality of the roads is good here," Pelgrim said. "You can train on the flats, the climbs, and the types of climbs are also diverse. You have rolling climbs and steep climbs. The quality of the weather here is also good. The rest day was our first cloudy day in six days. This makes it a perfect place for training."