By Shane Stokes
Today, T-Mobile will officially unveil their 2006 line-up on the island of Majorca, presenting the riders to an estimated 160 journalists at the Robinson Club Cala Serena.
The luxurious German-owned resort is the setting for the launch and, on Friday, those involved were all working hard. The riders left shortly after ten o'clock to log a hard five-hour spin, while back at base, team management and event organisers were setting things up for what should be a slick display.
This year, the team will present its biggest ever line-up of riders, thanks to the amalgamation of the men's and women's team. In previous years, the women's T-Mobile squad was an American based outfit, but from 2006 onwards it will have a much closer links with the men's team. The base will now officially be in Germany and there will be a greater focus on European races than before.
In all, T-Mobile has 43 riders at the camp. The men's team numbers 29 and is led by household names such as Jan Ullrich, Andreas Kloden and Michael Rogers, while the women have Judith Arndt, Lyne Bessette, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg plus seven others. Development squad riders Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Stefan Denifl and Josef Kugler have also been getting in the kilometres on the Majorcan roads, motivated no doubt by their dreams of someday joining the pro squad.
The camp officially started last weekend, with riders on their bikes for up to five hours a day since then. Besides getting in some base mileage, they have also been doing some interval training, time trial work and performance tests. Of course, the intensity of the workouts is very much governed by each rider's goals for the year; the Classics specialists and the so-called Early Wins group (targeting results in races such as the Tour of California and the Trofeo Mallorca) need to hit form in time for the spring races and so these have been digging a bit deeper than the others this past week.
"We are very happy with how the camp has been going," said sports and technical director Mario Kummer. "The ambience has been very good and it shows that we can integrate all the new riders. We have 12 new guys, the most ever - it is almost half of a new team. That part has been going well."
"The training has also been good. The riders are doing different things - some are aiming to be in form early on, some later in the year. Both the quantity and the quality of the training is important."
Forging close relations is also part of what the camp is about. This is even more relevant this year due to the integration of the women's team plus the arrival of 12 new riders to the men's squad. The group will spend just two weeks together, but this bonding period is nevertheless important for boosting team spirit and co-operation in the weeks and months ahead.
Full coverage of the 2006 T-Mobile launch will follow.