The transition from the 2018 season to the 2019 campaign has picked up pace as more and more teams release their final 2019 rosters and start looking ahead to next year. It also means a flurry of 'first' team camps, where riders new and old come together to meet and greet, gather new gear and learn about sponsors.
The turn to the new season also means the often-dreaded, sometimes-remembered-fondly team-building exercises that usually take place off the bike. Most recently, two French teams turned their get-togethers into memorable adventures, with Groupama-FDJ hosting a two-day snow camp at the Chamrousse ski station in the Alps, and 23 riders from Vital Concept undergoing military drills for 30 hours with France's 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment in Morbihan.
The military training included an obstacle course at Fort Penthièvre (Quiberon peninsula), close combat in the Quartier Foch-Délestraint, an overnight orientation race at Camp de Meucon and an obstacle course the next morning, according to a post on Vital Concept's website.
"I mainly remember the challenge of the obstacle course as soon as the night in the woods ended," said Corentin Ermenault, a 22-year-old Frenchman who joined Vital Concept last year from Team Wiggins.
"It was 'One for all, all for one', and the atmosphere was really great," Ermenault said. "Spend more than 30 hours cut off from everything, without time, there is no better way to live together and build relationships. I was disappointed when he had to leave the camp and return to the neighborhood."
Sprinter Bryan Coquard recognized the challenge and benefits of of the team's first 2019 test as the successive military drills intensified.
"The moment when it was necessary to crawl on the beach of Penthièvre, Wednesday in the late afternoon after having made the obstacle course in the Fort, there, I understood what we were doing," Coquard said.