US-based UCI women's team TIBCO-To the Top opened the season with a 10-day training camp from February 17 to 25 on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Carpinteria, California. The team's new manager and directeur sportif Lisa Hunt will lead a 14-women roster in a full National Racing Calendar (NRC) programme along with select events in Europe.
"One of the primary goals of any team training camp is to get the girls together and get to know each other and their riding styles," Hunt said. "The terrain was wonderful with a mix of climbing and flats so it gives us a mix of great training options.
"It is also to get the team to bond together and to understand what the team goals are. Secondly, to do some training, practice some drills, ride hard and to give them a little bit of competition. Thirdly, meeting some of the sponsors and learning about some of the products was really great for the girls to get an understanding of the bikes, wheels, trainers and all sorts of equipment."
Hunt brings ample experience to the TIBCO-To the Top program having directed the Value Act Capital and Vera Bradley Foundation teams in previous years. The 2011 roster includes former NRC champion Alison Powers, former US National Road Champion Meredith Miller, Olympian Erinne Willock, UCI track world champion Tara Whitten along with Kendell Ryan, Carmen Small, Carlee Taylor, Jennifer Wheeler, Serena Sheridan, Joelle Numainville, Joanne Kiesanowski, Samantha Schneider, Megan Guarnier and Emma Mackie.
"It was an opportunity for me and I was really excited about it because it is a good program and I have always been impressed by it," Hunt said. "Everyone bonded right away, the team is supportive and everyone is working together. It is really fantastic and I adore all the riders. I think working as a team we will be incredibly successful and we are going to win a lot of races and achieve our goals."
The team will begin racing in a series of local California events at the Snelling Road Race, Merced Criterium, Merco Credit Union Stage Race, San Dimas Stage Race and the NRC Redlands Bicycle Classic. The women will travel overseas to participate in the first of two European campaigns that will include Trofeo Alfredo Binda - Comune di Cittiglio World-Cup, Tour of Flanders, Van Lauwerszee tot Dollard Tou, Ronda van Drenthe and La Fleche Wallonne Feminine and will be led by directeur Angela van Smoorenburg.
"Our goal is to win the NRC team overall competition," Hunt said. "We will be doing all of the NRC races. We will also be sending a team over to Europe with a strong spring schedule and a late-summer schedule. The focus for many of our girls is the Olympics and we want to allow them to achieve their goals. That is very important to our team and sending them over to Europe is a critical factor to help them gain experience and knowledge. The wonderful thing about this team is that we have the depth to have strong teams in both Europe and in the US."
TIBCO-To the Top also includes a development team and a newly announced junior program led by former racer and directeur Felicia Gomez. The two programs joined their Elite-level teammates for some training rides during the camp.
"We got to ride with them and did a few drills with them," Hunt said. "We had some race strategy meetings and a question and answer session where we discussed possible race scenarios with them. It was really great. It was a wonderful opportunity for our girls to share their insights and experiences with some of these girls that are new to riding."