The ongoing global pandemic not only disrupted the 2020 season but has had - and is still having - knock-on effects on 2021. Training camps, which are key building blocks for teams ahead of each new season, have had to veer from their usual pattern.
Given the late finish to the revised season in November, coupled with the restrictions owing to a new winter wave of COVID-19, traditional pre-season camps in December were largely put on hold. With start-of-season races such as Tour Down Under and Vuelta a San Juan cancelled, the 2021 campaign has been delayed and teams are therefore mostly gathering for their camps all the way through January.
While some teams are assembling as full squads, others have split into bubbles in order to reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission. Furthermore, the testing of new kit and material was, for most teams, conducted in small groups or on an individual basis at team service courses before the turn of the year.
That has left the camps largely as an opportunity to ride and train, most commonly in south-east Spain, where the roads are quiet and well surfaced and the weather usually warm, although it's been a bleak winter there so far. There's also the small matter of media and sponsorship commitments, with interviews and team presentations still taking place but over video links.
Training camps form a key part of our pre-season coverage at Cyclingnews and although we're unable to travel to many of them this year, we'll still be bringing you the best stories from the biggest names.
The French team had to scrap their traditional late-November team-building camp in the French Alps, as well as their first December camp in Spain. They had their riders at their Annecy service course in December and have now begun a proper training camp in Denia, on the Costa Blanca, starting on January 12.
The team already held a couple of interviews in December with new signing Greg Van Avermaet and Benoît Cosnefroy, and we'll be speaking to the likes of Bob Jungels, Oliver Naesen and more next week.
- Greg Van Avermaet: At my age it's good to be out of my comfort zone
- Cosnefroy eyes Tour de France yellow jersey as 'fresh wind' blows through AG2R-Citroën
- AG2R Citroën unveil 2021 Campagnolo-equipped BMC Teammachine SLR01
- 2021 Team Preview: AG2R Citroën
The Kazakh team are currently on camp in Calpe, Spain, from January 8-21. They're holding a team presentation on January 17 - their first with a co-title sponsor in the form of Canadian company Premier Tech.
- 2021 Team Preview: Astana-Premier Tech
- Astana-Premier Tech reveal Giro d'Italia and Tour de France targets at team presentation - Gallery
The Middle-Eastern team are in Altea, Spain, for two weeks from mid-January. Prior to the camp, we interviewed a number of key riders and also spoke to the departing manager Rod Ellingworth, who explained for the first time his reasons for leaving.
- Rod Ellingworth: Once McLaren left, my future was clear
- Landa aims for Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2021
- Poels and Haig target Ardennes, Tour de France, and Olympic spots in 2021
- Teuns, Colbrelli and Mohoric lead Bahrain Victorious' eclectic Classics squad
- 2021 Team Preview: Bahrain Victorious
Our mechanics have been busy at the service course! 👨🏻🔧⚙️ Preparing for a training camp is no joke. 💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/1X8z5L1UtjJanuary 15, 2021
The German team are holding their main camp near Lake Garda in northern Italy between January 7-17. Smaller camps will follow, with three-time world champion Peter Sagan travelling on to Gran Canaria. Seventeen-year-old Belgian talent Cian Uijtdebroeks is training with the team, although he'll only turn pro with them in 2022.
Sagan spoke to the media on January 10.
The team's camp was disrupted when the driver of a SUV pulled out into the group, injuring Wilco Kelderman, Rüdiger Selig, and Andreas Schillinger. Schillinger and Kelderman suffered fractured vertebrae, while Kelderman and Selig sustained concussions.
- Peter Sagan to decide on 2021 Tour de France and Olympics participation after Classics
- 2021 Team Preview: Bora-Hansgrohe
- Bora-Hansgrohe riders hit by vehicle at training camp and taken to hospital
Following a team presentation in Paris on January 8, the French team's riders and staff have travelled to Benidorm, Spain, for a full training camp from January 11. Elia Viviani and Guillaume Martin will speak to the media next week.
Dans la roue de la @TeamCOFIDIS à quelques semaines de la reprise de la saison ! #cofidismyteam pic.twitter.com/IIVx9UVePvJanuary 14, 2021
The Belgian team were one of the few teams to hold a full December training camp, spending 10 days in Altea, Spain, before Christmas. They returned on January 6 for another one, holding a virtual team presentation and media day on January 13.
Fabio Jakobsen, who suffered life-threatening injuries in an August crash, has been present at both camps, with new signing Mark Cavendish present at the second one. The team's young superstar Remco Evenepoel has been there but not riding, as his pelvis injury from last year's Il Lombardia has started causing trouble again.
- Remco Evenepoel off the bike for another three weeks
- Sam Bennett takes aim at Tour de France green jersey and one-day races in 2021
- Remco Evenepoel's season put on hold by lingering pelvis injury
- Mark Cavendish: I know I'm still good
- Fabio Jakobsen gives his first press conference since Tour de Pologne crash
- Sam Bennett: I don't know if I'm the best sprinter or not
- Julian Alaphilippe: I'm motivated for a Tour of Flanders return
- 2021 Team Preview: Deceuninck-QuickStep
The American team have kept their 2021 preparations close to their chest as they re-brand and welcome Japanese brand Nippo as co-title sponsor.
The French team held a preliminary camp in France in December, with riders invited in bubbles and staying just two days to perform medical checks and bike fits. They're now in Gran Canaria, Spain, with a team presentation and media day on January 19.
- Thibaut Pinot will skip 2021 Tour de France in favour of Giro d'Italia
- 2021 Team Preview: Groupama-FDJ
The British team, with the exception of Egan Bernal and their other Colombians, have gathered in Gran Canaria, Spain, for a January training camp.
- 2021 Team Preview: Ineos Grenadiers
- Richie Porte: The door was always open at Ineos Grenadiers
- Tom Pidcock lines out his road season with the aim to ride the Vuelta a España
The Belgian team, who have taken over CCC Team's WorldTour licence, are holding their first big get-together in Benidorm from January 12. New signing Louis Meintjes is riding with his new teammates for the first time.
The team had to scrap plans for their annual Israel team-building trip in January due to coronavirus restrictions in the country. They have replaced it with a more traditional 10-day training camp in Girona, Spain, from January 12. Marquee new signing Chris Froome, however, is not there, continuing his season preparations in California.
- Israel Start-Up Nation team may receive COVID-19 vaccine at end of March
- Chris Froome throws down gauntlet and 'all in' with Tour de France target
- Woods mulls Grand Tour options prior to Tokyo Olympics bid
- No Chris Froome as Israel Start-Up Nation cancel Israel camp and head to Girona
- Chris Froome: Changing teams gives me more mental stimulation and motivation
- 2021 Team Preview: Israel Start-Up Nation
The Belgian team's riders have gathered for a camp on Spain's Costa Blanca from January 8-21, where the bubble system they used last year is still in force. The full squad is in the same area, but the three groups - climbers, sprinters, Classics riders - are all training, eating, and sleeping independently of one another.
- Philippe Gilbert to start the season with question marks over his form
- John Degenkolb: I’m not afraid to race these young guys
- Caleb Ewan eyes wins in all three Grand Tours in 2021
- 2021 Team Preview: Lotto Soudal
The Spanish team have brought their men's and women's squads together for a two-week camp near Almería, on Spain's south coast, from January 9. New signing Miguel Ángel López is the major absentee, having tested positive for COVID-19. Former world champion Annemiek van Vleuten used to train with the men at Mitchelton-Scott and she's doing the same at her new home, even joining in with the men's team time trial sessions.
- Miguel Ángel López to miss Movistar camp after COVID-19 positive
- Annemiek van Vleuten joins Movistar for team time trial formation training - Gallery
- 2021 Team Preview: Movistar
It's no surprise that the South African team are doing things a little later than most, given their future was only shored up in late November following the departure of NTT. Fabio Aru and the host of other new recruits will gather in Girona for a 10-day camp from January 19, where they'll reveal their kit for the new season.
The Australian team - formerly Mitchelton-Scott (and nearly Manuela Fundación) - are another team holding one camp for both their men's and women's squads. They're in Valencia from January 11-22, getting used to their new colours and new Bianchi bikes. We'll have a number of interviews with the team's key riders over the next week.
- Michael Matthews: I’ve returned to BikeExchange a more mature rider
- Simon Yates 'highly likely' to race both Giro d'Italia and Tour de France
- An exclusive look at Michael Matthews' new Bianchi race bikes
- 2021 Team Preview: Team BikeExchange
- Bewley’s season on hold after lingering Tour de France injury and surgery
- Simon Yates: Racing against my brother will be difficult but not a problem
The team formerly known as Sunweb are also in Spain from January 12-22, with the women's and development squads joining from January 20. New signing Romain Bardet is getting to know his new teammates but there's no Marc Hirschi, who made a shock exit and has since joined UAE Team Emirates. Cyclingnews already interviewed several members of the team at their launch in December, when new title sponsor DSM was unveiled, along with new colours and new Scott bikes.
- Romain Bardet: I never felt comfortable being the focal point at AG2R
- Tiesj Benoot: To win the biggest races, I need to play a team game
- Mark Donovan: From getting my head kicked in at the Dauphiné to major progress at the Vuelta
- Casper Pedersen: I watch videos of Morkov to become a better lead-out man
- 2021 Team Preview: Team DSM
The Dutch team of Primož Roglič, Wout Van Aert, and Tom Dumoulin only come together this weekend, on January 18, for a 10-day camp in Alicante, Spain. Van Aert will not be there, as he continues his cyclo-cross campaign, building up to the World Championships on January 31.
- Roglic, Dumoulin, Kruijswijk set to ride the Tour de France for Jumbo-Visma
- 2021 Team Preview: Jumbo-Visma
- Van Aert to meet Jumbo-Visma in Spain before returning for Cyclo-Cross Worlds
The team are training near Valencia from January 11-25. We've already spoken with various riders from the camp, including Vincenzo Nibali and Mads Pedersen.
- Mads Pedersen: I've shown that Van der Poel and Van Aert are beatable
- Tokyo Olympics a 'nice dream' for Vincenzo Nibali in year to race Giro and Tour
- Jasper Stuyven: Omloop win showed I'm reaching my peak years
- Mollema: Racing the Giro-Tour de France double and Olympics is possible in 2021
- Ciccone: Leading at Vuelta a España will be a real opportunity
- 2021 Team Preview: Trek-Segafredo
Training Camp, and the 2021 season, officially underway!Images by Oliver Grenaa pic.twitter.com/Vn90MeeHg1January 10, 2021
The only team to venture outside Europe, UAE Team Emirates have gone to the homeland of their owners, enjoying the warm weather of the UAE from January 6-21. They've also enjoyed COVID-19 vaccines on the house.
Marc Hirschi was quick to organise his flight to the Middle East in the aftermath of his Sunweb exit and the Swiss star will join his new teammates in speaking to the press at a media day on January 18.
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.
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