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Gallery: BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development Team trains in Bahamas

The BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development Team kicked off their preparation for 2012 with its first pre-season training camp in Nassau, Bahamas, home of team sponsor Mark Holowesko.

The new, US-based UCI Continental team, serving as a development squad for the ProTour BMC Racing Team, gathered for the first time from December 8-11 in a mixture of training rides and team building activities for its roster comprised entirely of U23 riders.

Training camp included a couple of four-hour rides around the island, a boat ride to a nearby island, open-ocean swimming, scuba diving in 35 feet of water plus plenty of time to get to know new teammates and staff.

"It was great to get the team together at a really remarkable place and start the process of becoming a team," said sports director Thomas Craven. "We were able to ride, have some great food, enjoy fantastic weather on the water with Mark [Holowesko] and during our diving adventure we all learned a valuable lesson...don't hold your breath, keep breathing."

Veteran US professional George Hincapie (BMC), a driving force behind the creation of the development team, joined the riders in the Bahamas for their training camp. "The focus of this first camp was all about everyone getting to know each other and to start working as a team through some off-the-bike adventures," said Hincapie. "Most of the riding we did was at a casual conversation pace. However, the boys did turn it up a couple of times the last few days to put me in the red zone.

"I'm super excited about the mix of riders we've put together. They each have unique skills on the bike and personalities. It's going to be fun to watch them work together in bike races and develop into champions as a team."

Team member Larry Warbasse expressed the enthusiasm and high morale fostered at the squad's first gathering of the season. "The camp in The Bahamas was probably the most enjoyable team camp I have ever attended in my years spent as a cyclist (not that there have been that many)," said Warbasse. "I am sure there aren't any other Under 23 teams who get to have an experience like we did this past weekend. There are probably very few ProTeams who do as well. I think I can speak for everyone on the squad when I say I feel very fortunate to be a part of this great organization."

The team will return in late January, 2012 to compete in the Tour of the Bahamas followed by a 10-day training camp at the team's base in Greenville, South Carolina in early February.

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Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.