Gallery: BMC train in Denia
Final day of camp for Evans, Gilbert and Hushovd
Twelve months ago, the BMC team's press day in Denia was a rather muted affair. One Tour de France victory and a plethora of high-profile signings later, however, and the media presence had tripled by the time the squad opened its doors to reporters at its training camp in Spain last week.
As was the case in 2011, Cadel Evans was the centre of attention, but it is testimony to Andy Rihs’ munificence in the transfer market that the Tour de France champion had to share headline billing with new arrivals Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd.
The last day of BMC’s camp kicked off with a low-key presentation of the 2012 roster, including those who had returned from action at the Tour Down Under earlier in the week, ahead of the team’s final training ride of their stay on the Costa Blanca.
An hour later, the riders emerged blinking from the hotel lobby and into the low January sunlight. Resplendent in the colours of Belgian champion, the smiling Gilbert was surrounded by cameras as he prepared for the ride, while Thor Hushovd gave his thoughts to Norwegian television.
Alessandro Ballan, who helplessly told Cyclingnews that he is in the dark as to the current status of the Mantova doping investigation, was also on hand after beginning his season in Australia. A new addition to the growing Italian contingent at BMC is Marco Pinotti, and the Bergamo native is confident that he is fully recovered from the injuries he sustained in a crash at last year’s Giro d’Italia.
All the while, Cadel Evans quietly set about preparing himself for the morning’s ride outside the team’s equipment truck. The previous evening, the Australian had cut a relaxed and engaging figure during a series of round table interviews with the media, but now press officer Georges Lüchinger was constantly close at hand, reluctant to allow anyone disturb Evans’ focus.
The reason? The final day of the BMC camp saw the riders undergo lactate threshold testing on the nearby Coll de Rates, and Evans was understandably eager to gauge his form away from the prying eyes of the press. The media day may well have been, as team president Jim Ochowicz claimed, about “fun, information and enjoyment,” but for Evans, with a Tour de France to defend, a training camp remains just that.
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Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.