In summer, Costa Blanca is besieged by holidaymakers from northern Europe. In winter, it is the turn of professional cyclists. Omega Pharma-QuickStep is one of the many teams who have chosen Spain’s east coast for their winter training camp, choosing Oliva as its base.
Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, Tony Martin and new signing Rigoberto Uran were among the riders who participated in the camp, which sport and development manager Rolf Aldag explained was a chance for the team to bond as well as to train.
“Sure, there is hard work at this training camp, but it's not like we are in the final period before an important race. It's not super stressful. We wanted the riders to do some physical work, and then really spend time together,” said Aldag.
Out on the road, the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team trained in two three-day blocks split by a rest day. Aldag explained that the reasoning behind this schedule was both physiological and psychological.
"We wanted to always give a workload to the body of each rider so it would get stronger and stronger," Aldag said. "But in order to do that we wanted to also give them a chance to recover in between. The first day it was a motivation thing. Everyone was really just looking forward to doing work on the bike. The second day the tiredness set in a little — a little muscle soreness — but they knew there was only one more day before they could stay in bed and their brain could shut off and relax.”
The team also availed of Oliva’s proximity to Valencia to fit in a day of equipment testing on the Luis Puig Velodrome. For Mark Cavendish and Zdenek Stybar, this was a chance to refine the work they had carried out in the wind tunnel at Specialized’s Morgan Hill, California site last month.
“With Specialized we had a structured plan for these guys in mid-November, and now we're back on the track to confirm what we had seen in the wind tunnel. It's always a learning process. You can never say you are done and we don't have to do this anymore. There is always something more to improve on and work with," said Aldag
The benefits of aerodynamic testing are not limited just to the likes of world time trial champion Tony Martin, as Aldag explained. “It's also important for guys like Cavendish. He's been on the track before and tested on aerodynamics, but you still can work on the details and try to understand where you can lower some drag and get some better numbers for him,” he said.