Germans head for the sun

It's December and a cycling pro's thoughts turn to training and the search for warm weather. For riders from some counties it's hardly an issue. Australian pros are currently all home enjoying the Southern hemisphere summer and - in many cases - picking up some handy pocket money on the criterium circuit. US riders can escape their country's chilly areas by hopping on a plane to southern California. But for the German pro contingent the options are to put up with it (and break out the resistance trainer), take up skiing or escape to warmer climes.

Gerolsteiner's riders are taking different paths to the common goal of finding a clement training spot. Robert Förster has opted to train at home, alternately on the bike and in the fitness studio. Team-mate Rene Haselbacher is in South Africa, preparing for his goals of the Tour de France and the 2006 Worlds in his Austrian homeland. Sven Kraus has gone another direction, heading to Mallorca with Christoph Meschenmoser (Team Shimano), where they are riding training blocks of 500 to 650 km in the sun and warmth. Paco Wrolich and FdJeux's Bernhard Eisel have opted for altitude training in Karnten, Austria, where they alternate cycling with skiing. And one former Gerolsteiner, who hopes to join the team again, Danilo Hondo, has joined a group of T-Mobilers in South Africa while he waits to hear the results of his appeal in his doping-related suspension.

Meanwhile, Rabobank's Grischa Niermann has also turned his back on the grey, wet and cold German weather and has flown to Mallorca this week. The T-Mobile troupe in South Africa had guests. Not only have they been joined by new directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage, they had a visit from the Swiss doping controllers on Saturday (Jan Ullrich, Matthias Kessler and Steffen Wesemann all live in Switzerland). Later they joined the mainly South African crew of the America's Cup yacht Shosholoza (sponsored by T-Systems, a sister firm of T-Mobile) for a sail on their rest day. Sunday the sailors joined the cyclists for a ride on two wheels.

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