The Tinkoff-Saxo team has confirmed that its 80 riders and staff will climb the 5895-metre-high Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa as part of team building camp in early November.
The trip will see Alberto Contador, Rafal Majka and new signings such as Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso trek for a total of six days, gradually climbing and acclimatizing to the altitude before tackling the summit on November 5.
Cyclingnews understands that team owner Oleg Tinkov has covered the 200,000 Euro cost of the trip although the Russian businessman will not attend the camp.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular destination for people looking for a challenge and is reachable by walking rather than by mountain climbing on snow or rock faces. It is the highest mountain in Africa at 5895 metres and is the highest free-standing mounain in the world. However, only a reported 40 per cent of people actually manage to reach the summit due to the problems of a lack of oxygen at altitude.
Team manager Bjarne Riis has put his riders through boot camps in Denmark, South Africa and in the Canaries in the past but the riders and staff will face the extra challenge of altitude as they prepare for the 2015 season.
“I’m very excited to have this opportunity to take the entire team on a team-building trip to Africa and climb, all of us together, to the top of mount Kilimanjaro,” Riis said announcing the trip, revealing he had been working on it for several months.
“It is no secret we aim at becoming the best cycling team in the world but how do you define that? Is it the team with the most points, the team with the most race victories or is there more to it? For me, it is the team that has a bit of everything; points, victories but also members that are proud to be a part of it. We want a team that has values and works with values and a trip such as this one will help us create a very strong and united group.”
Riis: I want to see how they react
Riis told Cyclingnews that the 80 riders and staff will have the support of a fully organised agency experienced in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The riders will gather on November 1 and walk for between six to eight hours a day to reach the Karanga Camp (4040m). At around midnight on November 4 the group will head to Stella point and the summit. Depending on weather conditions, they will reach the highest point of Africa in the morning of November 5.
“I want to put everyone in a different environment to see how they react,” Riis told Cyclingnews.
“It's not about being first to the top, indeed some people won't make it to the summit, it's about seeing how people deal with problems under stress, how they work together and who are the natural team leaders. We have similar situations at the races and so it can only make us a better team.
“It's not only about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. It's about integrating new people in the team and laying the foundations for 2015.”