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So after having spent one week with Team Sky on their annual Mallorca training camp. I have come to the conclusion that’s it’s in no way different, from my annual training camps.
On second thought, I do not have my own bike mechanic cleaning my bike every night, driving out to meet me mid ride to switch my bike, or driving in a follow car with spare wheels for me ( changing flats is so 1980’s )
So besides that its exactly the same!
Correction! My training camp does not come with my own personal chef. Normally I have to jump off the bike, shower in ten minutes flat, just to beat out the German senior citizens stampeding their way to the buffet!
Nor do I have the entire hotel to myself, personal massages at the end of every ride, a coach going over my power numbers, or a support crew of around 60 people behind me making sure I am taken care of.
So other than the massage, hotel, mechanics, personal chef, shiny Pinnarello F10 , roving press core, coffee whenever I want it, my training camp is exactly the same. I ride in the same snow ( Yes, sunny Mallorca indeed ) and wear the same Castelli aero bibs and jerseys as they do.
Alas this was not to be a cycling trip but more of a reportage look at what makes Team Sky tick with the help of my Leica cameras including the new bells and whistles Leica SL.
So normally when doing my photo essays, I choose to ride and take pictures of riders with a $20,000 Leica camera dangling from my neck. This I find to be a great skill training exercise, and fine when your just out with a group of Cat 5’s.
However Team Sky are not Cat 5 riders so I opted for the fast Ford car with DS Gabba (think the jacket) and mechanic Phil. We opted for hits of the 60’s to keep us company rather than euro pop for this journey.
Todays it just the three riders going out. What struck me is, although they maybe pro! they still do the same things we are accustomed to. Before doing a tempo climbing effort, all three take out their headphones and put whatever music helps, and take off one by one.
Day two is time trial training!
We start to drive down a small decline. I look at the speedo on the car, It reads 50mph. I then look ahead to see five Team Sky riders riding inches from each other in TT mode. To say “Completely Insane! “ would be a complete understatement and the main reason I am not going pro anytime soon !, well that and the fact I cannot crank out 500 Watts for 20 minutes.
The team do a couple of efforts and then it’s back to the road bikes. This is where the mechanics go above and beyond. They literally drove out with all the bikes and meet the team half way just so they can make the switch.
Conveniently the bikes are all lined up next to a For Sale sign!
It’s just the 5 hours of riding today, and back to the hotel. One thing you have to get used to, is the huge bottles of hand sanitizer. Literally every table has three bottles on it as well as big machines when you walk into the restaurant. Either someone has a huge fetish for the smell or it’s a subtle hint, do not get any of our team sick.
For any of you that has ever been on a European cycling trip it’s pretty much inevitable that you’re going to get the full pro experience at some point. Getting sick is a total pro move! it gives you a whole new respect for the pro’s when you know they just did a stage with a stomach virus.
On my first ever trip to the Tour de France at least 20 people got sick in my group. Trying to climb Col De Galiber is not so much fun when you have a toilet roll in your back pocket.
It’s the little details that catch your attention of just how well run the team is. Just to sit in on the briefings you get a great respect for how every part of the team is involved. From knowing if the Chef’s have everything they need, too “What movie are we all watching tonight ?” . No detail is too small.
The next morning the guys kit up for what’s supposed to be a 4 hour ride in the wind and rain, sounds like fun to me. The direction of the ride was to be dictated by where the dark skies were.
About two hours in, we start entering into a snowstorm! sorry but correct me if I am wrong but I always envisioned Mallorca growing up as where my fellow countryman ( British ) went to get their thick red leather tans and get drunk off their asses.
Now for the riders this would just suck, but from a photographer’s point of view this was pretty epic. I hung my body out the side of the car putting the Leica SL’s autofocus through its paces.
Again if you are going to hang out of the side car, make sure you have a good driver and someone to warn you of tree’s coming up.
The roads start to get a little to Icey, so we pull over at a small Café and wait for the Cavalry (Mechanic’s) to come and get us back to the hotel. Pretty funny watching local riders faces drop when Team Sky walk in.
Not content with only getting the 3 hours in, the guys jump on trainers and start to ride on Zwift the online cycling community for another 2 hours. Now imagine you’re at home riding on your trainer when you see the Team Sky guys fly past you, breaking all the KOM’s, not very Sporting!
The next day it was like nobody was ever there! the riders are all packed up getting their flights. Mechanics have dissembled the entire operation and the hotel is empty. A traveling Carnival of sorts is on the move
Its then that I see Sir Dave Brailsford walk out dressed up in his cycling gear. Off for a quick ride? I ask. No just riding to the airport to catch my flight! he replies.