Hello from Mallorca!
Training so far is going very well. We did our last real training today before the races begin on Sunday. Everybody stayed healthy at this training camp, so we could do everything we wanted. The weather was always good, 18 degrees or so. This being the last training camp of three we’ve done since December, I think everybody is ready to race.
Usually the season started with us at team building, then we start training. But this year was a little different. The Belgian guys were on the track twice a week. Then we had our first training camp in Mallorca, also which was new. It was easier in the sense that it was flatter than what we usually did in Calpe for prior years. We did a little more kilometers at the end to see how it went, and it worked out well. Now, at our third training camp here in Mallorca, it's been going well. It's been good to see the progress, going from the first training camp where we just got the legs going again,.. Especially at the end of the second training camp, you saw the power in the legs coming back with the guys in Calpe. It was good for them, also hard, but they recovered fine. Now you see all the hard work in Calpe paying off. They are in really high form — maybe even better than last year. Let's hope that shows in the results!
As far as our riders go, we've seen some good progress in those who have been injured. Stijn Vandenbergh's knee is OK — he could train every day, and improves every day. Luckily he is able to start in Tour of Qatar on Sunday. Nikolas Maes also improved every day after breaking his collarbone at our Calpe training camp. Today, for example, we had him motorpacing together with Tom Boonen. I think in terms of his collarbone, he is ready to race. He might be able to race Volta ao Algarve.
I have to also talk about Tony Martin, who is racing for the first time in 2013 in the second race at Trofeo Mallorca. think he is very motivated. He trained very hard, like everybody else here, and he looks sharp. He's riding well. Even at the Team Presentation he really surprised me that he could ride that fast already on the track. He's been training a lot on the TT bike as well. He is always focused, and is especially so at the start of this season.
Speaking of Tom, he is now always training with Maes. He started training yesterday, while the other riders have been riding here for a few days. We still have to wait until the end of tomorrow's training. Then he will rest, and then begins another three days of training. It's still a bit of a question in terms of his condition, but he showed today he is already better than yesterday. I think he will improve everyday, so we won't see the "best" Tom in terms of his condition for another 14 days. But if he can recover really fast on the level of his training, that will be a good sign. If the weather allows he will train a lot, so we will see after some good training at the end of this week how he looks. So far, I think he will be fine.
We've done more parcour recon in the last days. We did the last stage most recently. It is a slightly new parcour, and a hard stage for sure. It has a flat final, which could make for a tricky stage. There could be a group sprint of maybe 50 riders in the final, or a breakaway. But our riders know already the stages. The first is a criterium in Mallorca. Nothing too hard, about 100km of flat racing. The second stage is also kind of a Spanish flat stage — up and down, but not really that hard. I think there will be another bunch sprint. Then the last two are really hard. We have to see, but we have riders that I think can do really well.
I think Trofeo Mallorca will be special for a guy like Carlos Verona. He's new on the team, and Spanish, so this will be a great experience for him in Mallorca. He has the chance to ride in front of his own people in an OPQS jersey. He's really motivated and he's very young, so we'll see what happens this year. Already he has made a good impression. He's already well integrated with the team. He is doing fine so far, so I am curious to see how he does in the races.
Well, that's about it. Everybody is relaxed and ready to race in Mallorca. We will do our best to get the best results with all the work we've been doing!