Tough physical challenges build team unity for Lotto – Belisol and Omega Pharma Quick Step
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Friday, November 30, 2012

Tough physical challenges build team unity for Lotto – Belisol and Omega Pharma Quick Step

by VeloNation Press at 3:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Video and photos from camps in the Netherlands and Slovakia

Omega Pharma Quick StepThe Lotto-Belisol and Omega Pharma Quick Step squads have both completed team-building camps which they hope will strengthen the links between their respective riders prior to the 2013 season, with the physical demands made in recent days serving as a dry run for the altogether different battles they will engage in in the months ahead.

Lotto-Belisol travelled to the Dutch Zeeland with 26 of the squad’s 28 riders, including top sprinter Andre Greipel and Tour de France fourth place finisher Jurgen van den Broeck; the Australian Adam Hansen and the Kiwi Greg Henderson were the only two missing, with the former suffering from a cold and the latter awaiting the birth of his second child.

Team officials were also present and completed two days of intense activity, including tough climbing on an artificial wall above a lake.

Lars Bak is clear on the benefits. “Although everyone already knows each other pretty well, such a teambuilding is the ideal way to make the leap to next season,” he asserted. “There weren't any bicycles, we have the chance to do fun things in a relaxed way and there is time to have fun in group.”

Many of the riders have been knuckling down on the bike and with the first races coming in a month and a half, he said that it was best to keep the camp short. “Two days is ideal, because everyone is already building up to next season and it seems to me that it isn't suitable to do only alternative activities for five days, for example.

“On the 8th of December we leave for our first training camp to Mojacar and there will start a new chapter in the built-up to the start of next cycling season.”

Meanwhile rival Belgian team Omega Pharma Quick Step also underwent a gruelling two day camp, with the venue for that being a military base in Lest in Slovakia. As was the case with Lotto – Belisol, riders and staff both got involved in a series of tests supervised by military officers.

They were divided into eight teams of six or seven individuals, and were subjected to obstacle courses races, defence techniques, climbing, shooting simulation, orienteering, and rescue missions.

“I didn't know what to expect from these activities,” world time trial champion Tony Martin explained. “I started out a little sceptical, but then my teammates got me involved, and I ended up having a lot of fun.”

This was echoed by the Velits twins Martin and Peter, who were on home soil during the camp. “It was a lot of work, but gratifying,” they indicated. “We also got the chance to get to know our teammates and the newcomers better, in a context that was unfamiliar to all of us, a situation in which unity meant strength.”

Former pro Tom Steels played a big part in setting up the camp and said that the riders achieved the goals which had been set for them. He sounds impressed by what he saw there.

“The guys showed an immense spirit of sacrifice, helping each other achieve tasks and spending the night together in a bivouac, sleeping in sleeping bags,” he said. “Compared to last year, we spent more time focusing on technical challenges and the concept of collaboration.

“For example, the guys simulated rescue operations to help wounded civilians, practicing emergency intervention techniques such as bandaging, transporting wounded people on gurneys, and rescue on rough terrain, which forced the teammates to work as a close knit group.”

He said that the exercises revealed the characteristics of each individual, enabling them to learn more about themselves but also forcing them to pull together to overcome any deficits. “Some of them were stronger in the physical tests; others did better in the technical trials, which included a night time orienteering activity that was far from simple,” he said.

Kevin De Weert is one of those who will support leaders such as Martin, Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish in the year ahead. He believes that what they went through in Slovakia will pay off.

“Over the course of the season we are often going to find ourselves in difficult situations,” he stated. “The fact that we know we can count on one another will help us to overcome the difficult times in a race, like we did during these two days.”

Click on the first image below to view a gallery of photos from the camp.




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