by Stephanie Gutowski and Lyne Lamoureux
Starting a new journey together, the entire roster of 42 male and female, elite international athletes, mechanics, soigneurs and staff of Team High Road gathered in the San Luis Obispo area of California for a training camp.
The RoadBikeReview crew met with the team on Saturday morning under sunny skies while they were preparing to go for a ride. Given the latest hurdle to challenge the team, the non-invite to the Giro (note: team is in talk with Giro organizers), it wouldn’t have been surprising to encounter a group of long-faced and depressed individuals. Far from it, we found a group of relaxed athletes and busy staff, smiling and excited about the new year.
The mood is exemplified by our hilarious conversation with 23-year old Morris Possoni of Italy:
RBR: Do you speak English?
Morris: (smiles) No, sorry.
RBR: How about French?
RBR (now laughing): Japanese?
Morris: No … and laughs
Here are some of the sights and sounds we collected.
While the staff was working on the bikes, and making last minutes adjustments, the riders were gathering by the ocean, in groups of eight, for their morning core exercises to get ready for the ride.
George Hincapie (USA) 34
The Tour of California is a great race and I’ll be working hard for my team, a new American team now. We’re really excited and trying to get ready for it. The switch to an American team is good. I can say that I have ridden for an American team all of my career. It’s kind nice to say.
I’ll be focusing on the Classics this year. I’d like to start off strong with the Tour of California.
Marco Pinotti (Italy) 32
I think that this is an important year for cycling in general. We as a team stand as a leader of the world cycling movement. As you have seen in Australia, we win races. We want to complete our mission to change cycling. We have great support from the team management. We are riders riding in the best environment. I think in everything we do we have to find our values, to do everything according to those values, to the rules. It’s important for us to show the young people that the sport still has values, to teach the young riders that it is possible to ride clean.
We want to win stages in the Tour of California. Cavendish or Ciolek are good sprinters, and of course we have George (Hincapie) for GC. I see him working hard and he is focusing on this race. I look forward to show that we work like a team.
Michael Barry (Canada) 32
We dealt with a lot of adversity last year and we’re just hoping it sorts itself out and we can compete. I think we’re proven that we are clean team and hopefully the organizers see that.
My health is good, I took a couple of months off in the middle of last season, looking to get my health back to normal again and my immune system so I feel really good and pretty excited about the season actually.
The first big goal are the Ardennes classics and hopefully we get into the Giro, that was a big goal of mine and I’d love to go the Tour too.
I’m a veteran I guess, my role is helping out the younger guys, I have a strong role as a domestic on the team and also last year I had a lousy season, but in the past I’ve performed well in the one day races and stages races, I’d like to get back to that level again and have some strong finishes in some of the Classics and stuff.
Bradley Wiggins (UK) 27
The change to being an American team is a positive change. The atmosphere here is good and for us English speaking riders it’s very good. It’s been a good change. I am personally focusing in on the Olympics.
Adam Hansen (Australia) 26
My goal is just try and work as well as I can and try to be a complete rider. I haven’t set any goals on any particular races because the schedule is a bit all over the place, so do what I can really.
Am I tough guy? (smiles) I think so. I hope to do the Crocodile Trophy race again this year, it just depends on the team commitments. Normally I can’t do it because we have a team meeting at that time of the year because the race falls on a bad day. This year, it might change a few times.
John Devine (USA) 22
My goals? Just to prove my value on the team, and show I’m a climber and short stage races. Schedule is getting tossed around a bit but I know that the team would like me to do well in Georgia, the Dauphine hopefully. Things change, programs change.
There’s a lot of guys, we have young guys like Linus with the Tour, Lokvist he’s proven himself, also guys like Kim Kirchen, he’s proven himself, he’s the kind of rider I’d like to be, as well as Rodgers and the others,
there are so many others.
Roger Hammond (UK) 34
My goals? Tour of Flanders is the same, got to wait and see on Roubaix. Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem, they are guaranteed, the one day classics so I’m just saving for those races as if we’re doing them.
Craig Lewis (USA) 23
It’s my first year with a ProTour team and I’m coming in with one of the best team in the world so my personal goal is just to make an impression and to show that I’m there to help them out and hopefully learn from all the veterans that we have.
I know I’m heading over to Europe and doing a few of the Classics like Liege and Fleche and some of the smaller tours like Dauphine and Catalunya and Romandie, a pretty good program. Definitely looking forwards to doing Liege, it’s the oldest race in the world, and that will be pretty cool.
I just came on through George Hincapie, he’s kind of been my mentor since I started, so he was the contact and he got me to talk to Bob and that’s how I got here.
The riders were divided into groups of eight, and left the resort about fifteen minute intervals, chatting and smiling away.
See you at the races