The 2011 racing season is just a few weeks from starting and Greenville, South Carolina residents George Hincapie, Craig Lewis, and Chris Butler are fine tuning their ProTour fitness with five hour rides. This year a couple of pros decided to head south and join them to avoid the brutal weather, accumulate base miles and put a fine edge on their fitness.
New Liquigas recruit Ted King calls New England home. However with temperatures in the 20s and snow lining the roads, getting in quality training is an unnecessary challenge. So with an official team training camp later this month King knew he had to head for more favorable conditions. But what was the draw for training in Greenville?
“It’s a handful of things but better weather is the chief factor, especially coming from New England. The terrain is really nice – hilly or flat – whatever you want. The roads are really good and there’s not a lot of traffic. I also came here rather than Arizona or California because I’m heading back to Europe and staying on the east coast simplifies my life. It means fewer hours in an airplane and fewer hours heading to Europe.”
With a team training camp just a couple of weeks away King is just focused on volume. “You can ride year round in New England – yeah there’s snow – but its the cold that puts you up the creek. You can only ride for two hours before your toes are frigid and then you’re risking hypothermia.”
In the three days he’s been in town King had already logged 15 hours on the bike.
“This is perfect for this time of the year.”
With teammates like Giro d’ Italia winner Ivan Basso, King realizes his team expects him to be ready. “Liquigas will be fighting it out at every race for the top step of the podium,” said King. “It’s motivating and it pushes you to do that extra half an hour on the bike or ride through nasty weather.”
The Liquigas team is a very Italian centric team and King in the past has had the luxury of riding for American squads or in the case of Cervélo – a team that had plenty of Anglo influence.
“It will be a big change. Cervélo was primary an Anglo Saxon team so from that to a team steeped in Italian tradition will be really exciting.”
After his southeast block of training King returns to New England for two days, repacks his clothes and heads to Luca, Italy – his European home base.
Cannondale presented by Cyclocrossworld.com rider Jeremy Powers who also makes his home base in New England, headed south to get in a solid ten-day block of training in Greenville before heading back to Europe for two cyclocross World Cups. Then he concludes his ’cross season with the World Championships in Germany.
At the conclusion to the road season Jeremy Powers switches his slick tires for knobby cyclocross ones. Powers has a similar reason as King for heading south for a winter training block. While his discipline thrives on adverse weather conditions training for several hours became a challenge. With some crucial cyclocross races still on the calendar before he hangs up the Cannondale SuperX ’cross bike for the season it was important that he is able to complete a solid block before heading to Europe one last time.
For Powers the reason for the mini-training camp in Greenville was simple, “The weather is better (than the New England area) but not so nice that I get soft.”
While King’s races in Europe can be five plus hours, Powers’ are an hour in duration and raced at what the pros call, “full bloc.” However this hasn’t stopped him from joining the local chain gang of Craig Lewis of HTC-High Road, George Hincapie and Chris Butler of BMC, Ted King, new Bissell pro Andy Baker as well as a gaggle of local heroes for five hour rides. This also includes several three-minute intervals up Caesars Head at over 400 watts and as always ends with a climb over Paris Mountain.
“I feel like I’ve been doing mini-stage races – at least that’s what it feels like. I’ve been doing some hard efforts with George (Hincapie) and the gang. I hope that I have a good result at the upcoming cyclocross Worlds.”
After this block of southeast training Powers is returning home for a few days before flying to Europe for a round of cyclocross World Cups followed by the World Championships.
“Greenville has been perfect and I’m happy to be here.”
Before he leaves for Belgium, Powers will toe the line in Salisbury, North Carolina for his last American cyclocross race of the 2010/2011 season.
“It’s a perfect tune-up race after this block of training. You can never duplicate the adrenalin a race brings to the table. I’m excited!”
With elite pros moving to the area and home grown talent such as Baker and Butler taking the next step in their cycling career, is it no surprise that riders are in Greenville training?