Sitting In at the BMC Racing Team Camp

Alessandro Ballan won the 2008 World Championships and the 2007 Tour of Flanders.

The BMC Racing Team held its 2010 team camp the last two weeks in January in both northern and southern California. Unfortunately, sunny weather was not in the cards during the first week as the team trained in and around Santa Rosa. But, these are tough guys and every day they soldiered out into the gloom and put in the necessary training miles for the upcoming season.

After a week of soggy riding, the squad rode down to the Los Angeles area—doing a reconnaissance of the Amgen Tour of California's stage three (San Francisco to Santa Cruz) in the process. Arriving in Agoura Hills, the team was united with George Hincapie, reigning world champion Cadel Evans and the rest of the squad, who had just finished competing in Australia's Pro Tour race, the Tour Down Under.

As part of the media days, I was invited to the camp to meet with the racers and test ride a BMC team bike. In short, it was a lot of fun. The weather was spectacular and the team was super gracious. Even more importantly, the team was super motivated to do well in 2010, especially since this year's squad is a complete makeover from the 2009 edition.

The big three: (l-r) George Hincapie, Alessandro Ballan and Cadel Evans.

With the high-profile signings of such top stars as Hincapie, Evans, 2008 world road race champion Alessandro Ballan and Classics specialist Marcus Burghardt, this is one stacked team capable of competing well in the one-day Classics or multi-week stage races. And, it is very nice to have another American team competing at the highest level of the sport.

George Hincapie rocks the national
champion's stars and stripes.

Along for the Ride

The journalists at the camp had the opportunity to ride with the team on a training ride. I tagged along on a BMC Pro Machine SLC01 bike. This might sound like the ideal situation—getting to ride with the team and getting a team bike to ride as well—but such a situation can be very daunting. For one, the pros ride their bikes for a living and you don't want to crash them. Secondly, these guys are pros, which means that since you are there as a journalist, they are probably faster than you. Lastly, it takes a while to get used to a new bike.

Descending with the pros at 40mph on a bike you have ridden for all of 20 minutes is probably not the ideal situation. Luckily, the pros that they are, these guys make you feel comfortable in the group. And, the BMC SLC01 is a really sweet ride, so it was pretty easy to get the feel of the bike very quickly. Hey, I survived and the guys on the team are still talking to me. It couldn't get much better! (Pro contract? Did I hear "pro contract"?)

Go to page two for more photos from the training camp.

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