Fresh Brew: ABQ Camp - Day 3
- by Chris Brewer

Jan 26, 2008 - Greetings, all... we've shown you that the boys have been riding easy as one big (happy) group since arriving in ABQ, but that doesn't mean that there's not some more serious training already occurring. After yesterday's team ride, Levi and Jani headed back out into the mountains for some more uphill adventures. There are some 10km climbs in the area, but for the most part the guys have been using the 3-5km lengths, this time again and again. Why?

It's no secret that Levi wants very much to defend his Tour of California win from last season, and Jani looks to be one of his primary lieutenants in this campaign. But the young man from Slovenia does not just intend to play a supportive role - far from it. Soon after Cali, Jani will defend his title in the Tour de Georgia, and then here's some "you heard it hear first" info: he's targeting the Giro d'Italia. He's got the engine to be a world class time trialer and we've seen him decimate the field in the mountains, and so California and Georgia are a perfect line up for a run at the Giro.

After Friday's ride it was time for some administrative work, getting the payroll taken care of and showing the guys the team intranet. This in itself is pretty interesting. We use our intranet to basically keep track of the riders whereabouts - all the time. This allows our own internal doping control program to be able to track where the guys are, and also gives the UCI the same access for external control. It's a big part of our effort to help clean up the sport, and something we're pretty proud of.


You'll look better - trust me...

As the evening progressed, some of the guys had some down time while others headed to a makeshift studio in one of the hotel conference rooms for official team pics. The first guys in were more than a bit surprised that the first person they met was a makeup artist who quickly went to work. Jared and I laughed about Jani's Discovery photos from last year where he had been doing a bunch of off-season training prior to camp and had serious Giro helmet tan lines on his near-bald head. Not this time around. now if we can only find a set tall enough to get Michael Schar into!

After the photo work, Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klden (pronounced "Kluden", not " Kloden", FYI) and mechanic Chris Van Roosbroeck shot some internal video for Trek and Bontrager. Then while the bulk of the team had dinner and got some more rest, Eki, Chris, Jani and Levi headed over to the Albuquerque Bicycle Center.

Trek hosted an invite-only Q&A; session for 100 folks in the local area, and it was interesting to see how the crowd literally realized that the boys have some pretty interesting personalities, and a solid sense of humor as well. The talk was varied and included some really good insights into the physical and mental stresses of racing, particularly in a Grand Tour, and afterwards the guys hung around and signed everything they were handed.

In the morning a few guys were tagged for their photo duties prior to the ride, and then the boys were off for several more not-so-tough hours in the saddle. And then, in an age-old tradition of Euro staff in America, many of the mechanics and soigneurs headed downtown to the mall for some power shopping. Andreas is definitely on the mend following his bout with the flu, managing to get 1.5 hours on the bike with the team today before turning for home and not going too hard. And everyone better be on their best behavior tomorrow - General Manager Johan Bruyneel arrives tonight for his first interaction with the team as whole. Of course we'll be there for you and let you know what the team's Big Boss had to say and his expectations for Astana Cycling in 2008! Ciao for now, we'll talk soon - Cb...

* You can write to Chris Brewer any time at chrisbrewer62@gmail.com

PS - don't forget the team presentation, Jan 31 5:30pm at the National Hispanic Cultural Center box office located at 1701 4th Street SW - details at www.itsatrip.org/astana!


Eki still leading the peloton - from the front