The Mehlting Pot: Camp Report, Wednesday

Jan 30, 2007 - Team Astana has been in Albuquerque for a full week now. Tuesday and Wednesday were media days for the team and for many of the guys this meant answering a lot of questions and smiling for the camera as journalists and photographers from around the world came to meet and greet the team. With the sport of cycling continuing to grow in popularity around the world, journalists have come from as far away as Japan, China and Belgium to take a look at Johan Bruyneel's new team. It's a busy time for the guys and makes for long days for everyone.

Tuesday was an easy day of riding and today's longer ride was cut a little short due to SNOW! The guys were riding in temperatures hovering around 30F and while I didn't actually hear any complaining about it, with so little body fat on the guys to insulate against the cold it had to be somewhat tough on them.

Also on the schedule these past two days has been plenty of filming and interviews for Versus. The filming is being done in a giant sound stage owned by Albuquerque Main Studios. All of the guys have been on site for photos, but Andreas Kloden, Levi Leipheimer, Chris Horner, and Alberto Contador have gone in for additional shots in front of special backdrops and stages. This footage will be used during Versus' coverage of the 2008 season. Look for pieces filmed in front of a hanging bicycle and a big wall of lights-those spots were filmed here in ABQ during camp.

Thursday's schedule is busy for the team as well with the all-important sponsors on hand to meet with the guys and talk about their products. In the house on Thursday will be Trek, Giro, Sram, First Endurance and Trek Travel. Many of the European sponsors did their product presentations to the group that trained in Spain last December so now it is the U.S. sponsor's turn to do the same. Friday these same sponsors will have the opportunity to actually ride with the team for a few hours on a morning training ride as a way for the team to show their appreciation for the support the sponsors give them.

Wednesday was a travel day for me and when I left Santa Barbara in the early morning it was looking like a gorgeous day was ahead for the coast. After days and days of rain and cold weather the clear blue skies had returned on Tuesday and the majestic mountains were all covered in snow. After facing months and months of no rain the hillsides have soaked up the water and grass has sprouted everywhere. The hills are brilliantly green and when the riders come for the Amgen Tour of California in two more weeks they might think they have landed in Ireland!

Chris Horner under the lights

It was great to see familiar faces once I arrived today. There was Barbara who does absolutely everything for team, especially booking flights and making travel arrangements. There were Elvio and Richey, the super massage therapists that are the friendliest and funniest guys you'll ever meet. There was Jared, who has stepped into the big job of sponsor relations and was busily tapping out messages on his computer. And Ryan the accountant, whom I last saw on a rooftop in Paris at 4AM on a particular night in July. Plus Eki who is so busy translating all things Russian his head is probably spinning. And of course there was Johan, the captain of the ship, looking relaxed and fit as he took care of business for the team. One year ago I was just trying to find my way-today I was welcomed with big hugs and smiles. Now I just have to learn the names and faces of the riders that are new to me, which I think is going to be quite a challenge, but I'm pretty sure I'm up to it!

It was snowing when my plane landed today but hopefully tomorrow it will be warmer for the day's ride and then the team presentation. If you're in the Albuquerque area it might not be too late to buy tickets. If you come, be sure to take a moment to say hello!

Here's hoping for blue skies on Thursday! - Cathy