Jonathan Vaughters always does things a little differently, so when it came time to schedule training camps for Garmin-Sharp, he took a step back.
Cycling teams traditionally hold early season camps in January, in search of mild weather, typically along Spain’s Mediterranean coast or the Balearic islands.
So instead of hauling everyone off to Europe, riders and staff got to enjoy some more quality time at home, and Garmin’s first European camp won’t be held until mid-February following the Mallorca Challenge race next week.
“We put some study into it, and figured out it just wasn’t doing anyone any good,” Vaughters told VeloNews. “It goes against the curve, because everyone does a camp in January, but the riders were showing up at camp too fit.”
With Garmin riders hailing from 14 nations and four continents, many spend most of the year away from family and friends, so a few extra weeks at home also goes a long way toward reducing burnout.
And Vaughters said riders were coming out too hot, too soon.
“Riders were producing some of their highest power numbers of the year at the January training camp,” Vaughters continued. “We were thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be a good idea to push that back a little bit?'”
Vaughters also said most riders have more motivation to train early in the season. After a winter break, pros are champing at the bit to get back into race condition and find that putting in the hours is easier.
As cycling becomes more and more science-based, race-specific training camps ahead of major races are more effective and teams are spending more time at these. Sky, for example, all but decamps to Tenerife in the weeks leading up to the Tour de France.
“They train better at home anyway during this time of year,” Vaughters continued. “Everyone trains hard at the beginning of the season when they’re fresh and motivated. My theory is let them stay home a bit longer, then we can start using training camps throughout the season to keep everyone invigorated.”
Even without a full-on team camp in January, Garmin got off to a flying start to the 2014 season, with several members of the team racing in Australia and South America.
Garmin newcomer Phil Gaimon won a stage and finished second overall at the Tour de San Luís, while Nathan Haas rode to fifth overall at the UCI WorldTour opener at the Santos Tour Down Under.
The February camp should set them up nicely going into the season’s first major goals at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.