WORDS: THOMAS OPSTRUP PHOTOGRAPHY: THOMAS OPSTRUP The Pro Tour team Trek-Segafredo, was in Sicily to prepare for the upcoming season. Thomas Opstrup from Blackroadcycling.com was on the spot, reporting from Sicily. NIBALI IS GRUMPY IN THE MORNING I arrived at the Trek-Segafredo riders hotel near Syracuse before nine in the morning. The first one I spoke to was Vincenzo Nibali. He politely replied that he was happy to be in Sicily and that he would drive to Messina later to spend Christmas with the family. I told him a short version of my story with Sicily; that I have a little son here and that I spend my time trying to make Sicily a popular cycling destination around the world. With a slightly grumpy attitude he still tried to be polite. I formulated myself in Italian, which still sounds a bit funny to an Italian. It was clear he just wanted to begin today’s training, like a Husky who wants to pull a sled over the Greenland ice cap. In the first hour, the pace was close to 45 km/h, so you had to stay a bit focused. Later, the pace became somewhat more leisurely, and there was also time for coffee stops. A EARLY FLIGHT, A LEMON CAKE AND A 54 TOOTH CHAINRING However, I drove back to the hotel before the rest to welcome the World Champion Mads Pedersen. He had to fly to Copenhagen over Amsterdam with an early flight. He had an appointment with former Danish pro rider Per Bausager to meet for a easy ride in Denmark, but more important, to get a piece of lemon cake from the local bakery near his home town. Of course we talked about his World Championship and the feelings he had when he crossed the line in Yorkshire. I told him how I felt in the moment when he crossed the line from a spectators view. Mads is delighted that so many – especially Danes – have had such an emotional experience of his victory. We also talked about the launch of SRAM’s new 50 tooth chainring that many pro riders would not use. Fortunately, SRAM listened to the riders and made a special 54 tooth chainring for the pro riders at Trek-Segafredo. ELLEN VAN DIJK’S COMEBACK AND KIM’S TIRED LEGS Shortly after Mads had left for the airport Ellen van Dijk and Sports Director Kim Andersen arrived at the hotel. They had been ridng 165 km. together. It was clear that Kim Andersen was very tired but for a man at his age it is an ‘approved perfomance’ to ride 165 km. in Sicily. I believe he brought some of his build up toughness from his time as professional rider. Kim, in her youth, was famous for his long training rides and stamina and not least he was notorious for his long breakaways in his heydays. Mads Pedersen seems to have similar qualities. Ellen van Dijk suffered a season-ending crash in September. She suffered a broken broken pelvis. She had to relearn to walk and was bed-bound in the first time later she was confined to a wheelchair. So she was really happy to ride 160 km. without pain. She was so optimistic about her recovery in Sicily. She is a four-time European time trial champion and have also won the 2014 edition of The Tour of Flanders. You can read more about her comeback here GIRLS WANT CANNOLI 25 min. later the rest of the girls came back lead by former World Champion Lizzie Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini who won the 2015 edition of the Tour of Flanders and the 2017 edition of Strade Bianchi. Lizzie has been away more than a year from racing to give birth to her daughter. Her big goal for 2020 is the Olympics and she told me that she have reach an even higher level than when she became World Champion to be competitive for victory in the Olympics and that the best about Sicily was the Cannoli – be carefull with the Cannoli’s Lizzie you need to be fit for the Olympics! General Manager Luca Guercilena of the Trek-Segafredo Team is responsible for coordinating the camp of riders and staff that together counts more than 100 people. He told that Nibali and Ciccone are destined for the Giro d’Italia and Porte and Mollema will lead the Team in the Tour de France. And that they go all in on winning the Giro with Vincenzo Nibali. In the Tour the realistic goal is an aim for the podium. But it is not only about the Men under Guercilena’s watch the Trek-Segafredo women has become one of the strongest Team in the world. BANAN-CHEESE CAKE After the girls had left for having a shower I got the chance to talk to Trek-Segafredo’s Danish Chef Kim Rokjaer. He told me about a special birthday cake he prepared. In the Team they have this tradition that if it’s someones birthday He or She can choose a birthday cake. On the 18. December it was Mads Pedersen and Lizzie Deignan’s birthday. He wanted a Banan cake and she wanted a Cheese cake. Kim did not have the time to prepare two cakes so what did he do? He prepared a Banan-Cheese cake, which according to Mads Pedersen was very good. NIBALI BECOMES HAPPY EVEN IF HIS BIB SHORTS IS TIGHT My talk with Kim Rokjaer gets interrupted by the arrival of the first mens group with Vincenzo Nibali. Also my friend Alexander Kamp sits in this group and he tells me that the guys went crazy on the decends and the training was turning into real racing. I laught at him and said “But what do you expect when The Shark is in Sicily!” There is a loose relaxed atmosphere when the riders chat with eachother while eating banans and drinking protein shakes. Nibali is not really satisfied with the leg band of his bibshort and wants them redesigned – he talks a lot about this. Alexander, who is new on the team, makes a cheeky remark to Nibali. What he says I promised to keep a secret but Nibali, who is in a much better mood now than this morning, finds it obvious really funny. He even comes to me and tell me that he likes what I do in Sicily. He finish off by giving me a homie handshake and leaves for the shower. The last group to arrive is Bauke Mollema’s group. The latest winner of the Tour of Lombardy was not that talkative. He went strait to the shower. Also see the video from Trek-Segafredo’s training camp last year It was the last day of the Trek-Segafredo Training Camp in Sicily. All of the team members are travelling to different locations to celebrate Christmas with their families. They will be reassembled again in January for a new Training Camp.