Posted by: Anton | February 25, 2011

Sigma Sport – Specialized alla Toscana

Team Sigma Sport – Specialized have just returned from their first warm weather training camp of the year, based in Tuscany, Italy. Here’s what new team rider Tom Copeland had to say about the trip.

Thanks to La Fuga, the team headed to the renowned hotel complex – Hotel la Buca Del Gatto – which caters especially for cyclists. We were one of four teams staying there at the time with other Italian amateur teams adding to the mix and giving some competition for the after-ride buffet stand off.

The hotel was perfectly suited for the needs of riders, with fresh food aplenty, spa facilities, spacious rooms, more resembling apartments than hotel digs, and most importantly good coffee.

The team realised how cycling orientated the place was when Paolo Bettini casually strolled up to the bar one evening and greeted the staff like friends. Nobody asked for autographs, although some looked very tempted! With seven days of training in the rolling Tuscan countryside, this allowed for two solid blocks with a well earned easy day mid-week. Conveniently the rest day was the wettest day of the stay. Was this planned as well?! The Tuscan roads are perfect with very little traffic to deal with and a great mix of flat, rolling and hilly roads with some long climbs allowing the team to perform some long efforts to test the form. By the end of the week everybody looked ready for a few easy days!

At the end of Tuesday’s 175km route the team impressed by still being able to hold nearly 60kmh on the run in, forming a smooth through-and-off train. Matt ‘the boss’ Stephens was looking strong as the speeds ramped up, showing he still hasn’t lost any of his strength! New recruits Russell Hampton, Steve Lampier and myself held the wheels and have already integrated well into the team.

Showing his “old-school” tendencies, Matt brought out the “Matt-Nav” to help with navigational duties..

With the start of the season upon us, everyone looks keen and ready to ride à bloc. Wouter Sybrandy has been racing already – with several time trial wins and course records.  Clearly in-form, the tall Dutchman was the stand out rider of the week. Weighing in at 80kg, a tower of pure muscle, showing everybody up on the climbs – even putting the whole Landbouwkredit team to shame in a UK-Belgium showdown up the climb to Volterra. Last years Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner Bobbie Traksel was one of many to be put to the sword by the Flying Dutchman.

A total of over 900 km was covered with over 28 hours in the saddle. Rounding off the week was my birthday! Acquiring a new moniker “Brian” we celebrated on the final evening, meaning that dessert was finally on the menu after what had been a more ‘athletic’ diet so far.

The training camp was timed perfectly allowing the riders a short rest before the racing kicks off this weekend with the Clayton Velo Spring Classic followed by the Eddie Soens Memorial on the 5th March and the Severn Bridge on the 6th. The Severn Bridge is team leader Si Richardson’s local race which was won last year by Surrey Hills and La Fuga Club Run guest Phil Sykes. These races will allow the team to get some speed through the legs before heading over the channel for the UCI 1.2 Paris-Troyes race on the 13th March.

For more information on how you can book your perfect custom trip for 2011 see or email

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