I'm exhuming this elderly thread because of something that caught my attention while I was wintering in Spain.
As well as the usual bunch of young kids who came to our training camp, we had a couple of very strong 18 year-olds. One has just come off the British Cycling Olympic development program (next step is their "podium" program which he hopes to get on next year) and the other has been racing in Belgium with the Omega Pharma Quickstep development squad. Obviously they were far too strong to train with the other kids (or with me, for that matter!) so we gave them some routes and let them get on with it. On one of the big local climbs they met a Lotto Belisol pro, Brian Bulgac,
who was staying nearby doing his winter training and was nice enough to let them ride with him on three or four occasions during the week.
Now, what interested me about this was that from what he told them, he had very little contact with Lotto Belisol during the off- season. I guess he was sending the coach his power files, or whatever, but by his account he was pretty much left to his own devices as far as winter training was concerned. And he's not a nobody. He rode the Giro in his first full year with the team, he won the Triptyque Ardennais, he's a potential rising star.
I really can't imagine this happening with the Sky team. They seem to adopt a much more hands-on policy with groups spending time together during the winter months, training in the Canary Islands, for example. So I was thinking that, like the UK track team, the Sky procycling squad probably has an advantage over the others because they invest in keeping them together more and are probably much more on the ball in terms of ensuring that everyone is doing what they're supposed to.
(Incidentally, Mr Bulgac was really useful in giving these two very talented young men -both of whom climb like birds - an insight into what it takes to get to the top. On a Cat2 climb with 13% ramps they asked him how hard he was going. He said "about 60%" then grinned at them, put it in the big ring and just rode away.)
Anyway, I thought it was interesting.