T-Mobile bond in Austrian snow

T-Mobile seem to have caught the CSC-style bonding bug, bringing their riders and staff together for

T-Mobile seem to have caught the CSC-style bonding bug, bringing their riders and staff together for


With the 2005 season barely a month over, pre-2006 season bonding sessions are all the rage. Euskaltel brought their band of under-achievers and youngsters set to be thrown in at the deepest of ends together in the Basque town of Derio over the weekend. Meanwhile, T-Mobile's 30-strong roster (minus Bram Schmitz who has broken his ankle) came together for some ergo testing, kit-fitting and a PR photo shots in Munich. They then headed off into the Austrian Alps for what is now the almost regulation team-building session in extreme winter conditions.

After getting acquainted with their new kit, racing programmes and, of course, new team-mates, Jan Ullrich and co headed off to Austria for the kind of bonding session more usually associated with the CSC team. Working with a motto of 'action, reflection, transfer', the 29 riders and assorted backroom staff were given a variety of tasks in the snowy Alps.

The first challenge was to trek up to the Lindauer cabin (1744 metres) in the Montafon valley through heavy snow. That was followed by a communal cooking session, and the construction of a ropeway across a canyon in freezing temperatures.

"We went into a lot of these challenges, thinking we would never manage it!" admitted Ullrich. "But everybody weighed in, so that we devised the right strategy to achieve our goals. It was very motivating and is bound to help us in the coming season."

Equally important was the integration of the team's new riders. Jrg Ludewig described the days in Montafon as "a very worthwhile effort to foster team cohesion". The new recruit from Domina Vacanze added: "I didn't experience anything like that with my former teams. The exercises all demanded communication and trust. The lessons learned can easily be applied in a race situation: we were able to overcome language barriers and learned how to devise strategies on the fly."

Team manager Olaf Ludwig felt that his riders would benefit from the experience. "It was brought home to the riders that team success depends on riders being able to rely on other riders," said Ludwig, who has taken over from long-time team boss Walter Godefroot. "I believe that these days have given us a foundation that we can build on."

The riders returned to Vienna for a party on Sunday, and some of them went on from there to Audi's wind-tunnel facility.

This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
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