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Undertaking what will be one of the most unusual pre-season team-building camps in cycling history, the Tinkoff Saxo management have today confirmed that the riders and staff will together climb the 5,895 metre Kilimanjaro mountain early next month.
In total 80 people will be part of the expedition, which will see them scale what is Africa’s highest mountain and also the highest free-standing peak in the world.
For many years team manager Bjarne Riis’ squads conducted tough pre-season camps, but money shortages curtailed these in more recent times. However the team has much more resources since Oleg Tinkov took over ownership, and Riis said that he expected the trip to have clear benefits.
“For quite some time now, a number of Tinkoff-Saxo Team members have been asking me to organize a team-building trip,” he said. “I talked to the management, I got the green light from Oleg Tinkov, and I started planning it. This will be a very good challenge for everybody and I look forward to seeing how the team reacts under this kind of stress and difficult conditions, climbing in such high altitudes.”
The six day exercise will begin with the Tinkoff Saxo riders and staff travelling to the city of Moshi in Tanzania. On November 1 the expedition will start at the Machama Gate (1,828m) of the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park.
The next four days will see the participants complete six to eight hours of trekking each day, after which they will arrive at the 4,040 metre-high Karanga Camp. They will rest there, then at around midnight on November 4 the group will begin the long climb to the top of the mountain.
It is anticipated that the team should reach the summit the following morning.
“I want to see a group where everybody works together, building the foundations for the next season,” said Riis. “It is no secret we aim at becoming the best cycling team in the world but how do you define that? Is it the team with the most points, the team with the most race victories or is there more to it?
“For me, it is the team that has a bit of everything; points, victories but also members that are proud to be a part of it. We want a team that has values and works with values and a trip such as this one will help us create a very strong and united group.”
The team will once again be led by Alberto Contador, who recovered from a fractured tibia and an injured knee to win the Vuelta a España. As riders are unaccustomed to extended hiking, the camp and the climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro will be an additional test for Contador’s leg.