After stage two of the Volta ao Algarve, the Team Sky bus attracted a little more attention than the rest of the team buses parked along the back of the finish area.
Edvald Boassen Hagen’s stage win and subsequent leadership of the race however was not the draw, as the Norwegian was nowhere near the bus and was busy kissing podium girls and collecting yellow jerseys.
Instead, it was the Sky riders newly adopted warm-down routine which drew fans to the roadside to gawk as riders such as Richie Porte, Konstantin Siutsou and Thomas Lokvist hopped on home trainers and spun the stress out of their freshly raced legs.
“I think it’s logical that you warm down after an intense effort,” says Sky DS Sean Yates. “No teams do it because normally, over the decades, its been finish the race, jump in the bus and get out of here. But in reality that’s not a good solution. If you want to perform to the best of your abilities then you do stuff like this.”
While the new routine has been adopted by the team in the Algarve, it is most likely to continue throughout the season, according to Yates. Boassen Hagen’s stage success however meant he wasn’t at the team bus for his warm down, didn’t that kind of defeat the purpose? As usual, Sky have thought of everything and if even have a pair of home trainers set up in the winners enclosure and the anti-doping area, where ‘Eddy the Boss’ and teammate Chris Froome could also warm down as they waited for presentations and anti-doping testing respectively.
“We’ve got the rollers over at the podium for Edvald,” says Yates. “It’s not ideal. It’s a lot easier to jump in the bus, have a shower and go but we’ve got a budget of £15m stg and if you want to be serious, you know, then it’s crazy not to do a simple thing like that.”
The stage win is an added bonus for Team Sky who came to Portugal in search of sun, good racing and some form-building according to the British DS.
“Obviously Edvald is our team sprinter. He’s not been sprinting at his best this year but there aren’t a whole load of sprinters here. He’s been left up to his own devices pretty much but he’s been keen to have a go, without any pressure and it was a great result today.
“He was bit frustrated yesterday that the finish came up pretty quick and he didn’t have the chance to do the sprint but today he made amends for that. We’ve got a strong GC team here and obviously tomorrow is a big GC day so our job’s not finished yet.”
Understandably, Yates didn’t want to give the game plan away for stage three to the summit of Alto de Malhao but hinted at an assault on the overall classification. “Coming into the race the plan was to build on our form and while it’s not a WorldTour race it’s got fantastic weather, great terrain heading into Paris-Nice and Tirreno and that’s our primary objective. It’s the first race for Bradley, the first European race for Richie but the fact that we’ve got such a good team here means that we’re not going to throw away a chance of a GC result, or a stage win or two if it comes along. We’ve come here without any stress, we’ve got a chance to gel and bond together and see what happens.”
New race leader Boassen Hagen wasn’t giving much away either. “I’m really happy to get my first win of the year,” he says. “I was hoping to win a stage but it’s not me that will go for the GC and we will see what we will do tomorrow.”
And of the new team warm-down routine? “The team is trying it to see if it makes any difference,” he smiles. “No teams are doing it but you can’t do the same as every other team if you want to beat them.”