A cyclist in the skating world

Watching the European Championships Allround and Sprint after a rainy ride in the Netherlands, I thought it was about time to tell you about my time with Team Jumbo-Visma Ice last week in the Dolomites. “Training in the Dolomites in January, that shouldn’t be possible without getting snowed up, right?” That’s the question I had when we talked about the possibility that I could join the Jumbo-Visma Ice Skating Team with their training camp in Collalbo. Having some good memories from the last time I have joined them, I wanted to go along again. Especially because I skated matches myself before I started racing a bike.

First we go back to December 2018, which is usually the month of the first team training camp and of the annual medical testing. This meant I had to take a flight back from Girona, to get all the testing done and to make sure the heart was doing everything it should. After being checked up, we flew out to Girona again for the first team camp in Sant Feliu de Guixols, which is about 30k out of town.

Just before the camp we got some good news about a Norwegian company, named Visma, which would join our team as a second title sponsor! Visma is a Norwegian IT company and is very active in the Netherlands and Northwest Europe. This means we won’t be Team Jumbo, but Team Jumbo-Visma. I must say, it sounds good!

The team camp in Girona was good. We made good rides, drunk a lot of coffee (thanks to the Broomwagon!), did some testing and got introduced with the new FoodCoach app. This app will tell each individual rider how much he should eat and will show you recipes, based on the food intake you need at that specific moment. When you’re living in the Netherlands, Jumbo will deliver your groceries at home. Man serves convenience!

After the camp we flew back to the Netherlands for the team presentation at the Jumbo HQ. The presentation was combined with our Ice Skating Team, where the idea came up that I could join them with their training camp in the Italian Collalbo. After getting the green light from my coach, we had a plan!

After celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve at home, the time was there to head out towards the Dolomites. I headed out with a small group of four skaters (Hein, Sanne, Joy and Chris), as the rest of the team would arrive later. First we flew to Innsbruck, were we took a taxi towards Collalbo. This actually became an epic trip since we had to cross the Brenner Pass, which was in heavy snow. Luckily our taxi driver had a four wheel drive van, so we could slalom between the scissored trucks. Honestly, this wasn’t looking that promising and I started to question the weather forecasts. The panic sweat disappeared after we crossed the Brenner and things were looking green again.

Collalbo is one of the two Italian towns with an ice rink at an altitude of 1200 meters. The town is near Bolzano which is in South-Tirol. This means it’s in the German spoken part of Italy. We stayed at Hotel Bemelmans, a typical Tyrolean hotel, with good food (their Kaiserschmarrn and their Pasta Carbonara are the best!) and with just that typical winter sports vibe. Since the European Championships Allround and Sprint would be held from the 11th till the 13th of January and many skaters are using this location for their training camp, the hotel was filled with skaters!

Because I joined the skating world as a cyclist, I had to carry out my own training schedule. I have ridden many kilometers alone through the Dolomites, recognizing some climbs of last year’s Tour of the Alps. Sometimes I could combine riding with the skaters, which was good! During the summer skaters are making a lot of kilometers on the bike, but during winter they should stay as fresh as possible, so long rides don’t fit in their schedule. I’ve joined them once on the ice, but they are just way, way too fast! But watching their trainings is impressive and fun.  

Each morning started with the downhill towards Bolzano (ok, breakfast and coffee first of course), where the temperature was between 8 and 10 degrees. Because of the sun, conditions were perfect for some long rides. Each ride ended with the climb towards Collalbo (honestly, once I took the skilift). After each training, a well-deserved Italian Pasta was waiting for me. The good life!

In my opinion, the beneficial thing of joining a different kind of sport squad with their training camp is that you could experience difference cultures, training insights and get to know new people! I think this is also an aspect of where the power of our team is, sharing experiences and cultures between multiple disciplines of sport to make each other better. 

After one week it was time to say goodbye. Next week I will head out to Alicante for the final team camp before the season kicks off. My first race will be the Ruta del Sol in the end of February. I can’t wait to pin up a number again. 

By this occasion I would like to say thanks to the skaters, the staff and the team for the great time I have had in Collalbo! Thanks a lot.

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