With the last races of the 2023 cycling season now almost a distant memory, the preparations for the new season are already in full swing. As part of the kick-off, Team dsm-firmenich’s full 2024 roster, including the coaching group, travelled to Austria for a team-building weekend. The event could take place in the beautiful VAYA Hotel Feierbrunn. The hotel is owned by Joost Romeijn, whom is a long-standing friend of the team, and this relationship stems from the period when the team was officially known as Team Sunweb.
“I think it was nice bringing together our whole 2024 team in a really beautiful environment down in Austria. We had a great time together but also learnt a lot from each other, as we get ready for the new season. On Saturday we did an 18.5-kilometre hike, with some fun games added into the mix,” explained Matt Winston, coach for the Men’s program.
The hike through the beautiful scenery of the Austrian mountains was not for the faint hearted, with 1000 elevation metres and a couple of challenges to make things a little more challenging along the way.
In mixed teams of nine or ten, riders first had to complete a darts challenge before the walk began, with each team needing to score 180 before they could begin their hike. A simple, printed map was the only help for each team to find their way to all of the five checkpoints, where more challenges were waiting for them to complete. To add to the day’s difficulty, the teams also had additional items to carry with them, such as water packs and balloons. Failing at one challenge, putting down the pack of water or an exploding balloon led to time penalties – which caused some sabotage and battles between the teams along the way. The competitiveness of professional cyclists goes further than only on the bike and some teams were seen sprinting the final five kilometres to the finish, in a last bid to secure a good time.