In a modest hotel up the road from Ghent is Garmin. The Ronde De Vlaanderen is in two days. Team cars line the edge of a driveway running past the side of the hotel. In the back, two Garmin buses are parked side-by-side, tip-to-tail. Between them, under an awning, is an impromptu alley and place to converge and congregate. It’s also where the mechanics work. Just beyond the alley is a garage where many brand-new bikes are stacked. Inside the hotel, between the front desk and the back where most of the rooms are, is a large dining room combination meeting space. The team and support staff move between this area and the alley in back, this is their purview.
The team is training and resting and press conferencing. The mood is subdued and anxious. Over breakfast Jonathan Vaughters talks with Andreas Klier, Garmin team captain, and the team’s PR liaison about a misconception. About the misconception. The media and the fans and the crowds and the pundits. And the experts. And all the bloggers as well as all the people who purportedly read the blogs, have all got it in their head that Garmin is the Spring Classics team to beat. Jonathan is not sure who posited the idea, or how or why it’s become so pervasive. And but more importantly he’s concerned that not only is the idea flawed, it’s also putting undue pressure on the team and their efforts. Yes it’s true, Thor and Hienrich, and even Tyler in the right conditions, can win any one of these races but to date none of them actually have. There is an expectation. An expectation that Garmin, internally, do not feel responsible for. It’s unnecessary pressure and it’s negatively impacting morale. So for now, the team is locking-down, limiting access and interviews and media, and going inside themselves and their hotel rooms.