Chris Froome prepares for Volta a Catalunya in South Africa

After winning the Herald Sun Tour a couple of weeks ago, Chris Froome headed to South Africa for an intense block of training to help lay further foundations for the busy year ahead.

“We’re in the Mpumalanga region in the north east of the country, up in the hills near a small town called Pilgrim’s Rest,” Froome said. “We’re staying in some self-catering lodges at a place called Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge. We’ve seen a fair bit of wildlife come wandering through – a pair of elephants, baboons, monkeys, waterbuck, kudu and even some zebra. There’s a lot of game around here, completely different to the rest of our training camps in Europe.

“We’re spending long hours in the saddle and put in some tough rides but that’s exactly what we need at this time of year. We’ve been doing a lot of different sessions – similar to most of our training camps really – just getting miles in the legs and spending time on the climbs. The terrain’s very hilly, and with there being only two of us here we’re certainly not spending any time sitting in the wheels.

“It’s something I’ve done for the last two years and was keen to do again. We were hoping to get a few more riders out here this time around, but a few guys got ill or injured so it ended up just being myself and Ian [Boswell].

“Ian’s based in Nice so we’ve done a fair bit of training together on the Côte d’Azure, so it’s been good to have him out here with me. He really impressed everyone at the Vuelta last year and has got a big season ahead of him with his sights set on the Giro team this year. This camp will certainly lay the foundations for his preparations for that.

“I came here as an under-23 rider so I knew what to expect. We haven’t been doing much else other that eating, riding and sleeping though – it’s been a solid couple weeks.”

Froome is one of the only stars to postpone his European debut until late March when he will line up at the Volta a Catalunya.

“I think it’s fair to say I’m a fair weather cyclist (laughs) and the conditions back in Europe right now can be very hit and miss,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to get out of those early-season races and I definitely go better when it’s hotter. Because of that I think it makes sense for me to follow the sun for as long as I can. There also aren’t many places in Europe at this time of year where you can stay and train at close to 2000m.

“The weather in Australia was great and out here I’m feeling really fit and healthy and none of my training has been interrupted by snowfall, illness, or anything like that. The roads are pretty quiet as well, so I couldn’t ask for much more than that.

“This camp runs until February 28th and then I’ll spend a bit of time training in Johannesburg before returning home for a week or so before Catalunya.”