This week Team Ragde Eiendom has a training camp just outside Oslo at the airport Gardermoen.
We checked the status of the Pro Team with Pro Team Director Magnar Dalen.
"It is, as usual, this time of the year. Some athletes have a little pain here and there. Some are a bit tired and some have a problem with their elbows. We train hard and a lot, at the edge and sometimes over it," says Dalen.
"You can see it as a good sign that the status is as usual. I have a long experience of skiers. When you start with a kick off in the spring, some athletes say that they should change some things in their plan. When we come to October, they are still there with the usual ailments," Dalen continues.
"It has, of course, been an unusual pre-season. We have had to hold all training camps in Norway. Covid-19 has brought challenges for everyone and we have spent a lot of time preparing for many different scenarios for the winter," tells Dalen.
How do the athletes cope with the current situation?
They adapt, but of course, everyone wishes it would be a normal situation. We try to stay in the bubble and think that we are going to race and compete.
This week, the Pro Team is training at the Norwegian capital's airport Gardemoen. Convenient for the team's skiers from northern Norway, Andreas Nygaard and Petter Eliassen. When the athletes got ready for Tuesday morning's training session, there was snow on the ground, as you can see in the top picture. Maybe an omen for a snowy winter.
What is your focus on a camp like this in mid-October?
"We do some comparative tests, challenging workouts and tests to evaluate the current status and see how we are doing," says Dalen and continues;
"Petter (Eliassen) is doing well, some others may be a little below normal level but they will come back again."
That one of the world's absolute best cross country skiers of all time, Marit Bjørgen, is part of Team Ragde Eiendom and will participate in Vasaloppet has been a thing lots of people talked about during the summer. There are many questions. What level does the 40-year-old legend hold today? Will she be able to challenge athletes like Britta Johansson Norgren, Lina Korsgren and Astrid Øyre Slind? Will she do more races?
"It's fun that she's taking the challenge. There are no doubts about her investment based on her current situation, which means that she trains 10-12 hours per week. How far it will reach, neither we nor anyone else can know at the moment. We are, of course, grateful that she is on our Pro Team. Her presence also means a lot for long distance skiing as a sport. We will do everything w,e can to help Marit when she is on the starting line in Sälen to race Vasaloppet," says Dalen.
Will Marit start in more races before the Vasaloppet?
"We hope so but Marit does not want to promise anything she can not keep. We will see it as a bonus if it happens."
Petter Eliassen, Joar Thele, Andreas Nygaard, Anders Aukland and Marit Bjørgen ready for a roller ski session. Photo: Magnar Dalen.
If Marit only has one race planned in the calendar, the entire Visma Ski Classic season XI schedule is in the 26-year-old new addition Anikken Gjerde Alnæs' plan.
"Anniken is currently having an elbow problem and skipped today's workout at the camp. She ran intervals on a treadmill instead. She is a fighter and really wants to perform well in long-distance skiing, but a lot of double poling means a high strain, says Dalen.
The team's Swedish athlete, Oskar Kardin, had the misfortune to fall and have a concussion last winter. He then got off to a good start with training during the summer but had the bad luck to have an injury period again.
"But now Oskars shape is rising again. Oskar is one of the Swedish skiers who can be the winner of Vasaloppet in March," says Dalen.
Finally Magnar. You also have Therese Johaug in the Pro Team for season XI. Will we see her start at Visma Ski Classics race this winter?
"I hope so, but it is not in our hands. Therese is focused on the World Cup and the World Championship, but if you compare the World Cup calendar and Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour, you see that the World Cup ends much earlier. If Therese is healthy and motivated, we are ready to support her. It would be great for the interest of long distance skiing if she will attend to a race, Dalen concludes.
Strong guys ready to be even stronger: Thele, Nygaard, Eliassen, Kardin and Aukland. Photo: Magnar Dalen.