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Finances may force cancellation of Mallorca Challenge

Spain’s traditional opening race to the cycling calendar – the five-day Mallorca Challenge – is at risk of being cancelled just weeks before the start of the 2011 season.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the race is struggling to meet the operating costs of the race after efforts to find a new title sponsor fell short. The regional tourism agency is expected to decide this week if it will help foot the bill for the race scheduled for February 6-10.

Scores of top names typically start their season at the Mallorca Challenge, a series of one-day races held on the idyllic setting on the largest of Spain’s Balearic islands. Teams often coincide training camps weeks ahead of the race on the island known for its mild climate and excellent cycle-friendly network of narrow and twisting roads.

The news comes on the heels of more troubles for Spain’s cycling community, already hit by a string of damaging doping scandals as well as an economy in the throes of crisis. Spain is suffering with 20 percent unemployment and its government is slashing spending to try to fend off calls that its economy needs a bailout similar to Greece and Ireland.

Many of Spain’s popular regional races, such as the Ruta del Sol and the Vuelta a Castilla y León, see major backing from local governments, which are also under the gun to reduce spending.

Efforts to revive the five-day Volta a Comunidad Valenciana this season after a two-year hiatus because it also lost a sponsor failed this year when new money could not be secured for 2011. The Vuelta a Murcia, another popular early-season race held in March, recently announced it was trimming its race from five to three in a cost-cutting effort.

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