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The multi-day Mallorca Challenge clicks a very busy month of racing into gear south of the Pyrénées.
Set against the spectacular backdrop of Mallorca, a series of one-day races sends the Spanish calendar into full flight.
Last weekend’s season debut at the Clàssica Valenciana 1969, won by Giovanni Lonardi (EOLO-Kometa), got the party started, but this week’s racing on Mallorca sees the first major action for many WorldTour stars.
Several top names will be making their season debuts, including Alejandro Valverde and Enric Mas (Movistar), Brandon McNulty (UAE Emirates), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco), Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech), and Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal).
“We come to Mallorca looking to open our 2022 account with a victory of course,” BikeExchange-Jayco sport director David McCartland said. “As a secondary goal and seen as this is our first European race of the year, we are looking to really build our foundations for the season coming up.”
- Brandon McNulty debuts 2022 at Mallorca Challenge
- Alejandro Valverde still doesn’t know what will be his final race
- Philippe Gilbert putting focus on Ardennes in last waltz
Many teams will bring relatively large squads to Mallorca, and start different riders on each day. The race is a series of one-day races, so riders can start any or all of the different races, and there is not an official overall classification for the week.
The five one-day races are contested on different spots on the island. The shortest one is 153 kilometer, the longest one 174 kilometer. The races on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday offer a hilly parcours, with around 3000 meters of climbing through the Serra de Tramuntana mountains.
The Trofeo Port d’Alcudia and the Trofeo Playa de Palma are more suitable for sprinters, even though a noteworthy obstacle animates the finals of these races, respectively the Col de sa Batalla (7.8km at 5.2 percent) and the Col de sa Creu (6.2km at 3.8 percent).
Many teams are already in Spain and are wrapping up a series of pre-season training camps up and down the Mediterranean coast. Teams will often post up for much of December and January in and around Calpe or Denia, while other teams have a base on Mallorca.
— ChallengeMallorca (@ChallengeMca) January 25, 2022
The island is a popular cycling destination, and a handful of top pros will spend the winter there. The 2012 Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins long used Mallorca as a winter training base.
The women’s peloton will see two races on Spanish roads this month. The one-day Volta CV Feminas opens racing on February 6, followed by the stage race at Setmana Valenciana Fémines on February 17-20.
After Mallorca, racing returns to the Iberian peninsula, with stage races and one-day races along the coast, running between the Valencia and Alicante regions, before moving down to Murcia and into Andalucía for the Ruta del Sol.
The Volta ao Algarve, another popular early season start for many top pros, is just across the border in southern Portugal.
Check back to VeloNews for coverage and interviews from all the major races.
Racing in Spain through February
Mallorca Challenge, January 26-30
Volta a Valencia, February 2-6
Volta CV Feminas, February 6
Vuelta a Murcia, February 12
Vuelta a Almería, February 13
Clásica Jaén Paraíso Natural, February 15
Ruta del Sol, February 16-20
Volta ao Algarve (Portugal), February 16-20
Setmana Valenciana Fémines, February 17-20
Gran Camiño, February 24-27