Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca – Stages 1-3

Photo: © Roberto Bettini

Wow, it looks like I’m not the only one who is busy. Another race is happening in Spain, and although there is not a great deal of coverage for the Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca, there are a number of big names involved. We have Greipel, McEwen, Freire and Cardoso for the sprinters and Frank Schleck, Alejandro Valverde, Linus Gerdmann, Luis Leon Sanchez and probably a few others I am missing. Who else is missing is, shhhh don’t tell anyone, Andy Schleck! Why you ask? I’ll tell you why: An early season knee injury. Yikes. Not good news. He’s headed back to Luxembourg to get some R&R for the knee, but I wonder how this will affect his early season goals such as Leige-Bastogne-Leige?

So to the race. Mallorca, is that small little island floating in the Mediterranean about 340km off the east coast of Spain from Valencia. Normally warm, and covered with German tourists, the site of this years race has been subject to the same nasty weather that is hitting all of Europe. This is not going to make many riders happy. So, the normally sunny, now turned nasty “Challenge” runs 5 days from Feb.7th to 11th and covers 746km. The interesting thing about the Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca, a 1.1 UCI race, is it’s format. Essentially, it is a series of five one day races which can be ridden by any of the numerous riders on a team. Many of the larger teams bring as many as 15 riders and make certain line-ups depending on the stage. This makes it very popular with the team managers as a chance to try early season strategies. This is also something I just learned today. Due to this interesting format, the race only has an ‘unofficial’ GC standing as many of the riders do not race everyday, but for those who do, a special notification is put beside the best collective time from the five stages and an unofficial GC winner is named.

Robbie McEwen, back from last years injury-plagued season, won the first stage for his first victory of the year, beating Koldo Fernandez and Oscar Freire to the line. Way back in 5th was Cardoso and even further back in 14th! was Greipel.

Stage 2 was taken by Oscar Freire, for his first win of the season an this time in direct competition the “The Giant” Andre Greipel who was nipped at the line to finish second. Manuel Cardoso rounded out the top three.

Today’s stage 3 was a nasty one. Linus Gerdemann won the mountainous stage, and half the field didn’t feel like finishing, as they had no worry about not being able to race the following days stage. The DNF’s included Lars Boom, Markus Fothen, Tony Martin, Kim Kirchen, Alexandr Kolobnev, Joaquin Rodriguez and Robbie McEwen. DNS included Valverde and Frank Schleck on this day.

The final standings for today’s Stage 3:

1 147 GERDEMANN, Linus GER MRM 3:55:45
2 172 VALLS, Rafael ESP FOT m.t.
3 206 VAZQUEZ, Manuel ESP ACA m.t.

The Overall Standings are not yet available.

Stage 1 winner: Robbie McEwen
Photo: © Roberto Bettini

Stage 2 winner: Oscar Freire
Photo: © Patrik Pátek

Stage 3 winner: Linus Gerdemann
Photo credit © Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca/Unisport Consulting

Frank enjoying the nice weather on Stage 2
Photo: © Franklin Tello

Caisse D’Epargne on stage 2. Somewhere in the mix is new team member Marzio Bruseghin
Photo: © Patrik Pátek

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