Team Sky make the short trip up the road from their winter training camp to tackle the Challenge Mallorca – a four days of what promises to be varied and competitive early-season racing.
Broken up into four “trophies”, the 'Challenge' is set to pose a challenge for all types of riders, with sprint, mountain and rolling days being punctuated by steep climbs, rapid descents and technical turns.
Another unique feature of the race sees teams able to enter squads of 10 riders and rotate their line-up through the four days
Team Sky will head a mere three kilometres down the road in Alcudia to the race hotel with a strong line-up including Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, debutants Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, Josh Edmondson, David Lopez and Ian Boswell.
Sunday 3 February – Trofeo Palma: 116km street circuit
A gentle introduction to the race will see the riders complete ten loops of an 11.6km circuit along the seafront Avenida Gabriel Roca and back. While the gentle curves of the main body of the loop should not pose too many problems, two tight hairpin bends at each end could prove tricky if the pace is driven up. The route is pan flat and should undoubtedly end in a bunch sprint.
Monday 4 February – Trofeo Campos: Campos to Ses Salines, 167km
The peloton heads to the south of the island for two-and-two-thirds of a lap of a 62km rolling circuit. The route will ascend the category-four Col de Santanyi three times and also take in several other smaller climbs on a day that should suit puncheurs. The stage finishes with a short, steep climb, before flattening out for a dash to the line which could throw up any number of winners.
Tuesday 5 February – Trofeo Deia: Deia to Monasterio de Lluc, 153km
Time for the climbers to come to the fore as the race heads over to the south-west coast of Mallorca for a 153km mountainous route containing two third-category climbs, two second-category climbs and an ascent of the first-category Coll de Puig Major, the summit of which comes 19km from the finish line. Team Sky’s climbers have spent the whole winter climbing Mallorca’s mountains and will know these roads well.
Wednesday 6 February – Trofeo Alcudia: Alcudia to Avenida Albufera, 170km
Another day in the hills, this time starting in the north of the island. The first 50km are relatively gentle as the route heads south from Alcudia, but it then veers right towards the west coast and back into the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. Four category-two climbs await, including another ascent of Coll de Puig Major, albeit from the opposite direction. However, the day ends with a gentle descent the best part of 50km long all the way back down to the finish line just outside Alcudia. Should a breakaway group gain enough time in the hills and work well together coming home, they have every chance of staying away.
Team Sky history
In addition to calling Mallorca their winter home Team Sky have also tasted success on its roads. In 2012 at their first attempt at the challenge victory arrived at Trofeo Deia with Lars-Petter Nordhaug completing an impressive solo victory. Sergio Henao finished just behind in third on his debut for the team – a strong performance the team will be looking to replicate in 2013.