For a good number of reasons, the island of Mallorca provides ideal circumstances, locations and conditions for a large number of leisure activities, be that hiking, golfing, sailing, motorbike touring, caving, surfing, rock climbing or cycling, not least of all the weather and climate.
For now, let’s just talk about cycling.
Spain has always been a country keen on cycling as a sport, be that road racing or indoor track racing. The Vuelta Ciclista a España was founded as early as 1935 and has given Spain early day cycling champions such as Jesus Loroño, Jose Manuel Fuente and Pedro Delgado, to be succeeded by Abraham Olano, Alejandro Valverde or Alberto Contador. Track cycling was particularly popular in Spain at the end of the 19th century and velodromes were built here in Mallorca. Palma first built Son Espanyolet and later El Tirador, said to be the best Velódromo in all of Spain. Additional cycling tracks followed in Santa Maria, Algaida, Sineu, Ses Salines and Campos but are now neglected and in ruins. Spanish track cycling champions of recent years include Mallorcans Joan Llaneras, Antonio Tauler and David Muntaner.
Cycling has always been big in Felanitx, my home town, not least because of one of Felanitx’s heroes, Guillem Timoner (photo below), a six-times World Champion in motor-paced cycling over medium distances (50 km) in 1955, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1964 and 1965 (he also came 2nd in 1956 and 1958), the most successful cycling racer of all times in this category. An event is scheduled in this man’s honour on Saturday, February 8th, at the Palma Arena, on the occasion of the publication of an illustrated book spanning the career of this cycling legend, Timoner en Persona – Una vida en pista. I think the event will start at 19h00, should you wish to attend.
Many cyclists, from the professionals to the mere enthusiasts, agree that Mallorca is a cyclist’s paradise. The reasons why cycling is so attractive in Mallorca is due to the different types of terrain. The hilly landscape is challenging but not too steep. The hairpin climbs of the Tramuntana mountains are more demanding with their winding serpentine curves. And there are long stretches of plain and straight roads as if specifically made for road biking in the north east and in the island’s centre.
This year’s cycling season has already started. Cycling enthusiasts tend to come to the island twice a year and when they come they come in hordes. A few hundred thousand cycling enthusiasts arrive in Mallorca every spring between February and April and again, in the Autumn, between October and November.
The biggest cycling event, the annual Mallorca Challenge bicycle race is now only ten days away (February 9th to 12th).
The XXII Iberostar Challenge Ciclista Mallorca will be held in four stages over four days. The first stage will be the Trofeo Palma (116 km) on Sunday, February 3rd. The second stage is to be the Trofeo Campos-Santanyí-Ses Salines (159 km) on Monday, February 4th. Third stage will be the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, Deià-Lluc (152 km) on Tuesday, February 5th. The fourth and final stage will be the Trofeo Alcúdia-Can Picafort-Playa de Muro (160 km) on Wednesday, February 6th. The participating teams are all professionals, including Team Sky, Movistar, Astana Pro Team, Katasha, IAM Cycling, Cofidis, Lotto Belisol, Caja Rural and many more.
Non-Professional cyclists will participate in the V Mallorca Classic by Max Hürzeler to be held on March 30th, with stages from Playa de Palma to Inca, from Playa de Muro to Inca, and from Inca via Selva, Caimari, Gorg Blau, Coll de Puig Major and Sóller to Playa de Palma. This event is open to all riders older than 17 years of age.
More road cycling races are planned for the autumn, with The Semana Internacional de Ciclismo Masters being scheduled from 6th to 11th of October, including The Copa de Europa de Masters on October 6th in Playa de Palma, The Trofeo Internacional on October 7th in Llucmajor and The Challenge Vuelta a Mallorca para Masters on October 9th to 11th, with stages in Cala d’Or, Port de Pollença and Playa de Muro.
If you are planning a cycling holiday in Mallorca and are looking for private lodgings you might want to check out on Mallorca cyclist accommodation.
Credit and thanks are due to Henrik Rydengård and YouTube for the video clip. Cycling friends of mine claim that the ascent from Sa Calobra to the Coll dels Reis is even more exciting than the preceding descent. Enjoy.