Mallorca Cycling

screenshot-2016-11-15-18-08-49So it has been a busy few weeks of cycling here in Mallorca… and a busy few weeks in the world of cycling.

The end of October brings Halloween celebrations and a hugely reduced number of scheduled flights to Mallorca.  As the mercury drops down the thermometer, the “faffing” levels most certainly head in the other direction.  The patter behind what to wear is ridiculous. It becomes a topic of pre ride conversation and inevitably delays your departure…  what thickness of base layer, are arm, knee & leg warmers required, what type of gloves & foot covers.…  The net result is the accidental, unplanned trips to bike shop & Wiggle browsing.
Some recommended bike shops in Mallorca,, &
The end of summer always brings the last of the local cycling sportives.

Time Trial Sa Calobra – 
September saw the third Time Trial Sa Calobra – a small cycling charity event that involved professionals and amateur cyclists.  screenshot-2016-11-15-18-09-06With the support of the Ajuntament d’Escorca, local cyclists, mechanics, masseurs, photographers, transfer companies and restaurants we were able to create an awesome two days of cycling.  Saturday’s activities were centred around Hotel Esplendido in Port de Soller and hub for Sunday’s Time was the village of Bunyola.  For the Time Trial, we were joined by local professional cyclists Vincente Reyes, Alberto Torres & Joan Horrach.  One Pro Cycling riders Josh Hunt, Sam Williams and George Harper were joined by team owner and ex-England cricketer Matt Prior.  Caroline Ryan who is part of the Irish Track team who train in Alaro joined the party, along with Guy Andrews a well know cycling journalist.   Ex-Welsh & Lions forward Colin Charvis also joined us, just to show you don’t have to be 65kgs to participate.  In a very relaxed environment, everyone loved the opportunity to get to know all the professionals.

screenshot-2016-11-15-18-09-13Sa Calobra is a small fishing port east of Port de Soller on the northern coast of the island.  It is the most feared climb on the island and definitely on the bucket list of any keen cyclist.  The top of the climb is the Coll dels Reis but the climb is more widely known as Sa Calobra.  Known as the Serpent, it is 10km of tarmac draped on the side of a mountain – 26 hairpin turns rise 668m at an average 7.1% gradient.  One of the hairpins is so extreme it does a 270 turn and heads back over itself.  The road down to the fishing village is only accessed from the top, which means you have to cycle all the way to the bottom before cycling back up.

screenshot-2016-11-15-18-09-19A time trial against the clock is where the cyclists are sent out at intervals.  They race alone, as opposed to a mass start – it’s a true test of a cyclist’s ability on a given course.  The start of the TT Sa Calobra is at the very bottom by the sea and finishes at the Nu de sa Corbata (under the bridge where the road loops round 270 degrees).

screenshot-2016-11-15-18-09-26Participants left Bunyola, with their bikes, and were transported to Gorg Blau.  From there they cycled down to the start by the sea.  On one of the finest start ramps ever made by man (Joan Horrach).  The cyclists were released every 20 seconds at randomly generated start times.



The winning time was Josh Hunt from One Pro Cycling in 27:39.  Jake Pieniazek posted the fastest non professional was 32:47 and at 34:50 Juliet Wolfe was the fastest female



After the Time Trial and a snack at the restaurant at Nu de sa Corbata the riders split into two group and cycled 70km back to Bunyola…. Where we had a bit of a party!
The aim of the event is for the participants to have a great day out on the bike & raise some money for a good cause – we had a huge range of abilities, some even tackling Sa Calobra for the first time.  When all the donations are in we hope to have raised 10,000€ for Aspanob
screenshot-2016-11-15-18-09-51Our chosen charity is ASPANOB – The association of parents of children with cancer of the Balearic Islands (ASPANOB) has been working for 29 years with the aim of improving the quality of life of all children suffering from cancer as well as that of their families. The charity offer sheltered apartments in Palma and Barcelona, psychosocial & educational support.  They also organise many different leisure activities for all the family here in Mallorca.  The work that Jaime and his team of people do is absolutely incredible – they rely on donations, so for anyone wanting to donate please follow this link
screenshot-2016-11-15-18-10-03Volta a Menorca
At the time of writing I am in Mahon having participated in the Volta a Menorca – another fantastic cycling sportive.  This 3 day cycling event is somewhat uniquely organised by Arturo Sintes, with everything centred around Mahon.  Each year we are joined by some professional riders – this year it’s the turn of David Lopez and Bernat Intxausti from Team Sky.

On Friday afternoon there was a short 45km to Es Mercadal and back.  Saturday we rode 110k to Cuitadella.  Sunday we headed up Monte Toro and finish with a lavish and somewhat entertaining late lunch.  This year there were over 300 cyclists, with 110 from Britain and is the perfect way to see Menorca on a road bike.

screenshot-2016-11-15-18-10-11Arturo’s enthusiasm and passion for the cycling and this event is unrelenting.  He continues to grow the content of his cycling museum in the middle of the island and as the drummer of the band the Spanglish, he treats us to some nifty stick work at the end of event party.  With rolling road closures, we cycle out in one long extended peloton. The chit chat is momentarily halted each by the daily short sharp hill climb, where gradients soar into double figures.

Funny old month in the world of cycling 
It has been announced that Yorkshire will play host to the road World Championships in 2019.  This will again put the UK in the cycling spotlight and will include a 15mil investment into grass roots facilities.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish finished second as Peter Sagan won a sprint finish to retain his title at the Road World Championships in Doha.  Cavendish’s podium finish rounds off a year that has seen the 31-year-old win four stages of the Tour de France, the madison track world title with Sir Bradley Wiggins and his first ever Olympic medal, with silver in the omnium. in the women race, Britain’s Lizzie Deignan finished fourth as Denmark’s Amalie Dideriksen picked up the World Champion’s crown

screenshot-2016-11-15-18-10-18There has been controversy surrounding granting of a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to Wiggins for a banned steroid (triamcinolone) to treat his Asmetha.  There is no suggestion of wrongdoing, but the timing of the TUE’s before the 2012 Tour de France doesn’t look great.  The process was followed correctly, but is at odds with Team Sky’s no needle policy & the transparency they like to demonstrate.  The use of TUE’s has recently been brought into the spotlight following a group of hackers known as the Fancy Bear – believed to be a Russian group.  In the last few months, the group have drip fed names of well known stars from a wide range of sports from tennis, athletics, rugby union.

A TUE allows competitors in sport to apply to use prohibited substance if there is a medical need… This is a process that is clearly defined by the governing body of different sports.  Throughout the year, it is common place for sports men and women to need to take medication that is on the list of banned substances.

screenshot-2016-11-15-18-10-25Claims from a former British rider that a powerful painkiller Jonathan Tiernan-Locke was feely offered when he competed for Britain in the world championships in 2012 – again no rules were breached, but questions have been asked.  The UK Anti Doping investigation has an launched an investigation into allegations of wrong doing.  This is in connection with a mystery medical package that was delivered to team Sky at the end of the Criterium du Dauphine in La Toussuire in 2011.France.  Team Sky, Wiggins and the governing body British Cycling all insist that no rules have been broken.

4th November – UCI Track World Cup starts
18th November – Revolution Champions League starts

Photographs by Oliver Neilson



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