Palmanova > Palmanova 149.3km
We head to Mallorca for the first of five one-day races. These are often seen as pre-season friendlies, but in recent years have grown a little in terms of meaning, but they’re certainly not the be all and end all. Riders are here to get some racing kilometres in the legs, but a win’s a win. The first of the races is Trofeo Calvia, and with 2866m of climbing, it’s one that suits the puncheurs and climbers.
A bit rainy, a bit cold and a bit windy.
Coll de Sóller is likely to be the first meaningful climb. It’s 4.8km at 5.2% and features a beautiful series of hairpin bends.
The descent off the climb is technical, it has lots of twists and turns. So many hairpins, fingers crossed the road is dry at this point, otherwise it could be carnage.
Despite not being classified, this climb kicks off the finale of the race, it begins with 66km to go.
This climb starts with 28km to go. It’s another unclassified one, but 4km at 4.5% is still tough enough.
This is the final climb of the day, it crests with 16km to go.
75km of headwind, followed by 75km of tailwind, what beautiful symmetry. The road is up and down all day long, don’t let the lack of a big mountain fool you, this is a demanding day in the saddle at this point of the year.
The weather forecast isn’t great, it looks like there will be rain throughout the stage. As there is a lot of descending throughout the day, I expect the better bike handlers to push on and try to put pressure on those who aren’t the best at going downhill. With a strong tailwind for much of the second half of the race, the winning move can go at any point in the final 70km. The key, as usual, is having teammates in the front group. If one or two teams have multiple options, they can put pressure on the solo riders, making it tough for them to take the win. However, if a rider arrives with exceptional legs after working very hard throughout the winter, they can dominate and make the others look like little boys!
Bora – they’ve got Kämna, Buchmann, Konrad and young Uijtdebroeks. All four of these riders are good enough to challenge for the win, but given the route, it should favour Kämna and Konrad the most. Kämna is a rider I really like, he loves to attack, he should love this race. Obviously, it’s hard to work out current form, but I hope to see the German enjoying a good day.
UAE – they arrive with two riders who normally start the season hot, McNulty and Wellens. The American is the defending champion, he started last year by winning this one, while Wellens was 4th and won just two days later. In fact, as all of you should know, Wellens has made a habit of winning in January. UAE start with a strong team and would expect both men to make the front group, putting them in a great position to defend the title.
QuickStep – Alaphilippe, Bagioli, Vansevenant and Van Wilder form a very strong team. I would doubt that Alaphilippe is already in great form, he can sometimes take a while to get his legs going. Van Wilder did a spell of altitude training just after Christmas before attending the team camp in mid-January, but he also got sick before the meet up in Calpe. Of all their riders, I think that Bagioli could be the best option. 2022 wasn’t a great year for him, that doesn’t stop me from thinking he’s a brilliant bike rider.
EF – they arrive with Powless and Piccolo as team leaders. It’s the type of race that should suit both riders well, they’ll hope to be in the mix for the win. Piccolo was one who really impressed towards the end of 2022, he seems like a young rider with a big future ahead. Powless is another I rate; he seems to have a silky quality on the bike.
Should be Bora v UAE v QuickStep.
Given the weather forecast, and route, I’ll take a win for Tim Wellens.