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Mallorca, Spain Cycling Season in Review
May 20, 2016 | Blog
The Balearic Islands, laying to the East of Spain’s coastal mainland, have long been considered a Mediterranean paradise known for water sports and steep, dramatic cliffs leading to sandy beaches.
But for cyclists, our islands are becoming a hotbed of activity, both for the major annual events as well as perennial appeal for an ideal training ground. With varied terrain and favorable weather, riders of all abilities have found it an ideal climate to hone their skills and prepare for an upcoming challenge or simply take it all in on a casual ride.
Two of the island’s major competitive draws, the Mallorca 312 and Ironman 70.3 reel in the competitive elite, but even for the more relaxed among us, the island’s accessibility on two wheels enables adventure seekers to spend a day biking to wineries, or any of the six Michellin-starred restaurants.
In it’s seventh year, the Mallorca 312 continues to grow in popularity, with more than 2,000 riders in 2016 and drawing more spectators and participants with each iteration. For seasoned sportive cyclists, it’s the longest event in Spain, covering 312km and circumnavigating the scenic island. There’s even a “shorter” course at 167km, though both feature plenty of intense climbs. Reaching up to Puig Major, the highest point in all the Balearic Islands, the vertical climbs featured on the long and short course come to 4,300m and 2,600m respectively.
For those who still want a taste of adrenaline without having to break a sweat, the Thomas Cook Ironman 70.3 represents a chance to see some of the world’s premier triathletes tackle the brutality of the terrain while you enjoy its beauty.
In 2016, the typically favorable weather was exchanged for rain, creating an extra challenge for the field of 3,500 veteran athletes working their way through slick mountain roads.
The highly-contested men’s event saw the lead change several times, with Marcus Fernandes leading the swim. Henrik Hyldelund sought to take control cycling but fell back in the pack due to lingering neck pain and the advances of two-time winner Andreas Dreitz. Thomas Steger made a strong attempt to close the gap, but Dreitz relied on experience and dug deep to win the event for the third year running.
On the women’s side, the first out of the water was Nicola Sprig, showing tremendous tenacity after falling two months ago during a race, a nasty spill which required surgery. Despite a two-minute lead from the swim, the race was ultimately won on the bike by Laura Phillip, opening a commanding lead that no one was able shrink on foot.
While the beaches, hiking, and golf will continue to be a major draw for tourists, Mallorca will always be a beloved haven in the cycling community for its smooth roads, amenable climate, and beautiful vistas.
Oh and did we mention that Nicola Sprig, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, and Henrik Hyldelund both stayed at Hoposa Villaconcha Hotel as part of their season training? Better luck next year Henrik & Nicola, we hope to host you again!