Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will get their European racing campaign underway this Sunday when it takes on the first of the four races that make up the Mallorca Challenge. The Spanish island of Mallorca is a popular early season training ground for many of the professional cycling teams. A number of teams hold training camps around the island this time of the year and use the Challenge Races to conclude their preseason camps. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung has adopted this approach to kick start its European season as Sports Director, Jens Zemke, explained.
“Mallorca has been the perfect place to have our training camp. It is a beautiful island with good weather, quiet training roads and very nice hotels that offer healthy food. All our staff have been working very hard to support the riders during some really tough training sessions,” Zemke explained. “The Mallorca races will be the close of our hard training camp and so our expectations are low in terms of results for the races. Obviously if we get the chance for a good result we will take it,” Zemke continued.
“We could see at the camp some of our riders are already on a good level, others were planning their peak around the Giro so we had to modify some goals. In general, I am happy with the riders’ condition. The Mallorca Challenge is nice though because we have 13 riders here and all 4 courses are different so we can select riders for each race based on their preferences,” said Zemke.
Star performer from last year, Gerald Ciolek, is one of the Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders that will start his season in Mallorca and seems quite relaxed heading into Sunday’s first race. “I have spent a few weeks here in Mallorca already, getting ready for the upcoming races. I feel good and my preparations have gone well but you never really sure about it until the first race.” Ciolek said. After picking up 5 victories last season the German star is not putting himself under any pressure early on this season either. “It’s always nice to start the season good but the season is also really long so there is no pressure for these first races. Yes it will be nice to do a good race and maybe get a good result to build up to the next races,” Ciolek added.
One fact that Zemke pointed out from the camp was the difference in response the team was getting from race organisers. “Last year we raced in many countries but the Mallorca Challenge will be the first time Team MTN-Qhubeka will race in Spain. It is nice to see the organisers are giving us a chance to get into these races. Last year it was much more difficult to get into the races,” said Zemke. “The motivation is high now and the boys are ready for the season. Ruta del Sol and the first classics is where we expect to start showing our first strengths,” Zemke concluded.
With 9 World Tour teams included in the Mallorca Challenge Races we can expect to see some exciting early season action. Sunday and Monday’s routes lend themselves to the sprinters while on Tuesday and Wednesday the climbers should come to the fore.
Trofeo Palma (9 Feb – UCI 1.1)
Trofeo Ses Salines (10 Feb – UCI 1.1)
Trofeo Deià (11 Feb – UCI 1.1)
Trofeo Platja de Muro (12 Feb – UCI 1.1)