By Antonio J. Salmerón
The Challenge de Mallorca will start Sunday, February 8, with a circuit race on its traditional 10-kilometre city course along the Paseo Marítimo in Palma de Mallorca. The race has historically been a way for many professionals to ease into their seasons. While there is an overall classification, riders can choose to contest only a few stages, with no risk of getting eliminated.
The real racing starts on day two with a 176.5-kilometre road race from Son Servera to Cala Millor. The next stage around Inca offers the first mountains, with the Coll de Sóller. At 180.8 kilometres it is also the longest race of the series.
The fourth stage starts and ends in Bunyola and is a new addition to the 2009 Challenge. In the 18-year race history the hometown of professional Antonio Colom (Katyusha) was never part of the competition. The profile is challenging enough that is deemed the decisive race for the overall classification. It is 143.3 kilometres long and has five category-two mountains, with the Coll de Sóller to be climbed twice.
The fifth and last stage is between Magaluf and Palmanova, 147.6 kilometres long and also has five mountains.
Twenty teams, among them 10 ProTour teams, will participate in this event.