Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) has become an expert in how to win the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, having claimed the race for the last three years. On Saturday he made it three in a row with an impressive effort that illustrated that he has hit the ground running once again this season.
The Belgian admitted later that he needed to take risks on the wet descents in order to haul himself into contention. The 27-year-old finished fifth, second and first in the three one-day races he took part in during the Challenge Mallorca, and although he will skip the final outing on Sunday the Belgian will carry his form into Etoile de Besseges, which starts next week.
"My next race will be my first participation in Etoile de Besseges, where I want to pursue a good overall classification. The final time trial will be crucial. Besseges is mostly a nervous race due to the increased chance of echelons, so we really have to pay attention there," Wellens said after his win on Sunday.
Wellens has developed into one of Lotto-Soudal's most important and reliable riders in recent years. He has the ability to win stage races and one-day events, as shown by his ever-growing palmares that includes Giro d'Italia stage wins and overall titles in both the Eneco Tour (twice) and Tour de Pologne.
On Saturday he demonstrated his eye for a move and then his talent in dropping the opposition on both the descents and the climbs. He bridged up to lone leader Emmanuel Buchmann in the closing stages before dropping the German rider on the climb to the line with around 5km to go.
"Immediately after the start, the roads started to rise. We decided to take the initiative ourselves in order to make it a tough day. There were quite a few crucial moments today, but the team always neutralized the danger as they rode at the front of the bunch and as such taking matters into our own hands. At a certain point on the course, we decided to go full gas with the whole team, which caused the peloton to split to pieces. However, it was still reasonably long till the ultimate climb so we decided to wait for a moment and let everybody return," he said in a press release issued by his team.
"I attacked on the last climb of the day, looking for the head of the race Buchmann. Initially, I chased Buchmann together with two other riders but as I took some risks in the wet descent, only one rider was able to follow. I knew the course all too well and that really did help me a lot today. Later, I could join Buchmann at the front and at around five kilometers to go, I left him behind during a technical descent. He told me that he was cramping up so I took full advantage of that."