Mallorca welcomes McEwen, Valverde and Sánchez

The Challenge Volta a Mallorca announced that it will have some of cycling's top athletes at its stage race, February 8 to 12, in Spain. Organisers expect Australian Robbie McEwen, Spaniards Oscar Pereiro, Alejandro Valverde and Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez as part of the 20 participating teams.

Valverde won the overall race title in 2005 and 2003. The 2008 edition was won by Belgian Philippe Gilbert.

Palma hosts the first stage on Sunday, February 8. The riders will face a flat 100-kilometre day. Stage two is a 176.5-kilometre race around the city of Cala Millor and stage three is 180.8 kilometres long, starting and ending in Inca. The organisers will decide on the parcours of the fourth stage in the coming days. The fifth stage, 147.3 kilometres, will be the hardest thanks to its five categorised climbs before the finish in Palmanova.

The five-stage race is unique in cycling in that it allows for teams to switch out riders from day to day. (AS)

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