The veteran Spaniard has often begun his season on the Spanish island, opting for the low-key one-day races over other early-season events. In 2018, he finished third in the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, won by Tim Wellens, and was fourth in the Trofeo Lloseta – Andratx, won by Toms Skujiņš.
The four Challenge Mallorca races will be held between January 31 and February 3. The four race routes are hillier than in recent years with the opening race to Felanitx finishing atop the climb of Puig de Sant Salvador. The Andratx Trophy-Lloseta rolls up and down the northern coast, while the Serra de Tramuntana Trophy finishes above Soller after 2,800 metres of climbing. Even the final Playa de Palma Trophy race includes a late climb before the dash to the finish in Palma.
Race organisers have confirmed that Trek-Segafredo, Movistar, Lotto Soudal, Bora-Hansgrohe, Katusha-Alpecin and UAE Team Emirates will be on the start list but Team Sky will not ride in the 2019 Challenge Mallorca.
John Degenkolb will be part of the Trek-Segafredo line-up, alongside Bauke Mollema, while Fabio Aru and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) will also make their season debut in Mallorca. Other names mentioned by race organisers include previous winners Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin).
Valverde won the world title in Innsbruck and made his debut in the rainbow jersey at the Tre Valli Varesine race before ending his season with Il Lombardia. He has confirmed he will ride the Giro d’Italia in 2019, with a mix of stage races and one-day races on his calendar, including a return to the Tour of Flanders before targeting the Ardennes Classics.
Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the Challenge Mallorca.