The 2020 race program for Canyon dhb p/b Soreen commenced in warm sunshine at the Challenge Ciclista Mallorca, a series of four one-day UCI 1.1 category races held between 30th January and 2nd February.
The event which is now in its 9th year is the season opener for many UCI teams based in the northern hemisphere. The value of the event is demonstrated by the number of World Tour and ProTeams (UCI’s new name for Pro Continental) who participate as it provides them with an opportunity to assess how well their winter training programs have been progressing and who might be carrying good early season form.
Following the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen team’s successful training camp which was based in Calpe on the Spanish Costa Blanca, the ten riders who transferred onwards to Palma were new team members Jerome Baugnies, Jacob Scott & Rob Scott, along with Alex Colman, Jacob Hennessy, Callum Macleod, Alex Paton, Dan Pearson, Max Stedman & Tom Stewart. Seven of these riders would be selected for each race depending upon the daily parcours and race strategy.
First class competition was assured by the presence of five World Tour teams: Bora-Hansgrohe, Israel Start-Up Nation, Lotto Soudal, Movistar (including 2018 Road Race World Champion Alejandro Valverde) and Trek-Segafredo; along with nine ProTeams: Arkea Samsic, Bardiani-CSF-Faizane, Burgos-BH, Circus-Wanty Gobert, Fundacion-Orbea, Gazprom RusVelo, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Sport Vlaaderen-Baloise and Vini Zabu-KTM. Canyon dhb p/b Soreen were one of nine Continental teams competing.
30th January: Trofeo Felanitx, Ses Salines, Campos, Porreres
The first race was an undulating 170km course in the south-east of the island which contained a few relatively mild hills (compared to what was going to come over the next couple of days!) totalling just over 1000 metres of climbing. This race was expected to finish in a large bunch sprint.
Alex Colman started strongly and within a few minutes he had made it into the first break of the day consisting of six riders. However this freedom was short-lived and the group returned to the chasing peloton sparking a second group of four riders to take off.
The pattern of the race was then set for the next 110km with the break attaining a maximum gap of five minutes over the peloton. With 45km to go the peloton began a gradual acceleration and the break started to disintegrate though Remy Mertz (Lotto-Soudal) and Claudio Imhof (Swiss National Track Team) gamely held on to their diminishing lead until they were eventually swamped by the stampeding peloton with just 5km to go.
Meanwhile, activity in the peloton increased as teams assembled their sprint trains in the last 20km with the movement causing a spate of small crashes. Unfortunately, having already suffered a puncture, Canyon dhb p/b Soreen’s sprinter Jacob Hennessy was the victim of one such crash putting him out of contention before the finish.
Colman used his one-day race skills honed in Belgium to maintain a position towards the front end of the peloton and was the team’s best finisher taking 26th place in the same time as the winner, Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) with Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) close behind in 2nd.
Jacob Scott 61st, Rob Scott 78th, Alex Paton 88th and Jerome Baugnies 91st finished at 15 seconds. Max Stedman was a further 10 seconds back in 99th with Hennessy 146th at 7min 16sec.
Canyon dhb p/b Soreen finished 19th out of 23 in the team classification.
31st January: Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, Soller-Deia
The second race route in the north of the island had to be modified due to road damage in the hills caused by the recent stormy weather. This meant that some of the mid-race climbs had to be circumvented in favour of the less affected and flatter inland roads. However, the 163km course still contained two categorised climbs in the opening 25km, and the last 50km held the threatening combination of the Coll de Femenies and the highest peak of the island at 950 metres, the Coll de Puig Major. The finale consisted of a swooping 16km decent into Soller with the finish coming just after the shorter rise over the Coll den Bleda. Total climbing was 2630 metres.
Canyon dhb p/b Soreen brought in three riders with proven climbing pedigree for the second and third races with Callum Macleod, Dan Pearson & Tom Stewart replacing Alex Colman, Jacob Hennessy & Alex Paton.
The day also started with the 4.4km Coll den Bleda where Rob Scott joined six other riders in the break of the day. After the second categorised climb, the Coll den Claret, the race settled into a 70km run along the valley roads where the break stretched out their lead to almost four minutes. Rob Scott picked up 3rd place in the hot-spot ‘metas volantes’ (flying goal) during this period of the race.
The peloton dramatically cut into the lead when it reached the climb of Coll de Femenies with 55km to go. Although Rob Scott was caught at this point, the rest of the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen team were working well together until electronic gear problems forced Stedman to change his bike for a shared spare bike just as Marc Soller (Movistar) sparked up action in the peloton. As the peloton fragmented Stedman lost contact on the Coll de Puig Major as had Macleod and Stewart.
Soller was joined by Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgohe) with the latter opening up a gap of over 30 seconds as he flew down the 16km decent into Soller. Buchmann maintained his lead the over the final climb of the day, the Coll den Bleda and took the win from Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who led in a group of 22 riders at 38 seconds.
Jerome Baugnies and Jacob Scott finished with the second large group 2min 58sec down in 39th and 43rd places respectively. Dan Pearson finished 60th at 3min 54sec, Stedman 66th at 8min 7sec, Macleod 109th at 12min 16sec, Rob Scott 122nd at 16min 29sec with Stewart DNF.
After a tough day out the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen attained 15th place in the team standings.
1st February: Trofeo Pollença-Port d’Andratx
The third and stiffest test of the Challenge was the 169km mountainous coastal route from the extreme north of Mallorca to the most westerly point of the island. The first half of the course again took on the combination of the Colls de Femenies, Puig Major and Bleda whilst the second half contained another two categorised climbs along with a succession of smaller peaks before finishing with the sting in the tail, the 2.3km climb up from Port d’Andratx to San Miro averaging 9% with ramps significantly steeper than that. Total climbing was close to 3,200 metres.
Despite numerous attacks trying to establish a break, the high pace kept the peloton together until they reached the Coll de Femenies. Here Mads Schmidt Wurtz (Israel Start-Up Nation) and again Claudio Imhof (Swiss National Track Team) initiated the attacks followed by a fluid chase group.
Jacob Scott rode impressively to move across to the chasing group of 16 quality riders on the Coll den Bleda with 67km to go where the gap to Imhof was around 90 seconds with the main peloton a further 90 seconds adrift. Scott’s chase group caught Imhof as they traversed a series of uncategorised climbs with 35km to go. Another 5km on this group exploded apart with Lennard Kamna & Gregor Muhlberger (both Bora-Hansgrohe) and Marc Soler (Movistar) leading the charge.
With Kamna crashing (and remounting), it was Soler who got away from Muhlberger on the steep slopes of San Miro to take the win by 11 seconds with Kamna salvaging 4th place at 64 seconds.
Meanwhile the peloton had caught the remnants of the chase group including Jacob Scott before the final climb and it splintered as the riders fought for final positions. Back on his own bike, Stedman took a fine 20th place at 3min 8sec just 11 seconds adrift of Valverde in 10th place. Baugnies was not far behind in 27th place at 3min 27sec, Pearson 47th at 4min 22sec, Jacob Scott 56th at 4min 56sec, Macleod 84th at 11min 56sec, with Rob Scott & Stewart DNF.
The Canyon dhb p/b Soreen team had a marked improvement in the team classification taking a great 5th place and finishing above Trek-Segafredo and Israel Start-Up Nation as well as eight of the ProTeams. A tough but rewarding day out in the sunshine!
2nd February: Trofeo Playa de Palma-Palma
The fourth and last race of the series was a 159km undulating anti-clockwise loop starting on the eastern outskirts of Palma and finishing in the centre of the island’s capital. The course contained one categorised climb, the 6.4km Coll de sa Creu at 3.7% which would set a challenge for sprinters to overcome 35km from the finish.
Three riders got away after 5km and the peloton appeared content to leave them ahead though restricting their lead to 2 minutes. The break was caught on the Coll de sa Creu with the acceleration in the peloton dropping around sixty riders on the climb, including half of the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen team, however Jacob Scott and Alex Paton mananged to hang on and stay with the front group over the climb.
The race finished with two 10km laps of the city with the peloton being controlled by the World Tour teams ensuring the race finished with the anticipated bunch sprint.
It was Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) who took his second win to book-end the Challenge Mallorca races with Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) again taking 2nd place.
Jacob Scott demonstrated that he can sprint as well as climb taking 18th place with Paton also finishing in the same time as the winner in 26th place. Baugnies was 77th at 2min 42sec, Hennessy was 119th & Stewart 125th both at 6min 2sec, Rob Scott was 132nd at 8min 32sec and Colman was DNF due to a mechanical.
The Canyon dhb p/b Soreen team finished 17th out of 23 teams on the day.
Rider Comments on Social Media
“Good 4 days in Challenge Mallorca. In the pointy end of the race every day and throwing some shapes. Happy to start the season feeling strong.”
“A bit of a ‘what could have been’ experience in Majorca but could have been worse and leaving with extra motivation.”
“First 2 races are done for me. Condition is on his way to be flying in 1 month.”
Max Stedman (after stage 3)….
“After a bit of a nightmare yesterday, was glad to be able to put in a good day today! Solid performance all day by the @canyondhbsoreen guys!”
The Canyon dhb p/b Soreen team fared well against some top class competition with five riders achieving top 30 places. The team performed particularly well in the most mountainous race taking 5th place in the team classification. The new riders appeared to integrate well with the rest of the team. Certainly a solid foundation to 2020 in what is hoped will be a great season for the riders, support staff and sponsors.
Written by Paul & Marina Stedman.
Images – Dan King @breakawaydigital