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Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) came out top at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana on Friday.
Wellens opened the account on his Belgian team’s season after an all-attacking final hour through Mallorca’s mountains, beating breakaway companions Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) in the final reduced sprint.
American ace Brandon McNulty (UAE Emirates) finished fourth as he continues his hot start to the season after winning Wednesday’s Trofeo Calvia.
Que sprint!!! @Tim_Wellens se impone a @alejanvalverde en el sprint final en #Lloseta#challengemallorca#TrofeoSerraTramuntana@MallorcaTourism@TurismeBalears
— ChallengeMallorca (@ChallengeMca) January 28, 2022
Wellens lived up to his reputation for starting the season strong with his fourth victory in the mountainous race. The 30-year-old is notorious for running riot through the start of the year with palmarès rich in wins through February and March.
“I knew the finish all too well and I needed to be first or second out of the final corner. So I did and could take the victory,” Wellens said.
Podium-finishers Valverde and Clarke both featured heavily as the attacks flew through the final 40km after the two veterans were also active in their top-six finishes at Trofeo Calvia.
Friday’s third race of the five-day Mallorca Challenge saw the peloton tackle a tough early-season climbing test through the mountains in the north of Mallorca.
A battery of climbs including the Coll de Sóller and Puig Major ascents so well-known by the island’s horde of cyclo tourists stacked up to more than 3000 meters of uphill across 160km of Spanish road surface.
A bunch of six got away early, with last-men standing Raul Garcia (Kern Pharma) and Kévin Vauquelin (Arkéa-Samsic) lasting through to the long slopes of the Puig Major.
The duo’s day in the sun was done when the peloton exploded with attacks close behind.
— Andreu Canals (@andreu_canals) January 28, 2022
McNulty, Valverde, Ben Zwiehoff (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Movistar co-leader Enric Mas were among a dozen riders to try moves over the top of the Puig as the attacks kept flying thick and fast.
An all-star group made the front in the downward tilting final 20km.
Valverde, Clarke, Wellens, Mas, McNulty, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty) all made the front group as the race roared toward its end in Lloseta.
A flurry of attacks flew in the flat final 10km as Valverde repeatedly pressing hard on the accelerator, but the bunch stayed together to set up the dragging final sprint.
Valderde and Wellens hit the front first in the final kick, but the Spanish veteran looked short of space along the barriers and had to sit up and check his surge, leaving his rival to roll home for win number four in the event.
Valverde was gracious in defeat.
“Wellens has apologized to me, he has told me ‘sorry’ when he has climbed on the podium… It must be for a reason. He has changed the trajectory from right to left totally,” Valverde said.
“I was already on par with him, and if he kept moving forward, he had room to pass, but as he saw that he overtook him, he moved further to the left and I had to stop pedaling. The judges have said that he is the winner, so there is nothing more to talk about. I congratulate him.”
The Mallorca Challenge series closes out with the Trofeo Pollença and Trofeo Playa de Palma this weekend.
Top-6, Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana
- Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal)
- Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
- Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech)
- Brandon McNulty (UAE Emirates)
- Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty)
- Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe)