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Is Mallorca the ideal cycling location?

The Balearic island of Mallorca has become a must-visit location for cyclists - pros and amateurs alike, but does it justify the hype?

Smooth winding mountain roads, testing climbs, friendly locals and an accommodating climate all mean Mallorca has the potential to be a fanstastic location for cycling holidays and training camps, as is proved by the thousands of Brits and other Northern Europeans who frequent its roads every year.

But does it live up to its ever-rising reputation?

An endorsement from the top end of the WorldTour only serves to add to the appeal of Mallorca for cyclists of all levels, and earlier this year it's often the destination of choice for Team Sky/Ineos's pre-season training camps.

Despite Mallorca's appeal, many of the roads are still pleasantly quiet even once the temperatures have risen in the early spring.

With the popularity of the island as a cycling destination of choice for everyday riders and WorldTour pros, the local government has dialled in on the economic benefits of cycle tourism, and cycling holiday companies are popping up all over this cyclists' hotspot.

'A few years ago the government quickly clicked on to the fact the island had potential to become a cycling paradise, so invested in the quality of the roads, which makes a huge difference to riding,' says James Bowtell, co-founder of luxury cycling holiday company Velusso.

'It’s no surprise cyclists flock here, however with the right knowledge, it’s easy to find quiet routes that take in the best of what the Balearic scenery has to offer,' he adds.

For many people Mallorca - and road cycling more widely - came onto many people's radars thanks to Sir Bradley Wiggins's mega-season in 2012.

The climb that he immortalised as his training ground for the Tour de France is the one way ascent of Sa Calobra. It's one way because you have to first descend to the bay before doing an about-turn and riding all the way back up again.

'Sa Calorba is the pinnacle of the island and of every one of our trips,' Bowtell continues before reminiscing about taking a new rider up the famous climb for the first time.

'A long lasting memory of mine is seeing Harry Willits, a lawyer who picked up a road bike just six weeks before travelling to Mallorca, take on the Category 1 climb during his second day of his first cycling holiday.

'Over breakfast he tried to convince us he didn’t have the mental or physical capability to get over the climb, but after what was a tough day in the saddle for any rider, the team and I watched him leave everything on the road to get up in under an hour.

'Holding back the tears, he explained how he didn’t think he had it in him,' Bowtell adds, still clearly moved by the experience.

In case you haven't been over to Mallorca and are still wondering what all the fuss is about, Bowtell adds, 'Mallorca has it all; a fantastic climate, low- to mid-gradient climbs, coastal routes and quiet winding valley roads through vineyards.'

Another climb that has proved popular with the team here at Cyclist is the road to the Cap de Formentor Lighthouse.

Climb, descend and then climb again to another dead-up road, the views across the turquoise sea and back down the road you've ridden are worth every pedal stroke.

As with Sa Calobra, you've been one way so you know what to expect going back the other. Roll down the final descent and along the main road into Pollenca and you can be in the main sqaure with a well earned beer in no time.

Rider and company co-founder Bowtell, who spent a year riding professionally in Belgium, knows both what it is to be pro and hobbyist.

'It’s perfect for amateurs and no surprise the pros use the island as their preferred training destination. For me, Mallorca brings out the best in every cyclist, and because of riders like Harry Willits, we’ll keep going back.’

From the Alps to the Pyrenees, and the cobbles to the bergs, there are plenty of places to take a cycling holiday but few can offer quite the same experience as Mallorca.

Mallorca: Key climbs

The lumpy island of Mallorca packs in plenty of climbing, but here we've selected some of the 'must do' rides for anyone heading over for a cycling holiday or training camp.

If we've overlooked any you think just have to be included then you can let us know in the comments below.

The biggy and the most well known of all Mallorca's ascents. This one will test any rider but the satisfaction you'll feel when you reach the small kiosk at the top (complete with friendly cat) will have made it all worthwhile.

Puig Major is lacking its own Strava segment, so here it is with Sa Calobra beforehand. A gruelling duo but a common route for many visiting riders.

Ascending to the Lluc Monastery is a very pleasant introduction to cycling on Mallorca and should be included in every itinerary, from both directions too.

This way up is perfect for getting in a rhythm and pushing yourself on before some bigger climbs later in your ride.

Cyclist writer Peter Stuart went so far as to describe Formentor as 'Mallorca's finest road,' and he's not far wrong.

What's more, the out and back is short enough to be done as a standalone ride if you've got a couple of hours to pass before heading to the airport.

With several ups and downs and stunning views over both sides almost the whole way, you'd be a fool to go to Mallorca and not ride out to the lighthouse and back.

Slightly off the beaten track so far as it's quite a way from the rest of the more frequented climbs, the dead up ascent up Randa rewards those who conquer it with - you guessed it - stunning views across the island.

Chosen as part of a press ride for the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt bicycle computer, if you've got an extra day it's worth heading into the interior of the island to seek out this climb.

Ride with friends

If you're interested in riding on Mallorca but not sure where to start with the logistics, Velusso can help with trips to Mallorca that can either follow a set itinerary or be tailored to your requirements.

Why not ride with friends on a cycling holiday in 2020? Visit velusso.co.uk or contact bookings@velusso.co.uk for more info.

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