Trofeo Calvia is the first of five UCI 1.1 category one-day races in Mallorca. Some riders use the Mallorcan races as training to get in better shape like Alejandro Valverde but with loads of UCI points on the line some teams are definitely motivated to perform already in January.
As the series of races are uniquely five consecutive one-day races rather than a stage race, teams can substitute riders in and out of the team each day as they wish, choosing from their broader squad that will presumably be training in Mallorca. For the first time Trofeo Calvia and the other races in Mallorca will be broadcast live, which is great news.
Calendar of Races in Mallorca
25.01 Trofeo Calvia
26.01 Trofeo Port D’Alcudia – Port D’Alcudia
27.01 Trofeo Andratx – Mirador D’es Colomer (Pollença)
28.01 Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana (Lloseta – Lloseta)
29.01 Trofeo Palma – Palma
Trofeo Calvia Start List
Data powered by FirstCycling.com
The profile of this opening race is hilly and suited for climbers and hilly specialists like Brandon McNulty, Tim Wellens and Julian Alaphilippe – the top 3 favourites to win the race when the betting markets opened. There are not many hard hills in the route but in 149.7 kilometres there is 3129 metres of elevation with the road either going up or down. These hills will thin out the group and after most riders are dropped and there is some fatigue in the legs, it is possible to do a long solo. McNulty proved that in 2022, winning Trofeo Calvia with a 60 kilometre solo after dropping everyone in the mountains.
In the last 100 kilometres all the hills are below 6% gradient. Usually 7% is the mark where the drafting effects becomes less important and the stronger riders can more easily get separation. All of the climbs in the 2nd half of the race are in the range of 4% to 5.2% gradient.
Behind McNulty in 2022 was a second group of nine riders – Suter, Albanese, Wellens, Clarke, Valverde, Goosens, Owsian, Buchmann and Zwiehoff. In 2021 the race culminated with a sprint between Ryan Gibbons and Anthony Delaplace where the UAE Emirates rider Gibbons won. Rune Heregodts was third and after that there was a huge group with 33 riders. Before 2021, the last time Trofeo Calvia happened in 2011. However when looking at the old results, it was sprinters who won but the parcours and racing style has changed and now it suits the hilly specialists.
It is forecasted that it will rain during the race and possibly for all five races in Mallorca. The temperature might be around 10 Celsius, which is cold for Spanish standards even at this part of the season. With the tailwind dominating in the second part of the race, the scenario of someone winning from a solo is very likely.
UAE-Team Emirates has won Trofeo Calvia twice in a row and have brought an incredibly strong team for a January UCI 1.1 race. They are very likely to continue their winning streak as they have sent Brandon McNulty and Tim Wellens who both are huge favourites in the betting markets. Wellens performs the best in early season races because it is colder and the Belgian suffers from allergies brought on by the effects of heat. Matteo Trentin and Diego Ulissi are also both in the Top 20 favourites and it is clear UAE-Emirates might play with numbers and send riders in multiple attacks. If nothing works then Trentin might win from the bunch sprint. If the race has been attritional and there are only climbers left in the leading group, Ulissi might have a good shot at winning from a small group sprint. In 2022 the UAE-Emirates riders performed exceptionally in the early part of the season, with Ulissi’s win in GP Industria on 27th March being the team’s 22nd victory at that time. There is a good chance that once again the UAE-Emirates riders are in great shape already in the early season, as shown by Jay Vine winning the Tour Down Under GC. McNulty in the early 2022 races also performed great and for some time he was the leader in the earned UCI points for 2022.
Julian Alaphilippe on paper might be the biggest name in Trofeo Calvia. After an unsuccessful 2022 season, mainly due to the effects of his horrific crash in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the French star will want to perform. In both 2021 and 2022 Alaphilippe arrived in great shape in Tour de La Provence, which sadly will not be held in 2023. Soudal-Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has recently made harsh comments about Alaphilippe in the media, which is not the first time Lefevere has criticised big stars of his team. If a rider earns big money on Quick-Step, they must deliver results every single year or otherwise Lefevere will throw some punches in the media.
The course is perfect for Alaphilippe. The problem is the Frenchman does not like rainy and cold conditions as he has shown multiple times. One of the best examples is the 2019 World Championships in Yorkshire where it was extremely wet and Alaphilippe was not close winning, despite a perfect parcours. His teammate Andrea Bagioli also has a decent sprint and the power to get over hills. Quick-Step has sent a good climbing squad to Mallorca with Ilan van Wilder, Fausto Masnada, Louis Vervake and Mauri Vansevenant to complement their fast finishers. They are the second strongest team behind only UAE-Emirates and might do a big damage.
Other notable riders in Trofeo Calvia are Lennard Kämna, Andrea Piccolo, Axel Zingle, Emanuel Buchmann, Neilson Powless, Cian Uijtdebroeks, Warren Barguil and Guillaume Martin. It is an early season race and an outsider might have a good shot to surprise everyone if they are in great shape. Intermarché-Circus-Wanty are such a team that might surprise, bringing Rune Herregodts and new signing Lilian Calmejane. Both riders odds are less than 1% in the betting markets, but they pushed good numbers recently in the training camp and Intermarché performance staff likely has made them arrive in good shape for the plentiful points on offer. Herregodts was strong in the early season in 2022, winning his first race of the year, the opening stage of Andalucia in the middle of February.
Brandon McNulty will defend his title successfully. UAE-Emirates has sent a strong team and multiple riders might win from that group. With team tactics likely involved, my pick is McNulty who will again do a solo. Of course, everyone knows he is dangerous and will watch for his attacks but the American in the winter trained hard and already performed exceptionally in the early 2022 season. He is a strong one-day racer and this course suits him. Even with a target on his back from the other riders, when he is on his day there are very few riders in the world that can stay with him, most of whom will not be in attendance in Mallorca.
Kārlis Ozols (@CyclingGraphs)