José Joaquín Rojas takes 3rd behind Pelucchi (IAM), Viviani (SKY) at Mallorca Challenge's opening trophy as Alejandro Valverde makes season debut
The 2015 Spanish road cycling season started for the Movistar Team with a podium finish at the Trofeo Santanyí-Ses Salines-Campos, first stage of the Challenge Ciclista Mallorca over 175km of rolling terrain which crosswinds turned into stressful in the finale. The final 35k saw a calm bunch getting split, the telephone squad leading together with Lotto-Soudal as the escape of Kirsch (CLT) and Garcia (FRB) was caught. The echelons did not avoid the bunch sprint, where José Joaquín Rojas was only beaten by Italians Matteo Pelucchi (IAM) and Elia Viviani (SKY).
“It was a day of tense calmness until the end; the team was very well represented in the closing stages,” explained Rojas after the finish. "Imanol, Castroviejo, Alejandro (Valverde), even Fran (Ventoso)… all team-mates worked well before the finish, keeping us away from troubles and splits, and we were obliged to fight and crown that work. As you usually hear in this team, ‘unity makes strength.’ The finish was quite dangerous – we were riding really fast when a crash happened with 3km to go. Once we had got over it, there was a turn right with 500m remaining, where we got to the best position we could dream of. We really got well through that corner, but the rivals were faster this time. I should be racing again on Saturday and Sunday; I already won in Deià four years ago and you never know if you’ll be able to contest the win again, but should the team need my help, we will be there.
Friday will bring the first chance for the climbers at the Trofeo Andratx – Mirador d'Es Colomer, over 149km that include the ascents of Sa Gramola (Cat-3), Claret (Cat-3) and the Puig Major from Sóller (Cat-2), before the decisive slopes of Formentor (3.2km at 6%), where Alejandro Valverde already won in 2005. The Spaniard will be joined tomorrow by Castroviejo, Gadret, Jesús Herrada, Intxausti, Ion Izagirre, Moreno and Visconti.