Trofeo Mallorca 2009: Double win for Katusha
February 8: Trofeo Mallorca, 116km
A perfect day – a perfect win.
Katusha went one-two in the opening leg of the Mallorca Challenge with Gert Steegmans flying across the line ahead of teammate Robbie McEwen. Caisse d’Epargne sprinter José Joaquin Rojas came through third.
The 116km circuit course in Palma de Mallorca officially opened the 2009 Spanish calendar and the Russian-sponsored Katusha had its way against an international field.
Steegmans, who won the final stage of the 2008 Mallorca Challenge, takes the first leader’s jersey. Riders can start and pull out of any of the five days during the racing this week on Spain’s Mallorca island.
The stage opened with a celebration to honor recently retired track cyclist and hometown hero Joan Llaneras, who rode the first lap on the circuit with the main pack.
Seven riders tried in vain to escape the clutches of the main pack, building up a maximum gap of 1:35 at 50km.
Katusha got some help from Rabobank and Liquigas to reel in the aggressors at the 100km mark.
Vicente Reyes (Columbia-High Road) was the best-placed Mallorcan rider with 10th.
The day was marked by a nasty crash involving ex-world triathlete champion Iván Raña (Xacobeo Galicia), who broke his clavicle in what was his debut on the road.
The series of one-day races continues Monday with the 176.5km second stage, with a circuit course starting and ending in Cala Millor. The route is mostly flat, with two minor, category four climbs, which should serve up another mass sprint.
1 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team Katusha 2.35.42 (44.7km/h) 2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 3 José Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 4 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank 5 Koldo Fernández (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 6 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 7 José Fco Pacheco (Spa) Contentpolis - AMPO 8 Eric Baumann (Ger) Team Nutrixxion Sparkasse 9 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 10 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Team Columbia - High Road