Alejandro Ropero, spearheading the great work of the Kometa-Xstra on a hard route to Port de Andratx
XXIX Challenge de Mallorca
Trofeo Pollença-Andratx (Pollença – Port de Andratx), 168,9 km
The sloping finish in the area of Port de Andratx, almost three kilometres with ramps of up to 15% in some points on the route to the Mon Port urbanisation, was the highlight of this edition of the Challenge of Mallorca. A race once again marked by high speed, a very offensive mood and a constant fight. The Catalan Marc Soler (Movistar) won the race, leaving the Austrian Gregor Mülhberge (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the last climb, while Alejandro Ropero was the best classified for Kometa-Xstra. The Andalusian cyclist finished 29th at 3:27 from the winner.
It would not be until the ascent to the Coll de Femenia that a race until then with much control of the WorldTour formations would really break down. A multitude of small offensives of fleeting success and meagre income. Sergio García was one of the cyclists who proved it. “I tried to get into a breakaway, but no luck,” said the Andalusian. Also Giacomo Garavaglia, whose movement was much more successful: the Italian of the Kometa-Xstra was integrated in a group of eight units that was interspersed between the platoon of the favorites and the duo head of the race, the Danish Mads Schmidt (Israel) and the Swiss Claudio Imhof (Swiss Track Team).
After passing through Puig Major the platoon ended up hunting down that intermediate group where Garavaglia was shooting and the mission of the Kometa-Xstra riders was to protect Márton Dina. Some 70 kilometres from the finish line, Marc Soler (Movistar) attacked and triggered a series of movements that brought together some twenty cyclists. From behind, Kometa-Xstra and Burgos-BH collaborated to break down the differences, but they remained 40 seconds away from the finish. The different alternatives at the front, with Marc Soler and Lennard Kämna (Bora) unleashed, once again gave the vanguard a boost against the rest of the race.
“Once the breakaway was formed, we only had to tuck Ropero and Márton in as much as possible and get them well positioned all day long”, explained Sergio García. “The truth is that it went very fast all day. I’m feeling good all these days and I didn’t hesitate to try it out today too. Once I got back in the peloton, I started helping my team-mates to shoot. I think we all did a great job for Márton,” added Garavaglia.
“I was given every confidence today and although the result wasn’t particularly impressive, the attitude of the team was incredible”, tells Ropero. “Going down the Puig Major there was a cut where most of the World Tour had a presence. We were cut off and right at that moment the break was made, a break that was up to four minutes long. We and Burgos pulled. We started with 4 minutes and when we stopped pulling we were 48 seconds away from that leak. An incredible job. I started the final climb in front: I was fifth in the last corner before the start of the pass, next to Enric Mas and Alejandro Valverde. I was able to hold on until the last kilometer where I could not keep up with the pace and I gave in. But I was very happy with the way we all worked and with the image we gave in the meantime”.
“Today was a very, very hard day of cycling for me. In the first part I felt very good, but when the breakaway was formed we had to work very hard. The boys were impressive again, they worked very hard at the head of the group. There was a moment when my feelings were not the best and I also went to work thinking about Ropero’s options. It really wasn’t my best day, but I gave it my all. I am a bit upset because I could not help Alejandro in the end as much as I would have liked. He was absolutely dead. But we did a great job. Between us and Burgos-BH, we managed to reduce the difference from four minutes to 50 seconds”, summarizes Dina, who finished 38th (and second Kometa-Xstra in the finish) in 3.55.
The Challenge of Mallorca concludes this Sunday with the dispute of the Trofeo Playas de Palma, a race with start and finish in Palma de Mallorca that will cover 159.6 kilometers. The finish line, located in a circuit around the Mediterranean city’s promenade that the riders will complete three times, anticipates a sprint finish. But the presence of the Coll Sa Creu before the entry into the city of Palma will surely encourage the adventurers. The Kometa-Xstra will start with a ‘seven’ made up of Márton Dina, Erik Fetter, Giacomo Garavaglia, Mathias Larsen, Antonio Puppio, Alejandro Ropero and Daniel Viegas.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)