When the start gun sounds early this Saturday for Challenge Peguera-Mallorca, we can expect an exciting battle. A strong field is heading to the Spanish island to race, not only for the win, but also to seize one of the last opportunities to earn precious points for the Challenge Family US$125k Pro Athlete World Bonus.
In the men’s race, Spain’s Pablo Dapena Gonzalez is lining up as favourite with the added advantage of racing at home and knowing the island’s conditions perfectly. Challenge Peguera-Mallorca is a testing course with considerable altitude gain on the bike and also, to a lesser degree, the run. Perhaps the biggest competitor for Dapena Gonzalez is the young Dutchman, Niek Heldoorn.
Heldoorn won Challenge Malta earlier this year and recently came in second at the European Long Distance Championships at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam. Heldoorn is young and eager and is currently sitting second in the Challenge Family World Bonus; only Sam Long is ahead of him. But if Heldoorn finishes first or second in Mallorca, he will take over the lead in the World Bonus standings, forcing Long to race and place top six at Clash Daytona in December to regain his pole position. With US$25k for first place, there is a lot on the line!
Outside of the race for the World Bonus, there are 48 professional men looking to make their mark at Challenge Peguera-Mallorca, including William Mennesson (FRA), recently second at Challenge Sanremo, Lukas Kocar (CZE), Victor Arroyo Burgallo (ESP), Jonas Hoffman (GER), Sam Wade (GBR), Thomas Navarro (FRA) and Thomas Bishop (GBR).
The women’s race is also strong and on paper Imogen Simmonds (SUI) appears to be favourite out of the 25 lining up. She finished second in Mallorca last year behind her compatriot Nicola Spirig. Strong competition for Simmonds will come from Fenella Langridge (GBR), who is racing just one week after her sixth place in Kona, and Sara Pérez Sala (ESP. Pérez Sala, like Dapena Gonzalez, enjoys the home advantage and it’s certain the locals will turn out en-masse to give her huge encouragement. This will undoubtedly give her wings.
But Langridge has a lot to lose, she too currently holds top position in the World Bonus and must finish in the top five if she is to prevent Pérez Sala, currently in second, tying for the top spot with a win. Further down the World Bonus, Lucy Byram (GBR) and Margie Santimaria (ITA) both have the opportunity to boost their end of season earnings with a strong performance in Mallorca.
Full details on the Challenge Family Pro Athlete World Bonus standings can be found here: https://www.challenge-family.com/world-bonus/.