The traditional opening race of Spain’s racing calendar — the five-day Mallorca Challenge — will be saved after all and will run next month as scheduled.
Earlier this week, race organizers were worried that the shortage of financial backing was threatening to torpedo the 2011 edition of the race. The regional tourism agency stepped up Friday to assure that money would be available to hold the race, set for February 6-10.
The Spanish cycling federation confirmed Friday that the Conselleria de Turisme del Govern de les Illes Balears approved a budget to keep the five-day event afloat this year.
Scores of top names typically start their season at the Mallorca Challenge, a series of one-day races held on the idyllic setting of the largest of Spain’s Balearic islands. Teams often plan training camps weeks ahead of the race on the island known for its mild climate and excellent cycle-friendly network of narrow and twisting roads.
The announcement is a shot of good news for the struggling Spanish cycling scene, suffering from a string of doping scandals and an economic recession with 20 percent unemployment across Spain.
Efforts to revive the five-day Volta a Comunidad Valenciana this season after a two-year hiatus failed this year when new money could not be secured. The Vuelta a Murcia, another popular early-season race held in March, recently announced it was trimming its race from five to three days in a cost-cutting effort.