Rider of the week
After the Tour Down Under, won by Rohan Dennis, last week it was the time for the first European races of the season, which came in Spain, where the 25th edition of the Challenge Mallorca took place. Following the pattern of the previous years, two stages were reserved to the puncheurs and climbers, while the other two were meant to be a sprinter’s affair. And they were indeed, but it just happened that those two flat stages turned out to be a one-man show, as Matteo Pelucchi won both without too many problems, each time finishing ahead of strong sprinters, like Elia Viviani, André Greipel or Nacer Bouhanni.
A former national junior champion on the track, Pelucchi has had a hard time finding his place in the pro peloton, his first years – spent with Geox and Europcar – lacking consistence and opportunities. Fortunately for the Italian, IAM Cycling become interested in him and offered a contract starting from 2014, and this turned out to be the move that relaunched his career, because the Swiss team gave him the confidence and chances he was searching for. Once this happened, Pelucchi showed that he can match the best on a flat finish, winning a stage in the Tirreno-Adriatico, in what was one of the biggest surprises seen in recent years in a sprint.
In 2015, after a hard winter work during which he made some serious progress, Matteo Pelucchi decided to start his season in the Challenge Mallorca, where he proved to be in an excellent form, taking both the Trofeo Santanyi-Ses Salines-Campos and the Trofeo Playa de Palma-Palma. Now 26-year-old, the Italian looks to have found the mental strength he needed so much in the past, a factor that can help him beat the top sprinters of the peloton. Taking this, as well as his form, into consideration, watch out for Pelucchi this Spring, because the IAM Cycling rider has all that he needs to notch up some more victories (even at a World Tour level) and show that he deserves a place amongst the fastest sprinters in the world.