This week Humphrey Carter talks to the organisers of Majorca’s first international cycling congress
MALLORCA CYCLING MEETING is the first international cycling congress addressing all aspects of cycling and this global meeting will take place on 6 and 7 February in Palma on the eve of the start of the professional cycling season which begins in Europe with the Iberostar Challenge Mallorca, tour of Majorca, starting on Sunday in the capital, which, through Unisport Consulting, is one of the key sponsors of this initial convention along with Palma City Council, hoteliers and a host of other associations connected to the booming cycling industry in Majorca, albeit cycle tourism or professional and amateur team training camps and AICO audio visual services which will be taking place at the CaixaForum in Palma.
This inaugural convention has been organised by four professionals in their own different fields who share one thing in common, a love of cycling.
Alexandra Alemany, Gabriel Barceló, Pep Lluís Pons and Miguel Torres have been working round the clock to get this event off the ground and they have been amazed by the support they have received and are already looking ahead to next year’s event which will be a week long affair featuring a host of events including a Red Hoot Crit evening/night cycle race through Palma.
Red Hoot Crit host these races in most major capitals of the world now and next year wants to launch the new series of races here in Palma with a special presentation and competition.
Gabriel and Alexandra explained to the Bulletin this week that the main aim of the cycle meeting in Palma is to create "a yearly meeting point for cycling experts and professionals where they can exchange knowledge and experiences, spread their work and establish connections. Furthermore, we want to offer cycling fans and society the opportunity to know the ins and outs about the sport. The Cycling meeting aims to reach both the general and specialised public. Experts in sports, tourism, science, medicine and technology as well as professors, researchers, students and fans," they said.
The two day conference will be broken down into three blocks this year: CYCLING & TOURISM: Present and future opportunities, CYCLING & SCIENCE: The best cyclists, born or made and CYCLING & TRAINING: Cycling from the inside.
And experts in each of the three fields will be giving lectures such as Joan Llaneras, the Spanish cyclist with the most Olympic medals ever, Ed Lancaster – Cycle Tourism and Regional Policy Officer for the European Cyclists’ Federation and Ken Whelpdale – USA Team Leader, USA Cycling and all the talks will be in Spanish and English.
The Cycling Meeting attendees will have the exclusive opportunity to ride the Gocycle G2R, the latest version of the innovative electric bike designed by the former Formula 1 McLaren Team engineer, Richard Thorpe.
There will also be a networking session for people involved in the world of cycling in a wider sense. These sessions are intended to reach both the specialised (physicians, scientists, trainers, people working in tourism) and the general public and there will also be a raffle for all those attending the convention with some great prizes to be won including a cruise.
"The convention is going to take place just on the eve of the start of the cycling season in Majorca which is February and May for the amateurs and cycle tourists while many of the professional teams, in particular Sky, have been training on the island since early December.
"It’s the international cycling teams which have kept so many hotels open along the Playa de Palma this Winter and more and more of the establishments are catering for cycling by offering hire/repair/training services and even special diets be they professionals or just amateurs," Gabriel said.
"And, this year, we are going to be seeing tour operators, such as the UK’s Jet2, begin offering special cycling holiday packages to Majorca, this is a boom industry and there is so much more potential here in Majorca.
"The island is a natural cycle park because it has an excellent network of secondary roads and offers both plenty of flat and mountain cycling.
"What is more, it is just a few hours flight from most European cities which is why so many of the world’s best teams use the island as their main training camp," Gabriel, who works in the cycle industry in marketing and PR, said.
Alexandra, a researcher, was keen to stress that last year, cycle tourism/training generated 44,000 million euros in Spain and 1,600 million of that was here in the Balearics.
"And, they are big spenders who stay a long time and spread the money around.
"For example, once they have had breakfast at their hotel, they may head up to Arta where they will have a quick mid morning snack - bar and restaurant owners love cyclists because they come in groups of 20 or more and are in and out quick, leaving room for another team - then a quick lunch will be had in Inca, for example, with one final mid afternoon snack stop before they end their day’s cycling back at their hotel.
"So, we have the restaurant sector on board because it is in their interest to get involved in the growing cycling industry," she said.
"And now the authorities have created a special cycling commission to monitor road safety with special road signs being erected warning drivers to leave a 1.5 metre gap between themselves and cyclists, so it is clear that the region is taking the cycle industry extremely seriously and they should because it is going to become a key part of the island’s tourist industry and every day life in the future with the number of cyclists across Europe growing every year.
"Look at the UK, for example, in the wake of the Olympic success and Wiggins winning the Tour de France, the country has gone cycling crazy (bicycles were one of the top presents over Christmas) and the Dutch, Austrians, Belgians and Germans, for example, have always been massive cyclists.
"Iremember being in Zurich and struggling to find a space to lock up my bike, there were just so many all over the place, everyone used to cycle," she added.
"And this is also one of the topics on the agenda, we have experts in urban cycling coming to address delegates on how to better adapt Palma to cycling, how to encourage more people to cycle and how drivers and cyclists can get along better.
"The convention this year really does cover a wide range of subjects and in great depth with very professional people addressing the delegates and, being the first year, we’ve kept costs to a minimum.
"For those registering before 24 January, the cost is just 10 euros and after that it doubles. We just want to cover our costs this year in order to get established so that we can look ahead to something really special next year that will help to mark the start of the cycling season along with the Iberostar Challenge Mallorca in which many of the world’s top teams and cyclists take part every year because it is the first tour of the European season, only the Tour of Australia comes first," Gabriel said.
"And, not only is there still time to register, there is also plenty of time for any associations or businesses which want to get involved as sponsors or participate to sign up," he added.
And remember, the convention is open to the general public, not just the industry.
For more information, to register or to get involved go to cyclingmeeting.com, there is an English version available.
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