Rick Zabel is the third generation of a proud racing dynasty, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Detlef Zabel and his dad, Erik, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time. It can’t have been easy stepping out of the shadow of a man who won Milano-Sanremo four times and the points classification in the Tour de France over six consecutive years, but over the past few seasons Rick has established a reputation both as a valuable leadout man and as a sprinter in his own right, memorably beating a talented pack that included Mark Cavendish in stage two of the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire. But when he’s not competing on the World Tour, he spends a lot of his time in Mallorca, where his family have had a home since he was a kid. We caught up with him to get his take on inGamba’s newest destination and to find out more about this special Mediterranean island.
How much time do you get to spend in Mallorca?
When I was younger, I was there a lot, practically living there. I don’t get to go as much now, but I still know every road on the island. I feel like a local. My parents bought a house there around 20 years ago and when I started riding seriously, I used a lot of my school vacation time as training camps there. Whenever I was there, I was training a lot.
It was great for me, because all of the German teams and the national team do their training camps there, so I always felt comfortable. And even know, whenever I do a training camp on my own, I go there. I only got back a few days ago from the last one. It’s definitely one of my favourite places to ride a bike.
And the weather must be nicer than winter in Germany…
Exactly! This winter was actually incredible. I think it only rained three days in December. Sometimes it can be a bit cooler than the mainland, but it’s always a great place to ride. I’ve ridden my bike in a lot of different places but there’s no place like Mallorca to me. You have everything: You can go completely flat, a bit hilly, or you can do a lot of climbing. No matter how good you are, there’s something there for you, whether you’re a beginner or you’re really fit, there’s terrain for you.
How are the roads?
There might be a little bit of traffic on the coast – never too much – but once you go inland there’s hardly any cars. And there are a lot of roads that are almost just ‘cycling roads,’ the locals know that we ride on them and they tend to take different routes.
Do you have a favorite part of the island?
If you’re a good rider, the Tramuntana mountains are amazing. There are some high meters and it’s always up and down, but it’s so scenic. There’s not a lot of traffic and there are some coastal roads where you’ll have the mountains on one side of you and the sea on the other. There’s a little bit of suffering, but it’s worth it for the view.
What’s it like off the bike?
The whole island is nice. If you go to the capital, Palma, it’s a really nice little city. If my girlfriend comes with me on a training camp somewhere else she’s usually bored because there’s not a lot to do but in Mallorca you can find some great restaurants and bars and the shopping is good too. There’s also plenty to see if you like sightseeing. You’ll find some cycling cafes around the island as well. There’s a good community of local riders. There’s a particularly nice one in Alaró called Cycling Planet that’s run by David Muntaner, who was world champion on the track. All the walls are made from the boards from a velodrome, which is cool. But every town you go to, you’ll find cyclists. It’s so big on the island and it brings so much tourism that everywhere is really bike friendly.
Mallorca is a new inGamba destination for 2020. We’ll be there February 16-22. For more, check out the trip page!