The Mallorcans call the Cap de Formentor the meeting point of the four winds. Sitting on the most northerly tip of the biggest of the Balearic Islands, the winds that blow from the Spanish mainland, the European Alps, the Atlantic Ocean and North Africa meet here, and each seems to have left an impression on this tiny outpost.
With alpine-esque hairpins overlooking a crystal blue Mediterranean Sea, beating against a shore of jagged limestone rock, it’s no wonder that the road to Formentor has become an icon of European cycling.
While Formentor may be today’s destination, it’s only one piece in Mallorca’s astounding repertoire of climbs.
Indeed, at times the island feels like a custom-built theme park for cyclists, with dinner conversation animated by excited discussion of which ride will be on tomorrow’s agenda – be it the rollercoaster hairpins of Sa Calobra, the dizzying heights of the Puig Major or the more coastal roads of Alcudia.
We start on small roads, making our way through farmland towards the town of Campanet. The sky is mercifully overcast, which means we have mild temperatures to warm us into the day’s riding.
I need to warm up fast, though, as Martin doesn’t hang around. He’s sticking religiously to the figures on his SRM power meter, which are rather intimidating considering Martin’s slight frame and the fact he is two or three decades my senior.
Martin is Irish, and lives here in Mallorca throughout the spring. Perhaps with his Irish blood, his determination on the bike is no surprise, especially given the company he keeps.
‘Sean Kelly stays with us six weeks of the year,’ he tells me. ‘He’s a very courteous rider, always happy to stick to the pace of the group, but let me tell you he’s still got legs on him.’
I don’t doubt that, and some of it has clearly rubbed off.