Gran Fondo Ezaro

The Gran Fondo Ezaro has rapidly become the most famous cyclo tourist race in Galicia in just five short years. The famous Galician professional , Ezequiel Mosquera, and his company EME Sports are the organisers of the race. This year the Gran Fondo Ezaro will be a qualifier for the Gran Fondo world championships in Poland in Septmeber. It is the only qualifier on the Iberian peninsula. The participation will be at least 1,000 riders. Many of them will be experiencing Galicia for the first time. Enjoying its natural beauty, and also its famous gastronomy.  So, what makes the Gran Fondo Ezaro so special?

Gran Fondo Ezaro Route

The route of the Gran Fondo Ezaro is split into the long route and the short route. The qualifiers for the UCI World championships must complete the long route. This route is a total of 145km with 2,800m of vertical gain. The route starts at the foot of the mirador, and heads north to Muxia, out to the headland and the Faro. The climb to the Alto de Ferroatlantico is a good warm up for the real climbs ahead. The route then passes back through Ezaro, and then hugs the beautiful Atlantic coast to Muros. Here, it turns inland and tackles the Cat 1 Alto de Paxareiras. This climb will really warm up the legs, and the descent back to the coast is technical and fast. However, the real test lies in the last 2kms.

Mirador de Ezaro

What makes the Gran Fondo Ezaro so memorable is the finish up the vicious climb that is the Mirador de Ezaro. It is only 1,8km in length, but climbs 268m, and average gradient of 15%. Just before the 1km sign, the gradient hits an incredible 30%. The suface is concrete, and scored horizontally to give more grip. This part of the climb, on race day will be packed with hundreds of people. It is a very memorable experience. And everybody can follow in the footsteps of the great Purito Rodriguez, who still holds the record for this climb.

The ITU Worlds Experience

What a three weeks it has been. 12 hour days, 3000km driving , organising the rental bikes. Picking them up from as far as Oporto, and dropping them off all over Pontevedra. The ITU worlds experience has been something that I will never forget for a very long time. 4000 athletes from 50+ countries competing in our state capital. And it seems to me that every single one enjoyed themselves, sampling the wonderful Galician gastronomy. And also getting to know our wonderful culture here in north west Spain.  Many discovered our rich celtic heritage, and marvelled at the beautiful nature of Galicia.

The ITU Worlds Experience

What became clear very early in the event was that many had never visited Galicia before. I was able to advise on training rides for the athletes. Those who were looking for a flat ride, we sent along the coast to O Grove and back again. 75km with a constant view of the sea. Those who wanted to climb, could do so on MonteCastrove , the mountain overlooking Pontevedra. The beauty of riding in Galicia is the varied nature of the terrain, and so much with stunning sea views. And all the athletes fell in love with that fact. The ITU worlds experience for many of those athletes was one they will never forget.

Words from the mouths of the athletes

There were many many kind words from the athletes during the two week event. Too many to mention. Some however did stick in my mind. Talking about the food, one Canadian lady told me. ” I ate squid in its own ink last night. I am going to emigrate to Galicia just so that I can eat it every week”. A Brazilian guy said to me ” The only thing flat in Galicia is the sea”. And my favourite was from a wonderful American lady, “The only thing open in Galicia form 2pm to 4pm are people’s mouths”.

All in all, I think we can say that the whole event was a huge success for Galicia. Already Pontevedra has bid for the final of the ITU Triathlon in 2023. I have no doubt that they will be successful. And if you want to see what everybody is talking about , you know where to come. For your cycling holiday in Spain, it has to be Galicia.

ITU World Championships in Pontevedra

It is not often that you get to have the world’s best riding in your own backyard. Here in Galicia, we are going to have that pleasure in under two weeks with the ITU World championships in Pontevedra. This festival of sport will allow us to welcome to our corner of Spain the world’s finest all- round athletes. Let’s hope that they enjoy everything we have to offer here. The Galician food , our diverse Galician culture, and if the weather is good, our magnificent beaches . So let’s have an in depth look at what is coming.

ITU World Championships in Pontevedra

The fun will start on April 24th when the EXPO opens in the centre of the city. This will be situated in a huge tent in the Alameda gardens and will have many exhibitors. This will be the hub of the pre-competition days. Many athletes will take a look at what is an offer from the major brands in triathlon. The Thursday will be an admin day for the athletes, completing their registration, and perhaps doing their last training rides. A good idea for getting in some climbing km will be to tackle Monte Castrove from Cabeza de Boi. This would be a great warm up for the duathletes.

The Competition Days

The real work starts on the Saturday 27th, with the duathletes taking centre stage. The sprint starts at 8am, and the competition goes on all day until 9pm. The first world champions will be crowned from 1.30pm onwards. The cycling route has already been studied in detail in this blog-post from February. Sunday 28th has been made difficult by the national elections. However, the juniors and the para athletes will take centre stage. Much more interesting than politics.

Mountain Bike Day

Tuesday 30th is the big day for the mountain bike men. The beautiful, but sometimes brutal slopes that surround the city of Pontevedra, will be full of triathletes. The route is tough but fair, and the winner will have really earned their medal. The track is not super technical  but will need a lot of resect given to it, a there are plenty of short, sharp slopes to deal with. It should create enough gaps amongst the elite athletes to make the run not so vital.

The Big One LD Triathlon

After the Aquathlon on Thursday, the build-up will start in earnest toward the jewel in the crown of the ITU World Championships in Pontevedra. The long distance triathlon, which will take place on Saturday 4th May. Early birds will be able to see the best triathletes in the world take to the water at 8am. Ahead of them will be 3km swim, 113km on the bike, and a 30km run. And here in Galicia we all hope that at the end, our golden boy Javier Gomez Noya, Galicia’s golden boy will be crowned world champion. See you all in Pontevedra.

Great Galician Coastal Climbs

Galicia is a part of Spain that is blessed with wonderful nature. It has 1500km of coastline, thousands of square kms of wild forest, and above all mountains. Lots of mountains. And most of them can be climbed by bike. There are some truly great Galician coastal climbs. From north to south, east to west, the region is a cyclist’s paradise. What makes Galicia special, and somewhat unique, is the proximity of these climbs to the beautiful Atlantic coastline. There is nothing better than challenging terrain, and at the same time, a view of the sea.

Great Galician Coastal Climbs

We are very much spoilt for choice for these coastal climbs. In the south of Galicia, the most famous is the north face of Monte Groba. This climb was the site of Nicolas Roche’s famous victory in stage 2 of the 2013 Vuelta. The climb starts in the town of Baiona, and winds through the forest, and across the Serra de Groba. The climb in total is 12km at just over 5%, but don’t let that fool you. This climb hits ramps of 15+% and will test the best legs. The view from the top, looking north up the coat is simply stunning. On a clear day, over 75km. Monte Groba can be climbed from two different sides, from the west via Mougás , or from the south from  Oia. Both options are challenging and offer sea views all the way up.

Climb of Monte Santa Trega

The mythical mountain of Monte Santa Trega is right up there on any list of great Galician coastal climbs. The famous peak situated on the south western tip of Galicia is beautiful. It has a deep historical and cultural value to the region, with its celtic links.  It is short and steep, at just 3km long, but with an average gradient of 8.3%, it never relents. The beauty of the climb, is the view changes from the ocean, to the river Miño , and back to the ocean. The road winds its way up on both sides of this pyramid type mountain. At the top, at 260m above sea level, you can see the latest sunset anywhere in Europe. It has to be seen to be believed. It really is a must for any cycling holiday in Spain.

Spring Training in Galicia

Whether or not we believe in global warming, the weather in Europe has been very odd in the last few weeks. Record temperatures in the UK have given cyclists there a great opportunity to get the kms in. However, this has been something out of the ordinary. And it is much more common to choose a warmer climate for your early season kms. And why not try spring training in Galicia to get those kms in. We have everything that you need.

Spring Training in Galicia 

So, what do we have here that makes spring training in Galicia the ideal choice for cyclists? First of all, the Galician weather can be trusted from March 1st onwards. The temperature is stable around 15-18 degrees Celcius, and although there can be rain, it isn’t much of a threat. Because of the proximity to the coast, most of the Galician climbs are open all year round. And again, the lack of extreme low temperatures means that the descents are safe and ice free. So, it is very easy to design great routes involving plenty of uphill to test those early season legs.

Added bonuses in Galicia

The “apres bike” in Galicia is something that few know about. After a long day in the saddle, what can be better than sampling Galician gastronomy. In Spain, it is second to none. Whether you are a meat eater, or more of a fish person, Galicia has it all. And don’t forget the excellent wine to accompany all this delicious food. Nowhere in Spain can offer such high quality, locally sourced food for after a good ride. The best recuperation in Europe, and a key part of spring training in Galicia.

Spring Training Ideas

For those serious riders, a spring camp under a blue sky is fundamental to kick off a good season. The warmer temperatures, coupled with the combination of climbs, and coastal flats that Galicia can offer are perfect for early season kms. Particularly the climbing available. Galicia has a great combination of longer climbs such as Monte Groba, or shorter steeper efforts such as Monte Aloia from Tui. All these climbs serve as a great start to the season, clearing away the cobwebs of a long winter. Give Galicia a try, and you will not be disappointed.

 

Detailed Look at the ITU World’s Route

Yesterday we shot the official video of the ITU world’s duathlon and triathlon route. The video should be ready for release within two weeks, and we will upload it here. So, let’s have a detailed look at the ITU World’s route.  Firstly, the route itself can be found here on my personal Garmin link .  There are lots of graphics available on the official webpage of the world’s detailing the route. However, here we will endeavour to illustrate details that you won’t find on the graphics.

Detailed Look at the ITU World’s Route

Firstly, the link above is just short of 32 km. This is because the most distant part of the course wasn’t ridden, due to time constraints. This section is 2km on wide national road, firstly a descent totally constant of 4.5%. At the bottom a 180o turn and climb back on the same road. Very simple, no problems. So, let’s get started. The boxes are situated next to the famous “Ponte de Tirantes”, the “bridge of the braces”. The first 2km are a flat technical route through the university area. Six roundabouts are taken, but mainly with 90o turns. This should be taken at speed without any problems. The route then turns 180o on to the national road leaving Pontevedra. This is a gentle climb, but careful, as the asphalt is not good. It is concrete, and does have some cracks, which will hopefully be filled before April!!

The Road out of Pontevedra

The organisers have really dug deep into their box of trick on this route. And this becomes apparent less than a km out of Pontevedra. A sharp right turn hits a 200m ramp at 8%, which drops down to a roundabout. The drop again is 200m at 8%. A 180o turn at the bottom, and head back to the main road. This will get the heart racing. A right turn back on to the national road leads to the flattest section of the route outside of transition. My advice is to reserve energy, as the road starts to rise, and will sap the legs. The road is a decent surface, but broken in sections, and the run off can be poor. The climb is steady at 5% to the turn for Balderuso. Then the fun starts.

The Reservoir Section

The right turn sees an immediate pitch up. Not too steep, but enough to get out of the saddle. The climb hits 8% but not for long. It is a power climb, but one word of caution. There is a cement works after 1km, and many lorries use this road. Thus, they can leave small stones on the surface, so you must be very wary. The organisation will clean the roads beforehand, but it is still best to be cautious. Past the cement works, the road opens out into a sweeping decent to the Pontillón reservoir. Time to recuperate, as the course then gets tricky. The organisers have had some fun in this section.

O Gabián and Bordel

No detailed look at the ITU World’s route is complete without a thorough study of this section. It is very technical, not a metre of flat, and some VERY technical sections. Passing the reservoir the road turns right and sharply downhill. After 500m, there is a very sharp left, off camber and more than ninety degrees. The road narrows, and the surface is poor. Be careful at this section. A sharp left turn hits a ramp of 10% stretching for 300m, back to the main road. This loop is technical and tough. If you get a chance to see it before your race, do so. The road then drops for 2km to the 180o turn, and then straight back up the same road. The section averages 7% and is very constant. Past the reservoir, and back to the main road is a fast section, taking care with the road surface. THIS ENTIRE SECTION is on a narrow road, divided in two, with very little run off. Technical, very little flat. Tough.

The Road Back to Pontevedra

The route gets back to the wide national road after the descent from the reservoir. A sweeping right turn leads to a 5% descent to the 180o turn in San Antoniño. Very wide, and very fast. The climb back up this descent is a power climb, wide road, no problems. Then follows a straight road back to Pontevedra. 7km at full speed. The road is wide, smooth, and the speeds will be very high. It isn’t technical, and provides an opportunity to relax and recuperate, back to the centre of Pontevedra. There are several roundabouts back in the city, but nothing to worry about.

Conclusions

The route overall is not easy. Each km lap has 540m of climbing, with sections touching 11%. The road surfaces are generally good, but attention is required. None of the climbs are hard, and stronger rider can take them in the big ring. I only did one lap and did a lot of stop and starting. However, I did the entire ride in the 50 ring with 27 cassette. The main road climbs are steady, and do not pitch up. The road to the reservoir is smooth but beware of small stones. The hardest section is in O Gabián. Highly technical, tight turns, steep descents into steep climbs. Caution is the byword here. Sacrifice speed for safety here, and you will enjoy your day. Good luck to everybody.

Routes of the ITU Worlds in Pontevedra

In April more than 2,500 athletes will descend on Galicia to participate in the ITU World Championships. It will be a festival of sport, the like of which Galicia has never seen before. The world can discover the wonders of Galicia, its wonderful natural beauty and its cultural history. And let’s not forget its abundance of food and drink !!! So, what of the routes of the ITU worlds in Pontevedra. What can everybody expect from the event.

Routes of the ITU Worlds in Pontevedra

For those of us who know Galicia well, pan flat is never really on the menu. Even the numerous roads that hug the coastline a very rarely flat. Normally we have to face a lot of uphill tests, as Galcia offers many climbing tests. So, many competitors believe that the routes of the various events will involve a lot of 34/28 combinations. So, let me set your minds at rests. Whilst the routes are not pan flat, the “climbs” are not severe. There are ramps that touch 9%, but these are very small efforts. We firmly believe that the elite competitors will tackle the routes on TT bikes. The age groups will easily cope with normal road bikes.

37,5km long route to Bordel

This route will be used in the long- distance triathlon, aquabike and age group duathlon. The route, after a small switchback through the university heads out along the national route N550, the old camino de Santiago, heading north. The road is a wide, well asphalted, and smooth surface.  It heads north towards San Amaro on this road, before a sharp right turn on the PO-224. This road is narrower, and on some stretches doesn’t have any drop off area. As it will be divided for the return phase, passing, although possible, will have to be done with care.

Pontillón do Castro

The beautiful reservoir of Pontillón de Castro is the high point of the routes of the ITU worlds in Pontevedra. There are beautiful views, although competitors probably won’t get to see them. The road then drops quite sharply towards O Gabián. This is the part of the route that needs the most care, as it is a narrow village road. At the bottom, is a sharp left turn back up to the PO-224 road. It is only 800m long, with an average of 7%, but will be a good test, especially on the third lap.

The road back to Pontevedra

The second turning point in Bordel is the start of a fast climb of 2km at 4%, back to the reservoir. Then back to the main national road, descending along the same narrow road. This section is fast, but curvy. Caution will be the correct advice on this stretch, especially if there is any rain. The wide national road continues to descend and will be the fastest stretch of the route. The most extreme point of the route at San Antoniño brings the race back up the descent. Then a long meandering descent back to the start/finish in Pontevedra will give an opportunity to really pile on the watts.

 

World Triathlon Championships in Galicia

2019 is the year that we have been looking forward to here in Galicia. At last we can welcome the World Triathlon Championships in Galicia. This huge festival of sport will run from the 27th April to 5th of May in Pontevedra. There will be five different events spread over the nine days. Duathlon, Triathlon Cross, Aquathlon, Aquabike and long-distance Triathlon. Competitors will range from entusiastic over 60’s , to the world triathlon legend, and Galician, Javier Gomez Noya.  His presence alone will guarantee that the locals will turn out en masse to watch the event.

Different Events at the World Triathlon Championships in Galicia

The ITU event will have five different types of event. Duathlon is a combination of riding and running. Aquathlon, is running and swimming. Aquabike is swimming and riding. Triathlon Cross is swimming, mountain biking, and running. And finally, long distance triathlon is swimming, road riding and running. In total, the organisers are expecting upwards of 3000 competitors to arrive in Pontevedra and enjoy the wonders of Galicia. We hope that they will sample the local cuisine, and the beauty of the Rias Baixas in general. 

Pontevedra

The centre of the world triathlon championships in Galicia is the city of Pontevedra. This beautiful city hit the headlines last year, for its traffic free city centre initiative. This proved to be very popular indeed with not just the locals, but in the worldwide press. Pontevedra has hosted many sporting events, and the local council works tirelessly to promote sport and wellbeing. There are plenty of hotels in the area, as well as out towards the coast at San Xenxo, O Grove, and the Morrazo peninsula. And all overlooked by the beautiful Monte Castrove mountain. Here at Cycling Galicia, we wish the event every success, and hope that it will encourage many more to book their cycling holidays in Spain here.

Steep Climbs in Galicia

All of us who ride a bike, and love watching cycling, are fascinated with going uphill. And even more when those inclines are very steep. And if you are looking for double digit percentage challenges, there are plenty of steep climbs in Galicia to choose from. Because of its unique geography , Galicia has plenty of mountains, and many close to the coast. This is what makes Galicia a truly wonderful destination for cycling tourists. Our website has a long list of Galician climbs  . Lets look at some of the steep climbs in Galicia.

Steep Climbs in Galicia

The most famous of the steep climbs in Galicia is the south face of Monte Aloia . No trip to this part of the world is complete without tackling this challenging ascent. Its peak, at 635m above sea level, gives breath-taking views across the river Miño valley towards Portugal. The ascent starts on the city limit of Tui, the historic cathedral town on the Portuguese border. The climb to the top is 560m, at an average of 8%. However, the climb ramps up to 14% in sections. And after a small false flat in the second kilometre, it is a pretty steady 10% until the last kilometre. Whatever your form, Monte Aloia always provides a stern test.

Steep Climbs in Galicia with a coastal view

The beauty of Galicia is that its geography provides mountain climbs that are very close to the coast. Two wonderful examples of this type of climb are Monte Groba from Mougas , and the mythical Monte Santa Trega .  Both these climbs tower over the Atlantic Ocean and are short and steep. Mougas is accessed directly from the coast road, and gently rises for a kilometre. Then it really kicks in, with ramps touching 16%+. The glimpses of the ocean as the climb twists up through the trees, are well worth all the pain. Santa Trega is just 3km long. However, packed into those three kilometres is a lot of Galician history. The Celtic castros after 2kms are worth stopping for on the descent. A great photo opportunity. And the views from the top are breath-taking, as is the coffee shop!

Northern Portugal 

The beauty of “Old Galicia”, as the first 75km of Portugal are known as, is its geography. Plenty of mountains, and many of them with steep climbs. Two of these are Arga de Cima , and the beautiful Capela de Sao Silvestre. Both these climbs are within 10km of the frontier with Spain, so easily accessible. The Arga opens up to the stunning Sierra de Arga, with views across to the Atlantic. Its ramps of 20%+ will really test the legs. The Capela, is a gentle start, that becomes brutal in its final 3 or 4 kilometres. Just to punish you a little more the last 300m are cobbled. However, the small chapel at the top is a wonderful place to say a prayer and give thanks that you have survived.

Booking your 2019 Cycling Holiday

Christmas has passed, New Year celebrated, and its back to work, or whatever daily routine you have. So, what is the next step, now that we are all giving up drinking, eating carbs, shaving etc etc. Well, of course, it is booking your 2019 cycling holiday. With the weather freezing cold, and only the very brave venturing out, it is time to look forward to that holiday. And what better place to do so than Galicia. And here is why.

Booking Your 2019 Cycling Holiday

Galicia has so much to offer, it is hard to know where to start. Let’s go with the weather. Galicia does not suffer from the extremes of other parts of the peninsula. It has four distinct seasons and provides year-round cycling. The first ten days of January  has seen zero rainfall and an average temperature of 15 Celsius. Perfect for winter cycling. The roads in the province again are perfect for riding. Road safety in Galicia  is paramount. Cyclists in Galicia benefit from quiet roads, wide lanes on the bigger roads, and above all the 1.5m respect rule from drivers. Galicia has a deep history of cycling, so drivers are very considerate of their two wheeled companions.

What to Expect in Galician Cycling?

When you are booking your 2019 cycling holiday, it is important to know the terrain. Galicia can provide whatever type of challenge that you require. If you like to climb, don’t worry, there is a varied list of Galician climbs to choose from. However, if you prefer something flatter, and more scenic, then Cycling Galicia can tailor make a tour for you. For example, our six day cycling tour could be for you. It provides some great cycling with a climb a day thrown in. Plenty of scenic routes by the Galician coastas well as through some beautiful inland scenery. Truly we have something for everyone.

Off the Bike Considerations

Another important consideration for when booking your 2019 cycling holiday is “post-bike”. Many places are isolated, offering the same evening routine. At Cycling Galicia, we try to be different. You cannot come to Galicia without sampling the Galician gastronomy. Whether you are a lover of meat , or seafood, Galicia has the best that Spain has to offer. and to accompany it, some of the best wine too. Every evening, included in the price of your trip, we will visit different restaurants, to sample their fine products. Also, we will introduce you to Galician culture, so that your trip will leave you in love with the region. And now with Ryanair flights to Vigo from Stanstead, Galicia is even easier to get to. What are you waiting for? When booking your 2019 cycling holiday in Spain , Galicia must be the first choice.