by Dean Fletcher
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.Continue
by Dean Fletcher
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.Continue
by Dean Fletcher
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.
by Dean Fletcher
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.
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.Continue
by Dean Fletcher
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.