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June 6, 2019

Gran Fondo Ezaro

by Dean Fletcher

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.

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May 10, 2019

The ITU Worlds Experience

by Dean Fletcher

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.

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April 10, 2019

ITU World Championships in Pontevedra

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.

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March 25, 2019

Great Galician Coastal Climbs

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.

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March 1, 2019

Spring Training in Galicia

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.

 

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