One of Spain’s biggest annual sporting spectacles returns this week when the Vuelta a España hits the streets again for nearly three weeks of dramatic action.
The last of cycling’s three Grand Tours, some of the sport’s biggest names including defending champion Primoz Roglic, 2017 winner Chris Froome (making his swansong appearance for Ineos Grenadiers before heading to pastures new) and Tom Dumoulin will hit the road in the Basque town of Irun on the first of 18 gruelling stages, with the race finishing this year on Sunday, November 8.
Empordà and the Costa Brava doesn’t feature on the slightly shortened route this year, but we’ve had the privilege of featuring many times in the past and we’re sure that it won’t be too long before the world’s top cyclists have the pleasure of riding our roads again.
Offering mile upon mile of beautiful, rolling countryside that meets the Mediterranean on one side and the Pyrenees on the other, it’s easy to see why cycling is one of the most popular sports in the Costa Brava. A hub for professional and amateur riders alike, the region’s world-famous mixture of roads and trails make for great and varied biking, whatever your age or fitness level.
Using two wheels is one of the best ways to experience the many delights of the Empordà region and, if you’re not able to bring your bike with you, we have everything needed so that you can hit the road.
The resort offers a selection of road, mountain and electric bikes available for hire, as well as a variety of route maps, to help you to discover the many famous cycle routes of the region.
With 100-plus professional cyclists among its residents as well as countless more amateur and recreational riders, Girona is a modern-day cycling Mecca and, undoubtedly, the capital of cycling in the Costa Brava. It’s easy to see its appeal, with the ancient city offering easy access to a huge variety of beautiful (and quiet) routes in a sun-drenched climate ideal for getting on your bike.
Dating back to the 1990s, Girona is particularly popular with American and British pros who are attracted by the promise of a great climate, varied terrain and excellent, relatively quiet, roads – particularly in the off-season. In addition, there’s the attraction of tackling the Pyrenees stages of the Tour de France (mid-July), the Volta a Catalunya (a Tour de France practice race) and the Vuelta a España – all just a couple of hours’ drive away.
With quiet roads, varied terrain, quality restaurants, a medieval city centre, cafès and a buzzing cycling culture, Girona really does have everything and is a paradise for cyclists.
And if you’re a real cycling fanatic, make sure you take the time to check out the American-style coffee shop, La Fabrica, during your visit. It’s owned and operated by former pro, Christian Meier, and his wife, Amber, and is where all the pros hang out. Go and grab a coffee and rub shoulders.
Girona lies in the Ter valley at the point no less than four rivers converge. Surrounding the city are the 1,200-metre Guilleries and 532-metre Gavarres massifs, complete with winding mountain roads, and that’s what attracts the sport’s glitterati.
Many roads and trails traverse the Costa Brava region which make for great and varied biking, but if you’re seeking a more gentle challenge, why not take to a mountain bike and head for The Greenways.
Used exclusively for hiking and cycling and following a series of disused railway lines running from Girona, the greenways provide fairly flat paths that are relatively easy on a mountain bike or tourer. A word of warning, though, the tracks are not suitable for road bikes.
The real beauty of cycling in the Costa Brava for many people, though, including myself, is the opportunity to plot your own route and discover this beautiful region on your own terms.
From sweeping Mediterranean views where the mountains meet the sea and colourful fishing villages to sparking beaches and fabulous local cuisine, there’s a plethora of memorable experience just waiting to be savoured and enjoyed. Now where’s my bike ….