This is the time of year our social media feeds and cycling press are full of images from the training camps of professional cycling teams.
Ineos and Bora Hansgrohe are assisting their respective tourist boards by training in the UK/German favourite of Majorca. However, many others are based on the Meditteranean coast between Alicante and Valencia.
From what we can discern from web sources the following teams are in the rehion as we type:
Lotto Jumbo - Denia
Bahrain Victorious - Altea
Bingoals - Calpe
DSM Firmenich - Calpe
Soudal Quickstep - Calpe
Cofidis - Denia
Uno-X - Oliva
Eolo Kometa - Oliva
UAE Womens team - Oliva
UAE mens team - Benidorm (just north of)
Arkea Samsic - Castello de la Plana (Just north of Valencia)
This is not a definitive list by any stretch of the imagination, but serves as an excellent advert for the quality of the cycling in the region.
Now there are some very good reasons why teams choose this area from a practical point of view...... Abundance of hotels, two airports, local cycling infrastructure and the favourable weather. We share all these reasons and they certainly help us when planning and delivering trips to the region.
Group trips to the region are some of our favourite to plan and deliver
However, it is the quality of the cycling in the region that really sells it to us. Our challenge is to provide cyclists with a trip that allows them to enjoy themselves as bike rider. For the young aspiring professional riders this means high quality training rides on varied terrain where they can test themselves pre season and enjoy big rides on good roads. For club cyclists it means a range of route options that allow 'racy types' to satisfy their compulsions all the way through to more social cyclists who want a lovely bike ride of 50-70km with some great views, good coffee and nice food.
The Costa Blanca ticks all those boxes. Throw in some brilliant local bike stores, cycling cafe's and really quiet roads and you have a brilliant cycling destination. Whilst Majorca is and will likely remain a firm favourite, we are of the view that the Costa Blanca offers an awful lot for cycling groups and it is the place we would choose for training camps and Spring/Autumn cycling holidays were we to be forced to choose.
Our favourite Costa Blanca loop
100km, with 1600m ascent - including Vall d'Ebo and Coll de Rates from Tarbena as some of its highlights.
From our Costa Blanca home at the Oliva Nova Resort we head inland to Pego, which serves as the perfect flat 10km to get the legs spinning. Out of Pego we hit the the slopes of Vall d'Ebo - a very achievable 7.88km at an average of 6%. This a brilliant climb with plenty of switchbacks and fabulous views back to the coast.
From the top of the climb there is a short decent to the town of the same name, from here the next climb awaits - it is only just over 2km long, but the first 500m hover between 8% and 15% and require your smallest sprocket and all your power. The next 5km descent to the main road are alot of fun - quite technically challenging in places, and whilst a single lane road, the tarmac is good and you will enjoy the feeling of remoteness as you wind through the valley.
At the bottom of the descent it is a right turn up to Castell de Castells. This is a very good place to stop for a coffee if you have not had support on the road. From the town you turn left and follow the sign to Tarbena and up the next climb - Alto de Castell de Castells - Thais climb is just over 5km long, but the first 2km are where all thechallneges lie, the hairpin at 1800m in to the climb is a bit of a stinker, but after that the gradient quickly eases. the road over the top to Tarbena is a great deal of fun to ride - smooth, sinuous and some great scenery.
One of the many hairpins of Vall de Ebo
Depending upon the progress you have made you could stop of lunch in Tarbena - we recommed a fabulous little restaurant called Can Pinet. After Tarbena you then have a brief drop down into a 'bowl' past the house with all the strange garden statues and covered in murals. The final 1600m to the top of the Rates is a fun little 4% dig before a flying descent down the Coll de Rates. You then have a very fast run down to Alcalali - possibly via the new Blanca bikes cafe in Parcent.
Out of Alcalali and you are into the final 30km, a brief climb (2km) greets you before a descent into Pedreguer - this is a fun descent, with only the odd speed bump to disturb you flow. At the traffic lights in town turn left and head from one of the many 'Beni's' Beniaberg and then onto the last 2km of uphill. The last descent is possibly the fastest of the lot and by now your flow should be well tuned in and you will love the ride back to the hotel over the last 8km - we just pray for no head wind!!
The top of your final climb before heading back to the hotel
If you would like to learn more about cycling in this region and what our trips look like then please do get in touch or visit our website for more information on cycling holidays on the Costa Blanca.