The Thousand and One Landscapes of the Epic Gran Canaria
The Epic Gran Canaria starts the Gran Fondo World Tour´s 2020 calendar
Even after the sun has set on the Spanish peninsula, its rays continue to shine on the Epic Gran Canaria, the cycle tourism winter event that’s far from cold, inclement climes, and blessed by its landscapes, warm weather and, of course, the carnival.
Gran Canaria is one of the largest of the Canary Islands. This round-shaped landmass, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, has much to boast about, including colours, music, landscapes, legends and cycling.
“These are the places I trained, the places I rode with Marco Pantani and his Mercatone.” Dedicated cyclist Yojan Reyes, with his expressive voice and pronounced Canarian accent, reminisces about the 90s when, as junior rider, he won stages in Valladolid and La Rioja.
Today, Yojan draws the curves and route of the Epic Gran Canaria, the race that opens up the heart of the island to cyclists from all over the world.
“It’s a beautiful, very different experience, and the first race of the year,” says former cyclist Oscar Freire.
The Epic Gran Canaria offers a high-level experience and high-altitude cycling over two days, far from the bad weather on the peninsula, and in an environment that seems like an eternal spring for riding a bike. Long days, pleasant temperatures and a cycling-friendly atmosphere.
Davide Rebellin reaffirms: “There is a great selection of climbs for cyclists of all levels who want to enjoy some winter in the sun.”
There is a fantastic road, an extremely favourable atmosphere for cycling, plus plenty of sunshine, beaches, and outstanding terrain. All this and a carnival too.
This is the third edition of the event which, despite its youth, has already established some legends and traditions of its own. Gran Canaria is a cyclists’ paradise, and the Epic Gran Canaria is here to share this secret with the world.
And it does so among a thousand different landscapes, each of which transmits the ancestral attraction of a land that is finally revealing itself to the eyes of cyclists.
Maspalomas, in the southeast of the island, is a wonderland of dunes, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the foothills of the Tirajana volcano to the north.
Two routes start here, from Hotel Riu Palace. The longest takes place on Saturday 15 February, and it’s 115 kilometres long; the second route is on Sunday and it’s an easier-going 75 kilometres.
The plan for Saturday…
The Epic Gran Canaria opens with this 115-kilometre trip that introduces a couple of climbs, both timed, to get things rolling. The first is 12-kilometre Monte León, with an average gradient of 4%; the second goes up to the town of Ayacata at the top.
Once at Cercados Espino, it’s all uphill – aside from occasional breaks – with a 24-kilometre gradient.
However, riders shouldn’t let themselves be fooled by the outline. This route has some tricks up its sleeve.
The return trip, through San Bartolomé de Tirajana, winds through the centre of the island, passing through some of its most beautiful villages.
On Sunday, the excitement….
The Epic Gran Canaria provides a more accessible route, although it does involve going uphill almost from the start. This climb is about 23 kilometres long, with some breaks, until Tirajana, in the opposite direction to the first stage, with a second, much easier section through San Lucía and Vecindario.
Here we will find panoramas of pines and Canarian palm trees interlaced with volcanic landscapes. Both tours are scheduled to start at half past eight in the morning.
By the time the Epic Gran Canaria peloton is back it will have travelled through dunes, crossed a volcanic expanse, and enjoyed mountain views.
The passes are similar to those of the Tour de France —long and continuous– making it possible to enjoy the curves, pine trees, and the blue of the ocean ever-visible on the horizon.
Almost all the professional teams have passed through this area. Chris Froome was recently here, Cancellara was a regular visitor, as are the Yates brothers, Mark Cavendish – when he was a rider with Dimension Data – and Mikel Landa.
The day before the ride, the Epic Gran Canaria hosts a conversation between Manolo Saiz, Davide Rebellin and David López, who, as we’ve said, is one of ours.
“Every year we look for figures who will be of interest to fans”, adds Yojan.
There’s a carnivalesque feel to the podium ceremony, held in the city of Las Palmas – decked out in all its finery – to the north of the island, just a short drive away. Hostesses dressed up for the carnival will also be there to liven up the proceedings.
The organisers have set the limit for participants at 450 cyclists. Riders from around 15 nationalities have already filled out the registration form. Cycling: Canarian and international.