Entries are now open for Girona Cycling Festival, taking place from 8-14 June 2020. The festival offers a week-long feast of cycling, partying and sampling local Catalan culture, with highlights including the Els Angels hill climb challenge, a twilight Nocturn crit and the Girona Gran Fondo.
Located one hour north of Barcelona, Girona ranks among the best cycling destinations in Europe thanks to fantastic coastal and mountain roads within easy reach of its picturesque medieval city centre.
Dozens of current and former pros have made the city their home, and you'll get a chance to meet some of them during the festival on daily guided rides led by Robert Gesink, George Bennett and Nathan Haas to name just three.
The festival finishes with the Girona Gran Fondo, a 125km or 142km loop through the lush Garrotxa volcanic region. The longer route includes the famous climb up Rocacorba. Used as a key form tester by many professional road riders living in the area, its steep, unforgiving nature means it's not one to tackle lightly.
While the Gran Fondo may be the pinnacle of the festival, it's just part of a packed programme throughout the week. There are three main events and festival goers are automatically entered into the Omnium competition, with points up for grabs in each of the Els Angels hill climb, the Nocturn and the Rocacorba Challenge that forms part of the Gran Fondo.
Points are awarded to the top 100 finishers in each event, and totals added up at the end of the week. The organisers' pro connections ensure exclusive swag, with Cannondale bikes among the prizes in the past.
The Gran Fondo itself isn't counted as a race though, and the vibe throughout is friendly and relaxed with food, beer, BBQ and coffee stallls buzzing with activity at the event village all week.
Nestled in the shadow of Girona's medieval cathedral (as featured in Game of Thrones), the race village is the hub of the festival through the week. Alongside the pasta party and gala dinner, you'll find tasty food and drinks provided by The Rocacorba Food truck and delicious coffee from the Robert Gesink's famous Broomwagon.
The Girona Cycling Festival is organised by founders Dave Welch and his wife Saskia, whose local cycle shop, Bike Breaks Girona, is a regular haunt of the town's resident pros. Entrants can take advantage of the shop's boutique stall during the festival with special offers for the festival, a pre-Fondo concert, sports massage, event jersey and goodybag, and much more.
We went in 2015 and it's simply the best week's cycling and entertainment you could hope for. Beautiful weather, great food, gorgeous scenery, an incredibly welcoming and sociable atmosphere - if you're looking for an early summer cycling holiday in Europe, don't miss it.
Entry to the Gran Fondo only is priced €39, but if you can manage a week off check out the Gold Pack and Festival Entry packages.
The Festival Entry deal offers great value, with entry to all three events (and the pasta party, Catalan meal and pre event party), along with a complimentary jersey and sports massage, for €275.
For the ultimate experience, upgrade to the Gold package (€550) and you'll also get exclusive access to pro-guided rides, plus all-inclusive food, beer and coffee from the stalls at race village throughout the festival.
Unsurprisingly, the packages sell out quickly so don't leave it too late!
For more details and to enter, visit the event website at gironagranfondo.com.