Last week Ben Thomas Coaching has been in Spain previewing the 2019 Costa Blanca Bike Race. Lots of ice cream was eaten, we rode some amazing trails, got sunburnt and made lots of happy memories! Next year will see the events fifth edition with the major change being the new event hotel, Cap Negret in Altea. I took part in the event back in 2016 and had a great time so was looking forward to returning to south east Spain. The 4 day race features on the UCI calendar which attracts many top riders and teams including Trek Factory Racing and Orbea Primaflor.
The nearest airport to Altea is Alicante which has regular and good value flights arriving from all over Europe. We flew from London Gatwick and after a late afternoon flight we arrived at Hotel Cap Negret after midnight. The hotel was completely renovated in 2018 and is in a spectacular location, we woke the next morning to beautiful sea views. The hotel offers deliciously fresh food at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The buffet menu means there’s food to suit everyone's dietary needs. The hotel is setup for cyclists with a bike hub offering bike hire, secure bike storage, bike wash, mechanics stands, tools and guided rides. The hotel has a gym, a large pool, gym, sunbed area, free Wi-Fi and beach access. The hotel is a great place to holiday and will be the perfect base for the competitors of Costa Blanca Bike Race.
Did I mention the view!? Like a glossy holiday brochure front cover.
Over the week we spent here we rode a selection of trails from the 4 day stage race including the mighty timetrial climb which elevates you high above the ocean leaving you short of breath from the bike race and spectacular views. The 3 other stages offer some brilliant mountain biking, don't bring your hardtail bikes to Costa Blanca, you'll be quicker and grinning the whole way round on your full suspension bike. There are miles upon miles of trails to challenge even for the best elites but remain manageable for all competitors, this is proper mountain biking. The ground is rocky and the surface is loose so you need strong tyres and a steady technique to maintain traction. Our group whooped for joy most of the way round the stages. The stages vary between 16km and 55km so suit the riders who prefer a shorter day but will be enjoyed by all.
The area is also well known for its road riding with many of the top pro teams holding their winter training camps locally. It’s an idyllic area for road cycling as it offers flat routes with little traffic to demanding climbs where you ride from sea level into the mountains. Ben Thomas Coaching is developing plans to run a mountain bike and road training camp in Altea next year, keep your eyes open for updates soon…
Photo: MarathonMTB.com / Instagram @physiobikefit
Cycling is just a small part of what’s on offer here in Altea. We had the opportunity to visit the Enrique Mendoza winery one of the afternoons which was one of the many highlights from the trip. We toured the production facilities, got to taste a selection of wines and meet Enrique himself. We also visited the Benidorm old town so my girlfriend could see what locations she recognised from the TV show! We visited Polop castle where stage 4 of the race finishes and then drove up to spectacular mountain village of Guadalest, 2 of the most beautiful places in Spain. We enjoyed just a small selection of the tourist destinations in the area, whether your there for the bike race or with family on holiday there’s plenty to do.
Wine tasting at Enrique Mendoza
The spectacular Guadalest village and lake