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With its year-round temperate climate, laid-back Catalan culture and a huge variety of traffic-free mountain roads to train on, Girona has steadily become Spain’s epicentre of all things cycling – so is it any wonder so many current pros hail from the region?
As with all of our Classic Cols style holidays, we have crafted a flexible itinerary catering for a range of fitness levels and aspirations that takes in the best that this ‘hidden gem’ of a region has to offer. You’ll climb on mostly mellow gradients, traverse lush green valleys and enjoy sweeping descents on smooth tarmac through a range of breathtaking scenery, staying in quality hotels each night.
The climate in Catalonia makes this cycling holiday an ideal spring and autumn destination. We have designed a ‘Classic’ route which, compared to our other Classic Cols holidays is more manageable and achievable. However, if you are looking for more of an early season personal training week, or opportunity to test your end of season fitness, then you will find solace in our ‘Challenge’ route. Whatever your aspiration, this holiday has something for everyone…
Departure Dates & Prices
Day 0: Travel Out
We offer included airport transfers (a journey of 30mins) at scheduled times during the day from Girona Airport to our start hotel in the lakeside town of Banyolles.
Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) and airport transfer timings can be found in our Trip Notes.
Depending on your arrival time, you can wander into the historic town center or head out on the bike to loosen the legs and check all is well. The beautiful climb up towards the 12th century Santuari de Rocacorba (960m) is too close to be ignored… Used as a ‘benchmark’ climb to test their form by many of the pros that live and train in the area, a quick nip up this quiet yet surprisingly challenging 14km climb is likely to have you rubbing shoulders with a pro or two. On a clear day, you can see the Pyrenees to the North, which is the direction we head tomorrow…
For full travel information and airport transfer timings, please consult the Trip Notes.
Optional warm-up ride to Rocacorba (28km, 780m ascent) [Ride profile]
Day 1: Banyoles to Camprodon
You leave Banyoles behind today and head into the Catalan Pyrenees and the volcanic national park of the Garrotxa, twisting and turning your way up favourable gradients on the quiet and bike-friendly roads that this region is so famous for. The diminutive Coll de Caselles (623m) is first on the menu today, delivering you suitably satisfied into the town of Olot for some welcome refreshment. From here on you’re off into the amazing black volcanic rock landscape, riding between the (thankfully now dormant) volcanos, and over Coll de Capsacosta (870m).
Your destination for the day is the small Catalan town of Camprodon, located conveniently at the base of the famous Vallter 2000 (2156m) – our optional extra for the day. Vallter 2000 has featured in both the Vuelta a España and Volta a Catalunya and claims the title of ‘the highest road climb in Catalonia’. Now there’s a feather for your casquette!
Classic route: Coll de Caselles + Coll de Capsacosta (60km, 1200m ascent) [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Coll de Caselles + Vallter 2000 (115 km, 2500m ascent) [Ride profile]
Day 2: Camprodon to Ripoll
Being so close to the French border, it would be rude not to give those with the energy the opportunity to pop over for a visit, and all that stands in your way is the true-pass of Col d’Ares (1513m).
Our ‘Classic’ route today bypasses the Col d’Ares and undulates over Oix-Beget (1092m) with a downhill bias along to the municipality of Castellfollit de la Roca, famous for its basalt cliffs and rock formations formed by centuries-old volcanic lava.
You head West from here, skirting the town of Olot as you go, climbing on gentle gradients up the side of the valley to the summit of Col de Canes (1121m). Having featured in both the Vuelta a España and Volta a Catalunya, this road is favored by local riders for its lack of cars and good surface.
A flowing descent through lush green countryside leads you down to your hotel in Ripoll, a quiet Pyrenean town most famous for its Benedictine monastery and historic iron and coal mines. We recommend enjoying a relaxing afternoon by the hotel swimming pool.
Classic route: Oix-Beget + Col de Canes (85km, 1500m ascent) [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Col d’Ares + Oix-Beget + Col de Canes (110 km, 1990m ascent) [Ride profile]
Day 3: Ripoll to Vic
Leaving Ripoll behind you, you head out to our furthest Easterly point of the week this morning, on mountain roads that get quieter and quieter as you go. Our ‘Classic’ route takes you over the unassuming Coll de Merolla (1100m) and down its sweeping tree-lined descent, before you turn left and head South again onto roads that seem to have been built especially for cyclists.
‘Undulations’ are the order of the day as you make your way along to Alto de Sobremunt (889m) and on to yet another jaw-dropping descent down onto the Plains of Vic, a large depression formed over thousands of years by the river Ter and its tributaries running off the surrounding mountains.
Our ‘Challenge’ option today takes an early Northernly detour to the summit of Coll de la Creueta (1935m) before re-joining the ‘Classic’ route.
You stay in the center of the ancient Roman town of Vic for two nights where we enjoy the serenity of our historic hotel that was formally a theological college.
Classic route: Coll de Merolla + Alto de Sobremunt (93km, 1250m ascent) [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Coll de la Creueta + Alto de Sobremunt (127 km, 2030m ascent) [Ride profile]
Day 4: Day ride from Vic
You head North this morning out onto the Plains of Vic before bearing right to climb up to Coll del Bac (1000m) through an entirely different landscape; its dry and open plains with expansive views laid out below you. A short descent followed by a mellow tree-lined climb up to Coll de Condreu (1015m) rewards you with a characteristically fast and flowing descent down through lush greenery to another volcanic plain, set to the south of Olot.
Those wanting to partake in our ‘Challenge’ route today peel off to the North from here to take on the isolated yet not to be underestimated Collada de Collfred (1327m), which winds its way on a narrow and in places steep road, directly into the heart of the protected Serres de Milany-Santa Pagdalena zone, which enjoys breathtaking views for miles around.
A quick u-turn and back down to the plains sees the two routes re-join and immediately point uphill again, leaving the main road behind you to begin climbing to the summit of Coll de Bracons (1132m), with its majestic views down to the East.
Undulations with a downhill bias take you from the summit on a narrow and winding mountain road back down to the plains and civilization of Vic, where you set off from this morning.
Classic route: Coll del Bac + Coll de Condreu + Coll de Bracons (96km, 1500m ascent) [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Coll del Bac + Coll de Condreu + Coll de Bracons + Collada de Collfred (131km, 2330m ascent) [Ride profile]
Day 5: Vic to Girona
Your destination for the day is Girona, famous for its medieval architecture, walled Old Quarter (Barri Vell) and the Roman remains of the Força Vella fortress. Oh, and it’s popular with cyclists too, and today you’ll see just why…
You head South-East in the morning towards the Massif Montseny on tree-lined roads, the Classic route crossing Collada de Vilar (780m) and Coll de Gomara (891m), with the Challenge route splitting off early on to take on Coll Formic (1144m) and Alto de Santa Fe (1324m) before rejoining the Classic route.
After stopping for refreshments in the pretty town of Sant Hilari Sacalm, you move into the Guilleries Massif to enjoy twisting and winding forested roads that follow a downhill bias all the way to our 4-star hotel in the center of Girona.
There are many route options today, allowing you the flexibility to choose between time on the bike or an earlier finish. Girona is a beautiful place with a rich cycling culture, so why not head out on foot and explore the back streets, bike cafes and monuments – it’s not ALL about the bike!
Classic route: Collada de Vilar + Coll de Gomara (100km, 1300m ascent) [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Collada de Vilar + Coll Formic + Alto de Santa Fe (135km, 2140m ascent) [Ride profile]
Day 6: Girona to Tossa de Mar
Cliff-hugging roads, a cool sea breeze and views that stretch for miles are all on the agenda today. You leave Girona on a road ridden by almost every cyclist in the region, to the summit of a climb that is equally popular with both amateur and professional cyclists alike, Els Angles (475m). Els Angles is a steady climb, nestled in the trees for the majority, terminating at a chapel that commands dramatic panoramic views for miles around.
From here you’re bound for the coast, but as always there are options. Those of you who want a slightly less challenging afternoon can choose to follow the coast road along to our 4-star seafront spa hotel in Tossa de Mar, whereas for the rest of you there are some spectacular climbs left to sample.
Following the Classic or Challenge routes will take you up to and over the diminutive Romanyà de la Selva (323m) before delivering you back to sea-level for refreshments. What lies ahead of you from here is said to be one of the prettiest stretches of coast road that the region has to offer – what better way to round off your adventure. But it’s not all over yet!
Those following the Challenge route head inland again from here to tick off a final two ‘hills’ before descending back down to take on the spectacular coast road for the final time. All that is left to do now is relax, wine, dine and share stories of a fantastic week on the bike.
Classic route: Els Angels + Romanyà de la Selva (95km, 1350m ascent) [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Els Angels + Romanyà de la Selva + Llagostera (139km, 2100m ascent) [Ride profile]
Day 7: Travel Day
All good things have to come to an end. We offer morning and afternoon transfers back to Girona Airport (45mins) at the times specified in the Trip Notes.