Riding shoulder to shoulder with the best of the world... in the sunshine
Costa Blanca Bike Race is a four day, four stage mountain race that should be on the list for anyone looking for a new challenge.
When you think of the Costa Blanca, your mind will almost automatically jump to Benidorm, beaches and blue skies, but mountain biking? Probably not. Well now’s the time to rethink what the Costa Blanca means thanks to the Costa Blanca Bike Race.
When and where?
Despite the fact that each stage takes place at a different location around Costa Blanca the CBBR has an intimate and family-like feel thanks to the fact that all the racers, including the pro teams are recommended to stay at the impressive, cycling friendly Cap Negret hotel complex in Altea. Situated slap bang on the beach, riders and supporters can enjoy their downtime relaxing at the pool, spa or just chatting with fellow competitors.
The 2019 edition takes place between the 31st January and 3rd of February. For the first time, there is the option of a shorter, half CBBR, racing just the last two stages if you just fancy a taste and want to combine it with a longer trip away.
For more information and to register for the Costa Blanca Bike Race check out their website.
As a special offer for our readers the organisers are offering a 15% discount code for entry – Simply enter the code D483861D8 when registering.
Costa Blanca is blessed with almost perfect mountain biking weather in January, combined with some pretty special landscapes and miles and miles of pristine, technical singletrack, making it a perfect escape from the typical UK conditions.
What is it?
The Costa Blanca Bike Race (CBBR) is a UCI S2 ranked marathon stage race. Having the coveted UCI ranking means the CBBR attracts some of the world’s top professional teams looking for early season ranking points. But this isn’t just a race for the pros. One of the CBBR’s most attractive qualities is the fact that the likes of us mere mortals can take to the start line alongside the pros and race the same trails with the same level of support.
Like all good stage races the CBBR is raced in a pairs format. In this format it’s as much a test of teamwork as fitness since each pair needs to finish within two minutes of each other in order to avoid disqualification. Teams are required to be self sufficient throughout but just in case of mechanical emergencies there are Technical Zones where mechanical help can be given.
Be warned, the CBBR is as brutal as it is beautiful. Costa Blanca’s trails are rocky, rough and wild; testing bike handling and equipment to the limit. And with each of the three long stages featuring at least 1400 metres of climbing over the distance, it’s not a race to be taken lightly. And if this doesn’t seem hard enough, Stage Two’s relatively short distance belies the fact that the finish line is at the summit of one of Europe’s steepest paved/unpaved trails. With gradients peaking at a knee snapping thirty one percent, most riders will just be happy to stay upright and curse the course designers.
mbr race report from CBBR 2018
mbr was kindly invited by the organisers to preview some of the stages earlier this year to get a feel for the event. It’s fair to say that for anyone that races the CBBR it will definitely be an event to remember. The dramatic limestone cliffs and mountains punctuate the landscape at regular intervals and with most starting practically at sea level results in trail profiles looking like a roller coaster. Each of the stages combines sections of relentless off-road climbs that will soon have the race splitting up. Energy conservation will be key at these points as the descents are technical, rocky and demanding. This isn’t just a race that will be won by the strongest, good bike handling skills are crucial for racers wanting to do well. Luckily for the riders who can still see through the efforts, the views surrounding each stage are enough to take away at least some of the pain!
The weather is also another reason to do this race. January in Costa Blanca is almost perfect for riding with dry, sunny. Temperatures range between fifteen and twenty degrees so a much more attractive option than the wet and miserable UK winter.
What bike for the Costa Blanca Bike Race?
Many of the top riders will opt for the simplicity and lighter weight of a hardtail for the CBBR. However, the relentless and rocky nature of the descents makes a short travel full suspension machine an attractive option. For the preview I opted to take an Intense Sniper. This is Intense’s cross country full suspension bike, built around 100mm of travel front and rear. The Sniper is a little more progressive than many cross country setups, combining a slack 67.5° head angle, long reach and dropper post to make a bike that will eat up the technical descents without giving too much away for the long climbs. With a race that features little in the way of flat ground it’s important that you can get your recovery in when you can and for me a full suspension allows you to relax a little more on the descents.
The other thing that really needs to be considered is tyre choice. The sharp limestone rock that makes up the area is unforgiving for both sidewalls and bodies. Make sure you opt for tyres with strengthened sidewalls or expect any little mistake to potentially result in a race ending mechanical.