Catalan cycling is actively supporting women's presence
In the 2023 season, Catalan women’s cycling has featured sixteen road cyclists in the rosters of UCI international teams, with five of them on the Massi-Tactic Catalan team, that has completed its fifth season in the professional scene. They are continually building a calendar that includes a growing number of events exclusively for women, including international competition days in Catalonia.
Until now, there have been few accounts of Catalan female cyclists who, through their personal efforts and heroic journeys, managed to establish themselves in professional cycling. In fact, it’s essential not to forget the history to gain a perspective on the current situation and the remaining strides to be made in women’s cycling.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the first licenses for female cyclists were issued in Spain. This historical development coincided with the pioneering spirit of Montserrat Torres, who participated in the 1978 World Championship in Germany. The following year, in 1979, marked the inaugural Spanish Women’s Championship, with Montserrat Torres, Susana García, and Magdalena Castaño among the participants.
Catalan women’s cycling has a history that spans nearly half a century, extending beyond official recognition in the sport. Until the 1950s, women were prohibited from participating in competitive cycling under the regulations of the Unión Velocipédica Española (the precursor to the current Royal Spanish Cycling Federation). Cyclists like Montserrat Torres, Montse Alonso, Marta Vilajosana, Núria Florencio, Débora Gálvez, Sandra Santañas, Anna Ramírez, and Lorena Llamas have been pioneers in the sport for decades, steadily building their legacy.
Who could have predicted that these pioneers would witness a season like 2023, where, for example, the 4th edition of the reVolta, the women’s race of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, made its debut as a UCI international race, working towards becoming a three-stage event in the upcoming 2024 season.
It’s also surprising that this journey has sparked success stories like that of Mireia Benito, who joined the AG Insurance – Soudal Quick Step team after establishing herself as a standout in the first four seasons of the Club Ciclista Baix Ter team and even winning the Spanish time trial championship.
All of this progress is a testament to the commitment of different teams that are actively supporting young female cyclists in their quest to establish themselves in competitive cycling. They are continuously breaking new ground, opening doors for many others to extend their sporting journeys in women’s cycling.
LA RETROTROBADA: CYCLING RENAISSANCE IN THE HEART OF CATALONIA
In the charming town of Berga, nestled in the heart of Catalonia’s Berguedà region, there’s a yearly gathering where cycling nostalgia meets modern fun. Against the backdrop of picturesque landscapes, La Retrotrobada is an opportunity to relive the glory days of cycling and keep the spirit alive.
La Retrotrobada serves as a bridge to the past for classic cycling enthusiasts. Participants get a chance to reconnect with the essence of cycling from the ‘60s to the ‘80s and contribute to preserving that essence. The event features a cycling route that recreates the ambiance of bygone eras, where riders must adhere to specific rules like using classic steel-frame bikes, frame-mounted gear levers, and clip pedals. It’s not a competitive race but rather a friendly meet-up for those looking to enjoy a weekend filled with cycling nostalgia.
For those with a competitive spirit and a love for classic bikes, there’s the La Portal Attack race. This open cycling race follows a playoff format, with male and female grand finals. Participants must ride classic bikes manufactured before 1987, complete with frame-mounted gear levers, exposed cables, and flat or clip pedals. A retro outfit is encouraged, adding to the authenticity.
Berguedà aims to become a ‘Bike Friendly Territory’ with support from local and regional authorities. Exciting news is on the horizon, as the prestigious Volta Ciclista a Catalunya plans to include a stage that starts in Berga and finishes at Santuari de Queralt. This stage promises to be a challenging and decisive part of the 2024 Volta. Berguedà’s rich cycling heritage is getting the recognition it deserves, thanks to these events and the commitment of the local community. Cyclists, both old and new, will find a welcoming and vibrant cycling culture in the heart of Catalonia.
THE BARCELONA-PERPIGNAN-BARCELONA EXPERIENCE
The ninth edition of Barcelona-Perpignan-Barcelona, a 600-kilometer self-sufficiency cycling challenge, is scheduled for the month of May and holds a prominent place on Catalonia’s brevet calendar. Long-distance cycling has deep roots in country and has served as a precursor to the expanding popularity of cyclo-touring experiences. A preview.
Cycling is adventure, personal growth, and a way to explore new territories. This can be confirmed by anyone who enjoys cycling in all its forms, but randonneurs in particular. These are the participants in brevets, the long-distance cycling events held every two years, which have gained significant popularity in Catalonia. In 2024, one of the main events will be experienced once again: Barcelona-Perpignan-Barcelona.
The ninth edition of the ultracycling event, also known as the Catalan International Cyclomarathon, is scheduled for the weekend of May 25 and 26, 2024. This competition is organized by the Touring Commission of the Catalan Cycling Federation in partnership with the Randonneurs Catalunya association. The BPB600 is a challenging brevet covering 600 kilometers with an elevation gain of almost 7.000 meters.
Brevet begins and ends, but there is no finish line. The Barcelona-Perpignan-Barcelona route has a timeframe of between 20 and 40 hours for completion, which translates to a speed range of 15 to 30 kilometers per hour.
In Catalonia, nearly twenty brevets ranging from 200 to 600 kilometers are held each year, and individuals must have previously established their participation in approved events to be eligible for the Paris-Brest-Paris. The most recent edition of this renowned event occurred in August 2023 and is scheduled to return in 2027.
This story is part of Nafent Magazine volume 8. Read the full story in our digital or paper magazine. Go to our webshop, or buy yours at one of our 200 partner places.