I’ve been lucky enough to visit some great places and events this year but La Tramun is now the gold standard for race courses. Part of the UCI World Marathon Series for the first time the Girona based event has grown a reputation over the past 18 years for its technically challenging trails. A week after the traditional European season curtain closer Roc d’Azur I along with others had expected a less competitive field but still the World Ranking points on offer attracted many of the top international riders and teams.
The race organiser had spoken of endless trails which each year their devoted team tune and add to. There is a reason 68kms took last year’s winner nearly 4 hours, these trails aren’t just fast and flowing, they are technical and testing for even the top pro’s. The event is a point to point race starting in the pretty little town of Hostalets d’en Bas and finishing in Girona. Between those points is 2100 metres of ascent and 2500 metres of descent, good stats! After 5kms of climbing on tarmac to spread the race apart you enter the singletrack, a ribbon of trail which takes you very nearly all the way to the finish. There is none of your normal boring gravel fireroad sections, the only wider trails in the course are rough rocky climbs which take skill and focus to ride cleanly.
Girona is located an hour’s drive north of Barcelona and has seen plenty of action in its time with the cities defensive walls only demolished in the 19th century to allow for future expansion. It’s a popular place for tourists with many landmarks such as the cathedral, old fortifications, historic churches, plus good gelatos shops and more to see. Girona is a base for many top professional road riders and team’s including Lotto NL-Jumbo’s stage race hopeful Robert Gesink who along with a teammate decided to give mountain biking a go at La Tramun. They started well up the tarmac but had a shock once the trails started, even so both had a great day out.
By the top of the first 600 metre ascent Belgian rider Sebastien Carabin was in the lead with Italians Tony Longo and Johnny Cattaneo. Behind them was a string of riders jostling for positions including myself. In the ladies Clàudia Galícia, Clara Fernandez and Sophie Giovane led.
I came into the race not knowing what to expect, this would be my 37th day of racing this year and after last week’s race the body felt ready for the off season. However this kind of race with these trails is what excites me and with the uncertainty that exists over my continued racing for 2017 I was determined to have a good day. I lost time as usual on the first big climb and was then stuck in traffic on the singletrack off the hillside. I also had a big crash on this descent tumbling down off the narrow trail into a stream, no damage done and I expect most riders had a moment or 2 on this course today. Once on the second climb and out of traffic I was really moving forward, catching a lot of riders towards the top and on the following descent to the finish using my endurance and USN caffeine gels. Sadly I needed a longer race or a better start to challenge for the top 5 I wanted but I’m happy with 8th place. Another top 10 showing for the National stripes at the UCI World Marathon Series. Once again I was flying solo here in Spain with no race support so had to catch the 1 hour bus early morning to the start, then had to race with just 2 bottles for 4 hours, had no mechanic to tune bikes, no physio to prep legs, no time gaps. Yet I managed to beat many riders on top teams with all the support.
Sebastien Carabin set a blistering pace to win in a time of 3 hours 40 2 minutes ahead of Tony Longo and a further 3 minutes ahead of Johnny Cattaneo. Clàudia Galícia won the ladies in 5 hours 4 minutes ahead of Mercè Pacios and María Díaz.
Everyone won today though because they got to ride 68km’s of amazing trails through the spectacular Collsacabra Massif. With flights available directly to Girona or to nearby Barcelona what are you waiting for? Sign up for next year’s La Tramun which will again be part of the UCI World Marathon Series. Just make sure you pack a full suspension bike, a dropper seatpost and a spare pair of shorts!