Are you looking for a Costa Blanca cycling holiday? Not sure how to choose? You’re in the right place!

In this article, we speak to Paul Mill who has been running cycling training holidays on the Costa Blanca since 2016.

In this article he shares his passion for cycling Spain’s Costa Blanca. He also tells us why he thinks Elitecycling’s Costa Blanca cycling training holidays, which combine guided coaching at every level with a cycling holiday, are a winning formula. 

Part 1: Paul, please introduce yourself. What’s your background?

I am a British Cycling Level 3 Road and Time Trial coach, ex-coach to Team Wiggins, Training Peaks accredited coach and I hold a Sports Psychology diploma.  I have been coaching cyclists for 20 years.

As an aspiring professional cyclist, I attended many training camps and noticed that many riders would do miles and miles of training with little structure or event specificity. Now as a coach and tour operator, I find that focused coaching holidays ensure riders make rapid improvements.

At Elitecycling we pride ourselves on a strong, supportive coaching ethos. Our aim is to make sure that every guest leaves having improved their fitness, technique and training methodology.

Part 2: How to choose a Costa Blanca cycling holiday

In this section, I’ll share my knowledge of planning and organising coaching and cycling holidays in Spain’s Costa Blanca, including the itineraries I’ve found work best for cyclists and information on what we do to try and make sure our guests have an amazing time.

Why pick a Costa Blanca cycling holiday?

Costa Blanca training camps have been popular with professional and amateur cyclists for many years. This year, 2024, we saw the likes of Ineos, Quick Step, Tudor Pro Cycling, Intermarché and Bahrain training here.

The main draws are:

  • The weather, which benefits from mild winters and usually very reliable weather.
  • The roads, which are in fantastic condition.
  • The terrain, which lends itself to a wide range of quality training, from rolling roads to challenging cols which usually stay open year around and which the pros are here for too.
  • Easy access, due to Alicante and Valencia airports, plus the high speed train network.

What better way to train than with an ex-team coach of Team Wiggins, with 20 years coaching experience and over 25 years experience of cycling the Costa Blanca region and its fantastic climbs?

Where to stay on a Costa Blanca cycling holiday? Calpe or somewhere else?

Most of the pro teams frequent the Calpe region because it offers larger hotels which can cater for a lot of riders and staff. The teams also choose Calpe because of the size and number of vehicles which require larger car parks.

We stay in Albir, very close to Altea, at the four-star Albir Playa Hotel & Spa. The area is a lot quieter than Calpe and has a small-town feel with lots of shops, bars and restaurants. All cycling routes, including those used by the professional riders, are easily accessible from Albir. The hotel is also a short 10-minute stroll from the beautiful beach and the stunning Mediterranean Sea.

Being based in Abir gives us excellent access to climbs and quieter roads, mostly avoiding the busier N332 road, although we do use it to get to La Puig Lorenca, and sometimes Alcalali, with more experienced faster-moving groups. This part of the Costa Blanca is known for its amazing inland mountains, fantastic views, beautiful scenery and incredible cycling. The Coll de Rates is probably the most famous climb in the area, but there are tons of excellent climbs to choose from.

Why choose an organised cycling holiday in the Costa Blanca?

A lot of people create their own trips, but assistance from someone with good local knowledge of the area can really help.

Attending an organised holiday means transfers, hotel, bike storage, routes and food are all taken care of and that means all riders need do is ride their bikes without thinking about where they are going the next day or where they need to get food for their evening meal.

Go with a company that has experience, good knowledge of the sport and can offer a good quality hotel. It’s also a good idea to pick a company that arranges transfers and can supply hire bikes if required – all of which we do. Read on for more details!

 

Costa Blanca cycling holidays v cycling camps v training holidays?

I started running pure training camps in Albir in 2016. These were very successful, but I discovered that many riders are somewhat intimidated by the word ‘camp’.

What we offer mixes training with a holiday feel. We make a conscious effort to ensure the time spent with us is enjoyable, supportive and inclusive, catering for all abilities. All our clients get an opportunity to train, whether it be race preparation with me as a qualified Level 3 coach, coached sportive preparation or road safety coaching for sociable cub runs. However, enjoyment and a sense of achievement on the bike is our priority.

With this mix between a Costa Blanca training camp and holiday, you get the advantages of a holiday with a layer of coaching on top, if you want it. Rider improvement is our aim across the board, be that fitness, race prep or learning to ride safely in a group – a cycling holiday is a training holiday too. You can end your break a better cyclist while also having had a holiday.

All of our training holidays offer a small group environment; we usually have a maximum of ten riders with two guides per group, all of whom are English speaking and have years of experience riding and racing.

To hire a bike or not?

Our in-house bike rental service makes it easy for you. After many years arranging hire bikes for clients attending our cycling training holidays in Albir, I decided to set up my own fleet of hire bikes which are stored and maintained at the Albir Playa Hotel all year round specifically for our clients.

We have 14 Basso Venta bikes. These have carbon frames with Campagnolo Chorus 12 speed group sets in a full range of sizes. Each bike comes with two inner tubes, tyre levers, pump, multi tool and two large water bottles for you to keep. We also supply a helmet with each bike hire if required.

The gearing choice was chosen to suit the kind of terrain you encounter when cycling the Costa Blanca.

We have built a strong base with the excellent staff and management at the Albir Paya Hotel & Spa over the last eight years. They allow us to securely store our clients’ bikes and our hire bikes, as well as offering us the use of bike cleaning facilities to enhance our holidays.

We have tools on site and I am pretty handy with bikes as I run my own performance centre in London, which includes maintenance and sales.

Tell us your favourite itinerary for a 4-day weekend cycling/training holiday based in Albir, Costa Blanca?

Friday

Our four-day weekend trips typically begin on a Friday. We meet and greet clients at Alicante airport, before the 45-minute transfer to the Albir Playa Hotel & Spa.

Riders have time to assemble their bikes (we also offer a bike packing and unpacking service). Alternatively, if anyone is hiring a bike from us, we will have prepared it in advance, and we then help with any adjustments as well as fitting pedals and saddles if clients have brought their own.

We then get out on the road. We start with a very easy 10-mile ride, to loosen the legs and make sure your bike is running smoothly before the weekend gets underway. This also gives me time to assess the range of abilities and groups, which we discuss in the meeting room before/after dinner.

Saturday

On Saturday we aim to hit the first of two big days of great riding and incredible climbs. We take in well-known climbs around the Coll de Rates, venturing towards the Vall D’Ebo and Col de St Creuta area, before a big push home from Callosa.

Sunday

On Sunday we hit the climbs again around the Puerto de Tudons reaching westward towards Xixona with targeted event-specific training which may require higher intensity.

Monday

Guests fly home.

Other information

Each day begins with breakfast from 8:00am. We head down to the bike lockers at 9:45 am to check over our bikes and then roll out from the front of the hotel at 10am.

These weekends are tailored to our client’s fitness levels and range from 50-100 miles per day.

Tell us your favourite itinerary for a 7-day road cycling/training holiday based in Albir?

The first day of a week-long Costa Blanca cycling holiday with us is as described above for the Friday to a four-day weekend. Each day also begins in the same way, with breakfast at 8:00 am, down to the bike lockers at 9:45 am and then roll out from the front of the hotel at 10 am.

During the first part of the week, we work to increase our mileage at a steady pace over well-known climbs in this area for example the Coll de Rates, Guadalest and Vall D’Ebo.

After a significant increase in workload, Wednesday is designated as either a complete rest day or an easy, guided leg spin ride.

Over the remaining part of the week, we head westwards towards Alicante and ride the well-known Puerto de Tudons. We also ride through small, historic towns, like Relleu, Aigues, Busot and Xixona. This is possible due to our base in Albir which gives us a wider reach than others. In this area, we find picturesque, good quality, quiet roads which are still challenging.

What’s special about your Costa Blanca cycling/training holidays?

One point of contact

I organise and am involved with every step of each training holiday, right the way from bookings, through to client transfers back to the airport from the Albir Playa Hotel & Spa.

I am on the ground each day of every training holiday, liaising with clients and guides. I am the first point of contact should there be any questions or problems.

Once a training holiday is booked with us, I openly engage with guests about each day’s ride and, when with us in Spain the conversation continues at our evening briefings.

Evening briefings

During the evening pre-ride group briefings, I project the next day’s routes on to a screen. We discuss distances, terrains, climbs and descents as well as nutrition, fluids and, for the more leisure focused groups, which charming town they might enjoy stopping in for a well-earned coffee.

Riders have an opportunity to discuss coaching for the day, which could be taking individuals down descents, showing them the correct line and pace, riding behind them and videoing them so we can discuss techniques, as well as specific coached efforts, pace line work, sprinting and pacing on longer climbs. All of this is based on each individual group.

Flexible groups and abilities

Our trips cater for clubs, smaller groups and individuals.

We love to work with all abilities, however we do ask that riders have had some form of fitness training so that they can really improve and see the best of the area.

Stay in an excellent bike hotel

We have been working in collaboration with the Albir Playa Hotel & Spa for eight years. All our trips are based on half board accommodation, which includes breakfast and dinner. The restaurant reserves a table for our entire holiday group, so we can all sit together for every meal.

As well as daily use of a seminar/meeting room, there is secure bike storage for clients as well as our fleet of 14 BASSO bikes available for hire to our clients. There is a designated wash area and work stand for guests to make use of post ride.

The hotel’s other facilities are also popular with our guests – including the pool and wellness centre.

Local businesses

We partner with two excellent local business. The first is D’Origen coffee roasters, which is popular with the cycling community and where you often see pro teams enjoying post ride coffee and food. The second is Pasta & Pasta, which is a family business priding itself on top end cuisine using the best local ingredients available, making this a perfect spot to enjoy a last night’s celebration meal.

Both companies give us, and our clients, exclusive discounts.

What’s the best time of year to go on a Costa Blanca cycling/training holiday?

Our holidays run from early February until the end of May before school holidays start and the weather becomes too warm.

We also run an end of season holiday, which takes place in October whilst the weather is still warm.

We often run a special trip in September to take in the Vuelta if it is passing through our area. This is a fun, sociable event as we get ourselves in position to watch the pros as they race the roads of the Costa Blanca.

Part 3: Tips for cycling the Costa Blanca

This section focuses on more general things it’s useful to know before you cycle in Spain’s Costa Blanca. These are the things I’ve learnt over the last 25 years of cycling here! I hope they’re useful as you plan your trip. 

Are there any cycling events and races in the Costa Blanca?

Yes, there’s a local cycling events/race calendar during cycling season. We don’t follow it with our guests, though we do periodically pull over to let local races through and watch.

The Vuelta often passes through the Costa Blanca region. We know when the pro races are passing through or racing on local roads and we try to get on the course and watch them if we can.

What are the best times of year to cycle the Costa Blanca?

In summary, March, April, May and October get lots of days of sunshine and it’s most likely to be nice and warm on the Costa Blanca.

January and February can be colder and a little less predictable.

If you visit Costa Blanca during the peak summer season then, like many other southern European cycling destinations, it is typically very hot, which makes cycling hard work.

 

What are your packing tips for cyclists visiting the Costa Blanca?

Pack for warm weather but also make sure you bring some kit that’s suitable if you get very unlucky and hit a patch of colder or wet weather – for example long sleeve jerseys, leg warmers and a waterproof jacket.

Is there anything those cycling the Costa Blanca should be aware of?

One thing that guests find is that drivers tend to be friendly towards cyclists. However, do take care on roundabouts as cars can sometimes be a little sporadic in giving way to other road users.

The police ask riders to use the hard shoulder, where possible, and as a courtesy, to keep the traffic flowing.

The roads can be very slippery when wet, so I avoid riding out on wet days if possible.

We advise those bringing their own bikes to leave deep section wheels at home as it can sometimes be windy conditions up in the mountains. Also, make sure you have gearing that is adequate to climb mountains that are over 5 miles/8km long with a 6-7% average gradient.

What are your best tips for someone’s first cycling tour in the Costa Blanca?

Get the miles in

Good preparation for a training holiday should include multi-day riding to increase mileage and fitness before you arrive. It’s also best to train more on hilly terrain whilst at home and make sure you have gearing that is adequate to climb mountains of over 5 miles/8km at a 6-7% gradient. We recommend that guests can ride at least 40 miles at home.

Taper

A good tip is to make sure you are rested in the week prior (tapering).

When to book?

We suggest that riders looking to top up base miles could look at a training week with us around 12-16 weeks pre-event. Riders looking to do faster work pre-event could look at booking approximately 6-12 weeks in advance.

I am very happy to discuss existing training plans with individuals and to advise accordingly.

Check travel information

As ever, it’s a good idea to check current travel information before you book and travel. For UK visitors, the UK government travel information pages for Spain are here. You should also read and follow Spain’s highway code.

Where should someone find out more about Elite Cycling Training Holidays?

All our holidays, booking dates and further details can be found at www.elitecyclingtrainingholidays.com. Please get in touch to tell us how we can help you!

And finally, here’s a recent review from one of our happy guests, left for us on 5th May 2024:

Review from EliteCycling

Huge thanks to Paul for his helpful insights and tips for planning a Costa Blanca cycling holiday and cycling the Costa Blanca region.

Paul Mill

Paul Mill is the owner of Elitecycling Training Holidays and Elitecycling Ltd, performance coaching.

Paul says, “I am a British Cycling Level 3 Road and Time Trial coach, ex-coach to Team Wiggins, Training Peaks accredited coach and I hold a Sports Psychology diploma.  I have been coaching cyclists for 20 years.

As an aspiring professional cyclist, I attended many training camps and noticed that many riders would do miles and miles of training with little structure or event specificity. Now as a coach and tour operator, I find that focused coaching holidays ensure riders make rapid improvements.

At Elitecycling we pride ourselves on a strong, supportive coaching ethos. Our aim is to make sure that every guest leaves having improved their fitness, technique and training methodology.”

Last Reviewed: 09 May 2024

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