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Spanish ‘Strade Bianche’ set to debut in February

Two new races slated for February mark a revival in the Spanish calendar.

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A Spanish version of “Strade Bianche” called the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior will debut next month in Andalucía with 40km of gravel roads on the menu.

The one-day race set for February 14 will include several sectors of gravel in the 180-kilometer race from Baeza to Úbeda in a hilly course across the region’s famous “sea of olives.”

“I believe it has all the ingredients to be a very special race,” said race director Pascual Momparler, who is also Spain’s national team coach.

The route features 3,500m of vertical and includes 40km of gravel roads across the region’s expansive “mar de olivos,” a massive 1.5 million hectares of olive trees.

A finishing circuit features a gravel climb and the finish line will be in the historic center of Úbeda.

Also read: Mallorca Challenge opens busy Spanish spring calendar

Several top WorldTour and ProTour teams are slated to race, including Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana-Qazaqstan), who will face off against his former teammates.

The new race, scheduled just ahead of the Ruta del Sol (February 16-20), marks a revival in Spanish cycling.

Another new stage race called Gran Camiño, a return of sorts of the Vuelta a Galicia, is also slated for February 24-27 in northwest Spain.

The new races arrive as part of a busy spring calendar in Spain for 2022.

With the world pandemic shutting down many foreign races beyond the reach of Europe, many top teams are returning to traditional European season openers in France and Spain.

Stalwarts on the men’s Spanish WorldTour calendar continue to thrive, including the Volta a Catalunya, Itzulia Basque Country, the Clásica San Sebastián, and the Vuelta a España.

The women’s calendar packs in several WorldTour races, including Itzulia Women, Vuelta a Burgos Feminas and the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta.

Also read: Stage details confirmed for 2023 Tour de France ‘big start’ in the Basque Country

On Wednesday, ASO officials confirmed course details for the 2023 “grand départ” for Spain’s Basque Country.

Though Movistar remains Spain’s lone WorldTour team, there are several second- and third-tier men’s and women’s teams that are helping to keep Spanish cycling at the forefront of the European peloton.

Following a few fallow years, the Spanish racing calendar is alive and kicking.