By Simon Smythe published
Not only has a British rider just won the Vuelta a Espana for the second year in a row, but we're also dominating what started out as a local club ride around the Balearic island of Menorca 18 years ago.
La Volta Cicloturistica Internacional a Menorca, aka the Tour of Menorca, is a three-day sportive that has become extremely popular with British riders keen to get one last hit of sunny weather, smooth roads, pretty fishing villages and cafe con leche before winter descends.
Going by the last few years, the 18th edition, starting Friday October 19, will include around 100 British riders in its field of 350.
Each day has a slightly different flavour – think of it as a sort of cycling tapas – with the third day, Sunday, definitely the spiciest with a separately timed ascent of Monte Toro, the island’s highest point. The twisting road to its airy summit is is 2.5km long with an average gradient of almost 10 per cent – steeper than Mont Ventoux, to put it into perspective, but of course much shorter.
Organiser Arturo Sintes invites current and former pros to Menorca: no less a Spanish cycling legend than Miguel Indurain was here in 2006. Other former invitados have included Abaham Olano, Iban Mayo, Osar Sevilla, Fernando Escartin and Joseba Beloki and in 2016 Benat Intxausti, David Lopez and Mikel Landa rode with the local clubs and British visitors.
The 2018 edition, which is dedicated to women's cycling, will feature three-time Olympian and 1998 world points race champion Dori Ruano and Silvia Tirado, former Spanish junior national champion who rode four Giros d'Italia.
This year’s Tour of Menorca starts on Friday October 19 with an easy 38km ride out to the lighthouse at Favaritx.
The Saturday is the longest day at 103.5km, with a grand depart from the cobbled town square of the capital Mahon, looping northwest and taking in a timed climb up to S’Enclusa, a former US military base, returning to Mahon.
Sunday, despite the extremely tough climb to Monte Toro, is shorter at 59 kilometres, returning to Mahon for the finale, the presentation of the trophies and a sit-down lunch in Mahon’s exhibition centre.
Entry – including lunch – is €65. See you there!
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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