Lotto-Soudal team-mates Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens are off on their 700km gravel adventure through Spain.
The pair are half-way through the six-day ride that began in Teruel, covering the Montañas Vacías of the ‘Spanish Lapland’ in the country’s east.
Belgians Wellens and De Gendt have been eating by the fire, walking snowy passes and covering the gravel dirt roads.
“It’s training, but it doesn’t feel like training,” they told Sporza.
The ride, which was delayed, will form part of their pre-season training for 2020. Other riders, including Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) have already started their winter training after a month or six-week break.
They are followed by Belgian television Sporza as their Ridley Bikes are loaded down with bags and gear for travelling the distance and encountering the elements.
“It’s not easy to climb with a 25-kilo bike. But it’s all worth it when you see the views,” De Gendt said on Instagram with the hashtag for their event, #TheFinalBreakaway2
Last year, they ended their season in Il Lombardia and covered 1000km riding from Como, Italy, to Belgium.
The Spanish route travels counter-clockwise, each day around six hours of riding. The forest roads run though the Montes Universales, Sierra de Javalambre and Sierra de Gúdar.
“Our stage of today. Six hours on the bike. 15 minutes of snow walking. Barstop in Albarracin,” wrote De Gendt. “Arrived just before dark in our apartement where the nice lady left us some food to cook. More off-road tomorrow.”
The snow gave way to mud and rock sectors for the duo on Sunday, day two.
“Cold start but it got warmer quickly. Stopped for food in Zafrilla and from that point it was all muddy or rocky sectors for 30km’s. We experienced what ’empty mountains’ really mean.”
A website that promotes the area called it “one of the most depopulated areas in Europe.” It is twice the size of Belgium, but with only 7.34 people per square-kilometre. It explained that you can go 100km without seeing anyone.
The two are not the only ones trying something new. Australian Lotto rider Adam Hanson competed in an Ironman triathlon for the first time in Florida. He finished in just over nine hours.