2014 Andalucia Bike Race – The Build Up Part 1

Melanie Alexander will be representing Bike Magic at the 2014 Andalucia Bike Race. In this, the first of a series of features in the build up to the event, she looks forward to the next event and reflects on ABR 2013.

Andalucia Bike Race 2014

Words: Melanie Alexander

Mel Alexander racing at home.
Mel Alexander racing at home.

I’m an Elite XC racer riding for the women’s MTB team Contessa Scott Syncros who also enjoys stage races. I’m fortunate to be sponsored through the team by Scott UK, Syncros, Sram, Torq, Schwalbe, Fibrax and through personal sponsorship from Exposure lights and Fit In No Time.

My 2013 race season started with the Andalucia Bike Race, riding in the mixed pairs with Matt Page. It was a stand out event and I am pleased to announce I will be returning in 2014 and representing Bike Magic once again.

Andalucia Bike race is a 6-day stage race from the 23rd to 28th of February 2014 in the South of Spain. The race is in its infancy but growing fast (2014 will be its fourth year) and is already attracting riders from far and wide. It is a UCI categorised race meaning that in the elite women and elite men category riders can gain UCI points to help with their world ranking, yet like most stage races its fun trails offer a fantastic race for people of varying strengths and abilities provided they can cope with the daily distances of between 55 and 80 km.

If that’s enough of a sell, you can enter here!

What is attractive about Andalucia Bike Race?

Andalucia is a fantastic location to hold a stage race and in the 2013 race we had the opportunity to race on some incredible trails, from singletrack to fast rocky descents, rocky technical climbs to fast fire roads. Throughout we were surrounded by stunning scenery. The warm climate in southern Spain in February is a huge attraction and a welcome change to UK winter season riding.

Mel racing in the 2013 Andalucia Bike Race. Sunshine, great trails and superb racing. What more could you ask for?!
Mel racing in the 2013 Andalucia Bike Race. Sunshine, great trails and superb racing. What more could you ask for?!

In 2014 the race starts in Juan for the first two days before moving on to Andujar for a day and then to the historic town of Cordoba, which will host the concluding three days. Juan offers bigger mountains and longer descents whereas Cordoba is more rocky and slightly more undulating, though still with plenty of climbing. There is a 90-minute drive between locations so it does require the use of a car, but we found hiring a car in Andalucia cheap last year.

The stage profiles can be viewed here

Looking back on Andalucia Bike Race 2013

Prior to being asked by Matt (Page) if I was interested in racing Andalucia Bike Race 2013, the event was already on my to-do list. I already had experience of riding in mixed pairs at Sudety Mountain Bike challenge, the Rockies, the Cape Epic and the Trans Alp, though for Matt it was his first time to ride as a mixed pair.

ABR 2013.
ABR 2013.

Matt was a great race partner and although he was stronger than me we worked well together to make sure we could finish strongly. We had a very close battle with the mixed Spanish team Blue Motors Pont, who we seemed to match on climbs and descents and on the start of the final stage there was only 34 seconds between myself and Matt in 2nd and Blue Motor Pont in 3rd. We were going strong on the final stage and it was looking like 2nd overall until I suffered a mechanical resulting in no rear brake resulting in a crash, which lost us 10 minutes in total. This is part of the excitement of stage racing though: it doesn’t always go to plan and we were still happy to finish on the podium in 3rd. Annika Langvad (World Marathon Champion 2012) and her partner Thomas Bonne were the clear winners in the mixed category.

I really enjoyed the race through a combination of both the terrain and because we were pushed all week fighting for 2nd place. The stages were a nice length of around three to four-and-a-half hours for us -long enough to tire the legs out but not so long that you stop enjoying it and there was plenty of time to clean the bikes and refuel for the next day. Day four was the toughest for me as my legs were feeling the three previous days of racing.

Riding in the warmth for the first part of the week was a nice bonus and it was a fantastic opportunity of riding in a completely new area on different terrain.  Unfortunately, and out of the organisers’ hands, the last couple of days racing around Jaen were affected by heavy snow. The area had not seen snow like this for 30 years and as a result day five had to be cancelled and day six shortened as it was not possible to go up as high as planned.

If you would like to read more about the individual stages of 2013 our blogs can be read here:

Matt stage 1
Matt Stage 2 
Mel stage 3
Matt Stage 4
Mel stage 6 
Matt Video from stage 6

For me Andalucia Bike race is a great way to kick start the race season, giving me the opportunity of a hard training week of racing on some awesome trails before the XC series starts at the end of March. I will be writing blogs on Bike Magic prior to Andalucia covering my preparation for the race. I’ll deal with logistics, preparation of bike and kit, training progress from my perspective together with training preparation by my coach at Fit in No time.

Stay tuned!

Mel Alexander

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