Quebrantahuesos, its name suggests it and the figures support it: 200 kilometers of route and 3,500 meters of elevation gain for a route that includes four mountain passes in the Pyrenees throughout Spain and France. This would be the summarized version of a cyclotourist event that many consider the best long-distance race in the country; however, there is much more behind it. Proof of this, the 9,000 participants – 11,500 if you add the 2,500 of the Treparriscos, its shortest route of 85 kilometers – who were captivated in 2019, from 47 different nationalities. All this, in a natural environment such as the Pyrenees, which makes this test a real tourist tractor for the territory, which is filled during the days of its celebration.
In 2022, the weather has not played in favor of the demanding race. Scheduled in June, it had to be delayed until September because of the heat wave. Therefore, this Saturday, at 8 am, will leave Sabiñánigo (Huesca) runners who will be part of the thirty-first edition of the Quebrantahuesos. Three quarters of an hour later, the participants of the Treparriscos, its ‘little sister’, will do so. Again, the weather is not being clement, as rain is expected and even a storm is not ruled out, something that has not discouraged the 5,500 participants who will join on this occasion.
“It is one of the cyclotourists to which you have to put an X”, emphasizes Rubén Sorolla, from Zaragoza, who has participated five times. “In Spain it is a reference point among all the cyclotourists, I would say it is the most prestigious,” he says.
However, this experienced cyclist stresses the importance of taking the weather into account when riding. “We’re talking about you’re in the Pyrenees, in autumn, and it’s not the same when you go in June,” he warns. For this reason, he recommends carrying the right equipment for a mountain area where the sky can change quickly: “You have to have respect for it,” he asserts.
Last year, in fact, the water also made an insistent appearance. On that occasion, nearly 2,000 brave souls braved the demanding course and adverse weather conditions.
A mythical route
In its Gran Fondo version, the two hundred kilometers of the Quebrantahuesos cross four mountain passes, some of them classics of the Tour de France. Specifically, riders must complete the Somport, Marie Blanque, Portalet and Hoz de Jaca passes. In its short route, the Treparriscos, now in its 18th edition, the figures are not so demanding, although they should not be underestimated: 85 kilometers long and 1,350 meters of elevation gain, with two mountain passes such as Potefablo and Petralva.
Along the route, two liquid and six mixed refreshment posts -one and three, respectively, in the Treparriscos- will be available to runners, including gluten-free options. They will also have different points of mechanical attention and the help of a team of volunteers.
The race is organized by the Peña Ciclista Edelweiss, whose president is one of the most prominent names in Spanish cycling in recent decades, Fernando Escartín. He is not the only illustrious sportsman associated with this route, since in previous editions cycling legends such as five-time Tour champion Miguel Induráin and other giants such as Alberto Contador, Edurne Pasabán and Purito Rodríguez have been present. And not only cyclists, as the Moto GP rider Aleix Espargaró has also been seen on the bike.
Beyond celebrities, the average profile of the Quebrantahuesos participant is that of a male, between 35 and 42 years old. By countries, the three most common nationalities are Spanish, French and British and, within the national level, Valencia, Aragon, Basque Country and Catalonia are the most represented territories.
The popularity of the Quebrantahuesos, the natural value of its route and the safety of the participants make the organization carry out a draw for the final places (On previous occasions, the test has received more than 14,000 applications), for which it is necessary to have a cycling license of the national federation attached to the International Cycling Union (UCI), with an insurance whose coverage includes Spain and France.
In addition, to run in the Quebrantahuesos Gran Fondo is required to be in possession of a current medical certificate attesting that the participant is suitable for this type of evidence.
This physical demand is highlighted by Sorolla, who says that it is a test for which it is necessary “to make a preparation of several months”, at least “16 weeks,” he adds.
“It is demanding; it has that mythical distance of 200 kilometers, passes that have been passed in the Tour… it has a little bit of everything that gives it a mystique that, with a preparation, it is affordable to do it,” he says about the route.
Not just bikes: 30,000 visitors in the area
Although the attraction from the sporting point of view is obvious, the Quebrantahuesos transcends the two-wheeled event and is a first-rate event for tourism in the area. The organization itself estimates that, in addition to the 11,500 participants that there were in 2019, the streets of Sabiñánigo (9,200 inhabitants) also reached another 30,000 people more, between companions and organizers.
The same is observed in the stores, even in the Aragonese capital. Rubén, also owner of the Velocípedos Sorolla store in Zaragoza, says: “It is quite noticeable in the business,” he says. He observes how customers, weeks before the race, come to his store to buy products such as bottles of water, energy bars and gels, or to give their bikes a once-over. “In Aragón, the Quebrantahuesos has a lot of pull,” he says.
This expert in the world of cycling, moreover, considers that it is not necessary to have a specific machine to participate. “It’s not limiting,” he says. “To get started, any type of bike will do, as long as you have the right gear for your cycling characteristics,” he explains.
Before everything starts this Saturday, participants will be able to pick up their bibs this Friday from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm. They can also do it the same day of the race, from 6.15 am until an hour before the start of the Quebrantahuesos.