On a weekend when most of Europe baked in blistering heat, the weather was perfect for the emblematic Sierra Nevada Límite Gran Fondo in Spain’s Andalusia region to make a return after two years of a COVID forced absence.

Over 600 riders rode a 155 kilometers long route and climbed 3200 meters in the towering barren Sierra Nevada mountain range, finishing on the mythical El Purche (6.4km @ 9.3) and Sabinas (12km @ 6.2%) climbs from Monachil to Pradallano.

The first 40 kilometers (downhill) were neutralized for safety, but soon after the racing got underway with the peloton shattering into smaller groups. It was 20 year-old Gabriel Rodas (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) from Madrid that was aggressively driving the pace of lead group. He kept his powder dry for 138km until the ascent of El Purche, where he lite a fuse and rocketed up the climbs, riding all challengers off his back wheel to win in 4:55:21, the only rider to break the five hour barrier.

Fernando Romera Porras (CDC Castel) was next at 5:04:04 and Diego Alcala Delgado (Dr. Bike Granada) finished third at 5:05:47.

Irene Méndez won women’s race in 5:36:55. Marina Garau Roca finished second in 6:03:24 and Elena Perez Munoz was third in 6:22:24.

Complete Sierra Nevada Limite Gran Fondo results HERE. Sort results by “Official T.” ascending order to see rankings.

Photos: Alfredo Aguilar