With the holidays and new year now a distant memory, the 2023 European gran fondo season is not far away – actually it starts in four weeks.

In early February six events will kickoff the 2023 season, two in France, three in Spain and one in Italy.

On 5 February just north of Almeria along the Spanish Mediterranean coast, Gran Fondo Pechina will offer 200 lucky riders (field is limited) a 105 kilometers long gran fondo route with 1077 meters vertical ascent. The route includes two timed KOM competitive segments and registration is a bargain at only 20 Euros.

That same day while professional are battling for victory at the Etoile de Besseges race in Arles, France, amateurs will race 88 kilometers around the city in the Etoile de Besseges Cyclosportive.

Riders looking for a warmer option might catch a flight to Spain’s Canary Islands on 10 February for the three stage Epic Gran Canaria, which offers sunny warm routes covering 213 kilometers with plenty of climbing.

The early season classic Perpignan Cases de Pene will once again take place in the city of Cases de Pene in Southern France on Sunday 12 February. On a 72.5 kilometer long course riders will race across the Roussillon plain, the Agly valley and the foothills of the Corbières before looping back to the start/finish.

On the day before the professional la Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior race in Spain, the amateur gran fondo version will be held on Sunday 12 February. The 90 kilometers long point-to-point route starts in Ubeda and includes a mountain top finish in Baeza after over 1500 meters of climbing.

Italy’s traditional first event of the season, Gran Fondo Diano Marino, also takes place 12 February. The 99 kilometers long route starts on Italian Riviera and climbs up into the steep coastal mountains. Be forewarned if you want to try this event, it usually attracts some of Italy’s strongest amateur riders, like disgraced EPO doper Onofrio Monzillo who won in 2021 before receiving an eleven year ban for doping violations.

Photos: Epic Gran Canaria