The Gran Premio Canal de Castilla is a cycling project to attract additional tourism to the Canal de Castilla, one of the greatest works of engineering carried out in Spain.
Described by various authors as ‘a crazy project of giants’, ‘the greatest castle in the air in the land of castles’ and the ‘greatest engineering project in the Spanish Age of Enlightenment’, the Canal de Castilla is a showpiece of hydraulic engineering from the 18th century which spans the two provinces of Palencia and Valladolid, and dips into the province of Burgos.
Measuring 207km in length, it is divided into three main branches forming an inverted “Y” shape connecting Alar del Rey (Northern branch) with Medina de Rioseco (Campos branch) and Valladolid (Southern branch).
The Canal de Castilla and its surrounding environment of outstanding features create the perfect combination of sport, heritage and nature.
The main objectives of the Gran Premio de Canal de Castilla are:
- To plug a gap in professional cycling in Spain, which is currently lacking in a one-day race on off-road and unpaved terrain.
- The promotion of culture, heritage and nature along the projected route.
The following areas have been identified to achieve these objectives:
- Organisation of a new race in the professional cycling calendar.
- Forging of a cycling route for tourists along the same route.
The professional cycling race would be the first of its kind in Spain in its use of unpaved terrain. The idea may seem bizarre and even slightly risky, yet there is a long tradition in Europe, with popular races such as the París – Roubaix (France), the Tour de Flandes (Belgium) and the Monte Paschi Eroica (Italy). All three races draw massive crowds and attract huge television audiences every year. However, there is currently no professional cycling race that includes unpaved surfaces in Spain.
This project meticulously defines the route, spanning the provinces of Palencia, Valladolid and Burgos and using the towpaths of the northern and southern branches of the Canal de Castilla; the main attraction which inspired the idea in the first place. In order to meet the standards of one day cycling and for the race to be of sufficient length, the race continues on from the canal and crosses the north of the province of Palencia. This further enhances all three aspects of the proposal, given the impressive architecture in the villages of the area, the natural spaces nearby and the sporting challenge offered by its rugged relief.
Two different routes are planned for the competition, which run in opposite directions every other year: on even-numbered years, the downward route will see cyclists setting off in Aguilar de Campóo in the province of Palencia and finishing in Valladolid. In odd years, the upward route will run in the opposite direction, with cyclists leaving Valladolid and making their way up to the Cueva de los Franceses, in Pomar de Valdivia in the province of Palencia.
In order to launch this project a public bike ride will be organised, which will follow an identical route to the professional race to promote the Gran Premio Canal de Castilla
Embarca en 250 años de Sueño Ilustrado