Mallorca may be the obvious Spanish cycling hub, but the small city of Girona is home to more than 100 professional cyclists — and a growing number of international homeowners. Close to the French border, Barcelona, the Costa Brava and the big climbs of the Pyrenees, it sits within verdant volcanic valleys known as the “Tuscany of Spain”.
The city was top choice for Louise Laker, a former racer, when she left London to set up a cycling touring business. “Girona is a great mix of flat roads and mountains, with a friendly community of retired professional cyclists,” she says.
The sophisticated Catalan culture and quality of life attracted Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, the South African professional racer, and her triathlete husband Carl to the region, rather than opting for a base in the Italian lakes.
“This area is super-special and incredible for training,” says the 33-year-old, who is preparing to take part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. “Where else in Europe can you cycle for five hours and not see another person?” Her family runs a cycling retreat in a renovated masia (farmhouse) near Banyoles lake and Rocacorba, one of the area’s best climbs.
Rural masia are popular with British and American second home buyers. Expect to pay at least €1.5m for a renovated home with a pool, says Marisa Heatherwick of agent Lucas Fox. “But prices drop west of Girona.” The agent is selling a six-bedroom villa near Banyoles for €875,000.
Some cyclists prefer to live in the city’s historic centre, where the average price per sq m is €3,500, according to Spanish property site