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How has Girona become the European capital of cycling? From Armstrong to the Sea Otter: 8 key dates

1986.

Johnny Weltz moves to La Garrotxa

At the end of the 19th century, the first cycling associations were born in the demarcation of Girona. But who marks a point and part a century later is the Asturian cyclist Pere Muñoz, settled in Olot from a young age. In 1986 he managed to get the Dane Johnny Weltz to settle in La Garrotxa as a result of a close friendship. It will be the beginning of the arrival of more professionals.

1996.

The first cycling tourism agency is born

The pioneers of cycle tourism in Girona are not foreigners established in the city, as you might think. The first visionary was Empar Baqué with the foundation of the company Cicloturisme, the first agency of tours specialized In 2005, BikeCat was born, by Jaume Cabruja, which from the beginning specialized in luxury tourism.

2001.

Lance Armstrong lands in Girona and attracts cyclists

On the verge of winning his second Tour de France – which he would later lose due to doping – Armstrong announced that he was moving to Girona. His house, on Carrer de la Força in the Old Barri Vell, saw his rise and fall as a cycling legend. Christian Vande Velde and George Hincapié already lived in the city then, and for seasons also Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.

2006.

David Millar brings the whole team to train together

It was as a result of his friendship with Vande Velde that the Scotsman David Millar visited Girona in 2006. He immediately realized that he wanted to live there. Then he decided to take an unprecedented step: ask his entire team, the Garmin-Barracuda, to settle down to live in the area and train together. After ten years there were 100 professionals living in the city.

2012.

Consolidation of the new Girona cycling community

Professional cyclists who have arrived to train begin to take root accompanied by their families. Like Millar, Canadian Chris Meier is close to retirement and pondering what to do next. Also their wives. In 2014 Girona has become the base of the Garmin team, but also of Orica-GreenEDG, Argos Shimano and BMC.

2015.

La Fàbrica, the first specialized coffee shop, is born

The consolidation of the professional cycling community in Girona comes from the Instagram boom and the new profile ofinfluencer. Taking advantage of this marketing strategy, Meier and his wife Amber open the first cycling cafe in Girona: La Fàbrica. Today there are already seven, distributed exclusively in the Old Quarter.

2017.

European capital of cycling with the Sea Otter

But Girona gets the label of European capital of cycling with the first edition of the Sea Otter, a festival rooted in the United States that is set in Girona and the Costa Brava to take place in the Old Continent. This year it took place in September and brought together, in addition to sporting events, up to 350 brands linked to cycling and 60,000 visitors.

2022.

Two big brands open stores in Girona

Despite the pandemic, the emergence of premises linked to tourism in Girona continues, as is the case of La Comuna (cafeteria and apartments), the new premises of the hub Eat Sleep Cycle. In 2022, the arrival of big brands is consolidated: with the opening of the Italian Castelli on Carrer Nou and the announcement of the opening of a store next to the American Trek.

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“Rocacorba is the iconic peak of Girona”

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