RUNNER vs. CYCLIST IN EUROE’S HARDEST CLIMB: GRAN CANARIA’S HARDEST CLIMB. Our MOUNTAN RUNNING CANARIAS section returns today to the hardest mountain climb in Europe, Pico de las Nieves. Athletes from the Adidas Team Chema Martínez, Sheila Avilés and Pablo Villa ran a few days ago on relays against the professional cyclist Luis Angel Maté of the Euskaltel Euskadi.

The athletes were hit by the stretch of the road between La Pasadilla and Cazadores, a 5.2k/D+600m stretch that is part of the 23k/D+1,605m of considered as the hardest mountain pass in Europe. A promotional sporting event, which serves to publicize this terrain. If a few days ago we brought you the chronicle, with the victory of the cyclist, Today we release the official full video.


Gran Canaria, a paradise for cyclists, is home to one of the most demanding mountain passes in the world, which starts in Ingenio (at 335 meters of altitude) and culminates in the Pico de Las Nieves, 1,940 meters at the top of the island, for a total of 23 kilometers. A mountain pass that has been hosting a beautiful annual cycling climb for years, which profile you can see below. . For this challenge, the most difficult part of the climb was selected, totaling 5.2 kilometers and 600 meters of accumulated positive elevation, with slopes of up to 25% elevation, between the crossing of La Pasadilla and Los Cazadores..


The Gran Canaria Tourism Board has invested a significant amount in this promotional event: Three mountain runners and a cyclist have been protagonists of the media show to promote the toughest mountain pass in Europe in Gran Canaria, in an event named Gran Canaria’s Hardest Climb.

The lucky ones hired for the event have been four: Cyclist Luis Angel Maté, a recent signing of the Euskaltel Euskadi team and who adds 13 seasons as a professional, will be in charge of climbing the road with his bicycle. Maté, a natural of Malaga, adds 9 participations in the Vuelta a España, 6 in the Tour de France and is a specialist in mountain stages, where he has always eded in the competitions in which he has participated in his long career.

On the other hand, three mountain runners took turns in relays to Luis Angel Maté. Athletes of the Adidas Chema Martínez, Sheila Avilés and Pablo Villa team will relieve the rider in this vertical path. Thus, each of them will perform approximately 1.7 kilometers with 200 meters of positive elevation, in which three against one will be squeezed to the maximum in this particular.

Pablo Villa, reigning champion of the Transgrancanaria, was in charge of starting the challenge with Luis Angel Maté. The runner will be relieved by the Catalan Sheila Avilés, double champion of the world in the Sky Runner World Series, and the last post will be held by Madrilian Chema Martínez, one of the best runners in the history of Spanish athletics who in recent years has excelled in his participation in trail races.

In the middle of January and with much of Spain struggling to practice outdoor sport because of the inclement weather, the four athletes were summoned on Friday morning to face the challenge. They all agreed on the island’s exceptional conditions for road cycling and trail running, and good humor reigned in La Pasadilla before the adventure began. Ahead, a climb of 5.3 kilometers and 600 meters of positive elevation that would test Luis Angel Maté and, by relay, Pablo Villa, Sheila Avilés and, finally, Chema Martínez.

From the starting gun, the La Bañeza runner and the Marbellí cyclist found that there would be not a single respite. Maté’s first pedal strokes served to analyze Villa’s pace, which was squeezed for 1.7 kilometres practically in the back of the bike. Facing slopes of up to 25%, the duel was served and cyclist and runner would be matched at all times. An exhausted Pablo Villa, who declared at the end of his stretch that he had long since “not suffered a lactic acid high like today” and who suffered and enjoyed equally, gave the witness to Sheila Avilés a few meters from Maté.

And the double world champion left the pavilion high at Gran Canaria’s Hardest Climb. The intermediate stretch of the port, which accumulated the greatest slope of the challenge, squeezed the legs of the Catalan one to the maximum, which also did not lose sight of the new signing of the Basque Basque Country. Two kilometers of intensity, dizzying rhythms and a vibrant duel with a Luis Angel Maté who zigzagged in search of climbing the steepest slopes of the climb. Like Villa, Sheila Avilés met outstandingly in her participation after about 12 minutes of heart attack, noting that “from 400 meters it was already very difficult to keep up”, and that she gave “absolutely everything” during her post.

In the most explosive section of the challenge, no one better than runner Chema Martínez to be in charge of taking the pulsations of Gran Canaria’s Hardest Climb to the extreme. The Madrid, as usual, began his relief to 100% of what he could give and even came to overtake Maté in the final stretch of ascension, increasing the dose of emotion in the last relay with the neighborhood of Hunters already within sight of the protagonists.

The best would be for the outcome, in which Luis Angel Maté decided to play the sprint with Martínez the arrival at the highest point of the challenge, in which he expected a goal with maximum expectation. The power of the marbellí pedal strokes could in the last meters with the stride and gasps of the athlete, and a final of ‘photo finish’ was decided for a few seconds by the cyclist. A spectacle at the height of the mountain port that hosted this new challenge.

Arriving at the finish line, Martínez underlined the “beautifulness of this initiative” and the appeal of Gran Canaria “not only as a destination for beaches, but also for sport with ports like this that are a real madness”. Maté, for his part, did not tire of reiterating that the island “is a real paradise for cyclists for the variety of its roads and landscapes”, and was able to check the hardness of this port, in which he noted that he had a slight advantage over the runners for the short rest that could be taken in the few straights of the port.

The ‘Hardest Climb’ culminated with a final time of 29 minutes and 5 seconds, in a total of 5.3 kilometers with 600 meters of positive elevation. The average pace of cyclists and athletes was 5:31 minutes a kilometer, demonstrating the talent of these prestigious athletes when it comes to facing climbs of this magnitude.



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Read the article in Spanish HERE
Post by Héctor Rubio for Trailrunningspain.