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Fuerteventura: A Sweet Escape

Road cycling in Fuerteventura.

Words by Kean Bang-Sørensen

January 1st: the first day of a new year. A year of new goals. In early January, my family and I traveled to the Canary Island of Fuerteventura. A little “sweet escape” from the ice cold winter in Denmark. A week of warm weather, where the only things scheduled were family time and solid training on the bike.

Fuerteventura, politically part of Spain, lies in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 100 kilometers off the coast of Northwestern Africa. It is the second largest of the Canary Islands, after Tenerife, another popular training destination for professional cyclists.

The first week in Fuerteventura had been the perfect way to build a foundation for this season and gain some motivation for the forthcoming season. Nothing is more satisfying than riding on new roads in a foreign country. To set new PRs and to push power through the pedals in order to reach the top of a climb. 

My ultimate goal in life is to be a good father for my daughter and a good husband to my wife. My second biggest goal is to go as fast as possible on my bike, and to create good results in the races I participate in. That requires me to make the best use of my time and get as much as possible out of the hours on the bike. 

Furthermore, it requires me to have a family who supports the process and agrees to put time into travel to bike races. I am lucky enough to have a wife who also rides a bike and has a keen interest in bike races, and she travels with me to the races to provide her support.

Back in the days, I raced as an elite rider in the highest category in Denmark. I loved the atmosphere, and being part of a team with great friends and palpable camaraderie. I have always been fascinated by Gran Fondo races, especially those on very challenging routes with an abundance of climbs, which are few and far between in Denmark. This year I’ve chosen to focus on racing Gran Fondos. 

Back in 2021, I participated in the Gran Fondo World Championships in Trento, Italy, referred to as “The Worlds.” I was completely speechless at how fast the pace was, and I received the beating of a lifetime. Despite the seemingly endless suffering, it was a rewarding experience. 

In European cycling, a Gran Fondo is a mass-participation race that riders participate in to qualify for the UCI World Championships. These mass-start races are sanctioned by the UCI (Union Cycliste International), the governing body of cycling. The Gran Fondo World Series is targeted towards riders who are not racing at a professional level. Those who qualify are invited to participate in the UCI Gran Fondo World Championship.

This year, I have made a very ambitious race plan. With many challenging races on the program, including road races, time trials and gravel races spread out all over Europe in France, Italy, Mallorca and Belgium, and of course in my homeland, Denmark. 

In addition to Gran Fondo events, I plan to participate in other amateur races on routes closed to traffic including Mallorca 312 in late April.

A few months from now, the journey begins with Gran Fondo Strade Bianche: a place I’ve always wanted to ride. Nothing is more beautiful than the white gravel roads of Tuscany. 

Shortly after that, my wife and I will take our newborn daughter to Palma, Mallorca to live there for 2 months. During our time there, I will race the Mallorca 312 – a race I’ve participated in the last two years. Last year I finished in 11th place. It was a great experience and insanely difficult. I hope to improve this year and my goal is to finish in the top 10. 

This year, much of my season is about getting ready for the Worlds again which takes place in Denmark this September. In order to qualify for the Worlds, I need a good result in another UCI Gran Fondo. Thus, during the summer, I will try to do that by racing qualifying events. 

In addition to the goals on the tarmac, I have also set a goal to ride the Gran Fondo Worlds on Gravel. Gravel has become a big scene in Denmark, and the racing community here is growing year by year. This race, should I qualify for it, will be my last race of the year, and I hope that it will mark a memorable end to a year full of great experiences and adventures. 

Back in Copenhagen, the biggest challenge from now on is to keep the motivation high and get in the hours on the bike. Whenever I ride, I’m thinking about the goals I have set. I just want to become better and to perform. I want to make results that I and my family can be proud of. My family is what truly motivates me. And I can’t wait to stand on the start line for the first time of the year.

Kean Bang-Sørensen is a Copenhagen-based cyclist. He started riding in 2013 when he and a group of friends decided to participate in a charity fundraiser for the fight against cancer by participating in the legendary Gran Fondo La Marmotte in France. After the Gran Fondo, cycling stuck, and Kean ended up racing at the elite level in Denmark. After starting a family, he is now racing in category 2. When not riding, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, and especially with his newborn daughter, Nynne. Follow Kean’s adventures and more on Instagram @keeaanbaang