The combination of stunning landscapes, rolling hills, winding coastal routes and mild climate makes Ibiza a cyclists dream in the autumn months – as the island’s busy season slowly winds down, the sporty season starts to heat up. In October 2022, joyriders from around the world flocked to the white isle to join luxe cycle retreat brand LeBlanq for its very first Ibiza experience. Setting up a very chic and stylish base camp at Hotel Riomar Ibiza for its four-day Balearic adventure, the tour featured rides led by world cycling legends, Michelin-quality cuisine by world-class chefs, laid-back events and of course, an Ibiza style after party.
Founded by British former pro cycler Justin Clarke, discerning chef and fellow cycling aficionado Ashely Palmer-Watts, and renowned directeur sportif Sean Yates, LeBlanq was launched with the aim of creating ‘unapologetically indulgent weekends of riding and dining’. Dubbed ‘fine riding’, its events are curated for lovers of luxury and cycling enthusiasts of all levels, and each experience teams a legendary cyclist and a world-class chef with a stunning destination. LeBlanq is not about on-road competition – quite simply, it’s all about enjoying the ride.
Attention to detail and a focus on the finer things in life is evident on arrival. Hotel Riomar Ibiza is a boutique hotel gem set on the east coast of the island in Santa Eulalia Bay, where the island’s only river flows into the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Each of the timeless rooms and suites is a sanctuary in which to rest after a big day on the roads, while the panoramic mountain or sea vistas provide perfect inspiration to wake up and do it all again. And in between, guests have full access to an amazing array of facilities and experiences, from early morning swims – in the fresh seawater on your doorstep or in the sparkling swimming pool – or yoga, meditation and breathwork sessions, healthy and hearty breakfasts, in-room or on-sand massages. The level of hospitality and service is second to none.
As LeBlanq guests began to arrive at Hotel Riomar Ibiza from all corners of the globe, welcome kits included custom Rapha x LeBlanq kits for each rider, with the added touch of a nightly laundry service to ensure it was fresh and ready for each day’s adventure. Chilled Laurent Perrier champagne was free-flowing in the Tribe garden – where the group got to meet their tour-mates alongside some of their cycling idols – complemented with fresh oysters and raw seafood bites, zesty ceviches and hand-carved aged jamon. To top it off, the sound of a Flamenco guitarist made acclimation to Spanish life easy. Then, there was the matter of easing into the terrain.
The Thursday ride LeBlanq Ibiza ride was a reasonably easy but incredibly beautiful route – around 33 kilometres – designed to check bikes (a team of mechanics are always on hand for on-the-spot tune-ups) and to ensure each rider was placed in the right group, cruising through Santa Eulalia, down into Roca Llisa, through Jesús and then up into the fortified old town, Dalt Vila. British champion cyclist Mark Cavendish and retired Belgian cycling legend Johan Museeuw were the pros invited to lead the group of joyriders across the island over the weekend – also both first timers on the Balearic roads.
Isle of Man Native Cavendish – an Olympic medallist who has won 53 Grand Tour Stages among many other achievements – did some research prior to his LeBlanq ride and discovered the island has an uncanny fact in common with his homeland. “Ibiza is to the square kilometre the same size as the Isle of Man. That number [572 square kilometres] hit out at me,” he said, going onto say he enjoyed the pace. “[I’m] loving the joyriding experience – it’s nice to relax and ride in sun, take in the scenery and get some amazing hotel chill.” Meanwhile, Museeuw, a three-time winner of the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix, was expecting to find Balearic riding easier. “It’s my first time in Ibiza,” he said after the first ride. “Everybody told me it was flat, but by the end of today, if I stand up, my legs hurt a little if I’m honest!”
The following day, riders took a spin across the picturesque north of the island, through San Carlos, San Miguel and Santa Agnes, stopping off at organic and biodynamic farm Terra Masia to sample local produce. In the evening, the group headed a little down the beach to Chiringuito Blue for a relaxed beach barbecue. Just a short walk away from Hotel Riomar Ibiza, it set the perfect scene for guests to swap stories before heading back to the Tribe terrace where Ride Leader Matt Stephens hosted a hilarious ‘Tales of the Rainbow Jersey’ live chat with Cavendish and Museeuw, alongside celebrated Spanish cyclist Óscar Freire and former pro road racer Adam Blythe.
Saturday’s joyride took riders to the south side of the island, where they took in the majesty of Es Vedra, the stunning salt plains of Las Salinas, ancient pirate towers and plenty of lush green hills and curved roads. Later on, two-Michelin starred Spanish chef Nieves Barragan – a keen cyclist herself – was invited to take the reins of the kitchen at Chiringuito Blue where she adapted a selection of dishes from her renowned Galician-inspired London restaurant Sabor for the ‘Tour de Feast’ – another authentic immersion into Spanish culture for the group. To start, creamy prawn croquetas, jamon Iberico and octopus a la Gallega were served, followed by Barragan’s famous show stopping Lamb Txurrasco as a main course. Slow cooked for 12 hours and served with baby potatoes and Manchego salad, it was perfect refuelling cuisine, followed by fresh figs with a whiskey mascarpone cream.
Although it would have been easy for riders to head back to the hotel and sink into the plush beds, this is Ibiza after all and there was another after-dinner surprise in-store just across the seaside promenade. After being ushered into the exclusive VIP basement club room at the sleek resort W Ibiza, island icon Pete Tong – another avid cyclist who’d joined in the LeBlanq Ibiza joyrides over the past few days – stepped up to the decks for an all-night-long after party. After all, when in Ibiza!
Any lingering cobwebs were dusted off on Sunday with a final leisurely loop through Portinatx the far north of Ibiza, giving guests one last chance to appreciate the beauty of their Balearic surroundings.
A farewell lunch back on home turf at Hotel Riomar Ibiza wrapped up the unforgettable experience, before guests checked out with plenty of memories made alongside newfound friends. Encapsulating the LeBlanq ethos of escapism and indulgence, the first Ibiza experience was a sellout and plans are already underway for the 2023 edition – sign up to the membership waiting list now to ensure you’re in the know when places are released.