International road cyclist Gabz Cullaigh has been holed up in Spain but can’t wait to return to Huddersfield for the first time since Christmas. 

Cullaigh 24, rides for world renowned Movistar and signed a two-year deal with the Spanish-based team in 2020. He’s just raced competitively for the first time in Spain since recovering from a bout of shingles at the back end of the 2020 campaign. 

The Holmfirth-born rider hasn’t stepped on UK soil this year. Having flown out to Spain just after Christmas, he hasn’t been able to return to the UK due to Covid-19 restrictions.  

This has meant his routine has been different as he wasn’t expecting to be out of the country so long. 

Speaking to Huddersfield Hub, Cullaigh said: “I have been in Spain since December 27 last year. I am really lucky that my team are Spanish based so I’m a Spanish employee which means I have special dispensation for me to travel to Spain. I wasn’t planning to come to Spain for this long.

“We had a training camp down in Almeria that started on January 8 which lasted a few weeks and then I was going to come home after that. Then things got worse with Covid and so it made travelling back to the UK difficult and so I decided to stay in Spain until my first race.

Team Movistar

“It’s part of my job working away but I wouldn’t normally plan on being away from home this long, and I can’t see it happening again unless there is another freak situation.

“With the technology of social media now where you have Zoom and FaceTime you can keep in contact easily with people back home which I’ve been doing. I’ve not found myself lonely.

“Since the race I have lived in Alicante carrying on that good work. I’m hoping to come back to the UK soon.

“It’s all been very stressful in trying to make plans. Normally I base myself in Huddersfield and then just fly out to training camps or races but obviously that’s not been possible this year. It’s been a bit of a headache sorting out where we can go, what we need to take and all that sort of stuff.” 

Whilst out in Spain Cullaigh has been lucky as he’s been able to stay in a friend’s house, rather than moving from hotel to hotel. 

He said: “Luckily my friends from Sheffield have a house out in Spain but because they can’t get out here as they normally would during the winter I have been house-sitting for them.

“When with the team I room with a teammate in a hotel and we have to get special dispensation to stay there when we have a camp or a race.

“I think I’ve been quite lucky because I have my own space here in the house and can switch off and just watch TV or whatever.”

A head-turning view from the saddle

Cullaigh came 7th in his first race the Classica De Almeria since recovering from shingles. He says he was happy with where he placed and will now look to build on that going forward.

He said: “My first race was on February 14 and I came 7th which I was happy with, however last season I had to finish early because I picked up shingles which was pretty rough. I couldn’t really do anything for two months as I was recovering and then I built my preparation up for the race in Almeria.

“Going into that race I wasn’t sure what level I was going to be at and so it was good to see by the end of it that I have still got what it takes.”