Gran Fondo World Series
Chase a rainbow around the world
If you’ve ever been a bit envious of riders i n the Worldtour – who get to travel the world, ride their bikes on stunning routes and vie for world titles – the uci might be able to help you out. The same organization that oversees the pros has a series for the joes. It’s called the Gran Fondo World Series.
For more than 20 years, the uci has had a masters world championships. Prior to 2011, It was held in Austria, on the same course every year. In 2011, the uci created a qualifying series for the championships, which would be held in different locations around the world. The new series was renamed the uci World Cycling Tour, and later, the Gran Fondo World Series.
“The goal of the series is cycling for all,” says uci Gran Fondo World Series manager Erwin Vervecken. “We want to create a similar concept to a marathon. At an event, there is a wide variety of levels, so you have everybody riding in smaller groups, not a Tour de France peloton of 200 riders at 55 km/h through a roundabout. Instead, you have riders in top fitness at the front and people at the back whose challenge is to complete the ride.” To keep things inclusive, you don’t even need a race licence to ride in a World Series qualifier.
If, at a qualifier, you finish in the top 25 per cent of your age group (19–34, 35–39, 40–44, 45–49, 50–54, 55–59, 60–64, 65 and older), you can head to the world championship race and challenge for the rainbow jersey in your category. This year, the championships are in Albi, France, from Aug. 24 to 27. If you are the type of rider who can get over climbs and still sprint well at the finish, this is your
“To keep things inclusive, you don’t even need a race licence.”
course. Next year’s world championship course has a little more climbing with ascents around Varese, Italy. If you do best on a flat course, you should target the champs in Poznan, Poland in 2019. As for 2020, the location hasn’t been set yet, but Vervecken says every four years it will be outside of Europe as cycling continues to grow in popularity around the world. In the 2016-17 season of the series, it added eight new qualifiers. More are coming, likely in China, Russia, Taiwan and Colombia. Ontario’s Grey County Road Race has been a Gran Fondo World Series qualifier since 2015. Its organizer, Bruce Bird, became the world champion in the 45–49 category on the roads of Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2014, Another Canadian has pulled on the rainbow jersey. In 2015, Daniel Martin, who’s from St. John’s, N.L., won the 45–49 category in Aalborg, Denmark. With the Gran Fondo World Series, you can compete in a qualifier in Canada or abroad to get to the worlds or just travel the world – to Cyprus or Indonesia or Scotland – simply to ride new roads. “Go for it,” Vervecken says. “Sign up. You don’t have to worry about speed. It’s just a fun event.”
Grey County Road Race in Ontario