Gran Fondo World Se­ries

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Matthew Pioro

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

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