Are European Granfondos Competetive?

Unfortunately not all on closed roads, at least not Villars which is organised by the UCI themselves

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A general rule might be if you need a race Licence (& insurance) it is probably a race… if not its probably not a race, although might be timed… its a jolly.

Some people race Sportives but its only really a few and against yourself and the clock, most arent ‘racing’ and there arent race dynamics.

A timed Gran Fondo which allocates prizes/results per age category is generally a race at the front particularly an event like the Maratona Dles Dolomites which has some serious players. It doesn’t however have a road race feel about it given the routes generally contain mountains and thins out pretty quickly with no real group dynamics.

I’ve done the Maratona twice and finished top 200 both times. On both occasions I was solo or in small groups of 2 or 3 for at least half the event which is effectively a long mountain time trial. I’m doing Marmotte this year and expect it will be similar.

Paris Roubaix, Amstel and similar other events not so racy given there is no timing or prizes etc.

As others have mentioned join a club and get a race licence if you want a proper race experience.

In Italy you need a regular license to ride a fondo. Otherwise you’re just a cyclotourist banned to the last block of the start grid. This is where people with regular bikes and hairy legs stand. Most fondos in Italy are races. Real races.

However, even here, fondos like the Ötztaler or similar are races. You just have to make the initial selection :rofl:


In Germany you don’t really need a license to race. You can join a team and get a license but there are quite a few amateur races or at least there were before Covid.

This website lists them but you need to figure out the event types because some of these will be fondos or time trials.

Michael Valgren “I just did my first race of the year at GF Strade Bianche…I did same power for the last hour as I did in last hour as last year’s SB”

Just saying :grimacing:

Ötztaler is one hell of an example! Missed out on it every time, hoping the third one will give me that entry ticket.

In its place I’d recommend the super giro Dolomiti :pray::it: another one for mentalists :rofl:

Having just finished the Cyprus GF, I can say that holding Ilnur Zakarin’s wheel for 40k through the mountains is an edifying experience.

The front of these things goes at a fair pace. After I got spat out of the back I still normalised 320 for 3 hours to come in something like 25th.

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I think 16,000 people took part in that “Ronde Van Vlanderen” experience over the weekend. Can’t really imagine any kind of real competition with these numbers :man_shrugging:

I was a DNF (tyre blowout 100km in), but it was timed. Also, that 16,000 was over 4 different distances. But having said that, seemed to be general sportive fair with those wanting to push on, pushing on.

Pushing on, but having to stop at train crossings and in open traffic, riding bike paths alongside streets. I mean, you can try and compete, but there’s really lots of better opportunities to race across europe :wink:

I wasn’t saying it was a race, just the usual mix. If you really want to race, enter actual races!

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This, exactly. The thread is about whether Euro Grand Fondos and/or Sportivs are competitive. The answer is a resounding yes.

Are they races? Not the question.

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Maybe one of the reasons people ask if they are competitive is that actual races in Europe are mostly insane! Speaking from Spanish experience the ticket to ride is north of 4.5 w/kg since all races here are either hilly, very hilly, or mountains lol. At least in the open/elite divisions. And there is always a decent chance that there are real pros in the field.

Gran fondos then fill that gap, and at least here they are often run very much like a race: closed roads, cutoff times that are fairly strict (I have 4.5 w/kg more or less (well probably less last summer :sweat_smile:) and was out of the road closure window last summer during a really hilly/long gran fondo). there are sometimes even age group awards. I would compare it to the cycling equivalent of a running marathon or something.

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