Physiology required for Gran Fondo Worlds qualification

I’m looking to gather some information on what’s required for a Gran Fondo World Champs qualification, in terms of the general attributes of the athlete; FTP, W/Kg, Power Profile etc. Has anyone seen any data or research on this?

Sure courses vary and the execution on the day is crucial but what boxes could one check in training to know you are in the ball park when you reach the start line?

I haven’t seen that kind of research but I’d look at the past years’ results for the qualifier you’re considering and check the time required to make the top 25% of your age group. That and the elevation profile should give you an idea of whether it’s achievable.

1 Like

Strava can give very precise guidance on this. Stalk former finishers and course segments. You can see power requirements vs. finishing position. The only trick can be the weight buckets are pretty big, so it helps to take a sampling and you can kind of estimate more precise weights by individual. It’s a more exact science when looking at climbing segments, but that combined with overall effort of the day can give a very clear view into someone’s power profile. It’s why most of the pros hide their power data, you can kind of reverse engineer the rider an get a very good idea of what they are capable of.

2 Likes

What age group and what course? If it helps I’ve qualified 4 times from 4 qualifying events on 2 different courses (both fairly flat), across the 40-44 and 45-49 AGs. I’ve typically been about 80kg and at ~4.3W/kg for those events and would class myself as an all rounder in terms of power profile - decent 1-5 minute power and repeatability, not much of a sprinter in crits but have good fatigue resistance so against older riders like myself in longer races like GF qualifiers I can finish pretty well.

Think there’s a lot of variability in how competitive these are in different countries. Two of my qualifications were from Tour of Cambridgeshire in UK (now discontinued unfortunately) which I think was one of the easier events - a lot of the people in my AG didn’t seem to be regular racers. There were teams who had travelled over from northern European countries like Belgium to qualify because the events in their own countries were so competitive.

2 Likes

I qualified from Cyprus; took second in one stage overall, second in one stage age group, third in the last stage age group and third age group gc. My normalised power for the 3 stages at 75kg was 340 for 45mins (tt), 308 for 4.5 hours (long stage), 315 for 3 hours (short stage).

Then I got utterly kerb-stomped at Glasgow and spat from the front group doing 6wkg for 12 minute up the second proper climb. Came in with the second group on the road for something like 30th overall.

The front two rows at Glasgow in my age group had something like 10 tour de France stages in, and I swear I could see at least 5 convicted world tour dopers in my pen. That is to say, I also still wasn’t going to beat the other 8 blokes who were all from Belgium and called Dylan and had raced Keumesses since they were 6 and had a 450w ftp (like the guy on the left of me in my profile photo - who got second).

The slowest people in my team that qualified in Cyprus were around 4wkg. The slowest of my team to make it to Glasgow were closer to 4wkg for 20mins - and they qualified from doing the Tour of Cambridgeshire.

It also heavily depends on your age category. 20-30 (Hard), 30-35 (A bit easier), 35-39 (Easier), and 40-45 (Harder again) are all full of ex pros, convicted dopers and pretty fast people, but also by and large most people in that age range are there to race, not to get around.

Once you hit 45+ the numbers start to drop, and so being top 20% or whatever you have to be becomes a lot easier. This is magnified by a substantial proportion of the people in those age groups doing it are just there to get around.

HTH

Btw. Totally, totally, totally worth it. Best thing I’ve ever done on a bike. Like being a pro tour rider for a day. I’d love them to rename it the masters’ world champs, up the qualification to top 10% etc but really there’s a huge element of it that’s just UCI moneymaking.

4 Likes

I did the one in Vancouver-Whistler a couple years ago. I was exactly 4w/kg (2100m climbing over 122km for the course). I finished like 12% in my age group and 10% overall. I think if you’re 4w/kg, you’ll be fine.

1 Like

Thanks all great info!

I’m from the UK but live in central Europe now, seeing both sides of the coin, I can for sure see why folks would travel to the UK to qualify, it’s a lot more competitive here. I missed out on qualifying by one position in Slovenia, crashed early on in that race too but I think the adrenaline fuelled effort that followed actually boosted me. I’m 35-40AG and about to have 3 kids under 5 so progress isn’t as linear as it used to be but it’s a goal that feels worth plugging away at.

Great insights thanks! Good to know after all that you feel it was worth going. Looks like I need to crack on in the next two years before I move into 40+!

I was 4.1w/kg and qualifed at ToC 2019

Flat, so raw watts was more of an advantage than w/kg and repeatability out of the 90 degree corners. Thats what made me lose the front group, someone dropped the wheel out of a corner and it was too much for me to close, so ended the wrong side of a split (Bad position by me and I didnt spot it quick enough, I was red lining anyway, so my days where numbered.)

I was told it slowed down after about 90 minutes to 2 hours so its about hanging until then, maybe.

I think I was the second from last person to qualify so only just made the cut.

1 Like

I qualified last year in the M18-34 category on my first attempt.

Stopped doing tri end of 2022 to try a GF and see how close I could get to qualification. Did a smaller local GF beginning of May and then entered the Schleck GF in Luxembourg as my 2nd ever GF. 800 starters in my AG. Finished 178th out of 2145 in total and 122nd in my AG.

Between those two GFs I did a test on the indoor trainer:
20" seated max.: 911W
3’ max.: 423W
6’ max.: 382W
12’ max. 353W

All at 66-66.5kg. Estimated FTP of around 315W so 4.75W/kg.

Missed a water bottle in Glasgow right before the third and last climb on course so got dropped from the “front group”, everything got shattered into pieces there, tried to catch up to a good but small group at the top. Rolled turns for quite a while until a big group with some massive UK crit boys pulled us back (it was all net down hill to the finish after that last climb). Finished in the group for P88-127 out of 300 in AG. Finish line sprint was sketchy as hell with the very narrow gate you had to pass through and there was a big crash right before. Decided it was not worth it and rolled over the line in 121st.

1 Like

Great info, thanks!

Solid numbers too. Schlek GF sounds super competitive!

I know that feeling at a GF finish! Most of us don’t practice sprinting but somehow folks think they can in a group while knackered! I’ve quite often thrown a Hail Marry from 1-2km out, especially if it’s a technical run in, just to avoid sprinting, if the bunch passes me then hey ho I tried.

2 Likes

Yeah I agree about that finish. Closed 2 lane road with a big group rolling turns into a tight 180 degree turn before a false flat for about 500m.

If you’d through that corner well (at the front) you could have made a real difference. I was utterly done for - I lost both bottles and all my food on the first descent so basically did the entire thing on the carb load and ketosis, so at that point I was just happy to have held the wheels of the second group. That said, I nabbed about 20 people on that last 500m.

2 Likes