What plan/strategy to pick for timed segment Gran Fondo?

I am doing a 100 mile gran fondo with 4 timed segments (see map), meaning I get to go as slow as I want between segments. First, how would I label the event in plan builder? I see “gran fondo”, but this is a timed segment gran fondo, rather than just a long race, so maybe pick “climbing road race”? Second, what strategy would I employ to get the best total time on the segments? Go z2 between segments? Rest before each one?


Vegan cyclist on Youtube did a couple of that style of fondo’s in 2019. He had some commentary on his strategy on how to get his best time as I think he was going for the overall win, but he even had a strategy of entering each segment.

I think climbing road race would be a good choice especially if you are doing the Gran.



Obviously the most important climb is T1 followed by T4. I would focus on trying the hardest on those 2 sections. T2 is short and T3 has a downhill section into a short climb.

It’s tough to go hard in the first 10 miles and then have to ride out the rest, but with a 1700ft climb there, I think that’ll be the biggest differentiator in terms of time.

…watching closely here, I’m doin’ the MD fondo, too. First time…yay paximus for asking this!!

I’ve done a couple of events setup like this - all Haute Routes use timed segments - and the tricks are:

  • [Edited] Most important tip - be on the look out for the start / end of the segments. They should be obvious, but if you are with a group, you might miss them. I would create a cheat sheet with the distances for the start / end of segments, and tape it to your stem
  • Don’t go hard during the non-timed segments, unless you need to to stay with a good group going into a time segments
  • If you are with a group going into a timed segment, start the segment at the back of the group, and try and exit the times segment at the front of the group - this will make you a faster than your group mates. A small difference, but a difference.
  • Check where the rest stops are in relation to the timed segments. This is critical so that you can plan your nutrition around what you need to carry, and how much you should carry. For example, looking at the above, to make it to the first aid station, I would only have one filled bottle at the start.
  • Fuel, fuel, fuel, fuel
  • Figure out ahead of time how hard you can bury yourself on intervals and recovery. This is really like doing a workout where you go super hard during the intervals, and then rest / recuperate between. Rinse and repeat

Good luck


Thanks all - very helpful tips! I actually stuck with a fast group last year and got burned out. It was great for attacking segments, but not so good for resting in between. What I hear from you is that sticking with the good group is worth it, which is why I hope to improve my stamina through TR. I chose the “climbing road race” and the workouts seem right.

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Actually, I’m saying something slightly different: it’s worth doing work to stay with a fast group if you are close to starting a timed segment. But if you are far from a timed segment, don’t kill yourself to stay with a group that is going hard enough to put you at your limit. That will blow you up.

Definitely stay with the fastest group that you can hang with without completely killing yourself. Will help you hugely on the timed segments but also will get you round quicker overall. However easy you are riding, there is a fatigue cost just from time in the saddle, particularly as it’s a group event so you’ll have elevated stress/arousal, plus weather can take a toll on you. So I think trying to take it too easy between segments could be counter productive.

Whenever I’ve done these kind of events the timed segment leaderboard correlates extremely closely with overall finish time. I.e. The fastest people on the segments aren’t sandbagging the rest of the course, they’re doing the whole thing at a decent speed. That was even true on one last year where there wasn’t an official overall time, there were no chips, the timed segments were done from Strava times and were climbing segments with very little flat, and there were decent prizes on offer including a power meter for the fastest man and woman. You’d think that would be the perfect recipe for somebody to take it easy in a slower group and then go all in on those timed climbs. But every single one of the top 10 times for men came from the first group to cross the line, so either nobody fast tried that strategy (seems unlikely) or it doesn’t really work.

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