The Gran Fondo in Perthshire

28 May 2023
UCI 6 Aug2023

On Friday 4th August, Perthshire will be hosting the Gran Fondo (meaning ‘Big Race’ in Italian) with the start and finish being in Perth.. at the same time Scotland will be hosting the UCI World Championships for the elite riders between 3rd and 13th August.
Last year the Gran Fondo road race was held in Trento, Italy, while the UCI World championship road races were held in Wollongong, Australia.

The road race held in Perthshire is not be confused with the UCI World Championships Road Race for the professional elite cyclists which is on Sunday 6th August (men) / Sunday 13th August (women) - see map image above - This road race on 6th August will run between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

So what is the Gran Fondo? – It is best described as a long-distance mass participation event involving amateur cyclists. Gran Fondos are run on challenging courses that are usually between 120 km and 200 km. Most events also offer a shorter and easier version (the Medio Fondo) - For 2023 in Perthshire this will be a 141km route and a shorter 57km route.

With the Gran Fondo, after departing from Perth the riders will go on through Methven, Aberfeldy, Tummel Bridge in the Tay Forest, past Munros along the shores of Loch Tummel, to Pitlochry, where riders will then be led to Kirkmichael before heading back towards Perth, travelling through Bridge of Cally, Blairgowrie, Guildtown and Scone.

With the Medio Fondo, riders will follow the same course out to Methven before turning east at Buchanty and heading through Bankfoot, Caputh, and Murthly, on their way to Blairgowrie and Rattray, where riders will then follow the course back to the finishing line in Perth on Tay Street.

According to The Scotsman, between 4000 and 5000 amateur Gran Fondo cyclists (update 25th July; recent reports now suggest around 2000 cyclists), and their entourage, are expected to descend on Perth on Friday 4th August for these bike races. It has been mentioned that PKC (local council) is planning to have as many bicycle themed events as possible during the week running up to the event. Hopefully this will help put Perth and Perthshire on the map as a cycling destination?

update 25th July; recent reports suggest that very little has been organized by the local council for this event?!.. and that the race will now finish at Scone Palace and not back in Perth city centre!.. such a wasted opportunity that could have helped put Perth and Perthshire on the map as a cycling destination!

The actual UCI World Championships Road Race is on Sunday 6th August (men) / Sunday 13th August (women) and this race will run between Edinburgh and Glasgow (see map), while the time trials for this event are scheduled for Monday 7th August in Dundee. The road race on the 6th August that departs from Edinburgh and then runs via Fife and Loch Lomond to finish in Glasgow will cover 271km, and in case you are wondering, this is the one (road race) that decides the World Champion and which gets featured Worldwide on TV every year!

The women's elite road race on Sunday 13th August will run from Loch Lomond to Glasgow.

Men’s 2022 winner and current holder Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) - Team Soudal Quick Step

Women’s 2022 winner and current holder; Annemiek van Vleuten (NL) - Team Movistar

update 25th July: A correction to the previous post above concerning locations.. Dundee is not hosting the UCI World Championships Time Trials for the elite riders - It's actually the amateur (Gran Fondo) time trials for both men and women that will be on Monday 7th August in Dundee, while the elite time trials for the professional cyclists to determine the next World Champion will be held in Stirling (Thursday 10th August for the women and Friday 11th August for the men). See below for schedule/times..

STIRLING 10th & 11th August;

  • Thursday 10th August, 2pm, Women Elite - current holder Ellen van Dijk (NL) - Team Lidl Trek – however, she is not defending her title this year as she is expecting her first child in September.
  • Friday 11th August; 2.35pm, Men Elite - current holder Tobias Foss (Norway) - Team Jumbo Visma

Brief History; Since 2016, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) also organizes a Gran Fondo World Series, incorporating some of the Gran Fondo events, and then a final race to award the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships to elite amateur riders in their respective age groups.

Recent finals took place in Perth (Australia; 2016), Albi (France; 2017), Varese (Italy; 2018), Poznan (Poland; 2019), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina; 2021), and last year it was held in Trento (Italy).

From 2024 the next Gran Fondo will be hosted in Aalborg (Denmark), then Melbourne (Australia; 2025), and Victoriaville (Canada; 2026).

More updates to follow as this weekend in August approaches..

update 3rd August; the schedule for the UCI World Championships in Scotland for those wishing to attend.

According to the BBC on Thursday 3rd august, here are the list of championships and venues/locations for the World Championships 2023..

  • 3-5 August - Mountain Bike Downhill (Nevis Range, Fort William)
  • 3-9 August - Track (Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Glasgow)
  • 3-8 August - Para-cycling Track (Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Glasgow)
  • 5-6 & 8-13 August - Road (men's road race from Edinburgh to Glasgow George Square, women's road race from Loch Lomond to Glasgow George Square, and men's and women's time trials, Stirling)
  • 5-7 August - BMX Freestyle Park (Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow)
  • 6 August - Mountain Bike Marathon (Glentress Forest, Tweed Valley)
  • 6-9 & 12-13 August - BMX Racing (Glasgow BMX Centre, Glasgow)
  • 8-10 August - BMX Freestyle Flatland (Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow)
  • 8-12 August - Mountain Bike Cross-country (Glentress Forest, Tweed Valley)
  • 9-12 August - Trials (Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow)
  • 9-13 August - Para-cycling Road (Dumfries and Galloway)
  • 11-13 August - Indoor Cycling (Emirates Arena, Glasgow)

The Gran Fondo & Medio Fondo that are being held in Perthshire on 4th August don't get a mention, but this shouldn't come as a surprise for various reasons.. This is the first time it has been included as part of a World Championships event for the elite riders, so while it has potential to generate publicity it was always going to be taking a back seat to the other events involving the professional riders. This year it is being billed as the biggest multi-discipline cycling event ever, because it is the first 'combined UCI Cycling World Championships', and Glasgow is the principle host.

So as far as TV or press coverage is concerned, the UCI World Championship races for the professionals are what the Worldwide audience wish to see.. and therefore an event like the Gran Fondo/Medio Fondo may not get any TV exposure, but when part of a much bigger event for the very first time, then those responsible for the region (Perthshire) should be promoting their location in the best way possible.

The UCI World Championships Road Race (men) - Some of the teams are being announced for the road race on Sunday 6th August.. with the Belgian and the Dutch teams looking very strong. Denmark, GB, and France are also looking good.. while Tadej Pogacar will be a major contender representing Slovenia.
includes Remco Evenepoel, Wout van Aert, Jasper Philipsen, Tiesj Benoot and Victor Campenaerts.. NL includes Mathieu van der Poel, Pascal Eenkhoorn, Olav Kooij and Dylan van Baarle.. France have Julian Alaphilippe, Christophe Laporte and Bryan Coquard.. Denmark have Mads Pedersen, Magnus Cort, Kasper Asgreen and Søren Kragh Andersen, while GB includes Fred Wright, Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift and Luke Rowe.

update 5th August; The UCI World Championship Road Race tomorrow (Sunday) is set to depart from Edinburgh at 09:30am, then heads across Fife, on to Falkirk and Stirling, and should reach the outskirts of Glasgow by around noon, which is then followed by a circuit around Glasgow City Centre, with the finish expected around 4pm.

In the UK. the TV station BBC1 will only be showing live coverage from 2:40pm (14:40hrs) onwards, so by then the race will already be in Glasgow! (so much for amazing views along the route of the Scottish countryside?!).. so if you do wish to see the entire race then it is live on the BBC Scotland channel from 09:30am, or via the usual sports channels.

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