UCI Gran Fondo World Championships: world’s best amateurs crowned
Aged from 19 to over 75, they came from all around the world, nearly 60 countries on five continents, to try to win the title of UCI World Champion in their respective age groups at the 2017 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships. Some 3,000 athletes, all of whom had qualified at one of the UCI Gran Fondo World Series qualifiers held worldwide throughout the year, gathered in Albi, France, last weekend to try to earn the right to pull on the rainbow jersey
While some of UCI World Champions had returned to defend their titles from 2016, others were competing in the annual event for the first time.
The time trials kicked off competition on Thursday 24 August 24 with 17 UCI World Champions crowned in the competition against the clock. The 22.9km circuit was mainly flat but included a climb midway to test the riders. Of particular note was the performance of France’s Samuel Plouhinec (Men 40-44) who recorded the day’s fastest time with an average speed of 46.5 km/h.
The following day saw 25 teams of four line up for the exciting, hectic team relay. Each team had to include at least one female of any age, one male of any age, one male or female over 40 and another over 50. They covered a short technical course one at a time, with Belgium eventually taking the honours over Slovenia and another Belgian team.
The road races on Sunday were held over courses of 155km and 97km depending on the age group. Medals went to a large number of different countries including silver for Japan in the Men 44-49 age group, Asia’s first medal since the series started in 2011.
On the same day, Robert Marchand, aged 105 and already holder of the UCI Hour Best Performance in his age category (105+), became UCI World Champion in the 100+ category created specially in his honour.
Next year’s UCI Gran Fondo World Championships will be held in Varese, Italy, which will also host a qualifying event on 30 September - 1 October this year.