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17-04-2022 | Herman Nekkers

5 climbing gran fondo's you do know yet

Are you still looking for a nice gran fondo for next year, but do you want something different than the usual names? We give you 5 great tips.

Fred Whitton Challenge (United Kingdom)

If you don't shy away from a steep road more or less then the Fred Whitton Challenge is for you. The Lake District National Park acts as the venue for the UK's toughest gran fondo.


There's one route of 183 kilometers and 3120 meters of climbing. Not exactly easy, especially when you consider that after 150 kilometers the Hardknott Pass awaits you. An insane challenge with peaks up to 30%. And the Honister Pass, the Newlands Pass and Wrynose Pass are not exactly an easy ride either. No reason to bemoan it for the British, as there are 2,000 to 3,000 participants at the start each year. You won't come home with big names, but with heroic stories all the more.

Date May 8, 2022
Starting location Grassmere (United Kingdom)
Courses 183 km/3120m+

Mussara Reus (Spain)

Close to the famous seaside resorts of Salou and Cambrils lies Reus. This is the starting point of one of the most popular Spanish gran fondos: La Mussara. Named after the eponymous local col, which of course is also included in the course.

With three distances, there is something for everyone. The beautiful hinterland of the Costa Dorada guarantees the necessary climbing. The climbs rarely get really steep, but are tough enough because of their length. This perfectly organized granfondo is almost always fully booked. It is a wonderful opportunity to combine a beach vacation with a beautiful event.

Date May 29, 2022
Starting location Reus (Spain)
Courses

188 km/3400m+

135 km/2500m+

95 km/1800m+

Gran Fondo Serra da Estrela (Portugal)

The Serra da Estrela (literally: Star Mountains) is the largest mountain range, also natural park, on mainland Portugal. The gran fondo can be called a serious ride. With 94,7 CWiX points just a little less difficult than the Marmotte.

The climbs are classified into categories just like with the pros. In the gran fondo you get 1 climb of the third category, 3 of the second category and 2 of the outer category. Just think about it. The final climb goes to the Torre, with 1993 meters the highest point in Portugal. The descent towards the start/finish town of Seia is neutralized. Also the medio fondo is still a very tough task.

Date July 3, 2022
Starting location Seia (Portugal)
Courses

174 km/4600m+

97 km/2700m+

Volta als Ports d'Andorra (Andorra)

This gran fondo in Andorra is part of the Gran Fondo World Tour. Actually, it is a semi-gran fondo, because there is only time registration on the climbs. But those are not bad. The longest distance has no less than 5 cols, but shorter routes can also be chosen.

The cols are quite different. For example, the long, moderate opening climb goes to Arcalis, where Dumoulin finished first in the rain in the 2016 Tour. But there is also the Beixalis, a brutal climb with a kilometer of 13%. Those who want to take gold in this cyclo must complete all the climbs within a total time of 4:30. Even the limit for silver (5:15) is quite a task. This is really a wonderful challenge in one of the most beautiful cycling areas. Because it is at the end of July you can combine it with a summer vacation.

Date July 24, 2022
Starting location La Massana (Andorra)
Courses

153 km/4400m+ (5 cols)

127 km/3330m+ (4 cols)

87 km/2320m+ (3 cols)

69 km/1760m+ (2 cols)

52 km/1080m+ (1 col)

Istria 300 (Croatia)

If you are looking for a fantastic challenge in the late season, Croatia is the place to be. The slogan of this event is "Ride your limits" and for good reason. Three beautiful routes across the Istrian peninsula have been plotted. With the highest points around 500 meters, the area is not high mountain. But because the route regularly visits the coast you will also reach sea level and the climbs are still treacherously long.

The course is a bit like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but in a totally different environment. And probably much better weather conditions. Istria is not a popular vacation destination for nothing. You have the choice of 3 distances, so actually there is no reason not to ride it.

Date October 8, 2022
Starting location Porec (Croatia)
Courses

300 km/5300m+

224 km/3600m+

152 km/2200m+

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