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12-07-2023 | Frank Jansen

5 nationalities you recognize in a gran fondo

Today a light-hearted topic with a wink. Every cyclist might relate to these stereotypes, right?

1. Italians

Italians are very easy to recognize. They are usually small in stature, enormously well trained and they talk constantly. Their calves are smoother than a baby's bottom and coloured dark brown. The bike is in perfect order, usually with carbon wheels - often with tubes. You wouldn't think it, but most Italians ride with Shimano. An Italian always rides with only one 500 ml bottle. The other bottle cage is used for the tool bottle, because a saddle bag is of course out of the question. Finally, you can easily recognize an Italian at the split, because almost all of them ride the medio fondo. A day before the start, Italians head to start and lean on their bikes all day. Rind beard, shiny bike, sleek outfit. Goal: to be beautiful.

2. British

On average, Great Britain has the highest obesity rate in Western Europe but this is usually little seen on the bike. Britons in gran fondos are often small and narrow. They often ride expensive bikes and wear classic British clothing such as Rapha or Le Col. They usually have unshaven legs, wear a cap under their helmet and have (how could it be otherwise) white skin that looks even whiter from sunsburn. They are usually called Chris or Stan, although Peter is also possible. Brits don't usually ride very fast, but they always ride the longest course, as they should. 

3. Belgians

Belgians in gran fondo's are easy to recognize by their club clothes, in which almost all of them ride. It has advertising mainly from (very) local businesses. Belgians ride remarkably often on Belgian bikes such as Thompson, Merckx, Zanatta or Ridley, or on the brand that the Belgian WT teams or pros are currently riding such as BMC or Specialized. They are often young, well-trained racers who can ride a good bit. On the bike they say little.

4. Dutch

Hollanders are easy to spot by the black imprint of the chainring on the leg, the AGU or Rogelli clothes that are too wide and the price/quality bike. Usually this is something like a Stevens or Cube with 105, if the wallet is a little bigger it is almost always a black Canyon with Ultegra. The Dutch have a penchant for oversized clothing, and that also applies to the helmet, which usually sits crookedly. They often sit poorly on their ill-fitting bikes. Spacers and stairway-to-heaven stems are standard. SPD pedals, because that's nice and convenient since you only need 1 pair of shoes, are standard. The same goes for the hair on your legs. A Dutchman rides with a large saddle bag, the size of a trunk.

5. Germans

Like the Italians, the Germans like their equipment. They ride quality bikes from all over the world, sometimes German but more often not. Brands like Specialized or Cervelo are popular. Here you see the real exclusive stuff like Lightweight or SRM. On average, Germans ride the most with power meters. In gran fondos you will often find fanatical, well-trained Germans. They usually ride in ugly club clothes, but they can usually ride very fast. A subcategory of the German is the SFD (Stupid Fat German). This person meets all the characteristics but is not light. Easily recognizable because on the flat stretches he rides for miles in front. Ideal to hide behind.

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