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23-02-2023 | Wouter Fioole, Marcel van Herten en Frank Jansen

Alé La Merckx GF hosts UEC GF Championships on June 11

In addition to the amateur World Championships (UCI Gran Fondo World Championships), there is also an amateur European Championships. The official name is the UEC Gran Fondo European Championships. Originally, the Gran Fondo Matildica on June 4 was to serve as the European Championships, but the UCI preferred a different date. And so on June 11, the European Championship went to the Alé La Merckx GF.

Logical decision

The desire of the parent organization UCI is understandable. During the weekend of June 3 and 4, there are no less than two qualifiers for the Worlds: the Schleck Gran Fondo and the Tour of Cambridgeshire. There is also competition from numerous other high-profile events such as Les 3 Ballons, Top Dolomites, Unbound Gravel and the Galibier Challenge. The following weekend is less crowded with events.

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The UEC only saw the light of day in 1990. It's one of five continental confederations that are members of the UCI. The first road race for the pros was held in 2016. The European Championship Gran Fondo was organized for the first time in 2019; hosted by the Alé La Merckx GF. In 2020 and 2021, the event was cancelled due to covid. In 2022, Gran Fondo Matildica was the hosting event.This year, the two events switch places again and it is the turn of the Alé La Merckx.

No qualification necessary

In order to call yourself European champion, you do not have to qualify first as you do at the UCI Worlds. Your registration with Alé La Merckx GF is sufficient. Participants in the 60-64 age category only need to pay extra attention. Whereas at the World Championships they must ride the medio fondo to claim the world title, at the European Championships they must ride the gran fondo to claim the European jersey.


Both distances start and finish in Verona, not far from Lake Garda. The difference between the gran fondo and medio fondo is 40 kilometers in length, in which a substantial climb must be contested. Whereas the long distance contains 129 kilometers with a total ascent of nearly 2,700 meters, the medio contains 82 kilometers with nearly 1,500 meters of elevation. The first part of the route is similar. At the point where the short distance turns right toward Verona, the long distance continues for 20 additional climbing kilometers. First 12.5 kilometers at 6-7% toward Erbezzo, followed by another nearly 9 kilometers at over 5% to the Passo del Pidocchio. Once at the top, all the hard pedaling is done. But the 45 kilometers of descent are not entirely without danger. The roads are narrow and especially technical, especially at the beginning of the descent. You'll have to keep paying attention if you want to become European champion, something even Merckx never managed to do.

Photos: Alé La Merckx GF

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