05-10-2021 | Frank Jansen

Preview UCI Gran Fondo World Championships 2021

The time has finally come: the official UCI Gran Fondo World Championships. The only real and official World Cup of gran fondo riding. CycloWorld previews.


The UCI Gran Fondo World Championships does not have a long history. The event only saw the light of day in 2011. Because the 2020 edition did not take place, this year's edition will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Maxim Pirard (Belgium) set the fastest time in 2019 in Poznan, Poland. Among the women, it was Ewa Bankowska (Poland, cat 35-39) and Nadine Gill (Germany, cat 19-34) who both came in in exactly the same time. Next year, by the way, the World Championships will take place in Trento, Italy.

The concept

For those who don't know the concept: this World Championship is the final part of the UCI Gran Fondo World series, a series of selected gran fondos that are partly organized by the UCI itself. At these individual events you can qualify for the World Championship if you are in the top 25% in your own category. So there are only fast men and women at the start.


Individual time trailWednesday October 6
Mixed relayThursday October 7
Medio fondoSaturday October 9
Gran fondoSunday October 10


For the road races, they will be started in categories, with 5 minutes in between each time. Some groups will be merged because they are too small.

It's certain the event will not produce one world champion but several. For the men there are 11, for the women 9. For the men, the categories are:

19-34Gran fondo
35-39Gran fondo
40-44Gran fondo
45-49Gran fondo
50-54Gran fondo
55-59Gran fondo
60-64Medio fondo
65-69Medio fondo
70-74Medio fondo
75-79Medio fondo
80-84Medio fondo

And for the ladies, the list looks like this:

19-34Gran fondo
35-39Gran fondo
40-44Gran fondo
45-49Gran fondo
50-54Medio fondo
55-59Medio fondo
60-64Medio fondo
65-69Medio fondo
70-74Medio fondo

Gran fondo course

With a length of 132 km, on paper it seems doable. But in this relatively short distance there are no less than 3300m+ to overcome, or 25m+ per km. That's a lot, by comparison: La Marmotte sits at 28m+/km. Especially if you consider that there is a more or less flat approach. So it will be tough enough.

The race starts with a more or less flat approach lap of about 25 km southwest of Sarajevo. Next, the peloton rides 2.5x a local lap of 35 km. This loop includes the longest climb of the day: 14 km at 5.7% average. It includes a short section of 15%. This mountain will be climbed 3 times. After the last passage follows immediately after a very short descent the final climb of over 7 km to Jahorina (7.4 km / 5.6%).

By the way, the ladies (up to 49 years old) ride exactly the same course as the men.

Medio Fondo course

The course is the same as the gran fondo, only the local lap is taken 1,5x instead of 2,5x. This brings the total to 96 km with about 2100m+


Over 600 men and women have registered, it is expected that this will grow to about 750. Normally there are 3000, and that has of course everything to do with travel restrictions. So this year there are hardly any British, Australian or New Zealanders at the start. The start lists:

Team CycloWorld

Evidently, Team CycloWorld will also be at the start.

  • Luc Nouwen (photo) holds the honors in the time trial. He will also ride the medio fondo in the 60-64 category. Luc will be riding for Belgium.
  • Peter Koens will be riding the gran fondo in the 55-59 category. He will be riding for the Netherlands.

All riders will be wearing their own country's kit. No red CycloWorld outfits this time, but orange for Peter and light blue for Luc.

Men's contenders

Since there are quite a few categories, we focus on the contenders for the fastest time. 

  • Johnny Hoogerland. Won several races already this year, including Ötztaler Radmarathon. He crashed 2 weeks ago but he reports to us that he will still try to start. It is unclear what effect his fall has on his performance. A Hoogerland in shape is basically the man to beat.
  • Frederic Glorieux. The man with by far the most race kilometers in the gran fondo peloton. Can he push himself to the limit once more? Unfortunately, Glorieux will not start due to ilness.
  • Fabio Cini. He has already won a lot this year (e.g. the Maratona dles Dolomites) and is in good shape, having recently won the UCI Gran Fondo Suisse. He also rode at the front in the Ötztaler.
  • Tommaso Elettrico. Italian top rider. Was 3rd in the Maratona this year, but also won it once.
  • David De Vecchi. One of the best French riders, finished 4th in the Marmotte several times.

Women's contenders

Among the ladies, there are no outright favorites, partly due to the absence of top runners such as Christina Rausch and Martha Maltha. It will therefore be an open race when it comes to the fastest time.

The Dutch Marti Valks has won the World Cup many times before and is also this year's favorite in the 65-69 class.

Weather and broadcast

The weather gods are not at all favorable to the participants for the time being. A maximum temperature of about 11 degrees is predicted for several days with a good chance of rain. Let's hope it's not too bad. A livestream can be found here.

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