In the world of cycling, there is only one Gran Fondo World championship and one Gran Fondo European Championship. But beyond that, there is much more. We'll talk you through.
These are organized by the UCI and the UEC, respectively. For the European version the concept is simple, if you win in your age category and you are European Champion. For the WC, it's a little trickier. For that, you have to ride among the best 25% riders in your age category during a qualifying event to be allowed to participate. This applies to gran and medio fondo as well as time trial and gravel races. However, there are more organizers who hand out continental and world titles or have some other form of 'overall winner'. On our page with series you can find the full list, but below are the most notable championships and final rankings listed.
The organizer GranFondo New York (GFNY), which came over from America, has continental and world championships. The GFNY European championship is during GFNY Villard De Lans on May 28. The top 20 percent of riders qualify for the front pen of the World Championships held each year in - where else given the name of the organizer - New York. The winners of the European Championship even get travel, hotel and participation for free from the organization. You then have to wait almost a year for that, as the World Championship will be held in 2023 on May 21. By the way, you can also just register for the World Cup. With a regular registration, you pay for your own travel and accommodation, of course, but you also have to start in a pen further back. If you don't go for a championship, the events of GFNY are still more than worthwhile. You really feel like a pro for a day and the events are all over the world. Moreover, they are good value.
Another series that holds events all over the world and crowns a world champion is the Gran Fondo World Tour. Here - monthly - there is a leader's jersey to earn and a World Championship to ride. By participating in the events in the series, riders collect points for the GRAN FONDO WORLD TOUR® world ranking system. By the way, the events are not only gran fondos, but also events that are more like sportives or ultras. The classification is open to all riders, regardless of cycling level. The concept is to build a community of avid riders and inspire others to take up cycling. The World Cup in 2022 was the Gran Fondo Encamp Pas de la Casa, which will likely be again this year.
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In its promo videos, L'Étape also claims to produce a World Champion. On almost all other channels, however, they speak of a L'Étape Champion. To qualify for this, you must finish in the first three in your category at any L'Étape event - events ridden all over the world, throughout the year. If you manage to do this, you will automatically be allowed to participate at the very front of the main event L'Étape du Tour de France in France. Here you then compete against all other podium finishers from all other events for the Championship. A strange consequence of this setup is that Stefan Kirchmair (one of the current World Champions in the UCI Gran Fondo World Series, see photo below) won this race, more than half an hour and fifteen spots ahead of the new Champion in this series: Michal Kollert.
In addition to these four world championships, there are also a number of series that have a leader's jersey and make up a final ranking for the entire series. The German Cycling Cup is a nice example. Seven events are scheduled for the German Cycling Cup in 2023, with a points system ultimately determining the rankings. Make no mistake about how hard the competition for this Cup - including from club teams - is, should you want to give it a shot.
In that regard, the Challenge Cyclo Tour Rotor seems a bit more convivial. This is one of the many series you can follow in France. There are beautiful gran fondos scheduled throughout the year and throughout France. Of the nine gran fondos (spread over seven events, because at the trilogy de Maurienne it's a three-day consecutive party), you must have ridden six of them to qualify for the overall win.
Conclusion, there is plenty to choose from if you like putting on a leader's jersey!