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08-03-2024 | Wouter Fioole

The ultimate side event of the UCI GF Worlds: the Team Relay

Since 2013, the Team Relay has evolved from a side event at the UCI's Gran Fondo World Championships into a prestigious competition. In 2024, Aalborg, the host city for the World Championships, elevates it from a side event to a primary event with official world championship jerseys up for grabs. This development adds another layer of excitement for cyclists aiming to qualify for the Worlds and a coveted world title.

Start of the Team Relay event in 2022
© UCI Gran Fondo World Series

Forming a team

Riders qualified for the Time Trial World Championship, gran fondo, or medio fondo can form a four-member Team Relay. Up to 25 teams can participate, ideally one per country. Creating a balanced team requires strategic thinking. Each team must include:

  • At least one female and one male cyclist.
  • At least one rider aged 40+ (of any gender).
  • At least one rider aged 50+ (of any gender).

A unique criterium

Teams decide their starting rider. Each member completes three laps of a roughly two-kilometer course. Conventional road bikes used, and drafting is permitted. The Aalborg course spans 2.2 kilometers, flat and relatively straightforward with four turns and extended straightaways. The relay format involves consecutive three-lap segments by each cyclist. The first team to cross the finish line with their fourth rider becomes the world champion. Teams must self-monitor their lap count; historically, miscounts have altered race outcomes.

Team Relay cycling event in progress
© UCI Gran Fondo World Series

UCI regulations

Standard UCI rules apply, including bike specifications. Notable incidents include Italy's disqualification in 2018 for a bike weight violation and Belgium's subsequent title. Champions over the years include Canada (2015), Slovenia (2016, 2021, 2022), with events occasionally disrupted by roadworks, Covid-19, or scheduling conflicts.

The Netherlands last competed in 2018, suggesting a timely opportunity for Dutch athletes to re-enter the fray, especially when countries like Mongolia have successfully fielded teams.

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