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21-05-2024 | Jean-Marie Henckaerts

Interview: Mallorca 312, the ultimate challenge

On Saturday, April 27, the famous Mallorca 312 took place. The longest route covers 312 km with 5000 meters of elevation gain. There are also shorter routes of 225 and 167 km. I spoke with Michael van Geertruy of granfondoteam.be. He prepared himself for months to complete the 312 km and succeeded.

Cyclists participating in Mallorca 312

Why did you want to participate in the Mallorca 312? What is the challenge?

"There's something magical about the M312 because it's pretty much the longest gran fondo you can do, not to mention it's on an island known as a cycling paradise. For me, it was the ultimate challenge to see how far I could push myself. It's a kind of rite of passage for any motivated gran fondo rider. Many top cyclists from the gran fondo world also participate, which makes it extra interesting. Additionally, much attention is paid to the experience surrounding the M312, with a large finish village and performances that start a few days before the event. There are also some special guests, including Contador, Van Vleuten, and Nibali."

How did you prepare? Since when have you been working on it?

"It took me about half a year to get my training load to 12 to 15 hours a week. Due to the Belgian weather, this meant a lot of hours on Zwift. I don't have a personal coach but use the JOIN app, where I entered the M312 as my goal. JOIN then creates a customized program to optimally prepare for the event. This really gave me the extra push to keep going through the cold winter months. With my team (granfondoteam.be), we also had a winter training escape in Mallorca in mid-March, where I was able to increase my training load and explore the course together."

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How did the gran fondo go for you? What did you find most fun and most special about this gran fondo?

"For me, everything went perfectly; I couldn't have imagined a better day. My first goal was to finish it, with the additional goal of completing it within 12 hours. In the end, I finished in 10 hours and 25 minutes, something I never dared to hope for beforehand. My team, granfondoteam.be, had its own support crew. It is hard to describe how much difference this makes! Along the course, everyone was ready to help with drink cans as quickly as possible and to give that extra mental push. Something like that is priceless!"

Cyclists enjoying the ride during Mallorca 312

"What will also stay with me is the atmosphere among the riders. People you don't know at all sacrificing themselves to close a gap when you have to drop or just shouting a few kind words at you after a lead lap. Those small gestures mean a lot and keep you going."

And finally, how did it feel to get off the bike after only 10 hours?

"I can tell you that an hour later, I could still feel my saddle! I also kept feeling the need to take off my glasses, even though they had long been back in their box. Apart from that, I had to lie down for 15 minutes after the finish because both my head and stomach were spinning—the former from the exertion and the latter from those kilos of sugar I ate during the day. It took a few hours before I could eat anything. And further details I'm going to spare you."

Michael's next challenge is the Schleck Gran Fondo, where he will try to qualify for the UCI World Gran Fondo Cup in Denmark. Good luck, Michael!

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