I’m looking for the fattest and slowest country I can find to fly to and ride a qualifying race for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Albi, France next year. I have tried twice to qualify in France (at the St. Tropez Gran Fondo) and failed both times, and instead of all that hard, time-consuming training that is required to qualify in my home country, I think I’d like to see the world a little and give another nation a shot – preferably one that doesn’t have riders who have already-installed cycling genes, like the French.
Lucky for me the Series is growing, with new gran fondos in Bintan (near Singapore), Scotland, Sydney, Luxembourg (Franck Schleck’s new post-retirement gran fondo), Alabama, and Mexico. These will be added to the existing qualifying events in various countries, bringing the grand total to 19.
I have it on good authority that the Tour of Cambridgeshire (a regular on the calendar) would be ‘easy’ to qualify for, and I do need to get up to England and do some riding, considering nearly half our clients come from there. The Tour of Ayrshire (the race is actually called the Marmotte Ecosse), in Scotland, looks promising too, but whose bright idea was it to put a cycling event in Scotland in April? I’m not sure I have enough winter gear. Then there’s the Grey County Road Race in Canada, which would give me a reason to return to the homeland, but it’s right in to middle of our busy season and it’d be a big, long trip for a bike race. Same goes for the Niseko Classic, on the beautiful island of Hokkaido in Japan, which would allow me to see my mother-in-law and old drinking buddies, but put me in the Poor House by taking me away from 44|5 in July. When did life get so complicated?
And if I find the time and the legs to qualify, the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships is going be held on August 27th – right when we have a week-long tour in the Pyrenees planned right now, of course.
If you are fortunate enough to be in any of these countries and want to give this thing a shot yourself, you need a racing licence, I believe, and must finish in the top 25% of your age category, to qualify for the Championships. How hard can it be?