The 29th and 30th of April 2017 will see a new round of the UIGFWS taking place on the closed roads of Scotland’s picturesque west coast, the Tour of Ayrshire. The organisers of the UK’s other qualifying round, the Tour of Cambridgeshire, will put their experience to good use to produce a weekend of cycling that could see you on the road to a UCI World Champion’s Jersey!
The UCI Gran Fondo World Series (UCIGFWS) is a series of nineteen events taking place all over the globe. The aim of the series is to encourage and reward amateur and masters riders, with a series of world-wide qualifying events, culminating in a World Championship Final. 2017’s finale will be held in Albi, France. All you have to do to earn a place at the final is to finish in the top 25% of your age group. You have a choice of competing in the Chrono (time-trial) or Gran Fondo (road race).
The Tour of Ayrshire will follow the same format as the Tour of Cambridgeshire, with the Chrono taking place on a ‘rolling’ twenty kilometre closed road course on the Saturday, that includes 206 metres of climbing. If you’re used to being pushed off from the side of a busy A road by a willing helper, the Tour of Ayrshire may come as a bit of a surprise. The start ramp – yes start ramp – is under cover in Kilmarnock’s Kay Park and will include; professional commentary, a countdown clock, sound and lighting. Not your average TT!
While the five-hundred places available may sound like a lot, be aware that the Tour of Cambridgeshire’s eight-hundred Chrono places sold out within days, so if you want to get on the start ramp, you’d better be quick! The fastest three riders in each category – which are set out according to UCI Masters Age/Gender Classification – will be awarded UGWFS winners jerseys, medals and prizes.
To get you ready for the Chrono, the organisers will be setting up a Chrono Warm Up Area. Helpers will be on hand to get you on and off the turbos, while clocks will countdown to your appointment with destiny! And remind you not to be late.
Sunday’s Marmotte Écosse Gran Fondo will take riders on a 137 kilometre course, that will include 1535 metres of climbing, so a different challenge from it’s sister’s vertically challenged route. The Tour of Ayrshire will split it’s entrants into three categories; the Race category will see riders competing in their UCI age categories and will require riders to have a BC or other license; the Sport category will start after the Race category and is a sportive, so no license required. Riders can still qualify for the UCIGFWS final by finishing within the time limits for their age; Finally the Medio-Fondo is a shorter route, you can’t qualify for the championships, but you can enjoy riding on the closed roads and enjoying your own personal challenge.
I’ve been lucky enough to take part in two editions of the Tour of Cambridgeshire (read last year’s effort here) and rode the 2015 final in Aalborg (read about it here). These are great events and give us old boys and weekend warriors a chance to compete in events that are a cut above the usual local events. With fully closed roads and all the branding that goes with a UCI endorsed event, it’s a completely different feel from anything I’ve ridden before.
Racing on a single large loop calls for a different approach than zipping round a single short lap multiple times. The distances are also longer than what you might normally be used to and will require a change in training, feeding and pacing; a proper challenge. And if you have plans to make it to the final in Albi and haven’t raced, then I recommend you get as much race experience in as you can. Huge, fast moving bunches are not something you come across much in the UK and they can be a scary place to be.
Unfortunately a lot of GB riders in Aalborg were sportive riders and were caught out by the speed of the bunches. Unsure of how to conserve energy while in the peloton, many were spat out early on and the sight of groups of GB jerseys riding along on their own were a common sight. So get as much race experience as you can before next year and hit the roads around Albi confident in your abilities.
Pre-registrations for the Tour of Ayrshire open on 1st November for guaranteed early bird entries at a reduced price of £55.
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