What are the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships?
The UCI Gran Fondo World Series is a series of cycling races held globally, and sanctioned by the UCI. There are 15 qualifier events held all over the world; within the qualifying events there are nine age categories; 19 – 34, 35 – 39, 40 – 44, 45 – 49, 50 – 54, 55 – 59, 60 – 64, 65 – 69 and 70 – 74 (Males only). The top 25% from each of these age categories are eligible for the 2016 Gran Fondo World Championships.
Cyclists participating in the GFWC compete in a Team Relay, a Time Trial and a Road Race. The winner of each of these events is crowned the World Champion and awarded the coveted rainbow jersey.
Juventus master woman Elka Strohschein has spent the past few months working towards the 2016 Gran Fondo World Championships being held in Perth, Australia from September 1st to 4th. Qualified to represent Canada in the event, Elka is competing in all events including the ITT, Team Relay, and Road Race.
Elka raced the ITT on Thursday in the 45-49 year women's category against cyclists from Italy, USA, UK, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. The Individual Time Trial was held on Rottnest Island, approximately 14 kilometres off the coast of Western Australia. The 19.5 km lap took in the entire island making it a challenging course - the wind direction can change 4 times during the lap! There were no major climbs on the course; however, the undulating route's only flat sections were the first and last couple of kilometres. Elka was good for 13th place, with the winner averaging 39.8 km/h.
Friday Elka competed in the Team Relay. This is more of a fun event and splits 21 kilometres over 8 laps between 4 riders doing 2 laps each.
Teams are formed by riders from the following age categories:
- One female rider any age
- One rider any age
- One rider age 40+
- One rider age 50+
Elka also competed in the Road Race on Sunday. It was a 105.8 km course with 5 climbs, and a destination finish. Here are her thoughts:
"RR: 16th out of 41 in my age group. Time 3:22 for 105 km. Really tough scary race. Some people crashed really badly, quite close to me. There was some of what I think is unfair sportsmanship going on as the men's group behind us overtook, and a bunch of women from each age group, (all the winners basically) grabbed on to the men's wheels and drafted off them for the rest of the race. I didn't think that was allowed. I mentioned it to officials, but apparently it's OK. At first they changed it to disqualify the Italian lady who won in my age group. So momentarily I placed 15th. But she must have appealed it and was put back. It may be that it's too hard to figure out now, exactly who did it, after the fact. I did not look at race numbers. I just noticed the Italian because she was the only one from Italy. There were a ton of Aussies.
Anyway, all that aside, God kept me safe and helped me make good decisions. I gave it my all. Was totally exhausted by the end. Lots of scary fast downhills with corners near the end of the race. So I dropped off the (near) front of the (real) pack (the ones not cheating), where I was for much of the race.
Post race thoughts: Perhaps I should have hung back more, and saved more energy for the end? My main downfall, as always, was the very steep downhills with corners at the bottom. My threshold has improved significantly, however, as I took some of them at 45 km/hr!!! Some but not all. 😏 Happy with my effort. Glad to be done. Beautiful day here."