Here at Sports Tours International we offer a wide selection of European amateur cycling events. Here is our list of the best put together by Alex de Waard, keen cyclist and our Head of International Operations.
Our aim is to provide the best support in the business so you can focus on enjoying the event without having to worry about the (sometimes complicated) logistics that come with getting to and from the event and its start and finish. On our events single travellers can join our group and we provide a race briefing, additional food and assistance points along the course and various other additional race services. To give you an overview of what’s available and what each event has on offer in terms of distance, difficulty, entry availability and access we have put together the below list for you.
The name Gran Fondo is often used in the US for cycling events. In Europe the name Cyclo-Sportive tends to be used more in France while Gran Fondo is used more often in Italy for the events there. In terms of what they are, there is no real difference between the two types of events apart from the name. These amateur cycling events tend to be of a competitive nature with usually closed roads to traffic, cut off times, timing, start pens based on performance plus the need to obtain a medical certificate from your doctor (only in France and Italy). We offer a convenient Medical Certification Service and also specialist sports travel insurance
With the conception of the Haute Route series of events, a whole new trend started for tough, multi-day competitive cycling events where you will live like a Pro cyclist for a week. It all started with the Haute Route Alps, then the Haute Route Pyrenees and in 2019 there will also be the Haute Route Dolomites and Haute Route Mont Ventoux. among others. Please have a look at our selection of multi-day Cyclo-Sportive events.
Cycling events with amateur events attached to them taking place the day before or the day after in the same weekend give you the opportunity to ‘Ride and Watch’. You can ride the event first before watching the Pros showing you how it’s done the day after. Some examples are: the Strade Bianche, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. For our complete selection of 2018 ‘Ride and Watch’ weekends, have a look here: ‘2018 Ride and Watch weekends‘.
When: Date TBC in July, 2019
Where: In the Alps or the PyreneesFrom Annecy to Le Grand Bornand, French Alps
Field: 15000 riders
Distance: 170 – 200km
Ascent: 4200 to 5000m
Accessibility: Fly into Geneva or Toulouse or drive
Entry availability: Entries sell out very fast out on the Etape du Tour website. Guaranteed entries with Sports Tours International
What’s so special about it?: This is your chance to ride a stage of the Tour de France, the greatest cycle race in the world. Every year you have the opportunity to test yourself against the riders of the pro Peloton on the exact same course on closed roads. The stage which is chosen usually alternates between a Pyrenean and an Alpine stage but in 2016, 2017, 2018, we break with this tradition as we are in the Alps again. I guess it’s not a tradition anymore if you break with it too often?! With many Pros now present on Strava, you can even have a look to see how you did against their speed, power output and heart rate.
When: Sunday 7 July, 2019
Where: From Bourg d’Oisans to Alpe d’Huez
Field: 8500 riders
Climbs: Col du Glandon, Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibier, Alpe d’huez climb
Accessibility: Fly into Geneva or Lyon or drive
Entry availability: On sale in December, guaranteed entries with Sports Tours
What’s so special about it?: The Granfondo Marmotte is an extremely tough event. It is a 170km Alpine climbing bonanza between Bourg d’Oisans and Alpe d’Huez with 5000m of climbing. The event does not take place on closed roads but there are rolling road closures. The Marmotte is a firm favourite for foreign riders with the field containing just 20% French riders. Previous winners of the Marmotte include Dutchman Laurens ten Dam and Belgian Sander Armee before they turned pro. There are no cut off points en-route but you have to get to the bottom of Alpe d’Huez before 18.30 otherwise you will not be allowed to start the climb and you will be taken up to your hotel by car. In 2015 the Marmotte took place on an adjusted course without the Galibier as the Tunnel du Chambon was closed and it was also extremely hot that day. In 2016 we were back on the ‘classic’ route and we’ve remained there ever since.
Our first Italian event on the list is the Maratona dles Dolomites. The Maratona dles Dolomites is widely regarded as one of the toughest cycling events around, packing in a lot of climbing despite its relatively short distance
When: Sunday July 7, 2019
Where: Italian Dolomites
Field: 8500 riders
Climbs: Passo Campologno, Pordoi, Sella, Gardena, Giau, Valparola, Mur DL Giat
Accessibility: Fly into Venice Marco Polo or Treviso airport and take our airport transfer
Entry availability: On sale in December, sold out within a day, guaranteed entries with Sports Tours
What’s so special about it?: Not because of the distance but the amount of climbing packed into the route. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2016, the Maratona is held in the beautiful Italian Dolomites. This is a quality event, from the event itself and its flawless organisation to the hotel standard. Even though the Maratona dles Dolomites is not one of the longest, it makes up for it with the amount of climbing. It manages to pack 4190m of climbing into its 138km course and as you’ll soon discover the climbs are steeper, in general, than both the Alps and Pyrenees!
The race can be done in 3 different ways of varying difficulty: the Sellaronda course, the Middle course and the Maratona course. All riders start at 06:30am in the village of La Villa and the Sellaronda course with 4 mountain passes will be completed first. After completing the Sellaronda course riders can either choose to finish the race or carry on and do the Middle course. As the full Maratona course is basically an extension of the preceding shorter Middle course, riders who want to tackle the full Maratona dles Dolomites have to do the middle course after the Sella Ronda course.
Our first Spanish event on the list is the Gran Fondo Quebrantahuesos or “la Quebranta” or the ‘Bone Breaker’, as this event is commonly called is Spain’s most popular Cyclo-Sportive. The event takes place on Saturday the 23rd of June 2018 in the Spanish and French Pyrenees. Spain’s largest Cyclo-Sportive starts and finishes in Sabiñánigo.
When: Saturday 22 June, 2019
Field: 8000 riders
Climbs: Col du Somport (1604m), Col du Marie Blanque (1035m), Col du Portalet (1795m)
Accessibility: Barcelona, Biarritz airport
Entry availability: You’ll see Miguel Indurain at the start probably. On sale in December, sold out within a day, guaranteed entries with Sports Tours
What’s so special about it? As this event passes through spectacular protected areas of natural beauty and for the participant’s safety, the number of cyclists is limited to a relatively small field. For this reason and given the high demand to enter, there is a lottery and the event is vastly over-subscribed so is extremely difficult to get into. Hotels in the area are also very difficult to get. That’s where we come in!
The Milan San Remo cycling spring classic race is the first major challenge on the cycling calendar each year. At just shy of 300 kilometres in distance it is also the longest event on the calendar. It takes place in March and it always seems to come up with some unexpected events. In recent years we have seen torrential rain and snow and landslides. To give you the opportunity to ride this event under (hopefully) some better weather conditions, you can take part in the Gran Fondo Milan San Remo in June 2018. The MILAN – SAN REMO cicloturistica began in 1970 on the initiative of the Unione Cicloturistica Sanremo, and they have organized it ever since without a break, making it into the most famous cicloturistica event in Italy: in 2017 we will celebrate the 47th edition. The 2016/2017 editions welcomed in all about 2,000 athletes coming from all over Europe, with the participation also of athletes from countries as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Brazil, the United States and Canada.
When: Sunday June 9, 2019
Field: 1500 riders
Climbs: Turcchino, Cipressa, Poggio
Accessibility: Milan Malpensa, Nice Airports
Entry availability: On sale in November. Guaranteed entries with Sports Tours International
What’s so special about it? This is the longest one day amateur cycling event in the world, with a distance of about 296 km from the outskirts of Milan, crossing the Lombardy and Piedmont Plains, proceeding to the ascent of the Turchino and arriving finally at the Ligurian Riviera. From Genoa the route follows the coast of the Ligurian sea right to the finish line, which can only be conquered by venturing up the legendary climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio of San Remo.
Something a bit different on number 8 in our rundown of the top European Cyclosportive and Gran Fondo events. Did you know that you could qualify for the 2019 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships and that you could wear the official UCI rainbow jersey for a year? It is not as difficult as you may think either. Just enter into one of the official qualifier events and finish in the top 20% of your age group. You will then receive an invitation to take part in the 2019 UCI world championships which takes place in Poznan in August 2019.
When: Thursday 5 to Sunday 8 September, 2019
Where: Poznan, Poland
Field: 1500 riders
Accessibility: Poznan, Warsaw airport
Entry availability: Travel and support packages with Sports Tours International
What’s so special about it? Like the age group athletes who qualify to represent their countries at the Holy Grail of Ironman Triathlon on Kona, Hawaii, the same exists for cycling. Wear your national colours with pride and try to win your age group for the honour to wear the coveted UCI rainbow jersey for a year.
Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 forms part of the London 2012 Olympics legacy events for cycling. It is your opportunity to cycle on closed roads around London, and most importantly for Cyclosportive riders, ride a route that replicates much of the 2012 Olympics Road Race course. The new Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 mile distance event takes place on the same day as the 100, setting off after all the “100” riders have departed – this is ideal for those wanting the RideLondon experience, without the stress of riding 100 miles.
When: Sunday 4 August, 2019
Field: 20,000 riders
Distance: 160km (100 miles)
Climbs: Leith Hill, Box Hill
Accessibility: Various London Airports, trains etc.
Entry availability: On sale in December, sold out within a day, guaranteed entries with Sports Tours*
What’s so special about it?: Riding on closed roads around all the famous landmarks in London. An incredible experience. The ride will pass through nine London boroughs and the county of Surrey, before returning to Central London for a finish on The Mall. Later in the afternoon there will also be a Pro cycling event. Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic is the UCI event for 150 of the world’s best cyclists. The route of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic is a variation on the London 2012 Olympic Road Race route. It will follow a similar route as the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 course and feature a route extension (in Surrey) to meet UCI pro race requirements. You will be able to watch the finish of the Pro Race on the Mall this afternoon after you have finished yourself and got changed at the hotel.
*Guaranteed entries only available to overseas competitors. Our hotel packages are available to everyone.
Loads of riding, the first ever GCN Live and a cycling pub quiz - the best weekend ever? We pleased to be working with @gcntweet as Tour Operator for GCN Mallorca on 20-24 March 2019. Join GCN for 4 days of great riding & entertainment > gcnevents.co #ridewithGCN twitter.com/gcntweet/statu…
Even more classics adding to our 2019 trips. Our calendar is even bigger. Latest trip here: sportstoursinternational.co.u… Join us and find out why we are the King of the Classics and why our experience will make yours! pic.twitter.com/NufV5L3cZk