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Anyone doing or done the Gran Fondo Nove Colli

swtswt Posts: 237
I am entering the Gran Fondo Nove Colli on 18th May this year and wondered if anyone had any tips or any useful info about the ride or the location.


  • ricadusricadus Posts: 2,379
    The Italians are in race mode until the 4th col (Barbotto) after the top of which the long and short courses divide; thereafter many on the granfondo's hillier outer loop are probably thinking more about surviving until the long slightly downhill valley approach to the final climb (Gorolo – they claim 17% max on some twisting corners near the top, but it's not too bad unless baking hot), then the final roller-coaster descent along a ridge back towards the flat coastal plain and Cesenatico tempts them back into a competitive mindset, so expect then to be hanging on to a bunch with a sprint finish finale – even if it is for X000th place.

    Most of the descents are easy, but be careful on Monte Tiffi, the 5th col (it's not in the mediofondo course) as it has a steep upper section that runs into a couple of tight off-camber corners. Every year people over-shoot the first left-hander on that descent and end up lying in farm track leading to a field there. Also don't be surprised to encounter at least one patch of resurfacing work somewhere on the route, where you may be riding off-road for a few metres.

    It's great fun, one of the biggest and best organized of the Italian GFs and there is plenty of fairly cheap accommodation minutes from the start – the town is 99% hotels, it seems.

    Ah yes, the start. If you are feeling like putting in a fast time you will need to be heading to the start area anything up to an hour before the 6:30 a.m. departure. Or 45 minutes if you aren't too bothered. Leave it until 6 a.m. to get there and you will be behind thousands of riders. It's the only part I really don't look forward to, standing getting cold as the dawn sky turns bluer.

    After the start (being fed over a level crossing and then around a motorway roundabout that nicely stretches out the mass before people get up to speed – another reason for being there early), there is a 20 km section on pan flat roads, so the speed – if you want it to – gets very fast. Expect to be doing 45-50 kph here in fairly big groups, so riding midweek chaingang sessions as training definitely helps. On the big day it may seem like madness, considering that there is a further 185 km of mostly hilly riding to be done, but basically it is a race to get past the first of the nine cols, which is a bit of a bottleneck in the village at the top and along the ridge thereafter. Of course there is nothing to stop you riding it at a more sedate pace if you want.

    Starting groups – this diagram shows the arrangement:


    First to go is a ‘red zone’ racing group of elites, semi- and former-pros and VIP guests, that are tracked by a helecopter filming it for local TV. The ambitious amateur riders will have registered promptly in order to be included behind this in the ‘blue’ starting zone that sets off immediately after all the elites and VIPs (this year, after the website went live on Jan 2nd, the 3000 or so places for this group were gone within a couple of days, whereas in past years it was a few weeks before it filled up – a sign of the times...). The next starting group is the yellow one that is set off after all the blues are through the timer start mat. Lastly there is a big group of cyclo-toursts and late-registering amateurs that do the mediofondo course Audax-style, at a max speed of 25 kph.

    Weatherwise, May temperatures in that part of Italy can be fairly hot in the afternoon, but also sometimes it can be overcast and drizzly, so pack some arm-warmers and a rain jacket in your luggage as well as sunblock. In 2004 all the big climbs were into the mist of low cloud; the Italians hated it but I'd been training in stuff like that all spring in the rainy UK so I felt quite at home.

    If you are flying to Forlí the cheapest way of getting there is take a shuttle bus to the railway station (a couple of km from the airport), then a train into Rimini and a connecting branch line train to Cesenatico – it's two sides of a triangle and might take a couple of hours, but it will cost you peanuts thanks to the Italian tax-payers that help fund the railways there. Ticket machines take UK credit cards and have English language displays.

    The quickest way is directly there by taxi. If you are traveling with a few others then sharing a people carrier taxi to Cesenatico (about 20 minutes' drive) is OK, but doing that solo will cost you well over €50 at least. It's worth double-checking with the hotel beforehand whether they can arrange such a taxi pick-up to be waiting for you; also they will know if there is any local public transport strike due when you want to be traveling – one year I went all the buses were on strike. Hire-car is further possibility, but may only be worth it if you are going to be staying a week or so and driving about some of the time.
  • le_patronle_patron Posts: 491
    brief text and pictures from last year if it helps. ... ntani.html
  • swtswt Posts: 237
    thanks for the info guys, what gearing would you reccomend? I did the Marmotte last year and got a gold using 34 front and a 12- 27 cassette and wondered if I would need gearing that low on this ride.
  • le_patronle_patron Posts: 491
    As always, it depends on how good your legs are. If you've done loads of training, are lean and fit and used to climbing in the heat, then you won't need small gears. If not, or are in doubt, take us much as you can.
  • ricadusricadus Posts: 2,379
    The only thing I can say is that the climbs are generally short duration – mostly less than 10 km, nothing like alpine length – but sometimes have steep sections. Low gearing can be useful if you find yourself trapped in a group on a narrow climb going at a slower than preferred pace, or if you're cooked towards the end and want to avoid cramping up.

    Gearing is a personal thing, depending what cadence you prefer, whether you can climb in or out the saddle and how strong or light you are, so only you know what's best. For me it's a ride where having a 53 chainring is an advantage, so a 53/39 x 13/26 would be a safe choice for me, considering the distance, afternoon temperatures, maximum gradients and extended flat sections at the start and finish. And my form, which is less than I would wish.
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    From my memory, I'd say Ricadus' description is pretty accurate, and pretty good in its thoroughness.
    Like he says, the speed at the beginning is very fast, 45-50 km/h. It's surprising if you're not used to it. But maybe you've experienced something like this at another sportive? There are one or two others which start almost this fast.
    Ricadus also mentions the last climb Gorolo and its steepness. I was told 20% at max., but it's fairly short (3 km?) and I managed it okay with 39/26, even if only slow and steady. I think the earlier-encountered Barbotto is as steep and slightly longer (5 km?) - though you're fresher when you meet that.
    None of the hills are that long to warrant the lower gearing one might choose for the long climbs of the Marmotte – that is, if you’re prepared for short and sharp. Maybe use 39/28 if you're uncertain.

    One of my most vivid recollections is the large number of Vespa scooters accompanying the race, mostly following leading groups and occasionally weaving in and out between riders. Many are just mobile spectators having fun or friends of individual riders and perhaps don't ride the whole route, but others act as a personal service team, maybe a mate driving the scooter, the girlfriend as pillion passenger, and they do ride more or less the whole route.
    They carry drink, food, first-aid kit, spare tubes and tools, often even a couple of complete wheels attached to the rear of the scooter. The girlfriend hands over drink or food when both are in motion, and if the rider signals he's got a flat, the scooter pulls up and she jumps off and runs to the rider with the replacement wheel. Just like team cars in the Giro or TdF!
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