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Gran Fondo Roma

dinnyboydinnyboy Posts: 5
Did anyone else do the Gran Fondo Roma last Sunday? I entered after seeing it featured in Bikeradar earlier in the year. The thought of combining a sportive with a trip to Rome sounded attractive – but what a disappointment! The start in the shadow of the Colosseum was impressive but I was too preoccupied with staying upright in the mad scramble of riders to appreciate it. Mass starts are always a bit chaotic but the antics of Italian riders made this worse. They ride like they drive – cutting across all over the place at breakneck speed! Overcrowding was a feature throughout the whole ride, made worse by the fact that the longer 160km route was abandoned a few days before the event and so all 5,000 riders were concentrated on the 103km 'Classico' route.

Italian riders look very impressive with their expensive bikes, but everytime we hit a climb they started going backwards – I've never seen so many Pinarellos wobbling across the road at walking pace! (a metaphor for Rome really... all style and no substance!). On narrow single-track roads this meant you had no choice but to crawl up hills at the pace of the group, there was no room to do anything else. The roads were in an attrocious state, pock-marked with large potholes and craters that were really quite dangerous.

The event was billed as a 'closed road' sportive, and for the first half this is what it was, with marshalls and police doing a good job of stopping traffic at junctions to give riders clear passage. However, in the second half of the ride cars started to appear on the course. Given the volume of riders cars could not overtake them and I rode up one long climb behind a car and motorbike that were belching fumes until I had an opportunity to overtake. Having looked at other online comments it appears that many marshalls simply lost interest after the first 1,000 elite and VIP riders had gone through. But the most astonishing thing of all was that on the way back into Rome we were sent along a busy dual-carriageway for three or four miles. Traffic was nose-to-tail and understandably the Italian drivers were not too happy at sharing the road with thousands of cyclists. It was mayhem and very scary. From the way riders were shouting at marshalls and police they were as unimpressed as I was.

The pasta party at the end was good but not signposted and very hard to find.

Overall it was a big disappointment and downright dangerous. If anyone is considering the 2014 Gran Fondo Roma my advice would be to stay at home and put the considerable cost of flights, accommodation, entry fee etc towards a decent bit of kit!


  • ouch

    firstly, bad luck, you seem to have had a very expensive experience

    secondly, thank you for sharing here

    finally, good luck on your next sportive in Europe, hope it's one that's been recommended...
  • pdstsppdstsp Posts: 1,264
    Sounds a bit of a nightmare but can't agree with your comment on Rome "all style and no substance"? Did you open your eyes?
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    I was in Rome on business a couple of weeks back. Loved it, but I was expecting to see road side bars full of elegent cyclists wih classic bikes sipping ristrettos. Very disappointed, hardly any cyclists at all, and I didn't find a single bar lined with black and white photos of Coppi, Moser, etc. Having seen the roads though, the OP gives a good description, if you could find a gap between the cars, it was filled with pot holes, road works, or if you waited more than 10 seconds, a moped. We were out one night, and joined an impromptu street party outside an off licence. Someone moved a large wheely bin into the road to stop the trafic and 50+ people milled about drinking very cheap beer.

    I'd love to ride in the Italian Alps and on the Strade Bianche though.
  • Hi

    I also did the granfondoroma and have to agree with your comments.

    At least you found the pasta party

    Do you know why the long route was cancelled, so close to the event

    Will return to Italy to do more sportives, but not Rome
  • Hi Black Rose, the authorities decided at the last minute that they didn't want to close the roads for the whole of the full course and would only do so on the shorter course (ironic really as they didn't even manage to achieve that!)
    I've done the GF Sportful a couple of times and would definitely recommend that. It's based in Feltre in the Dolomites and the scenery and organisation are superb.
  • Thanks for that

    Was thinking of doing that one or nove colli in may
  • That's a shame, was planning to do this next year. I used to live in Rome so have a lot of experience of the terrible roads or lack of them! Hope they sort out the organisation for next year.
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