Gran Fondo New York draws 5,000 riders

Promoter expects 10,000 riders in coming years

More than 10,000 cyclists came to the Bike Expo NYC, which ran from May 18th-19th at the Penn Plaza Pavilion, leading up to the 2nd annual Gran Fondo New York on Sunday, May 20th. Though the Expo was first organized as a place for the 5,000 Gran Fondo riders to pick up their race packages (which included Giordana cycling jerseys, chip timing, meals and more), thousands of people not registered for the ride showed up to browse through the 50 booths at the event.

"The expo was packed for two full days,” said GFNY founder and organizer Uli Fluhme. “It was exciting to have all these high profile road cycling companies exhibit in the heart of NYC. Pinarello, Giordana, ELITE, Limar, Campagnolo, Mavic, Vittoria, you name it.”

There was a strong Italian presence among the exhibitors.

“We are very proud and excited to be at the New York City Expo for the Gran Fondo,” said Chiara Pinarello of Pinarello bicycles, based in Villorba, Italy. “It’s a great occasion for us to be here and help out the 5,000 riders.”

A new Italian company, Granfondo Roma, also attracted crowds of GFNY racers to their booth, promoting their inaugural gran fondo in Rome, scheduled for October 14th, 2012. Granfondo Roma’s course will feature many of Rome’s legendary monuments, including the Coliseum. In another popular nod to Italian culture, T. Edward Wines’ booth hosted tastings. All 5,000 riders received a bottle of their Sicilian red wine, to “aid the recovery.”

Pinarello had a big presence at the Gran Fondo New York, amplifying the Italian atmosphere

The gran fondo riders were lucky enough to snag the last sunny day before New York descended into a week of rain. With barely a cloud in the sky, riders were on their marks bright and early at 7am on the lower level of the George Washington Bridge.

Wladimiro D’Ascenzo of Bellante Stazione, Italy won the men’s competition, followed by Anthony Fatuzzo of Fair Lawn, New Jersey and Igor Volshteyn of New York City. Canadian Susan Jones won the women’s race relatively unchallenged, though Ana Maria Bonilla Paez of Bogota, Colombia wrestled second place off of Tara Kupersmith of Greenwich, Connecticut by a mere second.

The after-party took place nearby the finish line in Weehawken, New Jersey.

“The midtown Manhattan views were just gorgeous,” Fluhme said. “It was the perfect setting for riders to hang out and enjoy the Delverde pasta served from a coach bus that was completely rebuilt as a rolling kitchen.”

Registration is open for the 2013 race, and Fluhme is busy planning more improvements.

“The biggest change in terms of registration is the free addition of insurance. If a registered participant gets ill or injured, 365Competitor provides a full refund of the entry fee,” he said. “We expect to grow GFNY to 8,000 to 10,000 participants in the next two years.”

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