Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo spoils 3,500 riders

The secret's out: Santa Rosa, CA is cycling's Eden

The inaugural Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo, held on the Astana rider's training roads near his Santa Rosa, California home, saw 3,500-plus riders ride 36-, 65- and 103-mile courses under blue skies with temperatures in the high 70s.

The star-studded event drew riders from across the US, including Tour of California director Andrew Messick and Team BMC Racing's Jim Ochowicz.

Santa Rosa has hosted a stage of the Tour of California since its inception in 2006, and the city threw out all the stops to prove to Tour organisers its ability to host a world-class cycling event in the GranFondo, and bring the 2010 Tour back through Santa Rosa next May. Messick said an official route will be announced on October 22.

Local pro Scott Nydam was first to finish the 103-mile GranFondo route in 4:48. Nydam, a Santa Rosa resident like Leipheimer, races for Team BMC and assisted the Astana team during its pre-Tour of California training camp last February.

The mass start event rolled out from the Finley Community Park Aquatic Center at 8.15am. Gran Fondo and MedioFondo riders were treated to open roads for 20 miles together, before splitting at Monte Rio.

The GranFondo peloton covered the same ground as Team Astana did in February, pedalling through the redwoods of Cazadero before climbing the challenging King Ridge Road.

Both the Gran and Medio riders tackled the 18 percent grade of Coleman Valley Road after a brisk tailwind-aided jaunt down picturesque Highway 1.

Were you there? Tell us about your GranFondo experience. Check back later this week for a complete report. 

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