Gran Fondo USA wrap season in Miami

First year event marks end of third successful US Gran Fondo series

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A bit of rain didn’t dampen spirits at this past weekend’s final Gran Fondo Colnago in Miami, FL. The first year event saw more than 1,400 participants roll out on the Miracle Mile of Coral Gables, past palm tree groves, and even through downtown Miami before concluding at the historic Miami City Hall.

Partial proceeds of the Gran Fondo Colnago Miami benefited the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is internationally recognized for its work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Celebrity riders, including 1997 Tour de France winner and Olympic Gold Metalist Jan Ullrich, and 2001 and 2003 Giro d’Italia winner Giberto Simoni also participated in the event.

The event included 25, 50 and 100 mile rides—the latter testing riders’ endurance. While the course was essentially flat, strong head winds made riders work, but morning rains followed by a mid-afternoon rain squall didn’t dampen the spirits of the riders or other attendees. “This was a good closure to a very successful series,” said Matteo Gerevini, Grand Fondo founder and organizer. “It had a great start, and a great course. We were lucky, almost lucky with the weather, and we think this showed people want a Gran Fondo is all about.”

The surrounding Miami communities were very welcoming as well, and were more than happy to host such a large event. “Miami has a very diverse population and for us to feature a cycling event of this scale was very special,” Rafael Cabrera, Jr. Commissioner of the City of Coral Gables told BikeRadar. “For us we hope this is the first of many such years to come.”

Riders came from near and far, and despite the early morning rain, which created slick roads, the feeling was that it showed off the great amount of cycling in the Metro Miami area. “I loved that course,” said Amy Kelton from Northern Florida who traveled to take part in the Gran Fondo Miami. “I was impressed and even surprised at how pretty that it was, and it was just a joy to ride.”

Upon completing the ride, which ended at the historic Miami City Hall, which is site of the one of the world’s first air terminals and has recently been featured on the ABC series Pan Am, Kelton was eager to talk to title sponsor about their line of bikes, which the company had on display.

After looking at bikes, Kelton said that the only thing that made it tough was the intense wind, which slowed the overall pace of the ride way down for many. “The wind was hard,” says Kelton, “but the organizers couldn’t do anything about that.”

Wind, weather and elevation will all be things that Gerevini is likely already considering as he begins organization on the 2012 Gran Fondo USA series. “We look forward to doing the same events and much more next year,” Gerevini told BikeRadar. “In April we’ll start again with the ride in San Diego, and then we’ll be back to Los Angeles in June. We’re moving the Philadelphia event to July, and then having Colorado in August. October will see a ride in Las Vegas and we’ll still wrap up the series in Miami in November.”

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Gran Fondo translates to big ride in Italian, and here at the tail end of 2011, 2012 already promises to be another big year of big rides.